Archive for six pack

Nutrition mistakes: Bars

Posted in Health with tags , , , , , , on June 15, 2012 by razorsedgeperformance

Being a fitness and nutrition expert, I see all the scams that many other people fall for. Just like I probably fall for buying useless extended warranties, sometimes you just believe in the hype when you don’t know any better. In this case, the scam that bothers me to no end are protein bars. If you’ve read any articles here previously you’ll know I’m a fan of protein powder though, so what gives? Well it’s sort of a game of smoke and mirrors.
Is there protein in there? Yes.
Is it an easy way to get protein? Yes.
Is it just protein? No.

That my friends is the important question. Ever wonder why they can be so tasty AND healthy at the same time? Well they can’t. The same reason that chocolate bars aren’t healthy. If someone figured out how to make something healthy taste like a caramilk, well, they probably would’ve done that by now. The reason they taste so good is they contain sugar or sugar like substances, stuff we’re supposed to be cutting back on. Right? Of course. Here’s an example of a popular protein bar on the market.



Take a look at not only the nutritional information, but the ingredient list. Two things pop out at me, first of all there’s 31g of sugar in each bar. This definitely looks more like a candy bar than something considered a “health”food. Second of all, soy protein is the first ingredient on the list; besides the potential for soy to be toxic and raise estrogen levels, studies have shown that whey is superior to soy in promoting muscle protein synthesis. So why would you buy a product that has a potentially unhealthy protein source which is also an inferior product? Most people buy the one that tastes the best. This is the worst way to pick a snack, the unhealthy foods will win every time. It’s not that healthy food doesn’t taste good, it’s just that junk food has attacked the snack food market for years; when you’re in need of food, junk food will always find you. An easy solution is to try and make your own snacks and avoid bars.

With that being said, there are bars that exist which are fairly healthy but they’re more difficult to find. The easiest thing is to stick with light healthy foods. If you need protein, look for: cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, protein shakes or hard boiled eggs. For healthy fats, nuts are usually my HP to favorite but avocado is also a great choice. Protein and healthy fats are always a great start and they can be paired with fruit and veggies if you’re looking for a little more. Never buy an inferior food just for convenience, that’s lazy. Do yourself a favor and always pack extra snacks, snacks are often where diets Errol lose effectiveness. So be smart and pack a snack, you never want to feel like you HAVE to buy that candy protein bar.

Remember, it’s about getting better!


The Truth About Ab Training

Posted in Health with tags , , , , on November 9, 2011 by razorsedgeperformance

You’ve seen it written on this site and you’ve probably read it before; crunches will not reduce stomach fat!! It’s that simple. Yet I know that many people who are going to the gym simply don’t get it. The reason I know this is because I see people doing a “core day” at the gym when their goal is to lose fat. Now I have scientific proof,  so this is me saying “I told you so!”.

In a recent Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (v. 25, no. 9), they did a study to determine “The effect of abdominal exercise on abdominal fat”. They split up 24 men and women into a control group and an exercise group.
The control group did no training. The exercise group did:
7 Ab exercises for 2 sets of 10 repetitions. This was completed 5 days per week for 6 weeks.
Now before you say anything about diet, both groups were held to an isocaloric diet. This means the calories stayed the same for everybody in the study.
So what were the results? No significant difference in:
Body weight, Body fat percentage, Android fat percentage, Android fat, abdominal circumference, abdominal skinfold, and suprailiac skinfold measurements.
Essentially, the ab exercises had no effect on body weight, leanness, look or size. What did it improve in? The ab group performed 15 more situps in a situp test after the study.

If you have a goal relating to body fat or weight then stop doing tons of ab work. You can keep a few sets to maintain muscular endurance like any other muscle, but toss away your ab dvd by “The Situation”; it’s not helping you achieve your goals. YOU CANNOT SPOT REDUCE!
You need to do the basics to achieve a better body:
– Use mostly complex movements (squat, deadlift, pushup/bench, etc.) for moderate to heavy weight.
– use high intensity interval training.
– Eat healthy food.
– Sleep well

I don’t like to see people wasting their time; go home and re-evaluate your program.


It’s About Getting Better!

Miracles are meant for the movies…

Posted in Health with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 19, 2011 by razorsedgeperformance

I can never truly decide what people believe. I always assume that they don’t believe the commercials, the tabloids, and some of the daytime talk shows. Unfortunately, I think many still do. There is no acai berry secret weight loss diet. There is no grapefruit makes-my-belly-go-away diet. Body transformation is about making the difficult decisions on a daily basis, not miracles. Here are the major keys to changing the way you look, feel, and perform. You can’t follow one and not the others, they all interact together.

Don't even think about it

Nutrition – You can’t get lean without it, but you can stay lean with low levels of exercise if nutrition is spot on. Ask a professional for some input about the ways that you can manipulate your diet to enhance fat-burning, muscle building, and recovery. Once you get the ‘rules’, it’s about keeping disciplined. There will be at least one tough decision per day about a snack, or meal that you want to buy instead of eating at home, or eating something you packed. Those tough decisions are the ones that lead to great results. If you are willing to invest in your health and body, go here and buy their system. It is probably the best combination of educational materials about nutrition, rules to follow, cooking instructions, and of course delicious recipes. Don’t worry about calories, worry about eating quality foods with as few ingredients as possible! The portions will take care of themselves. One thing you want to avoid, is cutting out all fats. I know a lot of people do fat free in everything and get blinded by calories and grams of fat. There are essential fatty acids that your body needs on a regular basis. Also, making sure you have plenty of mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids can actually promote fat loss, so keep them in your plan! [If you don’t ingest healthy fats in your diet, your body will assume you’re not getting any and hold on to the fat you have!]

Exercise – Everyone always wants that perfect fat-burning workout. There are many ways to skin a cat. I’m not saying that you can’t program for fat loss, but for most people, they don’t need to get too specific. It’s always about moving more and sitting less. Also, you could probably use a boost in intensity. Intervals over steady-state cardio might give you a big performance boost if you aren’t used to that type intensity from your conditioning work. Adding in a brisk walk every other day, especially in a fasted state (like before breakfast!) can do wonders for increasing fat loss during a transformation. For your weight training, there are a few different strategies that work. You can do circuits and complexes that essentially combine intervals with resistance training, or you can focus on hypertrophy and strength and just make sure you are doing some conditioning work later. Sometimes it takes introducing loads your body has never felt before to see change, whether its getting big or leaning out.

Recovery  – The biggest key to making exercise and physical activity a regular part of your life, is being able to recover optimally from each training session. Being sore and tired just discourages you from being active again. Invest in the little things like foam rollers, massage sticks, lacrosse balls, and stretching bands. Do this work regularly. It helps keep you injury free and reduces stress on the body’s tissues. You want to feel as good after you train as you did before, so that tomorrow you are excited and motivated to be active again. Contrast baths/showers are also effective, as are saunas and focused work from a soft-tissue specialist/manual therapist. Since most people should have a good list of dynamic warmup exercises to get them ready to train each day and maximize range of motion in their joints, having a workout where you cycle through all of these a couple times for 30 minutes is a great way to enhance recovery, practice certain athletic positions and improve blood flow throughout your body. If you want a good self-help guide to soft-tissue work, check out this amazing project.

Supplements – This is the one we’ve been waiting for. What is Kim Kardashian taking these days? Brad Pitt? Chaz Bono? Well, I’m not entirely sure, and at least one of them probably requires a prescription. This section is the most optional of them all. You can use certain supplements to help boost progress, but its the first category you can do without if you are on a budget or merely simplifying your approach. As always multivitamins should be a staple for anyone active. Cover your bases. Next is a decent protein powder. You should carry around 3-4 scoops in a ziploc bag or a piece of tupperware, so that you are ready in case you get hungry at a time when a snack isn’t packed. It’s also good when you are travelling, as you really only need water and a bottle to make it work. Fish oil pills or liquids provide those essential fatty acids I talked about earlier, which are very important for staying healthy and burning body fat. I highly recommend these ones. Green tea and green tea extract are helpful supplements, just remember the active ingredient, ECGC works synergistically with caffeine, so a good cup of brewed green tea is the best choice. Other than that, go check out this article to find out more about peri-workout nutrition.

The Good Stuff

Stress/Sleep – Finally, the more stress you carry, the harder it is to transform your body, therefore, meditate, drink tea, read, get a massage, and most importantly sleep. Sleep is where most of the body’s adaptation to exercise occurs, so it’s imperative that you get plenty of it. Don’t forget to smile. You get to choose whether a particular event will bum you out or if you’ll shrug it off and get back to work. Don’t take everything too seriously, it may be wearing your body down!

I know this one was a little long, i just wanted to remind all of you that when you are looking to accomplish something with your health and performance, it is important to remember that it is a JOURNEY, not a quick program or supplement. Live hypertrophy, live fat-loss, live high performance. You can’t have it both ways. Plan for it all!

It’s About Getting Better!

Abs vs The Core

Posted in Health, Performance with tags , , , , , , , on June 29, 2011 by razorsedgeperformance

It’s really starting to heat up in Toronto, which means everyone forgets about function and starts focusing on their beach body. This is a good segway to broach the topic of core training and the mythical 6-pack.

First the 6 pack. Everybody has abs…so the determinant of how well they show is the amount of body fat on top. If you want your abs to show, get your body fat down. Abs don’t hypertrophy like biceps, so doing extra crunches won’t make them ‘pop out’ (not to mention crunches suck). I’m not saying core work isn’t important, I’m just saying there is no need for overkill. Do some sprints or jump some rope. If you are looking to see your abs, that is the way to get there.

Now the core.
This is an awesome piece of machinery when functioning correctly. It keeps our body in proper alignment, and is the bridge that transfers power through our limbs.
The core is made up of a slew of muscles that encircle your torso…I’m not gonna name them all, just think stomach, low back, abs, hip flexors, and you can also include lats and muscles that surround the pelvic girdle. You don’t need to know all of them, just know that when you do core work properly, you’ll hit the right spots!
When considering injury prevention think of the core as a bullet proof vest or a section of old medieval armor, it serves to keep your torso stiff, which protects the spine. This stiffness is also a great foundation for your body to produce movement. You would be surprised how many movement dysfunctions can be cleared up if the core is properly activated in the right sequence. Things we usually attribute to a lack of flexibility or strength of certain muscle groups is often caused by a lack of core activation.

One of the biggest mistakes I see, especially in athletes, is a lack of strength focused core work. You can do crunches til you are blue in the face, but they will not help you stay rigid against the application of high external forces. This is the true function of the core…maintaining rigidity despite external forces.

This is especially evident when you think of something like a heavy deadlift. Force application for the deadlift is through the feet, while the attachment to the bar is through the hands. If there is any level of disconnect in the middle of the system (your CORE), then you won’t be able to lift the bar off the ground with any semblance of good technique. Your goal as a lifter is to drive the weight straight up, but the bar is trying to pull you forward. A strong core allows you to resist a forward weight shift, and allow a smooth vertical lift of the bar.

While this is easy to see in weightlifting, it is twice as important to stay in a strong connected position during sprinting or sport performance, especially sports that involve physical contact.

How do we train it then? There are many different ways, and many more to be invented. The key thing to think about when you think core training, is whether you are trying to create movement or prevent it? Remember, the core is designed to prevent movement despite the application of external forces.

Serious Core Strength

My favourite simple core training exercise is the one-arm Farmer’s Walk. You take a dumbell in one hand, as heavy as you can hold, and try to walk a given distance with it. Key teaching points are ‘perfect posture’, ‘don’t let the weight rub against your leg’, and ‘don’t let your body tilt one way or another’. If you take a weight that is at least reasonable, you should feel one side of your core JACKED UP, while the other side is at least activated ‘sufficiently’.

Don’t be a fool. Train your core for strength. It matters more than any other body segment!
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!!

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