Tag: diet

The truth about saturated fats

Have you ever avoided eating saturated fat, fearing it would hinder your weight loss goals and cause heart disease? If you said yes, or if had crossed your mind, you may want to see some newer data that shows this is not the case. Do not be afraid of fat. You should take pride in eating the fat off that juicy steak; below are a few reasons why to include saturated fat in your diet.

  1. Saturated fat does not cause heart disease:
    A meta-analysis was published in 2010 of 21 studies totaling 347,747 people. There was no association between saturated fats and increasing the risk of heart disease. (Patty W Siri-Tarino et. al 2010).
  2. Saturated fats can take the heat:
    Saturated fats do not oxidize as easily as unsaturated fats. When unsaturated fats are introduce to high heat and oxygen the fat becomes rancid and the oil is stripped of nearly all nutrients. Instead of using olive oil for eggs in the morning try using butter or coconut oil for a more satisfying and nutritious meal.
  3. Diets high in saturated fat are good for weight loss:
    Eating fat does not make you fat. Eating poorly makes you fat. A meta-analysis was carried out to study the effects of a low carbohydrate diet on weight loss and cardiovascular disease. Low carb diets, which are usually high in saturated fat, actually make you lose more weight than diets low in fat. LCD was shown to have favorable effects on body weight and major cardiovascular risk factors (F. L. Santos et. al 2012)

Bottom line… eat saturated fats, but in moderation as saturated fat is okay to eat and is necessary to have in our diets. You never want too much of anything. When I personally increased my saturated fat intake after I revamped my diet, I went from ~12.5% body fat to ~8.5% body fat. Not only do you have the data from the published articles to give you some guidance, but you also have my own experience and recommendation to add more saturated fats into your diet. Give it a try yourself and see how your body adapts to eating some bacon.

Fasted cardio…Good idea of bad?

What is it?
A type of cardiovascular training that has become popular recently is commonly referred to as fasted cardio training. The term “fasted cardio” refers to the practice of performing low intensity cardiovascular exercise immediately after waking up, before eating breakfast.

Why does it sound like a good idea?
Those who choose to conduct fasted cardio typically have two hopes: First that your body will turn to its adipose tissue for stored energy in the absence of fresh glucose in your bloodstream (i.e. you will burn more fat). Second, that exercise done in this fasted state will also target the “stubborn fat stores” on your body, typically hips and thighs for women, stomach for men.

Does the idea hold water?
Regarding your ability to access stored fat on an empty stomach, fasted cardio comes up short. Unfortunately you cannot effectively control where your body is pulling stored fuel from. While some of the energy you will utilize to fuel your fasted cardio session will indeed come from adipose tissue, some energy will also emerge from glycogen stores in your muscles and liver, and still more will come from protein stored in your muscle tissue. Additionally, fat burns in the flame of carbohydrate, and without fresh glucose in your system your metabolism will be operating at a reduced capacity, lessening your ability to burn fat in general, as well as your general capacity to power through your workout.

As for targeting those stubborn areas on your body, that should sound too good to be true, and it is. Body fat is gained and lost at an equal percentage rate all over your body. While you store fat in certain areas more than others, if you lose 1% body fat you lose 1% of the fat stored in your hands and you lose 1% of the fat stored in your hips. That is the way your body works, irrespective of the frequency, intensity, duration, and mode of exercise you choose to participate in.

In the end, fasted cardio is a bad idea. It is ineffective, metabolically inefficient, and has the potential to be dangerous, as your risk of slipping up during exercise increases dramatically when you have not eaten. Always eat your breakfast, and if you are interested in improving your body composition hit the weights, not the treadmill.

Oh No I Gained a Pound!

I recently have been asked by a lot of friends, probably looking to the New Year and losing weight, about how to lose some weight and change the way their body looks and feels. More specifically they have brought it to my attention that their stomach changes each day, and that when they look at themselves each day in the mirror some days they like their looks and other days they don’t. This got me to think about how some people can become obsessed about their looks, exercising and/or dieting more than needed.

Let me tell you, it is not a bad thing to be conscious of what you look like, feel like, how you exercise and what you eat. A problem occurs when that is all that you think about and when you beat yourself up for fall short for one day. Our bodies are made to adapt to any stimulus, be that food, exercise, weather, stress etc. For someone to stress about how their body looks day to day is a little absurd; as each day our body can absorb more or less water, our stomach can be distended from eating too much food or foods that stay in our system longer, for females certain times of the month can make them retain water etc. When we look at ourselves on a daily basis the results can be very skewed and can create a very unhealthy mental aspect or body dismorphia.

A better approach would be to reflect on your weekly habits and how you feel in general. Much like weighing yourself (at the most) once a week try reflecting once a week on your weekly activities. Look at how you are eating that week, at how you are handling your stress for the week, how much exercise you are getting and try to make it all work for you. If you are feeling a little bit off take a look at the things that are different from the past that could be affecting you this week and try to fix them. In the end the science suggests that an change to our body being good or bad is from long term changes or habits, and that if you miss a day of working out or have a not so good day of eating you need to acknowledge it and move on; think about concentrating your energy into the better habits.

In the end how you look and feel does not change in one night…it is a culmination of everything you do in a habitual nature over a longer period of time. So if you feel down because you missed a workout or you feel like you are heavier don’t fret; take time to reflect on how your weekly habits are forming and then go from there.

Does muscle weigh more than fat?

This question has been circulating amongst the fitness community for as long as I have been a part of it. It is one of the more popular questions I receive from my clientele, and I overhear people discussing it in the gym every once in a while (sometimes somewhat argumentatively). Recently I noticed it bouncing around the weight room, and as a result it occurred to me that it might be useful to put the matter to rest once and for all.

The discussion surrounding whether muscle weighs more than fat boils down to a matter of terminology more than anything else. Typically the opposing sides are mostly speaking past one another; one side convinced that “a pound is a pound”, while the other tries to explain that lean muscle tissue in fact does weigh more than an equivalent amount of adipose tissue.

I am reminded of the riddle which asks: “Which weighs more, a pound of feathers or a pound of bricks?” A trick question, of course, but one that actually illustrates this controversy quite well, as the disagreement over muscle and fat is not much different.

At the risk of delving too deeply into the issue, let us look at the question a little more closely.

By itself, the statement “muscle weighs more than fat” may or may not be true. It depends upon the method of measurement; we need more information to be sure. Here are two examples that will hopefully illustrate my point:

False: [ A gram of ] muscle weighs more than [ a gram of ] fat. A gram of adipose tissue weighs as much as a gram of muscle tissue, which in turn weighs as much as a gram of feathers.

True: [ A liter of ] muscle weighs more than [ a liter of ] fat. Muscle is more dense than fat, so a smaller volume of muscle tissue will weigh as much as a larger volume of adipose tissue.

So, does muscle weigh more than fat? When compared volumetrically, yes it certainly does.

In my opinion, this argument is entirely semantic, as whomever pointed out that muscle weighs more than fat likely did not intend to get themselves into a riddle comparing grams and liters. Instead I would venture to guess that they were attempting to explain that the scale is not an effective indicator of overall fitness. Instead of focusing on your weight, you should pay attention to your body composition, a much more important indicator.

After all, would your rather weigh a certain amount, or fit comfortably into your best jeans? The choice is yours.

USDA MyPlate

The USDA MyPlate was based on the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. MyPlate was designed to help American consumers eat healthfully and make better food choices. The image has been changed from a pyramid to a more familiar place setting visual to show the five food groups: vegetables, fruits, grains, protein, and dairy.

Vegetables and Fruit

  • Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables, putting the emphasis on the vegetables. Always vary your choices so you get a good range of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and other nutrients found in different produce. Choosing dark leafy greens and red, yellow, and orange produce gives you the variety of nutrients your body needs.
  • Choosing whole fruits and vegetables over juices increases your intake of fiber, decreases your calorie intake, and keeps you full longer!
  • Aim for 9 or more servings of vegetables and fruit per day. Keep in mind that about one cup raw or ½ cup cooked vegetables or fruit counts as a serving.
    Try something new: Try sautéing rainbow Swiss chard with oil, garlic, and lemon.
  • One quarter of your plate should include a whole grain. Options include whole wheat bread, brown rice, oats, quinoa, whole-grain pasta, bulgur, barley, and many others.
  • Try to limit your intake of refined grains like white rice and white bread. Refining grains removes the endospore and bran of the grain; along with it goes the fiber, B vitamins, and vitamin E.
  • Try something new: Quinoa is a delicious (gluten-free) whole grain that’s easy to make: just follow the simple instructions on the box then try adding some toasted pine nuts and feta cheese crumbles.


  • Fill a quarter of your plate with lean proteins like fish, poultry, legumes, beans, and nuts.
  • Choose red meat, cold cuts, and processed meats like sausage and bacon less often.
  • Animal protein contains more saturated fat than plant protein. By choosing plant protein options such as beans, legumes, nuts, and tofu, you are choosing less fat and more vitamins and minerals. You even get extra fiber when you choose plant sources of protein.
  • The USDA recommends 5-6 ounce equivalents of protein in a day.
  • Try something new: Lentils are a great source of protein and fiber. They taste great in soups, as a lentil salad, or mixed into pasta sauce.

Dairy/Calcium-Enriched Products

  • Include 2 or 3 servings of low fat dairy or calcium-enriched products per day.

    Try something new: Kefir is a probiotic-rich yogurt drink that is great by itself or mixed into a fruit smoothie.

Other things to remember

  • Try to limit your intake of added sugars. The USDA recommendation for individuals who need 2000 calories per day is 260 “discretionary calories” or “empty” calories. These include not only added sugar but solid fats as well. These empty calories provide no nutrients, only added calories. They can be avoided by choosing nonfat milk instead of whole milk, avoiding sugary cereal and soft drinks, as well as other sweets, fried foods, and high fat foods like cheese and red meat. Choose unsweetened beverages, baked fish or chicken instead of fried, and smaller portions of naturally high fat foods like cheese.
  • Include healthier oils such as olive oil and other plant oils with your meals and limit saturated and trans fat. In general, oils (liquid at room temperature) are full of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which have more health benefits than the saturated and trans fats found in solid sources of fat like butter, margarine, lard, and partially hydrogenated oil.
  • Remember to always stay active! While no longer part of the official MyPlate, physical activity remains as important as ever. The USDA recommends 2 ½ hours of physical activity per week for adults. Physical activity should include both aerobic activity and strengthening exercises. For children, the recommendation is one hour of physical activity each day of the week.

Kerry’s Kitchen Recipe: Rainbow Chard, Kale, Beet and Carrot Ribbon Salad.

Our April guest chef was Kerry Jean-Francois who presented seasonal salads to our members and guest. The Kale and Beet salad was one of the favorites of the night.

Salad Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch Swiss Chard
  • 1 bunch Purple Kale
  • 1 bunch Green Kale
  • 1 c. Red Cabbage, chiffonade, rinse in cold water
  • 1 ea. Red Beet, medium dice
  • 1 ea. Golden Beet, medium dice
  • 2 ea. Carrot, peeled and cut in half width wise
  • 2 TB Sunflower seed (roasted – shelled)
  • 2 TB Pine nuts
  • 4 TB Feta cheese, crumbled

  1. Preheat oven: 400 F
  2. Rinse and wrap beets in foil, place on sheet pan – roast ~ 40 – 50 min til tender.
  3. Using potato peeler, peel carrot into ribbons.

Salad Dressing Ingredients:

  • 1 TB Garlic, fresh, chopped fine
  • ½ tsp Olive Oil
  • 1/4 c. Balsamic Vinegar
  • ¼ c. Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp Tarragon, fresh, chopped
  1. In small saute pan, toast garlic – remove reserve.
  2. In small jar with lid, combine Balsamic Vinegar and Olive Oil – shake until emulsified.
  3. Add Tarragon to vinegar-oil jar with garlic and shake until well blended.

Final Preparation Direction:
Combine all ingredients and toss with vinaigrette.

One Reason Why You Regain Weight Easily After Weight Loss

There has been a lot of talk about weight loss with the start of the New Year! There was even a great article written in the New York Times called The Fat Trap which referenced an article by Sumithran et al (2011) that studied the long term changes in hormones from diet induced weight loss. They stated that although dietary restrictions will often result in initial weight loss, most obese dieters will fail to maintain this weight loss.

In their study they looked at a group of 50 overweight or obese patients who were put on an extremely low energy diet (~550 kcal per day). Food intake and energy expenditure is regulated by a lot of hormones released by the body; so they decided to measure these hormones & appetite before the low energy diet, at week 10 and again at week 62.

They found that when a person diets to lose weight the body releases a lot of hormones within the body to slow down energy burn, store energy, and increase appetite; and that many of these alterations in hormones can last for 12 months after the weight loss and even after the onset of weight regain. This would suggest that there is a strong physiological response to regain that weight after you lose it…but that does not mean you are doomed to regain the weight. What it does mean is that you MUST work to create healthy habits and lifestyle changes to combat the weight regain. An interesting part of the study is that they did not include exercise in the weight loss regiment. Exercise can release many hormones to create satiety and curb that hunger. Exercise will obviously burn calories and release hormones to break up those stores of fat and energy within your body. This is why most health professionals will recommend a weight loss including exercise and diet as a regiment.

Weight loss doesn’t come easy or fast, there is no magic pill. My old college football coach has a great saying; “Hard work works.” Get in the gym, eat right and try to create health habits; and no matter what your genetic make up or hormone issues, 99% of it will be taken care of through hard work. For more information about effective weight loss habits, please contact Fitness Director, Jacob Galloway.

ZONING: The Gateway to Heart Rate Training

Start 2012 by knowing your heart muscle, how it responds, on an emotional, physical and performance fitness level using a heart rate monitor. Make it a long term, lifetime of fitness,
to heart creating the aerobic base.

Meet, ZONING, the Fitness in a Blink program by Heart Zones USA. This program is a three heart zones training system created by Sally Edwards, MA, MBA to make cardio exercise easy, individualized, and well, more fun. Sally Edwards is the founder of Heart Zones USA, is a Triathlete Hall of Fame inductee, finisher in 16 Ironman triathlons, author of 24 books, many based on the use of cardio training using heart rate monitors and much more. Sally cares deeply about America and well, the world to be fit. Sally had great success with Heart Zone Training, but found it was to complicated, percentages, absolute numbers, 5 different zones, measurement of load, complicated expensive devices and that word “athlete.” Sally took it one step easier for the non-athlete and designed ZONING. ZONING is universal. It works with all movement activities, not just running, biking, or the latest fitness fad. The activity does not matter. What matters is keeping your intensity at the appropriate level in the appropriate zone for benefits you want to achieve.

ZONING is all about the individual’s fitness level, not age or percentages of maximum heart rate. ZONING is all about controlled threshold heart rate measuring. Zoning is dependent on the metabolic response to exercise stress and is sometimes referred to as “metabolic training”. Threshold heart rates are dynamic – they change aerobic capacity or aerobic fitness level. Using a heart rate monitor, applying the individual field test for the Threshold 1 and Threshold 2 tests. As you get fitter T1 or the Top of the Blue Zone” and the T2 or “Top of the Yellow zone” heart rate numbers change. BLINK heart rate monitor was designed for ZONING to blink in the color, (blue, yellow and red) set zones for the individual.

ZONING follows 3 steps
1. TIMING: 5 warm up – 20 minutes ZONING – 5 cool down = 30 minutes per workout
2. EFFORT (Blue, Yellow, Red)
3. Change it up (VARIETY)

A zone simply represents a range of intensity.
ZONING includes three zones: easy Blue, moderate Yellow and hard Red.
What occurs inside each of the zones is different. To obtain the full benefit of cardio activity is by spending time in Blue, Yellow, and Red zones. Why and when you train in each zone is an important factor in your fitness efforts. For ZONING to work, implement all 3 steps. .

BLUE ZONE: “Can I speak comfortable?” YES means “BLUE.”
Blue is ideal for beginners because it is fun and comfortable. Achieve cardiovascular benefits, burn some fat, and obtain a clear sense of accomplishment. The easy blue is always the warm-up and cool down zone. It is also the recovery zone to catch the breath between intense hard efforts and high intensity workouts.
BENEFITS: positive shift in overall health, heart grows stronger, weight can stabilize, muscles tone, lower cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, lower resting heart rate and achieve more energy.

YELLOW ZONE: “Can I speak comfortable?” “I don’t know” or “not sure” means “YELLOW .”
Yellow is where you burn the highest percentage of your calories as fat.
BENEFITS: more effective use of oxygen, stronger muscles capable of moving more easily for longer periods of time, better sleep at night, heart pumps more to vessels carrying more oxygen to muscles and burning more calories – mostly from fat, control weight, muscles get stronger, achieve more energy.

RED ZONE: “Can I speak comfortable?” NO means “RED”
Red is the crossing border from comfortable to very uncomfortable intensity. During Red zone workouts the body’s muscles -including the heart-go beyond the oxygen-consuming aerobic threshold. This means the body cannot supply an adequate amount of oxygen to the muscles, which is why in the Red zone, you “feel the burn.” Work out in this zone for short period of time, dropping back into the blue zone to catch the breath during short recovery periods. Stay in the Red zone for only a brief period of time because the body protects itself from overwork by slowing you down if you keep it up for too long.
BENEFITS: burn more calories and fat but also experience tremendous performance benefits and get much fitter, much faster.

In the first months of ZONING, your goal is to remain in the two lower zones.
Top of BLUE is Dynamic It changes as your fitness changes. As you get fitter, it goes up. If you get less fit, it goes down. When you have achieved a measurable change in your fitness, your BLINK monitor with Flashing zones will show you the improvement.

Complete a low threshold field test every month.

You have probably heard of training zones. Zone charts display the relationship between exercise effort and current age litter the walls of gyms, the monitors of exercise equipment and magazine articles. The purpose of the illustrated relationship between age and heart rate in beats-per-minute is to provide you with what is called a “target training zone.”
The concept of a single target zone for training is a myth. There are actually several training zones, and it is important that you utilize all of them in order to accomplish your fitness objectives.

ZONING is universal.
It works with all movement activities, not just running, biking, or the latest fitness fad. The activity does not matter. What matters is keeping your intensity at the appropriate level in the appropriate zone for benefits you want to achieve.

Barbara Miller, personal fitness trainer, zone specialist, has been learning the new gateway to Heart Rate Training. In the last year attending 3 workshops, Maximum Heart Rate Zones , Threshold Heart Rate and ZONING the fitness in a BLINK Program. Her background working with deconditioned hearts has found this new program ZONING a break through in heart rate training as a valid tool to see the progression of the heart strengthen in aerobic conditioning.

ZONING: Fitness in a Blink is a 4 week program in February, Heart Awareness Month

  • Location: Spinning Studio on the new KEISER m3 bikes.
  • Times offered 5:15am – 6:00am and 7:45am to 8:30am., Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Costs $189.00 includes the BLINK Heart Rate Monitor. If the timing of the 4 week program does not fit in your schedule still contact me for individual ZONING training sessions.

Contact Barbara Miller, Personal Fitness Trainer for more information.

Take Back Control of Your Body: Increase Your Metabolism!

Do you remember back in your younger days when you could eat anything you wanted and it not add a single pound to your body, or back when you could hit the gym once a week to lift weights and your body still look tone? Does the expression “It’s my metabolism’s fault” sound familiar?

If you find each year that you are carrying some extra pounds and struggling to lose them, it may be because of a sluggish metabolism. Some doctors say that by the age of 40 our metabolism slows by five percent each decade. That means we start to pack on extra pounds each year as our bodies become less efficient at burning calories.

It’s time for you to take back control over your body and increase your metabolism! Basically, your metabolism can be thought of as the rate at which we burn calories and ultimately it determines how quickly we gain weight or how easily we lose it. Your metabolism is influenced by your age (it decreases by 5% after age 40), your sex (men generally burn more calories at rest than women), and by the proportion of lean body mass (the more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism rate tends to be). There are plenty other factors that can affect our metabolism such as illness, motherhood, certain medications, and metabolic disorders.

The good news is we can fight back! Here are a few key things you can do to help boost your body’s calorie burning power at any age:

Strength Training is Ultimately the Key

We may be better off spending less time on the treadmill and more time in the weight room. While cardio exercise benefits the heart and lungs, strength (resistance) training builds lean muscle mass and lean muscle mass is paramount to a fuel efficient body. The more muscle we have, the more calories we burn, even in our sleep.

Eat Protein and Eat Often
Never eat fewer than 1,000 calories per day. Our metabolism thrives on food. Eat three protein-packed meals and two protein snacks per day. Snacking will actually give your metabolism a boost while protein provides a thermal (fat burning) effect superior to that of carbohydrates. Eating enough protein also helps to build and maintain muscle mass, another important factor in revving up the metabolism. Eat as often as every two to three hours and never allow more than five hours between meals. Fish, turkey, nuts, low-fat cheese, avocados, and eggs are excellent choices. And don’t forget to spice it up! Many studies have shown that spicy foods, like hot peppers, can boost metabolism.

Stay Hydrated

Your body depends on water for survival. Water makes up more than half of your body weight. Every cell, tissue and organ in your body needs water to function correctly. For example, your body uses water to maintain its temperature, remove waste and lubricate joints. Water is essential for good health. Drinking six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day, is a reasonable goal.

Some people are at higher risk of dehydration, including those who get a lot of exercise, have certain medical conditions, are sick, or are not able to get enough fluids during the course of the day. Older adults are also at higher risk. As you age, your brain may be unable to sense dehydration and send the signals for thirst.

Adequate Amount of Sleep

Get to bed earlier! We need at least eight hours of sleep per night for our bodies to function properly during the day. Research shows that people who don’t get a sufficient amount of quality sleep tend to gain weight. The quality of our sleep affects the hormones leptin and grehlin, which control hunger and metabolism. Being tired also causes us to reach for empty calories like sweets.

It is the beginning of a new year so be sure to make it a priority to take care of your self and contact the fitness department at the Seattle Athletic club to talk with one of our personal trainers. We will help get you started on a wellness program that will allow you to take back control of your body.

Childhood Obesity on the Rise…Where is Our Nation Headed?

Many of us know that our nation is under an ever increasing epidemic of overweight and obese people. With 2/3 of the US overweight and 1/3 being obese it is no wonder that in 30 years childhood obesity has increased three fold! A consensus was reached by schools, communities, families and government programs all over the US…get kids active and eating better.

The first topic on getting kids to be active is easy…get your children to do something that gets their heart rate up! Some states require only 120 minutes per week of Physical Education classes, but with budget cuts some schools are only getting one class per week. The National Association for Sport and Physical Education and American Heart Association recommend 225 min of PE a week (45 min/day) for middle and high school students and 150 min of PE a week (30 min/day) for elementary school students. If the schools are starting to cut budgets and take PE out of schools what are some other options? Find some before or after school programs in your area for you children…not just the TV or video games. Local gyms usually have some sort of youth programs at them, community centers, parks…and if there are none then start your own and see what other kids you can get to join (remember you need at least 30 min of activity every day too). Here at the SAC we are always trying to get everyone involved and here is what we offer for youth: Kids Karate, Youth Squash, Kids Swimming, Teen Weight Training program, Kids PE camp (during spring and summer breaks), child-care with lots of different activities every day.

The second topic of eating better is a bit harder to address because many child psychologists question whether younger children will be able to understand the concept of healthy dieting and weight loss. When talking to the SAC’s nutritionist about issues of young overweight children and what to feed them her feed back was that children’s bodies know what foods they need or are lacking. Instead of forcing a child to eat “healthy” veggies all the time allow the child to have all the options of foods and their body will guide them to eat what it needs to maintain optimal health. Meaning if your child keeps craving fruit, don’t think that it is a bad thing because of all the sugars; perhaps your child is trying to subconsciously fix an insulin issue. If all you have in the house is processed foods with a lot of sugars, your child does not have a lot to choose from and will try and take the unnatural food and make it work. If think your child would benefit from talking with the SAC’s nutritionist let us know and we will get it set up for you.

In the end, if as a Nation the families skipped eating fast food and decreased the time in front of the TV or computer, not only would our children become fit, so would the adults! Remember to get your 30 minutes (minimum) of exercise for you and your child and eat as healthy as possible and perhaps we could start to reverse the obesity trend. For more information on any youth activity at the Seattle Athletic Club or if you are interested in speaking with our nutritionist please contact fitness director Jacob Galloway (jgalloway@sacdt.com).