Lean Habits - Eating to Lose

 

Heres an adapted version of Precision Nutritions 5 Lean Habits that I share with my nutrition clients. This isn't a diet plan, its a lifestyle. Many of us are too sedentary, and consume far too many processed, high sugar, high sodium, calorie dense foods. The key to weight maintenance is daily activity, and a diet consisting of whole, natural, unprocessed proteins, fruits and vegetables. If its comes in a box, package, or bottle, its probably devoid of any nutrient value and loaded with empty calories. Best selling nutrition and culture author, Michael Pollan, summed it up best "eat often, not too much, mostly plants." For more information on my diet and exercise prescriptions, feel free to contact me here.

5 Lean Habits

 1. Frequent Small Meals. Eat every 2-4 hours - eating boosts your metabolism via the thermic effect of feeding (TEF), and promotes stable blood sugar levels, combating cravings and binging. It also affects several hormones, which set the body up for either fat storage or fat burning.

 2. Protein First. Protein comes from the Greek word Proteios, meaning first or most important. Amino acids are the building block of every cell in your body. Choose a lean protein (poultry, fish, lean beef, pork, eggs, 2% dairy, whey protein supplements, soy) every time you put any food in your mouth - Make protein the focus of each meal. Protein boosts the metabolism, as its harder to digest than other foods. It also promotes muscle development which is more metabolically active than fat. Your body can store sugars and fats, but cannot store proteins, so its important to fuel this need regularly, or your body will tap into muscle to get the proteins it needs to function, thereby decreasing your metabolism, promoting fat storage.

 3. Lots of Veggies. 1-2 servings (1 cup raw, 1/2 cup cooked or 1 piece) of veggies and or fruits (4:1 ratio) every time you eat something. Veggies and fruits are nutrient dense and low in calories. They provide good carbohydrates and displace bad calorie dense carbs (breads, pastas, sugars, grains)

 4. Time Your Carbs. Starchy complex carbs (whole grains, pastas, breads, rice, cereals, snacks, sugars) only 1-2 hours following exercise. Otherwise, these carbs are converted to sugars and stored as body fat. Starchy carbs are simply long chains of sugars molecules. Feed your muscles with starches post workout when insulin sensitivity is greatest. Avoid these carbs on rest, and cardio days.

 5. Eat fat to burn fat. Eat more healthy fats throughout the day (nuts, nut butters, avocados, olives, olive oil, fish oil supplements, marine foods, chia seeds, flax) Fats are calorically dense, and provide satiety, keeping you full between meals.  Many of the tissues in the body are lipid(fat) based. Eating more fat, will enhance weight-loss, mood, hormone production, fat soluble vitamin absorption, and immunity.

Low Trap Pulls for Increased Stability and Strength

Often when we look at shoulder stability, we focus on the scapulae retractors, the postural muscles that pull and squeeze the shoulder blades together, for greater stability during pushing and pulling movements. However, an often neglected aspect of scapulothoracic and glenohumeral rhythm involves the scapulae depressors as well. Not only is it important to squeeze and retract the shoulder blades together, but in order to create more space at the glenohumeral joint, thus decreasing impingement pathologies, the shoulder blades must rotate down and depress as well. Often these muscles are weak and or long, due to over active upper traps, and or overly kyphotic thoracic spines (poor posture). To improve both the length/tension relationship of your lower traps, and their strength, try a few of the following soft tissue, activation and strengthening exercises. You ll notice both increased strength in movements such as pull ups and the bench press, and you ll decrease your risk of achy or injured shoulders.

Begin with some soft tissue work at the thoracic spine. Lie on a foam roller. With your hands clasped behind your head or hugging opposing shoulders, gentle roll the upper 2/3 of your back. This exercise is great for loosening up the fascia around the thoracic spine (mid back), thus allowing for better mobility at the shoulder blade which should sit flush on your back, but is often protracted and rounded out, due to poor, kyphotic posture.

From there, foam roll your lats. Immediately after your SMR work, perform several reps of your favorite thoracic mobility drill, followed by an activation exercise like the one performed with a band in the video or the wall angels in the next video.

 

Wall Angels can be done against a wall or lying on the floor. Pulling your shoulder blades down and together, slowly flex your arms straight overhead, maintaining contact with the wall or floor throughout the movement. Focus on pulling the shoulder blades down and together as you lower your arms.

 

After your done a few minutes of soft tissue and activation work. Perform a low trap exercise like the one below. If you aren't strong enough to do them from a pull up bar, begin with a lat pull down machine, progressing the load to body weight. Make sure you are able to get a good symmetrical squeeze as you pull your shoulders down and away from your ears. Notice in this example as my client begins to fatigue, an asymmetry on his right side is more pronounced and uneven.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Doing Work" with Coach Dos - Metabolic Conditioning

Two weekends ago I attended a great seminar on Cardio Strength Training with renowned strength and conditioning coach, Robert Dos Remedios. The concept of cardio strength training is not new for many fitness professionals, but Dos was nice enough to share his own spin on things, which has proven to be an excellent way to boost work capacity and cut fat. If you still think traditional cardio is the most effective tool for boosting VO2 capacity, and maintaining or cutting weight, you are ignoring the research and science. Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption(EPOC) is elevated for several hours, if not days, after a high intensity interval or conditioning circuit. As your body works to return back to resting oxygen levels, you metabolism is on fire, burning pounds of stored energy (fat cells). Below is one of many circuits I like to use as a litmus test for my clients endurance. Try 1 round of this at the end of your strength training session to finish off any lingering glycogen stores, or use this circuit for several rounds in between strength training days as a conditioning workout. Enjoy!

15R kettlebell swings

15R unilateral kettlebell snatch

15R kettlbell goblet squat

15R kettlbell renegade rows

 

Dynamic Mobility 2.0

By now many of you have incorporated soft tissue and dynamic stretching work (see foam rolling and dynamic stretching) into your warm up routines.  You know that static stretching is an ineffective and outdated mode of warm up, because it decreases strength and performance, develops little if any range of motion (ROM) prior to getting warm, and has been disproven in preventing injury. You also know that 5 min or so in the cardio section prior to training does not prepare your joints and soft tissues for the rigors and full ROM of a resistance workout. So per you highly qualified fitness coach, and or the eloquent well-researched fitness blog you follow, you’ve established a thorough dynamic warm up routine prior to your training.  So thorough in fact, that it may be cutting into your limited training time. 5-10 minutes foam rolling, 5-10 minutes dynamic stretching, and 5-10 minutes activation work leaves little time for training. While you may be covering all your bases, perhaps you could be spending more time on certain deficiencies and less on others. And maybe the order and sequencing of these exercises could elicit greater short-term mobility for your workout, and long-term gains in tissue quality day to day. Below are a few suggestions for developing even greater specificity in your warm up.

Order ABCs – Sequencing your warm up routine is no different that choosing the appropriate order of exercises for your workout. You wouldn’t do (I hope) a single joint movement before a compound movement.  So don’t start your warm up stretching muscles with adhesions (knots). You’re essentially pulling those knots tighter, and limiting the length and quality of the muscle. Following the order and sequencing below, with enough frequency, may help counteract the adaptive stresses and postural changes of day-to-day work and activity. (see The Sitting Disease)

A - Release – choose 1 soft tissue exercise for the targeted muscle of the day to improve the quality of that tissue, improving movement and strength – SMR, ART, ETC

B - Mobilize – follow an active release exercise with a specific dynamic stretch or mobility movement to improve the length and range of motion of that muscle

C - Activation – Once you’ve released and mobilized the selected muscle, hammer it home with an activation exercise of that muscle’s antagonist (opposing muscle group). By law of reciprocal inhibition, activating (contracting) an opposing muscle group, will allow for a greater stretch (release) and length in the targeted muscle.

 

Ankle Mobility

 

Hip Mobility - Flexors

 

Hip Mobility - Adductors

 

Hip Mobility - Gluteals

 

Pec Mobility

 

Thoracic Mobility

 

 

 

Are You a Well-Oiled Machine?

Fish oil is a dietary oil extracted from fish rich in beneficial omega 3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA. These essential fatty acids cannot be produced by the body, and therefore must be consumed. Foods rich in omega 3s include fish and other algae eating animals. While nuts and seeds also contain omega 3s, they are composed primarily of ALA fatty acids, which research has yet to prove whether or not they also contain the same beneficial properties of DHA and EPA found in fish. Unfortunately, to meet your daily requirement of DHA and EPA, you would need to consume several pounds of fish per day. Not only would this be a daunting dining expectation, you would also be increasing your exposure to mercury, which would negate many of the healthy brain and cognitive benefits of consuming fish oil. Alas, there are several fish oil supplements available on the market in both pill and liquid form, both flavored and natural. Look for supplements containing 300mg or more of EPA/DHA per serving.

Health benefits of consuming several grams of fish oil daily include:

- increased brain and cogitive function - decreased risk of Alzheimer's, dementia, and other cognitive degenerative disorders - increased cardiovascular function - decreased risk of heart disease - decreased inflammation, and chronic disease associated with inflammation - increased joint health - increased metabolism

A diet rich in omega 3s is associated with increased insulin sensitivity (decreased sensitivity being associated with diabetes), promotes greater nutrient absorption at the cellular level, and an increased metabolism due to the increased enzymatic activity, thereby burning more fat cells. Consider adding a fish oil supplement to your diet for increased healthy and well being. Consult with your physician before beginning any new diet or exercise program.