nutrition

DrawBacks of a Low Carb Diet

In this post I’d like to share a guest contribution from a good friend and one of my mentors, Joseph Hughes (Fit N Sync). Joe has extensive experience competing in physique competitions as well as coaching many other women and men for physique, figure and bikini contests. He also helps the average individual lose unwanted body fat while following a balanced, sustainable nutrition plan.

Joe helped me prepare my nutrition plan for my first Men’s Physique competitions last year, leading me to a first place victory in my Regional contest and 3rd place at the Provincials, qualifying me for the Nationals. We share the same philosophy regarding flexible dieting, also called If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM), which relates to tracking your calories and macronutrients (protein, fat, carbs) and eating a variety of foods while meeting your calorie and macro needs, based on your individual goals.

creamy-filled-berry-gluten-free-protein-packed-crepes

One big aspect of nutrition that Joe really helped me gain a more balanced and evidence-based perspective was related to getting over my “fear of carbs”. Like many fitness professionals I was sucked into the belief that “carbs make you fat”, and that they were basically an unnecessary nutrient that we could do without (or at least consume as little as possible). Once I looked at the evidence and began to consume a healthier amount of higher carbohydrate foods (particularly on my training days), while still meeting my calorie needs, my training progress accelerated and my physique improved. I asked Joe to share some of the myths and facts about low-carb diets with us in this post. Enjoy! Continue reading

4 Proven Benefits of a High Protein Diet

With every new year comes new fad diets promising fast fat loss. These range from low carb, low fat, elimination diets, food timing diets, liquid diets, “clean-eating” diets, and the list goes on. But like I’ve said many times before, the fundamentals of fat loss nutrition remain the same:

1) Caloric deficit – take in less energy than you burn off.

2) Appropriate macronutrient ratios – particularly higher protein and adjust carbs and fats according to calorie goals.

3) Food quality – choose less processed foods, adequate micronutrition and fiber, and consume mostly natural “whole” food.

4) Nutrient timing – consider WHEN you eat, such as meal frequency and timing your carb intake primarily after exercise.

Nutrition pyramid

Check out my blog post on this topic:

=> TOP 5 PRIORITIES OF FAT LOSS NUTRITION

Protien_2.27kg_Tub

The one recommendation that I most often see debated is following a High Protein Diet. There is still a lot of confusion and misinformation about whether eating more protein is good or bad for you, and some misguided recommendations have evolved from poorly conducted or misinterpreted/misunderstood studies suggesting that a high protein diet is “bad for you”.

The mainstream media has been polluting us with anti-protein propaganda recently with claims that simply aren’t supported by sound scientific research. For example, some people bring up research showing that people with kidney dysfunction should restrict protein intake, however a high-protein diet itself has never been shown to ’cause’ kidney damage.

Also, while there are claims that a high-protein diet increases the risk of osteoporosis, research clearly shows that it actually helps prevent osteoporosis. There is enough solid research now available to prove the benefit of consuming more protein, especially if you are trying to lose body fat.

Why is Protein Important?

Proteins are the building blocks of the body. Your body uses the amino acids from protein to build muscle, tendon, organ, skin, as well as hormones and enzymes vital to life. You need to consume enough quality protein to get certain Essential Amino Acids that your body needs to survive.

Animal-based sources of protein are the most complete, such as meat, fish, eggs, and dairy, but certain plant-based proteins like rice and pea protein are high-quality sources of protein as well. Continue reading

Top 5 Priorities of Fat Loss Nutrition

One of the things I’ve frequently noticed in interviewing new clients, speaking to other trainers, and communicating with other fitness freaks online, is how many different opinions there are and how much confusion there is related to fat loss nutrition. Some people are just completely clueless, while others are so devoted to a particular way of eating that their diet becomes like their religion!

People have some pretty strange ideas about their diet.

With so many different fad diets and nutrition protocols out there, it’s no wonder people get confused. For example, you’ve probably heard about: Paleo, Keto, Atkins, Vegan, Gluten-Free, Low Fat, South Beach, The Zone Diet, Volumetrics, Raw Food Diet, Dr. Bernstein, No Carbs After 6:17PM, etc. That’s not even getting into tracking systems (calorie / portion control plans) like Weight Watchers or Nutri-System.

Now, I’m not saying that all (or any) of the above nutritional strategies are necessarily bad… there are probably positive aspects to most of them. But how do you know which ones are right for you, or which ones work best? And if it works, why? Part of the problem is that people don’t understand the basics of nutrition for fat loss and they start desperately grasping for a trendy quick fix plan to get results. Another issue is that many of those “diets” can not be sustained over the long term.

Roast Chicken Dinner Continue reading

Which Supplements Are Worth Taking?

If you’re into fitness chances are at some point you’ve considered using supplements to help you reach your goals. The problem is there is so much hype, marketing, and misinformation about supplementation that it makes it really difficult to know which supplements are actually worth taking.

As a trainer I get a lot of questions about what supplements to take, and since I became sponsored (by SD Pharmaceuticals) I’ve done a lot of research into this topic. The fact is that there are some supplements that can have a very significant benefit to you, while others are probably a complete waste of money.

00supplements

Continue reading

Nutrient Timing: Is There an Anabolic Window?

I used to be a strong advocate of consuming carbs and protein within an hour post-workout to take advantage of the supposed “Anabolic Window”, when insulin sensitivity is greatest, damaged muscles are starving for protein, and muscle glycogen stores are depleted and ready to suck all that nutrition in to support faster gains. However, I recently attended a lecture by Brad Schoenfeld in which he discussed nutrient timing, and questioned whether it was as important as many thought. Because of this lecture and the reading I did following it, I have changed my opinion… I no longer believe the post-workout “anabolic window” is as narrow nor as important as I once thought.  Let’s look at why.

time-to-eat

First of all, one argument in favor of consuming carbohydrates within 30 minutes post workout is that this would cause a spike in insulin which has an anti-catabolic effect and would increase nutrient uptake as well as replenish glycogen stores. However, consuming just whey protein also raises insulin levels significantly, so carbs really become a secondary concern. In fact, eating a regular meal with about 75g of carbohydrate, 37g protein, and 17g of fat will elevate your insulin for up to 3 hours. This means that you will benefit from the anti-catabolic effects of insulin for about 3 hours after each meal.

Continue reading

IIFYM (aka Flexible Dieting) vs Clean Eating

KaneCrop

A friend and colleague of mine, Kane Sumabat, is one of the most fit, muscular, lean and aesthetic guys I know, and yet poptarts, pizza, hamburgers, and bacon are staples of his diet. How can he stay in such great shape while consuming all of that so-called “junk food”?

Keep in mind, those aren’t his cheat meals… they are just some of his food choices that fit into his carefully planned nutrition program. Once he described his nutritional philosophy to me I was interested to learn more about it, so I began to do some research. I’d like to share some of what I discovered in this article.

When it comes to losing body fat, gaining weight, and transforming your physique overall, the primary factor to consider is nutrition. Obviously an intelligent approach to training is necessary, but for most people if the diet isn’t on point the results will be disappointing.

With this knowledge in mind, what is the ideal approach to a solid nutrition plan? There are so many different “diets” available to us, how do we know what to choose? For example:

  • There’s the popular low carb / no carb diets like Atkins or Cyclic Ketosis (which may work, but are unreasonable to maintain long term);
  • Low-fat diets (which are ridiculous and unhealthy!);
  • Paleo “Caveman” diet (which I actually like, but still feel it is lacking in some respects, such as tracking your nutrient intake);
  • South Beach diet (may have health benefits, but is not comprehensive);
  • Intermittent Fasting (this is more of an “eating schedule” than it is a “diet”. Learn more on my I.F. blog post HERE)
  • Vegetarian and Vegan diets (again, despite some benefits tends to be very restrictive and difficult to achieve balanced nutrient intake)

=> Watch my video on Veganism HERE!

And the list goes on and on. In this article I want to discuss two very popular nutritional approaches and compare the pros and cons of each. These two nutrition “plans” are called IIFYM and “Clean Eating.”

What is IIFYM?

Continue reading

Intermittent Fasting for Faster Fat Loss

I want to share with you a very powerful technique for reducing body fat while improving your health and longevity. But I need to warn you that this nutritional strategy goes against the advice you’ll probably receive from the mainstream fitness industry. If you’ve read my other posts you know I’m not one for following the trends, and I like to keep an open mind to unorthodox methods for improving our bodies, as long as they are based on evidence. I encourage you to be open-minded as well and to read through this entire article before making any judgement calls. Also be sure to check out the additional information / resources I’ve included with the links below.

The fat loss strategy I want to introduce you to is called “Intermittent Fasting” (IF). Basically, IF relates to extending the length of time you have an empty stomach, by fasting for a specific number of hours.  This concept was hard for me to accept at first, because for years I have been recommending frequent meals, about 4 hours apart spread throughout the day. I had also been espousing the virtues of a big breakfast.  I.F. proponents, however, claim to achieve greater fat loss and health by skipping meals and often going an entire day without food!

Continue reading

Nutrition Tips For 6 Pack Abs

As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I’m now in hot pursuit of obtaining the coveted six pack abs! Since the birth of my beautiful daughter (a little less than 3 years ago), followed by my quest to get back into competing in strongman competitions, I ended up getting a little soft around the middle. Over the last several months I’ve started to tighten up my nutrition again, and introduce a slightly different style of training, and I’m certainly getting leaner… but I still have a ways to go. But this time I am determined to get ripped! Chiseled! Shredded! I WILL get a 6 pack! Heck, I’m a fitness expert for crying out loud… I damn well should be in excellent shape!

So I hope you will join me on my journey to uncover the much sought-after “washboard abs” … starting with today’s post!

Continue reading