Fat Loss. Start Here.

Eric-Helms-Muscle-Strength-Training-Pyramids

image curtesy of Eric Helms 

 

The simplest truths are harder to believe.

Unless there’s an underlying medical, metabolic, or psychological issue with your weight, the below info should be the starting point.

Low fat, low carb, keto, zone, vegetarian, etc … all fall under ‘macros’. It is the way of eating that fits your life style and makes you function optimally.

BUT

The BIGGEST and the MOST important ‘rock’ in fat loss / muscle gain – Energy Balance. All diets can work and all diets can fail. If you are taking in more than you are expending, you gain weight. You lose weight, if you have a calorie deficit.

I’ll focus on fat loss here. It’s as simple as 1-2-3

“How do I know if I am eating more than I need?” The answer is initial ‘tracking’.

1) tracking your food intake
2) tracking your body weight / body composition
3) create a suitable daily calorie deficit

1. Some ‘A-types’ like me will have no problem firing up their MyFitnessPal and tracking their food intake for a couple of weeks, getting on a scale every morning and taking measurements of their waistline.

Others will have to find other ways of tracking. If you are a creature of habit and eat the same foods all the time – it’s easy, but if not…that can get difficult. If tracking in MFP doesn’t stress you out, do it. You’ll get more precise results and will gain invaluable learning experience about different foods caloric values. Tracking is just a tool, not a lifelong activity. Now I can look at a plate of food and tell you an approximate number of calories with protein, carbs and fats breakdown. But I wouldn’t be able to do it if I didn’t track in the past.

2. After tracking for 2 weeks your body weight average stays the same (within 2-3 lbs) you’ve found your maintenance calories!

3. Our bodies are pretty smart. Your body’s main priority is not to give you abs, but to keep you alive. If you cut your calories too drastically, your body will down regulate the main hormonal ‘players’ ASAP, and the fat loss will slow down rather quickly. Therefore, a moderate (200-300 cals/day) cut from food plus 200-300 cal via exercise will yield better results. Especially knowing that resistance training will help you preserve that muscle mass that does most of the ‘fat-burning’ throughout the day anyway.

That’s it in a nutshell. Stick to your plan and track. Again, track in a way that is easy for you. Scale, measuring tape, clothes, what your friends and/or co-workiers observe. Whatever you choose – do it with consistency. Give it time. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will your desired physique.

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I Can’t Lose Fat – My Will Power Sucks!

will power smaller

“I can’t lose fat, because my will power sucks!” As a nutrition coach I hear this pretty often.  In fact it’s a very common statement. Is it true?

First, have you heard about the ‘Stanford Marshmallow Experiment’?

the-marshmallow-test

It was a series of studies on delayed gratification in the late 1960s and early 1970s led by psychologist Walter Mischel, then a professor at Stanford University. In these studies, a child was offered a choice between one small reward provided immediately or two small rewards (i.e., a larger later reward) if they waited for a short period, approximately 15 minutes, during which the tester left the room and then returned. (The reward was sometimes a marshmallow, but often a cookie or a pretzel.)

Mischel gave 10 children a marshmallow and gave them two options:

Option 1) Eat the marshmallow.

Option 2) Save the marshmallow and when I return I’ll give you a extra marshmallow, at that point you can have both.

So, when Mischel left the room and returned 15 minutes later, what do you think happened?

To simplify the results: 7 out of the 10 children could not resist temptation and ate the marshmallow before he returned. The average time between the sound of the door closing and the first bite of marshmallow was less than three minutes.

Some of the kids couldn’t even wait 30 seconds…

There were other outcomes of the experiment and a follow up as well. For the purpose of this post I just want to point out that will power is one unreliable partner.

As adults some of us display more will power than others. Some areas are easy for us, and some … not so much. “Why am I able to get up at the crack of dawn every day to go to work, but cannot for the life of me pass by that bowl of sweets at the office? My will power sucks!”

 

My will power is one unreliable partner!

 

Your will power does not suck. It is not your fault. It’s not lack of education about nutrition, for sure. You read the blogs, you watch YouTube videos. It is simply the lack of SKILLS needed to accomplish the goal.

When you want to learn to play a guitar, do you watch the ‘how to’ video and you are immediately transformed into Eric Clapton? Of course, not! It takes a crazy amount of time to learn how to read music, place your fingers on the right strings in the correct formation. Then there is the callous building process on your fingertips. It takes time, dedication, and r-e-p-e-t-i-t-i-o-n to play the guitar naturally and effortlessly.

The way I do it with my clients at Raw Fitness is:

– we establish the goal together
– we break it down into skills needed to achieve it
– we break down the skills into daily practices (habits)
– we give each habit two weeks to practice
– then we add another one on top of the first habit

and so on… you see where I’m going with this? Even though our brain knows what we need to do in order to achieve our goal, our bodies transform by practicing. And that takes time.

Good news is you don’t have to spend tons of time. You do something similar to what the strength coach Pavel Tsatsouline calls “Greasing the Groove”. The underlying principle is to train as often as possible while being as fresh as possible. Using this principle you can train yourself to perform 100 pushups or chin-ups, etc. You can get really strong!

You can get strong and skillful with your nutrition by taking opportunities during the day by putting your daily habits to practice. As a result, you reach your goal. Will you fail along the way? You bet. But you WILL get back up and keep going. Especially when you have a strong support team by your side. Whether it’s your coach, family members, fellow gym-goers. If you are 80% consistent, you are still moving ahead.

At the end you become the Eric Clapton of your own nutrition!

Eric_slowhand_Clapton

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Pan Fried Salmon Fillet

salmon

Nutritionally dense and something of a superfood, oily fish can be an important part of a healthy diet.

Fish tend to be rich in two groups of fatty acids known as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). These fats are not abundant in the standard North American diet. DHA and EPA, along with alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), found in things like flax, fall under the subheading of omega-3 fats. EPA and DHA, often cited as being the beneficial components of fish, actually originate in algae, which are the base of the food chain for fish. Fish consume algae and concentrate the EPA and DHA.

What effects do the fish oils have?

  • Cell membranes remain sensitive to hormones.
  • Genes that use fatty acids for energy are turned on and genes that promote fat storage are turned off.
  • Low grade inflammation can be prevented, which can promote health and alleviate pain.
  • Healthy brain tissue and neurotransmitters stabilize, leading to improved mood and focus.
  • Cholesterol and triglyceride levels are moderated.
  • Blood vessels remain elastic, leading to controlled blood pressure.
  • Steroids and stress hormones released from the adrenal glands are balanced.
  • Eating about 2 servings per week (e.g., 8 ounces total) of fatty fish is enough to get the minimum amount of health promoting fatty acids.

How to Pick Fresh Fish?

 

As far as whole fish, you can usually tell just by looking at the eyes – they should be clear, not foggy and sunken. With fillets, if the surface is dried out and tired looking, that’s not a good sign. The fillet should glisten, like it was just cut, and should smell fresh, not fishy.

Pan Fried Salmon Fillet

Ingredients:

Skin-on Salmon Fillets (two fillets, about 1 inch thick)

1Tbsp sunflower oil (or grapeseed oil) <– high smoke point

salt and pepper

fresh dill and green onions for garnish

for the sauce:

3Tbsp lemon juice

1/4 cup of chicken stock

1 cup heavy cream

Method:

1. Combine broth, cream and lemon jiuce in a small pan and bring to simmer. Right away bring heat to low, season with salt and pepper, cover and gently simmer for about 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, rinse salmon in cold water and pat dry. Add sunflower oil to the skillet large enough to fit both fillets in one layer. Set the heat on high. in about a minute and a half it will be hot enough to…

3. … lay the fillets skin side down and turn the heat down to med right away. Season the exposed side of the fish. Leave the fish alone for 3-5 minutes, depending on the fish’s thickness.

4. Turn the fillets over using a spatula, making sure the skin is attached to the salmon. Season the other side. Cook for another 1-5 minutes (the way you like it done).

5. Serve skin side up, pouring some souce over it. Garnish with chopped dill and green onion.

Enjoy!

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