Tyler Robbins Fitness

B.Sc. Biochemistry, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), Certified CrossFit Trainer (CCFT/CF-L3), USA Weightlifting Level 1

Filtering by Category: "Protein"

Day 339 - Calories

We live in a society that is constantly swayed by trends. Recently, one major trend that is taking over is counting calories. You would be pretty hard-pressed to go somewhere without seeing some sort of mention of calories. Restaurants print them on menus (not always accurate, only an estimation), food companies print them on packaging, diet and exercise claims on the radio, tv, and in advertisements all claim to "burn more calories". The problem with mostly all of this is that majority of the population never stops to think or understand what these numbers or claims mean. Unfortunately they just get caught up in the trends.

I have made a list of calorie claims, myths, truths, and partial-truths below to help my readers understand how to decipher what they see and read out in the world today.

1. Calories Fuel Our Bodies

The term "calorie" was first coined in the 19th century for steam engine heat conservation. Basically, a calorie is a unit of energy required for 1 gram of water to heat 1 degree Celsius. It was in 1890 that the USDA first brought this term over to the food industry. Scientists would literally take a piece of food and light it on fire to see how much it would heat water. Some of you may remember doing this in science class, I know I do. The term "calorie" in the food industry should actually be "kilocalorie" as the calorie count you see on food packaging refers to the amount of energy required to heat 1kg of water by 1 degree Celsius, but everyone usually drops the "kilo" because we are all lazy...

There is also one problem here, our bodies do not have little fires raging in our cells to produce energy, we break down macronutrients (proteins, fats, carbohydrates) to use their chemical energy. Also, instead of one enormous chemical plant, we have billions of little energy producers in our cells called mitochondria that are much more efficient. The problem that many people think and feel, is that all calories are created equal, when this simply is not the truth, which leads me to #2.

2. All Calories are Created Equal

When we eat stuff, i.e. food, the chemical makeup of that stuff must be broken down into smaller chunks to be absorbed, transported and utilized by our bodies. This is not a passive process which means that we need energy to digest, or in other words, we require energy to produce energy. (Takes money to make money right?) To assume that all calories are created equal is just silly.

Carbohydrates are the easiest macronurtient to digest and therefore has the highest yield. Carbs, also known as sugar, is nature's form of jet fuel for our bodies. The problem is, our society seems to pack more and more and more sugar into everything, leading us to the point where we would never come close to burning off as much of that energy as we take in, leading to adipose tissue (body fat)...but that is a different blog topic altogether. Anyways, carbs return about a 90-95% energy yield per calorie. What I mean by that is, for example, every 100 calories of carbs you take in, it requires 5-10 calories of energy to digest.

Fats actually have a slightly higher energy yield than carbohydrates, ranging in the ballpark of 95-96%, but this should not be alarming as our diets require much less fat than carbs. What this means is that in 100 calories of fat, it takes about 4-5 calories to digest.

Protein has the lowest energy yield, which can actually be very beneficial for weight loss. Only about 70-80% of protein calories consumed are returned to the body when digesting proteins which isn't all that surprising as the body greatly prefers fats and carbs for energy whereas protein is mostly used for tissue repair. Regardless, proteins are highly recommended throughout the day for those looking to lose weight or are highly active.

3. You Are What You Eat

We have all heard this term before, but don't think that everything you put in your mouth stays in your body and is digested. Just keep in mind, there are things that come out the other end - and that will be as far as I go with that! When you eat your food, your teeth chew it up, then the juices in your stomach break things down further into a paste. This paste then travels through your intestines where the nutrients are absorbed through the spongy walls. For most people, however, 5-10% of this paste just keeps passing on through and is expelled as waste.

For the most part, fat digests easily and passes through the walls quickly. Animal protein sources are absorbed better than plant-based sources. Then we come to carbs. Glucose and starchy carbs (i.e. chocolate, potatoes) are absorbed rapidly, whereas high-fiber carbs like in fruits, vegetables and grains take their sweet time passing through your system. Not only that, but fiber seems to prevent your body from absorbing certain calories and can even lower cholesterol levels. An equivalent amount of broccoli compared to an equivalent piece of chocolate may register as the same number of calories in a laboratory, but that does not mean that they act the same way in your body. Studies have shown that individuals with high-fiber diets have close to 20% of their daily ingested calories move through their digestive system without being absorbed. Less calories this way can lead to less body fat!

4. "I'll Just Burn it off at the Gym"

Many people grossly over-estimate how many calories they actually burn during a workout. Everybody has heard someone say (while reaching for a second helping of dessert), "Oh, I'll just burn it off later when I am (insert weak excuse for an exercise here)." Truth is, even the craziest of fitness nuts only burn, at most, 30% of their daily calories in working out each day.

Most of our calories burned on a day to day basis come from doing things like digesting food, thinking, breathing, repairing a cut to your leg/face from shaving, etc. This is known as our resting metabolic rate, which means you are burning a ton of calories even when watching tv! There are other daily activities can also contribute to our daily caloric expenditure that are known as non-exercise thermo-genesis (N.E.A.T.) such as walking up the stairs, walking your dog, having sex, etc.

I know what you may be thinking, "Hell, I don't need to exercise then!" Keep in mind that exercise causes a whole list of benefits too long to list in this blog, so I highly recommend you continue (or start) to exercise 5-6 days a week. Not only that, but a properly designed strength and conditioning program consisting of cardio and resistance training will raise your resting metabolic rate, mentioned earlier, so that the rest of the day when you are not exercising, you will burn more calories than the average person!

The best scenario in this case would be to exercise often, but to also make small changes in your life that can result in bigger changes over the long-haul. For example, if you live or work in a multi-storey building, take the stairs more often rather than the elevator. Park at the back of the parking lot when shopping to force you to walk a bit further, etc.

5. "Big" People Have Slower Metabolisms

There are many studies that show that thin people may potentially absorb and burn dietary fats quicker than their "bigger" counterparts, but this topic is definitely false. When referring to the "resting metabolic rate" (RMR) discussed in #4, studies have shown that the average man requires 11 calories per pound of body weight for their RMR, even if they sat in front of the tv all day. If you do the math, you would quickly discover that the bigger you become, more calories are actually required to maintain your current weight.

6. Low Calorie Foods Help You Lose Weight

This seems to be a very hot-button issue as of late. Many people seem to think that eating "Low-Fat" or "Low-Calorie" food substitutes will help them lose weight. It looks and sounds good on paper! The problem here is that companies often remove fat from products, but replace with either sugar or artificial sweeteners or in high-sugary foods, they remove natural sugars and replace with zero-calorie artificial sweeteners. The problem arises when those "zero-cal" sweeteners hit the bloodstream. A long story short, the body thinks its taking in sugar (and calories) when in fact the artificial sweeteners are useless which causes a blood-sugar dip causing you to crave guess what, more sugar!

More and more studies are coming out detailing how individuals who frequently consume things like "Diet" sodas and low-cal foods are actually gaining weight in the process, oh, the irony! The ideal situation here would be to remove soda from the diet and replace with another zero-cal beverage...water!


Quote of the day:

"It is not enough to take steps which may some day lead to a goal; each step must be itself a goal and a step likewise."
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Check out my new Website: tylerrobbinsfitness.com






Day 228 - Strategize Your Diet Part 2


Last post I discussed the topic of planning your carbohydrate intake during the day based on timing of exercise as well as intensity. This post is going to discuss protein intake and its effect on the body at different times during the day.

Protein, along with carbohydrates, contain 4 calories per gram. The difference is, carbohydrates yield nearly all of those calories as energy (or stored as fat), whereas the simple act of digesting protein burns calories. Not to mention the fact that protein is needed for countless processes in the body including muscle and tissue building, hormone production, etc.

Many people feel like they only need protein in their diet on days when they are exercising. This couldn't be further from the truth. Think of your body as a construction site. Virtually all of your tissues in your body are constantly being "torn down" and replaced by newer, more efficient cells. This is part of your body's defense mechanisms against diseases like cancer. The longer a cell sticks around, the better chance it has at goofing up and making a mistake causing a mutation, but that discussion can wait for another day.

Everyone should have plenty of protein in their diets for all of your body's natural processes, as well as tissue building. Now, exercise - especially resistance training - causes micro tears and damages in your muscle tissue which needs to be repaired and replaced. This is the entire basis of resistance training. You want to damage your muscles by working them hard, so that your body will come in to repair and replace those damaged muscle cells with bigger (sometimes), faster, stronger ones. The process of muscle repair is what heightens your metabolism for hours following a workout.

So, back to protein. It is crucial that you feed your body the proper building blocks following a workout so that it can go about its business by repairing and replacing your tissues. Many different studies have been done on this topic and there are varying thoughts on the matter, but from what I have read and researched, a beverage or protein shake immediately following (within an hour) a workout with a ratio of 4:1, grams of carbs to grams of protein, seems to be the best way to feed your body.

Not only does the carbohydrates replace depleted glycogen stores in the muscles/liver to replenish your anaerobic energy levels, but it also acts as a sort of shunt or transport system delivering the correct amino acids to your muscles to aid in the rebuilding process. Chocolate milk is a great post-workout drink, and is what I use following my workouts. It has that correct ratio of carbs to proteins and is also pretty darn tasty too!

On top of using protein as a post-workout recovery drink, small amounts of protein should be ingested every few hours throughout the day. No, that does not mean that you need to be chewing on a chicken breast every few hours, but some sort of protein source is beneficial such as a protein shake, almonds, fish, quinoa, or yogurt (Greek yogurt especially!). Ingesting protein at set intervals throughout the day gives your body the tools it needs to maintain its tissues as well as stabilize its blood sugar level. Elevated protein has been shown to give healthier-looking skin and hair as well as acting as an appetite suppressor as it takes longer to digest, keeping you feeling "full" longer, which is good for fighting off those hunger pangs.

So what types of protein should you ingest? Whey protein can be found in a variety of protein shakes. It is a fast-acting protein which means it can digest, distribute itself throughout the bloodstream and be into the muscles in no time. This is a fantastic type of protein for post-workout so that you can get those amino acids to your muscles as soon as possible.

Casein protein is found in mammalian dairy products such as cheese and milk and is a slower-digesting protein which can stabilize your blood sugars for longer and provide more of a steady drip of protein for hours after ingesting. This is great for a mid-afternoon snack!

When it comes down to it, having more protein in your diet can be beneficial for everyone, men and women. Not only does it suppress your appetite, give you a youthful appearance, and stabilize blood sugar levels, protein is also vital after exercising to build more lean, healthy, efficient muscle tissue. More muscle means a higher resting metabolic rate, which means you are burning more calories even at a resting state!

Quote of the day:
"Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm."
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson


Check out my new Website: tylerrobbinsfitness.com





Day 115 - Nutrient Timing for Resistance Exercise Part 3



Part 1 the other day covered nutrient timing prior to exercise, and how it effects performance.

Part 2 dealt with post-exercise nutrition and how it effects recovery.

For those of you who may have missed part 1 or part 2, I came across an absolutely amazing article in the Strength and Conditioning Journal titled, "Nutrient Timing for Resistance Exercise" written by a team of PhD and CSCS certified individuals. This is probably the single-greatest resource I have come across detailing what is referred to as "nutritional timing" when it comes to resistance training, so if you are interested, pick up a copy for yourself!

Part 3: Net Protein Balance

Think of your body as a construction site, with tissues constantly being broken down and either repaired or replaced. This is known as having a 'negative' net protein balance.

Having a negative net protein balance, or in other words, a catabolic state, is stimulated from resistance training, but also occurs when the body is at rest. Tissues are being broken down due to misuse, or in the case of resistance training - use, at all times.

The focus of individuals who wish to positively grow their muscles, or induce an anabolic state, should be of great interest, especially when resistance training.

The diet is therefore of great interest for those who resistance train, as the goal of improving one's muscles to improve size and/or strength plays a key role.

When discussing post-exercise nutrition, it should be noted that carbohydrates are important to not only return the body to pre-exercise levels of glycogen (energy stores), but have also been shown to reduce muscle protein breakdown.

Having said that, individuals should consume sources of amino acids/protein following exercise in order to feed the body the proper building blocks to reduce muscle protein degradation, but to also stimulate muscular growth.

What types of protein are best? The article says:

Whole-protein sources (including whey, casein, and soy protein sources), when ingested either before or after an acute bout of resistance exercise, also significantly improve net protein balance by increasing rates of protein synthesis. In one of these investigations, it was reported that whey protein was superior to soy and casein in its ability to incrase protein synthesis (approximately 22g of each type of protein was ingested after resistance exercise). Surprisingly, even though soy is lower in quality than casein, they found that of the 3 protein sources, casein resulted in the lowest net response in protein synthesis. The authors suggested that this was a factor of the slow rate of digestion induced by casein. Therefore, after resistance exercise, it may be ideal to select a protein source high in BCAA content (whey) that is also fast digesting in nature.

Okay, so following exercise, it is best to consume either a beverage or meal containing some protein. So how much is ideal? I have seen many personal thoughts tossed around from individuals over the years, who claim to know the 'perfect amount' of protein. This article has an opinion of its own:

Research conducted at McMaster University sough to answer this question by giving male subjects (with at least 4 months of resistance training experience) 5 different amounts of protein in a randomized crossover design. Immediately after a lower-body resistance exercise bout, the subjects consumed drinks containing 0, 5, 10, 20, or 40g of whole egg protein. After consuming the whole egg protein supplement, protein synthesis was measured for the next 4 hours. Mean mixed muscle protein synthesis was maximally stimulated with 20g of whole egg protein (meaning that ingesting 40g of protein offered no additional benefit than 20g of protein in terms or maximizing protein synthesis rates). In terms of relative dosage, this amount of protein was equivalent to 0.23g of whole egg protein per kilogram of body mass.

Although a snack or meal containing amino acids/protein is highly recommended following resistance exercise, it should be noted that research shows that a mixture of protein and carbohydrates is the optimal scenario for post resistance-workout nutrition as the carbohydrates aid in reducing protein catabolism, replenish spent glycogen stores, not to mention the protein aids in tissue anabolism.

Quote of the day:
"To climb steep hills requires a slow pace at first."
~ William Shakespeare






Day 114 - Nutrient Timing for Resistance Exercise Part 2


Part 1 the other day covered nutrient timing prior to exercise, and how it effects performance. Today will cover nutrient timing following exercise.

For those of you who may have missed part 1, I came across an absolutely amazing article in the Strength and Conditioning Journal titled, "Nutrient Timing for Resistance Exercise" written by a team of PhD and CSCS certified individuals. This is probably the single-greatest resource I have come across detailing what is referred to as "nutritional timing" when it comes to resistance training, so if you are interested, pick up a copy for yourself!

Part 2: Recovery After a Resistance Exercise Bout

Carbohydrate and Muscle Glycogen Resynthesis

It is no surprise that muscle glycogen levels become depleted from a resistance training session. The level of depletion is entirely dependent on the work being completed, however. In any respect, an athlete who trains multiple times a day, or even multiple days in a row, should be interested in post-workout nutrition.

In order to maintain performance, an individual should approach post-exercise nutrition as a chance to re-fuel their muscles to prepare for the following workout. Keep in mind that for muscle glycogen replenishment, the goal is to maintain a high level of performance. A discussion on protein synthesis can come later.

To return muscle glycogen levels to 90% of pre-exercise values, the article explains:

Given that 1 g/kg/h was as effective as 1.5 g/kg/h, it can be concluded that 1 g/kg/h is sufficient for resynthesizing skeletal muscle glycogen after resistance exercise to levels reaching 90% of pre-exercise values. After this dosing schedule, a 180-pound individual would ingest about 82g of carbohydrate immediately after and then again 1 hour after their resistance exercise workout (totalling ~165g of carbohydrates within an hour after completing the resistance exercise workout).

Carbohydrate Plus Protein and Muscle Glycogen Resynthesis

This category takes things a step further as the subject of protein synthesis is added to the goal of restoring muscle glycogen levels.

The authors discuss findings from studies looking at various types of post-workout beverages including carbohydrates only, carbohydrate/protein/fat mixes, as well as placebo beverages (calorie-free).

To be honest, I have heard many individuals discuss the idea that dietary fats should be avoided in post-workout recovery beverages/meals, as the fats can slow digestion. This appears to me to be common thought/practice amongst many in the fitness industry, however, the authors of this article present findings that refute that belief.

Another interesting aspect of this study is the inclusion of fat calories in the post-exercise beverage. It has often been suggested that adding fat to the post-workout recovery beverage should be avoided because of its potential to slow down the digestion and absorption of ingested carbohydrate (which may suppress the rate of skeletal muscle glycogen resynthesis). The finding of this study indicates that adding fat to the post-workout carbohydrate-protein beverage does not negatively alter the rate of skeletal muscle glycogen resynthesis. In further support of this position, when subjects were given a post-endurance workout beverage containing carbohydrate, protein, and fat (even up to 45% of the calories being derived from fat), it was reported that the added fat content did not alter muscle glycogen resynthesis or glucose tolerance the next day.

Protein/Amino Acids and Muscle Damage

Part of the reason or need for a post-exercise recovery beverage is to suppress muscle damage and decrease DOMS (delayed-onset muscle soreness). Resistance exercise causes micro trauma to muscle fibers in order for the body to repair the damage, returning the muscle to a stronger state.

It really should be no surprise that supplementing resistance exercise with protein/amino acids should be encouraged to elicit muscle repair.

Recovery from a bout of resistance exercise includes replenishing skeletal muscle glycogen, reducing muscle soreness, and attenuating serum markers of muscle damage. Ingesting a carbohydrate-protein beverage after resistance exercise will replenish skeletal muscle glycogen. Also, BCAA supplementation taken in conjunction with resistance exercise has been shown to enhance recovery by suppressing both muscle soreness and damage.

Protein or amino-acid supplementation is often thought of as only being useful to those who resistance train. It should be noted, however, that endurance athletes could also benefit from a sufficient dosing of protein in their diet to maintain current levels of muscle tissue and reduce the catabolic effect chronic cardio plays on their bodies.

Quote of the day:
"I am an optimist. It does not seem too much use being anything else."
~ Winston Churchill




Day 43 - Not all Calories are Created Equal

 
When we eat stuff, i.e. food, the chemical makeup of that stuff must be broken down into smaller chunks to be absorbed, transported and utilized by our bodies. This is not a passive process which means that we need energy to digest, or in other words, we require energy to produce energy. (Takes money to make money right?)

To assume that all calories are created equal is just silly. Carbohydrates are the easiest macronurtient to digest and therefore have the highest yield. Carbs, also known as sugar, is nature's form of jet fuel for our bodies. The problem is, our society seems to pack more and more and more sugar into everything, leading us to the point where we would never come close to burning off as much of that energy as we take in, leading to adipose tissue (body fat)...but that is a different blog topic altogether.

Anyways, carbs return about a 90-95% energy yield per calorie. What I mean by that is, for example, every 100 calories of carbs you take in, it requires 5-10 calories of energy to digest. 

Fats actually have a slightly higher energy yield than carbohydrates, ranging in the ballpark of 95-96%, but this should not be alarming as our diets require much less fat than carbs. What this means is that in 100 calories of fat, it takes about 4-5 calories to digest.

Protein has the lowest energy yield, which can actually be very beneficial for weight loss. Only about 70-80% of protein calories consumed are returned to the body when digesting proteins which isn't all that surprising as the body greatly prefers fats and carbs for energy whereas protein is mostly used for tissue repair. 

Regardless, proteins are highly recommended throughout the day for those looking to lose weight or are highly active. This is where a diet based on your lifestyle and activity level becomes most important. If you an extremely active person, you will want to take in more carbs so that you can sustain your energy levels.

On the other hand, if you are more sedentary, your primary fuel source for the day is going to mainly consist of fats, so carbs are not needed as much.

One of the biggest problems facing society today, is the overindulgence of carbs, with very little activity. The body stores extra "jet fuel" in the tank (body fat) for use later on...which never seems to happen.

Quote of the day:
"Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out."
-Robert Collier





Be Mindful of What You Are Eating!

I have always been an active person, playing sports year-round growing up. I have also been quite lucky *knock on wood* to have a slim build and never really need to worry about what I eat. Over the past few years, I have definitely put on a few pounds of "comfortable insulation" but nothing too serious.

After I graduated University in 2006 at the age of 21, I still had that lazy mindset that I could basically eat whatever I wanted and drink whatever I wanted because exercise and my metabolism would take care of the rest. Well, a few pounds crept up on me and I decided to nip my bad habits in the butt long before they took hold and overran my life.

In 2008 when I decided to really start to change my lifestyle by exercising more frequently and 'watching what I eat' I really only did one part of the equation. Again, I figured that since I was so active and that I was still young with a blazing metabolism, I could basically eat whatever I wanted to.

Fast forward a few years now, and I have had some pretty good success. I don't necessarily eat/exercise to "look good", because as I have told people in the past, I frankly don't really care what I look like on the beach. I exercise and try to lead a healthy life for a number of reasons including feeling better, being able to do the things that I like to do, be in a better mood, and hopefully all of these criteria for years to come (especially now with my son!).

I will say that in these past few years of exercising more, I have begun to change my dietary habits as well. Not only do I wish to maximize my results and how I feel from being active, but I have also come to learn of the numerous other health effects/benefits a proper diet has. You could say that my diet has been slowly evolving over the years and rather than an overnight resolution to overhaul everything, I have been making small changes over the years that are manageable to me and make sense based on what I learn/read about.

This brings us to November 2011. For my 27th birthday, my wonderful wife bought me an iPad for my birthday/Christmas/Anniversary gift. I played around with the idea of 'tracking calories' for years now but have never wanted to be a slave to what I eat.

Well, to start 2012, I finally decided to download a free app for my iPad that would help me track my calories in a fairly loose sort of way. Now I need to mention a few disclaimers here. One, I have only been doing this for a week. Two, I don't plan on doing this forever, I just wish to educate myself on how my diet is going based on how I currently living my life, etc. Three, I am not being 100% accurate about things, but I am doing my best and am probably 90-95% accurate (I am NOT using a food scale to weigh every single morsel of food).

Well, at the end of my first week with this new endeavor/hobby/goal/whatever you want to call it, I have made some pretty startling observations that I will list below.

First, about me; I am 27 years old, have a pretty fast metabolism, work a full-time job with a few part-time personal training jobs on the side. I am married, have an infant son at home and also exercise 6-7 times/week. I am very active and should be consuming well over 3000 calories/day!

I have done a bit of research and realize that I don't really wish to lose a whole lot of weight, plus I am active and try and keep my lean muscle mass in check so I have been aiming for about 40-50% carbohydrates, 25-30% protein and 25-30% dietary fat (healthy fat as much as possible). This plan seems to work best for me and seems to fit my lifestyle the most, but should still challenge me to meet certain criteria.

Things that I have learned so far:

1. Carbohydrates creep up on you FAST! Holy smokes has this ever been an eye opener for me. There is sugar in nearly EVERYTHING we eat! I cut soda out of my diet a long time ago, so the only beverages I consume is either water, green tea, the daily glass of chocolate milk (post-workout), and the occasional glass of white milk (1%) with dinner. I try and eat as many fruits and vegetables as I can and keep my grains to whole grain and I STILL have absolutely no problems blasting through my daily carbohydrate consumption...and that is even when I am aiming for 50% carbs on a 3000cal+ diet!!!!

This is scary for a few reasons. One, I know I am in a very small minority of people who actually consume this few of carbs. Two, there are many, many people out there who consume carbs with this thought in their heads that it is 'fat free' so it must be good for them...only to pack on more and more and more pounds! Three, as I said, I don't consume any sugary beverages and I still have no problems meeting my daily caloric counts, I struggle to keep my carbs down, and I am highly active. I find this downright scary and disturbing to think of some folks out there who down cans and cans of soda a day or eat carb-full meals then go sit on their butts and watch tv...holy smokes. To be honest, I knew it was bad, but never really knew it was THIS bad!

2. I really am trying to do my best to keep my protein levels up. I do quite well with this as I try and have protein with every meal, I have healthy snacks that I try and squeeze some protein in, as well as having protein shakes (low-cal) throughout the day. I guess this one will be tougher for me to keep my numbers up the more active I am because the higher my daily calorie count goes, the higher my recommended proteins go as well. This is probably my best category though.

3. Healthy fats are out there, you just have to look for them! I try and cook with olive oil, I take a fish-oil supplement and I try and squeeze some avacado into my diet whenever I can. The scary part is seeing the amount of fat in some packaged products at the grocery store. A little bit of fat is good, too much fat is bad, and especially stay away from trans fats. What may be even scarier than all of this however, is that when companies remove the fat from their products, they replace it with sugar...which makes most individuals in our society think its then guilt-free....wrong!

This is going to continue to be a learning curve for me. I have realized that I have actually been doing quite well in my daily caloric intake. I often wondered how far off/on I was before I started tracking, but have come to realize that I am pretty spot-on in that regard. The biggest learning curve for me will be to watch my carbohydrate calories as the higher that goes, the less room there is calorie-wise to get my required proteins and fats in. I will keep everyone updated!

-Tyler Robbins
B.Sc. CSCS




Post-Partum Weight Loss

I apologize for not posting last week, but I have had a whirlwind couple of weeks. First of all, I would like to let everyone know that I received my exam results from the NSCA the other day and I have officially passed my Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) exam. What does this mean? Well, I am much more qualified to train collegiate and professional-level athletes now, but that also means that I am much more qualified than most to help everyday folks reach their health and fitness goals by providing information and resources to inspire and encourage healthy lives. If you ever have a question regarding health and fitness, please do not hesitate to contact me!

The other big piece of news that I would like to share is the birth of my first born. My wife gave birth to our son (Evan) on December 6th. Both mom and Evan (and dad) are doing great! In the interest of this news, I will share some tips and information for moms out there that wish to lose their pregnancy weight.

Set Your Goals

Be reasonable here, too. There is nothing worse than setting goals that are too lofty for yourself, only to get overwhelmed and discouraged causing you to quit. Obviously give yourself some time to rest, relax and heal after the birth of your baby as your body will need it. Speak with your doctor about this as well and you can discuss with them what you, and they, feel is an appropriate time to start exercising again.

Most women should be able to resume daily walks days after their pregnancy if they had a vaginal birth. If you have had a C-Section, your road to recovery will be a bit longer, but again, I suggest speaking with your doctor regarding this.

My wife has already decided that she will resume exercise at the start of January. This way, she allows herself some time to rest and relax over the holidays before easing back into a workout routine. For the first few weeks, she will exercise about 3 times a week and then begin to transition into 4 to 5 days a week while also increasing intensity.

Protein

Consume foods that are high in protein like meat, fish, and eggs. High-protein sources give you that satiated feeling (feeling 'full') for a longer period of time and also contain higher levels of vitamin B12 which gives you a nice energy boost. Higher energy levels and feeling hungry less means you will, in the long run, consume less calories and burn more by watching your newborn.

Teamwork

My wife and I discussed our fitness plans long before our baby arrived. My wife knows that I like to have my workout done and out of the way in the morning before I go to work. On the flip side of that, my wife has expressed interest in also exercising, so I will help out by watching the baby if she needs to exercise in the evening.

I understand that not everyone may have schedules like ours where they can call in a spouse to babysit for them, but speak with relatives or friends that live near-by that could pop over to your house and watch the little one for an hour while mom exercises.

Fight Stress

The act of giving birth, along with daily activities caring for a newborn can cause great amounts of internal stress within the body. Heightened stress levels can lead to unwanted weight gain. You can combat this with some alone time (refer to "Teamwork" above) or time for some meditation. Exercise also works well to fight stress and consuming foods high in anti-oxidants such as green tea, berries, and other fruits and vegetables can go a long way!

Be Flexible

Yes, body flexibility is important, but that is not what I am referring to here. I am talking about schedule flexibility. Some new moms get hung-up on the idea that they need to exercise 60 mins a day to lose those baby pounds fast. This simply is not the case, nor is it practical. You are now not only looking after yourself, but your little one as well. If you have such a hectic schedule and only have 15-20mins to exercise, perfect! In the end, I always tell people that doing something is always better than doing nothing!

Don't Get Attached to Your Numbers

Immediately following your pregnancy, you will drop a lot of weight rather quickly. The birthing fluids, retained water, as well as the baby itself will cause you to feel like you are on top of the world in your weight loss. This will slow but do not get discouraged. You must keep a positive outlook and understand that the journey back to your pre-pregnancy body is not going to happen overnight and that positive attitude should help you immensely!

Drink Your Water!

Pregnant women retain water during pregnancy. I know it sounds backwards, but to remove said retained water, you should drink...lots of water! It will help your bodily fluid levels stabilize, not to mention it helps in milk production if you decide to breastfeed.

Vitamins

Speak with your doctor about any supplements you are safe to take, but listed below are the vitamins that you should be consuming, as well as a list of ways to get these naturally.

Vitamin A - lost through breastfeeding, consume spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes and kale.
Vitamin C - also lost through breastfeeding, consume red peppers, oranges, broccoli
Vitamin D - stored in our fat cells and made naturally in our bodies from sunlight, can be tough to get during the winter months. This is also a tough vitamin to get enough from dietary sources so speak with your doctor about taking a supplement for this one.
Vitamin E - helps with circulation, found in nuts, seeds and eggs.
Potassium - helps lower blood pressure, found in bananas.

-Tyler Robbins
B.Sc. CSCS




Strength and Conditioning Tips

I have compiled a helpful list of training tips below that I am sure everyone can learn something from, enjoy!

Training Time

This tip is actually a twofer (broken into 2 parts). Men and women alike are always asking when the best time of the day is to work out, so that is why this is broken into two. For men (generalizing here), they want to know when the best time of day is to work out to grow big, strong muscles. Many people will tell you that working out in the afternoon or evening is the best time for muscle growth for a number of reasons, but simply is not true. The Journal for Strength and Conditioning Research has said that consistency is the key here. If you only have time to hit the weights in the morning, do that! The study showed that men made equal strength gains regardless of what time of day they worked out.

Similarly, women (again, generalizing) want to know when the best time of day is to exercise to burn fat. Again, consistency is the key. There are pros and cons to exercising either morning or night. For example, exercising in the morning can rev your metabolism for the rest of the day, whereas exercising in the evening has the potential to burn more calories as your body's metabolism is potentially at its highest. As I have said before, doing something is always better than doing nothing, so if you only have time in the morning to exercise, do that! I personally exercise in the morning because that's what fits my schedule, but if it doesn't suit you, then fine!

Pack on the Protein

I see this one time and time again. People think that in order to grow big, strong muscles, they need to cram as much protein into each meal as possible. Studies have shown that eating 30 grams of protein in a meal yields the same benefits of eating 90 grams does. This is a perfect example of "more isn't necessarily better". Instead, you should aim to have protein in small doses throughout the day. Keep one thing in mind, however. Protein seems to have this aura attached to it now that it is this wonderful "weight-loss" food. Protein still has calories, and ingesting too much protein can still result in unwanted body fat if unused, so make sure your diet is properly proportioned. Not only that, but if all you are doing is eating protein all day, you will likely be missing out on important vitamins and nutrients that can only be found in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables!

Muscle Loss

For the longest time, there was this belief that as people age, their muscle tissue decreases. This is in fact true, but this is a sort of chicken-and-egg problem. Does your muscle tissue disappear because you age, or because you stop using your muscles as you age? Studies are now showing that it is in fact possible to continue muscle growth with strength improvements later in life. Yes, men have lowered testosterone as they age, but there is more to it than that. Once you hit the age of 65, sure, you may not be making major muscle gains, but you can still use resistance training to reduce the loss of muscle. Not only that, men and women can greatly benefit from resistance training throughout life to help strengthen bones, muscles and connective tissues!

Do It For Your Brain

Sure, many people like to exercise to try and look a certain way. Unfortunately, many personal trainers will market these types of things to you as well. I have a swift kick of reality for you though. Unless you have tremendous genetics, or photoshop (or a combination of the two), you are never going to look like some of those models or Hollywood celebrities. Not only that, but chasing "the perfect image" will only end in disappointment and despair. Instead, you should exercise to feel better about yourself in your own skin, not to mention the mental and body benefits that comes along with it. Think of how great you feel after a good workout. Wouldn't that be great to bottle that up and take a swig of that every day for the rest of your life?

Go Fast and then Go Home

I probably sound like a broken record here, but unfortunately some people just don't get it. I see and get asked by people all the time why they are not getting/seeing results from working out an hour or more at a time. I then see them slowing jogging on a treadmill or elliptical. Instead, why not try HIIT (high-intensity interval training) and cut your workout times in half? Chronic cardio should only be used if you are training for...wait for it...a cardio event such as a marathon or triathlon, etc. Instead, most people can get into their gym, exercise using HIIT principles for 20-30mins and then be done with an even better workout than something that takes twice the time.

A study done by McMaster University in Hamilton found that men who performed sprint interval training for a total of 2.5 hours (including recovery) over the course of 2 weeks has the same results as the group who performed endurance training for a total of 10.5 hours over the same time period. Yes, its alright to go back and read that again. 1/5th of the time for the same results! Another study following a group of 15 women found that high-intensity exercise (40 to 45 minutes approximately four times weekly at a mean HR of 163 bpm) reduced body fat by about 5 percent over the course of 15 weeks versus a virtually unchanged percentage in the group that performed exercise at a lower heart rate (132 beats per minute).

-Tyler Robbins
B.Sc. PTS




Calories

We live in a society that is constantly swayed by trends. Recently, one major trend that is taking over is counting calories. You would be pretty hard-pressed to go somewhere without seeing some sort of mention of calories. Restaurants print them on menus (not always accurate, only an estimation), food companies print them on packaging, diet and exercise claims on the radio, tv, and in advertisements all claim to "burn more calories". The problem with mostly all of this is that majority of the population never stops to think or understand what these numbers or claims mean. Unfortunately they just get caught up in the trends.

I have made a list of calorie claims, myths, truths, and partial-truths below to help my readers understand how to decipher what they see and read out in the world today.

1. Calories Fuel Our Bodies

The term "calorie" was first coined in the 19th century for steam engine heat conservation. Basically, a calorie is a unit of energy required for 1 gram of water to heat 1 degree Celsius. It was in 1890 that the USDA first brought this term over to the food industry. Scientists would literally take a piece of food and light it on fire to see how much it would heat water. Some of you may remember doing this in science class, I know I do. The term "calorie" in the food industry should actually be "kilocalorie" as the calorie count you see on food packaging refers to the amount of energy required to heat 1kg of water by 1 degree Celsius, but everyone usually drops the "kilo" because we are all lazy...

There is also one problem here, our bodies do not have little fires raging in our cells to produce energy, we break down macronutrients (proteins, fats, carbohydrates) to use their chemical energy. Also, instead of one enormous chemical plant, we have billions of little energy producers in our cells called mitochondria that are much more efficient. The problem that many people think and feel, is that all calories are created equal, when this simply is not the truth, which leads me to #2.

2. All Calories are Created Equal

When we eat stuff, i.e. food, the chemical makeup of that stuff must be broken down into smaller chunks to be absorbed, transported and utilized by our bodies. This is not a passive process which means that we need energy to digest, or in other words, we require energy to produce energy. (Takes money to make money right?) To assume that all calories are created equal is just silly.

Carbohydrates are the easiest macronurtient to digest and therefore has the highest yield. Carbs, also known as sugar, is nature's form of jet fuel for our bodies. The problem is, our society seems to pack more and more and more sugar into everything, leading us to the point where we would never come close to burning off as much of that energy as we take in, leading to adipose tissue (body fat)...but that is a different blog topic altogether. Anyways, carbs return about a 90-95% energy yield per calorie. What I mean by that is, for example, every 100 calories of carbs you take in, it requires 5-10 calories of energy to digest.

Fats actually have a slightly higher energy yield than carbohydrates, ranging in the ballpark of 95-96%, but this should not be alarming as our diets require much less fat than carbs. What this means is that in 100 calories of fat, it takes about 4-5 calories to digest.

Protein has the lowest energy yield, which can actually be very beneficial for weight loss. Only about 70-80% of protein calories consumed are returned to the body when digesting proteins which isn't all that surprising as the body greatly prefers fats and carbs for energy whereas protein is mostly used for tissue repair. Regardless, proteins are highly recommended throughout the day for those looking to lose weight or are highly active.

3. You Are What You Eat

We have all heard this term before, but don't think that everything you put in your mouth stays in your body and is digested. Just keep in mind, there are things that come out the other end - and that will be as far as I go with that! When you eat your food, your teeth chew it up, then the juices in your stomach breaks things down further into a paste. This paste then travels through your intestines where the nutrients are absorbed through the spongy walls. For most people, however, 5-10% of this paste just keeps passing on through and is expelled as waste.

For the most part, fat digests easily and passes through the walls quickly. Animal protein sources are absorbed better than plant-based sources. Then we come to carbs. Glucose and starcy carbs (i.e. chocolate, potatoes) are absorbed rapidly, whereas high-fiber carbs like in fruits, vegetables and grains take their sweet time passing through your system. Not only that, by fiber seems to prevent your body from absorbing certain calories and can even lower cholesterol levels. A certain size of broccoli and chocolate may register as the same number of calories in a laboratory, but that does not mean that they act the same way in your body. Studies have shown that individuals with high-fiber diets have close to 20% of their daily ingested calories move through their digestive system without being absorbed. Less calories this way can lead to less body fat!

4. "I'll Just Burn it off at the Gym"

Many people grossly over-estimate how many calories they actually burn during a workout. Everybody has heard someone say (while reaching for a second helping of dessert), "Oh, I'll just burn it off later when I am (insert weak excuse for an exercise here)." Truth is, even the craziest of fitness nuts only burn, at most, 30% of their daily calories in working out each day.

Most of our calories burned on a day to day basis come from doing things like digesting food, thinking, breathing, repairing a cut to your leg/face from shaving, etc. This is known as our resting metabolic rate, which means you are burning a ton of calories even when watching tv! There are other daily activities can also contribute to our daily caloric expenditure that are known as non-exercise thermo-genesis (N.E.A.T.) such as walking up the stairs, walking your dog, having sex, etc.

I know what you may be thinking, "Hell, I don't need to exercise then!" Keep in mind that exercise causes a whole list of benefits too long to list in this blog, so I highly recommend you continue (or start) to exercise 5-6 days a week. Not only that, but a properly designed strength and conditioning program consisting of cardio and resistance training will raise your resting metabolic rate, mentioned earlier, so that the rest of the day when you are not exercising, you will burn more calories than the average person!

The best scenario in this case would be to exercise often, but to also make small changes in your life that can result in bigger changes over the long-haul. For example, if you live or work in a multi-storey building, take the stairs more often rather than the elevator. Park at the back of the parking lot when shopping to force you to walk a bit further, etc.

5. "Big" People Have Slower Metabolisms

There are many studies that show that thin people may potentially absorb and burn dietary fats quicker than their "bigger" counterparts, but this topic is definitely false. When referring to the "resting metabolic rate" (RMR) discussed in #4, studies have shown that the average man requires 11 calories per pound of body weight for their RMR, even if they sat in front of the tv all day. If you do the math, you would quickly discover that the bigger you become, more calories are actually required to maintain your current weight.

6. Low Calorie Foods Help You Lose Weight

This seems to be a very hot-button issue as of late. Many people seem to think that eating "Low-Fat" or "Low-Calorie" food substitutes will help them lose weight. It looks and sounds good on paper! The problem here is that companies often remove fat from products, but replace with either sugar or artificial sweeteners or in high-sugary foods, they remove natural sugars and replace with zero-calorie artificial sweeteners. The problem arises when those "zero-cal" sweeteners hit the bloodstream. A long story short, the body thinks its taking in sugar (and calories) when in fact the artificial sweeteners are useless which causes a blood-sugar dip causing you to crave guess what, more sugar!

More and more studies are coming out detailing how individuals who frequently consume things like "Diet" sodas and low-cal foods are actually gaining weight in the process, oh, the irony! The ideal situation here would be to remove soda from the diet and replace with another zero-cal beverage...water!

-Tyler Robbins
B.Sc. PTS