Category: Fitness | Houston Medical Fitness

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There are major differences between a commercial weight loss “program” or “diet” and lifestyle changes for weight loss designed by a fitness professional.

COMMERCIAL WEIGHT LOSS DIETS/PROGRAMS often:
1) are motivated by quick profits and the purchase of packaged “products”
2) measure results by pounds on the scale
3) require restricted calorie dieting and packaged nutritionally empty foods

RESEARCH BASED WEIGHT LOSS (DESIGNED BY A FITNESS & NUTRITION PROFESSIONAL)
1) motivated by long-term results
2) results measured by body composition
3) utilize proper nutrition and exercise for long-term results

COMMERCIAL WEIGHT LOSS:
• PROS –
o No required exercise
o Convenient
o Easy pre-packaged foods
o Point A to B “program”
• CONS –
o Slows metabolism
o Weakens immune system
o Creates hormonal imbalances
o Agitates the nervous system
o Loss of lean muscle mass
o Increases body fat
o Decreases energy levels
o Disrupts sleep patterns
o Provides short-term results
o Initiates yo-yo dieting

RESEARCH-BASED WEIGHT LOSS:
• PROS –
o Education-based
o Physiologically sound protocol
o Provides long-term lifestyle strategy
o Incorporates real food
o Decreases body fat
o Increases energy level
o Increases metabolism
o Strengthens immune system
• CONS –
o It takes a little longer.
o Requires physical activity
o Requires proper nutrition
o Requires commitment

There are far more advantages to an education-based fitness protocol when attempting to achieve your LONG TERM weight management and lifestyle goals. Why? Because fitness protocol adheres to basic human physiology and behavior principles.

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1. Spirulina – occurs naturally in lakes and contains around 60% complete protein and all essential amino acids. It is one of the highest known protein content foods in the world.
2. Hemp – hemp protein contains all 21 known amino acids, including 9 essential ones that our bodies cannot produce.
3. Chia Seeds – these seeds come from a flowering plant in the mint family and contain 4 grams of protein per ounce.
4. Quinoa – this grain-like plant contains 14% complete protein by mass.
5. Tempeh – a fermented soy product that has 15 grams of protein in one half cup.
6. Almonds – about 20% of a raw almond is high quality protein.
7. Leafy Greens – foods such as spinach and kale contain 5-7 grams of protein per cup.
8. Lentils & Beans – one cup of beans or lentils contains 15-18 grams of protein.
9. Greek Yogurt – has twice the protein and half the sugar of regular yogurt; there are 15-20 grams of protein in a 6 oz serving!
10. Eggs – the protein in eggs has the highest biological value of any known food; one egg has about 6 grams of protein.

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Here are some little known facts my research on bottled water revealed:

  • 40% of all bottled waters are just filtered tap water, including Coca Cola’s Dasani and Pepsi’s Aquafina.
  • Municipalities are required by the EPA to test their water supplies 300-400 times a month, and are required to publish the results of those tests.  Meanwhile, the bottled water industry is completely self-regulated, is allowed to do its own testing and are not required to publish or reveal the results of testing.
  • Plastic for water bottles is PET or PETE – chemicals used to make this plastic include 1) Paraxylene, a clear liquid byproduct from crude oil refining and a known carcinogen in the benzene family, and 2) bisphenol A (BPA), which acts a lot like estrogen and has been called by scientists the most damaging chemical ever created.  700 peer reviewed studies looked at by the National Institutes of Health show that BPA is dangerous for human consumption and is linked to obesity, breast cancer, diabetes, liver disease, ovarian diseases, and prostate cancer.
  • The National Resources Defense Council tested over 1,000 bottles of water encompassing 7 of the most prevalent brands in the U.S.  The first group of bottles was pulled straight off store shelves, and was found to contain chemicals like toluene, a constituent of gasoline and paint thinner and a known neurologic and reproductive disrupter.  The second group of bottles was left in a car trunk for 1 week.  This group when tested contained styrene, a known carcinogen and reproductive disrupter, and phthalates, known reproductive disrupters.  The tests found 1) arsenic leeching from plastic bottles, and 2) bacterial contaminants, in the water from both groups.
  • There is only 1 individual in the entire FDA whose job it is to oversee and regulate the entire bottled water industry, and that individual has many other duties besides bottled water.
  • Only 20% of plastic bottles in the U.S. ever actually get recycled, and the waste from all the bottled water we are buying and disposing is causing major environmental issues in landfills and oceans.

Given the information about bottled water above that my research uncovered, along with the high prices we pay today for bottled water, I’ve recently looked into various methods of filtration that will allow me to use tap water whenever possible.  Please visit these Water Filtration Options for a very thorough summary of today’s filtration methods broken down by cost and effectiveness.

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I encounter many clients that try to stay in the “fat-burning” calorie zone, which typically means keeping their heart rate between 130-140 beats per minute (bpm) during exercise for a prolonged period.  I’ll explain where this theory came from, and why it’s a huge problem for someone who is trying to lose body fat to follow this recommendation.

Our bodies utilize fat, carbohydrate, and protein to fuel physical activities at varying proportions depending on the intensity of exercise.  With regard to fat, for low intensity exercise (130-140 bpm) about 75% of our calories burned come from fat; for moderate intensity exercise (150-170 bpm) about 50% of our calories burned come from fat; and for prolonged high intensity exercise (over 170 bpm) about 20% of calories burned come from fat.

When you initially see the numbers above, its easy to assume that low intensity exercise would burn the most calories from fat.  That’s where the “fat-burning zone” recommendation originated.  However, when you look more closely, the problem with this theory is that the numbers are percentages.  When you look at it this way, you really need to know the total number of calories burned to know which percentage of calories from fat is favorable.

So, lets look at a specific example.  A 60-minute session of exercise at 130-140 bpm that burns 250 calories, 75% being fat calories, burns 188 total calories of fat.  A 60-minute session of exercise at 150-170 bpm that burns 750 calories, 50% being fat calories, burns 375 total calories of fat.  A 60-minute session of exercise at 180 bpm that burns 1000 calories, 20% being fat calories, burns 200 total calories of fat.  In other words, we have the following:  188, 375, and 200 calories of fat burned respectively as exercise intensity increases.  You can clearly see that the “fat burning zone” burned the lowest actual number of fat calories.

Another issue with steady state cardio at a low intensity is that it does absolutely nothing to build muscle.  Building muscle, which increases metabolism, is hands down THE FASTEST AND BEST WAY to lose body fat.

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1.  Minimize packaged foods and processed sugar.
If a food can last for 10 years on a shelf without spoiling, chances are there is not much nutrition in that food.  Whole, healthy foods all have one thing in common:  they ROT.  That’s right; if you don’t eat them quickly, they decay.  The other key thing about the longevity of packaged foods is that they have often been pumped full of chemical additives, preservatives, and flavorings to maintain taste and flavor in the food.  These chemicals, color dyes, and flavors have been linked strongly to cancer, hormone disruption and fertility issues, and Alzheimer’s disease.  SO…we want MOST of the foods we eat to be whole foods that grow from the ground or that come straight from healthy animals.

2.  Minimize eating out.
I cannot stress the importance of this one enough.  Restaurant and fast foods are sorely lacking in nutrients and loaded with saturated fat and salt.  Even items that appear healthy like salad often are not.  Remember the picture I sent all of you a few months ago of the Jason’s Deli salad one client made that looked healthy but turned out to have over 1,000 calories?  That is a good example of what I’m talking about.  Restaurants usually use the cheapest ingredients possible, then add fat and salt to make them tasty.  They also use a lot of flash frozen food, which is nutritionally deficient.  Also, restaurants are where we consume most of our alcohol.  Alcohol is a weight loss KILLER.  Finally, for those of you that have kids and are letting them eat fast food regularly, I would like to make a very important statement.  Chick Fil A and Subway are NOT healthy places to eat.  They have slick marketing which has made many of us think they use higher quality ingredients or that the food is somehow healthier, but it simply is not.  I recommend you and your kids eat out no more than 2 meals a week.

3.  When you do consume packaged food….
My guidelines for packaged foods are 8 ingredients or less on the Ingredients List, and every ingredient must be recognizable and pronounceable.  If you follow this guideline, you will be eating the healthiest options available among packaged foods.

Also, here are key ingredients you should avoid AT ALL COSTS:
Aspartame
Sucralose (Splenda)
Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
High Fructose Corn Syrup
Blue #1 & #2, Red #3 & #40, Yellow #6 food colorings
Sodium nitrate
Sodium nitrite
BHA or BHT
Propylene Glycol (also known as antifreeze; usually in ice cream and salad dressings)
Sulphur Dioxide
Potassium Bromate
Here is a link that describes in detail 50 dangerous and common food additives to avoid:  http://www.sustainlv.org/focus_on/50-toxic-food-additives/

4.  Eat organic when possible.
Organic foods are grown and raised without the use of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides that harm the natural nutrient balance of soils and therefore create nutrient deficient plants.  Organically raised animals are not given antibiotics or growth hormones and are allowed to grow at nature’s normal rate and to a normal size.  It’s important to understand that in order to be considered organic, animals do not have to graze on grass, they can simply be fed organic vegetarian feed.  This is often in the form of cornmeal, which is not the best food for an animal.  The best food for cows and other animals we eat is natural grass.  Therefore, when you buy meat, you need to look for both organic and grass fed meat.  For those of you already thinking about the higher cost of organic food, use the money you will save from eating out minimally and I promise you will still come out ahead financially over eating and drinking out all the time.

5.  Eat Superfoods.
Superfoods are foods that occur in nature that have phenomenally high nutrition, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals.  You should eat superfoods every day.

Here are a few of the most powerful superfoods:
Berries – blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, elderberries, acai berries, goji berries
Avocados
Raw Nuts – almonds, walnuts
Hemp
Greens – wheat grass, barley grass, chlorella, spirulina, green leafy vegetables
Noni Fruit
Coconuts and coconut oil
Raw Cacao (raw chocolate without ANY processing; it is considered the highest antioxidant food in the world)
Maca
Royal jelly, bee pollen, and raw honey
Kelp and other seaweeds
Chia seeds
Flax seeds
Cinnamon
Bananas
Green Tea
Papaya
Quinoa
Sprouts

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There has been controversy over the years regarding static stretching (holding stretches) during a warmup or before a workout. Recently the National Academy of Sports Medicine examined 106 studies on this subject to come up with specific recommendations for static stretching before a workout or sport performance.

The NASM comparison of 106 studies looked at 3 different performance measures to determine if affected by static stretching: 1) strength; 2) speed; and 3) power. The following is a summary of their findings.

  • Less than 30 seconds of continuous static stretching DID NOT negatively impact performance measures.
  • 30-45 seconds of continuous static stretching DID NOT negatively impact performance measures.
  • 1-2 minutes of continuous static stretching DID negatively impact performance measures.
  • Longer than 2 minutes of continuous static stretching DID negatively impact performance measures.

This study shows that warm up activities should consist of static stretches only if held for less than 30-45 seconds at a time.  Extensive and deep static stretching should be saved for after the performance or workout.

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There are so many oils out there.  Some are healthier than others, and some lose their health benefits when heated beyond a certain point.  Some of these oils are quite expensive, so we want to make sure we use them correctly and get the most benefit to our health.  Now you can use this guide, which breaks down 20 common oils by their degree of healthiness and their ability to withstand heat.  VIEW THE GUIDE…

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There are two ways we commonly prepare food that cause the formation of cancer causing chemicals on our food.  There are also some very simple ways to detox your body quickly.

The two most toxic ways to prepare food are:

  1. Grilling or barbecuing
  2. Frying

According to the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health, both of these methods of cooking produce toxic, cancer causing chemicals on our food.  View the NIH Fact Sheet with details here.

Aside from food preparation, we come in contact with hundreds of toxins all the time just by breathing and eating normally.  Here are some simple and quick detox strategies that are all natural and effective:

  1. Exposure to moderate sunlight
  2. Green organic vegetables, especially parsley (cleanses blood supply) and cilantro (binds with heavy metals)
  3. Gelatinous plant foods which help cleanse the intestinal tract, such as chia seeds, aloe vera, and seaweeds
  4. Vegetable juices – sometimes when our digestive system is beaten up and out of balance, we can more readily absorb nutrients from juices than from the whole foods
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There is some common terminology you will see on product labels in the grocery store but may not necessarily understand.  Here is a little guide to help you on your next grocery trip.

Terms:

NATURAL – This is a meaningless term that has no FDA guidelines for its use.  Therefore, anyone can put the word “natural” on their product label for any reason.
FRESH – This term can be used on a label and the product can still be subjected to any of the following:  waxes or coatings, post-harvest pesticides, chlorine or acid washes, and ionizing radiation.
100% ORGANIC – This term can be used only when there are no non-organic ingredients in the product.
ORGANIC – This term can be used when 95% of the ingredients are organic; the other 5% of ingredients cannot contain any growth hormones.
MADE WITH ORGANIC INGREDIENTS – This term can be used when at least 70% of the product’s ingredients are organic.
GOOD SOURCE OF…/CONTAINS…/PROVIDES… – These terms can be used when at least 10% of the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) of a vitamin or nutrient has been added to the product.
HIGH SOURCE OF…/RICH IN…/EXCELLENT SOURCE OF… – These terms can be used when at least 20% of the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) of a vitamin or nutrient has been added to the product.

PLU Codes:  When you buy fresh fruit or vegetables, each item has a PLU code.

4-digit code:  Signifies conventional produce.  Can be subjected to pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, irradiation, etc.
5-digit code that begins with a “9”:  Signifies organic produce.  Organic produce is not genetically modified or subjected to pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, irradiation, etc.
5-digit code that begins with an “8”:  Signifies GMO (genetically modified) produce.

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Switching to decaf coffee is supposed to be a healthier move, right?  Well, not necessarily, as I found out when I made the switch myself over a year ago. There are different methods out there to remove caffeine from coffee.  Some are safe and some are not. The most popular method is chemically removing the caffeine using chemicals classified as solvents.  A frequently used solvent is methylene chloride.  This is a chemical also found in paint strippers and varnishes as well as methamphetamine.  In the human body, this chemical produces carbon monoxide as it breaks down and can cause symptoms similar to that of carbon monoxide poisoning.  It is on the list of known carcinogens. The safest method for removing caffeine from coffee is called Swiss water decaffeination.  This method soaks coffee beans for a prolonged period in water to safely remove caffeine without chemical byproducts. When shopping for coffee, especially decaf, look for a coffee that says it is Swiss water decaffeinated on the label.  If the label doesn’t say the process used, chances are it’s chemical, but you can usually call the manufacturer and find out for sure.  Also, remember that coffee is one of the most highly sprayed and treated crops of all time when it comes to pesticides, so if you drink coffee on a regular basis, it is really worth your while to find a good organic coffee.