Know Your Protein

By Kyle Arsenault CSCS

A while back I wrote a post called The Truth Behind Protein Shakes. The reason for this post was that many athletes were still confused as to why they were guzzling a/1/uno protein shake daily but still not adding slabs of rock hard muscle and torching massive amounts of body insulation (fat is great at keeping heat in!).

If you did not read that that post I would encourage that you do so. As for right here, right now, I wanted to provide a quick, bullet point style overview about the main concepts behind protein and its role in a high performing body, the myths behind protein and its consumption, as well as make a few recommendations.

So let’s do this so the next time you find yourself puzzled as to why after downing a protein shake your biceps didn’t grow like Pop-Eye’s did on spinach, you’ll better understand why.

Is protein important?

–          Protein is important, and many times protein is thought of as the most important of all macronutrients (fat, carbohydrate, protein, water).

–          While I would argue that all are equally important, protein definitely plays a key role in almost every bodily function including structure (muscle building anyone?!), muscle contraction, immune system function, hormone production, nutrient transport, energy and more. So ya, it’s important.

–          Without adequate protein available, the body will breakdown stored protein (again, muscles anyone?!) in order to complete the functions previously mentioned.

Will protein alone make my muscles HUGE and my stomach RIPPED?!!

–          NO!!! Protein alone will not make your muscles grow. You must apply a stimulus to the body (training) that breaks down the system and requires the body to adapt and grow stronger. Then, protein can be utilized to help repair and grow tissues, including muscle tissue.

–          NO!!! Protein alone will not incinerate fat. While protein is more metabolically active (it requires more calories to utilize protein vs carbs or fat), protein will only help you lose weight when you are in a caloric deficit. With that said, for many replacing processed carbs with protein (less pasta and more chicken for example) will help you consume less overall calorie as well as consume more high quality nutrients, which will aid in losing the midsection jiggle.

–          Protein is a nutrient, not a steroid. While it plays an important role in anabolism, protein will not provide you will slabs of rock hard muscle without the hard work…sorry bro!

–          Ladies, protein will not make you gain manly muscle and neither will training heavy or intensely! So eat some steak, crush some weight and get off the damn elliptical!

Where can I get protein?

–          There are many sources of protein which include animal based proteins (beef, chicken, etc.), fish based protein (salmon, haddock, tuna, etc.), dairy based proteins (milk, yogurt, whey, casein, etc.), egg based protein and vegetable based protein (tofu, soy, protein, etc.).

–          As you can see, there are many foods that contain protein, and also protein supplements such as protein powder.

When should I eat protein and how much should I eat?

–          Protein should be consumed with every feeding (meal, mini-meal, snack) and a good way to measure how much to consume is by using your hand. Click HERE for a guide and visual.

–          The old standby for how much total daily protein to consume is 1g per pound of bodyweight. A better guideline to follow is one that I first heard from Alan Aragon. Alan recommends consuming 1g of protein for every pound of your ideal weight. That means if you are a 150lb male looking to gain 20lbs, you should be consuming at least 170g of protein daily. If you are trying to go from 200lbs to 180lbs, it is recommended to consume 180g of protein daily. Whatever your target weight is in pounds, consume that many grams of protein daily.

There are so many protein powders. Which one is best?

–          Whey stands out as the most versatile protein powder.

–          Casein is another dairy based protein and digests slower than whey making it a decent option when you know you are not going to be eating for a little while (before bed, etc.).

–          For those who don’t tolerate dairy well, egg or vegetable derived protein powders can be used (pea protein, etc….stay away from soy!).

–          No matter the source, make sure that the protein powder is made from whole, natural sources and not loaded with hormones, processed sweeteners or other ingredients that you can’t pronounce. And stay away from weight gainers…just eat more whole food!

–          I like Biotrust Low Carb as it tastes great and is made from quality sources. Other good sources include Jay Robbs and if you don’t have the funds available, Dymatize All Natural Whey is a decent option.

What can I use protein powder for?

–          Protein shakes, DUH!…check out this Protein Shake Construction Guide (your welcome!).

–          Other than shakes, great ways to use protein powder include powering up oatmeal, cottage cheese or Greek yogurt, putting it on popcorn, flavoring coffee, making homemade protein bars and more.

–          *Protein powder is a supplement and should be used as so. Think of protein powder as an additional (and sometimes more convenient) way to get your daily needs, not as the primary source!

So there you have it, a short, a simple overview of protein along with a few recommendations. This does not even scratch the surface of details surrounding protein, but hopefully you can see that protein is important, and alone is not going to give you the body of a Greek god or goddess!

Make sure you get enough high quality protein, continue to work hard and…just don’t get sucked into thinking protein is the end all when it comes to achieving results!

5 Ways to Help You Afford Healthy Food


By Kyle Arsenault CSCS

You make it to the grocery store, grab a cart and venture into the aisles. You are on a mission. A mission to obtain foods that will help you achieve your newly sparked health and fitness goals, and nothing is going to stop you.

As you make your way to the produce isle, you remember you coach (and the rest of the world) telling you that organic products are healthier…so that is what you are going to get.

But there is one problem; the organic veggies and fruit are twice as expensive as the conventional brands.

 

 

And it doesn’t stop there! The Greek yogurt is far more expensive than the sugar bombed regular yogurt, the pasture raised eggs are 3x the price of the store brand and the price of the grass fed meat and all natural almond butter just about gives you a heart attack.

“This stuff is way too expensive,” you say allowed with a chuckle as you place item after item in your cart. You are just a little more than anxious to see the bill for this one!

As you grab the last item on your list which happens to be coconut oil, and the most expensive item yet, you snap, decide there is no way you can afford this stuff. In a frustrated rage you empty your cart, grab the items you typically purchase and get to the checkout.

If you have ever gone out shopping and either purchased or at least contemplated purchasing the “healthier items,” the scenario above may sound familiar. OK, maybe you didn’t stomp back through the aisles and empty your cart (I actually have at one point!) but it was a one shopping trip never to happen again.

While I can’t argue that the best items are more expensive, eating healthier (the key is healthier) is actually not that expensive…but there is a link below where I go into that.

So instead of going over that, my goal is to present to you a few ways you can save a buck or two, that you can then put towards obtaining healthier items such as fresh/frozen veggies and fruit, lean meats, omega 3 or pasture raised eggs, natural peanut butter, etc. during your shopping extravaganzas.

 

 

1)      Buy in bulk- Instead of buying just enough food to make dinner for that night, try purchasing in bulk, and take advantage of bulk item stores such as Sam’s Club, BJs, etc. While you will spend more money up front, you are saving money in the long run. Don’t get caught up with the final price, but rather pay attention to the per serving price of items and you will notice that the bulk items are far less expensive. Such items include meats (chicken breast, hamburger, etc.), frozen veggies, milk, Greek yogurt, etc.

2)      Buy on sale and stock up- My grandfather is, well, “the grandfather” of stocking up! Whenever there is a sale he will grab extra of that item and store it for later. Try dedicating a spare pantry to stock up items and invest in an extra freezer (you can get them cheap online…Craigslist). This will save you tons of money in the long run, and keep your family from starving during the inevitable Zombie Apocalypse.

 

 

 

3)      Drink Water- Stop purchasing juice (especially sugar infused “juice”), Gatorade, soda, energy drinks, beer (a 6 pack can easily be as much as 10 dollars), etc. and drink water instead…it is free and you can flavor it with fresh fruit, etc! And please, don’t buy water either, but invest in a water bottle instead! It’s healthier and cheaper.

4)      Make your own coffee/tea- Going along with the last point, drinking water is free and making your own coffee or tea, while not free, is much cheaper than purchasing one every morning. Think about it like this, if your coffee costs you two dollars (which is on the cheapest end), that is 10 dollars a week, 40 dollars a month, and roughly 480 dollars per year…that is a lot of grass fed meat you could be eating!

5)      Make and pack meals- Truth is, I have never once bought lunch at work. Whether it was when I was landscaping as a youth, interning at Cressey Performance or working at a local gym as a personal trainer I always made my lunch, packed it up and brought it with me. And now, it has been over two years I have been working as the Head Performance Coach at Momentum and the trend continues! Even a cheap salad will run you a minimum of 8 dollars and as I explained in THIS POST, you can make lunch for much, much cheaper.

 

 

Try these following these tips most of the time (I am not suggesting you can never again buy lunch or your favorite coffee) and you will find that you have an extra buck or two you can put towards healthier foods that will allow you to more easily achieve your health and fitness goals.

You will not only be saving money, but you will also save yourself the embarrassment of looking like a lunatic as you stomp your way back through Whole Foods, tossing the more expensive items back on the shelf…I can only imagine what people were thinking of me!

Your Daily Checklist for Success

By Kyle Arsenault CSCS

“There are things that successful people do day after day that allow them to be successful”

This quote says it all and at the end of this blog there is a link to a free gift that will help you be successful too…so continue on!

 

Throughout our training careers many of us will experience high points where results come quickly, our body is transforming into a figure we imagined, and life straight out rocks. And then something happens (or doesn’t happen…keep reading) as our results come to a screeching halt and we feel depressed with how our body is looks and feels.

And while a small percentage of us may never experience the lows, the majority of us will at some point be questioning what is going on as we come face to face with this unfortunate situation.

We then start to search for latest and greatest training program that is guaranteeing unmatched results or some super diet that is based on processed powders after four weeks of a hellish cleanse. If we are lucky, this new magical program or diet will provide results and make us feel better about ourselves…at least in the short term.

But then something happens. Our results slow, our love handles return and we again feel like crap.

What is the problem?

CONSISTENTCY!…program hopping is not consistency. Diets are not consistent (just the word assumes a short term intervention).

Consistency is the key to achieving the body you want and the life you deserve. And when you ask them how they do it, those individuals who have year after year been are able to stay healthy and fit generally do a few things, EVERY DAY, that allow them to dominate life.

Here is what you need to do every day to be among those few.

1)      Take control of the morning

a)      When the alarm goes off get out of bed.

b)      Start the morning off with a big glass (or two) of cold water and a short bout of physical activity (a brisk walk, foam rolling session, bodyweight circuit, etc.).

c)       Eat a muscle meal for breakfast (lean protein, veggies, healthy fat, healthy carbohydrates).

d)      Grab everything you will need to be successful the rest of the day (gym bag, lunch/dinner, water bottle, etc.).

2)      Stay active during the day.

a)      If you sit at a desk (at work or school) make sure to move every 15-20 minutes.

b)      Expanding on the last point, if you can without getting in trouble, go for a quick walk (even if it is just to the bathroom) or perform a few reps of a bodyweight exercise at your work station (squats, lunges, push-ups, etc.). At the very least, every 15-20 minutes switch position a little. The best posture is an ever changing one…as long as you are changing from one good posture to the next.

c)       During breaks go for a walk or if you are on a phone call and can move, make it a walk and talk.

d)      For those who are looking to expend a few extra calories you can always fidget. While sitting fidget your hand and feet, as long as you are not annoying those around you!

e)      Plan physical activities with friends or family during the day/weekends such as walks, bike rides, hikes, recreational sports or simply getting out and playing with the dog/kids…it doesn’t always have to be fancy.

3)      Train in some capacity.

a)      Training is planned exercise that brings you closer to your health and fitness goals, so training isn’t always just hitting the gym. Bodyweight circuits, activations, etc. count and just need to be in accordance with your goals.

b)      Resistance train at least 3x per week making movements such as squats, deadlifts, lunges, push-ups and rows your go to…as long as you are moving right.

c)       Perform needed conditioning or recovery, bloodflow sessions or extra sprint sessions depending on your goals.

d)      Try intervals 1-2 times per week if you have already established a good conditioning base (resting heart rate is at or below 60 bpm without a medical condition).

4)      Eat for performance.

a)     Make lean proteins and veggies the base of your nutrition.

b)      Drink mainly water, coffee and tea.

c)       Stay away from processed foods as much as possible (trans fat or other processed fats, sugary processed carbohydrates, etc.).

d)      Earn your carbohydrates…eat more carbohydrates on days of intense training.

e)      Consume your largest meal (and carbohydrates) post training as your body is primed to use the nutrients.

5)      Recover and sleep.

a)      You can’t always go 100% intensity every day. Schedule lighter recovery days (bloodflow/light conditioning/recreational activities, etc.) to allow your body time to adapt and grow stronger.

b)      Make it a must to get 7-9 hours of uninterrupted, quality sleep.

c)       Turn off electronics and dim lights an hour before bed. Use FLUX software leading up to the hour before bed.

d)      Make your bedroom as dark and quiet as possible. Use blackout curtains and earplugs if necessary.

e)      Try reading, meditating, taking a warm bath/shower or light foam rolling/stretching before bed to tap into your parasympathetic nervous system.

There you have it. The more you can run through and implement the points on this list the more likely you are to achieve and maintain the body, life and confidence you want.

No more will you crush your training, nutrition and life only to come up short once again down the road. Small goals can be achieved in short bursts, but are not likely to be sustained.

Quality habits that allow you to CONSISTENTLY look and feel your best are built through a CONSISTENT daily process.

Be CONSISTENT with this list Daily Checklist and enjoy a body and life you enjoy and can be proud of!

Your Limiting Factor

By Kyle Arsenault CSCS

Change, it is hard, and there is no way around it. But many times change is necessary when it comes to achieving goals of any kind (i.e. fitness, social, professional, etc.).

Change is a tough and daunting task that makes even the most solid of us a little anxious to think about.

The reason is that most of us view change as a negative that will cause us hardship (pain) in the process (use of time, taking something enjoyable away, etc.) rather than viewing change as a positive (pleasure) that will result in a higher quality of life and goal achievement.

While adjusting your perspective about change is the first step, the next obstacle with change is the process itself.

The reason change seems so intimidating is that most of us approach change in an all or nothing fashion.

Want to fix your nutrition?…That means no more bread, pasta, soda, gluten, dairy, etc. It also means you can only eat carbohydrates first thing in the morning or around training, and one day a week you need to fast and you can only have grass fed, organic, free range, super freak foods.

How about starting a training program?…At least an hour a day in the gym involving a twenty minute warm up that includes 5 corrective exercises, breathing corrections, a sexy dynamic warm up followed by some explosive medicine ball work, grueling strength training, interval training, cardiac output (“cardio”), recovery days, skakeweight circuits, etc…I’m kidding about the shakeweight of course.

As you can see, approaching change this way can seem near impossible, so why even try?

Don’t get me wrong, appropriate change is good and is definitely worth it!.

And some can dive in head first, change every little component and be highly successful, but that is not the case for the majority of us.

So for the 90% of us that won’t fare well with the complete overhaul approach, I suggest easing your way into change and addressing the most critical component first…your liming factor.

Your limiting factor is the one thing, that when you change it, results in the greatest return on your investment. After all, who really wants to put in more work than is necessary to achieve the end goal?

With that said, what follows are some tables that provide quick examples of limiting factors and a few suggestions on what we can do to address them.

Although the tables below cover nutrition, training and lifestyle factors (that is why you read this blog!), the same approach can be implemented with any category of change and this is by no means an exhaustive list.

Nutrition

Limiting factor                                  Suggestion 1                        Suggestion 2                         Suggestion 3

Lack of Healthy Nutrition Knowledge Make natural veggies, lean meats and fruits your go to. Primarily drink water, coffee and tea instead of calorie laden liquids. Ask someone who is knowledgeable for help.
Lack of Time Cook extra and store it for meals the week. Use Power Protein Shakes as quick meals. Take a couple hours on a day off to prep for the week.
Portion Control Pre-portion your meals and put extra away. Use smaller plates, bowls, etc. Use your hand to measure quantities.
“Always Hungry”/ Never Full or Satisfied Slow down when eating and sip water. Find a meal frequency that fits your lifestyle. Make veggies / greens half of your plate.

 

Training (exercise with a purpose)

Limiting factor                                  Suggestion 1                        Suggestion 2                         Suggestion 3

Lack of Programming Knowledge Ask someone who is knowledgeable to build a program for your goals. Go big first (squats, deadlifts, push ups, etc.) and follow up with unilateral movements. Resistance train 2-4 times per week and condition 1-2 times.
Lack of Time Get your gym bag and work clothes ready the night before. Warm up for 5-10 mins, pick 1 lower, 1 upper, 1 core and cycle 3-5x. Instead of one long  daily session, try multiple shorter sessions.
Lack of Motivation Find a training partner, coach or accountability group. Track progress as progress/results give meaning to training. Switch training accordingly to keep it interesting.
Lack of Equipment Master and use bodyweight training as it should be first anyway and is most convenient. Buy a TRX, set of heavy resistance bands and foam roller…you can do a lot! Have fun with whatever is available (logs, wheel barrows, ropes, buckets of water, etc.).

 

 

Lifestyle

Limiting factor                                  Suggestion 1                        Suggestion 2                         Suggestion 3

Sedentary Lifestyle Make it a point to walk, foam roll or do a mini training circuit first thing in the morning. Walk during your breaks at school/work or while on the phone. Plank activities that are active (biking, hiking, swimming, tennis, yard work, etc.).
Lack of Sleep Turn off all electronics at least 1 hour before bed and use FLUX. Blackout your room (use dark shades) and limit noise with earplugs. Write down a to do list so your brain can “shut down” as well.
Over-stressed Take 10-20 minutes a day and just be quiet (nap, meditate, etc.). Make a to do list and cross it off with the big things first! Foam roll, which is even better right before bed and can help you relax.
Time Efficiency Again, another great reason to make a to do list with the big things first. Use work blocks…work for 25 mins, take 5 and repeat. You will get more done. Don’t multi-task. One thing at a time…get it done and move to the next.

 

These are just a few examples of limiting factors for many individuals. The suggestions above are merely the tip of the iceberg, but when you pick one and make it a habit, you will notice that the results will improve, your motivation to change will continue and you will more easily be able to tackle the change as a whole.

So instead of diving head first into inevitable failure, try determining your limiting factor and pick one small action that you are sure you can do 90% of the time (it doesn’t matter how small), and get after it.

With this approach, change will not feel hopeless, and your goals of achieving a higher performing and healthier body with be that much easier.

Any other limiting factors or suggestions you can think of?…leave a comment below and share this article on Facebook, Twitter and email.

A Big Thank You and Some Gifts

 

Wednesday night Momentum PT put on a nutrition seminar for our athletes, clients and community. We wanted to thank everyone who attended and give you a big shout out as you helped us raise over $200 for the Live 4 Evan Organization!

As promised, below are the handouts from the seminar. Enjoy and we will be announcing the next seminar soon!

 

7 Day Meal Plan

Better Options for Common Foods

Protein Shake Construction Guide

Print – Best and Worst Cereals _ Environmental Working Group

The Most Effective “Diet” to Achieve a Lean and Healthy Body…And Enjoy Food!

 

***First, we wanted to let you know that Momentum is hosting a nutritional seminar on Wednesday August 14th at 6:30pm that will cover the top 5 principles and strategies to help you achieve your health and fitness goals and support your training program! Please let us know if you would like to attend by emailing Kyle at kyle@momentumpt.com…there are a limited number of seats so secure your spot ASAP.

And now, on to the infotainment (information and entertainment!)…

 

By Kyle Arsenault CSCS

 

What is the best diet to gain muscle?

How about the best to lose fat?

Or better yet, how about the best diet to do both at the same time?!

Some would have you believe this is impossible, as gaining muscle requires you to intake more calories that you expend, while losing fat requires you to take in less calories than you burn…and you can only do one thing at a time!

While this caloric balancing act is true, it doesn’t mean that you must always be in a caloric surplus to gain muscle, or mustalways be in a caloric deficit to lose fat.

In fact, you don’t have to shovel in loads of chicken breast, beef jerkey, tuna fish and peanut butter 6x/day every day per week to gain muscle (you will quickly find that you gain more than just muscle). And you don’t have to starve yourself or never again eat rice, pasta, or bread for fear that a severe case of the Michelin Man Disease will be the final result.

You can have days with higher calorie intake, days with moderate calorie intake and days with lower calorie intake.

By manipulating overall calories in this way you can promote an anabolic state (growth…for muscle) on the days you train hard, a maintenance state on the days you train at a moderate intensity and a catabolic state (breakdown…for fat) on the days you are not training or just doing light physical activity.

And there is one key method to making this the most effective nutritional strategy.

Your Macronutrient Needs

On a daily basis you should be consuming meals rich in high quality macronutrients (fats, proteins, carbohydrates, water).

Out of these macronutrients there is one that you can manipulate to best achieve your goals of a healthy, lean and strong body…carbohydrates.

Your protein and fat intake should stay relatively the same every day (portions such as 1-3 fists of protein, 1-2 thumbs fats, etc.…check THIS out for a full description), but you can, and should, be manipulating the amount of carbohydrate you ingest according to your daily physical exertion and goals. And here is why.

Good Old Insulin

I wrote about insulin HERE and HERE, so you can check that out for more detail. But fort the quick version, when you eat carbohydrates (which breaks down into sugar) your body responds by increasing insulin. Insulin is responsible for numerous adaptations, but is most well-known for its impact on anabolism. Insulin promotes the cells to uptake sugar from the blood, which is good when you are trying to build quality muscle. But when your insulin levels are constantly elevated (when you constantly eat carbohydrates), you are more likely to store the excess sugar as adipose tissue (FAT). Not only are you more likely to accumulate fat mass, but you are at a greater risk for insulin sensitivity issues (your body doesn’t respond to insulin well), diabetes and other metabolic syndromes.

So what does this all mean for you?

Increase insulin (eat carbohydrates) when your body is looking to build muscle / needs energy (when you train intensely) and reduce insulin when your body does not have a high demand on it (moderate training days / off days).

And this folks, is the easiest and most productive way to gain the weight you want (again, quality muscle) and shed the unwanted flab.

Lets Put It All Together

 

To put this into a practical example, let’s say you lift 3 days per week and do some movement work (sprints/agilities) on a 4th day. On your 3 days of lifting you do a lower body, upper body and full body day.

We will assume that the lower and full body days are your more intense lifts and thus require the greatest demand for calories and carbohydrates. On these days you would have your high calorie and carb day. During your upper body and sprint/agility day you would consume a moderate level of calories and carbs, and for the 3 off days you would focus on reducing your overall calories and carbs. During your “off” days you should still try to move around with a blood flow circuit, playing sports, going for a bike/hike/long walk, working on corrective exercises or other physical activities.

Here is how this may look for each day:

Lower and Full Body Lift Days (Higher calorie and carbs)

Breakfast: (Protein, Fats and Carbs) Big bowl of oatmeal (serving depends on goals and hand size) with protein powder, chopped fruit, chopped nuts, cinnamon/nutmeg to taste

Training: (Protein and Carbs) Immediately post training protein shake and carb (fruit, potato, rice, etc.)

Lunch: (Protein, Fats, Veggies and Carbs) Baked/Grilled meat (chicken, pork, steak, fish, etc.), sweet potato / wild rice / whole wheat pasta / beans, broccoli, fruit and nuts for desert

Dinner: (Protein, Fats, Veggies and Carbs) Same as lunch without either the potato / rice or fruit for desert

Nighttime Snack: (Protein, Fats and Veggies) Protein shake, small handful nuts / tablespoon peanut butter, celery sticks

 

Upper Body and Movement Day

Sticking with the same basic meals with a couple exceptions so you can see the difference…

Breakfast: (Protein, Fats, Veggies and Carbs) Veggie and egg omelet, avocado, plain greek yogurt w/ chopped fruit, salsa for omelet

Training: (Protein and Carbs) Immediately post training protein shake and carb (fruit, potato, rice, etc.)

Lunch: (Protein, Fats, Veggies and Carbs) Baked/Grilled meat (chicken, pork, steak, fish, etc.), sweet potato / wild rice / whole wheat pasta / beans, broccoli, fruit and nuts for desert

Dinner: (Protein, Fats and Veggies) Baked/Grilled meat (chicken, pork, steak, fish, etc.), broccoli, side salad, sweet potato / wild rice / whole wheat pasta / beans

Nighttime Snack: (Protein, Fats and Veggies) Protein shake, small handful nuts / tablespoon peanut butter, celery sticks

 

Off Days

Again, the same basic meals but notice the small changes in carbohydrates…

Breakfast: (Protein, Fats, Veggies and Carbs) Veggie and egg omelet, avocado, plain greek yogurt w/ chopped fruit, salsa for omelet

Physical Activity (hiking, biking, bloodflow circuit, etc.): (Protein) Immediately post protein shake and carb (fruit, potato, rice, etc.)

Lunch: (Protein, Fats and Veggies) Baked/Grilled meat (chicken, pork, steak, fish, etc.), broccoli, green beans, sweet potato / wild rice / whole wheat pasta / beans, fruit and nuts for desert

Dinner: (Protein, Fats and Veggies) Baked meat (chicken, pork, steak, fish, etc.), broccoli, side salad, sweet potato / wild rice / whole wheat pasta / beans

Nighttime Snack: (Protein, Fats and Veggies) Protein shake, small handful nuts / tablespoon peanut butter, celery sticks

**So as you can see, according to the intensity of training/physical demand you can and should manipulate your levels of carbohydrates (and therefore overall calories) to meet the demand. On your off days, you can have a slightly higher portion of meat during lunch and dinner if you feel hungry still, as you want to make sure not to cut calories too excessively.

–          Depending on your goals (muscle gain, maintenance or fat loss) you can even further manipulate carbohydrate intake. If you are looking to gain mass as a primary goal you can eat a few more carbs, compared to a goal of fat loss where you can focus on keeping carbohydrates a little lower…you will have to experiment a bit with portion size but utilize the guide from the link above.

–          If you are going to have a cheat meal (and you should if you know you can jump back on the nutrition bandwagon), plan the cheat meal during your more intense training days as your body will require more nutrients and calories on those days. This allows you to have foods that you enjoy and not have them go straight to fat storage…no more completely banning foods as many diets would have you do (unless you negatively react to them such as gluten or dairy).

–          Notice that on the Off Days the meals are mainly based on lean meats and green veggies. These are the base forevery meal of every day, and the only difference is that during the higher calorie and carbohydrate days you are adding a carb to certain meals…not all though!

An easy way to think about calorie and carbohydrate cycling is that you have to “earn your extra calories and carbohydrates.” If you haven’t trained intensely don’t eat intensely as you don’t need it.

And don’t think this means that you should train 3 hours per day just so you can eat that blueberry muffin in the morning and pasta extravaganza at night…you will quickly begin to hate training and life!

So try cycling your carbohydrates (and subsequently calories) accordingly. This will allow you to gain muscle, burn fat, achieve a lean and athletic body, and enjoy foods you like, and not hate eating healthy (and life) along the way!

5 Ways to Curb Ravenous Hunger

By Kyle Arsenault CSCS

 

With the music bumpin’ in the background, your shirt saturated with sweat and the blood surging through every muscle in your entire body, you grind out your last set of an intense training day.

Taking a seat and a swig of water you pencil in your weights used and the reps completed. After cooling down you gather your training gear, toss it in your gym bag and make your way to the car. Driving home you, scarf down your post training shake and an apple.

20 minutes after you get home you compile a beautiful breakfast of eggs, veggies, sprouted grain bread, almond butter and a banana.

Omelet, Ezekiel Break and Natural PB, Banana, Coffee

Veggie omelet, Ezekiel toast with almond butter and a banana…a true breakfast of champions!

You wash that down with a cup of coffee and some more water. As you start to get ready for work you realize you are still not completely satisfied, so you grab a handful of trail mix.

On the way in to work your stomach grumbles so you stop at a convenience store and snag a yogurt parfait as the only other option was a nasty breakfast sandwich. The parfait is quickly consumed and you are back on your way.

Getting to your desk you situate yourself and take a seat. Not 15 minutes later you recognize that your stomach feels, well empty. “What the hell?” you mumble under your breath. It has only been about an hour since the parfait, so you wait. After what seem like 3 hours, but is really only 30 minutes, you give in to the urge to eat and consume half of the lunch you packed…and it is only 9:30.

The feeling of ravenous hunger continues throughout the day. You didn’t over consume by much (as you do on some days when you can’t help yourself), but you were miserable all day trying to fend of the hunger.

The above scenario is a little twist on a situation an athlete mentioned to me earlier this week. She noticed that when she trains harder she seems to always be hungry, which makes sense. The harder you train the more fuel your body requires. But when you have a goal of maintaining or losing some weight or fat mass, this can become problematic. So what can you do to help keep yourself from overeating and prevent yourself from being miserable all day trying to do so?

…. 4, 5 in this case!

1)      Match your nutrient consumption to your training intensity

The days that you train harder you should be consuming a bit more to ensure that the body has the needed nutrients to recover and adapt. Plan to eat a little more on the high intensity training days, and little less on the off or low intensity days. The best way to do this is to manipulate your carbohydrates…

2)      Manipulate your carbohydrates accordingly (High and Low Days)

The harder you train the more energy and specifically, glycogen you deplete. Glycogen is carbohydrate that is stored in the muscles. In order to fully recover, glycogen stores will be replenished. This allows you to have some more carbohydrate on the higher intensity days as the body will use them to replenish energy stores. On the high intensity days toss in an extra piece of fruit with breakfast or with your snack, a sweet potato with lunch or dinner and don’t be afraid to have a small piece of your favorite sweet something on some of these days for example…just make sure that the sweet something doesn’t make it in every high intensity day! On the lower intensity days you do not need as much carbohydrate (or overall calorie) so forgo the extra carbs.

A cookie on high intensity days every now and then is OK, especially if you work this hard to get it!

3)      Drink plenty of water and eat plenty of veggies 

Your stomach has sensory receptors that respond to the stretching of its walls. What does this mean? When your stomach becomes full, it expands and the brain is sent a signal that you are full. If you tend to feel hungry try drinking an extra glass or two of water with your meal and in between meals. Along with the water make it a point to eat more veggies, especially greens, as you can consume a large volume of these vegetables for little calorie.

4)      Focus on protein

Protein is arguably the most important of the macronutrients when it comes to health and performance. Intense training causes the body’s tissues and systems to break down and protein is critical to rebuild and recover. Another other benefit of protein you may have heard of is that increases levels of satiety. As a nutrient that can help you recover and keep you feeling fuller for longer, protein, along with veggies and water, must be at the center of your meals and snacks.

5)      Slow down

Lastly, slow down when you are eating!!  Not only will it improve digestion, but it will allow your body to recognize when you are full (as it takes roughly 20 minutes to do so), preventing you from over eating. Try taking a bite, putting down your utensils, take a sip of water, spark conversation (if you are eating with someone else) and chew your food completely before taking another bite to help you slow down. Not only will you eat less, but you will feel more satisfied as you actually take your time and “savor the flavor” of your meal. For a more in depth description of how beneficial slowing down when eating is click here.

**Bonus Tip: Stay Busy: The more you sit around during the day, not only are you promoting a sedentary lifestyle, which we all know is not conducive to health, performance or a lean waistline, but your mind has a greater opportunity to “tell” you that you are hungry. If you get this sensation of what I like to call “boredom hunger” get up and move, go for a walk, foam roll, etc…Whatever you want but try to replace eating out of boredom with activity!

The next time your day gets off to ravenous start or quickly spirals into one, try implementing the steps above. Even if you don’t train, have a problem with constant hunger or you are an athlete looking to gain weight, the guidelines above will still promote enhanced health, performance and overall satisfaction when it comes to your meals (for those looking to gain weight just eat a bit more!).

You need to train, and train hard and you should be able to cage the hunger animal inside you! Don’t forget SHARE this with your friends and family because they too deserve to enjoy their food.

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