Month: July 2013

NESTA Certified!

I am officially a NESTA certified Personal Trainer.  I took the test this afternoon after studying for about 3-4 weeks.

The test was 125 questions, but only 100 of them counted.  There were 25 “filler” questions that were thrown out and didn’t count for you or against you.  You needed to get a 70 out of 100 to pass and I ended up with an 89. You were also allowed about 2 hours to take the test, but I finished in an hour.

There were 5 main categories it tested you on:

  • Assessment, Safety and Injury Prevention
  • Business Application
  • Exercise Application
  • Science
  • Program Design

Most of these were skewed toward the end in chapters 8-13.  If there is one thing I would really focus it on it would be program design. Learning about the NESTA Pyramid, mesocycling and when to start each new exercise phase.  Seemed to be a heavy emphasis on that.

The rest was pretty evenly spread out, but a lot of the content focused on the main ideas, which is what I figured.  There were also some very abstract questions that I had no idea about.  5-10 questions on there couldn’t have been more random and abstract.  Im guessing those are the ones that didn’t count.

Overall though I’m happy to get the studying behind me and move on to working in a gym.

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How To Do A Carb Refeed

In my previous article, I stated that carbs have a very profound effect on the metabolism and brain, both in the short term and long term.  But many people that still need to lose fat, still have to cut calories at some point.

There is nothing wrong with dieting in general.  Some people really do need to lose fat and doing so would greatly enhance their mood, physique, and health.  But there is a right way to diet and a wrong way to diet.  The people that keep their weight off and look amazing, do things the right way because they showed patience, kept all their muscle mass and lost exclusively pounds of fat and not just “scale weight.”

Picture your metabolism as a fire.  A fire will keep on burning as long as it has logs fueling it.  What happens when you stop feeding logs to the fire? – It burns out.  Basically dieting without temporarily “stoking the fire” with more logs, will stop working.  Carb refeeds serve as the logs for the fire (metabolism) to keep it going strong.

These will keep fat loss diets working real nice.  I recommend eating all of them on refeed day.

These will keep fat loss diets working real nice. I recommend eating all of them on refeed day.

There have been many variations of carb refeeds, but I want to keep it as simple as possible.  Many people overcomplicate things for no good reason.  If they would stick to the basics you would still get the majority of the results. Let’s use an example of someone who weighs 200 lbs who wants to lose fat:

  1. Keep protein and fat constant on this day.  These should be the same every day anyway.  For this person, protein would be 200 grams and fat would be 67 grams for a total of 1400 calories.  (Note – you could definitely get away with lowering protein and fat on this day if you wanted to maybe 150 grams of protein and 50 grams of fat for this person, but its not needed.  Keeping them constant makes things much easier.)
  2. Double the amount of carbs you normally eat.  For this person, a normal day of carbs = 150 g since his calories = 10 x bodyweight (about 2000 calories) on his normal fat loss day.  So on the carb refeed day, their carbs would raise to 300g and bring their calorie total to 2600 calories.  On this day their carbs and calories are much higher than usual, but the metabolism greatly benefits.
  3. Recall de novo lipogenesis (the process of carbs converting to fat) is very inefficient, unless you eat a lot of dietary fat on this day.  So don’t expect any fat spillover on this day.  More than likely you metabolism will just burn off the extra carbs as heat. If you muscle definition is blurred the next day then its most likely just excess subcutaneous water that will easily be flushed out on your diet days.
  4. The general rule is to do this once a week for most people.  For very obese individuals, they could probably get away with 1 refeed every 2 weeks.  For very lean individuals, once every 2-3 days seems optimal.  Please don’t think “you don’t need a refeed” and skip this day.  Trust me it will backfire and you will plateau. Refeed days are not cheat days. There an integral part of the program that is crucial for sucess. Consider them just as important as the low days for burning fat.
  5. Remember carbs are not fattening at all by themselves, but they do prevent the burning of fat, so obviously to lose fat you need to reduce them.
  6. The main benefits behind this is to stoke the metabolism, refill muscle glycogen, restore hormones, prevent an overly catabolic environment, reduced cortisol and enhance leptin (which tells your body to release fat for energy). Leptin gets suppressed big time on diets, so when you eat a lot carbs on this day, leptin gets back to normal, which allows the person to keep losing fat effectively.
  7. Carb sources – Need to be primarily glucose based starches. Oatmeal, potatoes, rice, bread, pasta.  Note – technically any low sugar carb source will work even if it’s not as healthy.  For example, low fat crackers, pizza, cereal, low fat chips, waffles, pancakes and other junk food will break down to glucose the same as any other starch.  The key is to keep sugar and fruit low and focus mainly on glucose as this has all the benefits you are looking for. 80% glucose and 20% sucrose is recommended.
  8. If you have dieted a very long time (usually 2 months or more) and are pretty lean, to begin with then one refeed day may not be enough. At this point, it is usually recommended that 2-3 days in a row of carb refeeding is necessary. Some recommend 2 weeks, but usually, there is a point of diminishing returns after 3 days. 2 weeks of refeeding would lead to serious fat gain. Once 3 days is up then you can resume burning fat again. A good sign to look for after refeeding is a general disinterest in food. This is a sure sign your body has had enough and doesn’t crave anymore food or carbs.
  9. Cheat meals usually don’t benefit leptin all that much, especially if its high in fat and not that high in carbs. This is because research shows you need at least 5 hours of overfeeding.

Bottom Line – Carb refeeds keep fat loss diets working to their full potential.  Many dieters that skip this day will hit a wall somewhere down the road in the diet and wonder why they can’t lose weight anymore.  By eating slightly over maintenance with lots of glucose based starches once a week, you can avoid these plateaus, keep the metabolism revved, your hormones healthy and lose fat quicker than people that “dont need to do them.”

Journal Entry 14

Morning Weight –171 lbs

Workout

  • Back/Shoulders/Traps/Bis
  • Traps
  • Smith-machine shrugs 4×8 (225lbs)
  • Cleans 3×8 (85lbs)
  • Back
  • Chin-ups 4×8 (bw)
  • Wide-Grip pulldown 4×10
  • Wide-Grip Cable pull 3×10
  • Shoulders
  • Arnold Press 4×8 (45,40,35)
  • Lateral Raise 4×8 (15)
  • Biceps
  • DB curl 3×8 (35lbs)
  • Static DB curl 3×8 (25lbs)

Nutrition

Vanilla Oats

Vanilla Oats

Chocolate Oats

Chocolate Oats

7oz canned chicken breast 3 slices Ezekiel Toast 9 oz Sweet Potato

7oz canned chicken breast
3 slices Ezekiel Toast
9 oz Sweet Potato

11 oz Seafood mix Onions Broccoli

11 oz Seafood mix
Onions
Broccoli

Journal

Wrote an article on Yo-yo dieting early, which seems to effect many people.  It’s simply a matter of not knowing how to diet correctly and also not reverse dieting correctly.  When trying to lose fat PATIENCE is key.  Way too many people rush things and end up regretting it.

Huge Workout today to generate some hypertrophy in my “targeted areas.”  I tried a bunch of different exercises out, but I really like sticking to the basics.  Due to my Deadlift and Shoulder press day yesterday I was already somewhat sore, so today I basically just finished everything off with some higher rep volume.  Static DB curls are also very good for getting a pump in the biceps.  Also arnold presses are very effective for hitting all three heads of the shoulders.  You really have to lower the weight to maintain proper form on that exercise.

Nutrition was on point today.  2 cups of oatmeal, a large sweet potato and 3 slices of ezekiel bread should be enough carbs and insulin to send the protein and nutrients I ate straight to my guns. 🙂  Calories probably going to end up at about 2600 today.

Taking the NESTA PT exam tomorrow and after I’ll be a certified Personal Trainer.  All I need now is a gym to hire me.

Yo-Yo Dieters

There are very many people out there that yo-yo diet and many have no idea why.  Most people at some point in life struggle with weight gain and then it becomes a life time battle to lose it, but most people are fighting a losing battle.

The typical situation is the person gains about (very easy in today’s society if you don’t know how to eat right) becomes frustrated with what they see in the mirror and then join a weight loss program eat 1000 calories a day and lose a ton of weight.  After they lose weight they feel great!  But slowly and surely if the person doesn’t stay on this 1000 calorie regime (which almost no one does, because its too low of an intake) they always gain weight right back.  Sometimes they gain more back.  Why is this?  The reason is because your body got use your low calorie intake.

The body is incredibly smart.  Eat 500 calories a day and your body will figure out a way to keep you alive for as long as it can by conserving energy to only burn 500 calories a day.  But think about it.  You have been dieting on 1000 calories a day for months, so whats going to happen when you start eating “normal amounts of food” such as 2000 calories again?  Fat gain, and the reason is because your eating 1000 calories over what your body has been use to receiving.  Sometimes its even worse and people go on 1000 calorie diets to lose weight and then return back to their previous habits of going to fast food joints 3 times a day.

Calories in and Calories out are far from the only problem though.  Your body starts down regulating just about every known hormone and energy producing enzyme in your body when you diet.  Check out this chart from Lyle McDonald’s website Bodyrecomposition.com:

Screen Shot 2013-07-30 at 7.27.44 AM

Basically what happens is your body becomes a fat storing machine and right after you end your diet you blow up like a ballon.  Its just simple physiology.  Don’t worry though there are ways around this and I feel like just about anyone can fix the yo-yo dieting struggle.

I’m going to list my tips to combat this ever increasing battle against fat REGAIN:

  1. When you do diet, DONT eat below your BMR.  This figure in calories is your bodyweight x 10.  The reason for this is because your BMR is the amount of food you need to lay in bed all day.  Trust me you burn many more calories than this on a daily basis even with no exercise.  If you go to low under your BMR, problems start showing up REAL FAST.
  2. Dont do extreme diets that eliminate certain macronutrients.  Very low carb diets are really starting to annoy me.  I jumped on this bandwagon, learned how bad they are and then promptly jumped right off.  I’ve started eating more starches than ever and have never felt better.  The main reason low carb diets work is because they eliminate a ton of foods.  There are other “hormonal” reasons, but these can backfire so quickly once your body gets used to it, that the after effects are NOT worth the short term benefit.  Key point- you will have to REDUCE carbs, but don’t ELIMINATE them.
  3. Adopt good eating habits.  Don’t join weight loss programs that send you prepackaged meals.  This may be easier from a calorie control standpoint, but it teaches you nothing about weight maintenance and healthy foods.  Healthy foods can TASTE INCREDIBLE if you fix them right.  (In my mind a lot better than fast food, which usually takes all of 5 minutes to eat)
  4. Eat whole foods.  This is the same as above, but let me give you an example.  Would you rather eat a Big Mac at 530 calories or lean beef, sweet potato and tons of veggies?  The point is whole foods allow you to EAT A LOT MORE for the same number of calories.
  5. Adopt the 80/20 principle not the 100/0 principle.  Everyone has their vices and thats why extreme diets dont work.  If you eat right 80% of the time then the other 20% of the time you can some of your “favorite foods” without wrecking your diet.  This works very well I might add.  People that try to be right 100% of the time always fail eventually and this one failure may cause them to blow their entire diet.
  6. Reverse diet.  I wrote about this in other articles, but basically it means if you dieted on 1200 calories, then add back in calories very slowly to maintain your weight.  THIS IS WHERE PEOPLE ALWAYS FAIL. If you had the willpower to diet at 1200 calories for an extended period of time, then you should have the will power to reverse diet for awhile to get your body’s calorie level back to normal.  The easiest way to do this is to slowly add in about 100 calories per week.  In 2 months you’ll be back to 2000 calories (or whatever your maintenance calories are).  Trust me you don’t want to skip this step as I feel like this is the main reason people are yo-yo dieters.
  7. In the above chart you’ll notice what happens to the body when you UNDERFEED.  Well the same things happen to the body on Low Carb diets.  It’s usually slower, but stay on low carbs too long and the exact same things happen as restricting calories too low.  (Another reason to avoid these diets) Carbs from starches (glucose based) not sugar and fruit have a VERY STRONG EFFECT ON METABOLISM.  Carbs actually reverse many of the negative effects on that chart.  My advice always keep them in your diet.  How to do it?  Many people don’t have very good dietary control, so I’m going to keep this as simple as possible.  Always have one day a week, BOTH on your diet or rebounding from a diet as a HIGH CARB refeed day.  Load up on starches (potatoes, bread, oatmeal, pasta, rice) and keep fat as low as you can on this day.  I can’t describe to you the number of benefits this will have on your results.  This actually may be the most important tip in this article. (One thing I do want to add is that fat intake needs to be about a third of your bodyweight.  Any more than this on a high carb diet and most of the fat will get stored.)
  8. Switch your mindset from CALORIE RESTRICTION to INCREASING YOUR METABOLISM.  You think eating like a bird and running all day will get you your dream body?  Think again.  Your metabolism will down-regulate, you’ll make your self extremely sensitive to food and eventually you will gain weight rapidly.  How to increase your metabolism?  Start eating more low sugar starches.  Seriously after studying nutrition for a long time, starches are incredible for the body.  Basically they are very beneficial and get NO CREDIT, even WORSE STARCHES GET BLAMED AS THE REASON EVERYONE IS FAT! I used to believe this, then I realized nothing is further from the truth.
  9. Foods that Slow the metabolism – soy, vegetable oil, trans fat, excess fructose (excessive sugar intake)
  10. Foods that Increase the metabolism – All starches, saturated fat, salt and lean protein. (funny the foods that increase the metabolism the most are the ones that every says to avoid.  GREAT ADVICE ;))
  11. Very simple diet setup – Eat your bodyweight in protein, one third of your bodyweight in fat and the rest goes to low sugar starches.

Bottom Line – Yo-yo dieting is the result of down-regulating your metabolism on low calorie/low carb diets without the proper maintenance phase of slowly increasing your calories back to normal.  Slowly adding in calories at about 100 per week onto what you were dieting at will allow the body to adjust back to normal without regaining all of your fat.  If you have been avoiding starches for whatever reason your metabolism may not be operating as fast as it could.  The solution is to have a high carb/low fat refeed once a week on your diet and on your maintenance phase to stoke the metabolism.  Even people that have stagnated in their current body composition goals can benefit from the high carb days.

PS – I used to do really Low Carb diets and it was the worst thing I ever did to my body.  I’ve recently been eating between 200-300 carbs a day and never felt better.  Don’t get sucked into Low Carb BS.  Starches and glucose are the ultimate metabolic fuel.  If more people would focus on increasing their metabolism rather than drastically slowing it down they would  have a much easier time losing weight.

Sources:

bodyrecompostion.com

180degreehealth.com

Natemiyaki.com/nutrition

Journal Entry 13

Morning Weight –172 lbs

Workout

  • Strength Day (2 warmup sets then 5 sets of 5 reps then 1 high rep finisher set)
  • Trap-Bar Deadlift Pyramid of 8 sets maxed out at 265lbs x 3 reps
  • Shoulder Press 8 sets (DB 60×5) (Hammer Press 135×5)

Nutrition

Cinnamon Vanilla Oatmeal

Cinnamon Vanilla Oatmeal

Cold Chocolate Oatmeal

Cold Chocolate Oatmeal

7oz Kirkland Canned Chicken Breast 10 oz red potato Ezekiel Bread (1) Cheese Dipping Sauce

7oz Kirkland Canned Chicken Breast
10 oz red potato
Ezekiel Bread (1)
Cheese
Dipping Sauce

Steamed Chinese - Chicken, Shrimp, Mixed Veggies 8oz Sweet Potato Crab Rangoon Dipping Sauce

Steamed Chinese – Chicken, Shrimp, Mixed Veggies
8oz Sweet Potato
Crab Rangoon
Dipping Sauce

Journal

Read 4 chapters of the NESTA certification today and I’m taking the test on Wednesday.  Basically just ended up reading chapters 9-13 since 75% of the test is on this material.  A lot seemed like common sense and you only need 70 out of 125 questions to pass.  So I’m not to worried about it.  Also found out that the $450 for the study materials included the test, which is awesome.  Since the test costs $250 on its own, I thought I had to pay both $450 for the study material and $250 for the test, but luckily I was wrong and only had to pay $450 total for the certification.  Made my day.

Workout today was awesome.  Pyramided my sets up to 265 lbs on the deadlift.  Not bad at my bodyweight at 170lbs.  Really going to strive to break this amount each week.  Shoulders – started out with DB, but I have a hard time getting the weights to my shoulders, when the weight is heavy.  So I switched to the hammer machine and loaded it up with plates.  Not a big fan of machines, but I felt some good tension on this machine.

Nutrition was kind of weak today.  I was pretty busy and didn’t eat as much food as I wanted, which is actually getting kind of hard with potatoes and oatmeal.  I always been a fan of eating a much as possible for the calories, but if I keep struggling to eat enough I’m going to have to add in some denser sources of food. Or I may just blend a  “homemade workout shake” with a lot of carbs and protein in it, such as oatmeal and protein powder.  Blending it up makes it much less filling.

One thing I wanted to note today is I had really good energy levels and was in an extremely good mood.  Since I have been eating more starches, days like this are becoming more common.  Not that I didn’t have good days before, but the energy is noticeably higher.  Really wish people didn’t hate on starches so much.  They get bashed way too often and its truly undeserved.

Healthy Eating on a Budget Part 2: Protein and Fat

In the previous article, I posted my recommendations on saving a lot of money when buying starches and carbs.  This will focus on protein and fat items.

IMG_1724

Protein and Fat items can vary greatly, but I tend to me a monotonous eater and usually eat the same foods over and over.  Here is a list of my recommended money saving protein and fat foods:

  • Frozen Chicken Breasts – Highly recommend Costco at $20 a bag that contains over 40 servings.
  • Canned Chicken Breast – Kirkland brand taste amazing also at Costco $9 for 8 cans
  • Rotisserie Chicken – $5-6 at most places (get two meals out of this)
  • Lean Chicken Sausage – $4 for 4 or $13 for 18
  • Eggs – $2-4 for 18 pack carton
  • Lean Beef – Trader Joe’s 96/4 lean beef $5 per pound
  • Seafood Mix – Sam’s Club has a giant bag for $10
  • Greek Yogurt – $5
  • Low fat Turkey Pepperoni – $3.50
  • Almond Butter – $5
  • Coconut Oil – $6
  • Fish Oil – $7 at Costco for a huge jar
  • Quest Bars – $3 (These aren’t exactly cheap, but the taste and health is worth it)
  • Protein Powder – Elite XT Fudge Brownie and Vanilla $32 for 4.4 lbs (highly recommend)
  • Smoked Salmon $4-9, a little more expensive, but Trader Joe’s has a very good selection
  • Fish $8 per pound (usually dont eat fish that often)
  • Laughing Cow Reduced fat Cheese Wedge $6.50 for 3 at Sam’s
  • Goat Cheese – Costco
  • Bolthouse Light Ranch – Best tasting healthy ranch on the planet (highly recommend) $3.50
  • Low Carb Ketchup $2.50

These are most of the foods I eat and they are definitely a little more costly than starches.  But here are a few more tips to avoid breaking the bank, while trying to eat healthy.

  • If you want to buy organic, then shop at Trader Joe’s.  AVOID WHOLE FOODS and FRESH MARKET.  I actually like Whole foods and Fresh Market and they are both very nice stores, but their prices are Ridcioulus.  They want to prey on people trying to eat healthy and “organic” so they jack up the prices to force people to pay.  Trader Joe’s has many organic and grass fed products that are actually affordable.
  • Don’t buy organic eggs if you use a lot of egg whites.  Some people are die hard fanatics about organic eggs, but they use 6 eggs total, with 1 whole egg and 5 egg whites.  (What are your doing?) They literally just payed way more for “organic eggs” and threw away the nutrient density of the food. (which was the point of buying more expensive organic eggs)  Egg whites are dirt cheap and are the same no matter what.  If you buy organic eggs and use a lot of egg whites then buy organic eggs for the yolk and buy cheap eggs for the egg whites.
  • Costco and Sam’s club are your friends.  Seriously if you buy a lot of whole foods do yourself a favor and join either one of these.  You can buy in bulk and save a lot of money.
  • Watch out for protein powder as it tends to get very expensive.  Protein powder gets marketed very heavily and if your not careful can burn a hole in your wallet, especially with some of the new brands coming out.  Elite XT tastes awesome, has a large serving size for the price, is a slow release protein (keeps you fuller for longer) and is also thicker than whey which makes it much better tasting with food and in protein shakes.  Highly recommend this brand and I’ve been using it for over 2 years.
  • Don’t get into supplements.  If there is one thing you take away from this article please let it be this.  They largely do nothing and are very expensive.  Besides a multivitamin, quest bars (protein bars), fish oil and protein powder I wouldn’t get involved in anything else.  You would be amazed at how much they add up and most people never feel any benefits at all from them.  If they do have some initial benefit it just takes more and more of that supplement to feel anything from it, which is even more money lost.
  • A final tip – don’t get obsessed with being TOO HEALTHY.  Meaning buying organic everything, shopping at Whole foods and thinking your diet is superior because you spend $1000 a week on “the healthiest food on the planet”

I hope this article was helpful and I definitely want to keep this post updated in the future if I think of any more tips to include.

 

Journal Entry 12

Morning Weight –171 lbs

Workout

  • Chest/Triceps/Abs (Hypertrophy)
  • DB Bench 4×8
  • DB INC Bench 3×8
  • Dips 4×8
  • Cable Flys 4×10
  • Skull Crusher and Close Grip Bench Press SS 3×10
  • ABS – Pulldowns and Planks 4×8

Nutrition

Chocolate Oatmeal

Chocolate Oatmeal

Vanilla Oatmeal

Vanilla Oatmeal

2.5 lbs of potatoes

2.5 lbs of potatoes

19 oz monster sweet potato

19 oz monster sweet potato

Post Workout 15 oz red potatoes 1 whole egg 5 egg whites Dipping sauce Cheese Onions

Post Workout
15 oz red potatoes
1 whole egg
5 egg whites
Dipping sauce
Cheese
Onions

Cold Oatmeal Cereal (put too much almond milk in this)

Cold Oatmeal Cereal
(put too much almond milk in this)

Journal

Started the day with some review studying for the NESTA exam.  Apparently 75% of the test is based on chapters 9-13, which figures because most of the content I learned was in the earlier chapters. 😦 O well.  I’m just going to read over these chapters very closely for the next few days and probably take the test on Wednesday of this week.

Cooked up a ton of potatoes today and here recently I’ve been cooking in massive quantities all at once so when I’m ready to eat I don’t have to cook on the spot.  One thing to note is potatoes take a really long time to cook especially  baked sweet potatoes, but they are definitely worth it.  One potato was 19 ounces a normal potato is 5 oz.  This thing was MASSIVE and took twice as long to cook.  It would definitely make an EPIC post workout meal.

Workout was good today and repped the 80 lb DB’s for the Bench Press 8 times.  Supersetted some Triceps at the end and my arms were pretty pumped at the end.

Nutrition today basically been feasting on oatmeal and potatoes trying to reach 300 grams.  Eating such filling foods actually makes it somewhat hard, but you get to eat a ton for the calories.