Monday, February 24, 2014

Accuracy of the "Calorie Burn" Reading on Equipment

Here's another great blog from trainer, Caitlin Massey.

You come into the gym and hop on the elliptical machine and as you are going you look down and notice the machine indicating you have burned 100 calories so far.  You think to yourself great!  But then you wonder: how accurate are the calorie readings on the cardio equipment?  As a trainer, I get this question a lot.  The answer is they are not fully accurate but are a reasonable guess. 

Generally machine readings err on the high side between 20-30%. So this means for every 100 calories the machine says you burn you have actually spent between 70 and 100.  For most of us that 20-30 % is small enough to not make a difference, but as the amount of calories you burn increases, so does the gap between what you think you burn and what you actually burn. 

So why aren’t machines accurate? Each manufacturer uses its own patented algorithms that are based on heart rate, workload, and duration. The more high-end your machine brand, the more accurate your machine is likely to be.  But this type of formula is flawed because burning calories is based on more than just your heart rate.  The amount of calories you burn depends on heart rate, body temperature, body position, food intake, muscle groups exercised, medication, body size, strength, lean mass, exercise efficiency, and if exercise is intermittent or continuous.  And since machines only consider heart rate and workload, their formula leaves a lot of variables in the equation.  

So what will get you the most caloric burn? A machine that will engage the largest muscle groups, position your body in a less than optimal angle, and vary the work demands placed on the body.  Running uphill on a treadmill at different speeds or inclines achieves all of these, and therefore burns the most calories.  So the next time you hop on a piece of cardio equipment, get the most out of your workout by picking one that uses your whole body - not just your legs - and stay on a bit longer to make up a few calories.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Who Really Needs to Eat "Gluten-Free"

Gluten-Free:  This is a popular buzz word/phrase right now.  Do you follow a nutrition plan that is gluten-free?  Why do you choose that?  If it's because you suffer from some sort of problem/syndrome/condition such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn's disease, ulcerate colitis, fibromyalgia, or rheumatoid arthritis (RA), then you are probably on the right track.  If you choose to go gluten-free just because you "heard" gluten is bad for you, then you might be missing out on some important nutrients.  In this scenario, eating gluten-free is not really necessary.

First let's talk about gluten and find out what it is. Gluten is a protein found in grains such as wheat, barley, rye and triticale (a cross between wheat and rye).  Gluten gives elasticity to baked goods, helping them to rise and keep their shape and also resulting in that chewy texture we associate with freshly baked bread.  With that being said, think about all of the foods (and drinks) you have consumed in your lifetime that contain wheat, barley and rye.  For all of you beer/whiskey/rye drinkers out there, that should have caught your attention.  A gluten-free diet is not just about avoiding wheat bread and some pastas but also avoiding some of the alcoholic drinks made with these products. 

In general, here is a short list of products that may contain gluten UNLESS THEY ARE LABELED AS GLUTEN-FREE on the packaging:
  • Beer
  • Breads
  • Cakes and pies
  • Candies
  • Cereals
  • Cookies and crackers
  • Croutons
  • French fries
  • Gravies
  • Imitation meat or seafood
  • Matzo
  • Pastas
  • Processed luncheon meats
  • Salad dressings
  • Sauces, including soy sauce
  • Seasoned rice mixes
  • Seasoned snack foods, such as potato and tortilla chips
  • Self-basting poultry
  • Soups and soup bases
  • Vegetables in sauce
Surprised by that list?  You should be.  So if you are following a gluten-free diet, you must watch out for some of these items.  It is a lot of work and takes a lot of patience to abide by a gluten-free nutrition plan.  Again, if you are following this plan due to health reasons (as listed in the first paragraph of this blog), then you are probably well aware of this list.

Now, if you are following this type of nutrition plan because you are just trying to lose weight or "be healthy", you need to be aware that some gluten-free products can still be high in calories, total carbohydrates, and sodium.  Also, if you are an athlete (professional or weekend/amateur), then you should know that gluten-free products contain inadequate amounts of key nutrients such as fiber, calcium, iron, folate, niacin, thiamine, vitamin B12, riboflavin, phosphorus, and zinc.  Wow...surprised by that list??

The topic of this blog is not to dis-sway you from following a gluten-free nutritional plan, but it's to raise your awareness about potential pitfalls of this plan.  If you have a diagnosed medical reason for need to be gluten-free, then by all means, please follow your physician's/nutritionist's advice and stay gluten-free.  However, if you have no medical reason for following this plan, then be sure to cover all of your bases and make sure you receiving all of the necessary nutrients to be completely healthy.  According to registered dietitian Courtney Sullivan, steer clear of highly processed gluten-free foods that lack quality vitamins and minerals.  Eat a variety of grains, including gluten-free ones such as amaranth and brown rice.  As always, be sure to balance lean proteins with fruits and vegetables.

Hopefully this sheds some light on the "gluten-free" way of life.  Again, we are not saying that it is bad to go gluten-free.  You just need to make sure you are following a healthy nutritional plan that is well-balanced and contains all of the necessary vitamins and minerals.

So....are you "gluten-free"??

Monday, February 17, 2014

We Love to Watch You Walk Away

No that wasn't a creepy title to today's blog.  One of our trainers, Caitlin Massey, just wants you to have the best training for your glutes!!

Everyone wants to have a nice looking backside, but we also need to have a well-functioning one to prevent knee and lower back injuries. Fortunately, with the right type of training, you can do both. 

Typical glute training consists of concentric motions in a linear pattern (meaning straight forwards and back), but this method is an incomplete method of training for how the muscle acts on the hip joint as it adapts to a variety of forces.  One key component of advanced glute training is multi-directional movement. There is an abundance of muscle tissue that run multi-directionally around your pelvis and hips to help stabilize the joint. By using multi-directional exercises, such as a staggered stance squat with a lateral reach or lateral squat on the BOSU, you can activate more muscle fibers and connective tissues, thus creating more shape and functional capacity.   

Another key to glute training is using eccentric training (lengthening the muscle). This type of training maximizes the energy potential of the muscle as it attempts to decelerate a load and stabilize the hip. An example of this would be a single-leg deadlift or single-leg squat using the TRX or other suspension apparatus. 

The last key to glute training is exercise and weight progression. Your body adapts to sustain greater stress, so the only way to get better shape in the glutes is to continually challenge the muscle tissue. You do this by enhancing the load you place on the muscle (using heavier weight). 

So, are you ready to "look good walking away"?  Try some of these exercises mentioned and start your glute training correctly.  Still need help?  Be sure to enlist the help of one our personal trainers to ensure you are performing the exercise correctly and safely.  

The 3D Booty: Training the Glutes for Form and Function. IDEA Fitness Journal. January 2014 pp 24-32

Thursday, February 13, 2014

All About Fat Loss

There are so many questions about fat. What is it?  Why is it stored in different areas?  What is the most effective way to lose it?  Although most people spend a great deal of time and money trying to lose fat, it is vital to the proper function on your cells. Fat has a key role in the flexibility and structure of cell membranes, affects immune function, and is an energy reserve. Did you know that it has been estimated that a lean adult male stores 131,000 calories in fat? That is enough energy reserve to keep him alive for roughly 65 days. The majority of your fat stores are in the form of triacylglycerols in storage cells called adipocytes. Whether your body stores fat or releases it into the bloodstream is based on caloric supply and demand. When energy supply is high, insulin keeps fat inside adipocytes. During exercise or periods of fasting insulin is lowered releasing fat into the bloodstream where it is carried by proteins to cells where it can be broken down into ATP (energy for your muscles) or stored.

Now that we know what fat is and how it is stored, let’s look at what is the best way to burn already stored fat cells. As previously stated, fat storage and use is determined by an energy surplus or deficit. Meaning to lose fat, we need to create an energy deficit. Furthermore, insulin plays a major role in fat storage and release. The lower your insulin levels are (either by exercising or altering food intake) the more fat will be released and used as an energy source to meet energy demands placed on the body. This is why a lower carbohydrate diet is generally effective in weight loss (lower carbohydrates mean lower insulin levels).   

Exercise intensity also plays a role in fat loss. Research finds that we burn the most fat when exercising at low to moderate intensities. When exercising at high intensities the majority of your energy comes from the breakdown of carbohydrates instead of fat.  Now does this mean that exercising at a high intensity isn’t good for fat loss? Let’s not jump to conclusions. We also have to consider exercise recovery. After we finish exercising our bodies need to use more energy to help cells recover and replace lost glycogen. In short, our metabolisms are running at a much higher rate. And this happens at the most accelerated rate after bouts of high intensity resistance training. 

So, what is the most comprehensive attack against fat? The answer is an exercise program that alternates between high-intensity training and moderate-intensity training on different days while eating a lower carbohydrate-reduced calorie diet. This maximizes the body’s two ways of burning fat: in a single bout of exercise and in recovery. 

So there you have it..."Fat Loss" in a nutshell.  Still have questions?  Be sure to talk with one of our fitness professionals and/or nutrition specialists for more info.  Good luck!! 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Myths and Facts About Fighting Obesity: What Is Scientifically Sound?

There are many ideas circulating about the best way to promote fat loss, change lifestyles, and maintain the changes you make. Today, let’s look at a few of the popular ideas surrounding weight management.

  • Small lifestyle changes are enough to lose a significant amount of weight and keep it off. 
Though efforts like parking further from your destination are a good place to start, latest research is showing that this may not help as much as we would like to think. The fact is that the amount of time in which we are sedentary greatly outweighs the effort of walking 20 extra yards once a day. Experts say once again the most effective means of substantial weight loss and management is consistent dietary management and exercise. 
  •  Setting realistic goals is the best approach. 
The current thought about goal setting is to create a small manageable goal and progress once that goal is reached; however leading fitness professionals are recommending a more progressive approach. Personal trainers are familiar with this concept, and there is no reason that you should not be too: micro goals and macro goals. Set a higher weight loss goal but then break it down into smaller goals. This will allow you to celebrate small successes while continually challenging you to meet your true goal.  Click HERE to review a previous blog entry on goal setting.
  • Rapid weight loss is always bad
Researchers are saying this is not always true. The key is finding a program that is sustainable.
  • Regularly eating breakfast prevents obesity
Researchers have found that a person’s baseline breakfast habits set the nutritional standards for the rest of the day. So a healthy breakfast fostered healthier eating for the remainder of the day, but an unhealthy breakfast led to poor meal choices for the duration of the day.  Click HERE to read a blog about eating breakfast.
  • Eating more fruits and veggies results in weight loss. 
Research has concluded that there is no evidence to support or reject this theory. Eating fruits and veggies allows you to reap the nutritional benefits, but if the key in weight loss is creating a calorie deficit. 

Still frustrated and confused about how to go about losing weight the safe and effective way?  Schedule an appointment with one of our trainers AND one of our nutrition specialists.  Let's talk about what got you to where you are today and how we can help you with your "scientific body transformation".  Remember, all you have to do is ask for help...we won't turn you away.

This blog was adapted from: "What Really Works In fighting Obesity."  IDEA Fitness Journal. Jan 2014 pp 16-17

Monday, February 10, 2014

Just Beet It, Beet It, Beet It....

Did you catch that?  Nope it wasn't a typo.  Today's blog is about that ugly red (and sometimes yellow) root vegetable you walk past in the produce section...the beet.  Growing up in a house full of beet-lovers, my sister and I used to complain when our Mom was boiling beets.  We used to say that it smelled like she was cooking dirty socks.  Our poor Mom had to listen to that every time she made beets...and let me tell you, she ate them A LOT!!  There was nothing worse than walking in the house on a weekend afternoon and getting a whiff of cooked beets.  Now, based on that you would think that I HATED beets, right?  I used to until about 5 years ago.  Ironic thing is now I can't get enough of them!!

OK, enough about my childhood trials and tribulations.  Let's talk about the nutritional value of the beet first.  The beet is on the top 100 "World's Healthiest Foods".  Beets are known for their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification properties.  This root vegetable can be completely consumed as you can eat the beet (also known as beetroot), the little bit of root attached to the body of the beet, and the greens.  Here is a chart that shows all of the nutrients found in one cup of sliced, cooked beets.

Beets, sliced, cooked
1.00 cup
170.00 grams
Calories: 75
GI: med
World's Healthiest
Foods Rating
folate136.00 mcg34.08.2excellent
manganese0.55 mg27.56.6very good
potassium518.50 mg14.83.6very good
copper0.13 mg14.43.5very good
fiber3.40 g13.63.3good
magnesium39.10 mg9.82.4good
phosphorus64.60 mg9.22.2good
vitamin C6.12 mg8.22.0good
iron1.34 mg7.41.8good
vitamin B60.11 mg6.51.6good

As you can see, beets are an excellent source of folate, manganese, potassium, and copper.  Eating beets is another great way to get iron and vitamin B6.  You can click on each of the nutrients above to learn a little more about them.  As with any vegetable, the longer you cook/boil/steam/roast beets, the nutritional value decreases.  It is recommended to keep cooking time for steaming beets under 15 minutes and roasting time under one hour.  This will help maintain the integrity of the nutrients.

Now that you know a little more about beets, let's talk about what to do with them.  If you are a fan of juicing your vegetables, beets are a great addition to your favorite mixture.  Try grating raw beets and adding them to your soups and salads.  Here's a yummy recipe for 15-Minute Steamed Beets:

Prep and Cook Time: 5 minute prep; 15 minute cooking

  • 3 medium beets, about 3" in diameter
  • 1 medium clove garlic, pressed or chopped
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 TBS balsamic vinegar
  • 3 TBS extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste
  • Optional:
  • 1 TBS balsamic vinegar
  • 10 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 TBS chopped dill
  • 1 TBS chopped chives
  • 2 TBS Feta cheese
  1. Fill the bottom of a steamer with 2 inches of water.
  2. While the water is coming to a boil, wash beets, leaving 2 inches of tap root and 1 inch of the stem on the beets. Cut beets into quarters. Do not peel.
  3. Steam covered for 15 minutes. Beets are cooked when you can easily insert a fork on the tip of a knife into the beet. Although some of their colorful phytonutrients are lost to the steaming water, there is plenty of color and nutrients left in the beets.
  4. Press or chop garlic and let sit for 5 minutes to bring out their health-promoting properties.
  5. Peel beets using a paper towel.
  6. Transfer beets to a bowl and toss with remaining ingredients while they are still hot.
Serves 2
Be forewarned...beet juice will stain so use caution when peeling and cutting beets.  You can use a little lemon juice to help remove the stains from cutting boards and counter tops.  Add lemon juice and course salt to your hands and scrub gently to remove the "red finger" syndrome! 

If you are still looking for a few more healthy beet recipes, click HERE and you can check out some yummy ways to serve beets.  In the meantime, don't pass those dirty looking red vegetables the next time you are in the produce section.  Grab a bunch and give them a try.  You might find that they don't smell like dirty socks when cooking and possibly have a new veggie to add to your list of "must-haves".  Enjoy!!