Monthly Archives for April 2013

Archives for April 2013

Breakfast Before or After a Workout?

Dear Davey,

I’m switching my workouts from night to morning and was wondering when the best time to eat breakfast is? Before the gym? Or after?

Thanks,Jared

Muesli for Breakfast f4.0Hey Jared,

Great question! And welcome to early morning exercise. It’s such a wonderful way to start the day – and it’ll wake you up better than a cup of coffee.

As a fellow early morning exerciser, your question is near and dear to my heart. A number of studies have examined exercising before breakfast versus exercise after breakfast – and the findings have been split. One study found that exercising before breakfast resulted in muscle loss. Another study concluded exercise before breakfast resulted in fat being burned more efficiently.

Nonetheless, there are a few things to keep in mind.

  1. No one likes exercising on a full stomach. If you do eat a full breakfast before hitting the gym, it’s recommended that you allow 1 – 2 hours for digestion. If you plan on exercising sooner, something lighter will be a wiser choice. Otherwise you may feel sluggish or even nauseous.
  2. No one likes exercising on an empty stomach. Working out an empty stomach may not give you the fuel needed to power through an intense workout. If you’re hungry and feeling famished, it’s probably going to be a lot harder to get in that last repetition. The only thing worse than exercising on a full stomach is exercising on an empty stomach.
  3. Regardless of what you eat before the gym, know that you’ll still need to ingest protein and carbohydrates after the gym. If you ate breakfast before the gym, you’ll still need to eat something after the gym to give your body the protein and carbs it needs.

What do I recommend?

When I wake up, I eat a small protein shake and banana. Packed with carbohydrates, the banana gives me the energy I need for my workout. It’s just enough. After the gym, I eat a full protein shake and proper breakfast – usually consisting of cereal and almond milk. The shake and cereal give my body the protein and carbohydrates that it needs to rebuild and repair my muscles.

In the comments below, please share your morning workout/breakfast routine! I’d love to hear what you do.

Love,
Davey

How Much Sugar Does the Average American Eat?

Screen Shot 2013-04-29 at 11.43.54 AMSugar is sweet – but the more you eat, the more you increase your risk for ailments and diseases like diabetes, depression, high blood pressure and more.

Despite the toxicity of added sugar, most of us eat a lot of it. And I mean A LOT.

If you’re up for watching a very disturbing visualization of all the added sugar we eat – watch this video that I posted to the Davey Wavey Fitness YouTube channel. I hope that it inspires all of us to make some much-needed changes in the foods we eat.

What to Look for on Nutrition Labels.

nutritionlabelDeciding whether a food product is healthy can feel overwhelming. Fortunately, nutrition labels make things easier and give you an even playing field. You just need to know what to look for.

When doing my grocery shopping, there are five major nutrition label elements to which I pay attention.

  1. Saturated and trans fat. Fat gets a bad rap. But the truth is, not all fats are created equal. And your body does need some essential, good fats to function properly – and that’s why some fats like olive oil can be part of a healthy diet. It’s the saturated and trans fats that you’ll want to limit or avoid. The American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fats to 7% of total daily calories. If you need 2,000 calories a day, that means 140 calories from saturated fats – which translates to about 16 grams per day. Trans fats should be limited to less than 1% of total daily calories. Based on a 2,000 calorie diet, that’s about 20 calories from trans fats or about 2 grams of trans fats per day. Consuming excessive amounts of these bad fats can increase your bad cholesterol, decrease good cholesterol, increase stroke, heart disease and type II diabetes risk.
  2. Calories. When it comes to calories, the first thing to understand is your daily caloric requirement. Based on the Harris Benedict Calculator, most people will find that they need between 2,000 and 2,5000 calories a day to stay in a neutral state. Once you know how many calories you need, it’s easier to make smarter choices. Many seemingly innocuous foods and beverages are packed with calories but totally devoid of nutrients. Spend your calories wisely!
  3. Sugar. Many sugary foods are labeled as fat-free. Marshmallows, for example, are marketed as a fat-free food. And while they don’t contain any fat, they will still make you fat thanks to a very high sugar count. I like to limit sugar to less than 10 grams per portion, especially when it comes to breakfast cereals and smoothies – both of which can be secret sugar bombs. Sugar consumption has been associated with higher levels of bad cholesterol, type II diabetes, weight gain and even aging of the skin.
  4. Ingredients. Read the ingredients. If you find things that aren’t in your grandmother’s pantry, view it as a red flag. As a general rule, it’s wise to go with food that’s actually food – and not something that’s highly processed and loaded with chemicals. If you can’t even pronounce it, do you really want to eat it? Also, know that there are many ingredients that are really just sugar in disguise (here are 45 other names for sugar). If sugar is high on the ingredient list, opt for something else.
  5. Serving size. Last but not least, look at the serving size. Marketers are clever; a food may seem healthier because the serving size is ridiculously small. Ice cream servings, for example, are often listed at one half of a cup. When was the last time you ever saw someone eat half a cup of ice cream? You’ll need to adjust the nutrition information depending on the size of the portion you’ll actually eat.

Of course, there are other important aspects of the nutrition label – like fiber content or vitamins and minerals – but these five elements are a great place to start. They’ll set you on a smarter path and help you make some easy upgrades to your diet.

What do you look for on nutrition labels? Let me know in the comments below!

If It’s Important to You, You’ll Find a Way.

caf5a53347c6b8a34a91de7bae57b1aaI’ve heard it all.

“I’d love to go to the gym, but…”

“I want to lose weight, but…”

“I want to eat better, but…”

But. But. But. But I don’t have the time. But I don’t have the money. But I don’t know what I’m doing. But I’m naturally big boned. But I’ve tried before and nothing works. It’s more but[t]s than a nudist colony.

If you really want something – and if it’s incredibly important to you – then you will find a way. More than a half century ago, humankind defied the odds and put a man on the moon. Over the course of 4 years, Michelangelo painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel – while on his back. And in the fourth century B.C., Alexander the Great built an empire that included Macedonia, large chunks of Europe, Mesopotamia, the Persian Empire and Egypt. Big or small, people find a way to accomplish what matters to them.

Surely, if they’re important to you, you can achieve your fitness goals. If we put a man on the moon, you can lose 50 pounds. If Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel, you can add 10 pounds of muscle to your body. If Alexander the Great built a massive empire, surely you can lose 4 inches off of your waist. It’s just a matter of prioritizing these goals and giving them the energy, effort and dedication that they deserve.

If, on the other hand, your fitness goals aren’t important to you, then surely you’ll find an excuse.

Any questions? Didn’t think so.

 

Is It More Important to Diet or Exercise?

Diet-Or-ExerciseHere’s a question that I often get asked: “I want to have a healthier lifestyle, but I don’t have time to both eat better and exercise – so which should I focus on for best results?”

I understand that schedules are tight. But exercising without nutrition – or vice versa – is like trying to drive your car with the emergency brake on. While you may experience results through diet or exercise alone, it’s the combination of both that will really put you life – and your body – into high gear.

But you don’t have to take my word for it.

In a new study published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine, researchers from the Standford University School of Medicine found that focusing on a proper diet and exercise simultaneously yields better results than changing either separately.

For the study, researchers divided 200 inactive participants, ages 45 and up, into four groups that each received phone coaching. Group one received coaching on both nutrition and exercise simultaneously. Group two received only dietary advice for the first few months – and then received additional coaching for exercise. Group three received only exercise coaching initially – and then dietary advice a few months into the study. Group four only received stress management coaching. The study lasted one year.

Even despite busy schedules, those participants who received coaching for both diet and exercise were more likely to meet national guidelines for exercise and nutrition than any other group.

It’s also worth noting that improving your diet doesn’t necessarily mean taking time out of your schedule. You have to eat regardless; it’s just a matter of making smarter choices. It doesn’t take any more time to ask for steamed vegetables instead of fries when you’re out to dinner. In other words, thinking that you only have time to either eat better or to move more is really a false choice. While exercise does require a time commitment, eating smart does not.

The bottom line: Don’t sell yourself short. For best results, focus on both eating smarter and regular exercise.

Is Frozen Yogurt Bad for You?

017-frozen-yogurt-imageNow that I’m living in Los Angeles, it seems that there’s a frozen yogurt shop on almost every corner. The stores are bright, cheerful and the self-serve yogurt machines are labeled with health benefits like “low fat” or “fat free.” But what’s the scoop? Is frozen yogurt really as healthy as marketers would like you to believe?

Most frozen yogurt is a step up when compared to traditional ice cream. In fact, many ice cream varieties contain five times more fat and three times the amount of calories as frozen yogurt. But calories and fat are just part of the story. Most frozen yogurt is still loaded with sugar – and even sugar-free options can increase cravings for other sugary foods. A large Pinkberry frozen yogurt, for example, can contain nearly 100 grams of sugar. That’s as much sugar as two and a half cans of coke.

And that’s before you add the toppings. While fresh fruit is a wise choice, many of the toppings are loaded in added sugar, calories and unhealthy fat. From candy bars to sweet cereals to fudge and sauces, toppings can make your frozen yogurt snack go from bad to worse.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

  1. Add the toppings first. Before you select your frozen yogurt, load your cup up with fresh, nutrient-rich fruits. Then, use a few swirls of frozen yogurt to top your fruit cup. It’s an instant upgrade.
  2. Select a smaller cup. Because most frozen yogurt chains charge per ounce, the cups look more like vats. Select the smallest cup available (sometimes there are smaller cups not on display). With a smaller cup, less frozen yogurt will look like more.
  3. Be mindful of portions. Regardless of the cup size, a serving of frozen yogurt is about the size of a tennis ball. As you make your frozen yogurt selection, keep this in mind – even if it means not filling your cup to the top.

The bottom line: Just because frozen yogurt is a step up from traditional ice cream doesn’t mean it should be a daily indulgence. It’s a treat for special occasions. As with anything, moderation is key.

 

Are Energy Drinks Bad for Your Heart?

drinks-595x460Energy drinks are relatively new to the market – and so it will take some time before we fully understand their impact on the body. Nonetheless, a review of recent energy drink research – and its impact on the heart – was presented at the 2013 American Heart Association meeting.

Researchers examined individuals aged 18 – 45 and found that consuming one to three energy drinks per day affects heart rhythm and increases blood pressure. The changes in heart rythm amounted to about 4 percent; systolic blood pressure, on average, jumped 3.5 points. Though these impacts were seemingly small, researchers cautioned that – in some rare instances – these changes could lead to an irregular heartbeat or even sudden cardiac death.

Death? Yes, death.

However, the risk is greatest for individuals with an existing heart condition or family history of heart problems. If you’re active and healthy, the occasional energy drink will probably be fine – just don’t binge and be aware of any side effects like anxiousness, dizziness, racing heart rate or skipping heartbeat. As with anything, moderation is key.

Still, better to stick with water.

 

 

 

5 Workout Mistakes You’re Probably Making.

_DTM3426There’s room for improvement in every routine – and these five workout mistakes are extremely common. Are you making any of them?

  1. Warming up with static stretching. As I wrote earlier, static exercises – like touching your toes and holding it – decrease speed, reduce strength and increase injury risk. Dynamic stretching – like jumping jacks or arm circles – are a much smarter choice.
  2. Holding onto the treadmill. Or the stairmaster. Holding onto the sides of a treadmill makes the exercise easier – which translates to fewer calories burned. It worsens balance, increases injury risk and doesn’t translate to real world running. Moreover, holding onto the treadmill negates the incline. You’re better off decreasing the speed and letting go.
  3. Bench pressing with your legs up. Watching people bench press while keeping their legs lifted, elevated or resting on the bench is one of my biggest gym pet peeves. While exercisers may believe this makes the bench press more challenging, it’s actually incredibly unsafe – and it cuts your results short. Much of the lift in bench pressing is created by pressing into the floor through your feet. By keeping your feet flat on the ground, you’ll actually be able to press higher levels of resistance and obtain better results.
  4. Not resisting the pull on cable exercises. Cable exercises are a popular choices because – unlike traditional free weights – they provide constant resistance. Free weights, on the other hand, only provide resistance when you’re lifting them against gravity. However, many exercisers forget to resist the pull when returning the cable exercise to the starting position. Instead, they just let the weight drop back down without control. In the process, they lose half the exercise and half the benefits.
  5. Resting too long. Resting between sets is important – but seconds can quickly turn into minutes. If you’re a bodybuilder looking to make serious gains, resting for a few minutes makes sense. But for the rest of us, keep an eye to the clock and limit your rests to no more than 45 – 60 seconds. In fact, decreasing rest time is a great way to intensify your workout. Or, you can introduce supersets to make your workout more efficient.

If you’re guilty of these mistakes, there’s no shame. They’re all extremely common and certainly easy to overcome.

In the comments below, please share some other common workout mistakes that you see at the gym.

Chicken Eggs Vs. Duck Eggs.

Duck egg (left) versus chicken egg (right).

Duck egg (left) versus chicken egg (right).

We eat chicken eggs. So why not duck eggs?

With that mindset, I purchased my first package of duck eggs from the local farmer’s market. But when it came time to actually eat the eggs, I’m embarrassed to admit that I became a little squeamish. But I was pleasantly surprised.

Aside from being a bit larger in size, having a higher yoke to white ratio and a being slightly richer in flavor (which makes duck eggs a tasty substitute in recipes), the eggs are nearly indistinguishable.

According to the farmer from which I acquired the duck eggs, they’re better for you – and so I decided to dig deeper. As it turns out, there are some distinct nutritional differences between chicken eggs and duck eggs.

Duck eggs, on nearly every measure, have more nutrients and vitamins per 100 grams than chicken eggs. Whether it’s calcium, magnesium, iron, vitamin A, vitamin B12, thiamin, etc., duck eggs pack more nutritional punch on almost every count.

Duck eggs are also a richer source of omega 3 fatty acids. These fatty acids, commonly found in fish oils, are vital for normal metabolism but can’t be synthesized by the body. In other words, you have to obtain these fatty acids through your diet.

On the flip side, the duck eggs are slightly higher in calories (185 vs 149 per 100 grams) and have twice the cholesterol of traditional eggs. Keep in mind, the impact of dietary cholesterol (the cholesterol we eat) on the cholesterol in our blood is fairly small. Unless you already have high blood cholesterol levels or an otherwise unhealthy diet, the increased cholesterol in duck eggs isn’t cause for concern.

Because duck eggs have a thicker shell, they’re said to have a longer shelf life. If refrigerated, according to my local farmer, the eggs are edible for up to six weeks.

The bottom line: If you’re looking to switch things up, duck eggs are a delicious, rich substitution – and their health benefits are no yoke. I mean, no joke.

Accepting Your Body = Weight Loss?

Today’s guest post is by Davey Wavey’s good friend and spiritual weight release coach, Diane Petrella. Diane is also one of the contributors to The Davey Wavey Weight Loss Program.

iambeautiful_kindovermatterDo you know how to make your weight loss journey easier?

Accept your body the way it is.

When you criticize and rebel against your body, you remain stuck. Losing weight feels draining and frustrating. When you accept your body the way it is, you paradoxically free yourself to release weight more easily.

Honor Your Body

Acceptance means honoring your body just the way it is right now, with no judgment. This concept may seem confusing at first. You may believe that accepting your body and current weight means you don’t want to be thinner. Perhaps you reject this idea and think, “I don’t want to accept my body – that‘s why I want to lose weight!” But it’s just the opposite. Accepting your body as it is today helps you become thinner in a more loving and easier way.

End the Battle

Remember this: What you resist persists. When you berate yourself for being overweight or feel embarrassed about your dress size, you battle with yourself. This stops you from making progress. Your thoughts and attention remain negatively focused on where you are, rather than eagerly anticipating where you want to go. Think of this car analogy. Losing weight while continuing to be upset with your body is like keeping your foot on both the gas and brake pedal. You’re not going anywhere. Release the brake and your attachment to self-punishing thinking and you move freely to your destination.

Whatever you focus your attention on grows. So when you condemn yourself and your body, your condemnation grows. This poisonous mind-set often results in self-sabotaging behaviors. For example, disappointment for not yet being a dress size smaller potentially leads to emotional eating. When you accept your body no matter what, you still may feel disappointment but with acceptance you quickly regain momentum.

Keep a Positive Mind-Set

What you weigh now is irrelevant. It carries no power over you unless you give it negative attention. Action follows thought. If you feel discouraged about being overweight, chances are your actions reflect thoughts of defeat rather than thoughts of success. When you steadfastly keep your attention on becoming thinner and accept your body the way it is, your thoughts remain positive. You keep moving forward.

Take Charge

Even if you understand the importance of acceptance, you may wonder, “But how do I get there?” It begins with making a conscious decision to take charge of your self-talk. Catch yourself when you’re critical of your body. Tell yourself to stop speaking that way. Each time critical thoughts enter your mind, apologize to your body (would you want someone to talk to you this way?) and shift to something positive, like the image of someone you love or a beautiful memory. Persistently do this as often as necessary. Practice makes permanent.

Here’s a fun and powerful exercise to help you get started:

Write a love letter to your body.

Give yourself quiet, reflective time in a comfortable space. While relaxed, write a loving letter of acceptance to your body. For example, tell your body you’re committed to take very good care of it. Thank your body for all the ways it serves you. Apologize to your body for times you may have neglected, abused or criticized it. If you love your body, say so. If it’s hard to love and accept your body right now, that’s OK. Tell your body you want to love and accept it. Your intention is very powerful and opens a pathway to inspire you to treat your body more lovingly. Write freely and from your heart. In closing, let your body know you’re doing the best you can to honor its needs.

On an energy level, your relationship with your body is as real as any relationship you have with a person. Writing a letter to your body helps you strengthen this relationship so you feel more connected with, and more accepting of, your body. The more you accept your body just the way it is today, the easier it is to release weight with greater confidence and self-love.

Static Stretching is Bad For You! [Study]

diagonal-hand-toe-touch-b-exThink back to elementary school physical education. Chances are, your instructor warmed up the class with a number of static stretches… like touching your toes and holding it for 30 seconds. Now, a growing body of evidence suggests that static stretching has the opposite effect that we intend; it decreases speed, reduces strength and increases injury risk.

The New York Times recently cited two studies in the case against static stretching. One study, published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, has demonstrated the negative impact of static stretching on weight lifting. A separate article published in The Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports has added additional fuel to the fire by analyzing more than 100 previous studies.

Here are a few of the key findings.

According to researchers, static stretching reduces strength by almost 5.5%. In a different study involving squats, static stretching was found to reduce strength by 8.3% – and was linked to increased feeling of instability. Researchers noted that the impact is greatest when muscles are stretched for 90 seconds or more – and somewhat reduced for stretches under 45 seconds.

But it doesn’t end there. Power is a measure of a muscle’s ability to produce for during contractions, and muscle power generally falls by about 2% after static stretching. Explosive muscular power – like bursting into a full sprint – was reduced by 2.8%.

While reducing output by a few percentage points doesn’t sound like a big deal, every pound or nanosecond counts – especially in the world of competitive sports. When races are won by hundredths of a second, reducing power by 2% is a game changer.

The bottom line: Skip static stretches. Instead of warming up by holding poses for a given length of time, most trainers recommend dynamic stretching. Dynamic stretching involves moving your muscles – like arm circles or jumping jacks – to properly warm up your body for a given exercise.

Don’t Drink Your Calories.

Day-beveragesWhile many calorie-conscious people pay attention to the foods they eat, there is a secret calorie culprit that’s easy to miss. What is it? The beverages we consume.

Consider this: Drinking just 8 ounces of orange juice, a medium mocha, 20 ounces of Coke, a 16-ounce fruit drink, a 16-ounce sweet tea and a 12-ounce beer amounts to a whopping 1,370. For an individual looking to maintain a 2,000 calorie diet, that’s nearly 70% of a day’s calories. While that example might sound extreme, consider a night out with friends. If you consume six, 12-ounce beers over the course of the night, you’ll be at nearly 50% of your daily limit.

It’s amazing how quickly beverage calories add up. And it’s even more amazing how easy it is for those calories to go undetected – and thereby sabotage your diet.

On the flip side, cutting beverage calories is really picking the low-hanging fruit of weight loss. Studies also show that if you drink extra calories with a meal, you don’t compensate by eating less food. A glass of water is just as filling as a glass of soda, and so you can eliminate calories without experiencing any increased hunger. Really, it’s a no brainier.

If you just don’t like the taste of water, too bad. Drink it anyway. Water tastes better than being overweight and unhealthy feels. That’s the truth. And you can add a slice of fruit to your water to infuse it with a little flavor. For the waterphobes among us, it can make a difference.

The bottom line: If your goal is shedding excess fat from your body, then replacing any unhealthy or non-essential beverage choices with water needs to be a goal. Save your precious calories for the foods you eat – not the beverages you drink.

High Protein Breakfast Prevents Unhealthy Snacking.

slide05-healthy-eggsIf you’re looking to upgrade your diet, one of the easiest ways to start is with a protein-rich breakfast – at least, according to the latest study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. And yet, up to 60% of young Americans skip what is arguably the most important meal of the day.

For the study, a group of women ages 18 – 20 either skipped breakfast, ate breakfast cereal or consumed a protein-rich breakfast of eggs and meat. Regardless of the food type, all the breakfasts were matched for calories, fat, fiber, sugar and energy density. Only protein varied – with the high-protein breakfast containing some 35 grams.

Throughout the course of the study, participants completed questionnaires, provided blood samples and underwent an evening brain scan. After reviewing the data, researchers found that eating a high-protein breakfast led to increased fullness and a decrease in brain activity associated with food cravings. In addition, eating a high-protein breakfast was associated with reduced evening snacking on high-fat and high-sugar foods – as compared to skipping breakfast or eating a cereal.

According to researchers:

These data suggest that eating a protein-rich breakfast is one potential strategy to prevent overeating and improve diet quality by replacing unhealthy snacks with high quality breakfast foods.

If you’re looking for a high-protein breakfast, eggs, protein shakes, Greek yogurt and cottage cheese are all protein-rich choices to upgrade your early morning meal.

What do you usually eat for breakfast? Let me know in the comments below.