Today, you'll discover a simple workout tip that could mean the difference between gaining one measly pound of muscle in the next month, or a whopping 5 lbs of lean mass!...
Over the past few decades a ton of research has been done on the connection between stress and various health conditions. One of the areas of focus is weight gain because obesity is such an epidemic in the US.
What those in the know have discovered is that, quite simply, stress makes you fat. In some cases, you can work out and you can eat well, but if you're stressed you're going to have a tough time losing those extra pounds.
Stress Disrupts Cortisol Rhythms
Stress causes the release of cortisol, a hormone that wreaks havoc on your body. Typically, cortisol levels are high in the mornings and decrease throughout the day so that you get sleepy at night. Stress messes with the release of cortisol by causing your body to release more of it when it shouldn't.
We were built to handle acute stress; the kind that causes the fight or flight response to danger. As a matter of fact, that type of stress may actually be good for you.
Chronic stress is a completely different animal. It can cause depression and hopelessness; a condition doctors call a defeat response. Your body stores fat around the abdomen and breaks down muscle tissue.
Increased cortisol levels can also cause sugar cravings and make you hungry.
Stress Affects Sleep
When you just can't shut down at night, you're not going to get the rest that you need for your body to repair and reboot. When you don't get enough quality sleep, both your cortisol levels and your insulin sensitivity are negatively affected. Losing just 3 hours of sleep a night on a regular basis can cause a weight gain of 4-5%. Not good.
What Causes Stress?
This may surprise you because when we think of stress, we think of psychological triggers such as work stress or stress caused by money shortage or personal problems. Though those are certainly causes, there are a few stressors that you may not have considered.
-Food stress caused by restrictive diets increases cortisol levels.
-Over-training can cause physical stress that negatively affects your training program.
-Chronic infections cause physical stress because your body is constantly fighting to restore health.
-Environmental toxins effect the way that your liver eliminates waste and can cause excess free radicals that cause inflammation.
-A compromised immune system causes physical stress as your body strives to regain health.
See how many factors can cause stress?
An effective and efficient approach to weight loss consists of eating right without "stressful dieting", plenty of sleep and strategic exercise.
It's also important not to ignore health issues that can compromise your immune system and find ways to alleviate psychological stress. Meditation, Yoga, recreational time with family and friends, and just taking a "me" day are all great strategies to avoid weight gain caused by stress.
To your results,
Hey, do you want know something? Baked potato chips ARE NOT healthy!
And guess what else? They don't even taste good! But hey, I'm sure you looked past that oh-so-lacking salty cardboard taste and texture many times in the name of health, which is why you NEED to be informed...
Are you ready to be SHOCKED? Make sure you are sitting down before reading this next line...
Baked potato chips are more heavily processed and contain MORE health-damaging ingredients than regular ol' fried potato chips.
What?! Yes, it's true, even demon-possessed trans fats can't compare with the health consequences contained in a bag of baked taters.
1. Dried Potatoes: These are processed potatoes...not even fresh, and most likely "dried" using high heat which makes them even worse. You see, when starch is subjected to high heat, it forms acrylamide, a potent cancer causing agent. No thankee!
2. Genetically Modified Corn: In not 1, not 2, but THREE ingredients (corn starch, corn oil, and corn sugar). GMO corn has been shown to lead to liver and kidney damage in rodents and the jury is still out on humans. I'll pass on being part of the lab experiement!
3. Genetically Modified Soy: Same as above...bad news. How do you know if things like soy and corn are non-GMO? 99% of soy and corn are genetically modified, so unless the ingredients are organic, the overwhelming odds are that soy and corn ingredients are genetically modified.
4. Corn Sugar (AKA high fructose corn syrup): Rated as the #1 worst carb ever, high fructose corn syrup has been heavily linked to obesity, weight gain, metabolic syndrome and diabetes.
So did the guy who rung you up at your local sandwich shop LIE to you when he offered you that "healthy" bag of potato chips to go along with your "healthy" low fat foot long sub?
No, he just clearly doesn't have a clue what he's talking about.
And stop eating subs for lunch already. Processed meat on high glycemic bread isn't a healthy choice, no matter how many grams of fat it has.
So skip out on the potato chips...baked or fried. But there IS good news, you can still eat a bunch of your favorite foods, when you learn exactly which foods burn the most fat.
- Store bought fruits and vegetables are now loaded with pesticides, herbicides, and even genetically modified organisms (GMOs). These residual chemicals and modified foods can block the absorption of vitamins and minerals -- and have been linked to several diseases including cancer.
- Corn fed beef and pork has been shown to contain 9x the bad estrogen than natural pasture raised pork and grass fed beef. It also tends to be too high in omega 6 fats compared to its grass fed buddies.
- Most over the counter dairy are loaded with fillers, hidden chemicals, and poor quality protein. Cottage cheese and Greek yogurt are the only two exceptions to this rule, but watch for hidden sugars and preservatives.
- Store bought egg yolks can tend to be loaded with hormones passed along from the cage raised chickens.
- Roasted nuts are an "ok" source of friendly fat, but the roasting process basically destroys all the "good" fats.
Here's the deal: if you're looking to achieve maximal benefit from the time you put into your workouts, long duration "slow-go" cardio is NOT the way to go, and for many reasons.
Here are my top 5:
1. Minimal calories burned: 45 minutes on the treadmill may burn a whopping 300 calories if you're lucky, the equivalent of ONE TENTH of a pound of fat. Exercise ten hours a week and you might just lose a pound!
Which brings me to my next point:
2. Way too much time involved: I don't know about you, but I don't have hours and hours of my time to pour into working out each week. In fact, very rarely do I ever a couple hours of exercise weekly, and you know what? That's ALL you need. In fact, research has shown that anything more than 90 mins a week may be detrimental!
Beyond that, slow-go cardio is:
3. BORING as hell: Sitting on an exercise bike staring at the wall in front of me for 45-60 minutes? No thanks.
But perhaps even worse is the fact that slow-go cardio provides:
4. No prolonged metabolic benefits: Did you know that with higher intensity exercise it is possible to continue to burn calories for up to 48 hours post workout?
It's true. But you know what else is true? Long duration, low intensity cardio provides virtually NO prolonged elevation in metabolism. In fact, with slow-go cardio, metabolism returns to baseline almost IMMEDIATELY following the exercise session.
And finally, the reason that trumps all the others:
5. Minimal fat loss: Minimal calories burned during the session and virtually no additional calories burned afterward = minimal, if any fat loss results. And let's be honest, the only reason anyone is doing cardio is for the "result".
So low-go cardio isn't a great solution.
To your health,
If you're like most guys, chances are good that you could be making one of the following diet mistakes. Don't worry though; they're common and easy to fix. The trick is recognizing what you're doing wrong and making the change!
Overlooking Liquid Calories
This is a mistake that many men make. You may count every calorie that you eat, but forget to add in that pre-workout drink, the post-workout shake or the beer or 3 that you have after work. Those calories add up quickly and if you're not counting them, they could be the reason that you're holding on to those love handles.
Eating On The Fly
Rushing is a way of life for most people today and we're programmed to believe that lunch is at noon. However, the proclivity to grab something to eat and scarf it down on your way to your next engagement may be sabotaging your diet efforts in more ways than one.
First, convenience foods tend to be processed and heavy on the bad fat and calories. Second, when you eat in a hurry, you'll most likely eat too much before your body has a chance to tell you that it's full. Finally, you should eat when you're hungry, not when society dictates that it's time. Eating when you're not hungry can mess with your biological rhythm that signals when you're full and when you're hungry. That can lead to overeating.
"I'll Work It Off Later"
Women tend to count how many calories they burned during their last workout in order to decide how much to eat, but men are more likely to eat first with and plan to work it off later. The problem is that you may not always make it to the gym, or if you do, you may not burn enough calories to make up for the cheeseburger and fries that you had with your buddies.
As you know, in order to lose weight you have to consume fewer calories than you burn, yet calorie timing is also a huge part of maximizing fat loss.
My good friend and calorie cycling specialist Shaun Hadsall has a brand new article that consists of 3 food timing tricks to stop fat storage and kill belly fat.
To your results,
It seems that research is backing up the use of coffee as a pre-workout drink for a number of different reasons. If you look at just about any pre-workout drink, you're going to find some sort of stimulant. Since ephedra was banned, it's fairly likely that the exact stimulant that you'll find is going to be caffeine.
That's exactly what's in coffee. What you won't find in coffee is artificial flavors, sweeteners or a ton of calories: just good old fashioned caffeine along with serious antioxidant power and a nice, rich, wake-me-up flavor.
Coffee Boosts Fat Burning
A neat little trick that was discovered during research is that coffee triggers your body to burn fat instead of glycogen for energy during a workout. This means that you're quite literally burning fat while you're working without having to burn through your glycogen stores first.
Coffee Increases Mental Clarity
One of the benefits of caffeine is that it helps you to focus on the task at hand. When you're working out, that means that you can concentrate more easily on performing each exercise precisely and completely without your mind wandering off in a million directions.
Coffee Decreases Pain
Caffeine affects a system in your brain and spine that deals with pain, which is why it may help reduce muscle pain and burn during workouts. A study conducted at the University of Illinois in 2009 supports this. College-age men were first given a placebo before hitting the cycles, then a week later were given a caffeine pill before cycling. Significant reduction in calf pain during exercise was reported during the caffeine phase of the study.
This could help you work out longer and harder without experiencing muscle pain and burn that can reduce the number of reps or the amount of weight that you can lift. That's a pretty big bonus to any workout plan!
Caffeine Improves Performance
When you look at the combination of increased energy and focus and decreased workout pain, caffeine is bound to improve your performance. This leap in logic is supported by numerous studies, which show that caffeine consumption (with as little as one cup) can increase performance by about 12%.
Possible Downsides of Drinking Coffee as a Pre-Workout
If you're extremely sensitive to caffeine, drinking coffee may not be for you. Also, coffee is a diuretic. While that's great if you're retaining water, it's not-so-great when you're trying to hydrate your body during and after a workout.
I give a nice strong, black cup of coffee a 2 thumbs up for an inexpensive alternative to a traditional pre-workout. As for as pre-workouts themselves go, I'm extremely picky and, in my opinion, the one you'll find at the link below is now the best there is.
To your results,
The great chocolate milk debate rages on but many of the arguments against it are simply based on people's beliefs about drinking milk rather than the actual science behind what your body needs to recover from exercise. Those needs include carbohydrates, quality protein and electrolytes. That's what most recovery drinks are chemically comprised of... but guess what? Low-fat chocolate milk provides all of those naturally.
Chocolate Milk is an Excellent Source of Whey Protein
If you take a look at what your recovery drink contains, chances are good that it's going to be whey or casein protein. Milk provides both! This is great because whey protein is an easily bio-available source of protein that's proven to help your body repair and build lean muscle tissue almost immediately. Casein protein digests more slowly, which gives your body a steady stream of amino acids over a longer time period. Sixteen ounces of chocolate milk provides 16 - 22 grams of protein!
Chocolate Milk Replaces Electrolytes
When you sweat, you lose valuable electrolytes that are crucial to survival. Even a small imbalance can wreak major havoc on your body. These include calcium, potassium, phosphorus, manganese, magnesium and sodium, all of which are found in chocolate milk. Several of these particular electrolytes are also minerals that help keep your bones strong, so there's another bonus! Finally, there are more than 400 grams of water in a 16oz serving, so you're getting hydrated too.
Just a note on calcium: it's one of the critical components of muscle movement. Your muscles work in a cross-hatch cyclical pattern when contracting and releasing. Calcium is what binds the plasma to the muscles and signals contraction to take place, so if you don't have enough calcium, your muscles won't function optimally.
Chocolate Milk is Cheap!
This is perhaps one of the biggest benefits from a realistic standpoint. With protein drinks costing upwards of $6 at a gym, chocolate milk can be easily made at home for less than $1 per glass. Times are tough so cheap (and nutritious) is good!
Now if you like the taste of chocolate milk but want to step up the quality of your post workout shake I definitely recommend you check out Blue Star's chocolate Iso-Smooth. I think you'll love it!
To your results,
|You might think that cookies, cakes, pizza and hoagies were the worst foods for fat loss, but I beg to differ!
When you're trying to lose fat and build lean muscle, most diets and diet experts will tell you to get rid of the junk food, comfort food and old family recipes and fill your kitchen with "diet-friendly" foods like spring greens and cottage cheese. The problem is that the only diet that will work for you is the one you'll eat. If your fridge is loaded up with foods you don't like or don't know how to cook, you'll end up ditching the diet almost as soon as you start it.
The key to long term fat loss isn't dieting; it's learning how to choose the most nutritious foods and then learning how to really enjoy them. Long term fat loss comes from a healthy lifestyle, not a super restrictive, terrible tasting diet. I have two guidelines for you if you want to lose fat and lose it for good: don't try to eat what you don't like and learn how to make what you love.
Don't Try to Eat What You Don't Like
No matter how healthy quinoa, fish and kiwi are, they won't help you lose fat if you don't like eating them. There are hundreds and hundreds of healthy foods out there; foods that are great for long term fat loss. You just need to stick to the ones you actually enjoy eating.
If you hate quinoa, stick to brown rice. If you've tried to like kale and just can't, then eat spinach or mustard greens instead. The important thing is to identify the healthiest foods in each category (such as nuts, leafy greens, healthy fats, healthy dairy, etc.) and then choose the ones you do like. Trying to force yourself to eat certain foods you hate while giving up foods you love is a recipe for failure.
Try new foods when you can. Pick up one or two unfamiliar fruits or vegetables each week or try that Ezekiel cereal, bread or pasta I've fallen in love with. If you don't like these new foods, don't force yourself to eat them. Along the way you'll discover new foods that you do like and that'll help you get all your macros without being bored.
Learn to Make What You Love
Very few people have the discipline or the desire to give up all of their favorite foods forever. Fortunately, that really isn't necessary. There's a time and place for enjoying some of your favorite not-so-good-for-you foods. How often you indulge and how much you eat depends on your program, your goals and your metabolism. Saying you'll never get to eat pizza again is self-defeating and counterproductive.
Another thing you can do is learn to make healthier versions of your favorite foods. There are all kinds of great recipes for healthier pizza, macaroni and cheese, banana cream pie and any other food you can think of. Try a few out, choose the ones that taste best and enjoy your favorite stuff without blowing your whole program.
Remember, long term fat loss is all about your lifestyle. And part of life is enjoying a good meal.
To your results,