Monthly Archives for July 2010

Archives for July 2010

How to Eat French Fries and Stay Fit. Sorta.

No, you didn’t read the headline wrong. Yes, it is possible to eat french fries and stay fit.

Back in 2005, when I was living in New York City for the very first time, I went on a date with a guy named Mike. For our first (and only) date, Mike asked me to pick my favorite restaurant in the entire city. I choose Dallas BBQ, a soul food joint overflowing with fatty foods, high calories drinks and massive portions. When we got to the restaurant, Mike was appalled by the menu. He refused to stay – and instead, we ate a dinner across the street. Mike ordered a salad with no cheese, fat free dressing and a diet coke. In that moment, I knew it would never work out.

I understand that Dallas BBQ can’t be a staple food source for someone that is looking to stay healthy and fit – or for someone that is trying to release weight. But I also understand that life is about balance and moderation. If your self-imposed diet deprives you of the foods that you love, then it’s probably a diet to which you’ll be unable to stick. It’s just not sustainable.

So, I follow the 80/20 rule. I eat foods that are healthy 80% of the time. And 20% of the time, I allow myself to indulge in the foods that may not be particularly healthy – but that I love. Things like potato skins, vegetable tempura or french fries. The trick is moderation – and the 80/20 rule is a helpful guideline for striking that gentle balance. It amounts to 2 – 3 indulgent meals over the course of a week.

The 80/20 rule allows you to have your cake and eat it too. Literally. And that’s why I’m such a fan.

Do you follow the “everything in moderation” mentality? When it comes to diet and nutrition, what do you do?

Protein Bars Put to the Test: Davey’s Top 3 Picks.

Protein bars are an effective and convenient way to recover after a hard workout. They can fuel muscle recovery and boost your energy for the day ahead. But when it comes to both taste and nutrition, some protein bars are better than others. I decided to put a dozen popular brands to the test.

Here are my top three picks:

  1. Pure Protein – Chocolate Peanut Butter
    Davey’s Grade: A+

    This bar is delicious and healthy. It’s packed with protein, low in calories, moderate in carbohydrates and low in saturated fat and sugar. It’s definitely my bar of choice for workout recovery.
    Serving Size 50g, Calories 200, Calories from fat 60, Total Fat 6g, Saturated Fat 3g, Cholesterol 10mg, Sodium 200mg, Potassium 140mg, Total Carbs 16g, Dietary Fiber 1g, Sugars 2g, Protein 20g
  2. Clif Builder’s – Peanut Butter
    Davey’s Grade: B+

    This bar tastes way too good to be nutritional. It does have quite a bit of sugar and the sodium is high. Still, not a bad choice.
    Serving Size 68g, Calories 270, Calories from fat 70, Total Fat 8g, Saturated Fat 5g, Cholesterol 0mg, Sodium 310mg, Potassium 210mg, Total Carbs 30g, Dietary Fiber 4g, Sugars 20g, Protein 20g

  3. PowerBar ProteinPlus High Protein Bar – Chocolate Brownie
    Davey’s Grade: B-

    High in sugar and not too tasty, the PowerBar ProteinPlus bar is substantial in size – if you can get it down. It’s chewy and very dry. But, it will give you a substantial 30 grams of protein.
    Serving Size 90g, Calories 360, Calories from fat 100, Total Fat 11g, Saturated Fat 4.5g, Cholesterol 5mg, Sodium 240mg, Potassium (not listed), Total Carbs 33g, Dietary Fiber <1g, Sugars 30g, Protein 30g

For a nearly exhaustive comparison of popular protein bars and their nutrition information, check out this resource.

If you use protein bars to recover from your workout, which is your favorite? Let me know in the comments.

How To Add Variety to Your Workout: Change the Base of Stability.

If variety is the spice of life, many of our workouts might be tasting a bit like cardboard. When we perform the same routine over and over again, our results plateau and our muscles become trained. But fear not: There are a number of ways to inject a little excitement into your workout – and one of the best methods is by changing your base of stability.

Take lateral raises, for example, which target upper back and primarily shoulder muscles:

  • Stand shoulder-width apart and grasp a dumbbell in each hand. Let your arms hanh at your side.
  • Simultaneously raise both arms out to the side, bringing the backs of your hands up toward the ceiling. Keep your arms as straight as possible.
  • Once your arms are parallel to the floor, hold for a second, and then return your arms to your sides.

Perfect. Lateral raises are a common and effective exercise, but they can become a bit repetitive. A few years ago, a trainer recommended that I try lateral raises on a Bosu ball. It was a whole new world.

Bosu balls are those inflatable balls that look like they’ve been cut in half. They’re usually blue, and the flat side is made of a thick plastic. They are also relatively affordable – so if you don’t have a gym membership, you may want to order one for home use.

Place the round side of the ball against the floor. Try standing – and balancing – on the flat side. It’s no small feat! Once you’ve found your footing and if you feel comfortable enough, try performing those same lateral raises. It will feel like an entirely new and totally challenging exercise.

Lateral raises and Bosu balls are just once combination of exercise and base of stability. You can change the base in almost any free weight exercise, and here are just a handful of ideas:

  • Try performing the exercise standing. Or sitting.
  • Stand with one leg on a bench.
  • Balance on one leg.
  • Elevate your legs.
  • Sit on a Swiss ball (the large inflatable balls available at most gyms).

If your workout is feeling stale – give it a try, and let me know what you think. And, if you have any other ideas for changing the base of stability or adding variety to your workout, please share them in the comments below!

INSANE Abs in 5 Minutes! [video]

Want a crazy insane ab workout that takes just 5 minutes?

I pushed my limits and recorded this 5 minute ab workout to leave you sore and sweaty. All you’ll need is a yoga mat or towel – and, of course, five minutes.

The full, 30-minute ab workout is available as part of my Total Body Assault fitness program.

Enjoy!

Not All Proteins Are the Same: What You Need to Know!

We all know that proteins are the building blocks for muscles. And that we all need protein – in varying amounts – to live a healthy life and achieve our fitness goals.

For a lot of folks that live active lifestyles, protein supplements are often required to repair muscle and improve recovery time. There are as many supplements as stars in the sky, and the types of protein that these supplements contain vary from product to product. Think all proteins all basically the same? Think again.

These supplements generally contain protein sourced from milk, eggs or soy. These proteins are absorbed differently by the body; the better the absorption, the the higher the Biological Value (BV).

Here’s the BV of some common food items:

  • Whey isolate: 110-159
  • Whey concentrate: 104
  • Whole egg: 100
  • Cow’s milk: 91
  • Egg white: 88
  • Fish: 83
  • Beef: 80
  • Chicken: 79
  • Casein: 77
  • Soy: 74
  • Rice: 59
  • Wheat: 54
  • Beans: 49

Whey protein is the clear winner. Whey protein is very pure – though it’s derived from milk protein, it doesn’t contain the sugar that is otherwise found in milk protein – and it’s been proven to help boost the immune system. Unfortunately, it’s often the most expensive. And vegans won’t be able to consume it. Nonetheless, it’s the best stuff available.

The bottom line: When shopping for supplements or when adding protein to a smoothie, opt for whey protein (either concentrate, or isolate – if it’s available).

Does Cardio Prevent Muscle Gain?

Dear Davey

I’m trying to increase my muscle mass and so I do a lot of lifting and strength training. I also do some cardiovascular exercise like runging and sometimes biking. Is it possible that my cardio is preventing me from getting better results?

– Concerned in Montana

Dear Concerned in Montana,

You probably have nothing to worry about – but you’re certainly in good company. A lot of people are afraid to run, swim or bike because they believe their muscle mass will decrease. And there is some truth to this fear.

If you are training for a marathon or running vast distances every day, then yes – you’ll be limiting the amount of muscle that your body will add. But for the rest of us who run or jog or spin moderately, there is nothing about which to worry. If there is any muscle loss, it will be minimal.

If you’re still concerned about losing muscle mass, limit your cardio to 20 or 30 minutes a few times a week and monitor your progress. I, for example, am able to run six days a week and experience minimal muscle loss.

And conversely, cardio has many great benefits that all of us can enjoy, including:

  • Fat loss, toning
  • Stronger heart and lungs
  • Increased bone density
  • Reduced stress
  • Reduced risk of heart disease and some types of cancer
  • Temporary relief from depression and anxiety
  • Increased confidence about how you feel and how you look
  • Better sleep
  • More energy

I hope that helps!

Love,

How to Overcome Sugar Addiction.

Sugar is serious business. And many of us are addicted to the sweet stuff – or at the very least, getting way too much of it.

According to the USDA, Americans get more than twice the recommend amount of added sugar daily. What’s the big deal? Excessive sugar consumption can lead to weight gain, metabolic disorders (a precursor to diabetes) and even some forms of cancer. In other words, our sugar addiction could kill us.

And from a purely fitness standpoint, lots of sugar translates into extra body fat. A spoonful of sugar may help the medicine go down – but it will take 4 minutes of treadmill running to work it off!

What can you do to kick your sugar habit?

  1. Get your sugar where it occurs naturally – from fruits, dairy and vegetables.
  2. Avoid the obvious stuff like soft drinks, cakes, cookies, pies, fruit punch and candy.
  3. When you buy food, check the label. In the list of ingredients, look for any of these as they’re all forms of sugar in a clever disguise: Brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, fruit juice concentrate, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, honey invert sugar, lactose, malt syrup, maltose, molasses, raw sugar, sucrose, syrup or table sugar.

The easiest and most effective way to cut some sugar from your diet is to simply replace any fruit or soda beverages with water. If you can replace just two sugary beverages with water, you’ll make an annual caloric savings equivalent to 22 pounds of body fat!

Best Cardio Exercises for Losing Weight.

When it comes to releasing weight, not all cardio exercises are created equal.

First, it’s important to understand how weight is released from the body. Weight release happens only when there is a calorie deficit; that is, more calories are used by the body than are taken in through food consumption.

The following exercises burn a tremendous amount of calories, and thus, are more helpful in creating the necessary calorie deficit that results in weight release:

  • Step Aerobics. Real men (and women) aren’t afraid of step classes. In a heart-pumping half hour, you can burn 400 calories.
  • Swimming. This is my favorite cardio exercise – I’ve recently incorporated it into my weekly routine. It’s low-impact on joints and high-impact on calories. If you have joint or knee trouble, this may be the route for you. You can burn 400 calories in a half hour doing the breast stroke.
  • Bicycling. Depending on the intensity and the course, you can burn 250 – 500 calories in 30 minutes. That’s not bad for an exercise that you can perform while sitting on you butt.
  • Running. Though higher-impact and certainly not for the faint of heart, running literally incinerates calories. In 30 minutes, I can burn through a whopping 600 calories.
  • Walking. Running isn’t for everyone. If you enjoy moving at a slower pace, walking may be a better fit. A 145-lb person typically uses 180 calories in 30-minutes of walking. Walk a hilly course for an extra challenge.
  • Jumping rope, sprinting and spinning oh my! These exercises are super high intensity. Try jumping rope for 15 or 20 minutes and you’ll torch nearly 200 calories.

Of course, the truly best cardio exercise for losing weight is the cardio exercise that you’ll perform regularly. Find something that you love – or at least like – and commit to doing it regularly. Know that it takes time, and be willing to put in the energy to achieve your weight release goals.

Davey Wavey & Scott Herman: 6 Favorite Exercises for the Gym.

Scott Herman and I suited up and hit the local gym to record 6 of our favorite outside-the-box exercises. They’re different, a little creative – and really intense! Give them a try for yourself and let me know what you think.

Also, please subscribe to my Fitness YouTube Channel, DaveyWaveyFitness so that you can be the first to see and experience new videos!

Enjoy!

Best Time of Day to Exercise.

Dear Davey,

What time of the day is best for working out? Is it better to do it first thing in the morning, around lunch time or in the evening or night?

Confused,
John

Dear John,

I get this question a lot. And it’s no wonder: The research on exercise time is divided and contradictory. Body performance (i.e., lung capacity, hormone levels, body rhythms, temperature, etc.) peaks around 6pm for most people. On the other hand, research on habits formation points to early morning workouts. It’s easier to create a routine and avoid distractions in the AM.

I like to take a different approach. In my opinion, the best time for you to exercise is when you have the most energy.

I’m a morning person. At 6AM, I’m ready to go. But by 6PM, I’m thinking about dinner and pajamas. In spite of whatever the research might say about body performance, I’d probably fall asleep on the treadmill.

Know yourself. Are you a morning person? A night owl? When do you feel like your energy levels peak? Whatever your answer is – that’s probably the best time for you to exercise. You’ll be able to give your routine a 100% commitment.

And really, when all is said and done, any time is a great time to hit the gym.

Love,
Davey Wavey

Workout Tip: Be a Tortoise, Not a Hare.

Being a tortoise, not a hare, makes sense on two different levels: sustainability and pace.

Throughout the years, I’ve seen a lot of people embark on aggressive and intense workout schedules without easing into their new fitness schedule. The problem is, working out needs to become part of your routine – it needs to be a sustainable commitment. Spending time at the gym needs to become a habit. Going from 0 hours at the gym to 10 hours a week isn’t conducive to sustainability. It is, on the other hand conducive to burnout.

If you’ve never worked out, ease into things. Start with 2 to 3 days per week, 30 to 45 minutes a day – or whatever works for you. If that’s not enough to achieve your fitness goals, ease up from there. Think of it this way: Integrating fitness into your daily routine is a lot like running a marathon. If you sprint at the beginning, there’s no way you’ll make it to the finish line. Key takeaway: Make a sustainable gym commitment.

When it comes to pace, one of my biggest pet peeves is seeing people rush through their strength training exercises. Whether you’re doing free weights or machines, it’s a good idea to slow down the speed of your repetitions. Yes, you are probably trying to cram a number of exercises into a small amount of time – but rushing through your repetitions decreases the benefits of each exercise – and it dramatically increases the likelihood of injury. Key takeaway: One slow set is better than 2 or 3 rushed sets.

Being a tortoise will help you make a sustainable fitness commitment and help you get more bang for your workout buck. Easy does it. Just like your mother said.

3 Killer Exercises that You Can Do at Home.

No gym membership? No workout equipment? No problem! These are three exercises that you’ll definitely want to try at home.

Chair dips. This simple exercises is all about the triceps. As the name implies, you’ll need a chair for this one.

  1. Stand backwards in front of a chair.
  2. Squat down and grasp each side of the chair’s seat with your hands.
  3. Walk your legs out a few feet.
  4. Keeping your elbows back, bend your arms to lower your body.
  5. Once you can’t go any lower, hold and pause for five seconds.
  6. Straighten your arms to lift your body and to return to the starting position.
  7. Repeat 1o reps for 3 sets.

Burpies. Burpies are phenomenal; they will leave your legs throbbing like no other. If you can complete two sets of 20 repetitions, I owe you a smoothie.

  1. Start in a standing position.
  2. Squat down with your hands flat on the floor.
  3. Jump back into a plank position (starting position of a push up).
  4. Jump back to a squatting position.
  5. Jump straight up and reach your hands to ceiling. Your feet should leave the floor 6 – 12 inches.
  6. Repeat 20 times. Aim for two sets.

Side plank leg lifts. This exercise will work your core and you should feel the burn through your thighs.

  1. Start in a side plank position.
  2. Lift your left leg about a foot and a half off of the floor. Hold it for 1 second, then lower.
  3. Repeat ten times.
  4. Switch sides.
  5. Do a total of three sets on each side.

I hope you enjoy these exercises – and feel free to ask any questions in the comments below.

4 (More) Common Workout Mistakes (And How to Fix Them)

I recently shared 4 of the most common fitness mistakes – and how to fix them. Here are 4 more common missteps and simple solutions:

  1. Mistake: Winging it. It’s a huge mistake to go to the gym without a fitness plan. Many people go to the gym and just use the equipment that is available.
    Solution: It’s important to have a goal. From your fitness goal or goals, you can create a fitness plan. You should go to the gym knowing exactly which muscle groups you’ll be working and which machines you’ll be using.
  2. Mistake: Making excuses. We can all think of excuses to skip a workout. But when you start skipping workouts, you derail your fitness plan and cheat your personal health. In order to get results, you must be consistent with your exercise schedule.
    Solution: Motivate yourself. If you don’t have enough motivation to workout regularly, educate yourself on the benefits of working out. And, educate yourself on the harm caused by a sedentary lifestyle. That should get you off your butt!
  3. Mistake: Comparing yourself to others. Many people get discouraged when they see other people lifting more weight, running faster or performing at a higher level.
    Solution: Measure yourself against no one but you! Some people have been exercising regularly for decades. Don’t let their abilities diminish the strides that you are making by becoming more active, more fit and healthier.
  4. Mistake: Favoring your favorite exercises. For most of us, our favorite exercises are the ones that we’re good at. If you don’t like an exercise, it’s probably because it’s hard for you. And if an exercise is hard, that probably means you need to be doing more of it!
    Solution: Spend more time doing the harder exercises and less time doing the easier ones. Don’t play favorites at the gym!

4 Common Workout Mistakes (and How to Fix Them)

Almost all of us have room for improvement when it comes to our workouts – but here are four of the most common fitness mistakes and how to fix them!

  1. Mistake: Talking while working out. If you’re having a conversation with another person, then chances are you’re not working to your maximum potential. If you’re socializing between sets, then you’re probably resting too long in between.
    Solution: Don’t be a social butterfly at the gym.
  2. Mistake: Working the same muscle groups over and over again. Variety is the spice of life – and it’s an essential ingredient in any successful workout plan. Many people do the same thing each time they work out, whether they work out 5x a week or once a week.
    Solution: Muscles need time to recover – so if you go to the gym often, you should rotate between different muscle groups (i.e., legs one day, arms one day, chest one day, etc.,). If you don’t exercise frequently, muscle recovery isn’t an issue; however, you’ll still want to focus in on a different muscle group each time to make sure you’re working your entire body.
  3. Mistake: Starving yourself. A calorie deficit is the only way to release weight – but if you cut too many calories, your body won’t have the fuel it needs to keep you healthy and strong.
    Solution: Any calorie deficit should be small, and weight should be lost in small amounts over time.
  4. Mistake: Skipping the post-workout protein. After you strength train, your muscles have broken down and are in need of repair. Numerous studies have concluded that skipping a high-protein snack or meal after your workout is highly detrimental. It robs your muscles of the building blocks they desperately need.
    Solution: Buy protein bars or protein powdered mixes and make your post-workout snack part of your routine.

How Much Protein Should You Be Eating?

We all know that when we exercise, our muscles break down. And proteins are the building blocks that help repair those broken muscles, making them stronger over time.

But how much protein should you be eating in your diet? As a general rule, you need about .4 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day. If you weigh 180 lbs., you’ll probably need 72 grams of protein per day. A normal diet provides more than enough protein for this person. (In fact, most Americans eat 50% more protein than needed.)

But, if you’re active and exercising, you’ll need more. Active people require roughly .6 grams of protein per pound per day. That same 180 pound person would need 108 grams.

Very active people, athletes or people focused on muscle building need even more protein. I, for example, weigh 155 lbs., but live a very active lifestyle; I spend 90 – 120 minutes in the gym, six days a week. In order to maintain my current muscle mass, I need to eat 140 grams of protein each day. For very active people, protein shakes or supplements are necessary; no normal diet provides 140 grams of protein.

And easy does it: Too much protein can harm your body. Extreme protein consumption can stress your kidneys, lead to calcium loss and even aggravate allergies.

Use these guidelines to ensure that you’re taking the right amount of protein to fit your body, your lifestyle and your goals.