3 Fat Loss Myths That Won’t Die

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It seems like the fitness industry has a new fat loss myth every day. Myths like, “doing an hour of fasted cardio every morning is going to help me lose more stubborn fat in my midsection and thighs”, “eating 6–7 small meals per day has really ramped up my metabolism” and lastly “I don’t eat coconut oil or bacon because it is going to put me at greater risk for being obese”. These myths have one thing in common: they’re all wrong! As it turns out, there have been studies done dispelling these fat loss myths, and having a negative effect on your body’s ability to burn body fat!

Myth 1: Doing high amounts of cardio for fat loss

Many people believe that cardio is essential for burning body fat. Although some cardio is important for overall health, it is not going to be (in the long term) best for burning fat. Cardio in the short term can be very effective for weight loss because it burns the most calories. But here’s the issue: cardio (in any form) makes your body much more efficient at burning calories (slowing down of the metabolism). When your metabolism slows your fat loss results will follow suit. Along with that comes chronic fatigue, weakness, cravings for very sugary processed foods and even the possibility of weight gain. Cardio should actually be your last option for burning body fat. Instead of doing high amounts of cardio, putting your focus on your resistance training program is going to be the best way to lose body fat in the long term. Studies show that a well-developed resistance training routine alone increases metabolism, builds muscle and burns more body fat than any kind of cardio will be able to do.

Myth 2: Eating 6–7 small meals to lose body fat

Everyone has heard about how eating 6–7 “small meals” throughout the day will speed up your metabolism. This is simply not true, and there are numerous studies that have been done to prove against this. Supplement companies use marketing to make you believe that you should be eating every 2–3 hours. Eat four real meals a day, and in-between those meals have a protein shake packed with harmful artificial sweeteners. Eating less frequently has a lot of benefits including, increased chemicals (norepinephrine) that speed up metabolism, reduced blood sugar and increased protein synthesis. These benefits will set you up for optimizing fat loss while maintaining and/or gaining lean muscle mass. Try going longer periods without food and eating 2–3 meals a day. This will help you get closer to reaching your fat loss goals.

Myth 3: Eating foods that are high in fat will make me fat

Recently I have been hearing a lot of negativity around consuming dietary fat. More specifically, saturated fat. Saturated fat has been given a bad rep through medical doctors as something that causes heart disease and obesity. The problem is, most of the modern diet consists of HIGH amounts of processed sugar, polyunsaturated fats and trans fats. These kinds of fat have negative effects on the body and can lead to chronic disease. These fats have a very negative inflammatory response and will make it impossible for your body to ever lose the fat you want it to. Instead of eating processed sugary foods and unhealthy fats, you want to shoot for healthy saturated fats. These include: coconut oil, fatty meats, fish, egg yolks, avocados, full fat dairy products and nuts. Eating a diet that is high in good saturated fats has been proven to be healthier, and a better way to burn body fat than the typical highly processed diet. Eating more healthy fats also sends a very unique signal to your brain: that you are full! Research proves that eating healthy fats leaves you much more satiated over the course of the day. This will help lessen your cravings for sugary processed food!

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/28903957/?i=1&from=resistance%20training%20fat%20loss

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/7270479/

http://jap.physiology.org/content/89/3/977

http://m.ajcn.nutrition.org/content/86/2/276.full

How Mental Health Mirrors Physical Health

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Anxiety and depression have become a part of everyday life as Americans. Anxiety disorders affect 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older every year. From the year 1999 until 2014, there has been a 65% increase in the amount of those individuals using anti-depressants. These are shocking statistics and raise a few questions. Why is anxiety so prominent? Why are so many people using anti-depressants? Does western medicine really help these individuals in the long run?

There are many factors that go into mental health issues in our society. Serotonin (the feel-good hormone) that many people associate only with the brain, is mostly produced in your gut. Anti-depression medication target serotonin to try to increase its circulation in the brain, because if you do not have enough, you get an uncontrollable anxious and depressed feeling. What many people don’t realize is that most people suffering from anxiety and depression, also have major gut issues (digestive issues, inflammation etc.). This is due to the fact that many of us eat a diet high in processed sugar and fats for the majority of our diets. Even people who eat “healthy” sometimes have gut issues because they don’t know that they have an intolerance to something like dairy products or gluten. These things all have a direct impact on your gut and will also affect your brain. Eating whole unprocessed foods are going to be your best bet for having a healthy gut because they will provide you with a variety of healthy bacteria you wouldn’t otherwise get with processed, artificial foods that can destroy healthy gut bacteria. Everyone talks about how when you eat better foods, you feel so much better. This is your gut producing serotonin and relaying the feel-good hormone to your brain.

Exercise and movement is another thing most people don’t do consistently in our society that can impact our mental health. Many people have a poor relationship with exercise and feel that to achieve a great looking body, or earn a dozen donuts they must kill themselves in the gym every day. In reality, this is not the case and why you see so many people who are depressed just take the easier route of anxiety medication. Many medical doctors just want to keep people coming back, so they prescribe addictive drugs to mask the underlying problems of anxiety. Obviously, there are people that are exercising properly, and eating a nutritious diet who may still have mental health issues and need medication. But evaluating your relationship with food and exercise will ultimately be a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle choice in the long run. When you decide to pursue changing your habits of eating and exercising, it can have a profound effect on your mental health. Exercising with weights with appropriate intensity (not beast mode every single day) will release the feel-good hormones in your brain. You will also get this effect from just simply walking and moving more often. When you increase activity, you feel better. The cool thing about resistance training is that, if you’re properly phasing in and out of certain modalities, your body also tends to change for the better (not to mention increased metabolism and improved health markers like blood sugar and blood pressure). This is especially noticeable when you are also taking care of your gut by eating nutritious foods. The result is having a lower body fat and looking better than you ever have. When you look in the mirror, you are confident with the body you have and feel good about yourself. Chasing only looks will only get you so far. If instead you chase optimal health, your physical health will follow suit.

Realizing that mental health and physical health mirror each other is extremely important in order to be happy and optimize how you feel on a daily basis. If you neglect one, the other will ultimately be hindered and could potentially lead to increased anxiety, or even signs of depression. Knowing that both are important for one another is the key to having a life where you are aware of anxiety. Everyone is going to have times where they experience signs of anxiety in our culture. Our society is very overstimulated with the number of hours we work, and how we are always plugged in with social media. Recognizing that we can help combat these triggers with the food we put in our body, and the exercise we regularly do can help us lower the rate of people turning to drugs to mask their anxiety.

Study on gut microbiome and its effect on health:

https://translational-medicine.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12967-017-1175-y

Study on exercise improving mental health:

http://journals.lww.com/acsm-csmr/fulltext/2012/07000/Resistance_Training_is_Medicine___Effects_of.13.aspx

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1470658/

 

 

Doing the Ordinary is Just as Important

Ordinary-FeatureCurrently I’m reading (listening because I retain more information when I listen vs. staring at a page with a bunch of small letters) to a book titled The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson. So far, this book is very interesting and really draws you in with real stories from Mark’s life and other stories of very important people in history he has studied. It’s definitely not your typical “self-help” book and if you’re not accustomed to curse words and brutal honesty, this one isn’t for you. Mark talks about something in particular that really stood out to me: adversity and failure are tools that we can use to our benefit to sculpt us into mentally tough individuals. Just “feeling good” about yourself isn’t enough. You should have quality reasoning behind feeling good about yourself. Mark talks about how we have become an “entitled” society. Where we feel like when we go through things that are challenging and hard, that we deserve to be treated better than everyone else. Like you’re special. We all come from a place where we are mediocre at things in our life. Those who have success are those that become obsessed with the CONSISTENT ACTION of doing the ordinary things. Ordinary things like hard ass work. Mark’s whole message behind this is that you can always try to be the best at something. But, even though society/media tells us that we must live a life full of the extraordinary (that’s what brings them the $), being average and doing ordinary things are completely ok and necessary to gain your version of success. When you accept that you are what your work ethic represents, you will be able to improve yourself at the things you desire/don’t desire to do. “The knowledge and acceptance of your own mundane existence will actually free you to accomplish what you truly wish to accomplish, without judgment or lofty expectations.” Hold yourself accountable for doing the ordinary things and everything will eventually fall into place.

True Motivation — Consistent Action & Enjoying the Process

I have many clients who ask me religiously about motivation. “How are you so motivated to workout every day?” “How do you stay motivated to eat good food?” When I ask clients how they feel after they have a stretch where they are eating minimally processed foods and having great sessions in the gym, I get incredible responses. Incredible, amazing, sleeping better and more energy are all a common thread. The issue arises when they say they can’t eat something. In reality, you can eat whatever you want! But when you eat more minimally processed foods, you feel better! So how does this tie into motivation? Motivation is something that comes, and goes. It’s not something that stays with you at all times. It is an emotion. Learning to have fun and enjoy the process of resistance training and eating nutritious foods is crucial to success in having good health. To enjoy the process, it has to become something that is a CONSISTENT ACTION. If you’re not taking action and being mindful on a daily basis to reach your goals, you will ultimately fall short. This doesn’t mean that I always have incredible workouts or always eat nutritious whole foods. I just stay mindful of how I feel, and where I can improve. I know that when my sleep patterns are on point, I tend to have my diet in check. When my diet is in check, my workouts are much more effective. Not to mention my mental clarity, focus and energy are all much better. The consistent action of ANYTHING you do in life is what will set you apart from others who are on the motivated and demotivated roller coaster.

My Interview With Sal Di Stefano Part II

What comes next in my two part article in my interview with Sal is the topic of health and wellness. Specifically, supplementation of anti inflammatory aids such as fish oil and turmeric. Some keys or “steps” to take for optimal sleep patterns. And finally, what you should be on the lookout for when you are picking in house items and hygiene products.

Sal’s response to anti inflammatory supplements was pretty simple: Unless you’re getting the correct amount of sleep, and the correct nutrients from eating whole minimally processed foods, all the supplements in the world are not going to help your joints stop aching. This led us directly into the topic of sleep and some things you can key in on when trying to achieve optimal sleeping patterns. Electronics were the first item on the list. Sal’s advice is to cut out electronics (TV, phone, computer etc.) an hour before bedtime. This will give you time to think clearly and remove yourself from outside stresses of work emails, social media or any other online activities that distract us from sleep. Next is how we set up lighting when we are preparing for sleep. Since we are cutting off our electronics an hour before bed, Sal suggests cutting down on our exposure to light as well by using only very dim lights or using candle light. I definitely prefer using candle light before bed, just because it is very relaxing and allows me to clear my mind. Having a cup of something warm and soothing, like chamomile tea, before bed was Sal’s next piece of advice. Studies have actually shown that chamomile tea can actually depress the nervous system, allowing you to get into a deeper sleep. Even just the soothing sensation of something warm can help someone get in the right frame of mind to sleep. After having some warm tea, Sal likes to do something mindful. The example he gave me was doing some deep belly breathing. Sal and the MindPump guys actually have some YouTube videos on deep belly breathing on their channel if you’re interested in checking them out here. This might sound like something that is pretty easy, but if you really focus on how you’re breathing (feeling the breath in your abdominals, lower back etc.) this can be a game changer for someone who struggles with sleep. The final two pieces of the sleep equation are pretty simple: Keep the room where you sleep cool and dark, and sleep naked or in little clothing. This will optimize your bodies ability to sleep comfortably. If the room is hot and uncomfortable, you put yourself at a disadvantage for optimal sleep.

Earlier I stated that Sal talked about using only candle light before bed. Using candle light is good but what you are burning is also important. Unscented or beeswax candles are what Sal says is best, and beeswax are also what I use before I get ready for bed. Beeswax candles give off a faint honey smell and some of them have some natural vanilla or essential oils infused as well. Sal also gave me some tips on hygiene and household items. Instead of using processed toothpaste, Sal uses coconut oil and baking soda. Mixing the two will create a paste similar to toothpaste. Adding in some mint extract will add that minty flavor to the paste, if that’s what you are looking for. Sal is also a big advocate of using organic soaps and shampoos for the body. Since the skin is the largest organ on the body, it is important that we do not contaminate it with chemicals found in your typical soaps and shampoos we buy at the grocery store. If we do, we have a chance at having a negative impact on our skin’s microbiome by killing off healthy bacteria using chemicals found in most soaps and shampoos. Sal suggests using all organic soaps and shampoos that are not enhanced with chemicals. Another thing he suggestes to help our skin is not washing your ENTIRE body every day. Obviously, if you’re like me, Sal, and many of my friends, we weight train and exercise on a regular basis. Having good hygiene is important, so washing your groin, armpits and other things that need attention every day are important. But if you can help it, washing other parts like legs, arms, shoulders etc. less often will only help the microbiome of your skin that much more.

Again, I want to extend my gratitude to Sal for the opportunity to speak with him and answer my health, fitness and wellness questions. I’m very glad I took the opportunity to write about our conversation, because I think it has opened a bit of a window for me (I am a communication major, so it’s about time I start communicating about what I’m passionate about) to connect to people on multiple levels by sharing my experiences in health, fitness and just life in general. Expect more articles like these from me in the future on a variety of different topics. Thanks for reading and if you liked these, please share them with your friends and follow me on social media. My Instagram handle is just my name benracke. You can find me on Facebook if you search Ben Racke and my Twitter is @BenRacke_.

My Interview With Sal Di Stefano Part I

I had the incredible opportunity to speak with MindPump host Sal Di Stefano on the phone about a number of different topics in the health and wellness field. For those of you who don’t know, Sal (@MindPumpSal on Instagram) was a personal trainer for years at 24 Hour Fitness and he along with his co-hosts Adam Schafer (@MindPumpAdam) and Justin Andrews (@MindPumpJustin) have one of the top fitness podcasts out today. I connected so much to MindPump’s philosophy from the start because they talk about all the things in fitness/health/wellness that most of these big companies and sponsored athletes don’t want to talk about. When Sal made a post on his Instagram about being available for an interview, I knew I had to jump on the opportunity. Sal doesn’t know me from a hole in the wall and still gave me an opportunity to speak with him on the phone for a good 30 minutes. I’m super grateful for the conversation we had, and I got the idea to write up some articles on our conversation from one of my clients.

One of the first things I asked Sal about was optimal exercise programming and how MindPump has been so successful selling their programs. We talked about the ins and outs of programming (frequency is the key) but what stood out to me most was his knowledge of the business. “Authority” was one of the words he used to describe getting people to buy into what message you are trying to convey. Authority, in this sense, means a variety of things including Consistency of information, entertainment, originality, and interaction. When we talk about training, fitness, and wellness, the best way to gain authority is to stay active on social media. Sal talked to me about the importance of using the Instagram Story feature to show in real time the kinds of things you’re doing with clients, with your own training etc. We talked about how entertainment can be a game changer because it really reels your audience into learning more about you. MindPump does an excellent job with this on the podcast. They typically start off just having a conversation and it leads into Sal, Adam, and Justin telling these hysterical stories. The same entertainment factor can be brought to Instagram, YouTube, and other social platforms. At one point during our conversation about gaining authority, Sal asked me if I knew what “ABC” stood for. I told him no. “Always Be Closing”. He explained to me that there should really be no limit when it comes to interacting. How asking people to share your info and tag you on social media platforms, tell their friends about you, and even offer certain services for free or at a discounted rate can really help your authority grow in a major way. Sal shared a lot of great information with me (some I won’t share because I will be using these techniques) and I don’t know if I’ve ever gotten such valuable information in such a short period of time in my entire life. At least I can’t think of any off the top of my head.