Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Confused by Nutrition? Read This!

Then God said, "Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food."
- Genesis 1:29

I apologize for not posting recently. The last two months have been extremely busy for a variety of reasons, and I haven't had the time to post regularly.

Today, I want to simplify nutrition. I know there is a lot of misinformation available when it comes to nutrition. Although I've tried to give simple tips in previous blogs about nutrition, it still doesn't seem to be helping.

I know that there is no "one-size-fits-all" diet plan, but these are fairly general recommendations that can be easily tailored to fit you, your metabolism, your lifestyle, etc.

It amazes me that despite the amount of information available on the internet about nutrition, almost everyone I come in contact with is still confused or mislead by outdated information, practices and recommendations.

Not to mention that they roll their eyes at me when I give them recommendations that go against what they've been taught or led to believe.

Here are 10 simple tips to keep in mind (you'll notice many similarities to John Berardi's 7 Habits of Highly Effective Nutritional Programs). These tips can be applied to any situation (restaurant, party, fast food, etc.) and it will help you with your nutrition, health and fitness goals.

As an added bonus, I'm going to provide many links to other blogs I've written or articles that explain things even better and more in-depth than I can!

1. Eat Protein with Every Meal. Protein is needed for many processes within the body including building muscle. Muscle is the only thing that is metabolically active in the body. The only way to burn fat is to build muscle and protein will help you do that when you also use a proper resistance training program.

Also, protein has a higher thermic effect than carbs or fat. This means that by eating protein, it increases your metabolism. I recommend .8 - 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight for most people. No, this is not harmful and it's not hard to do. Remember, a 3-ounce serving of meat typically has 18-24 grams of protein. Also, see this article that talks about some protein myths that just won't go away.

Choose from the following: Lean red meat (grass fed is best), chicken, fish, venison, buffalo, ostrich, pork, eggs (organic is best), cottage cheese and protein powder.

2. Eat Vegetables and/or Fruit with Every Meal. I shouldn't need to explain this one. Vegetables and fruits are real power foods that contain a variety of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals along with fiber and many other things science has only begun to discover (although God designed and created these things for us already knowing how good it was!).

Yet, if you listen to some people, they'll tell you that carrots will make you fat because they are listed on the high-end of the glycemic index. I won't get into this as it should be common sense that carrots are going to be healthier and better for you than pasta. But you can read more about the glycemic index and the more important glycemic load in this article by Dr. Jonny Bowden - HERE.

Choose from the following: Any type of green vegetable (broccoli, spinach, green beans, aspargus, brussel sprouts, green peppers, etc.) tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, carrots, Romaine lettuce, zucchini, squash, sweet potatoes and other brightly colored, high-fiber vegetables (it's best to limit potatoes and corn).

The best types of fruit include berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries), apples, peaches, cantaloupe, oranges and other citrus fruits and low-sugar fruits (it's best to limit grapes, bananas and pineapple).

3. Eat Healthy Fats with Every Meal. It amazes me that so many people still fear the word "fat" or think that by eating fat (even saturated fat) it will cause them to automatically become fat. Yes, you should definitely avoid anything with trans fat, but you need fat in order for your body to work properly.

In fact, as I mentioned in a previous blog, when you restrict something your body does the opposite. So if you restrict your fat intake, your body will hold onto fat. But if you eat plenty of healthy fats, your body will help you lose fat!

Choose from the following: Extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil (great for cooking at high temperatures), salmon and other fatty fish, avocados, raw nuts (walnuts, almonds, etc.), flaxseed and healthy fats from eggs, lean meats (especially grass fed and organic), butter, etc.

4. Raw Milk, Cheese and Greek Yogurt. If you're going to drink milk, I highly recommend that at the very least you stick to organic milk. However, it would be best to switch to raw or raw but pasteurized milk as I've spoken about in a previous blog.

Cheese in moderate amounts is also good for snacks and to spice up various dishes - just be careful of the amount being used and don't buy reduced fat versions as mentioned in the aforementioned blog. Greek yogurt is a great Power Food and I highly recommend it over other types of yogurt. It's higher in protein, lower in carbs, low in lactose, is creamy and works great as a snack or in various recipes.

5. Drink Water Throughout the Day. Water is the best thing you can drink on a daily basis. Our bodies are made up of approximately 70 percent water, and the more water you consume the better hydrated you will be and the more efficiently your body will function. Water is needed for virtually every metabolic process in the body. It helps flush wastes and toxins out. It helps keep joints lubricated and skin fresh and moist. And it helps prevent bloat.

A good recommendation is to drink half your bodyweight in ounces each day. If you weigh 150lbs, you should drink at least 75 ounces of water each day. You'll need to drink more if you live in a hot climate or if you are exercising. Stay away from calorie-containing drinks such as soda, various coffee drinks, fruit juice, milk, etc.

6. Eat 4-6 Meals Per Day and Eat Every 2-3 Hours. Eating more frequently helps to elevate your metabolism, it keeps you from getting hungry and making bad choices, and it helps limit how much you eat during each meal.

7. Consume Starchy Carbohydrates During Breakfast or Post-Workout Only. In order for your body to utilize starchy carbohydrates properly and not store them as fat, the two best times to consume them are for breakfast and after an intense workout as part of a post-workout meal. These are the two times during the day when your body will refill your body's glycogen levels rather than storing the carbs in your fat cells.

Despite what the Food Pyramid may suggest, you DO NOT need anywhere near the amount of servings suggested unless you are a high-level endurance athlete participating in marathons or the Tour de France. The majority of people do not get nearly enough exercise to warrant the amount of starchy carbohydrates that are typically recommended. Not only that, but you can get the amount of carbohydrates your body needs from vegetables and fruits. Also, here's a good blog I posted about Carbohydrates and Fat Loss.

In addition, many people are allergic to gluten which is found in grains and other products. Not only that, but most people are healthier and lose more weight on a lower carb diet (less than 40% from carbs).

Choose from the following: Raw oats, sweet potatoes and yams, Quinoa, couscous, whole-wheat pasta (limit it to 2 ounces), brown or whole-grain rice and real bread (Ezekiel bread).

8. Avoid High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) and Trans Fat. HFCS is the evil it's been made out to be despite some clever PR tactics that you may have seen on TV. Here's a good article for more information - Thank You for Guzzling Corn Syrup.

Trans fat is the one type of fat that you should avoid at all costs. No amount of trans fat is good for you. Despite the claims seen on many boxed and packaged foods that say "no trans fat" - they do not have to legally list that the item contains trans fat if it's .5 grams or less. Don't be fooled by man-made, pre-packaged and commercialized products. Your best bet is to avoid anything that comes in a box or has a list of ingredients that you cannot pronounce.

9. The 90 Percent Rule. Dr. John Berardi is attributed with the 90 percent rule. If you want to make changes in your body composition, it requires that you adhere to a proper nutritional plan 90 percent of the time. Anything less, and you won't meet your goals.

This means that if you eat an average of five meals per day, seven days per week for a total of 35 meals. In order to stay 90 percent compliant, you can skip or mess up (have a cheat meal) only 3.5 times each week. Think about it next time you reach for some dessert or decide to eat some fried, greasy fast food rather than something healthy and nutritionally balanced.

10. Look to the Bible. If you're still confused as to what to eat, then look no further than the bible which lists many of the foods God has provided to us that have numerous benefits. An excellent book I would recommend reading is What the Bible Says About Healthy Living.

There, you will find many of the same things I tell people on a daily basis when it comes to the foods you should be eating (which I've already listed). But if you want to know God's perfect design and the many benefits of those foods which scientists are just now realizing, then check out that book!

There it is. A list of 10 tips that should help set you straight when it comes to nutrition. I know I haven't covered everything in this blog, but I hope that you will use these tips to make changes in your life.

As always, if you have questions or comments, feel free to post them below.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Youth Fitness Specialist Certification!

"The wise are mightier than the strong, and those with knowledge grow stronger and stronger." - Proverbs 24:5

In March, I completed my exam to earn my Level 1 Youth Fitness Specialist certification through the International Youth Conditioning Association (IYCA).
I was notified less than two weeks later that I passed the exam and earned my Youth Fitness Specialist certification. This is the first step in my goal of being certified and opening my own fitness-based business in the near future.

I began with a Youth Fitness Specialist because I have a desire to work with children and teenagers ages 6-18 to help them improve their self-esteem while also improving their health and fitness.

It's a sad fact that more than 30 percent of today's youth are now considered obese. With the lack of physical education programs in many schools and the increase in a sedentary lifestyle due to video games, computers and internet usage, our youth need a way to have fun while also improving their health and fitness.

I plan on completing my Level 2 Certification in the near future while working toward my business goals.

I may also pursue another fitness certification through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) or the American Council on Exercise (ACE) in order to have the basic certification to train all adults and children.