Tag: lose weight

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.

Analysis of Skinfolds

As fitness professionals, we are often approached with the question of what is the best, most efficient way of analyzing body fat. There are only a few methods that are applicable in a gym setting: circumference measurement, electrical impedance, and skinfold analysis. Both circumference and electrical impedance have a larger percentage of error, so the blog will compare the accuracies of the Durnin-Womersley four-site skinfold and the Jackson-Pollock seven-site skinfold. While other methods for skinfold measurement exist, these are the two most commonly used.

For our research, we will use six individuals of varying gender, body size, age, and shape to compare the different methods. According to our anthropometric findings, the variation between the four and seven-site, is greatest in females and the largest differential occurs with age. The four-site has a larger fluctuation with older females and this is supposed to account for lower body density resulting in more visceral fat accumulation. Fifty to Seventy five percent of fat is subcutaneous, thus the difference in estimate between methods can only be proportional to the remaining body weight.

According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, select skinfold equations can have a marked overestimation of body fatness. The Jackson-Pollock seven-site skinfold test is known to be more accurate because of the formulation, variation, and quantity of sites being used having a relatively low margin of error in comparison to hydrostatic weight of only 3.3% inaccuracy. A lot of individuals have differing shapes in the lower body region, and none are included in the Durnin-Womersley skinfold test, making it more reliant on estimation.

Regardless, periodic skinfold measurements will give a reflection of change despite the estimate of body fat percent. In other words, doing regular skinfold measurements will still show changes that are occurring.

If you would like to check body fat measurements or have further questions, please contact either Amber Gruger or Amber Walz.

Glycemic Index and Weight Loss

If you have ever seen a Nutrisystem commercial, you are missing out. In fact, check this one out before you go any further, it’s worth watching.

Did you catch the bit on the “proven science of the Glycemic Advantage?” I love that line. The good folks over at Nutrisystem have found a way to scientifically determine which carbs are good and which carbs are bad, and created a weight loss program around that premise. At first glance it may seem that the judgment on some carbs is too harsh. Maybe the “bad” carbs had a rough up-bringing and they never had an appropriate role model to teach them any other life-path.

Jokes aside, Nutrisystem , and may other diets are based on the notion of the glycemic index. Glycemic index (GI) is a way of ranking carbohydrates in terms of how quickly your body can break them down into usable sugar in the blood. Pure glucose, the most usable form of sugar, has a GI value of 100. Low GI foods have a value of around 0-30 and are found in foods like legumes, lentils and bitter fruits. Medium GI foods, like sweet fruits and whole grains have a value of around 30-60. Processed bread, food with added sugar and dried fruit are high GI foods with a value over 60.
Glycemic Index is important because the rate that carbohydrates are converted into glucose impacts your blood sugar levels. High GI foods increase blood sugar rapidly which triggers a large release of insulin. Insulin reduces the level of blood sugar by storing some of the sugar as fat. This roller-coaster effect on blood sugar is problematic for those with diabetes or pre-diabetes, but it is also bad news for people concerned with their weight.

Making some substitutions to replace high GI foods in your diet with low GI foods can help you lose weight. A 2009 review of randomized, controlled trials found a consistent effect of weight loss for those who followed diets rich in LGI foods. One study from the review showed equal weight loss for those engaged in an energy restricted, low fat diet that included high GI foods compared to an unrestricted low glycemic index diet. The people on the low GI diet were allowed to eat until they were full for the duration of the diet whereas the conventional dieters where compelled to monitor and restrict their food intake. And there was no difference in weight loss between the two groups! If you do not like the hassle of dieting but need to lose weight, consider incorporating more low GI foods into your diet. It is by no means a magical solution or an excuse to overindulge in fatty foods but it just may be a kick start your weight loss. Look at the GI table below for some examples of common foods and think of some meals and snacks where you can swap a high GI food for a low GI food. This is far from a complete description of how to use glycemic index to your advantage.

Please contact Personal Fitness Trainer Hunter Spencer with your questions.

8 tips to make cardio easier and more fun!

The holidays have come and gone and some of you might have put on extra weight that you want to lose. Or maybe your New Year’s resolution is to drop 10 pounds in the next three months. If this is you; I have some tips to making cardio more enjoyable and easier for you.

8 tips to make cardio easier and more fun:

  1. Start out slow
    When beginning cardio, most people seem to want to hop on the elliptical, put the resistance up, and go as hard and fast as possible to burn those calories. This is okay to do, but can quickly tire you out and make you not want to do cardio as often or at all. My advice is to hop on the elliptical, treadmill; etc.and put the resistance to a light to moderate setting and start slow. Once you get more comfortable with this resistance and speed, you can slowly progress both resistance and speed.
  2. Pick good music
    When you’re listening to music you enjoy, you will want to continue your cardio workout for a longer period of time. Pick music that is quicker paced and keeps you pumped up. Music plays as a distraction while exercising because you are not paying attention to the time as much when you’re enjoying a good song. This is definitely a great method to making cardio go by faster.
  3. Mix it up
    Most of us choose one machine that we like to do and stick to it; for example the elliptical. If you are getting bored of cardio because you are using the elliptical every other day for 30-60 minutes, then switch it up. Try the elliptical for 15 minutes and then the treadmill for 15 minutes. If this still isn’t enough, you can add in the stair stepper or the stair climber as a third machine of use.
  4. Add it into your strength training routine (Circuit Training)
    If you are lifting weights upstairs, take the time to add in a minute sprint on the elliptical or bike between each set of exercises. This will keep your heart rate up as well as blood flowing throughout your muscles. It is easy for individuals to totally forget about cardio, so to make it easier and shorter, just add it between different sets of what you do enjoy.
  5. Interval Training
    If you get bored of jogging on a treadmill at 5.4mph for 20 minutes, then switch up the speed and time frames. For example, walk for a minute at 4mph and then run for a minute at 6mph. Repeat this about five to ten times to keep that heart rate up. If you would like more of a challenge, then increase the speed after each set. For example, walk at 4mph for one minute, run at 6mph for one minute, walk at 4.2mph for one minute, run at 6.2mph for one minute; and so forth.
  6. Find a Buddy
    There are days when we just don’t have the motivation to come into the gym. Therefore, everyone should have that friend that will help motivate you or visa versa, to go to the gym or for a walk outside. When exercising with someone else, you can carry on a conversation and forget you are even working hard or sweating. If that friend is competitive, that is a great way to get incentive to beat each other’s time or distance or whatever the goal may be. This is also another way to make time go by a lot quicker during cardio exercise.
  7. Take a group exercise class
    If you don’t do well by yourself and on the same machine every week, try taking a group exercise class. There is an instructor in each class along with a group of members just like you to keep you motivated and on top of your game. The Seattle Athletic Club offers many different types of classes involving great cardiovascular workouts. Some of these classes are Power Cycle, Zumba, and Step Aerobics.
  8. Jump Rope!
    Most of you probably learned how to jump rope in elementary school at Recess. We think of it as something we did when we were kids for fun, but people forget that this can actually be a cardiovascular exercise. Try it for a minute and see how tiring it can actually be. Jump roping is a great way to keep your cardio workouts fun and effective.

Body fat measurment techniques

There are many techniques to measuring the amount of fat one has on their body; some shown to be very accurate and others not so much. Below are NINE different ways professionals have come up with thus far to measure the amount of body fat on oneself:

  1. Body Mass Index (BMI) – This is a calculation that simply uses the subject’s height and weight. These two numbers are put into a formula and calculated out to give you an estimated body fat percentage. This technique does not take muscle into affect, therefore if we have a male subject who is 5’6” and extremely muscular so he weighs 200lbs, the BMI calculation will say that he is in the obese category.
  2. Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA) – This is a scale or handheld device that sends a harmless electrical current through your body to read your body fat. The strength and speed of the electrical signal is measured by this along with your age, gender, height and weight. These devices are very sensitive to hydration; therefore if you have consumed a large amount of water or even a bottle of water right before using the BIA, readings will be hindered.
  3. Skinfold Calipers – This is a pinching test measured at different locations on your body with a device called Calipers. This test depends on the skill level of the person giving the test and how well they know exactly where and how to pinch the skin. The skin fold calipers measure the amount of subcutaneous fat, which is the fat found beneath the outermost layer of skin. It does not take visceral fat into account, which is found between the organs in the peritoneal cavity.
  4. Dual Energy X-ray Absorpitometry (DEXA) – This is the same device specialist use to measure bone density to determine the risks of osteoporosis. This x-ray scanner can also measure your body fat mass as well as your muscle mass. Not only does it measure overall body fat, but it can pinpoint the fat deposits in specific areas of the body.
  5. Infrared Light Measuring – This is a probe that is placed on the body and sends an infrared light ray through the fat and muscle content. It also takes your age, gender, height, weight, frame size, and activity level into account. The probe then gives you an estimated percent of body fat.
  6. Hydro-densitometry (Under water weighing) – This is a tank device filled with water where the subject sits on a chair attached to a scale. They then blow out air and continue to blow out all their air while going under water. The person giving the test will read the scale once the subject has displaced as much air as possible. This number will be put into a calculation and give you a body fat percentage estimation.
  7. Bod Pod – This is a chamber that you sit in while being very still and controlling your breathing. It relies totally on your air displacement to determine your body fat. Your hydration level before the test is one thing that can affect the results, along with movement and breathing technique.
  8. Girth Measurements – This is done with a tape measure at different places on the body. The most common place and the one used for determining body fat is the waist. Waist circumference is taken at the belly button level. Men with a measurement higher than 40 inches and women with a measurement higher than 35 inches are considered obese.
  9. Height/Weight Charts – This is a table or chart comparing weight versus height. Your height is on one axis and weight on the other, then bringing the two to meet in the middle, it determines if you are “underweight,” “average,” “overweight,” or “obese.” This takes gender into consideration, and does not put age or muscle versus fat into play.

I’m sure everyone is wondering which of these 9 techniques is considered the BEST and the WORST. More insight to this will be coming in a follow up to this post in the near future. If you have questions about your body fat measurements, please feel free to contact Personal Trainer Amber Gruger.

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.

Rowing Machine: Using the Best Resistance Levels for Most Effective Workouts

Rowing Machine (ERG)Do you ever wonder what about the resistance levels for the Rowing Machines (aka: Ergs)? Do you set them to the highest level to get the hardest workout? Or do you set it to the lowest levels because you don’t want to work that hard? Let’s unpack this.

The most effective use of the erg is to replicate the actions and rhythms used to row on the water (even if you’ve never crewed before and don’t intend to.) To that end you want to set the resistance or Drag Factor to what you would experience in the water which for the average adult (male or female) is around 115. Generally, that is between 4.5 to 6.5 on the resistance setting; however, every machine varies so it’s a good idea to calibrate the drag factor each time you use the erg to work out. To do this, follow these simple steps:

  1. Sit on the erg and prepare to start rowing.
  2. Turn on the Concept 2 computer by pressing the Main Menu button
  3. When the list of options appear, choose More Options
  4. Choose Display Drag Factor
  5. Start rowing as you normally do; when you get a consistent number adjust the resistance up or down to 105 – 125. (I am 6’ 5”, weigh 220 pounds and generally row at 120.)

The drag factor is designed to replicate the kind of boat you would be rowing. The smaller sleeker shells will have less drag in the water and will therefore glide further with less force applied by the oars. Big, old, and beat up shells (like what are used for beginning classes) will not glide through the water as fast or as far thus they will cause considerably more drag in the water. So when you are lifting that resistance lever to the highest level understand that what you are really doing is getting a slower and shorter recovery, or glide time. If you want to work on your power and strength focus instead on a long, even, and hard push with your legs, a smooth engaged lean back with your torso and an even clean pull with your arms. Then reverse that pattern two times slower on the recovery slide.

Rowing at the highest setting does not equate better strength training; it can promote poor technique which can lead to injury, especially in the back and shoulders. Conversely, rowing at the lowest setting can be a really useful tool for developing core control and stability. Many coaches will have their rowers do drills at the lowest setting to develop those areas.

The best way to develop your strength on an erg is to focus improving your stroke rates and times while increasing distances per stroke traveled. I will be getting into these details in future posts.

Trick or Treating is for Our Kids Right?!

During the Halloween season we either have our own kids to take trick or treating or will have kids knocking at our doors dressed is scary costumes. This usually means our kids coming home with pillow cases full of candy and/or stocking up on candy to hand out to the cute little goblins. Inevitably this leads to us trying out our favorite candies because of their smaller size we do not worry too much about the calories (even if you eat 20) and their high saturated fats; there is so much around at this time of year that it is hard to avoid. Here are some Halloween candy tips to get you through our sweetest holiday without gaining any weight:

  • Don’t have the candy bowl in sight, if we can see it, our mouth usually wants to eat it.
  • Eat properly before you indulge, don’t come home from work and snack on candy because it’s there, do make a healthy snack first.
  • Purchase candies that you don’t like, that way if temptation sneaks up on us, there is no reason to indulge. These usually include gummy textured candies and sour candies.
  • Buy hard candies such as suckers, its takes more time to eat one and are usually lower in calories.
  • If you must indulge, look for old fashion candies which are usually made of cane sugar and not high fructose corn syrup.
  • If you must have your chocolate, take a look at the list below and choose ahead of time the one that you want to burn off the extra calories at the gym later (so choose the one with the lowest calories).

Here are the calories for some Halloween candies:

  • Butterfinger – Fun Size 1 bar= 100 calories
  • Hershey Chocolate Bar – Fun Size 1 bar=90 calories/ 5grams of fat
  • M&M’s – Fun Pack 1 bags=90 calories
  • Milky Way – 1 snack size bar = 90 calories
  • Almond Joy – 1 snack size bar = 90 calories
  • Snicker’s – Fun Size 1 bars=80 calories
  • Reese’s Cup – 1 cup=80 calories
  • Twix – Fun Size 1 bar= 80 calories
  • Milky Way – Fun Size 1 bars=75 calories
  • York Peppermint Pattie – 1 pattie=70 calories
  • Nestle’s Crunch – Fun Size 1 bars=70 calories
  • Tootsie Pop – 1 pop = 60 calories
  • SweetTarts – 1 treat size pkg. = 50 calories
  • Kit Kat – Fun Size 1 bars=50 calories
  • Twizzlers – 1 treat size pkg= 45 calories
  • Peanut M&M’s – Fun Pack 1 bags=40 calories
  • Milk Duds – 1 treat size box = 40 calories
  • Tootsie Roll – 1 small roll = 13 calories

Last Chance Workout

Maybe you’ve thought about hiring a personal trainer but after watching an hour of the Biggest Loser and seeing trainers perch on a treadmill and yell at people you’ve decided that’s not your cup of tea. Well in today’s blog we’ll discuss how personal training is much different than how you or the media may think of it.

  1. Our job is not to yell. Granted I love to yell at my clients (the ones that like to be yelled at, it’s all for fun people) in either a good natured way or a raised voice to get the fire lit under someone. However yelling like a drill sergeant is not what good training is about. We are teachers first and for most; yelling is not what gets things done and it’s not how people learn.
  2. Our job is not to make you workout so hard you want to scream mercy or die. Any monkey can make you sweat; any monkey can make you sore. A good training session has little to do with either of these things. Yes, you probably will sweat, and yes, you probably will be sore but that is not the goal. The goal is to teach you skills to better your health, to increase your fitness, and to keep you progressing. But it is never to work you out hard for the sake of being “a tough trainer.”
  3. Not everyone trains the same. Maybe you see a trainer with a client and holy cow does their workout look hard. That’s probably because that client is at a high level of fitness, they obviously like to be pushed, and they have goals that demand a higher level of training. But the next hour that same trainer that looked like they were training their client to join American Gladiators is now training someone how to do basic body weight movements and stretch. Just because a trainer works some clients one way does not in any way mean that all of their clients work at that same level or training style. Good training is about working with what a client has and building on fitness. You will always work within your means; you’ll start with the basics and build upon that.
  4. Not everyone wants to work that hard. As trainers we get that, just because we like to jump on boxes, punch bags, or throw weight over our heads doesn’t mean that you do. If you so choose to train, your trainer should always design workouts with your fitness levels, your comfort levels, and your goals in mind. If you want to increase flexibility your trainer will not be yelling at you to do 20 more push-ups, instead you may be doing some stretching and full range of motion exercises. You should only work within your means or to the point where your form is starting to fail. The workouts can be challenging physically and mentally at first but you should never walk away feeling like you never want to come back because it was so difficult!
  5. You may know how to do certain things in the gym but a trainer does a lot more than just stand there and count. Even the most advanced weight lifters have coaches; Olympic weight lifting athletes bring their coaches to their competitions…do you? Your money is paying for a professional to give you a smart and effective program design, quality teaching of movements, cutting edge fitness programs, knowledgeable and current information about exercise as well as answers to any questions you may have, and general support during your session and after. You should walk away from a session feeling like you’ve learned something that you can take with you and perform at home, at any other gym, outside, etc.

As you can see training is a lot more than sweating, yelling, and looking like you might die. Your trainer is training you to reach YOUR goals. Your trainer is there to support and push you to perform safe, proper movements and effective exercises.

If you have goals you can’t quite seem to achieve or if you are looking to learn something new about fitness contact Fitness Director Jacob Galloway to get set up with one of the SAC’s top notch trainers today! Don’t waste time spinning your wheels or being scared, if you have the will we have the way!

Do You Walk Upright? Perhaps the A.S.L.R. Test is for You!

As soon as you walk into a gym you are instantly bombarded with high outputs. The focus is often the number of reps you can do, the amount of weight you can move or the number of calories you just burned on the elliptical. Often lost in this fray is a whole class of exercises that focus on high inputs; exercises that provide a stimulus rich environment to foster accelerated motor learning. These exercises, termed corrective exercises, often involve seemingly simple mobility and stability challenges that become quite difficult if any limitations are present. The purpose of these exercises is not to become fitter or stronger but rather to give your body the opportunity to improve its movement ability. This increased movement ability then serves as the base from which performance goals are attained and surpassed. Corrective exercise trains the brain-nerve-body connection known as the neuromuscular system and can result in rapid improvement. As with any type of learning, motor learning takes place very quickly but must be practiced often to be maintained. Let’s take a look at an example of a fundamental movement and some corrective exercises that can improve it.

The Active Straight Leg Raise (ASLR) has you lie on your back, press one leg down into the floor and then raise the other foot as high as you can. The end position should look like an “L” with your legs while your back and tailbone remain flat on the floor. Other than AcroYoga practitioners, most people do not need to lie on their back with their feet elevated as high as they can so it is easy to dismiss this test as foolish. But, as is often the case, this is a functional movement not because it looks like a certain activity but because it contributes to healthy movement. Proper execution of the movement requires hamstring flexibility, pelvic stability, hip mobility to disassociate each leg, neuromuscular inhibition (well-timed relaxation) of the hamstrings and calf muscles, healthy abdominal function and proper quadriceps and hip flexor function. These requirements are also necessary for any movement requiring independent movement of the legs such as walking, stepping and running, indicating that the Active Straight Leg Raise is indeed functional for all bipedal locomotors and improving a dysfunctional pattern is worthwhile.

Corrective exercises need to focus on resolving the most limiting factor so if during the ASLR test you feel tightness in your hips and groin as your legs separate, the following progression can be used.

  • In the first exercise, one leg is supported with the foot as high as possible and the other leg is lowered and raised. Beginning with one foot elevated and supported lessens the stability demands in the pelvis and trunk, providing a good environment to learn how to move the leg through a progressively greater range.
  • In the second exercise, the elevated leg is not supported, increasing the requirement for stability but still providing a good opportunity to experience a full range of motion.

Often, a few minutes of these exercises can result in rapid improvement that cannot be accounted for by a physical change in the muscle tissues. Instead, the corrective exercises teach neuromuscular skills like the abilities to relax the hamstrings, activate the abdominals and use proper breathing to diminish muscle tension. The corrective exercises are described in more detail in the video blog here. These are just two of many corrective exercises that can be used to improve the ASLR and function of the lower limbs and trunk generally. As these exercises demonstrate, corrective exercises are a powerful tool to quickly improve your movement ability. Investing a few minutes into this type of high input exercise will help you develop a solid base from which to pursue higher outputs than ever before.

If you are interested in corrective exercises like the Active Straight Leg Raise or any other fundamental pattern, please contact Personal Fitness Trainer Hunter Spencer.