Why post-workout carbs are necessary

   Have you been at the gym and noticed people walking around with a baggie of gummy bears or questioned why there's a tub of tootsie rolls on the counter at Planet Fitness? Seems a little counter productive at first glance, doesn't it? When I first started noticing this "trend" I thought that eating candy was defeating the purpose of dieting in general. How is this a thing and why would you turn to candy and not a protein supplement after working out? While getting a protein rich meal or supplement post workout can be beneficial, it's not as import as getting those carbs in first and foremost.  I've educated myself throughout my fitness journey and done research regarding the need for simple post workout carbs. 

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So what's up with the candy post workout?

   It all starts with your muscle glycogen levels that your body has burned off during your strength training exercise. When you're training, the main fuel for your muscles is glycogen, so it makes sense to replenish those levels as soon as possible, but why? Glycogen is the storage form of glucose (sugar, dextrose). Studies have shown that the best way to replenish these levels are as quickly as possible, within at least 60 minutes post workout. Doing so can DRASTICALLY increase muscle repair, growth, recovery and muscle cell volume. These "fast" carbs will also help you feel more rejuvenated and helps those who crave sweets satisfy those cravings. 

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   I believe wholeheartedly in the post-workout carb craze. You'll find my wife and I munching on some Twizzlers or gummy bears after our workouts. It has helped us in our recovery while also not feeling as drained post workout. There are supplements out there that are made specifically for your post carb needs. While these might have some enticing flavors and from reputable brands, I choose the less expensive route. I'd rather spend between $1-3 for a bag of Twizzlers than $20-30 on a supplements that's main ingredient (dextrose) is the same as if I could consume a few pieces of candy for the same result. The choice is yours, but I believe that if you're skeptical on this method, try it for a week or two and see if it helps you in your fitness journey. Happy dieting !!

Is the Keto diet right for you?

   What does it mean to be on a Keto diet? In short, a ketogenic diet means to consume high fat (healthy fat) food sources, with moderate to high proteins and very low carbohydrate intake.  I am currently following a keto-esque diet and feel like it has benefitted me greatly.  I'm not a big fan of carb cycling and playing the counting game every time I get hungry, although it is a tried and true method, its just not for me. I still consume carbs, but I make sure they are at the most advantageous times. (pre-workout, post-workout)

Healthy fats and how do they help you lose weight?

   Have you heard that you "need to eat fat to lose fat"? Although it sounds like a contradictory statement, it holds true. It all begins with insulin, which comes from sugary and starchy foods. When we consume a heavy carbohydrate meal with breads, pastas, sodas, etc, it highly elevates insulin levels in our bodies. When those carbohydrates are breaking down in your system, your body immediately stores the glucose/sugar into your fat cells. Instead of going for that starchy sandwich or spaghetti that's beckoning your name, substitute those options out with some healthy fats. I stress the term "healthy" because just saying fats could constitute eating Reese cups or nutty bars, who doesn't like those? Healthy fats would include avocados, eggs, low fat cheese, olive oils, fatty fish, almonds, etc. Eating these healthy fats will help your body to use the fat stored for burning energy; moreover, to burn fat from your body. SOURCE 

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 Protein and How it plays a role in EVERY Diet, Not just Keto

   Although eating enough fats is the most crucial element of a Keto diet, protein also plays an important role. By standard, a Keto diet doesn't stress to add as much protein to your diet, but definitely keep it moderate and manageable. Protein is important in any diet because it helps our bodies repair tissue. Our hair, skin and nails are comprised of protein, so it's definitely important to keep a protein rich diet to help the body regulate properly. I would recommend adding some fatty fish and grass-fed meat if possible. Eggs are another awesome choice. The yolks contain essential omega-3 fatty acids that help with brain and heart function. The good thing about Keto dieting is that a lot of the foods synergize with one another. (ex. Eggs w/ avocados, tuna w/ avocados, olive oil lemon garlic shrimp)

   Although I'm not following a strict Keto diet (ketosis), I find that a high protein, low carb, high fat diet has benefitted me greatly. I've also kept a steady workout routine while doing cardio which obviously helps the process, but I definitely would recommend it for anyone who isn't down for counting every carb consumed with each bite of food.

Lifestyle vs Diet

   In my opinion, Keto is more of a lifestyle change, not something that should be cycled on and off. If you are planning on doing this diet, I would recommend slowly lowering your carb intake each week until you are at your minimum. (Around 25 on non workout days and 50 on workout days) If you drop all of your carbs initially then you will drop a lot of weight quickly, but you will also drop muscle mass.  Once on a Keto diet (like any diet) you can't go back to eating terrible things after you've lost the desired weight.
  

   There are so many positives to being on a Keto diet. Once your body is warmed up to the idea of low carbs, you will notice a great difference in how you feel. You will have more energy, you won't bloat as easy, and you will even think more clearly! The Keto diet is an anti-inflammatory diet so it helps with PCOS, IBS and even acne. Studies have shown that being on a Keto diet can help those suffering from Alzheimer's; even Cancer.

   While following a Keto lifestyle, there is less sugar being consumed. Studies have shown that cancer feeds off of glucose (sugar), so by lowing the amount of sugar being consumed they are "starving" cancer cells. 

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While a Keto diet/lifestyle can work for many people, it can also be very harmful to some people. There are diseases and medical conditions that a Keto diet can complicate further. 

 4 Reasons to AVOID a Keto diet

Crohn's Disease- described as inflammatory of the gut. The limited foods that are in the Keto diet decrease bowel movements that are needed to eliminate wastes and lower inflammation.

Gallbladder Disease- flare-ups are caused by high fat foods. The Keto diet is high in fats, even though it calls for "healthy fats", the gallbladder doesn't discriminate and can be irritated by ALL types of fats.

Diabetes- fiber helps slow down the digestive process, which has an impact on blood glucose spikes. Fiber is only found in plant sources of food and is limited while on a Keto diet.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome- Eating a lot of meats and fats without a lot of fiber from plant based foods can be taxing on your digestive system, leaving you feel drained and lacking energy.

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Intermittent Fasting

   By definition, to fast is a term for various diets that cycle between a period of fasting and non-fasting during a defined period. INTERMITTENT FASTING/IF can be used as a calorie restriction to heed weight loss. It is said to be considered more of a diet pattern than an actual diet.
   There are different types of IF that you could try out if you have the will power to do so. The more popular variation is only allotting an 8 hour window out of your day that you are "allowed," by IF's implication, to consume your daily requirements of calories, fats, proteins and carbs in that 8 hour window. For example, if your IF window was 2pm-10pm, that's your window to eat and train within, essentially skipping breakfast. You could adjust your window to make it fit your busy schedule accordingly. The most important thing to remember is to keep it in the same 8 hour timeframe daily in order for your body to respond to the fact that you're actually fasting in that 16 hour period thereafter.
    I have attempted this diet before, and it isn't for me. Not because of the difficulty of doing so, but my work schedule is very contrasting from week to week. If I were on a 9-5 type of work routine then I would be able to do IF more efficiently. Its definitely not for everyone. I follow several fitness gurus and athletes that swear up and down by this regimen. I first was introduced to IF from the HODGE TWINS, and JIM STOPPANI PH.

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6 reasons Intermittent Fasting Works!!

- Supports Fat loss and Ketosis (fat burning state in your body)

- Boosts Metabolism

- Improves Your Heart Muscle's Health (Cardiovascular)

- Lowers Blood Pressure

- Decreases Inflammation

- Enhances Recovery time from Injury

    IF can be a daunting diet pattern to take on, but it's very effective and has grown more and more in popularity over the years due to its positive health benefits. When you're fasting, your body goes into "starvation mode" 8 hours after your last meal, after the body has absorbed all of the nutrients from your last meal, using the body's glucose storage as energy. Later in the fast, after the body's glucose has run out, it burns fat for the next source of energy in the body.

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Fat Burning Goodness!

 

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What can break a fast?

    This is a popular question in the community, and although there are dos and don'ts as to what can break a fast, there isn't a concrete rule to live by. Water, black coffee, and clear liquids are recommended as to not break your fast. A common misconception by some is that sipping BCAAs outside your "feeding window" will not break a fast, but technically, it does. Let's look at Leucine, which is found in every BCAA product out there. Leucine triggers blood responders in your brain that tell your body that you are being "fed." Hence, breaking your fast.
    When you really think about it, primitively, our bodies are not meant to have six packs and be at 5% body fat. Our bodies have fat as a means to keep warm and for survival. That's why dieting can be tough, we're going against our bodies natural instincts. But we can adapt to these changes and that's the beauty of fitness as a whole.

Why IF isn't for me...    

   IF is not for everyone. It is a means for fat loss and has a lot of health benefits if you can stick with it and make sure you are consuming your daily macros and protein. IF isn't for me because my work/life schedule isn't as routinized as it should be to uphold this dieting lifestyle. I hope this helped!