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Bench Press Technique Mistakes That Kill Development… and Your Back

17 June, 2015 (19:05) | Weight Training Routines | By: Steve

Bench Press Technique Mistakes

They’ll Kill Development… and Your Back

Wanna see some funny shit? Head down to your local gym and check out bench press techniques. It’s not just that

Proper Bench Press Technique

For a nice change up that will make your muscle start to grow again, throw in a few sets of eccentric reps. Now you know what’s good for you!

bench press technique mistakes you look damn silly; they hamstring development, and can make one of the best upper body power and development movements into an injury-riddled disaster.

Yeah, it’s true. Make these and you’re risking all your hard earned progress just to look studly in the gym. Guess what? You don’t have the biggest bench in there anyway, so who gives a crap? In addition, these mistakes keep you from reaching your maximum potential, especially if you’ve got an eye on doing some power lifting, since screwed up form does not a legal lift make.

If you get hurt and can’t train, you’re really screwed. How many people have you known who got hurt, then got fat? It’s a big party you don’t want to attend.

I’m not claiming to be the world’s best bench presser.

Hardly! At my peak, I could only hoist 295, and that wasn’t yesterday. I tried to not look stupid in the process, though. Going from 295 with good form to 335 with crap, wasn’t going to make all the Gold’s dudes think I was a bad ass, or have the SeaGals want to come by for a night cap. Hey, it’s not my fault anyway; I have long arms!

Bad bench press technique is easy to spot, and it’s like attorney general Ed Meese’s porn definition back in the ’70s; you’ll know it when you see it. So, what are the technique gaffes you’re most likely to see?

Quick, guess!

Lifting Ass Off Bench

Drive a semi-truck under your ass when you’re benching? It’s too far off the bench! Actually, if you can see light under there at all, it’s too far, and no, I’m not lookin’ at your ass. You can get a good leg drive without resorting to ass flying. If compressing your lumbar vertebrae, and hurting your back is your goal, go for it with ass a flyin’. Otherwise, planted is proper.

You know the drill:
Feet flat on the floor for stability and leg drive, ass planted.

Getting the Big “Chest Bounce”

Getting that extra bounce off your chest to pad your numbers? If you’re bench pressing that way, it’s your chest that could use the padding. Really, using your sternum as a springboard for 365lbs is a recipe for disaster; plus it looks ridiculous, really. For maximum strength and power: down slow, pause for 1 on the chest, explode off. Even if that’s not your goal, and you’re more growth oriented, barely kissing your chest with the bar is more effective than basically dropping the damn thing. Ain’t no missile science….

Partial Reps

Like you keep telling your girlfriend, “Please go down all the way”. So it is with your bench, only without the begging. If you’re stopping 3” from your sternum, you’re missing out on all the pectoral loading that happens down there. No load = no overload = no progress…. or not nearly as much.

A better way?

If you’re locking out easy, but having trouble at the bottom, try this: Go down all the way with lighter weight, then use heavy chain wrapped around the bar and hanging to the floor. The weight is on the floor when the bar is lowered, but you have to lift it as the bar raises. It works to progressive increase the bar loading as you complete the lift. Damn, you can feel that on lockout, and you’ll be able to go all the way down.

All Thumbs… or None

Many people use a “thumbless” or “suicide” bench press grip, where their hands are not completely wrapped around the bar, their thumbs and fingers are on the same side. Yeah, on occasion I’ve done it, too. Disaster recipe 101, here. If you’re into a nice skull crush, by all means use this one. Seriously, it significantly increases the risk of you losing your grip on a heavily loaded bar, and catching it in the neck. Hey, we ended up on the opposable thumb end of the development ladder, why prove we’re really a few steps down by not using them?

Okay, if you’re a powerlifter, you can hoist more weight with a thumbless grip. You also have a spotter or 3 ready to fend off a pain in the neck. For the rest of us….

See this over at Stronglifts for what happens if you F this up (and some more mistakes). Not pretty.

“Fishing”

Wriggling around like a fish when lifting may help you lift more weight… but probably doesn’t. It does make people whip out their cell phones for a quick video to show their friends, though. Keep the bar and your body even. Be smooth. It’s better for development, and safety.

Here’s a nice video from LeanMax with some pretty funny illustrations of how not to bench!

What are the biggest bench press technique mistakes that really get your goat? What did I miss? Let me know, please!

Is Adiponectin The Best Belly Fat Burning Hormone?

2 June, 2015 (14:35) | Fat and Fitness Research | By: Steve

Is Adiponectin The Best Belly Fat Burning Hormone?

 

Is adiponectin the best fat burning hormone? There is research to back up the hormone’s fat burning efficacy, and insulin effects, but the best? “In contrast to leptin, a related hormone, adiponectin can cause weight loss by raising metabolic rate while not affecting appetite.” – University of Pennsylvania

Hormones are your body’s powerful powerful regulators. They’re chemicals that cause, change, or effect nearly every body process, including metabolism, fat burning, muscle building, and overall metabolism. Trust me, you want them on your side. Manipulating hormones to help burn fat and gain muscle is essential to maximize success of any fat loss or muscle building program.

Fat Fights Back

One of the key reasons? Unlike other body tissues, adipose tissue (fat) has a mind of its own. Fat fights back when you try to get rid of it! Really, it’s not your imagination. Sounds like the mob, right?

Many hormones regulate body processes affecting obesity. Adioponectin does a number on fat metabolism and blood sugar. We’re finding out it may be the the most important of fat burning hormones. It’s a protein secreted by adipocytes; fat cells to those of us who didn’t slog through years of med school.

A funny thing happened on the way to obesity. While adiponectin is actually produced by fat cells, scientists discovered overweight people actually produced less of it. Wrap your brain around that one.

An adiponectin study from Robert R. Henry et al, at the Division of Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism, at the VA San Diego Health Care Systems summarized fat’s power:

Recent research has shown that adipose tissue is not simply an inert storage depot for lipids but is also an important endocrine organ that plays a key role in the integration of endocrine, metabolic, and inflammatory signals for the control of energy homeostasis

The study, published in the Journal of the American Diabetes Association found important adiponectin has powerful fat metabolism and insulin resistance implications. The researchers discovered significant interactions between the hormone, obesity, and insulin resistance. This inlcudes intra-abdominal fat, commonly known as belly fat. (Really, who wants to say “intra-abdominal fat” anyway?)

“The strong inverse correlation between serum adiponectin levels and intra-abdominal fat mass may in part underlie the link between visceral fat and insulin resistance.”

In their conclusion, the team hinted at adiponectin’s power, saying:

Although further investigations are required, adiponectin administration, as well as regulation of the pathways controlling its production, represents a promising target for managing obesity, hyperlipidemia, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, and vascular inflammation.

What Do Strength and Conditioning Professionals Say About Adiponectin?

Since adiponectin is a relatively new discovery, results are still rolling in. As with any new medical development, it will likely take years before the sports medicine community agrees on all its effects. Early research is exciting, though.

Doug Dupont wrote an interesting post at breakingmuscle.com on the hormone. Calling it “The Magical Fat Burning Hormone” (I’d probably add a question mark to that), he referenced a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning that showed high intensity interval training (HIIT) did not significantly increase the hormone’s level or decrease body fat percentage. Doug pointed out however, that the study’s methodology could be biased, so the results may be inaccurate. He did agree with researchers that more study is needed here, though.

Thankfully, There is Research!

Those white coats have been busy! A placebo controlled, double blind study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food “Efficacy and Tolerability of an Herbal Formulation for Weight Management” showed that subjects receiving the test blend demonstrated a significant, 22.5% increase in serum adiponectin levels, compared with the control group. Did the hormone increase have some affect on the study group’s fat loss, or was it a result of it?

How Can I Raise Adiponectin Levels?

It seems so simple; if elevated adiponectin levels correlate to decreased body fat levels, just raise it. Yeah, and if you’re feeling a bit low on cash, just make more money. It’s not always that easy. A study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology does seem to show diet can influence adiponectin levels in your body, which may help metabolize fat, and lower body fat levels.

Some of the foods they found to possibly help raise levels include:

  • conjugated linoleic acid
  • fish oil
  • safflower oil
  • grape-seed extract
  • green tea
  • taurine
  • resveratrol

Reservatrol? Get out the red wine! Seriously, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) has been shown to have other positive health

Is Coffee an Adiponectin Booster? Recent research indicates good news for coffee addicts!

Coffee - Belly Fat Hormone Adiponectin Booster

Is Coffee an Adiponectin Booster? Recent research indicates good news for coffee addicts!

and fat loss effects, too. Raising adioponectin levels may simply be one way it helps to do that. Read my CLA post here to discover more on how CLA helps you and how to boost it in your body.

One other substance found to raise adiponectin levels? Good old Joe! A 2011 Japanese study found that your Starbucks habit may not just be a way to flush $10 a day. The study discovered that coffee consumption, especially in early mornings, correlated to elevated adiponectin levels. Interestingly, that study found green tea had no such powers, contrary to some other published info. The cool thing? My adioponectin levels are rising as I write this!

Adiponectin – Is it the Best Belly Fat Burning Hormone?

My opinion? I’m not really educated enough to know. Many researchers in labs throughout the world are trying to answer the question now. While adiponectin is proven to have significant impact on the body, including insulin resistance and belly fat levels, there is likely no one “best” belly fat burning hormone.

Your body is a highly complex system (understatement of the year award candidate) where one seemingly small change can set off a cascade of others. Think for a moment about how a relatively tiny dose of a chemical compound can cause significant changes or even death. Hormones are in the same ballpark. A little dab’ll do ya.

While the jury is still out on whether adiponectin is the “best”, it is definitely a hormone that bears watching on your fat loss journey. I’ll keep you up to date on new developments. One thing’s for certain though, there is likely to be no shortage of supplements claiming to be adiponectin boosters. You can take that one to the bank….

Traditional Weight Loss Foods That Make You Gain Weight

25 May, 2015 (06:16) | fitness | By: Steve

Weight Loss Foods That Make You Gain Weight

and Alternatives That Won’t, as much….

You’re trying to lose weight. Welcome to the club. First, change that to “Trying to lose fat”, and you’ll be good. Next, check your diet. I’m going to parrot the same crap as every fitness pro out there: it’s 80% diet / 20% exercise. When you’re tackling the diet part of the equation, you’ll get all kinds of advice, but many traditional weight loss foods actually make you gain weight. Of course, if you eat more calories than you burn, that’s the only outcome, really.

Weight Loss Foods; Gain Weight? What??

Yeah, it’s true, and mostly because they’re crammed full of simple carbs, often in lieu of fat. I thought we killed off “low fat myth” long ago. Oh, well. In any case, many of the worst offenders have glycemic indices just south of pure cane sugar. Straight into your blood it goes, making your pancreas do flip flops as it struggles to shoot in enough insulin to counteract the sugar. When your insulin’s runnin, your fat storage is hummin’ (See this article from Colorado State University for the dirty details)

A simple way to nip the whole thing in the bud is remembering one of my favorite sayings:

“If It’s White, Don’t Bite.”

I’m not talking about you sig other’s ass (what you do there is your own business), but the fat ’em up trio:

  • White Rice
  • White Flour
  • White Sugar

List of “Weight Loss” Foods That Make You Gain Weight:

Bagels –

Taste good; not really all that good for you. Most are loaded with white flour, simple carbs, and calories. Adding

weight Loss Food - Bagel

Weight Loss Food. or Fat Pill – With their high simple carb counts and calorie load, bagels tend toward the latter

insult to injury, they’re low on metabolism boosting and muscle friendly protein. See this blast from the past on what white flour does to your weight loss efforts; not pretty. Why not eat ½ a loaf of bread instead…..

Healthier Weight Loss Food Substitute:

Sprouted grain bread, and the more grains, the better. Look ma, no flour! One that tastes great and has no added sugar is Food for Life’s Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Grain Bread. As an added bonus, it’s very high in fiber and delivers complete protein.

White Rice

White rice is a glycemic index party. That stuff hits your blood glucose levels like a ton of bricks. Suffocating it with teriyaki sauce just adds insult to injury. That stuff is loaded with sugar. For some teriyaki sauce that’s not, see this recipe from Stephanie Wong over at Wake the Wolves.

Healthier Weight Loss Food Substitute:

Brown rice. While still not exactly easy on on the GI number, it is better, and at least brings with it far more fiber and nutrients. Then again, it didn’t have much to beat. There are 3 parts in a little rice grain: endosperm, bran, and germ. White rice is processed to remove all but the endosperm, the least nutritional part.

When getting brown rice, choosing Jasmine or Basmati gets you all 3 parts and more of the good stuff. For a great rice primer, hit up this Matthew Kadey piece 5 kinds of Rice over at Bodybuilding.com

Agave Nectar –

You’re trying to stay clear of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), so you’re thinking a switch to agave nectar sweetener would be a great idea? One flaw in your plan, agave nectar has 50% more fructose per unit than HFCS. Ouch! Excessive fructose is linked to all manner of troubles, including those around your midsection. Actually, according to recent studies, it’s been implicated in increased rates of Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, gout, diabetes, and… well damn, isn’t that enough? Leave agave for what it’s best for, tequila!

Fat Free Breakfast & Granola Bars –

Really, have you checked the nutrition labels on these things? Talk about packin’ on the calories. Even the healthy, organic ones from reputable producers are less than stellar from a weight loss perspective. Sure, they taste good; great even. That’s the reason they never find their way into my shopping cart. I can’t resist them if they’re around. Which brings up the……

Belly Fat Loser Theory on Willpower and Food

It’s much easier to have enough willpower for the 15 min it takes to avoid buying something in the store, than the 5 days it tempts me in the cupboard. Just say no once, rather than for the rest of the week…..

Organic Bread and Breakfast –

Witness the Sin Dawg from Dave’s Killer Bread. Let me state right up front that this is about the healthiest thing around as far as baked, desert style bread goes. A weight loss aid, it’s not, however. Delicious? Hell, yes.

One problem: This thing is dense as hell. One little turd-sized roll weighs a pound. You’d need the willpower of Ghandi to resist putting away half a log in one sitting. It’s not that big, but packed with calories it is, young one. If you did wolf down a whole half (???) in one sitting, 800 calories up on your day, you’d be. Maybe eat it only if 4 of your friends are going to share.

Healthier Weight Loss Food Option:

Check out Dave’s flour-less bread if you’re going to lose weight AND eat bread. It’s damned good, and leaves the blood glucose spikes at home.

Olive Oil

Olive Oil Bottle

Is olive oil good for you? Well……

Are better cigarettes good for you? Hardly, and so it is with olive oil. Get down, I’m not equating a little olive oil consumption with lighting up. It is miles ahead of oils like the normal, hot-processed Canola and the like that most people eat. The truth is olive oil is still loaded with calories and not exactly great for your blood lipid levels.

First, the calories. A mere 2 tblspns of olive oil packs 240 calories. Damn! That’ll spike up the ole salad. To put it in perspective, an entire In-n-Out burger is only 310. Yeah.

The thing to remember is this: If you are eliminating unhealthy fats and substituting olive oil, with its monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), you’re improving your dietary standing. On that score, you’re smelling like a rose. But (yeah, there’s always one of those….)

Experts are divided on olive oil’s heart benefits. There are several studies relating to fat consumption and its health effects. There is no question that polyunsaturated fat has significantly fewer negative health risks. But, there’s a but…..

This 5-year study on green monkeys and their dietary fat consumption by Rudel, Parks and Sawyer, goes into excruciating detail on the subject. I’ll spare you the mind numbing, 30 min read. Basically, green monkeys fed high levels of saturated and monounsaturated fats developed similar health risk factors, while those consuming high levels of polyunsaturated fat (olive oil has predominantly monounsaturated fat) had fewer risk factors. Our friends at Harvard University School of Public Health have an excellent article on dietary fat, here.

While green monkeys are similar to humans, I don’t know if they sat around watching ESPN, and pretended to ride the bike while chatting up other cute green monkeys. This study was diet only, and didn’t examine the monkeys’ exercise habits, or effects on their health risks on various diets.

The key with oils is ensuring they’re Omega-3 heavy and Omega-6 light, and high in CLAs. If you’re going to fry with them (comon, you know you haven’t completely kicked the fried food habit yet….) check the smoke point; the higher, the better.

Healthier Oil Substitute: Coconut oil (un-hydroginated only, please) has been shown to have numerous health benefits, and is Omega-3 rich. The Elizabeth Walling book “The Nourished Metabolism: The Balanced Guide to How Diet, Exercise and Stress Impact Your Metabolic Health” is a good read, and goes into coconut oil’s benefits in greater detail.

There are oh, so many diet products on the shelves these days, but many of the best have been with us for thousands of years. Remember these little bits, and you’ll be on the right track to healthy fat loss:

“If It’s White, Don’t Bite” – Yeah, the white food lobby will be all over my ass for this one, but skipping white flour, white rice, and refined sugar, will take you a long way. Read closely though, it’s in everything.

“More Than One, and It’s Done” – Single ingredient foods rock, and in most cases are far healthier for you. Yes, you can add them together in one meal. Where do you think salads come from?

Until next time, then avoid the weight loss foods that make you gain weight, and stick to the substitutes…. What are your favorite weight loss foods?

Fast Healthy Meals That Don’t Suck

15 May, 2015 (13:56) | Diet | By: Steve

Fast Healthy Meals That Don’t Suck

 

You can’t out exercise a bad diet. I’ve tried, and gotten my ass kicked every time. That being said, sometimes you have to grab a fast meal; your boss wants that report yesterday, or you’re late for the kids’ soccer practice (again). Just because you have no time doesn’t mean it’s time for another crap sandwich of sodium, saturated fat, and wilted veggies. The next time your clock is delivering 33 minute hours, try some of these ass kickin’ fast healthy meals, from fitness foodies around the blogosphere…..

Eggs on the Go

Eggs - easy healthy meals

Is this egg thing the cure for everything that ails you, or the cause? Well…..

Eggs rock. They’re a power packed nutrition sandwich that experts used to say was bad for you. What the hell did they know? Born Fitness CEO and leading health and fitness blogger Adam Bornstein delivers this egg laden muffin/sandwich/casserole in a muffin tin (Yeah, I’m not really sure what the heck to call it) recipe from Born Fitness meal prep specialist Liv Langdon. It’s sure to help you pack on the muscle and drop the fat, if you’re willing to work for it… sorry! He says it’s for breakfast, but what the heck, pack some for lunch, too.

For more on ovoid nutritional wonders, see my post Eggs, Why the Sloppy Yellow Stuff’s Perfect for Fitness

Healthy Energy Bars

I love barified food and scarf a few down for breakfast every morning. They’re packed with protein; and typically

Fast Healthy Meals That Don't Suck - Energy Bars

Chemistry set? Naw, it’s just an energy bar…. although you’d be hard pressed to tell from the ingredients label. (You ARE reading those, right?

about 50 pounds of other crap you probably shouldn’t eat. So, I’ve got the morning metabolism boosting protein handled, but am probably polluting my insides in the process. Yeah, I do read the labels and try to weed out the ones that sound like a CHEM101 lab experiment, but still….

One way around all the garbage is do it yourself energy and/or protein bars. You’ll have total control over what’s in there, and they’re a heck of a lot cheaper than the store bought variety, which are a real wallet drainer. Hey, at least you’ll have total control over at least one aspect of your hectic life.

If you’re willing to roll your own and don’t live in Washington or Colorado, that means zippin up some home made bars from the comfort of your own kitchen. If you’re from the Evergreen state, it probably means something else, but I digress… Vani Hari, aka The Food Babe (got that right!), shows you how to make the good stuff, and take control of your bar habit here.

In the Raw

I’m a huge fan of raw, unless it means my jeans are too tight. That’s another sick story, but raw foods are nutritional powerhouses that taste great. As an added bonus, you save valuable cooking time, because, as the name suggests, there isn’t any!

I’m also partial to vinaigrette dressings, but many are so sugar packed, Snickers bars get envious. Gina Hamshaw over at Choosing Raw must feel my pain. She delivers this spinach salad with spicy carrot chili vinaigrette that hits many of my hot buttons, without an extra helping of sugar.

Spinach is a nutritional powerhouse. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention it’s also one of the veggies most likely to be contaminated with dangerous bacteria, but hey, I look past that for its other virtues. Live a little!

Nutrition Tip: Next time you’re at Jerrod’s favorite sandwich emporium, ask them to add spinach to your sandwich. It’s hidden below the normal ingredients. But they’ll grab for it if you ask.

Get Out the Blender

Smoothies, messy but wonderful. Sounds like sex, kinda. Anyway, smoothies are one of my favorite ways to power down the nutrients. So much variety, so little time. The one knock on smoothies is having to get out the plethora of ingredients, and put them all away again, unless you want your kitchen to look like your kids were using it.

There’s a way around all that: prepackaged smoothies. There’s everything but the ice. Hell, throw that in too! Over at TheKitchn blog, Jessica Fisher opens the secrets with How I stock My Smoothie Drawer. You’ll have an endless supply of delicious smoothies, as easy as pulling out a bag and the blender. Speaking of ice, that’s part of the smoothy secret. The more ice in the blender, the fewer calories you’re puttin’ away. Water’s calorie free, don’tcha know.

Power Tips to Prepare Easy, Healthy Meals

In case you missed it, you can’t out exercise a bad diet. I’ve tried, and it’s not pretty. Neither was I. Anyway, for most folks, the biggest battle is preparing healthy meals, not eating them. If they were as fast and easy as the prepackaged crap you pull from cardboard and plastic, there’d be no problem. Any tips and tricks you can use to get ahead of the curve are pure gold.

Here are few quick tips that help you make healthy meals easier, so you can finally take down that LinkedIn pic from 15 years ago. Yeah, we know!

Prepare and Prepackage

Do many at once, then prepackage so you can grab, cook, and go… or just grab and go.

But wait, there’s more….

Alex Orlov over at DailyBurn has 12 ass kickin’ tips that really help to streamline your healthy eating efforts. Really, they’re good (like the food) . I especially like the one about hard boiling eggs in the oven, using muffin tins. You’ll be able to do many more at once, and can use that time to prepare other foods. Check him out.

One Last Healthy Meal Power Tip: Don’t forget the cool, clear water….. but not cold water. Drinking old water slows down your digestive processes and prevents efficient nutrition assimilation. Super athlete and tennis mega star Novak Djokovic (Checked his abs? Not much fat there) drinks his water at room temp for precisely that reason. Staying hydrated ensures your liver is metabolising stored fat for energy at maximum efficiency. Water is also essential for just about every other body process, including protein synthesis. Make sure your glass is full, but doesn’t stay that way for long.

If you’re eatin’ right, the battle’s more than half won. How have you conquered the easy healthy meal battle?

What are your fav fast healthy meals that don’t suck? Leave a comment t

o let me and the other readers know. We’ll love you for it, thx!

Do Saw Palmetto Benefits Include Fat Loss (or anything else)?

30 March, 2015 (14:28) | fitness | By: Steve

Do Saw Palmetto Benefits Include Fat Loss (or anything else)?

 

 

Do saw palmetto benefits include fat loss? There’s no shortage of things purported to help one lose fat. Saw Palmetto

Saw Palmetto Fat Loss Benefits Diagram

Does this desert plant help fat loss? Yes, and here’s how…..
Bring plenty of water and run around the desert collecting it!

is just another entry on a long and distinguished list. Lord knows it would be nice if dropping some of that hard-earned blub was just a pill or puff away.

What the Bleep is Saw Palmetto?

SP (Serenoa repens ) is actually derived from the berries of small palm tree like plants. They grow in the south eastern U.S. The berry extracts used in supplements are a combination of fatty acids oleic acid, lauric acid, myristic acid and palmitic acid, and also include plant sterols.

Saw palmetto is perhaps best known as an herbal supplement for men’s prostate health. It’s often used to treat conditions such as an enlarged prostate; Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH). If caught early, these studies indicate the herb’s effectiveness for BPH treatment. Recent double blind studies however, have found no real world benefit from saw palmetto for treating the prostate condition in patients with advanced progression.

If you’re a man over 50, you sure as heck know how important prostate health can be, don’t you? It’s the doctor visit every man dreads; your first prostate exam. Thumbs up!

Fat loss or no, saw palmetto may also help inhibit the production of DHT, which leads to male pattern baldness. According to the hair club ads, hair is the most important attractiveness factor anyway, so why even worry about your middle?

Speaking as one with precious little of it, a full head of hair would be nice….. but what about saw palmetto’s effect on fat loss, if any?

Saw Palmetto – Research, Hype, or Scam?

Fat loss is a snake-oil prone area. Understatement of the year candidate….

Anything that’s a pressing problem attracts shucksters who smell a quick buck, or millions of slow ones. Fortunately, the medical arena is one area where there’s solid research to back up one’s claims, even if it sometimes takes a while. Hey, research studies weren’t born in a day!

There are basically 3 kinds of research, anecdotal, single blind, and double blind. Double blind is the highest standard of proof. If the study is hen peer reviewed, and published in a reputable journal, so much the better.

Anecdotal is your friend Mike saying “Hey, I dropped 30 pounds in a month taking this stuff.” What he didn’t tell you was that he was taking 3 times the recommended dose, killing himself in the gym and skipping most meals. No good, that! Basically, anecdotal evidence isn’t worth much. Since I haven’t tried SP, I can’t give you any, anyway!

If double blind, peer reviewed studies are the gold standard when it comes to diet and supplements, are there any that examine saw palmetto vis-a-vis fat loss efficacy?

Here’s one interesting possible side effect I ran across. Funny, people don’t mention this one much……

Saw Palmetto Kills Muscle Growth?

If true, that could be a big metabolism hit, as lean muscle mass correlates to basal metabolic rate, all else being equal. There is evidence that Saw Palmetto discourages anabolism, for much the same reasons it discourages DHT. If you’re trying to lose fat, increasing muscle mass should be near the top of your list.

Anabolic inhibition would indicate saw palmetto isn’t your fat burning friend.

Possible Saw Palmetto Side Effects

You’ve seen the TV ads and probably wondered who the hell would ever take the stuff. No, not saw palmetto, but just about any prescription medication advertised on TV these days. They’ve all seemingly got a list of possible side effects as long as your arm, up to and including death. Scary!

While saw palmetto hasn’t been proven to cause anything so dire, there have been a few isolated cases You’ll also want to watch for drug interactions, especially for blood thinners such as Coumadin and Plavix, due to the herb’s additional blood tinning ability. See this article from the University of Maryland Medical School for more.

Other saw palmetto side effects include headaches and mild stomach irritation. That’s a heck of a lot shorter than the side effect list for those drugs they advertise on TV, where the cure seems worse than the disease. I don’t know if I’d “Ask my doctor” about any of them. They sound scary as hell!

Saw Palmetto and Fat Loss

So, does saw palmetto help fat loss? I couldn’t find a single reputable study indicating it does. If you know of one, I and your fellow readers would greatly appreciate you letting us know.

Foods to Increase Testosterone and Help You Lose Belly Fat

26 August, 2013 (00:05) | Fat Burners | By: Steve

Foods to Increase Testosterone and Help You Lose Belly Fat

 

foods to increase testosterone

Guys, if certain parts of your anatomy feel as limp as these noodles, read on for foods that can help elevate your T levels…. these noodles aren’t them.

Are There Foods to Increase Testosterone?

Judging by the sharp rise in radio ads on increasing testosterone, “Low-T”, and “men’s clinics”, many people have finally realized that boosting testosterone levels can help middle aged men loose fat, gain muscle, and become more studly in the bedroom. If it was effective, just adding foods to increase testosterone would surely be better than a stack of pills or expensive doctor visits.

Why do middle aged men need to avail themselves of this nonsense?

Unfortunately for guys, the hormone that makes them the men they are slowly declines as they age. It’s well publicized, but older guys have a much bigger fight keeping the muscle mass on, and the blubber mass off. Check the previous post for my experience with this….

Why does losing that extra 15 – 20lbs of belly fat even matter, if you aren’t headed to your 20 year reunion or want to look good at the beach? Belly fat or abdominal fat, known by your local doc as visceral fat, isn’t the same as the other fat lying under your skin.

That stuff, subcutaneous fat, just sits there benignly under your skin. It does make you look bad, but it’s not nearly as likely to kill you. Belly fat is under the muscle, packed around your midsection’s internal organs. It’s much more closely linked to cardiovascular disease and diabetes than other adipose tissue.

Testosterone is an androgenic hormone, meaning it controls what makes men manly. You know; deep voices, big muscles, energy, aggressiveness, sex drive and sexual performance. There are plenty of not so legal methods aimed at boosting testosterone and other androgens. You hear about them most often when some pro athlete denies taking PEDs.

Good News for the Testosterone Challenged

Wanna get your andro on? If you aren’t ready to drop big coin on a specialty clinic visit, or risk taking PEDs, there are some foods to increase testosterone. They’re clinically proven, and close as your neighborhood market. Some even taste good!

Here is the list of testosterone increasing foods you can add into your diet today, so your belly fat levels can drop tomorrow. Before I reveal the list though, there are a few caveats. Yeah, always a fly in the ointment….

First, if you’ve already packed on the fat around your midsection, there’s something you should know. It’s sabotaging your efforts to raise your testosterone levels by flooding your body with the female hormone estrogen; the yin to testosterone’s yang.

You’re going to need some estrogen. It’s perfectly normal for men to have it in their bodies. On the other hand, it doesn’t really do anything for men, and if estrogen levels are too high, your testosterone boosting efforts get shot down fast.

The Testosterone Belly Fat Paradox

Here’s the paradox. Belly fat piles up when testosterone levels are low, then basically defends itself by helping estrogen production, which basically counteracts testosterone. It’s obvious, belly fat is no easy foe to eradicate. These foods will help, though.

Food to Increase Testosterone 5 – Cruciferous vegetables

Broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, brussels sprouts, and collard greens, are great examples. These plants contain phyto-nutrients that help suppress estrogen, helping raise testosterone levels.

The most important of these is probably indole-3-carbinol (I3C), which also helps prevent certain cancers. One of I3C’s chief operation modes seems to be reducing highly estrogenic 16alpha-hydroxyestrone (16OHE1) in favor of less powerful estrogens. See this from Oregon State University (Whose mascot is, ironically, the beaver) and their Linus Pauling Institute.

Food to Increase Testosterone 4- Eggs

Eggs are an excellent quality protein, and contain the testosterone precursor cholesterol, in addition to several other healthy nutrients. They’re also low in calories, while containing some fat, which you’ll need, as we see below. Think eggs are bad for you? You’ve been brainwashed. Nothing could be further from the truth. Check out this post on Are Eggs Good for You?

Food to Increase Testosterone 3 – Healthy Fatty Foods – Nuts, Avocados, and Olives/Olive Oil

If you haven’t heard, the ’80’s low fat diets are NOT the way to lose fat. In fact, chances are you’ll gain fat eating that way. One reason that fat loss becomes more difficult when you chop the fat, is you also chop your T levels. In addition, these fats promote the absorption of cholesterol by the Leydig cells which need it to make testosterone.

Here’s another reason to stay with healthy dietary fat levels (typically 30 – 35%). Your body needs fat for a myriad of other functions too, so cutting all dietary fat makes it try harder to hold keep what’s left; the opposite of what you’re trying to achieve.

Food to Increase Testosterone 2 – Magnesium Rich Foods

The above three contain magnesium, shown to promote high free T levels. Here is a study for one reason I’m so high on magnesium. The study found magnesium increased test levels in trained martial arts athletes. A few other high mag foods are low fat yogurt and soybeans. Low fat yogurt has also been shown to have other belly fat busting benefits, and subjects who ate it in clinical tests, proved to drop fat faster.

Food to Increase Testosterone 1 – Fish – Salmon, Herring, Catfish, Trout

These fish are a true trifecta for T production. Not only are they high in complete protein, which is essential to keep nitrogen balance positive and promote muscle growth, the bring two other powerful testosterone boosting credentials to the table.

1) They’re extremely rich in vitamin D, which, as noted above, research strongly correlates to testosterone levels. A growing body of research, including a 2010 Medical University Graz study published in the journal Clinical Endocrinology reveals D’s powerful T effect. Better still, the Austrian study examined over 2,000 men in their 60’s, just the age where testosterone levels have sunk to teenaged girl levels in most men. Hey, wasn’t Ahnold from Graz, Austria? He certainly has an abundance of T.

A Stanford University study published in the journal Endocrinology, shows calcitriol, the active form of vitamin D, is an also an anti-estrogen. As a bonus, the anti-estrogenic effect of vitamin D is most pronounced in fatty tissues.

2) Those fish are especially high in omega-3 fatty acids, shown in many studies to help our bodies in many areas, in addition to testosterone increases. See #3 above.

Hit the Gym

In case you thought I wasn’t going to mention exercise, guess again. I just left it until the end. Yeah, so it’s not a food…. Whatever, heavy resistance training stimulates muscle

Doing dumbbell curls on an incline bench helps get maximum extension for better development.

Hitting the heavy iron is a must for max T production. Read more for what this guy is doing that I’d not recommend as a primary Testosterone booster.

growth and helps boost your body’s testosterone production. Lift heavy, but use proper form and always observe safety procedures. I like doing compound exercises, those that involve more than one joint, because they recruit more muscle fibers with each repetition. That packs more intensity into less gym time. Many experts echo this sentiment. Yeah, you’re right, it’s not a food, but it helps you make the best use of the foods you eat.

Finally, get enough sleep. It’s essential for fat loss and training recovery. Sleep is also positively correlated with HGH production, another vital hormone that declines in older men. Low HGH levels contribute to fat gain too. Take a look at this post on quick fat burning exercises for ways to get out of the gym in a hurry, while still getting a lot out for the gym.

Check With Your Doc For Proper Testosterone Levels

If you’re wondering, there is a way to know for sure what your testosterone levels are. Your doctor can give you a simple blood test. It’s the only way to know how much of the stuff is floating around inside, and if your problem really is Low-T.

There are a few more fat burning hormones that bear watching as well. I’ll get to those in a future post. Stay tuned. For now, make sure you’re getting enough foods to increase testosterone in your diet. If you’ve been experiencing increasing lethargy and decreasing muscle mass, it may just turn the tide. It could also be just the ticket to help lose belly fat, especially if everything else has failed you.

Have you been experiencing the effects of low testosterone? Have you found a way to raise your T levels again? Please let me know….

 

Lose Fat Quickly – Can I Do It Again?

20 July, 2013 (18:05) | fitness, Getting in Shape | By: Steve

Lose Fat Quickly – Can I Do It Again?

 

The “How Did I Get Fat Again” Fat Loss Challenge

If you’ve ever wondered how to lose fat quickly, I sympathize, big time! When I got the ole belly fat back, it kind of snuck up and sucker punched me, right in the…. As you’ll notice from the accompanying photos, I’m not the belly fat loss poster child. If I ever was, that honor escaped long ago. After that realization hit, I decided to put my blubber out in the open.

What’s more, I am going to get rid of it, right here, in front of everybody. It may be a drastic step, but it’ll sure hold me accountable. Think I’m kidding? Just take a look at the “before” pictures below.

Crash and Burn in Front of Everyone

If I succeed, awesome! If I fail, I’ll do it right here, for all to see. (Don’t laugh, it’s not easy…) Either way, I’ll reveal exactly what I did and you’ll know if it worked or not. There’ll be no hiding under the table on this one. I’ll Tweet out progress reports and fat loss tips along the way, so follow me on Twitter, using the little bird icon on the left.

For the How Did I Get Fat Again Fat Loss Challenge, I’ll let you know what my weight is at each step of the way.. Although I’m just getting around to this post, I actually started July 1st, and the fat pictures are from that day. Hopefully the skinny pictures will be forthcoming soon. Until then, hide your eyes, the glare is brutal.

Old Man Weight Loss

Oh, and to make matters worse, I turned 50 this month! Yes, the big Five Oh, half a century, and the New 40. Last time I fought this battle was nearly a decade ago, and I’m sure you’ve figured out on your own, it’s not so easy the farther the clock ticks. Your metabolism slows down, and you start thinking all those Low-T ads on the radio are for you.

Blubber Boy Strikes Again

Okay, here goes….

I started July 1st. Although most people emphasize weight, I can tell you losing fat is much more important to me. Why? Simple, I weight almost exactly the same now as when I was 32, and in the best shape of my life. Actually, I’m a couple of pounds lighter now.

I can tell you there is no comparison to how I looked now and how I looked then. I recently got an old bank card picture from 1995. The difference was unreal. My neck must have ben 4in thicker than the pencil it’s become now! It was nearly the same shock I got as when I saw the pictures of me weighing 224lbs that motivated me to lose weight the first time. You’d think having to buy new pants would have done that….

Images can be powerful motivators for losing fat, or virtually anything else. Get some and tape them up where you can see them every day.

Can I lose fat quickly, or at all? We’ll soon see.

So, What do I Weigh Now?

July 1st, 2013

Weight: 193

Waist Size: 36

lose fat quickly - before view

Okay, here goes! Shield your eyes from the glare….

Do think I have a chance? Leave a comment and let me know.

Please share this on Facebook, Instagram, StumbleUpon, Pinterest, and Twitter, thanks!

Do Parents Push Kids To Hard in Sports and is it Necessary?

4 August, 2012 (22:17) | Kids and Sports | By: Steve

Do parents push kids too hard in sports, and is it necessary in this highly competitive world?

My soon-to-be 5th grader plays football, and as the season gets underway again this year, I find myself fighting the urge to give him the extra nudge he sometimes needs to stay focused.

After all, boys will be boys, and that sometimes includes a bit of screwing around when the coach is talking. While that sort of behavior is often rewarded with an extra helping of pushups or bear crawls, I try and impress upon him the importance of being the one that the coach turns to when they need a responsible player who pays attention during practice.

Are Youth Sports Too Competitive?

Even in youth football, winning is important, (Don’t get me started on a rant about uncompetitive sports, a practice which should be abolished post haste.) Coaches will play the kids who want to win, and act like it during practice.

Obviously, while they may not always love football’s grueling practice sessions in the broiling August sun, they do love to play in the games. At this age however,  the fact that games are the fun reward for their hard work all week sometimes gets lost.

When he started playing last year, the competitive nature, even at this level, surprised me. The organization he plays for does an excellent job of balancing the teaching / mentoring aspects of the game, with instilling the discipline and respect required to both field a winning team and develop  skilled, motivated kids that are having a great time. It’s a tough tightrope to walk at times.

How Early is Too Early to Push?

With all that being said, many kids even at this age, already have aspirations of playing at a higher level. That’s really nothing new, but the rewards it brings, society’s view of elite athletes, and what it takes to become one, certainly is.

While kids in the ’70’s no doubt fantasized about being the next Stabler, Swann, or Staubach, becoming them didn’t take the intense preparation that it requires now. Kids are being coached up to a very high level, even in youth football.

Talent is developed from an early age, and young kids constantly see their sports idols on video games, TV, and YouTube. They hear them on Mike and Mike and read their Tweets. They want to emulate these athletes, and some are willing to do what it takes to get there, even starting in elementary school. Does that mean the parents should help them along with an extra push?

As 16 year old Olympic darling Gabby Douglas walked off with her hard fought gold medal in  the women’s all around gymnastics event the other night, few questioned the fact that she didn’t start putting in the effort it takes to become a champion just last year. No, she started a decade ago, practicing hard while other little girls were watching Sponge Bob or playing with their Barbies.

Why then do we view such things differently for team sports such as football and basketball, when the rewards are potentially far greater? If a child wants to become the next RG-III, or LeBron, should they not be encouraged and given that little bit of focus enhancement when it’s necessary?

Is The Sports Dream Realistic, Ever?

While my son may never become an NFL quarterback likes he dreams of now, should I not give him a nudge once in a while to keep him on that path? Sure, the odds are stacked against him. Even if he does have the talent, plenty of players with the requsite talent and desire have been derailed by injury, or economic circumstances.

So, many say “Hey, they’re only 10 or 11 years old, just let them have a good time. If they’re good enough, they’ll play.” In this day and age however, is merely being good enough? How much further do they need to develop their natural ability if they’re to take things to the next level, and how early must they start doing it?

Is 9th Grade Too Early?

Do they need the kind of head start that it can take to be successful these days; the kind that finds so many kids being year round, single sport athletes in soccer and basketball? What about 14 year old football players being recruited by division 1 college football programs such as Steve Sarkesian’s Washington Huskies?

Every time a player goes to the NBA straight out of high school ( I know they go one and done in college now) , or a 9th grader is recruited to a major college athletic program, the need for an early start is driven home even harder. Is it insanity or reality? After all, if some kids are putting in the effort from a young age, others with similar aspirations must do likewise, or risk being left behind. The question becomes…….

Do kids really know what they want when they are only 10, 11, or 12 years old? Can they, really?

One of the kids on my son’s football team is an athletic  wonder. He’s the fastest 10 year old to 50 meters in 5 states (Really, he is). Already, high school coaches throughout the area are drooling over this kid. At a track meet this spring, a coach from a city15 miles distant commented to me in total seriousness that he wanted to get that kid on his team, and wondered what it would take to do it.

It’s clearly a different time than it was 2 or 3 decades ago. Does it mean that your kids should have to move from being just kids to training like serious athletes, if they’re to ever have a chance at competing at the highest levels?

If there is a glimmer of ability, do we risk pushing them to develop it, lest they be left behind forever, and never knowing what could have been. Or, do we take the approach espoused by the head of my son’s football organization, “Don’t take it too seriously. They’re kids. If he’s good, he’ll play.”?

What About the Kids’ Own Drive to Excel?

Are kids now subjecting themselves to success pressure at ever decreasing ages, in the hope of one day becoming the next LeBron, Serena, or Michael Phelps? Must they, if they are to succeed at sport’s highest levels?

A recent Psychology Today article, The Psychology of Youth Sports,  suggests that sports are not only highly beneficial to youngsters, but that the greater their participation, the more benefit they receive……. up to a point.

As with everything else, the key to success is often balance. The article suggests that balancing sports with other life aspects yields the greatest return.

Ah, but what of the child with elite aspirations? Should we be “That” parent, if we want to help them succeed at their chosen sport? What of the times when they’d rather be out riding their bike with their friends or in playing their X-Box?

For parents of kids in sports how much “guidance” is too much? When should they push, and when should they back off? Do even the most athletically gifted kids have enough of a chance to taste success as elite athletes that parents should push them to develop it?

Are parents even the best judges here, or are they too hopelessly biased to see things clearly? I think I’m a pretty good judge here, but I know at least 5 other people that would argue differently.

What do you think; do parents push kids too hard in sports, and is it necessary? Please leave your comments and let me know. Sharing on FB and Google + would be great, too. Thanks!

I Am Diabetic, My A1C is 5.4 – Here Are 6 Rules to Keep Your A1C Low Too

30 May, 2012 (15:22) | Diet | By: Steve

If yoiur A1C is high, the clock is ticking. All manner of dire consequences can befal you, so please get it under control while you can!

Last May (2011) I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. I can’t say it was unexpected. Even an amateur geneticist would have found it an easy prediction. After all, my brother, mother, and daughter have also been given the “Family Curse”. I was fortunate enough to keep it at bay for 47 years.

Yes, the routine is somewhat inconvenient, and it’s a bit of a pain having to count carbs and calculate your insulin, when your family and friends are just diving right in. Luckily, I have always eaten a relatively healthy diet, so only minor changes were required to stay on top of my blood sugar levels. Losing 35 pounds of fat 7 years ago gave me the perspective I needed to tackle the problem.

Double Vision – Not the Foriegner Version

I will say that when my vision got blurry, it really did scare the crap out of me. Probably not as bad as the other drivers, though! Actually for about 2 weeks, mt vision was blurry to the point where I could not recognize my wife standing at the center of a tennis court when I was at the baseline.

Thankfully, it was only caused by temporary changes to my eyes when their moisture levels changed due to elevated blood sugar levels. Everything was back  normal in about 3 weeks. I even managed to win a league tennis match during my Mr. Magoo phase. An episode like that sure makes you appreciate sight more than ever, though.

My first 3 month doctors appointment after being diagnosed revealed my A1C was 5.9. Your A1C is a prime indicator of how well your blood sugar is under control. It basically measures your blood glucose levels for the previous 90 days. Part of that 5.9 reading included the period immediately post diagnosis, when my blood sugar levels were still a bit out of control.

A 5.9 A1C reading is essentially what a healthy, non-diabetic person would measure. Since then, however, things have gotten better, and now I hit in the mid 5s. My last one was 5.4. In addition, I take very little insulin each day to make that happen. It comes down to two things: diet and exercise.

On the diet side, remember these three words: Low Glycemic Index. I’ve been posting about the virtues of low glycemic index carbohydrates here since 2008, and it’s great to finally measure how well the low glycemic lifestyle really works. For new readers, a food’s glycemic index is a measure of how rapidly it makes your blood sugar levels rise after you eat it. Lower is better, and equates to a slower blood sugar rise.

The Twosome You Want to Know

There are really two things you want to look at when checking your food’s carbohydrates; glycemic index and glycemic load. Glycemic load is simply how much carbohydrates are in the food per unit of mass. Again, lower is better. Glycemic Load = (GI value x carbohydrate per serving)/100. I know, you were told there would be no math, sorry!

Making sure my dietary carbs primarily consist of low glycemic index and load carbs is the secret to keeping my A1C low. Blood sugar spikes wreak havoc with your A1C levels, so minimizing them is vital to ensure your levels stay close to normal, while minimizing the amount of insulin you have to take. Many times I can eat a full and complete meal and take no insulin whatsoever.

Glycemic index reading use either glucose or white bread as a baseline, depending on the specific scale. Just in case you thought white bread was healthy if you left off the butter, that should open your eyes. Actually, for a diabetic, a spot of butter on the bread would probably help, for reasons I’ll examine later.

A1C Sucess Rules

Here are some quick ways you can achieve something similar to what I have done. If you’re also diabetic, make sure you consult your doctor before attempting any dietary changes.

1) Substitute high glycemic foods for ones with lower glycemic index ratings. When eating fruit, for example, stay away from bananas, switch to apples. While bananas  hit your blood stream like you just downed a six pack of that tasty Mexican Coke with the real sugar, apples have a relatively low glycemic index.Instead of loading up on rice with your stir fry. Leave that for others and add extra veggies instead. Foods high in dietary fiber tend to have lower glycemic indexes, but not always.

Vegetables are the kind of carbs you can eat copious quantities of, since both their glycemic index and load ratings are very low. In fact, on may occasions I can have a chicken stir fry with no insulin, and my blood sugar will only rise from 85 – 90 to about 115. Experiment by starting with a very small portion and monitor yourself closely if you’re going to try this.

Technically, low glycemic index foods measure under 55, but I like to target foods under 40 as low GI fare. These include peanuts (14), seeds, lima beans (32), pinto beans (38), kidney beans (27), soy beans (27), chick peas, apples (37), milk (27 whole, 35 skim), non-fat yogurt – artificially sweetened (14), raw peach (30), tomato juice (38), prunes (29), vegetables such a broccoli, spinach, cauliflower (18-25) .

It is important to check the number of carbohydrate grams in addition to the GI. Steamed and raw vegetables  score so low on both the GI and GL scales they are essentially zero carb. Sure, eating  pound of them may incur blood sugar consequences, but you get the point.

2) Always combine foods to moderate the blood sugar rise, unless you’re eaating nothing but very low GI/GL meal. Here’s where the butter on the bread comes in handy. Fat moderates blood sugar by slowing the  sugar’s absorption. Protein will also do this. That’s why eating food combinations is so powerful. You can effectively reduce the foods’ glycemic index with the proper combination.

 3) Eat raw and minimally processed foods to help keep the glycemic index low. Cooking helps break down the carbohydrates so they can be digested more quickly, effectively rasing the GI. Processing also does this, especially when foods are ground up into fine particles. Just how a log burns slowly, but small kindling is consumed in seconds, finely ground foods are digested and set onto your bloodstream much more rapidly.

 4) Stay away from bread, even whole grain. Yes, this can be pure hell for many people. If you are going to eat bread, the less processing, the better. You can buy breads that are made without flour, and these are the best, with white bread being the worst (it’s just like pure sugar to your body, remember?) Bread has a way of hiding, and you can find it almost anywhere. Remember, deep fried foods are normally breaded with white flour.

Breakfast cereals are even worse than bread, due to the cereal companies’ propensity to ensure nearly every one of them is so sugar-laden a bear would find them too sweet (but not our nation’s children, apparently). Most breakfast cereals have GI ratings in the 70 – 85 range. One of the worst offenders? No surprise, it’s corn pops with an 80. Maybe that’s why Kellogg’s changed the name from the more descriptive Sugar Pops, finally dropping sugar from the name back in the ’80’s. A couple of breakfast cereals you may not expect to be so high on the GI totem pole are Corn Flakes (84), Grapenuts Flakes (80), and Corn Chex (83). Note that adding the traditional milk will lower the overall GI compared to the cereal alone.

5) Eat more, smaller meals. In addition to being less nutrient efficient, large meals tend to put a more severe load on your system, due to their higher glycemic load. Smaller meals break the carbs into smaller portions, helping to keep your blood glucose levels more even.

6) The “E-word” – Yes, getting regular exercise, especially of the moderately high intensity variety, will help keep your blood sugars low, and consequently your A1C measurements. Of course there are numerous other exercise related benefits, too. You’ll probably lose weight, feel better, and who knows, you may meet someone special out on the bike trail, on the tennis court, or in the gym.

The Trap

Note you can eat meats to your heart’s (perhaps not?) content. The same goes for virtually anything else low carb. There is one trap I have to warn you about, however. Just because a food is low glycemic index does not mean it is especially healthy or will help you lose weight. I fell into the tap of eating cheese as a snack. While cheese certainly fits the bill of a low GI snack, it is highly caloric, and can help you pack on the pounds if you go overboard.

There are many low GI foods that are not especially healthy, such as chocolate cake. Fortunately you can usually apply the low GL test and weed these out. For example, while the aforementioned chocolate cake is fairly low on the GI scale, it has a significant glycemic load.

Do Your Reading

Even if your typical reading only includes the Sunday comics and a brief perusal of People Magazine, there is something else you should read that’s quick, easy, and will really help you to keep your A1C under control; the nutritional information on food you’re considering throwing in your shopping cart. While most of the foods I advocate don’t have nutritional labels, since they’re raw veggies and fruit (be careful, many fruits are high GI).

Look for the number of carbohydrate grams vs fat and protein. Check for flour, and most of all, screen for any of the 2076 kinds of processed sugar the food producers seem to have discovered they can add to your food. If an ingredient ends in “ose” it is a sugar, and if it contains HFC (high fructose corn sweetener) I usually look elsewhere.

I’ve had diabetic friends follow these simple rules and be amazed at the difference. One even told me that it was making a difference in people’s lives. I can tell you, knowing that feels great. You’ll probably find that your body’s insulin resistance is much lower, so you can use less insulin. Again, check with your doc on this kind of stuff.

Following these guidelines have helped me keep my A1C in the normal range. I hope they can do the same for you as well. Even if you don’t have diabetes, this kind of diet, combined with regular exercise is a great way to keep yourself healthy and fit.

If you’ve had any experience with this, please feel free to chime in with a comment. Also, please share this with your family and friends on Facebook, Twitter, Google + and LinkedIn would be much appreciated, too.

Get My New Healthy Eating Cookbook and Delicious Nutrition Secrets Guide Free on Amazon – Limited Time

9 May, 2012 (23:57) | weight loss tips | By: Steve

New Cookbook and Delicious Nutrition Guide Reveals Insiders’ Secrets to Losing Weight While Enjoying Mouth-Watering Meals Everyday

 

You can get this free on Amazon for the Kindle for a very limited time, so grab a copy now. If you don’t have a Kindle, just get the Kindle reader for the PC…. It costs nada, zip, zilch.

The Question Is…

Before releasing my new cookbook and nutrition guide on Amazon this week,  I asked “Who else wants to finally lose weight, look better, and feel fantastic – while enjoying easy to prepare, delicious meals & snacks every day?” Blog comments from visitors, and talking to many people face to face, convinced him that the answer to that question was….. just about everyone.

The problem with many of the healthy eating cookbooks and plans are that they require eating diet meals that taste so bad you only lose weight because you can’t stand to eat them… or are so bland and tasteless you can’t enjoy your food like you used to? I’m a former cook in in a fine dining restaurant (back near the dawn of time), in addition to a member of the health and fitness community, so I knew there had to be a better way.

Why??

My goal was to give you recipes for meals you’ll finally enjoy; ones you want to devour over and over again. These metabolism boosting recipes can help you lose weight, gain muscle, and just plain feel renewed energy, so you can get out and do things again.

As a member of the health and fitness community, I strive to bring the healthy lifestyle to everyone I meet, but many find it difficult to achieve one of the most important parts of health and fitness, the diet.  Without that vital component however, it is virtually impossible to stay slim and healthy.

This cookbook and nutrition guide reveals the inside scoop on finally getting the body you’ve always wanted, while finally enjoying some delicious, mouth watering meals. Belly Fat Loser’s Metabolism Boosting Meals Cookbook and Nutrition Secrets Guide will let people enjoy delicious and easy to prepare meals they would eat just for the great taste, never mind the fact that they can be a key part of a powerful weight loss and muscle building strategy, too.

My goal in writing this book was to put powerful nutrition secrets to work for people, while letting them avoid some common mistakes many people make when they’re trying to lose weight. One common complaint with many diet plans however, is the taste of many foods on their lists, which can leave something to be desired from a taste standpoint.

Special Principles Inside That Let You Enjoy Your Food AND Lose Fat… With Only Tiny Changes

In addition to mouth watering cuisine people can look forward to preparing every day, here is just a small sample of the powerful nutrition secrets included inside:

– Not Simply How to Prepare Delicious Meals, But Why They Work to Help People Lose Fat and Gain Muscle, So They Can Apply The Powerful Principles Contained Inside to Every Meal They Eat. Your benefits go far beyond this cookbook.

– A Powerful Secret to Cutting the Calories of Some Meals Nearly In Half, Without Changing the Ingredients or Hurting the Taste. In Fact, It Will Make Food Taste Better, and Increase the Food’s Nutritional Content..  That Means Faster Weight Loss, and More Enjoyment!

– A Super Easy Number System Shows Exactly When to Eat Every Meal for Maximum Effect. Exactly When to Eat is Extremely Powerful, and  a Key to Success.

– Some Powerful, Yet Simple Ways to Eat Great and Still Lose Weight That Will Finally Unlock The Weight Loss Door, or Help People Gain Pounds of Lean, Hard Muscle – Without Turning Their Lives Upside Down.

– Nutritional Information on All the Meals Contained Inside, So People Know Exactly How Healthy Their Meals Are.

– A Food Component You’ve Probably Been Told is Healthy, but a Leading Researcher Called a “Fat Producing Bomb”.

– Some of The Foods You Thought Were The Healthiest May Be Anything But? Discover how to tell the difference between them and the really healthy foods (many of which are almost identical), You’ll eat like you want to, plus lose weight and gain muscle much faster and easier.

It’s simple. Food is the fuel that moves you. Just as your car sputters and runs poorly when you get a tank of bad gas, many people have probably been doing that to themselves (even if they thought they were eating healthy) and didn’t even know it. This new guide and cookbook shows people some simple changes tat can completely change how they look, feel, and perform.

Hury, and grab your free copy while you still can! The price goes back up before the weekend (but it will still be a heck of a deal, I promise….. then again, free is free, right?)

Thanks for stoping by. Now go cook up some delicious, healthy grub!

http://www.amazon.com/MetaboMeals-Cookbook-Delicious-Nutrition-ebook/dp/B0080WWCE2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1336573523&sr=8-1

How to Get Rid of Belly Fat Once and For All and Get an Early Start on Your New Year’s Resolution

23 December, 2011 (19:42) | Fat Burners | By: Steve

Ain't seen nothin' 'till you're down on a muffin... Oh, wait.. anyway, you're definitely going to want to avoid this kind of muffin, if you don't want to end up resembling it.

‘Tis the season to get rid of belly fat. Actually, that starts next week. This is still the season to gain it for most people. They’ll be making all sorts of promises they have every intention of, but little chance of actually keeping vis-a-vis their fat loss goals for the new year. Here is how to get rid of belly fat and get an early start on the same new year’s resolution you made last year. With a bit of luck, you’ll hit your goal this time around.

It’s Not All The Same

Belly fat is also known as visceral fat, and, as scientists are discovering, it’s far more than simply little top for your muffin. It has a life all its own, which is one of the reasons it’s so damn difficult to lose. Lose it you must, though, as most of the latest research indicates that your mortality rate heads for the roof should you let it keep hanging around.

How’s it different from other fat? The jiggly fat you see is called subcutaneous fat, and lies under the skin, but primarily on top of the muscle, hence it’s name. Visceral fat, on the other hand is beneath your abdominal muscle. It’s packed around your internal organs, the way ice surrounded that half rack of Bud Light in the cooler you took to the last tailgate party.

What Now?

That brings up the natural question; how to go about it? Fortunately that’s one of those things that is fairly simple. Simple shouldn’t be confused with easy however, and simple though it may be, it’s also next to impossible for many people.

Here is a diet and exercise program for your new year that is easy to follow, highly effective, and yes, simple.

Keeping belly fat low is a numbers game. Lower calories taken in than expended equals fat loss. What’s that? You’ve heard that before? Sure you have, and with good reason. It’s because it’s the ONLY way to lose fat, belly or otherwise. It’s how you arrive there, and what you can do to arrest visceral fat’s powerful inside advantage that is important.

Blinded Me With Science

Fortunately, science is your friend in the belly fat fight, and thanks to talented researchers spending millions of taxpayer and donor dollars, answers to the question are forthcoming. A new study released by a Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center team led by Assistant professor of Internal Medicine Dr. Kristen Hairston, M.D reveals that there is one vital cog in the belly fat reduction wheel you can put to use at once to start deflating your own mid section.

The team found that soluble fiber was devastatingly effective at melting test subjects’ fat away where it mattered most. In fact she went so far as to say “Our study found that making a few simple changes can have a big health impact.” By simple, she’s talking about adding a mere 10 grams of soluble fiber to the average diet.

Unlike some studies, which look at only a few money hungry university students looking to earn a quick study buck, this one comprised a much more significant sample size; 1,114. No skin fold or hydrostatic fat level tests were used here. To ensure accuracy, researchers employed CAT scans, as that is the only 100% reliable method to look at the kind of fat in question.

What they found with all their high-tech doodads was startling. The aforementioned 10 fiber grams was responsible for lowering the participants’ visceral fat levels, although the other fat levels either remained the same or experienced a much smaller reduction.

That means that increasing soluble fiber intake is effective at targeting belly fat like some sort of medical smart bomb. The great thing is that this fiber can be found in all sorts of tasty foods, and you won’t get stuck eating some of that garbage you’ve subjected yourself to on occasion.

The “Get Rid of Belly Fat Diet”

First, a quick diet tip: Use a smaller dish. That makes thor portions look bigger. When you’ve got the mondo, man-sized plate, you’re likely to over-serve yourself, something McDonalds and Burger King maker far too easy already. No reason to super size your own portions. It will also make you go back for seconds, making you think more about it, and increasing the time it takes to eat, which helps you feel full, while eating less.

Mix and match these, and as I’ve posted about here plenty of times before, instead of three large meals, divvy it up some, and eat 5 or 6 smaller ones for better nutrient absorption. Also, if you eat too much at once and your body can;t use it right then, it gets stored as fat.

IMPORTANT: Three foods to avoid through all this:

White flour, white rice, and most importantly,  white (or other refined) sugar.

Exercise Plan:
Super easy here. Walk briskly for 20 minutes, three times a week. If you can nplay some tennis, racquet ball, or run, by all means do so.

Hit the weights for 15 minutes, 3 times a week. This is not a detailed plan, I’ll post that later, and I have plenty of weigh programs on previous posts, but just 3 sets each of squats, bench press, and power cleans. Use a weight you can do 8 -10 times with some effort. If it’s been a while since you’ve hit the gym (or have so far avoided it entirely) go at it slowly at first, and always warm up thoroughly before beginning. Even at this level, checking with your doc first is a must before you start.

Weight training will help you gain muscle and burn more calories even when resting, so you’ll have that going for you.

The “Get Rid of Belly Fat Meal Plan”

Breakfast 1:

Scrambled Eggs w/ tomato, green onions, and spinach  – Yes, you can eat the whites and yolks. You’re not cutting up for a bodybuilding competition here. There is simply too much good stuff in the yolks to throw away. Pepper and herb seasoning is great, but watch the salt, although a pinch won’t hurt anything. One key to dietary success is that you can’t make it painful. Humans are great at avoiding pain, and if you make any diet too painful, that’s exactly what you’ll end up doing.
.

Breakfast 2:

Breakfast sandwich with: 3 oz. Turkey breast portion & 1 egg, slice of low fat mozzarella cheese, on a whole grain English muffin. Eat an apple along with that to get vitamins and fiber. Apples have fructose, but are low glycemic index, meaning their sugars cause relatively slow increases in your blood glucose levels (that’s an important point for fat loss)
Breakfast 3:

4-6 oz oatmeal with 1 scoop of naturally flavored and sweetened protein powder. I like vanilla and chocolate flavored ones.

Lunch 1

Chicken breast spinach salad (Subway has one for $5.00, if you’re out and about, and want to see Jared). Add in plenty of other veggies, such as green pepper, which is an excellent source of vitamin C. Leave off the fat/mayo based dressings such as Blu Cheese (easy for me, as the stuff makes me want to hurl) and Ranch, in favor of olive oil and vinagar.

Lunch 2

Toasted turkey breast sandwich on thin bun with thin cheese slice, tomato, mushrooms, and green onion. Toast everything but the tomato and add that post-tosting. Have a salad with that too, if you’re hankering for something a bit more substantial. The same dressing rules apply.

Lunch 3

Easy Homemade Chicken Chili with black beans, kidney beans, and pinto beans. This is a tri-bean taste treat.

Use 1lb turkey breast, either ground or shredded. Brown it first in a pan. As you’re browning, add chili powder, to taste (start with 3 tbsp), a tbsp of minced garlic, and ½ a chopped onion to season the meat. Add 1 can of Mexican seasoned, stewed tomatoes, and 2 cans of tomato sauce to the meat, along with 4 chopped Jalapenos. Add the other ½ of the onion you used to season the meat with, 1 can black beans, 1 can pinto beans, and 2 can kidney beans. Bring to a slow boil, then simmer covered on low heat for about 1 hour.

Chili is very personal. You’ll probably want to mess around with this to get it how you like it. For example, it’s better with raw beans, but that takes 24 hrs to do right.

Dinner 1

Veggie chicken spaghetti, sans noodles. This is one of my favorites, but…….
Anyway, brown about 8 chicken tenders in olive oil and minced garlic. Chop them into bite sized pieces as you brown them.

Add in fresh mushrooms, onions, black olives (probably not fresh, these), broccoli, green and red sweet peppers, and some zucchini, if you like the stuff. Add in about 1 tsp each of basil and oregano.

Sautee’ the veggies and chicken in the garlic and seasoning. After about 3 minutes, add in a jar of spaghetti sauce and cook it down some. That usually takes about 5 – 7 minutes.

Be careful, many store bought spaghetti sauces are loaded with sugar. Check the label, and find the lowest one. I like either Classico spaghetti sauce or Costco’s Kirkland Signature Marinara sauce. In a pinch, good old Ragu works  fine too, but use the original, it has about 40% less sugar than their other varieties.

Dinner 2

Poach fish and steamed veggies. This is super healthy, great tasting, and easy to make. You can use many kinds of fish, but check with the USDA to see about which are contaminated. That’s a sad commentary on the world  we live in, but it’s the way it is. Pregnant women should be particularly careful about mercury.

Salmon is usually pretty safe, and it’s very good for you, as well. When you’re poaching it, add in your favorite seasonings to taste. The same goes for the veggies, steam and season.

The sheer numbers of variations available mean you could almost eat this every day. Just change up the fish and veggies for a new meal each time.

Dinner 3

Blackened chicken breast with whole grain pasta and veggies. – Start the pasta cooking. Blacken the chicken in a pan with olive oil and blacken seasoning. When it’s nearly done, cut it into bite sized pieces and continue blackening. Just before you finish, add in the cooked and drained pasta, and a tbsp of olive oil. Cook the pasta and blackened chicken together, and add mushrooms, snap peas, sweet onions, green onions, and broccoli crowns. Stir fry until you get the veggies how you like them. Mmmm, Mmmm

If you want to know how to get rid of belly fat so you have some resolution resolution, that’s the plan it takes to do it. The keys are:
None of the white foods of death (White rice, flour, and sugar)
Implement the exercise plan above
Eat 5 –  6 small, healthy meals each day, and be sure and get your 10+ grams of soluble fiber daily.

Now, go and have a happy holidays!

Rotator Cuff Strengthening – It Can Make Your Whole Upper Body Stronger

4 September, 2011 (16:46) | Weight Training Routines | By: Steve

Here is the offending muscle group that can wreak so much havoc on your athletic career, and even get you as you reach for your burrito (whole wheat tortilla, chicken please, and hold the sour cream) at the drive through window.

Rotator Cuff Strengthening

How It Can Make Your Whole Upper Body Stronger

If you’ve been training for some time or involved in almost any sport, there’s a good chance you’ve felt that pain knifing through your shoulder that accompanies a rotator cuff injury. Yeah, it sucks, but you’re on a long and distinguished list.  The rotator cuff is a little muscle group that few people bother to train, yet it gives nearly everyone who does anything athletic a little bit of hell at some point or another.

The rotator cuff consists of three comparatively small small muscles, the Supraspinatus, Infraspinatus, and Teres Minor, whose job is to keep everything in your shoulder joint lined up where it’s supposed to be. It first gained notoriety through baseball players, especially pitchers, whose repeated throwing motion is especially injurious to the group, but anyone who throws, lifts, or even reaches for their coat in just the right (or wrong, in this case) can get or re-aggravate one of these injuries.

Even if you’ve never had the misfortune to mess your RC up, you’ve probably heard of someone else doing it, whether that was at your gym, on your softball team, or on one of your school teams. I’ve torn both of mine, and I can assure you, it’s no picnic.

There are several well documented shoulder exercises which dramatically strengthen the 3 muscles that make up the rotator cuff, and significantly reduce your likelihood of injury there.  Your shoulder’s importance can’t be understated. Ever try to do anything involving your upper body without moving that joint?  That’s why it’s so important to keep it injury free.

How Strengthening 3 Little Muscles Can Up Your Bench

What many people don’t know is that even if you’ve never even felt the twinge which indicates your rotator cuff is about to give way, much less torn it completely, you could be holding yourself back in other ways having nothing to do with injury prevention by not training this important muscle group. That being said, almost no one bothers to train it. You probably don’t either, right? Ask around, I bet almost no one else in your gym, club, or locker room does, either.

That’s a shame, because chances are you’re short changing yourself in the upper body development department by avoiding rotator cuff strengthening exercises.

You can bench 450? So what….none of the traditional upper body lifts, whether it’s the bench press, shoulder press, side or front lateral raises, pull ups, or power cleans significantly trains this muscle group, leaving it struggling to keep up with all those other muscles that keep getting stronger, week, by week.

As noted, that can cause injury problems, but what you probably don’t know, is that it can also hold you back from a strength and muscular development perspective as well. That’s right, you can add to your bench press max by working out with a little 10lb (or even 5lb) dumbbell. That holds true whether you just started training last week, or walked off with your 23rd powerlifting trophy on Saturday.

It doesn’t matter, because nearly everyone can benefit from adding rotator cuff strengthening exercises to their training routine, yet virtually no one includes them. Do you want to increase your bench press max to finally pass up your training partner or impress the guys at the gym? Getting ready for the combine, and want to give scouts a more impressive number to enter on their sheet? Maybe you’ve been trying to breakthrough that troublesome plateau for months now, and can’t seem to blow the lid off of it, no matter how many different training variations you’ve tried.

Throw in some rotator cuff strengthening exercises, and most likely, you’ll finally see the results you expected all along. It’s probably that missing piece you’ve been looking for. You owe it to yourself to try it out.

Check out my post on how to fix shoulder pain for rotator cuff exercises. The point is, strengthen your rotator cuffs, and it will let your strength increase throughout your upper body.


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