People ask me all the time: “What should I eat?” The answer is food, real food. That means relatively untouched plants and animals for the most part—foods that are processed as little as possible. The key is to stay in the outside aisles of the grocery store, where the fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, meats, poultry and fish usually are.
The goal is to eat whole foods. And the important elements to keep in mind when focusing on nutrition are proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, all of which your body requires for daily performance, a healthy immune system, and mental clarity. Now you might be thinking: “I don’t get sick often and my brain works just fine. I just want to lose some weight.” Good, because the same answer applies. Your body wants proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals and water. If you’re getting all of these nutrients, you won’t be hungry, and if you’re not hungry, then you won’t overeat; if you don’t overeat, you won’t be overweight. Simple enough? Great! Let’s explore what types of foods you should be eating to satisfy each of these major food groups:
Calories are the fuel and energy source for the human body. Nutrient-rich calories provide energy you can actually feel. Nutrient rich calories are those high in vitamins and minerals (micronutrients). They act as your body’s fuel, allowing your brain, muscles, organs and nervous system to function at optimum levels. Calories should come from the proper combination of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats (macronutrients).
What is a good carbohydrate? The short answer is: vegetables and fruits, in that order. A good carbohydrate is one that is rich in micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals. These carbohydrates also tend to be anti-inflammatory, which means they help reduce the risk of disease and ward off illness. If you’re a fan of beans don’t worry they’re healthy. Just find the least processed version of beans possible. A little brown rice, quinoa or oatmeal won’t kill you either; just limit your intake of grains to times when you anticipate needing extra energy due to working out or other performance enhancing activities. Generally avoid wheat, barley and rye because they are high in gluten and many people have an intolerance to gluten without knowing it. If you eat wheat and feel great that’s fine, but it shouldn’t be a dominant food for anyone because it has several negative impacts on other nutrient absorption.
Proteins are the building blocks of all the parts of your body. Your muscles, your brain, your organs, your tissues—all depend on you consuming a sufficient amount of protein. Most experts tend to agree the amount of protein you consume should be between 0.7 and 1 gram per pound of lean body mass. That means if you weigh 200lbs and you are at 20% body fat, you have 160lbs of lean body mass. You should therefore eat roughly 160 grams of protein per day. Choosing proteins with healthier fats in them like Wild Alaskan Salmon, Atlantic Mackerel or other small to medium size fish that don’t spend their lives swimming in deep seas absorbing toxic metals, would be ideal.
When it comes to red meat and poultry, one should be looking for the organic, grass-fed or free range options whenever available. Yes, it’s more expensive to eat healthy and organic, but would you rather spend the money on doctor bills in the future or on food in the present? Studies have shown that free roaming, grass fed beef is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which can help the metabolism and brain function more efficiently as well as reduce the risk of heart disease. The standard corporate farms keep cows in small cages where they are fed an unnatural diet of corn and grains, decreasing their immunity (often triggering the use of antibiotics) and increasing unhealthy high fat compositions. This beef has been shown to be associated with all types of problems, including increased risk of cancer, stroke and heart disease.
When it comes to fats, we are looking for those high in Omega fatty acids, specifically Omega 3’s because Omega 6’s are more abundant in most American diets; Omega 9’s are not essential because your body can make them as needed. Nuts and seeds, especially chia seeds and walnuts, are excellent options. When it comes to vegetable fat sources, avocados are another great vitamin, mineral and Omega 3-rich option.
Now, oils are interesting. Many people use canola oil, which is low in saturated fat compared to some other oils, yet it has a relatively high burning temperature. The only problem with canola oil is that it is derived from an inedible and toxic rapeseed plant containing large amounts of erucic acid (a known toxin). The only way to make rapeseed oil (canola) edible for humans is to genetically modify the plant before processing the oil. I personally am not a fan of genetically modifying food to make it less toxic for human consumption (a bit scary if you ask me). If something that grows in nature needs to be modified on a genetic level to stop it from killing people who eat it, then maybe we should consider finding another plant source for our cooking oil. Also, some people have been known to have a negative response to canola oil ingestion. Symptoms may include, asthma, respiratory issues and skin reactions, as well as digestive symptoms like cramping, bloating, stomach pain, gas, vomiting, and diarrhea. This is probably due to the fact that even after genetically modifying the rapeseed plant, some of the toxic erucic acid remains.
A popular choice these days is coconut oil. Coconut oil may be a good option because it is low in cholesterol but high in saturated fat. There has been much debate about whether or not saturated fat in coconut oil is harmful. To this point, I believe there have been too few studies for a solid conclusion. One thing is sure, however, coconut oil tastes pretty good. Olive oil is definitely one of the better choices when it comes to cooking oil or salad dressing. Ideally, choose one that has not been processed, like extra virgin olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil does burn at a lower temperature than processed olive oil, so just be careful about your cooking temperature, or use a combination olive oil that is minimally refined.
EAT HIGH QUALITY
In most cases and for most people, nutrition questions tend to be related to weight loss. And why not, considering that the United States has the highest rate of obesity in the world? In my opinion, the focus has been on the wrong thing. Most people are concerned with eating less. That means they are concentrating on the negative or depriving themselves, which most people do not want to do. I suggest we focus on what we should do rather than what we should not do. So what should we do?
To sum it all up: eat more, high quality food. Eat more lean, organic and free range proteins. More nutrient rich carbohydrates, such as colorful fruits and vegetables. More healthy fats, like olive oil, avocados, chia seeds, almonds and walnuts. Put simply: the healthier food choices you make, the fewer calories you will eat. Eat fewer calories and you will lose weight. A body wants what a body needs, and once those needs have been met, excessive hunger and extreme cravings will be a thing of the past. Now that we have tackled the physical health and weight-loss challenges. The next challenge is recognizing when you use food as an emotional substitute (i.e. due to relationship issues, self-loathing, body images issues, eating disorders and low self-esteem). I think we will save that topic for another article. For now I hope we've helped, and good luck on your journey!
By Adam Lerner
Staying active throughout the week is part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Easier said than done for those gym haters out there. But studies have shown that skipping out on strength training and cardio workouts can lead to heart disease, depression and osteoporosis.
Pretty scary, right?
You don’t need to make your exercises complicated. Life is already confusing enough; keep it simple when you head to the gym. CrossFit champ and elite athlete, Jason Khalipa, tweeted: “Sometimes the best workouts are when you are a bit rushed. Short and sweet. Intensity gives great results.”
Below are some super simple tips that even the most amateur gym dude/gal can use when heading to the gym:
1) Focus on intensity, not time. It’s not about how long you workout for, but how hard you push yourself. If you’re working out for over an hour and you’re not breaking a sweat, your heart isn’t pumping or your muscles aren’t aching, then you’re not working hard enough.
2) Push yourself harder. When you finish your workout, ask yourself “did I push myself as hard as I could without injuring myself?” If the answer is yes, then you’re doing something right.
3) Always keep your workouts fun. If you’re not having fun while doing it, while do it at all?! CrossFit and MMA trainers, for instance, should push you to new levels that you wouldn’t experience elsewhere. Their routines are typically always changing and they always try to encourage their clients to push themselves, while having a good time.
4) You can get fit in 30 minutes, 3 days a week. You don’t need much more time than that to stay in shape, if you push yourself. But you’ve got hit it hard. Listen to music on your iPhone to get you pumped up. You just need to move. Whatever it is: squats, sit ups, push ups, jumping jacks…when you feel your heart start to race, you’re on the right track.
If you’re toying with the idea of implementing high-intensity circuits with a short-time frame into your routine, then a CrossFit program may be for you. If you’re just not into pushing yourself to the max in a small period of time, and would rather learn practical skills for everyday use, then maybe try a Martial Arts program. A great gym, with a holistic approach to fitness, should offer a little something for everyone. Follow these tips, stay in shape, and your life should generally be happier…and longer.
Photo courtesy of Geek Philosopher
In an age of the increasing popularity of yoga and other low-impact forms of exercise, we've begun to hear a lot about the alleged dangers of high intensity workouts such as what programs like CrossFit have to offer. However, CrossFit's negative reputation is largely based on a lack of understanding. The truth is that CrossFit carries with it only about the same risk as powerlifting and competitive weightlifting – which, contrary to what many believe, are, along with CrossFit, among the safest sports around. In fact, there are a number of ways in which CrossFit is, in fact, helpful in the process of rehab:
1. CrossFit is an excellent way to get – and keep – patients moving. While it is true that part of rehab involves identifying which muscles to rest – and to what extent – it is only through strengthening supportive tissue through exercise that a person will ever fully recover from an injury. And CrossFit is all about movement.
2. Crossfit exercises put the emphasis on an incredible range of motion. Therefore, using the Selective Functional Movement Assessment (SFMA) or Functional Movement Screen (FMS) with CrossFit is a great ways to identify exactly where the problems lie – whether the mobility problem is with shoulder pain, thoracic extension, scapular stability, ankle mobility, or hip and core stability. There's just no way to overlook any muscle group when CrossFit is involved.
3. The high intensity nature of CrossFit exercises are not only great for the cardiovascular system, but they also help warm up the body to prevent further injury during all types of exercises, including those used in a rehabilitative setting.
4. Integrating CrossFit techniques into individualized sessions also provides a great opportunity to educate patients on how to improve their exercise techniques overall. Once patients are doing these addictive high energy movements (which involve so many muscles doing such a wide variety of things), it is only natural that they become more curious and receptive to understanding the biomechanics of exactly what's going on with their bodies and why. Thus, their chances of re-injury go down.
5. A strong and healthy body is less susceptible to re-injury, too – and CrossFit helps make just such a body possible. It's an unfortunate misconception that CrossFit fans, who do in fact love an intense and challenging workout, must, therefore, all be body-building maniacs with outrageous (or even dangerous) fitness goals. The truth, in fact, is that there are many who do CrossFit with the simple goal of being able to play with their children and keeping their bodies strong and healthy. A strong and healthy body is one that's better protected against sprains and other injuries.
Overall, it's really a shame that such a huge misunderstanding of CrossFit exists. It's a reputation that not even a sport as high-impact as recreational running has, despite the fact that running carries ten times the risk of injury compared to CrossFit! However, perhaps all of that will begin to change as more and more professionals begin to see the benefits that CrossFit can offer when it comes to physical rehabilitation.
You’ve probably heard of Crossfit—the fitness craze that’s been taking over the U.S. for the past few years. If you’ve heard descriptions of Crossfit, you know the workouts are intense and that you’re going to change not only how you exercise, but also how you look. Crossfit in Los Angeles isn’t for everyone. Those who have suffered previous injuries may need to find another fitness regimen. But most people looking to get in shape will find CrossFit highly beneficial. Here’s a few tips to decide whether it may be right for you:
It’s Made Up of Several Workout Elements
Crossfit gives you a full-body workout that covers, at a minimum, weight lifting, gymnastic movements, cardio work and core training. Who uses Crossfit? Professional athletes, military special operations units, police academies, martial artists and tactical operations teams. All of these organizations require their members be able to react quickly in uncertain, often high-intensity situations. If this type of training appeals to you, you’d be a good Crossfit candidate.
Delving further into the idea of “intensity,” high-intensity interval training, or HIIT, is one of the main characteristics of Crossfit training. Think about groups of people lifting those huge tractor tires and flipping them over. That could be one Crossfit exercise meant to help you develop core strength and explosion power. Do you believe that a high-intensity exercise in a shorter time period is for you? Give it a shot!
If You Can Do This...
If you’re joining a Crossfit gym in Santa Monica, you’ll hear the coach refer to the “WOD.” This is the “workout of the day,” which can consist of the following:
º One 20-minute AMRAP (which means “As many rounds as possible”). In this AMRAP:
º Two Burpees
º 100 meter run
º Two pull-ups
º Two 185 pound deadlifts
Look back at the acronym: AMRAP. When you finish those deadlifts, you aren’t done for the day. You have to go back and do this routine as many times as you can–in 20 minutes!
It’s a Culture
It’s not only the high-intensity exercise that attracts Crossfit followers. Many Crossfitters engage in a particularly athletic lifestyle, including a balanced diet and a balanced sleep regimen. Also, Crossfit members enjoy exercising along with others who are doing a similar workout, to help them stay motivated and engaged. They respond well to the support and verbal encouragement they get from their coaches and teammates.
Beware the Risks
We’ve talked about the high points that might attract you to trying a Crossfit workout. If you have suffered an injury in the past, such as a back injury, you must communicate this to your trainer, so he can help decide if Crossfit will be a good activity for you and exactly how you might alter the workout.
Fortunately, nearly all Crossfit gyms will offer a training course that teaches you the foundational movements you need to learn proper movement. This course, called “Elements” or “On Ramp,” lasts up to one month. Now that you’ve read this, it’s up to you to decide if Crossfit could be for you.
Please understand before you read this list; it is mostly inflammation that makes you sick. Bacteria, virus, fungus and most infections thrive in an inflamed environment. The foods below are not your only options to decrease inflammation and improve your health, but they are a great start. Drinking water, consistantly exercising and reducing your stress are other key factors. As always, let me know if you have questions.
3. Wild-Caught Salmon
4. Shiitake Mushroom
5. Green Tea
8. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
10. Sweet Potato
Adam & Amanda
We have spent most of our adult lives training and guiding hundreds of people toward better health & fitness. We have created this A4 Blog in order to better educate our friends & members. We will answer any of your health / fitness / nutrition questions as well as keeping you posted on what's new at A4.