Leafy Greens or Toxic Food? The Other Side of Eating Vegetables

Leafy greens or toxic food? The other side of eating vegetables Here I go again…are you ready? I am about to question one of the most widely promoted health recommendations in the U.S. What is it? I’m challenging the recommendation to “eat more vegetables”. This is an interesting topic since most of us have been told all our lives that we need to eat more vegetables. Right? For most of my life, I have been a huge advocate of eating tons of vegetables including kale, spinach, lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, etc. Personally, I would eat at least 8 to 9 servings of vegetables a day — mostly raw. We have all been told vegetables are good for us because they contain loads of nutrients, fiber, and antioxidant properties. And this is true — vegetables are filled with all these health-promoting properties. However, does this mean that all vegetables are good for us? Or is there another side of the story we’re missing? As many of you know, about three years ago, I went through a massive transformation in my beliefs about health and nutrition. At the time my diet consisted of organic vegetables, gluten free grains, lots of organic chicken and meats, protein shakes, some fruits, and tons of water. My diet included no dairy, little fat, and no fruit juice. Sounds pretty healthy, right? The problem was, my body started to break down, I started to feel like crap, and I had no idea what was going on quite honestly, because I thought I was eating the perfect diet. Over the next year, through trial-and-error and lots of...

Is Your Workout Making you Fat?

  Is your workout making you fat? Lately, I have been bombarded with calls and emails from women and men, who are doing tons of cardio AND gaining weight! Correct, they are doing loads of cardio exercise (1-3 hours day) and are gaining, not losing weight. Is this possible? My first thought is, perhaps they are simply gaining muscle? Well, maybe? However, if they are doing tons of cardio, trust me when I tell you, this is NOT an anabolic workout (a muscle-building workout) this is a catabolic workout (a muscle-breakdown workout). Thus, a high amount of cardio usually results in muscle loss, not muscle gain. Have you ever seen a really muscular marathon runner? I certainly have not. Most elite marathon runners look emaciated. They are super lean yet have very little muscle. You see, long distance endurance activities are very catabolic. They end up breaking down muscle — not building it. Over time, this means: Lots of cardio=catabolism=Less muscle = lower metabolism = Fat gain Most people think the opposite: Lots of cardio = more calories burned = weight loss Shouldn’t this be the right equation? Well, it would be, however, you are leaving out one very important component — hormones. Lots of cardio = elevated cortisol, decreased T3 (active thyroid), and increased estrogen (fat storing hormone) = Muscle breakdown + lower thyroid function = FAT gain and muscle loss. Is it really possible to gain fat while doing tons of exercise? Yes. Here is what is really going. After about an hour of exercise, your cortisol levels increase and stay elevated until you have finished your extended...

The Secrets to Proper Core Training

The Secrets to Proper Core Training Six pack abs, a flat stomach, NO belly fat, a small waist, thin, trim, and skinny…all words that attract us when it comes to our  mid-section. What about proper posture, corrective work, improving muscular imbalances, reducing back and hip pain, and improving spinal function…maybe not as popular, but all can occur IF you train your “core” properly. First, what is your core? The core is a group of muscles that provide stability and support through the entire body.  Many of us would say the core is your abs or stomach.  True, but there is so much more.  Your core is made up of your ABS which include your external obliques, internal obliques, rectus abdominis, and transversus abdominis.  The core is also made of your hip muscles (glute medius, maximus, minimus, and psoas) and your lumber spine muscles (erector spinia, Multifidus spinae, quadratus lumborum, lower lats).   Some texts books will even consider the rotary cuff of your shoulder and  your neck as part of your core as they both have a direct effect on how your mid section operates and creates stability. So now that you know what muscles you need to work to provide proper stability and support for your body, how should you train your abs? Can you train your core everyday? Well, Yes and No. Yes, as long as you train different parts of your core on different days. An example would be: Day 1 *Lower abs and hips (Rectus Abdominis and transverse abdominus) Day 2  Obliques and low back Day 3 *Upper abs (rectus abdominus) *Although we actually don’t have a separate upper and...

Got Milk?

Got Milk? Now that’s a question that has received tons of controversy in the past 30 years. Is milk really good for you? Does it make you fat? Does it make you thin? Does it play a role in cancer or heart disease? Does it help promote bone development? Is whole milk better? Is skim milk better? What about pasteurization and homogenization? One day, milk is good for us. The next day, milk is bad for us. I will be honest, in my own personal research on milk, for every article I find praising milk, I can find another one tearing it apart. So, what should we believe? What is the truth? Well, the truth is milk can be good and milk can be bad for us. Huh? I believe the difference depends on some very important questions. Ask yourself, where does the milk come from (organic and pastured-fed or conventional and grain-fed), are their additives (synthetic Vitamin A, D, and thickeners like carrageenan), has it been pasteurized and homogenized, is it whole fat or skim, and finally, what if the person drinking the milk has a milk intolerance? The question of, is milk really good for us? depends on so many variables. So, for us to make an educated decision on choosing or not choosing to add milk to our diet we need to understand a few things… Organic and pasture-fed vs. conventional grain-fed milk. As I discussed in a previous blog, Where is the grass-fed beef? pastured, grass-fed cattle produce a far superior product than commercial, grain-fed cattle. This is not only true in the meat they...

Polyunsaturated fats: Essential or toxic?

Polyunsaturated fats: Essential or toxic? Yes, I’m back—back with even more mind-twisting information that will make you question, once again, the foods you are feeding your body. Today’s topic — Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids — also known as PUFAs. Now, before you stop reading because you have no idea what the heck PUFAs are, and you are not interested in all this science jargon — I beg you to continue. Why? Because you are probably consuming PUFAs everyday! The problem is, you are most likely thinking you are doing something healthful for yourself. When in fact, you may be causing your body to age faster, slowing your metabolic rate, which is making you fatter, and increasing your chances of disease. Do I have your attention now? Good! Let’s continue. First, what are polyunsaturated fats? Polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) are fatty acids with many double bonds. All polyunsaturated fatty acids lack several hydrogen atoms. This makes them far less stable than a fully saturated fatty acid. This instability produces a molecule that is more susceptible to being attacked and damaged by free radicals. Free radical damage can cause accelerated aging, hormone imbalance, cancer, and immune disorders. Yikes! So what oils contain polyunsaturated fats? Well, to be honest ALL oils contain some amount of PUFAs. Here is a list of oils that have the highest concentration and can be the most harmful: Soybean oil, corn oil, safflower oil, grapeseed oil, sesame seed, nut oils (peanut, walnut, almond, etc), flaxseed, fish oil, cod liver oil, evening primrose, borage oils, and yes, this even includes Omega-3 and Omega-6 (also known as the “essential fatty acids”)....

Seven Exercise movements EVERYONE should be doing…

  Seven Exercise movements EVERYONE should be doing… When I talk about exercises there are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of exercises you can literally perform.  Now, with the on-set of functional training, kettle bells, ropes, med balls, bands, TRX, etc the quest for the perfect workout seems quite confusing. Well, I am here to make it a little easier  for you.  Your body is designed to move…right?  In fact, your body is designed to perform seven main primal movement patterns.  Primal patterns are used to describe the movement patterns our ancestors used while hunting, gathering and building.  They are the same movement patterns we use today in every day life.  They are to lunge, push, pull, squat, bend, twist and gait (walking/running).  Therefore, to keep your body strong, lean and functional, EVERY great workout you perform should contain some, if not all, of these primal patterns… Squat.  The squat is one of the best exercises to strengthen the butt, front (quads) and back (hamstrings) of the legs.  Most of us squat all day long and do not even realize it.  Every time you sit down you are squatting…well, almost.  When you do an actual squat you don’t sit back on anything.  You sit back and put the weight of your body in your heals and when you feel you can not go any lower you come up… (Push) Push Up, chest press, etc.  This is a great chest and core exercise.  A push-up is just a plank in motion.  Start on your knees.  Trying doing as many as you can and then add in at least one more push-up each week. ...