Coach Calorie How to Lose Weight, Get Fit, and Change Your Life Forever Mon, 26 Jan 2015 15:40:25 +0000 en-US hourly 1 How to Get Over Your Fear of Eating More Calories Wed, 13 Aug 2014 17:14:44 +0000 plate of smiling foodYou’re not eating enough to lose weight, and your fear of eating more food is holding you back. Here’s how to bump up your calories without stressing out.

How Eating Too Few Calories Affects Your Weight Loss

Chances are, your weight loss woes are NOT a result of eating too much. In fact, you’re likely eating below your BMR and not getting enough nutrition to support your activity levels.

Eating fewer and fewer calories does not result in better weight loss. When your body senses an energy deficit it slows its metabolism by reducing the output of important hormones.

Keep your energy deficit small and your body will feel safe letting go of stored energy reserves (body fat). Create too large of one and your body will compensate by shutting down the fat loss process.

This leads to a negative feedback cycle of lower calories causing a slower metabolism, which results in you needing fewer and fewer calories to achieve the same fat loss effects. Eventually, you’re eating 1200 calories or less and your weight won’t budge.

If you’re one of those people who barely eats anything and still can’t lose weight, and the thought of raising your calories even the slightest sends you into a panic, the following tips are for you.

Keep Close Track of Your Calories

If you aren’t already doing so, you’re going to want to track your calorie intake to a “T”. Don’t let any food get eaten without being logged. This is going to be an extremely important step towards staying in control while you get over your fear of eating more.

Do It Slowly

To keep your weight gain in check, you must increase your calories in small but incremental steps. If you go from 1200 calories per day to 1800, your metabolism is not going to have a chance to adapt, and you will gain unwanted body fat.

Your goal is going to be to increase your calories by 50-100 per day a week at a time. So, if you’re eating 1200 now, this week you are going to eat 1250. Next week you’ll eat 1300.

Over the course of 12 weeks you will have increased your calories by 600 per day without any negative changes to your body composition. You will feel better, have more energy, and will be getting in more nutrition to support your goals.

Prepare Yourself for Weight (Not Fat Gain)

Now, you absolutely must differentiate between weight and fat during this process. While weight gain is possible, it doesn’t always happen. Regardless, you have to ignore it. Why?

Because weight is not fat. If you are strength training and eating below maintenance calories, it is close to impossible to gain fat.

The weight you do gain (if any) is a function of intracellular water retention from extra fuel inside your muscles in the form of muscle glycogen. This is good weight and will help you with your goals.

It does not make you fatter. It does not make you look bigger. It makes you look fitter and gives you energy to power through intense workouts. Welcome it with open arms.

Measure Your Non-Scale Progress

To ensure you’re on the right track, you have to measure your progress, and the scale just isn’t going to get it done. This is because the scale measures weight, which is close to meaningless for our purposes.

We want to know what’s going on with our body fat, and the scale won’t measure that. To do that we need to measure it with body fat calipers.

If you don’t have those, take a tape measure and measure the circumference of your legs, hips, waist, chest, and arms. Then, go and take a progress picture.

You’ll want these measurements, as they will keep your head screwed on right when the scale is playing tricks on you. Remember, weight is not fat, and fat gain is non-existent in a calorie deficit if you’re exercising.

You Now Have a Primed Metabolism

This is the moment you’ve been working for. This methodical increase in calories has gotten you to a point where your metabolism is running at 100% efficiency.

It now takes the calories you consume and throws them on the fire to be burned. Your new higher calorie intake also brings with it more vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to fully optimize the functioning of your body’s fat loss system.

You’re no longer hungry all the time and the added energy is pushing you to new records with your workouts. The best part is you are about to lose weight eating more calories than you ever have before.

Reverse the process and start decreasing your calories by 50 per day for a week at a time. If you made it all the way up to 1800, then lower it to 1750/day for the first week. Watch as your body starts shedding body fat like it’s going out of style.

Go through this process just once and you’ll be a believer. There’s no need to fear eating more food. Food is nutrition. Food is health. Food will help you reach your fat loss goals.

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The No-Gimmick Best Way to Detox Your Body Wed, 13 Aug 2014 12:46:14 +0000 3 glasses of juice90% of the detox programs on the market are nothing but gimmicky scams that harm your health. Here’s the right way to detox your body…

Most Detox Plans Cause More Harm Than Good

I have to cringe every time I see another article on how to detox. These detox plans have many things in common. The main ideas of most of them are:

  • Resting the body using some kind of fasting protocol.
  • Juicing veggies or fruit.
  • Eating very low calories.
  • Ridding the body of toxins.

These are just the most common principles. There are many more extreme detox protocols too. I’ve even seen fasting for days or weeks at a time. Ridiculous!

The side effects to most detox plans are downright scary. I’ve seen lists warning people of the following side effects:

  • digestion issues
  • low energy levels and fatigue
  • headaches
  • skin irritations
  • muscle pain
  • sleep issues
  • tongues turning white
  • bad mood
  • nausea
  • diarrhea

I think what bothers me most is that every side effect is chalked up to “toxins leaving the body”. I’m sorry, but there is nothing normal about any of those side effects. Those side effects are a sign that you’re doing something wrong to your body – not right.

Whole Foods Provide the Antioxidants

If you want to detox your body the right way then you need to be patient and live a healthy lifestyle. Eating whole foods will provide your body with the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants necessary to keep your body functioning at 100% efficiency.

That means these nutrients can do their job of scavenging free radicals and providing your organs with the compounds necessary to do their job of eliminating waste.

Every day should be a detox day. Detox plans are short term and just put you back on the path to eating processed foods and chemicals once they’re over.

Exercise Stimulates Your Metabolism

Part 2 of the necessary ingredients for detoxing your body is exercise. Exercise boosts your metabolism and speeds up the elimination of waste products.

It keeps your liver and kidneys functioning optimally and helps improve circulation throughout your entire body. The improved oxygenation and transport of blood to important waste-filtering organs rids the body of “toxins”.

Fat Loss Releases Stored Chemicals

The third part to a successful detox lifestyle is losing body fat. Harmful substances, such as pesticides are stored in your body fat through a process called bioaccumulation.

By losing body fat you release these substances into your bloodstream so that they can be neutralized by circulating nutrients and antioxidants. These substances are then filtered out of the bloodstream by your organs and excreted through waste material.

A Healthy Lifestyle is the Only Long-Term Detox Plan

Going on a fast or cleanse or any other short-term detox program is like saying you’re going to lose weight for a couple of weeks and then go back to your old lifestyle.

If you’re eating right and exercising, you never have to worry about detoxing, as that is essentially what a healthy lifestyle is. No detox program can compare.

If you like juicing and find it beneficial to your goals, then great, find a way to include a glass of juice into your lifestyle while also maintaining a sufficient calorie intake. Your body also needs protein and healthy fats.

If what you’re doing is giving you headaches, nausea, and diarrhea, then exercise a little common sense and realize these are not positive signals that toxins are leaving your body. These are signs you need to do something different.

Detoxing your body is about keeping your body running at its best 100% of the time. Forget about the newest detox gimmicks. Eat whole foods and exercise – it’s the cure for just about every single one of your ailments.

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What Should I Eat Before Bed to Keep Me Fit and Sane? Tue, 12 Aug 2014 17:01:02 +0000 fruit and yogurtMany people worry that eating late at night will keep them from losing weight. Find out if that’s true, and see what you should eat at night to stay fit.

Does Eating Before Bed Keep You From Losing Weight?

Despite what you might have heard, eating food after a certain time isn’t in-and-of-itself going to keep you from losing weight. That’s like saying eating breakfast makes you gain weight.

While proponents of not eating after a certain time tout their results, you have to question if the weight loss was a result of not eating after a certain time, or if it was simply due to eating less food over the course of the day.

Weight Loss is About Negative Energy Balance Over Time

This is why when you eat has very little effect on your body composition. There are some merits to meal timing, but the effects are small, and are only noticeable after your calorie intake and macronutrient ratios are dialed in.

Let’s look at the situation differently. If your maintenance calories are 2000 calories, and you eat 2500 calories but stop eating before 6pm, you’re going to gain weight. Stopping eating isn’t going to change your energy balance.

What do you think is going to happen if you instead eat 1800 calories but eat your last meal at 9pm? Do you think you’re going to gain weight when you’re eating under maintenance calories?

The answer is no. You will lose weight, as you created a 200 calorie deficit. This energy deficit will accumulate over time and result in weight loss.

But I Weigh More the Next Morning When I Eat Late at Night

I’m sure you do. Food weighs something, and the closer to your last meal that you weigh yourself, the more you’re going to weigh.

To test this, simply eat a meal and then weigh yourself at 1 hour intervals until your next meal. You will notice that your weight slowly decreases until your next meal.

This is because your body expends calories and loses water through sweat, breathing, and urination. The longer the time period, the more weight you lose, but only within the bounds of energy balance over time.

Hunger Can Disrupt Sleep

Sleep is important for weight loss. Studies show that getting less than 7 hours of sleep per night can negatively affect body composition.

Going to bed hungry can cause stomach pains that keep you from falling asleep. When you stop eating early in the evening you increase the chance that hunger will strike in the middle of night. This is probably one of the worst feelings to have to deal with.

What Can You Eat Before Bed?

In reality, anything can be eaten before bed. Now, anything doesn’t mean everything. In other words, if your goal is to lose weight, you must still create an energy deficit.

If your maintenance intake is 2000 calories, and you’re eating 1700 calories to lose weight, you can eat anything you want to fill your remaining calorie allotment without worry of negatively affecting your weight loss goals.

Eating at night gets a bad rap because it is usually associated with unhealthy processed foods and bingeing. Obviously, the combination of these two things will cause a major blow to your weight loss program.

Personally, I always plan my day’s meals out so that I can eat something around 9pm, as that’s about the time I get hungry and want a snack. I make some healthy peanut butter cookie dough. The whole snack is around 300 calories, and includes vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, and protein.

This easily fits within my day’s calorie allotment, so I can eat it guilt free. There is absolutely nothing wrong with snacking late at night as long as it’s healthy and controlled.

So don’t stress about eating at night. Eat what you would normally eat at any other hour of the day. Your body doesn’t know the difference if a calorie is eaten at 8am or 8pm. It only cares about energy balance over time, and so should you.

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Guilt-Free Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Tue, 12 Aug 2014 17:00:42 +0000 cookie dough dipHealthy snacks are a great way to treat yourself without feeling guilty from all the artificial flavors and preservatives in the typical supermarket baked goods section. During my quest to find the perfect healthy snack, I stumbled upon an excellent idea to make a cookie dough dip from Chocolate Covered Katie. This is my own personal adaptation.

Finding That Elusive Nighttime Snack

I don’t know about you, but nights are when I want to snack. The days…not so much. I needed to find a way to satisfy that craving without it interfering with my goals. I needed the snack to satisfy some core requirements:

  • It needs protein
  • It needs to be filling
  • It needs to taste amazing
  • It needs to be made of whole foods
  • It needs to be fairly low calorie

This cookie dough dip fits all of those requirements. It does so with a secret ingredient – garbanzo beans (chick peas). What? Garbanzo beans in cookie dough dip!?!? Absolutely.

The flavor of the beans is masked by the other ingredients. They create a near perfect consistency match to real cookie dough, but with the added benefit of low-glycemic complex carbohydrates, fiber, and even a good amount of protein.

Add in even more fiber and protein from the peanut butter, and the powerful antioxidant properties of dark chocolate, and you have a potent combo of healthy, delicious tasting ingredients.

It’s a perfect way to end your day. Plus, it’s easy to measure out an exact calorie amount so that you can hit your calorie goals for the day right on the mark.


2 – 15 oz cans of garbanzo beans

1/2 cup all-natural peanut butter (peanut butter and salt should be the only 2 ingredients)

4 tbsp raw honey

4 tbsp old fashioned oats

1/2 cup dark chocolate chunks

1 tsp pure vanilla extract


Drain both cans of garbanzo beans. Place all ingredients except for the chocolate chunks into a food processor. Process until you have a smooth consistency.

Once smooth, mix in chocolate chunks by hand. Transfer cookie dough to a tightly sealed plastic storage container and place in the refrigerator. It will be ready to eat in a few hours. You may speed up the process by placing into the freezer for 30-45 minutes.

When you’re ready to have your snack, scoop out and weigh your portion size and eat it guilt-free. Note: I eat the cookie dough raw, but others have baked it with success. Try 1 tbsp of dough at 325F for 15 minutes if you decide to go that route.

Nutrition Facts

The following is the approximate nutritional breakdown of the recipe:

Serving Size | 100 grams

Servings Per Recipe | 8

Calories | 306

Fat | 15 grams

Carbohydrates | 37 grams

Fiber | 8 grams

Protein | 12 grams

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How to Get Started Losing Weight For the Very Last Time Tue, 12 Aug 2014 12:59:05 +0000 woman doing pushups on fallen tree trunkTired of starting the weight loss process over and over again from the beginning? Here’s how to make this time the last time you ever try to lose weight.

Make a Commitment to do Whatever it Takes

Make a promise to yourself that you will do whatever it takes to make this the last time you try to lose weight. Certain aspects of weight loss are going to initially make you feel uncomfortable. You have to be willing to ignore your rationalizations and push forward no matter what.

Reflect on Your Individual Personality

Your personality has a lot to do with your success. Stop and think about who you are and why you do the things you do.

Understand the cause/effect relationship you have with food. Know what keeps you from working out each day. This is valuable information that you can use to plan your weight loss program.

Take Inventory

It’s time now to take inventory of your life and surroundings. Take notice of the people close to you and decide if these people are going to support your goals or question them.

Look through your kitchen to see if you have what you need to prepare food and store leftovers. Start downloading important food logging apps to your phone. Start getting an idea of when or how you’ll have free time to exercise.

Set Realistic Goals

Take out your pen and a sheet of paper…it’s time to write down your goals – yes write them down. Use the SMART principle for goal setting – specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound.

What do you want to accomplish? When do you want to accomplish it by? How are you doing to do it? What actions are you going to take? Why are you trying to do it? Answer these questions and write them down.

Take Before Measurements

This is a very important step that most people skip right over. And when I’m talking about measurements, I’m talking about things beyond your weight and the scale. Weigh yourself, but also take additional measurements.

Take a good before picture. Take body fat measurements if you own a pair of skinfold calipers. Get out a tape measure and measure the circumference of your legs, hips, waist, chest, and arms.

If you have the money, go get some blood work done. All of these measurements will serve to keep you motivated when times get tough.

Challenge Yourself to a Day of Healthy Eating

It can be overwhelming to think about all you have to do to get started and then realize you’re going to have to do that for the rest of your life. Yikes!

That’s OK, as you don’t have to plan your life right now. First things first, challenge yourself to have one entire day of healthy eating. Include 20% of your day’s calories to eat whatever you want.

Get through that first day and you’ll realize it wasn’t as hard as you thought it would be. Then, repeat the process again.

Get More Active In Any Way Possible

People tend to get caught up on the exercise portion. They want to know what’s best for weight loss. How much they should be doing and when. The details will be important in the future, but not right now.

Your goal for the time being is to focus on creating healthy eating habits and getting more active. That might mean walking more, playing more, cleaning more, or generally just moving more. Try to take more steps than you did yesterday.

Live the Moderation Mindset

One of the biggest causes of falling off weight loss programs is over restriction and all-or-nothing attitudes. People can usually withhold for a while, but suppressing the urge to eat particular things is like a spring just waiting to be released.

The same goes for exercise. The average person goes from a sedentary lifestyle to one where they are doing intense exercise 6-7 days per week. That’s a recipe for burnout.

Find happiness in the middle. It is better to take your time and stick with your program than lose 10 pounds in the first two weeks and give up due to overwhelming physical and mental exhaustion.

START, Even If the Time Isn’t Right

Finally, probably the most important tip of all – start. The time never seems right. You’ll start tomorrow, or Monday, or after you finish so-and-so thingy because you’ll have more time, or maybe after the holiday.

Chances are, if you put it off until then, you’ll find another reason to put it off again. You have to take action. Wishing and thinking and planning will only get you so far. If you want this time to be the last time you ever lose weight, you need to implement the ideas outlined above.

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How to Stay Motivated to Lose Weight Even When it Seems Impossible Mon, 11 Aug 2014 15:52:22 +0000 working out with a medicine ballHaving trouble staying motivated with your weight loss? Motivation levels decrease over time. Here are 15 ways to keep your motivation sky high.

Don’t Over Restrict Your Food Choices

Lack of food variety and taste bud stimulation is a major motivation killer. Aim to eat a variety of different foods and also include “fun” foods in moderation. Keep the latter to 20% of your calories and you’ll have no issues reaching your goals.

Schedule Plenty of Rest Days

Nothing can burn you out faster than intense workout sessions 6-7 days a week. If you love it, great! But if you’re starting to loathe your next workout, it might be time to cut back on the workout frequency. Intense workouts 3-4 times a week are just as effective.

Write Down Your Motivation

Take out a pen and write down your reasons for wanting to lose weight. Write down exactly the way you feel, both good and bad. What are you trying to accomplish and why? When you feel your motivation dwindling, take out that piece of paper and give yourself a reminder.

Take Progress Measurements

Every one to two weeks weigh yourself, take body fat measurements, measure your body parts with a tape measure, or take progress pictures. When you see yourself in the mirror several times a day it’s hard to notice the little changes. These measurements are great motivators when you question your progress, or lack thereof.

Focus on How Far You’ve Come, Not How Far You Have to Go

It can be discouraging to realize we still have a long way to go before we hit our goal weight. Six months in the future can seem like a long time and a lot of work. Instead, look back at all that you’ve accomplished so far. If you’ve done it once, you can do it again.

Take Advantage of Available Social Support

Good social support is one of the best motivators for weight loss. Support can come in many ways. There are friends, family, online fitness communities like forums and blogs, or fitness classes. There really is power in numbers.

Watch Fitness Videos

Ever watched a movie and felt inspired? Fitness videos can achieve the same effect. Head over to and do a search for various workout videos. The music and impressive physiques will motivate you every time.

Engage in Exercise You Enjoy Doing

When you feel like you’re forced to do something you don’t want to do, you’re definitely not going to be doing it for long. Exercise is meant to be enjoyable. If you don’t like what you’re doing – change it! Staying active in any way possible is the key to long term weight loss.

Start a Blog

Blogs are free to start and are fairly easy to run if you don’t have any major plans for them. Head over to and create a free blog. Journal your daily struggles, progress, and success during your weight loss journey. Write down your food, workouts, and thoughts for the day and share it with family and friends.

Set a Realistic Weight Loss Time Horizon

Set too optimistic a goal at the beginning and you’ll be setting yourself up for failure right from the start. What do you think is going to happen if you think you’re going to lose 10-20 pounds the first month and then never reach that goal? Your motivation is going to get squashed. Here’s a fat loss time planning calculator to use to get perspective.

Pay Attention to the Way You Feel

Have you ever noticed how good you feel after a good workout or after eating a healthy meal? Remember that feeling the next time you’re feeling unmotivated. Focusing on the good feelings can be enough to keep the drive alive.

Make a Vision Board

I’m a huge fan of vision boards. Get out some sticky notes and write down your goals. Print out motivational pictures from the internet of what you want to accomplish. That might be a 5k or it might be a six pack. Put it all up on a board and put it where you’ll see it every single day. Your visions become a reality.

Start a Competition

A little friendly competition never hurt anybody, or has it? Regardless, competition adds a little extra spark to keep the fire alive. Don’t make it about who loses the most weight. Try things like eating the most servings of veggies or tracking calories the longest. Keep it healthy.

Focus on Intrinsic Motivation

There’s intrinsic motivation, which is based on wanting to accomplish things for “inner” reasons. Then there’s extrinsic motivation, which focuses on outside factors.

The latter encompasses things like wanting to lose weight because you don’t want to be teased. Intrinsic is the more effective and includes situations like wanting to lose weight because you want to be healthy. Focus on intrinsic.

Create Goals Other Than Weight Loss

While your goal is to lose weight, getting too caught up on the number on the scale can lead to motivation issues when that number isn’t budging. Weight fluctuates – a lot. It sometimes won’t move for weeks at a time.

Keep in mind that each good choice you make is making you healthier on the inside, and you’ll be much more likely to stick with your weight loss program. The longer you keep at it the greater your chance of success.

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How to Create the Best Pre-Workout Meal For Optimal Performance Mon, 11 Aug 2014 12:12:52 +0000 bike made out of foodYour pre-workout meal can make or break your workout. Here’s how to create the perfect pre-workout meal for optimal fat loss and performance.

The Importance of Pre-Workout Nutrition

Have you ever just felt like skipping your workout? Do you find yourself running out of energy halfway through your workouts? Pre-workout nutrition has a strong influence on whether you have a good workout or not.

Planning out and eating the right food can be the difference between not doing your workout or doing it. It can also be the difference between rating your workout as a 7 or giving it a 10.

Should You Eat Before You Work Out?

There has been much debate on whether you should eat before a workout. Proponents of training on an empty stomach say you can burn more fat, since you’ll use the fat from your body instead of the energy from your meal. Others say they just don’t have time to eat before a 6am workout.

People who do eat a meal say that it gives them more energy, and that they have a better workout as a result. So who’s right? They both are.

Now, while fasted training might burn more fat during your workout, that is not the overall determining factor for fat loss. At the end of the day, it’s going to be energy balance that determines your weight loss.

The rule for whether you should eat a pre-workout meal or not is this: make it a goal to have the best workout you can. If your intensity levels are going to suffer and you’re not going to be able to run as fast or lift as much weight as a result of skipping your meal, then you should be eating one. If you notice no difference, then the choice is personal preference.

How Long Before Your Workout Should You Eat?

Ideally, you want enough time between your meal and workout that your meal gets digested, raises your blood sugar a bit, and synthesizes glycogen for your exercise. What you don’t want to happen is not leaving enough time to digest your meal and having to work out with a stomach full of food.

Depending on the size of your meal, you could eat as little as 30 minutes before your workout if you’re having a small snack, or up to 1-2 hours before if your meal is more normal in size.

What Should Your Meal Look Like?

This is where things get interesting. Much of what your meal looks like is going to depend on your lifestyle. If you have to work out early in the morning, it likely doesn’t make much sense to wake up 2 hours earlier to have a meal. The cons would outweigh the pros.

If you’re a morning exerciser, you want a small and quickly digested meal or snack. This meal should have very little fat, some carbohydrates in the form of sugar (you’ll see meal ideas below), and a little protein if possible. The meal should have around 100-200 calories.

If you have more time between eating and working out, your meal can more resemble one of your typical meals. This meal can have more fat. It should also contain a decent amount of complex carbohydrates and protein. Eating around 200-400 calories for this meal would be optimal.

Sample Pre-Workout Meals and Snacks

To give you a better idea of what these meals will actually look like, here are some pre-workout meal ideas for you to choose from.

Fruit – Ideal for people who wake up and almost immediately do their workout. The fructose in fruit will help to fill liver glycogen and raise blood sugar levels to the degree necessary to improve energy levels and mental focus.

Protein Shake – This is quickly digested and is nicely suited for those who work out in the morning or need the convenience factor. Protein powder blended with frozen fruit makes the perfect pre-workout meal. If you don’t use protein powder, liquid egg whites are a nice substitute. Don’t worry, you can’t taste them once you add fruit.

Energy Bar – Easy and convenient. Don’t mess with the highly processed ones. The good news is plenty of bars nowadays are made solely of nuts/seeds and fruit. Check the ingredients.

Oatmeal – A bowl of oatmeal with honey is small and will boost your energy levels. You can add protein powder to it or make it with some milk if you need the added protein.

Greek Yogurt w/ Fruit – Another convenient pre-workout snack. Provides protein and some sugars to raise your blood sugar a bit.

Chicken & Rice – A classic bodybuilder meal. The meal is not as fibrous, so it doesn’t feel heavy in your stomach, but it still gives you complex carbohydrates to power through an intense workout. The chicken fortifies it with protein. Season it however you wish for flavor.

Lean Meat & Potatoes – When you have at least 2 hours before your workout, this is a great meal. Potatoes are a great complex carb and can be eaten whole, mashed, or in fry form.

Pasta – Ideal for the long-distance runner or for the athlete who needs extra high-intensity fuel. Pasta will easily fill muscle glycogen stores, leaving you with sufficient fuel for a grueling workout. Leave at least 2 hours to fully digest this meal. In addition, be sure you’re measuring the pasta. Overdoing it can lead to wild swings in blood sugar – leaving you feeling lethargic right before your workout.

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How to Get a Six Pack Without Doing a Single Sit-Up Sun, 10 Aug 2014 12:14:05 +0000 lean woman's midsectionThink sit-ups are the path to a lean midsection? Think again. Here’s how to develop an aesthetic six pack the right way.

You Can’t Target Abdominal Fat With Sit-Ups

This is likely the biggest misconception in the fat loss world. I see workout after workout being published on the internet and in magazines claiming to give you a six pack in x number of days. These workouts are packed with sit-ups, crunches, and other core strengthening exercises.

Here’s the thing – this is not going to get you a six pack. Fat loss is not localized, it’s systemic. Fat goes on and off your body as a whole, regardless of which muscle is getting worked.

Your Abs Get Worked Doing Nearly Any Exercise

Many people think to get abs you have to do direct ab training. While there is nothing wrong with doing sit-ups to strengthen your abs, you don’t have to isolate your abs to get them stronger.

Your core is involved in stabilizing your body when you do just about any exercise. When you do squats, deadlifts, pullups, pushups, or any other exercise, your abdominals also get a great workout. Many people get a great midsection without doing a single core isolation exercise.

Exercise is a Very Small Piece of the Puzzle

None of this exercise even makes much of difference when it comes to seeing your abs. Sure, ab training might make your abdominal muscles bigger and stronger, but if there’s a layer of fat covering them up you’re never going to see them anyways.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do exercise, however. The point is that we all have abs whether we see them right now or not. Your abdominals are part of human physiology. Just as each one of us has calf muscles, biceps, and triceps, we also all have abdominals. Seeing them is more a function of your body fat percentage.

Your Diet is What Brings Out Your Abs

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying – abs are made in the kitchen, not in the gym. While it does get old hearing that all the time, it is absolutely true.

Your body fat percentage is the major determining factor when it comes to seeing your abs, and you body fat percentage is mostly influenced by what and how much you eat.

Exercise does have it’s purpose though. It is the perfect stimulus for creating the metabolic environment necessary for fat loss so that your diet can strip away the layers of fat. The synergy between diet and exercise is where the magic happens.

At What Percent Body Fat Do You See Abs?

This is going to depend on many factors, as genetics and the way you store fat has a lot to do with it. On average, men will start to see their abs come in at around 10-12% body fat. Women will see them at around 15-17% body fat.

Now, keep in mind that this is just a population average. There are some outliers. Some women can have abs at over 20% body fat if they store most of their fat in their lower body, and some men have to get sub 10% to really see ab definition.

Point being, you will have to lower your body fat percentage until you do see them. As long as fat is covering your abdominals, they will never be visible.

The Core Components of a Six Pack Fitness Program

Now that we know the effects exercise and diet have on getting a six pack, and at what body fat you need to be at to see your abs, we can begin to outline the necessary components of an effective fitness program.

  • Strength Training – this can be weight training, bodyweight training, or anything that adds resistance to your entire body. Strength training is going to be the key to building muscle that will burn fat at all hours of the day and night.
  • High-Intensity Exercise – even though you can’t target fat loss, and exercise plays a smaller role in seeing your abs, it is still very effective when combined with proper nutrition. High-intensity exercise burns a lot of calories, and thus body fat, all while creating a favorable metabolic fat loss environment.
  • Calorie Deficit – unless you weigh very little right now, you’re going to have to lose weight to see your abs. The only way to do this is with a calorie deficit. Cut 15% from your maintenance calories and expect to lose .5-1% body fat each week.
  • Sufficient Macros – calories make the biggest difference in your weight, but the amount of fat, carbs, and protein you eat play a large role in body composition. Eat between .6-.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight and fill the rest of your calories with healthy fats and carbohydrates.
  • Time – to see your abs you have to be patient. It can be a long process. If you have 10% body fat to lose, it can take you 20 weeks or longer to accomplish. However, if you stay consistent and continue to lose .5% body fat each week, you will start to see your abs in time.

It is entirely possible to get a six pack without doing a single sit-up. In fact, the 5 components of an effective six pack abs program listed above will do more for getting a lean midsection than sit-ups ever will.

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10 Guaranteed Ways Eating Fat Will Help You Lose Fat Sat, 09 Aug 2014 18:31:01 +0000 various healthy fatsDo you fear fat? You shouldn’t. In fact, fats are 100% necessary for weight loss. Here are 10 guaranteed ways eating fat will boost your fat loss potential.

Fats are Essential

Fats and protein are the 2 essential macronutrients. Specifically, we’re talking about essential fatty acids (EFAs) and essential amino acids (EAAs). These 2 nutrients cannot be manufactured by the body and need to be consumed through your diet.

Not consuming enough of these nutrients will make your weight loss efforts that much more difficult. Your body is going to make sure you get enough of these nutrients, and it will send out strong signals to eat until you do. This is one of the many reasons a nutrient rich diet is necessary for long-term weight loss and maintenance.

Needed For the Transport of Fat-Soluble Vitamins

Fats aid in the transport and assimilation of fat-soluble vitamins. These vitamins are required for many of the body’s important functions.

Vitamins A, D, E, and K all play specific roles in the body but also have a synergistic effect on fat loss. For example, Vitamin E protects essential fatty acids (EFAs) from being damaged, and EFAs have been shown to aid in weight loss.

Fats are Precursors to Fat Loss Hormones

Fats help to transport and assimilate fat-soluble vitamins. These vitamins, such as vitamin D, are necessary for the synthesis of fat loss hormones.

Not only that, but most foods with fat also contain cholesterol, which is what testosterone is made from. A diet higher in fat has been shown to boost testosterone levels [1].

Fats Slow the Digestion of Your Food

Fats have an influence on the digestibility of your food. In particular, they lower the glycemic index of a meal by slowing its digestion. Foods containing fiber have a similar effect.

What happens as a result of eating some fat in a meal is a slower release of glucose into the bloodstream. This helps to keep high insulin levels at bay so that fatty acids can be more easily mobilized and used for fuel.

EFAs Decrease Hunger Sensations

Fat intake also has an effect on hunger. If we could just get rid of those hunger pains, it would make weight loss a whole lot easier, right?

Good news. A diet rich in essential fatty acids has been shown to improve satiety after a meal [2]. Controlling hunger is a major determining factor in successful long term weight loss.

Sufficient Fat Intake Increases Protein Synthesis

Protein synthesis is essentially the creation of new muscle tissue. Since muscle tissue is metabolically active, it burns extra calories throughout the day and aids in fat loss. There are several ways to increase your rate of protein synthesis.

For starters, eating more protein will accomplish this. Also, consuming carbohydrates improve the rate since they are protein sparing. Finally, the consumption of omega-3 fatty acids has been shown to stimulate protein synthesis in adults [3].

Essential Fatty Acids Aid in Weight Loss

Plenty of studies have also been conducted to see if the supplementation of essential fatty acids in the diet are more beneficial to weight loss. The studies show promise.

In one randomized controlled study, men were either assigned to a group with or without the inclusion of fish oil, which is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Both groups ate the same amount of calories, but the fish oil group lost over 2 pounds more over the course of 4 weeks [4].

Good Fats Improve Insulin Sensitivity

Healthy fats have a positive effect on your insulin sensitivity [5][6]. Better insulin sensitivity is correlated with improved body composition due to several factors.

First, better insulin sensitivity means your body does not need to use as much insulin to transport the glucose to your cells. When insulin is high, growth hormone is low. By muting this insulin response, your body’s fat mobilizing hormones can do their job.

As you can see, fats are not bad for you. Quite the contrary. Not only are they healthy for you, but they will aid you in your weight loss pursuits.

However, keep in mind that not all fats are created equally. Consume a balance of polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, and yes – saturated fats. Avoid foods with trans fats and partially-hydrogenated oils in the ingredients. These fats will do the exact opposite of what you’re trying to accomplish.

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5 Reasons High-Intensity Circuit Training is the Perfect Fat Burning Workout Sat, 09 Aug 2014 12:22:53 +0000 man and woman working outWant to burn an incredible amount of fat? Then high-intensity circuit training (HICT) is for you. Here are 5 reasons it’s the ultimate fat loss workout.

What is High-Intensity Circuit Training?

High-intensity circuit training (HICT) is a close cousin to HIIT, except for instead of using it in a sole cardio capacity, intervals are combined with strength training to provide you with a potent muscle building and fat loss combo.

For example, you might have a circuit consisting of 5 different exercises. Each exercise compliments the other exercises in the workout to give you a complete full body workout.

To complete a HICT workout you go from exercise to exercise using very small rest intervals in between. For example, if your circuit consisted of the following 5 exercises – pushups, burpees, bear crawls, pullups, and situps, you might do the first exercise for as many reps as possible for 1 minute. Then, you’d rest 30 seconds and go on to the next exercise.

After completing all 5 exercises, you’ve completed 1 single circuit. Then, you’d repeat the circuit several times. Each time you complete a circuit it’s considered a set. Now, here’s why high-intensity circuit training is so effective at fat loss.

It Utilizes Strength Training

Strength training is amazing for fat loss. Muscle is nearly 5 times more metabolically active than fat is. For every pound of muscle you have, you burn about 6 extra calories each day [1].

Think about that for a second. The average fit person has at least 20 pounds more muscle than the person who doesn’t strength train. Twenty pounds of muscle burns an extra 120 calories each day. That’s more than 12 extra pounds of fat loss each year occurring during times when you’re not working out.

It’s High Intensity in Nature

The intensity at which you work out is directly correlated to your degree of fat loss. In fact, high-intensity exercise has been shown to be superior for fat loss when compared to moderate-intensity exercise [2].

High-intensity circuit training increases your intensity and thus your fat burning potential. Very few other exercise protocols squeeze as much work into so little time.

It Can Be Done in Under 20 Minutes

I found out a long time ago that 20 minute high-intensity workouts were just as effective as my 60 minute gym sessions when it came to fat loss. By simply paying attention to rest intervals and timing them you can slice your workout times in half or more.

If we’re looking for ways to burn fat and build muscle in as little time as possible, HICT certainly fits the criteria. Doing 4 sets of 5 exercises in each circuit can be done is less than 20 minutes.

It Creates an Afterburn Effect

The afterburn effect is created after intense periods of exercise. This window of extra calorie burn is an extra benefit of high-intensity circuit training.

In order for your body to return to “normal”, it utilizes extra calories to erase the oxygen debt it created during exercise. Your body also uses extra calories for muscle repair and fuel synthesis. Your afterburn effect is directly correlated to the degree of your exercise intensity [3].

Interval Training Burns More Fat

Interval training is incredibly effective at burning fat. It does this several ways. First, it improves your insulin sensitivity, which helps keep insulin levels low enough so that fat can be mobilized and burned.

Second, it creates new mitochondria [4]. Mitochondria produce energy from the food you eat. The more of these little things you have, the more efficiently you burn fat.

Third, high-intensity circuit training boosts your fat loss hormones. These hormones have a specific job – to stimulate the release of fuel (fat) and send it to the needed muscles.

Hopefully these 5 reasons are enough to convince you of the potent fat burning effects of HICT. High-intensity circuit training is strength training and cardiovascular training all rolled up into one. If you want build muscle, burn fat, and do it in a short period of time, very few exercise protocols can compete with HICT.

Do you want to help others burn more fat with their workouts? Share this article.

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