By Roland Pankewich- Clinical nutritionist
Dr. Michael Koskiniemi
This is probably one of the most misguided areas that many folks painfully toil through to achieve their desired levels of body fat and esthetics. I like to help people simplify and optimize anything to do with their health so without further ado, let’s examine the 5 most common areas where I see people go wrong in the quest to get lean.
Mistake #1: Drastic calorie cutting
It seems like a simple solution to lose weight, simply eat less and you are bound to succeed! Sadly this is what I call a “flat earth” way of thinking. Just because we see it as flat…..doesn’t mean it’s true. The question becomes why does this approach fail? Let’s examine the details of metabolism to get a better idea. Each of has a unique calorie requirement which means the amount of energy we need to consume to maintain our bodily functions. If we reduce this amount drastically, the body is essentially in crisis with a necessary biological change happening as a result of thinking there’s a food shortage. What are the associated changes that happen?
1. A slowing of metabolism due to a lack of energy coming in
2. A wasting of muscle which the body breaks down for energy in these situations
3. A reduction in physical performance and strength
4. An increase in stress hormones which greatly reduce the ability to burn fat
Add this in with a really drastic rebound where your own body encourages you to essentially binge on food and gain whatever weight you might have lost…plus more. Your testosterone levels might also crash to that of a 12-year-old girl, which won’t do you any favors.
Get a Resting Metabolic Test (RMR) done to find out exactly how many calories you need to eat per day to hit your goal. Don’t just start calorie counting and cutting as the PRIME DIRECTIVE instead focus more on the exact number that your body provides, where your food is coming from calorie wise as well as the nutrient-density of the food. When we iNBalance our nutrient ratios and feed our bodies calorie-dense but nutrient-poor foods, we become more likely to put on more fat than we should because it takes nutrients to convert food into energy. Drastically cutting calories also cuts nutrients and we end up falling behind the nutritional 8 ball.
Mistake #2: Trying to “out-exercise” your diet
This is the other half of the eat less and move more equation many people try to adopt, and sadly it’s just another way of coming up short in your quest for abs. I am in NO WAY saying exercise doesn’t help, rather what I am saying is that it’s simply another piece of the pie, not the whole thing. What most people do in this context is endless cardio work with the goal of burning as many calories as they can. For me this would be like suggesting that someone gets rich working for minimum wage, good luck. Here is the key benefit for exercise.
1. Resistance exercise stimulates increase in metabolic rate with accumulation of muscle
2. It improves insulin sensitivity meaning we store less carbohydrate as fat
3. All exercise can improve our body’s ability to burn fat for energy while not training
4. Exercise can help manage stress levels which has a large implication in fat loss
As you can see here, exercise has A TON of value in the context of fat loss, the thing is it’s very easy to out eat the caloric expenditure of the workout. Think of going out for endless wings and beer after playing a hockey game! You can’t just train with the intensity of a spider monkey and expect things will change.
You need to optimize your nutrition around your training sessions and get biofeedback from your training sessions from a heart rate monitor. We need workout fuel before training from good quality foods and in certain contexts some supplements like amino acids which can aid your performance. Using a heart rate monitor ensures you are not under training, over-training, and that every session counts. Too often I see men and women guzzling a ton of empty calories to “carb up” post training, and totally over exercising, it’s likely working against your goal.
Mistake #3: Considering total calories and not where they come from
There is a shift is the nutrition world and I think we have finally overcome some long-held beliefs that probably did more damage to people’s health then we care to think about. That being said there is probably now more confusion than ever on WHAT we should be eating. The in-depth details of this are way beyond the scope of this article but I will share some of the best tips I have used to help people improve their health and appearance at the same time.
1. Look at a paleo-style diet template: remove crappy carbs, sugars, oils, processed foods
2. Don’t overconsume protein, more protein doesn’t automatically equal more muscle
3. Focus on health fats: omega 3, 6, MCT, coconut oil, grass-fed butter, olive oil
4. Drink filtered water at a minimum of 2L per day
5. Think about eating differently on days you train: intense activity vs sedentary lifestyle
As you can see with this last mistake there is no simple fix because suggesting one single way of operating would be bad practice as everyone has unique requirements. Having said that, these general guidelines are a great place to start and to make you think about what and when you are eating if you are working towards a goal. The nutrition industry has a lot to wade through but ultimately having a solid foundation will allow you to build upon it.
Mistake #4: Following a “Low Fat” Diet
Blame this misconception of poor word association and absolutely ZERO knowledge from a consumer perspective. Let me explain what I mean. The word fat is actually a term to describe a chemical compound that provides energy to the body among many other essential functions. Our body also stores energy in the form of these fat compounds as it’s essentially an insurance policy against dying from famine. Where I think the major disconnect is, is that many people make the automatic assumption that eating fat makes you fat. This could not be further from the truth! Dietary fat is actually one of the best nutrients to consume to help us lean down and optimize our health. The key is knowing how to prioritize food selection to support this notion.
This one takes a little more work so I will give you a guiding principle of basic foods to incorporate to make it easier. Getting familiar with foods that contain different healthy fats makes it much easier to consume a variety of them every day.
Omega 3: fish, walnuts, flax/chia seeds
Omega 6: brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds, chicken
Mono-unsaturated Fat: olives, avocado, macadamia nuts
Saturated Fat: grass-fed butter, coconut, animal protein
You might be thinking that the saturated fat column goes against everything we have been told as being bad for you, in a way it fundamentally does. The recent mounting evidence has really changed the perception of the nutrition industry on the dangers of saturated fat and cholesterol which was always more of a hypothesis than a proven fact. I am not saying go and eat butter by the pound daily, but I am suggesting that you have no need to fear it and other healthy fats because besides providing us with energy, every food on this list in very dense in nutrients which are the key components in running the machine that is our body. Consume healthy fats at major meals and reduce the starchy carbs and your blood sugar levels will be far more stable, you won’t get hungry as often, and you will put yourself in a better position to burn more fat for energy.
Mistake #5: Don’t constantly eat and snack
Somewhere along the way, it became a religious belief that eating every 2-3 hours like a grazing animal was optimal to stoke the metabolic fire. I can’t dispute the fact that yes, your digestive system will be working overtime to always be digesting something. This in and of itself is an issue for another article but let’s say that your digestive system will respond like you would if you were over-worked and under-rested over the long term. The issue with this concept is that we are constantly feeding ourselves throughout the day when it’s not required by the average human who is mainly sitting at a desk not burning energy on their feet (some professions aside). If you were to examine our biology you would find we are actually made to be able to go for periods without eating (hence our ability to store energy in the form of body fat). When we constantly eat we never actually tap into these energy stores to sustain us and as a result we simply burn the energy coming in which might cause some greater issues depending on our food selection.
Designing your meals to be more substantial will help to not allow hunger to rear its ugly head within an hour or two. This is a basic structure I designed for people who are trying to trim down and it’s very easy to mix and match different foods in the formula.
1. Include protein, healthy fat, fiber, and nutrient dense food at all meals.
2. Start the day with a moderate protein, high fat, and low carb breakfast (total departure, I know)
3. Aim to go 4 hours minimum between meals, focusing on hydration which helps burn fat
4. Use higher carbohydrate foods as pre-workout choices
What a Day Might Look Like
1. Breakfast: vegetable omelette with ½ sliced avocado and green tea
2. Lunch: Meal salad w/ protein, sliced sweet potato, walnuts, veggies, olive oil
3. Pre- Workout Meal: protein meal replacement bar (be careful of ingredients in these)
4. Dinner: Steak or Chicken w/ 2 different green vegetables and quinoa
5. Snack (if needed): handful or raw nuts/seed or unsweetened coconut
Not only will these meals be substantial enough to not induce hunger right afterwards, but they will keep blood sugar levels in check as constant fluctuations will predispose you to not only weight gain if chronic, but bad food choices when that blood sugar crashes. This is when logic doesn’t always prevail over willpower…..
Although this may seem like a big departure from what many people determine as normal, commitment and consistency with just these 5 small changes will yield some long term progress towards being leaner. I hope I passed my audition with everyone and in coming months I hope to dive a lot more into some details regarding topics like: fat loss, intermittent fasting, low carb diets, performance nutrition, and exercise! Until then be well my friends.
If you're looking to get a Resting Metabolic Test or purchase a Heart Rate Monitor and get educated on both, I'd encourage you to check out Motions Fitness. For more information and pricing please stop by Motions Fitness, call 906-228-2233, email [email protected] , or visit our website at www.MotionsFitness.com today!
Roland Pankewich- Clinical nutritionist
Tyrosine, an important amino acid you may not know about
Like almost any nutrient, be it a vitamin, mineral, or botanical extract, amino acids are best introduced to the body via whole foods. In this way, they typically come packaged along with complementary and accessory nutrients that facilitate their absorption and fulfillment of their biochemical destinies. (It’s so nice of nature to do that for us, isn’t it?) But in just the same way that certain disease states, both acute and chronic, can increase the body’s need for particular vitamins and minerals above the levels someone would reasonably get from food alone, certain conditions may warrant supplemental amounts of amino acids.
There’s branched chain amino acids for potential skeletal muscle growth, tryptophan (and its metabolite, 5-HTP) for lifting a low mood or helping to promote sleep, and glutamine for gut health and tissue healing and repair after trauma.
What about tyrosine?
Like its aromatic amino acid brethren (phenylalanine and tryptophan), tyrosine is a building block for neurotransmitter synthesis. Unlike phenylalanine and tryptophan, however, it is not technically an essential amino acid, since it can be synthesized from phenylalanine. (For individuals with phenylketonuria [PKU], tyrosine is essential, as they lack the enzyme that facilitates this conversion.)
Tyrosine readily crosses the blood-brain barrier and is the starting point for producing L-DOPA, dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. It is also the building block for thyroxine (a.k.a. T4, or thyroid hormone), but inadequate tyrosine is usually not the limiting factor in thyroxine synthesis. Individuals with suboptimal thyroid function might benefit from supplemental tyrosine, but likely only if hypothyroid symptoms are due primarily to insufficient tyrosine availability. Owing to its role in neurotransmitter and catecholamine synthesis, it has shown benefit for alleviating depression, acute stress, narcolepsy, and cocaine addiction. (With regard to cocaine addiction, tyrosine and tryptophan may be an effective combination, with these amino acids blunting the cocaine “high,” and reducing the depression that may result from drug withdrawal.)
Tyrosine competes with other large, neutral amino acids (phenylalanine, tryptophan, leucine, isoleucine, valine, and methionine) for transport across the blood-brain barrier, so for optimal efficacy supplemental tyrosine is best taken on an empty stomach, or perhaps with a carbohydrate-containing meal or snack that is low in protein. Taking vitamin B6 along with it may facilitate the conversion of tyrosine to dopamine, as the vitamin is a cofactor for the aromatic amino acid decarboxylase enzyme that catalyzes the reaction.
The Brain and Mood Link
Considering tyrosine’s role as a precursor to dopamine and thyroid hormone, it would seem that tyrosine supplementation would be a slam dunk for improving depression. Yet, results are mixed . Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies have failed to show efficacy for tyrosine with regard to depression ; nevertheless, anecdotal evidence indicates there may be a role, so it’s possible it depends on an individual patient’s presentation. Depression is multifactorial, so there may be cases where supplemental tyrosine will help alleviate symptoms, and others where the issue is unrelated to inadequate levels.
On the other hand, tyrosine may be helpful for supporting cognitive function in acutely stressful situations. A review looking at the effects of tyrosine on behavior and cognition found that “tyrosine loading acutely counteracts decrements in working memory and information processing that are induced by demanding situational conditions such as extreme weather or cognitive load.” Most likely this is due to the influence of tyrosine on restoring healthy brain catecholamine levels. Other researchers had similar findings—that it does enhance cognitive performance, particularly in short-term stressful and cognitively demanding situations. One study’s authors caveated this by saying that it “is an effective enhancer of cognition, but only when neurotransmitter function is intact and DA [dopamine] and/or NE [norepinephrine] is temporarily depleted.”
Fortunately, it is an inexpensive compound to supplement with, so patients may be inclined to give it a try if their health care professionals suspect some of the symptoms they present with may be related to suboptimal tyrosine and/or reduced levels of hormones and neurotransmitters that come from tyrosine.
Note that tyrosine should not be supplemented in pregnant or lactating women, nor in individuals taking MAOIs for depression. Individuals with Parkinson’s disease may benefit from supplemental tyrosine, for the production of dopamine, but it should not be taken at the same time as levodopa, due to possible reduction in the drug’s efficacy.
Weight lifting is important to begin to building muscle mass and size, however it isn’t the only key element of shoulder training.
Posture is essential if you want to be injury free and want to start adding serious size to your shoulders.
Visual feedback and equal weight distribution are important to ensure that your muscles contract accurately.
New study demonstrates omega-3 fatty acids increase blood flow to regions of the brain associated with cognition
According to a new study published last Thursday in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, by using neuroimaging, researchers were able to demonstrate increased blood flow in regions of the brain associated with memory and learning in individuals with higher omega-3 levels.
Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders (ADRD) are a group of conditions that cause mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or dementia. These conditions affect one’s ability to function socially, personally, and professionally. It’s important to recognize that Alzheimer’s disease begins long before symptoms start , just like many other conditions. There is evidence that simple prevention strategies can reduce the risk of ADRD by as much as 50%.
This new study included 166 individuals from a psychiatric clinic in which Omega-3 Index results were available. These patients were categorized into two groups: higher EPA and DHA concentrations (>50th percentile) and lower concentrations (<50th percentile). Quantitative brain single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) was performed on 128 regions of their brains and each individual completed computerized testing of their neurocognitive status.
SPECT can measure blood perfusion in the brain. In addition, performing various mentally stimulating cognitive tasks will show increased blood flow to specific brain regions. (Previous research has demonstrated that mentally stimulating activities reduce the risk of new-onset mild cognitive impairment even when performed later in life.) As a result, researchers identified significant relationships between the Omega-3 Index and regional perfusion on brain SPECT in areas that are involved with memory and neurocognitive testing.
This study demonstrated the positive relationships between omega-3 EPA and DHA status, brain perfusion, and cognition. This is significant because it shows a correlation between lower omega-3 fatty acid levels and reduced brain blood flow to regions important for learning, memory, depression and dementia.
By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, CNS
See Strength Sensei for more information.
Fix Your Knee Pain in 2 Easy Steps
Tip Number 1 – Fix Your Feet Fix Your Knee
The movement of the knee joint is influenced by the movement of the ankle joint. To make sure you have proper biomechanics of your knee, you should first ensure that your foot has optimal movement. Start by testing your shoes. Position your foot on top of your shoe. You’ll want to make sure that the width and length of the shoe is big enough to accommodate the size of your foot and toes. If your toes are sticking out, then the shoe is too small. Change shoes.
Fix Your Low Back Pain (Two Tips)
When talking about lower back pain, we’re not inclined to think that the clenching of our teeth could have a negative repercussion. Our jaws (maxillary and mandible) is linked to our anterior and posterior muscular chains. As such, it would be impossible to display an outburst of strength without having our jawbones in contact.
Tip Number 1 – Red Dots
Use six red dots that you will alternate every six weeks. Position them in different areas of your house and working area at the level of your eyes. The red dots are meant to be used as a visual cue, so that when you see the dot, you become aware that your teeth are in contact. Immediately stop and move on to tip number two.
Is magnesium deficiency halting your gains?
To be valid, every hormone or mineral evaluation must be tested in the right compartment. Even if it is commonly prescribed, the serum magnesium test is a poor indicator of magnesium levels as serum magnesium represents only 1% of the body’s stores . Low serum magnesium indicates severe deficiency.
Red blood cell magnesium is the way to go. The optimal range is 6.8-7.2 mg/dL .
Most people hover around 2 mg/dL. Magnesium deficiency is a concern for 50-80% of the population depending on the source.
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Here’s what you need to know…
1. Bad posture increases muscle strain and tension, as muscles that are not aligned are forced to work harder to fight gravity.
2. Bad posture increases risk of back pain, nerve impingement and slipped disks, because the spine does not have the right curves and balance. While training, this imbalance of curves could lead to injury.
3. Bad posture increases the wear and tear of all joints because they are not moving in the way they are designed to and because the muscles stabilizing the joints do not receive the correct activation from the brain. This breaks down the cartilage and weakens ligaments leading to increased risk of injury such as ligament tears and muscle pulls.
4. Bad posture (and the above mentioned factors) can increase the production of stress hormones and inflammation in your body. This can lead to lowered immune system function, decreased sleep quality, digestion and energy levels.
The Brain Muscle Connection
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