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Nutrition

Protein, Protein Everywhere!

 Protein. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t mention the word or talk about how important it is for all health related things. Fat loss, muscle mass gain, bone density, bone strength, general health… protein can be a huge player in all these. I will spare you with all the science about Protein but trust me it’s really important.

Most people reading my blogs are looking for better body composition, am I right? And by “better” I mean more muscle/less fat primarily. Protein not only builds those nice shoulders and glutes that everyone wants, it ALSO keeps you fuller longer. This is a game changer because if you are “full” your mindless snacking will most likely be significantly reduced, cutting calories and lbs.

In the meantime to help you obtain all the protein you “need” for that body you want, enter protein shakes (powders). And although I agree that having a big steak is more “filling” than a protein shake, the steak also comes with lots and lots of fat (albeit mostly good fat but fat nonetheless). I am NOT saying steak is bad, I’m saying it is high calorie so to get all your protein from steaks you would probably take in WAYYY too much fat.

All about Protein Powders:

There are 2 major types of protein powders that we can talk about. Whey (Dairy based) or Vegan plant based, (non-soy). Whether we talk about Whey or Plant Based, I always recommend getting a powder with natural sweeteners and the fewest ingredients possible. Why do I only recommend more natural powders? I feel if you are using it daily or a few times a week don’t you want cleaner nutrition? I sure do. If a food item is a once a month thing then it’s probably less important the quality, but something that I (or in this case you) take on a regular basis, I would hope you are trying to get the best quality you can find. The difference in pricing is not as much as it used to be, yet the difference in quality can be huge.

Most of the choice between the 2 styles is just preference, unless you vegan or dairy tolerant (notice I did NOT say lactose intolerant, I’ll explain). The amino acid profile for vegan protein has come a long way and now rivals that of the original “gold standard”, whey protein. So the difference comes down to taste, allergies, or vegan preferences. It does make sense to switch it up now and then though if you can tolerate both forms. Variety is the spice of life!

 Whey Protein:

The Whey proteins I recommend are only Whey Isolate, which means the lactose is removed 99% (strained more hence the higher price). Whey protein powders are generally 25grams of protein per scoop making it a high protein meal/snack. Double that and you’d have to eat lots of steak to match that or about 2 chicken breasts in one sitting (which is pretty hard to do).

 
whey protein isolate - jtab training
 

My favorite Whey Isolate Protein is About Time. You can pick it up here on my Amazon page.

Vegan Protein:

Vegan protein powder I recommend is usually made from a myriad of plants/rices (brown rice, hemp, quinoa, cranberry, etc). Benefits of these protein powders are of course lactose free, animal free, dairy free and usually free of any allergies. These tend to more “organic” and most vegan proteins are naturally (stevia/monk fruit) sweetened, so you don’t have to look at the ingredients as much. Some, not all, vegan protein powders I recommend act more of a meal replacement because they have a “greens” blend and probiotics in them as well. This isn’t necessary if you are getting enough greens in elsewhere. There are some that are solely protein also and usually are 15-22grams that I have found. Yes, that means a little less protein but most of the time better assimilated or digested (even if you tolerate dairy pretty well).

 
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My favorite Vegan Protein Powder is Sunwarrior and you can get that here.

My favorite Vegan Meal Replacement is Nutiva and you can get that here.

Keep an eye out for my next blog with some of my favorite smoothie recipes utilizing protein powder!

Training

Straight Flexin'

We talkin’ about flexin’.  Flexin’?  Really?  Is this about bros flexing in the mirror admiring their huge biceps?  No, (well, maybe a little) but not entirely.  This is the kind of flexing that can be done in the comfort and safety of your own house.  Let me explain.

One of the biggest obstacles when I first start to train someone is them being able to “feel their muscles”.  I ask them to “squeeze their glutes” or “make sure you feel your lats”.  Well, to a new beginner that is a daunting task.  To a bodybuilder they will laugh at you and then just start flexin’ or posing like they are on stage.  Their mind muscle connection is at 100%.  So the next question is will you look like a bodybuilder just by practicing flexing all your muscles individually?  Ummm, probably not (nice try though!), but it is an important step to working your way there. 

What it will do, is get you that all important “mind-muscle connection” that us trainers are looking for in our clients.  The sooner the client gets that, the sooner we can advance.  It will make a world of difference when it comes to moving past “newbie” stage and into the intermediate stage.

Don’t believe me? Check out this article by Dr. John Rusin, all about the importance of the “mind-muscle connection”.

Flexing is important to building muscle.

How to do it.  Well just flex.  No really, it’s that simple.  Start with one side and “touch” that flexed muscle with your other hand. As and example, flex your left bicep and make sure it is really flexed by holding it with your right hand. Once you’ve mastered that, start flexing both biceps at ones (bodybuilding shows call this a Double Bicep Pose - a la Arnold Schwarzenegger). 

 

Each time you flex, run through this list of the “main” muscles:

1)    Biceps (front of arms)

2)    Triceps (back of arms)

3)    Lats (side of back (have to do one at a time and touch the opposite lat to make sure it’s tight)).

4)    Pecs

5)    Shoulders

6)    Glutes

7)    Quads (work like triceps to extend the knee)

8)    Hamstrings (work like biceps and flex the knee)

 

Let’s get flexin’ and start to convey that over to helping your workouts.    

Nutrition

My Last Fat Loss Nutrition Blog EVER!

This is it, the last one…  why you might ask?  Cause I can’t make it any more simple than I’m going to make it right now. A simple plan to simply lose fat.  Because we all know the goal is to lose fat, not just “weight” (big difference here).

Are you ready for the secret? You have to have less calories going in calories out.  

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Does it get more simple than that?  For pure weight loss (not caring if it’s muscle mass or fat) it’s as simple as calories in and calories out. You have to expend energy or calories while daily living and working out.  Now here’s where the hard part comes in; You have to count EVERY single little morsel of “food” that you take in, even those “few” M&M’s you ate from your kid’s snack.  So, as you can see, what starts as a simple answer can get a little bit more complicated.

The real answer actually lies somewhere in the middle of having to have a PhD in advanced biology and mathematics, and the calories in vs calories out simplicity.  The real answer lies with making sure your macronutrients are taken care of (protein for muscle recovery and gain, carbs for energy and micronutrients, and fats for hormonal/skin/brain help).  You have to ensure that you’re not only limiting your calories, but managing the TYPE of calories your intaking.

You CAN go workout for 4 hours twice a day if you want, to eat whatever is in front of you.  However, because most of us don’t have more than an hour tops a few days a week to workout, we need to come up with a better, more manageable option.  This means we need to have a general idea of the calories we are eating, to adjust the exercise we should be getting in each day.  In order to truly lose weight, you should limit the days your calorie intake is higher than you expenditure to a maximum of 1 per week.

Exercise recommendations typically favor “cardio” for the sure amount of calories burned DURING exercise. This is why weight training will never be the go to for health care recommendations although it should be. But, with cardio you’re only counting calories burned while exercising, and it doesn’t take into account what is burned for the hours after.   With weight training, there is something called EPOC or afterburn.  I won’t bore you with the numbers but let’s just say over 24 hours lifting weights vs running for one hour, the weight training will eventually burn more calories.  

Hormones: little “things” inside our body that regulates how well we burn fat, keep muscle, lose fat, digest nutrients, build muscle, sleep quality, “hunger” and many other things.  Hormones rarely get the love they deserve when it comes to a fitness plan, and they are just starting to be recognized in their importance.  Many things affect our hormones like like lack of sleep, STRESS, etc.  It’s a constant battle to keep hormones in check and regulate the hormones that work for us.  There’s a hormone, Leptin, that if not regulated won’t trigger that “I’m full” feeling.  And of course, you can imagine, that not feeling full, will just lead you to overeat and gain weight.

It may seem confusing, especially with all sorts of “different” types of diets out there. So, in effort to clarify, I’ll be giving even more tips in my next blog - I lied about it being my last one :) - that will take this whole calorie in vs. calorie out thing to the next level.

Training

Zercher Squats

Today we're showcasing the Zercher Squat. This powerhouse move works multiple areas of your body. This move has the benefits of a regular squat (legs, quads and glutes), but combines super core activation to work your abs at the same time. It also helps safeguard your lower back as there is less of a potential of pulling or injuring it, and helps take the pressure off your spine by putting the weight at your mid torso. As if all that isn't enough, you'll even get a bonus shoulder workout.

A big thank you to our Jtab squat model Aaron Binek.

Training

High Step Ups

While I was injured I had to get creative with exercises.  I couldn't do heavy traditional lifts so I increased intensity with range of motion with a high step up. This is a great exercise to stretch out the hips, increase range of motion and work your quads, glutes, hamstrings and calves. Make sure your knee starts above hips to create that deep squat feel.  You don't need heavy weights with this particular exercise, as the intensity is the range of motion.