Archive for diet

Get Help in the Kitchen!

Posted in Health, Performance with tags , , , , , , , on January 4, 2012 by razorsedgeperformance

Everyone in the fitness industry laments the start of January due to the flood of people in all of the gyms and health clubs around North America. Is it because we think this is bad? Absolutely not! That’s amazing…for 2 weeks of the year, everyone is acting the way they should ALL YEAR ROUND. The reason us professionals get frustrated is that by the end of January, most people have fallen back into the old habits, and have lost site of whatever health and fitness related resolution they undertook on January 1st.
I think I can help everyone out a little bit by shedding light on the most important intervention for achieving your goals, whether they are related to hypertrophy, fat-loss, or performance enhancement. LEARNING HOW TO COOK. I’m not talking about becoming the next Jamie Oliver, just someone who can follow a damn good recipe.
I always chuckle when people ask me if i’m a good cook. I make almost all of my food, save for some supplements taken around workouts, so that should say something. Yet I have no imagination in the kitchen. I have made some great dishes, and some bad ones. The key to my success? Find a good recipe, and follow it!

Let’s go over a few resources that I like to use that can make a world of a difference between winning and losing in this game we play with our bodies and health.

Precision Nutrition

Do yourself a favour and go all-out with the whole system. You get a fantastic cookbook, a manual that describes a lot about WHY to eat certain foods and WHEN to eat them, as well as food preparation tips and other random nuggets of information. The cookbook, Gourmet Nutrition has recipes for shakes, snacks, side dishes, entrees, breakfasts, soups, salad dressings and sauces, and of course desserts. All of the nutritional facts about the meal are given, as well as designations of when the meal is best consumed. The added bonus is access to the online members content on the site, which has forums and articles that are at least 5 years old, so the amount of content archived on the precision nutrition site is massive.

Gourmet Nutrition 2.0

This is the 2nd cookbook in the gourmet nutrition series. It is along the same format as the first version that is in the Precision Nutrition system, but adds a whole bunch of new recipes. If you plan on doing the Precision Nutrition system, wait on this, until you’ve tried all of the recipes in the first book. If you just want a healthy cookbook, then this is one way to go. It really goes above and beyond the infamous ‘chicken breasts and broccoli’ that many get trapped in when trying to eat well.

Best of Clean Eating

I haven’t tried many of these recipes yet, but I flipped through the whole book and it looks absolutely fantastic. Not only does everything look gourmet, but the entire cookbook has tips and facts about different foods and nutrtients, as well as recipes that will only make you healthier.

Best of Clean Eating 2

Just go back and read what I just wrote above regarding the first version. This is just another resource with new recipes that follow the same ideals as the first.

That’s 4 resources for nutritional help with your resolutions (or constant struggle for improvement if you didn’t just start this week…). Do yourself a favour and get in the habit of cooking your own healthy meals, and realize healthy and gourmet can fit in the same sentence together. Most unwanted deviations from healthy eating occur because you are unprepared and didn’t pack a lunch, or don’t feel like cooking. So take some time to get your act together in the kitchen, so your body is appropriately fueld for your workouts!

It’s About Getting Better


Putting Protein on a Pedestal

Posted in Health, Performance with tags , , , , , , , on March 22, 2011 by razorsedgeperformance

I thought people were becoming more educated about food and their diets…turns out I was wrong. With new clients one of the first questions I ask is always, what are you eating? Or How’s your diet? Most people are pretty confident about their diet or say something like, “I eat pretty well”. Sometimes that’s the case but mostly you’re wrong. There’s always two things missing, not enough vegetables, not enough protein.

For some strange reason people still think protein is for bodybuilders or just for people looking to get huge.

Who's getting their protein?

Here’s the truth, we all need protein and we need lots of it. Why is that? There’s a few reasons.

1) Muscle Building – In order to build muscle, once you’ve provided the stimulus in the gym, you need to get adequate protein in your diet in order to keep your nitrogen levels positive. This is done through protein intake. If your nitrogen levels for a day are negative, you go catabolic (lose muscle); if your nitrogen levels are positive for the day, you go anabolic (gain muscle). There are very few people who need to lose muscle, pretty much everyone would benefit from gaining more. It makes you leaner and makes your body perform better. If you’re working out for body composition, you need to add muscle mass.

2) Fat Burning – Protein plays two roles in the fat burning process. For one thing, protein takes the most energy to break down in your body, thus it increases your metabolism on a daily basis. Secondly, it keeps your muscles from breaking down in a fat burning phase. If you’re exercising, there will be a point where your body will look to break down your muscle for fuel. The truth is, amino acids (what protein is made up of) are a very good energy source and your body will try to use them. If you want to burn fat and avoid losing more muscle, then we need to get adequate amounts of protein – both for fuel and to save your muscles. Whats the point of losing fat if you’re going to lose your muscle as well? The only way to improve body composition is to gain or maintain muscle mass while losing fat, not losing both.

Let’s not overlook the fact that amino acids are used for some of the most basic bodily functions. Women, where do you think the protein that’s in your hair comes from? Small things like that are overlooked when it comes to ones diet. So how much should you get? Where should you get it?

Ignore the Canadian Food Guide. If you want to increase the amount of muscle you have on your body, you need to get 1g/lb of body weight. It’s very simple. If you’re an elite athlete or bodybuilder, you may want to go even higher. This is a reasonable number. If you’re eating 4 or 5 times per day, there’s plenty of opportunity to get it. The trick is making protein a priority and putting it on a pedestal. Everytime you eat a meal, you should know where you’re getting your protein from. It can be from any meat, fish, bird, dairy, lentils, nuts or protein powder. Think of snacks like beef jerky, cottage cheese or hard boiled eggs. There is no shortage of protein (unless you’re a vegan, which takes more work). Bottom line, whether you want to put on muscle or lose fat, start getting in more precious protein! All your hard work will start paying off!!

Understanding Post-Workout Nutrition

Posted in Health, Performance with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 10, 2011 by razorsedgeperformance

Post-workout nutrition (PWO) is only one aspect of the whole nutrition plan but can be very important to the results you get from your training. Following specific guidelines can help maximize your time in the weight room or on the track, and set you ahead of the competition.

There are two concepts that are important to PWO and they are anabolism and catabolism. Anabolism refers to the production of muscle (think +) and catabolism is the degradation or destruction of muscle (think -). When your body is fuelled with all of the appropriate nutrients and a training stimulus has occurred, anabolism will occur and new muscle will be built. However, after about 45 minutes of exercise, the hormone cortisol is released and begins breaking down muscle for energy. This is catabolism. This continues until you can reverse it through nutritional intervention. The goal of PWO will be to limit catabolism, and shift quickly into anabolism.

Let’s make a checklist on the things we want to accomplish in PWO in order to stay in a positive balance, and avoid time in the negative.
– Replenish muscle glycogen
– Rehydrate
– Start the synthesis of new muscle

For the record, there are many great foods that have an appropriate nutritional profile for a post-workout snack. However, having your nutrients in liquid form, a post-workout shake, allows your body to absorb and assimilate nutrients much quicker, and ensure that you capitalize on this important 45 minute window.

Your body uses glycogen for higher intensity activities, so it’s important that you replenish this glycogen so that your body is ready for its next challenges. A number of studies have shown that ingesting carbohydrates inside this window of opportunity allows your body to reload its glycogen levels anywhere from 2 to 4 times faster than if you were to ingest the same carbohydrates later in the day. 1-3

Rehydrating is a very simple concept. Part of taking a shake post-workout involves using 500mL or more of water to mix the other nutrients, ensuring you start replenishing the water you lost in sweat and other metabolic processes.

Finally, with the right nutrients in this window of opportunity, we can quickly kick-start the processes that produce new muscle fibres. This is important for everybody, not just bodybuilders and athletes. Synthesizing new muscle is important not only to add to your body, but also to repair what was damaged during the workout, or broken down for energy. In order to achieve optimal body composition, you must always be maintaining the muscle you have, or adding new muscle. In a study by Levenhagen4, the group who consumed a carbohydrate/protein supplement immediately after a workout synthesized new muscle three times faster than a group who waited 3 hours. Also, this group had a significantly higher net protein balance. In fact, the group that waited ended up with a negative protein balance. How does that happen? While you are working out, you will always have a breakdown of muscle tissue for energy and from a build-up of cortisol. Then, once you ingest these important nutrients, your body stops breaking down your own muscle and begins to repair and rebuild. If this is done quickly, you will end up with more muscle then before you chose to workout. If you wait, you will actually have taken a step back for now. In fact, in some studies, the groups who took a carbohydrate/protein mix after their workout even burned more fat then those who took nothing. This goes to show that it’s always better to take in the right nutrients instead of starving yourself.

RECOMMENDATIONS: Everybody who is involved in strength training should be taking a post-workout shake. A shake with a 3:1 or 4:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio works best. While whey protein is a great choice, using branch chain amino acids or essential amino acids as the main protein source can be more effective. If you do not want to bother with mixing your own ingredients, then buy a post-workout product. Dymatize Xpand Post is a great product, as well as things like Endurox, Surge, or meal replacement beverages. Another simple solution is a serving of Gatorade powder, or a bottle of Gatorade and a scoop of whey protein powder.

When you are putting in a lot of time and effort into your training, do yourself a favour and use this important nutritional strategy to gain an advantage! It’s about getting better!

1Ivy, J.L, “Dietary strategies to promote glycogen synthesis after exercise,” Canadian Journal of Applied Physiology, 26 (Suppl): S236-S245, 2001.
2Ivy, J.L, Katz, A.L, Cutler, C.L, et al., “Muscle glycogen synthesis after exercise: effect of time on carbohydrate ingestion,” Journal of Applied Physiology, 64: 1480-1485, 1988.
3Ivy, J.L, Goforth, H.W, Jr., Damon, B.M, et al., “Early post exercise muscle glycogen recovery is enhanced with a carbohydrate-protein supplement,” Journal of Applied Physiology, 93: 1337-1344, 2002.
4Levenhagen, D.K., Carr, C., Carlson, M.G., et al., “Post exercise protein intake enhances whole-body and leg protein accretion in humans,” Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 34: 828-837, 2002.

How To Get Big…Or Not

Posted in Health, Performance with tags , , , , , , on November 25, 2010 by razorsedgeperformance

If you look around the gym, or take a poll of all the members, you will realize that 90% of the people there are worried about one thing, and that’s size. Some people want to grow, and get huge, and others are looking to shrink. Lastly, some are trying to stay the same size but look a little bit better. Not too many people are there only for performance. It’s disappointing to hear, I know, but that’s the reality and I can cope with that. Now i’m going to share the secret to getting bigger…it’s your diet. The secret to getting smaller? You got it…your diet.

I know a lot of you are wondering about workout routines, cardio type, or nutritional supplements, but i’m about to disappoint you. The true determinant of your results lies in the number of calories you take in each day.

So many women come into the gym, start an exercise program, then say “I just don’t want to look huge!”. The truth is, no matter how heavy you lift, or how many days a week you do resistance training, if you don’t have enough nutrients to build, you just wont. The formula is simple. If you have excess calories, your body uses them to build. When those calories are quality nutrients, and you are providing your body with a good workout stimulus, your body will build lean mass. When those calories are garbage and you aren’t getting an appropriate training effect, your body will store body fat.

Now let’s look at the opposite. If you aren’t taking in enough calories, you will shrink. If you are training appropriately and taking in the right nutrients to feed your muscles, then you will burn off that stubborn body fat. If you aren’t taking in enough calories, and there isn’t enough protein to feed your muscle mass, you will lose just as much muscle as fat. This means you become a smaller version of the same person. If you are training because you want to change your body, then this last option isn’t for you.

Now, within this framework, if you have the right caloric intake for your daily nutrition, then it is time to tweak your workout program and worry about supplement strategies that are proven to be effective.  Unless we are talking about steroids or growth hormone, no supplements can make up for being on the wrong side of the calorie equation.

Men, if you are trying to put on some mass and are struggling, you need to eat another meal, take a weight gainer shake, or a shot of olive oil (it works). Women, if you are lifting weights and you don’t want to get ‘too big’, then make sure you aren’t overeating. It’s as simple as that, so make sure you aren’t making the biggest mistake in the book!

Remember, it’s about getting better!

Body Transformation: No Easy Task

Posted in Health, Performance with tags , , , , , , , , on October 31, 2010 by razorsedgeperformance

There is no shortage of people who would prefer a different body. Skinny guys looking to get huge, and almost everyone else looking to get more lean. The single reason why it hasn’t occurred yet for most of these people is difficulty. It is way too hard to change now that you’ve become this way.
Two weeks on a dedicated eating plan and workout program feels like an eternity. Most people will grumble about the lack of results and fall back into the same old, same old. No discretion in the buffet line, and “not enough time” to get to the gym regularly.
The human body is a miraculous machine. One of its biggest strengths is its ability to keep everything in homeostasis. That’s the status quo. It has all sorts of ways to compensate when something is trying to change your body. You get warm, sweat cools you down. You drink lots of water, you get rid of the excess.
Unfortunately this same resistance to change occurs with your body and its current composition. You workout for an hour, you get hungry. You starve yourself regularly and your body slows down your metabolism. It takes a habitual exercise and disciplined nutritional approach to create positive change in your body.
The other day someone at the gym made a comment to me about how it’s a shame that some poeple can never become fit/lean. His example was another member who comes in everyday for an hour or two and still looks the same as he always has.
My response was that human physiology is relatively constant, so the same principles apply to everyone. For some it may come easier than others, but with the CORRECT approach, even that member can change his body.
Personally, I have never seen this guy gasping for air, or breaking a sweat. Does he have any direction with his workouts? Do they have a point, or is he just winging it everyday? As for nutrition, has he adopted good strategies to follow on a consistent basis? I’m not talking about one meal here or there. Just like your workouts should have a plan so should your eating. From the moment you wake until you go to bed, you should know how you are getting your micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) and macronutrients (carbs, proteins, and fats) for the whole day.

The point of the story is that its not enough to just show up every day and assume you’ll end up looking like that guy on the most recent Men’s Health magazine. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, we all do it in the spring when it’s tax time. If you aren’t getting the results you’re looking for, consult a professional, and get on a plan!

In-Season Maintenance

Posted in Performance with tags , , , , , on October 11, 2010 by razorsedgeperformance

The fall marks an important point for most sports. This is the overlap between many summer and fall sports that are finishing up with the winter sports that are just beginning. We can already see a big difference between the two: the winter athletes are in peak physical condition and the fall athletes are trying to survive the full season. There’s such a focus on off season strength and speed development that athletes and trainers forget about the important aspects of in season maintenance. No matter how big or strong an athlete gets, it makes absolutely no impact if they’re injured. Thus, the focus of any in season maintenance program should be directed at injury prevention and maintenance. Here are 5 tips to help you or your athletes get the most out of their hard work in the off season.

Diet and Nutrition
One of the biggest differences between off season and in season for most athletes is an increased volume of competition. For professionals this means more games or practices but for student-athletes work and school can also be factored in. This increased calorie expenditure can have a very bad effect on weight management, especically loss of muscle mass. For this reason, full recovery between games or practices is essential for a competing athlete. As is always the case, protein is extremely important for recovery, however, complex carbohydrates become much more important in season for fuel as well as glycogen restoration. An athlete’s in season diet should have a much higher intake of carbohydrates than their off season diet. As far as liquids go, water becomes increasingly important since dehydration is one of the biggest performance killers. Although no one wants to hear it, alcohol should be eliminated for its numerous performance degrading symptoms.

Get Cold
I’m here to tell you that you can make the club from the tub. That’s right, get into a cold tub after practice or competition to help preserve your body through the long season. Using ice or an ice tub after intense bouts of athletics can help reduce inflammation and thus improve recovery for the next practice or game. This is especially important if you begin to notice small injuries: tightness, bruising, charlie horses. It’s important to keep in mind that inflammation and other byproducts of exercise will stay in your muscles until you clear them out. Getting on these early will help minimize the effect they may have on your season.

Get Loose
One reason the competition season is hard on the body is that it usually consists of very high volumes of repeated movement patterns. This can lead to all kinds of injuries and problems. Be proactive and spend significant amounts of time stretching and taking care of soft tissue. Getting massages or foam rolling can help limit knots and trigger points. Muscle pulls occur above or below a knot, so remove the knot to eliminate the risk of muscle pulls and tears. Don’t forget about joint mobility, maintaining range of motion throughout both your joints and muscles will keep an athlete healthy and performing at their best.

*Learn more about this in our “Art of Self-Massage” series

You Snooze, You Win?
How many times have you heard about getting adequate sleep? Hopefully enough that I shouldn’t have to get too specific about why it’s important. The competition season adds an incredible amount of stress to an athlete, napping and getting adequate sleep will help reduce stress and keep energy levels high throughout the season. Also, don’t forget how important sleep is for important things like growth hormone and testosterone; Keeping these hormones high will be very beneficial to your performance. Another aspect I have yet to mention is the mental game, that aspect many people discuss that’s so difficult to quantify. Make sure you or your athlete has blocks of time set aside to clear your head from sports or school. This can be through reading, meditation or listening to music. Don’t forget the important connection between the mind and body.

Keep Training
For some, the competition season is only 2 months, but for others it can be as long as 6-8 months. You’ve been training aggressively for the entire off season specifically to improve body for competition. If you stop training, you’ll minimize the positive effects you’ve worked so hard to achieve. Firstly, you want to make sure you continue your strength training to avoid any losses in strength, power, and muscle mass which may occur during the season. On top of that however, there’s nothing stopping you from continuing to improve throughout the season. Make sure to speak to a qualified trainer or strength coach in order to direct your in season training. There’s a very fine line between improving and over training, especially during the competition phase. Don’t flush away the pipes or six pack you worked so hard to achieve in your offseason.

These 5 tips are meant to focus on one specific thing: this is meant to be your peak, you should be doing anything and everything possible to make sure you’re at your absolute best. Taking care of these 5 things I’ve set out will go a very long way in making sure that you can do just that, maintain your peak. Don’t forget, it’s About Getting Better!

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