Clean Up Your Grocery Cart


Ever find yourself in the grocery store wondering exactly what to buy to make healthier choices? There is so much confusion about what you need to do and which products are the best.

You choose items that say things like “low carb,” “low fat,” “no added sugar,” and “sugar free,” but you just aren’t quite making progress. You aren’t sure if these items are an improvement, but you need something that is EASY? Well, keep reading for a list of items that will help clean up your grocery cart.

The BEST tip that everyone should follow is to shop the perimeter of the grocery store first! Fill your cart with fruits, veggies, and lean meats. In most places, all of these items are NOT down the aisles, they are all around the edge, or perimeter of the store. Once you have finished shopping the perimeter truck down the aisles for these staple items:

  1. Snack Bars (Rx Bars or Low Sugar Kind Bars). General guidelines is to look for 7-14 grams of protein, 9-18 grams of carbohydrates, and 3-6 grams of fat.
  2. Low-Calorie (lower sodium if you have high bp) frozen meals. Pair with salad, fruits, or veggies.
  3. Deli Meat (low-sodium).  Pair with avocado, salad or veggies and fruit for a quick lunch or with hummus for a quick snack.
  4. Pre-cooked brown rice and quinoa (you can save up to 45 minutes by doing this).
  5. Black beans in a can are a great source of fiber.
  6. SALSA!! It goes great on everything and is naturally low calorie.
  7. Frozen steam fresh veggie bags. Just pop them in the microwave or a bowl if you worry about plastics.
  8. Dark Chocolate with 70% or more Cacao to curb a sweet tooth.

While this is NOT a comprehensive list of items to buy, it is a great start! Making small sustainable changes is the best way to achieve progress and keep it! If you need more accountability and help to make changes to your nutrition, book a free nutrition consult by clicking the tab under nutrition in the header!

3 Tips for Staying on Track with Nutrition this Summer


Summer is in full swing! 

With hopefully a little more down time, we just wanted to reach out to offer some support, and remind you that you don’t have to be miserable and deprive yourself this summer. You can still have some fun while enjoying summer activities like camping, grilling and bonfires, while staying on track with your nutrition goals. 

We encourage you to enjoy your life so that you can adopt healthy habits over the course of your lifetime, not just for the short term. Here’s a couple of simple tips you can try that can keep you having fun, but on track with your goals this summer! 

Tip #1 – Stay hydrated!

Remember that if weight loss is a goal of yours, hydration is important! Along with balanced plates of healthy carbohydrates, lean proteins, and healthy fats, don’t forget to drink water! With some added heat, make sure to avoid dehydration, drinking 60-80 oz. of water a day to support your activity, as well as your weight loss goals. 

Tip #2 –  Make healthy substitutions at your Summer gatherings!

We are not going to recommend skipping the fun summer gatherings. You can still be social and have some fun while staying committed to your nutrition goals. Remember to use the plate method as your guide to reshape your party plate to include ½ plate of non starchy veggies, ¼ plate of lean protein, and ¼ plate of complex carbohydrates. 

Examples of these that are found at summer gatherings, and some ideas and recipes from Healthy Steps Nutrition that you can bring to your next summer get together:

Tip #3  – Stay active despite the heat! 

Beat the heat and avoid the temptation to stay inside when the weather gets warm. Maybe this is a time to entertain a morning workout class, or an evening run when temperatures are cooler. Challenge yourself to train for and compete in a local endurance event, or sign up for some PT at your gym to target your weaknesses and switch up your training. 

Have fun and stay on track so that when Fall arrives, and you start looking at being in shape for the holidays, you won’t have the pressure of feeling like you are starting back at square one. 

If you are interested in getting some individualized help to stay on track with your goals, let us know!  We would be excited to start working with you!

Why High-Intensity Training (HIT) Is Good For You


Today there are so many fitness programs and classes available it can be overwhelming to decide how to train. If you are researching training programs you have probably heard of High Intensity Training (HIT) or High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). HIT is incorporated into many classes and has grown in popularity due to its ability to produce fast and effective results. But what exactly is it…and more importantly how do you decide if it’s right for you?!

Lets answer your top 5 questions about High Intensity Training so you can feel confident in finding a gym, personal trainer, or other fitness option in your local area.

Your top 5 High Intensity Training Questions:

 

  • What exactly is HIT?
  • Is HIT a good fit for me?
  • What does a HIT workout look like?
  • What types of movements are in a HIT workout?
  • What are the benefits of HIT?

 

1.What exactly is HIT?

High intensity refers to a level of intensity that is measured by a high power output or a high rate of perceived exertion. This will be unique to every individual.

A high intensity strength workout will cause high motor unit recruitment. This means it activates a majority of the muscles in your body and generally requires loads >80% of your 1 rep maximum to achieve the desired stimulus.

Near maximal exertion for aerobic work or “cardio” this would be performing exercises at a pace that elevates heart rate and gets you sweating and breathing heavy. You would work at a pace that would be unsustainable for more than a few minutes at a time. These workouts are often set up in an interval fashion where you go hard for a short period of time and then rest. This allows you to repeat the effort several times until the desired training stimulus is achieved. As you train in this way you will improve your ability to train hard for longer periods of time and delay the “burning” feeling commonly associated with HIT.

2. Is HIT a good fit for me?

High Intensity Training is a great fit for anyone looking to get fast results. The key is determining what the definition of “Intensity” is for you. Jumping into a class workout performing movements you haven’t mastered and loads your body is not ready for is a big no-no.

Working with a coach who has experience scaling workouts to meet your needs and abilities is the key to having long term success with HIT training. They will help you choose the exercises, weights, frequency, and duration of your training session to ensure your body gets the stimulus you need with risk of injury or burnout.

Be weary of anyone who promises vomiting or intense pain from their workouts. It’s not an effective way to get the results you want!

3. What does a HIT workout look like?

For a high intensity strength training workout you will be using heavy loads. Ideally greater than 80% of your 1RM as this is the ideal load for gaining strength, building muscle, and improving body composition.

Often times performing multiple exercises back to back at moderate intensity (60-80%) can produce a similar training result. It is important that the movements are carefully selected to ensure that form is not compromised and that the rest time is adequate enough to allow for repeated effort.

If you aren’t familiar with exercises, weightlifting, or just aren’t sure of what your body is capable of then you will benefit from working with a certified and highly qualified trainer or coach. They will analyze your movement and help you develop the motor control and stability to prepare your body for more high intensity forms of exercise.

4. What types of movements are in a HIT workout?

Any type of movement can be incorporated into a HIT workout. Resistance training with barbells, dumbbells, or kettlebells are all great tools. You can incorporate resistance bands, chains, battle ropes or medicine balls. Gymnastics implements like pullup bars or rings. Even simple bodyweight movements and plyometrics can be used.

The most important factor when choosing movements is that you have technical proficiency with the movement and can perform multiple reps at a given load with exceptional form. If your form tends to break down when you are fatigued or you have mobility issues that alter your technique then that movement is not a good choice for the high intensity training session.

5. What are the benefits of HIT?

There are numerous benefits that come from High Intensity Training.

The lactic acid produced from properly executed high intensity training will stimulate the release of growth hormone stimulating sugar and fat metabolism. It also increases protein synthesis which means you will build more lean muscle. HIT training also elevates your metabolism helping you burn more calories both during your training session and for many hours after you’re done.

You also tend to accomplish more work in less time with HIT training. This makes it a great way to train for busy folks who can only train 20-30 minutes 2 or 3 days per week. Just remember that training is only half of the equation. Adequate sleep and proper nutrition make sure that your body recovers from and adapts to the training stimulus, giving you the results you want.

There you have it. Answer to your Top 5 questions about HIT training. If you’re ready to talk to a coach to see if High Intensity Training is right for YOU then get in touch with one of our coaches today for a free consult!

Fruits and Vegetables


When did “Fruits and Vegetables” become 1 word?

Fruits and vegetables seems to have become one word when it comes to giving advice on a healthy diet. However these two different food groups must be approached with different strategies. When it comes to optimizing health you need to choose the foods that best support your health and training needs.

Fruits and vegetables have varying macronutrient and fiber contents and can also contain different types of vitamins, minerals, and other key micronutrients. They contain different types of carbohydrates that affect their digestion and effect on blood sugar.

“Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.” -Michael Pollan

In America most folks are still missing out on many essential nutrients and simply do not consume enough vegetables. In schools kids are encouraged to have either fruits or veggies. The fact is that 8oz of orange juice is not going to provide the same nutrients as 1 cup of broccoli. Whole fruits do contain fiber, vitamins, and minerals but when turned into concentrated juices they are not much different than drinking a soda.

Even as an athlete you may be guilty of eating 2 or 3 bananas in a day but neglected consuming foods like green cruciferous vegetables that have true health benefits.

Fruits are higher in sugar and unless you are a high level athlete training multiple times per day you probably do not need to consume that many carbohydrates in your diet. A piece of fruit to fuel your workout and some fast digesting carbs post workout should be the majority of your “carb” intake. Fill the rest of your meals with vegetables that will make you feel full and contain an abundance of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

A healthy diet should consist mostly of healthy fats, high quality proteins, and complex carbohydrates from vegetables which are nutrient dense and have a minimal effect on insulin.

If you are consuming fruits focus on fresh seasonal fruit that will have a low impact on blood sugar. Dark berries are one of the best fruits in this regard and contain high levels of antioxidants. Kiwis and pineapples are a great choice that is ideal for post workout recovery.

If you are looking for a more natural approach to eating, feeling better, and looking great then we can help you get there. Reach out to one of our friendly staff members today to see how!

Tammy’s Story


Invest. Drive. Prosper.

Our core values which we personally strive to exemplify as a business, and in our personal lives, just as much as we want our members to strive to exemplify in their lives.

When we look at what we do, and we look at what CrossFit can do, it is about inspiring and empowering people to kick butt in life outside the gym and in their lives.  There is no greater reward than watching our members grow not only in their physical capabilities but in their capacities outside the gym.

For the past year, I have worked with Tammy on a daily basis using a platform designed by Precision Nutrition.  I have read many private and personal, heartfelt and deeply thought out answers to questions, and in this time, I have watched her overcome the demons inside herself.  These demons toward food and body image are deep rooted, and I am sure MANY people can relate to these in some way or the other.  To get the full grasp, I invite you to read her story written in 2010.  

Today, Tammy exemplifies the core values of Invest. Drive. Prosper.  She made an investment in herself, and her health.  She was driven. Honestly I have never met someone so committed to excellence and improving herself.  At times she was so driven, I had to reel her back in! And now, she is prospering, Mentally, and Physically.  If you have ever experienced a body image disorder/eating disorder, you can empathize how difficult they are to overcome, and Tammy did just that.  She reversed the curse of her demons.

I am excited to share her story!

Food is your Ally

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

Hippocrates

“Honey, I’d like to check out a gym on our way home today, is that ok with you?”  This is the question I asked my husband while sitting on the beach on a hot Friday afternoon.  The date was July 1, 2016. The day my life changed!

When I was 13 years old, I made the school’s cheerleading squad.  My older brother said one sentence to me that started a massive chain of events in my life.  He said, “You made the cheering squad… Your fat.”  

From that moment on, I saw myself differently.  I saw myself as fat, ugly, and unworthy. I needed to make changes to fix this.  So, I did what I thought was the right thing to do. I started to starve myself.  

As the years went on, I took this to the next level.  I started purging my food and taking diet pills as well as laxatives, I was getting thinner and thinner as expected.  What I didn’t expect was I was also losing my hair. Not only did my hip bones stick out, you could also count my ribs and my vertebra.  I had no energy or desire to do anything but sleep. When I looked in the mirror, I self-loathed. I did not feel beautiful or worthy of anything.     

With the help from my Dr and the love and support of my family and friends, I was able to get my eating disorder behaviors under control.  However, an eating disorder goes deeper than just what you do to yourself… it rooted in your mind. There have been many times where someone has said a statement about my weight where it has triggered a relapse.  The vicious cycle started all over again. I have lived with this demon for so many years.

Walking into NoRisk on July 6th, 2016 for my first intro class was so exciting!  I was so gung-ho on that I did not care that it was 95 degrees outside. I put everything I had into it the warm-up.  15 minutes in, I felt lightheaded, I started seeing black spots in my eyes and felt like I was going to pass out. I had to take the knee.  And just like that, I was done. No one thought that I would return. However, I was determined! I wanted to do this! So, I came back and have continued to return to this day.

As my CrossFit journey progressed, so did my desire to build muscle mass and become healthier.  I started inquiring about nutrition. On January 1, 2018 I started the Whole Life Challenge. This was my first step in my nutritional journey. This was a 3-month challenge that was fun to do but didn’t provide me with any guidance or education of how to maintain a healthy body.  It just had a list of approved foods to eat and what foods to avoid.  

A few months later, Judah, owner of No Risk CrossFit was offering members to be part of a personalized nutritional program called Precision Nutrition.  Knowing my past obsessions and demons, I didn’t think this would be a good thing for me. A full year is a big commitment and I was afraid of something triggering my demons.  After speaking with Judah and sharing my story, Judah explained to me that this program has a daily nutrition curriculum as well as one on one coaching where Judah would be watching my progress and on the lookout for any red flags. This program also educates you on every aspect of nutrition, setting goals, fitness, and lifestyle.   With Judah’s commitment to me, we both decided it would be a perfect program for me. My objective for program… NOT to lose weight, but to be healthy, lean, strong, and to gain the education I needed on nutrition to maintain and sustain.

Over the past year, I’ve learned and noticed the following….

  • Proper Nutrition is not a diet… It’s a lifestyle.  One that takes a commitment. When I signed up I promised myself to give this my all.  Every weekend, I plan my meals for the week, shop for the ingredients, cook, and make healthy meals with proper portions in my meal prep containers.
  • When going out to eat, and I do that a lot, it’s ok to ask for healthy alternatives like a side salad instead of fries.  You can even ask how the food is prepared and request changes. 
  • I’ve learned that if you want to perform than you must feed your body what it needs to perform.  If you want to lift more weights, then your muscles need protein to be healthy and strong.
  • I used to weigh myself at a minimum 2-3x a day.  One of the hardest things I had to do in the very beginning was to get rid of the scale.  Weighing yourself every day would have been counterproductive. Now, I weigh myself only once a month.
  • It’s a known fact…  muscle mass is heavier than fat mass.  In the past, if I saw the number on the scale go up, it would awaken the demon in my head saying that I need to get the number back down.  The first time I saw my weight go up because my muscle mass went up and my fat mass went down… I celebrated!
  • Vitamins, Powders and Supplements have a place in the world of Nutrition…. To “Supplement” and NOT as a “Replacement” There are many brands and types of Powders and Supplements in the market.  You need to understand how to read the labels to ensure you are purchasing the right product.
  • I’ve learned that the key to having a flat stomach is NOT starving yourself because that makes your body recess/concave as well as collapse… you need nutrition for muscle growth and to fill out.
  • You don’t get ab definition with sit ups… you get them from proper nutrition.  And if your feeding for performance, and your performing, they will naturally show themselves.
  • One of the signs that my family and friends saw when I had a relapse was my hair falling out.  With proper nutrition, your hair becomes fuller and thicker.
  • I’ve compared my blood work from 2018 to the one I just completed in April and within the year, with proper nutrition, my blood work has improved dramatically.  For the first time, my blood work is perfect!

I’ve come to the realization that schools should be teaching more on proper nutrition and body awareness with self-reflections in their health classes than they did… could have saved me from creating the demon.   

This program, the education, the coaching, the support from friends and family, and the commitment I made to myself has provided me with the knowledge and tools I needed to destroy the years of mental programming with the misconceptions about dieting and starving myself. 

Here I am today…  I love looking in the mirror! I love my body!  I love myself! I am healthy. I am strong. I am lean. I am energetic. I am happy.  I am balanced.    

The Demon is Dead!

3 Alternatives to Juice Cleansing


Heading into the new year, beach season, or anytime you have had “enough” with the way you look and feel about your body there are some popular options you may have turned to. 

One of the most popular options is buying a multi-day juice cleanse from a local cafe or whole foods market that is supposed to replace all your meals. You are so excited as you pick up your bundle of beverages. A confidence and optimism that this time you mean business. That fat is going down!

But wait…is it really the best option for you to improve your health or lose weight?

Today let’s explore 3 alternatives to Juice Cleansing that truly support a healthy diet and lifestyle. These options will actually help your body perform better and get the results you want rather than juicing fruits and vegetables.

  • Consume Whole Fruits and Vegetables
  • Eat/Drink Balanced Meals
  • Fast Instead of Juicing

1.Consume Whole Fruits and Vegetables

Whole fruits and vegetables are the basis for a healthy carb intake. Juicing eliminates the skin, pulp, and fiber that make these foods so healthy in the first place. Many of the flavonoids responsible for reducing the risk of cancer, heart disease, and stroke are found in the pulp and skins of many fruits and veggies. Removing the fiber also increases the glycemic index. Eating an orange has a totally different effect on your body than drinking a glass of orange juice. In fact drinking OJ is more comparable to a coca cola in the way it effects your body!

“If life gives you lemons, make some kind of fruity juice.” -Conan O’Brien

2.Eat/Drink Balanced Meals 

Did you ever sneak spoonfuls of sugar as a kid? I know I did. But as we get older and wiser we know that that blatant disregard for our health won’t fly anymore. We try to limit our sweets to the foods that are really worth it. 

 But did you know that when you juice you are basically drinking sugar? Especially if the juice contains fruit juices in the mix.

Try consuming balanced meals instead. Eat high quality protein, healthy fats, and whole fruits and veggies. Your body knows what to do with these real  foods and will respond better to a diet focus on protein and fat than a carb dominant intake-especially if fat loss is your goal. If you are looking to maintain a healthy body weight then you need meals that keep your metabolism stimulated and promote fat burning. High quality protein will help keep you satiated and repair muscle tissues. Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats will improve inflammation response and help your body burn stubborn belly fat. Whole fruits and veggies will provide the key nutrients needed for energy production and eliminating toxins from the body.

3.Fast Instead of Juicing

Intermittent fasting may be a much better approach to fat loss than juicing. By choosing to fast rather than consume a juice you allow your body to continue burning fat as a fuel source. When you drink juice it spikes your blood sugar and insulin, promoting fat storage rather than burning. Intermittent fasting can easily be achieved by setting up a 12 to 16 hour window of time for you to eat during. If you consume your last bite of food at 6pm then you don’t eat again until at least 6am the next morning. This is a great strategy to help you achieve the results you work hard for. Make sure you plan your eating window accordingly and you’re good to go!

Now that you have some alternatives to juice cleansing you can try these out and see which option is best for your success. If you have questions about a healthy diet that lines up with your lifestyle then connect with one of our coaches for more great advice.

Top 3 Reasons To Train With Kettlebells


If you could only buy one piece of equipment to accomplish all of your training what would you buy? Treadmills and cycles are great for cardio but definitely won’t get you stronger. A barbell is great but where do you have room to keep it and let alone use it? Total gym style machines always feel so awkward, the cables never work and they seem to be built for someone elses body. So what exactly can use to transform your body, build strength, burn fat, and improve your cardio?

Enter the kettlebell.

Kettlebells are a great and diverse tool that you should implement into your training. Kettlebell swings train the total body and can be a low impact way to build muscle.They can be used to improve performance as well as make you look and feel strong and capable. Of course a tool is only useful as long as you know how to use it. Consider learning the basics with a certified coach who can show you the ropes. 

Today let’s dive into the top 3 reasons to train with kettlebells so you can see if they are a good fit for your fitness regimen. 

    • Carry Over To Sport and Life
    • Add Variety To Your Training
    • Quick And Effective Way To Train

1. Carry Over To Sport and Life

Kettlebell swings have tremendous carry over to your sport and lifestyle activities. They teach you how to hinge at the hip, one of the most important movement patterns for health and optimal function. A strong and healthy lower back as well as a tight core will be developed rapidly when you train kettlebell swings with good form. You will also develop an iron grip. Grip is one of the best indicators of a healthy human and Harvard has found strong correlation between grip strength and cardiovascular health. 

Swings will also improve your performance with the olympic lifts and power lifts and any other hip dominant movement like jumping. Kettlebell swings teach the dynamic hip extension that is the foundation of a powerful lifter and athlete. When you become strong and proficient with swings you can continue adding load becoming stronger and more explosive in the process.

2. Add Variety To Your Training

You can train Kettlebell swings more often than many other strength movements. Performing swings 2-3 times per week can really improve your strength and endurance and shake up your typical workout routine. By adjusting the weights , the number of sets, repetitions, and how long you rest you can get totally different responses from your kettlebell workout. 

A typical Monday workout could focus on strength and power. You would use fewer reps and a heavy weight taking 2-3 minutes between sets to fully recover. 

Wednesdays workout could be focused on building cardio. Use a light kettlebell and swing it for a long time. Pick a number like 20, 50, or even 100 reps and see how quickly you can get there. Or set a timer for 5:00 and see how many swings you can get in that amount of time. 

On Friday you could train kettlebell swings in a high intensity interval workout. Use light to moderate weights and focus on explosive efforts followed by bouts of recovery.

3. Quick And Effective Way To Train

Learning swings comes easier for some and harder for others. They are also easier to learn than the olympic lifts and far less technical. Swings are a great alternative for individuals who are focused on fitness for their health and young athletes. They also require less time to prepare the body for in terms of warming up the joints, muscles, and nervous system. They can be a fast and fun way to fit in a workout if you don’t have much time.

The kettlebell swings is such an effective tool because it trains both the eccentric (lengthening of the muscle) and concentric (shortening of the muscle) in a dynamic fashion. The snatch and clean both require a focus on a strong concentric contraction as the weight is lifted, Swings offer a different stimulus that may better suit athletes in sports like basketball or soccer or folks whose goal is not to lift maximal weight overhead. 

Kettlebell swings are a fun and effective way to train. Just like most exercises, it’s best to learn from a certified coach so you know you are performing them properly. If you are interested in getting in shape and training in a fun new environment come in for a free consult and we can show where you how training can be fun and get you results!

Make Your Breakfast 10% Better


You’ve heard it before. “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” It’s become cliche. And like so many aphorisms you lose an important message when you overlook it. 

A healthy breakfast can support your physical and mental performance. If you are trying to excel, grow, and make changes to your body or in your life then you need the proper fueling regimen to get you there.

Have you ever crashed during your workout? Felt mentally foggy or weak on a particular day? There’s probably a correlation with your nutrition. Whether it can be drawn back to the days breakfast or the long term effects of neglected nutrition you can probably find a link.

To get the results you want need to pay attention to your nutrition. Some people do better with big changes. But today let’s just focus on how you can make your breakfast 10% better. 

There are so many benefits of eating a healthy breakfast. Of course improved performance is one, but eating breakfast has also been shown to reduce food cravings later in the day. It can also improve mental clarity and boost energy.

Our bodies are complex machines and the benefits of breakfast impacts the way our body operates for the day. Eating breakfast affects neurotransmitter production, electrolyte balance, blood sugar levels and more. Our bodies operate with best with certain types of fuel and the right ratio of carbs, fat and protein to perform at their best. But before you reach for your Cornflakes chill for a second. Not all breakfasts are created equal.  

So what are the makings of a great breakfast?

Choosing high quality proteins, healthy fats, and low glycemic carbs is a great start to make your breakfast 10% better!

Increasing protein intake is one of the best decisions you can make for your nutrition, especially at breakfast. Protein contains high quality amino acids that will keep you satiated and prevent cravings later in the day. Try to eat some solid protein such as meat or eggs. If you need a quick option try keeping hard boiled eggs and greek yogurt on hand. They are easy options to scarf down quickly or grab on your way out the door to work. Protein shakes are also good but whole foods are best. People who consume liquid protein in the morning don’t get the same satiety benefits and still tend to overeat later in the day. Use protein shakes only if no other options are available or you are going to exercise first thing in the morning and need something fast digesting.

For fats look for foods like nuts, seeds, and avocados. These foods provide healthy monounsaturated fat and are chock full of vitamins and minerals as well. Rotating through different fats will ensure you have diversity in your diet and prevent excessive intake of any one food. A handful of nuts, an avocado packet, or some chia pudding are all easy grab and go options for healthy breakfast fats.

For carbs at breakfast you should take a less is more approach. Focus on low glycemic carbs such as leafy greens and broccoli. Dark berries are also great choice when fresh and in season. This will give you some additional fuel for your day. Try to avoid highly processed foods that will spike your blood sugar and have you craving carbs and making energy levels crash throughout the day. 

Not a fan of breakfast?

There can be benefits to intermittent fasting too. Just recognize how your body feels and performs its best. For some people that is 5-6 small meals per day. For others a big lunch or dinner is all it takes. Focusing on high quality whole foods, getting enough protein and heart healthy fats, and calibrating carb intake based on your activity levels. 

For more nutritional and training strategies get in touch with one of our coaches today!

Coffee, Wine, Bacon, and Fitness


The truth about some of your favorite indulgences

When you’ve gotten into a consistent fitness routine and finally started to feel good about the healthy choices you are making you tend to adopt a few new favorite foods along the way. At the top of the list for many folks are coffee, wine, and bacon. These foods are dietary staples in the fitness community and seem to fall somewhere in the category of “not bad enough to worry about and maybe even good for you.”Obviously with this kind of grey area it’s worth taking a deeper dive into the health benefits and potential pitfalls that can occur when eating these favorite foods.

Coffee

More than 450 million cups of coffee are consumed everyday in the united states alone. Coffee also happens to be the world’s number one source of antioxidants due to widespread consumption and high levels of polyphenols and hydrocinnamic acids. Despite its amazing capacity to fight free radicals in our body most people reach for a “cup of joe” each morning for one reason only. That energizing boost of energy from it’s high caffeine content.

Caffeine has become a huge catalyst for many of us to have a productive start to our day. For some of us taking one day without it and WHOA, watch out! Caffeine is also a popular beverage choice before a workout due to the increase in focus, energy, and alertness that make us feel ready to perform. Caffeine has even been shown to reduce pain associated with exercise making it a truly powerful training partner. Caffeine may also create a more favorable environment in the cells of muscle tissue that facilitate force production.

It also turns out that a cup of coffee can be beneficial post workout as well. When we exercise our bodies utilize glycogen, a form of glucose stored in our muscles, as a fuel source. In one study it was observed that athletes who consumed caffeine with carbohydrates after exercise had 66% more glycogen in their muscles 4 hours later. This significant boost in glycogen storage means you have set the tone for success in your next workout in terms of available energy.

Challenges arise when the quantity and timing of caffeine consumption begin to interfere with rest and recovery. Caffeine has been shown to interrupt sleep even when consumed 6 hours before bed time. Individual caffeine sensitivity can vary from person to person so you need to really listen to your body.

Wine

Red wine has long been touted as “heart healthy” and the best choice if you do wish to drink. However if you are a competitive athlete, trying to build muscle, or on a mission to lose fat there really isn’t much of a place for alcohol in your diet. After all, alcohol is merely empty calories (it will only contribute to fat gain, not lean muscle growth) and interferes with sleep, testosterone production, and puts extra wear and tear on your already busy liver. If you do find yourself in a situation where a drink is fitting, red wine tends to be a better than cocktails and heavy beers when it comes to calories and sugar.

What about the heart health benefits and antioxidants in red wine, don’t those make a glass worth it a few times a week?

Yes and No. And mostly no…

The link between red wine and heart health is still unclear and a positive correlation between the two has not been found. Red wine also doesn’t seem to perform better than other alcohols in its effect on cholesterol and heart health. Some of the hype around red wine comes from its resveratrol content. Resveratrol is a polyphenol found in the skins of grapes. It is possible that resveratrol reduces LDL levels and prevents blood clots. Unfortunately to consume high levels of this nutrient means drinking more alcohol and creating other potential health problems. Resveratrol supplements may not be absorbed that well so look for other good sources in foods like blueberries, peanuts, and plain old unfermented grapes!

Bacon

Bacon. Crispy. Crunchy. Delicious.
Is there any dish that can’t be improved by its presence?
Bacon may be the most controversial and beloved food in existence. In the wake of the paleo dietary movement and a shift in the way our country views dietary fat intake bacon has become the “little cheat food that could” for folks in the fitness community.

Bacon is made from pork belly and contains high levels of both monounsaturated and saturated fats. Bacon contains the monounsaturated fat oleic acid which is found in other healthy fats like olive oil. Saturated fat, long considered a culprit of heart disease actually plays an important role in our body’s signaling mechanisms. The ratio of different fats in the diet, genetics, and lifestyle choices all contribute to how much saturated fat we can consume for our optimal health.

So it turns out that bacon may not be so bad for you after all, but you have to be choosy. You have to consider the quality of the pork and the processing it undergoes during the curing that transforms bacon into the product we all know and love. The process generally involves curing the cuts of pork belly with salt and sugar and then the application of heat through a smoking process. There is also generally the application of some form of nitrates or nitrites to help preserve quality and appearance of the bacon.

For starters when you select your bacon product focus on where the pork came from and how it was raised. The tops brands will be pasture raised or humanely raised and organic is definitely an appropriate choice for this food. Next you will want the ingredients list to be short and not too sweet. That means pork, water, sea salt, and a small amount of sugar in the form of brown sugar or maple syrup. If you see a long list of preservatives and words you don’t recognize steer clear.

Finally some brands will use different sources of nitrates, even if the brand claims to be nitrate free it will often contain an ingredient like celery powder which has naturally occurring nitrates. Nitrates can convert to a carcinogenic compound known as “nitrosamines” under high temperatures. If you like your bacon crispy and brittle then you increase the chance of consuming these compounds. No fear, our body blocks the effects of these carcinogens in the presence of Vitamin C so grab a slice of orange or grapefruit with your bacon to play it safe!

Follow these guidelines and you’ll be sure to enjoy your “healthy” vices in the most appropriate ways possible. If you have questions about nutrition and how other dietary and lifestyle choices are affecting your training it can help to discuss them with a qualified coach who is experienced with nutrition as well.