It’s that time of year to wipe the slate clean and start anew. Fitness goals are some of the most popular New Year’s Resolutions. How you define and articulate goals are as important as making them. Don’t let your good intentions get derailed by ineffective goal setting. Set yourself up for success in 2014 by following these 10 Goal Setting Do’s and Don’ts.
This is a question that has been a hot topic recently since the release of a study that showed a correlation between high blood levels of DHA (one of the omega 3 fats found in fish and omega 3 sups) and prostate cancer growth. I’m sure you aren’t he only one following the blog and my recommendations to take fish oil that has this concern. I had the same concerns when I found out about the study connecting the two so I did some research of my own.
I’m a planner. I’m a planner, organizer and list maker. My two favorite iPhone apps are my iCal and To-Do List, which pretty much run my life. As far as I’m concerned an event doesn’t exist and it was never even discussed if it isn’t in my iCal. Living this way may seem restricting, but it is actually very liberating.
Calorie restriction as a weight loss strategy is a short-term solution at best, and one that has more negatives than positives.
Carb cycling is a sustainable and more effective approach to weight loss and weight management. In this blog I will explain what it is, how to do it, and lay out several different carb cycling programs so you can choose which one is best for you.
Sticking to a strict low calorie regimen while training hard is both physically and psychologically tough. Physically, you are hungry, tired, low energy, and if you restrict yourself too long you risk going into a state of overtraining because you haven’t given your body the support it needs to recover. If that isn’t bad enough, the psychological affects of calorie restriction; hunger, mood swings, decreased desire, impaired cognitive function and focus; are even worse.
Adding to the psychological burden is the fact that calorie restriction doesn’t work for very long. That has a spirit crushing effect when you are suffering and not seeing positive results. You begin to question your motivation and yourself. When you start questioning yourself the next steps are usually a binge that snowballs into a total loss of nutritional discipline and missed training days that cause you to feel fat, sluggish, bloated and “Blah.”
Calorie Restriction Snowball Effect
Physical/Psychological Drain --> Results plateau --> Negative self-talk --> Binge --> Loss of discipline --> Feel “BLAH” --> Feel shitty about yourself --> More negative self-talk --> More Binge --> More “BLAH” --> Feel shittier about yourself --> Repeat
What is Carb Cycling?
Carb cycling is the planned alternation of carbohydrate intake that prevents fat loss plateaus by maintaining high metabolic function and workout performance. If you plan high carbohydrate days, known as “re-feeds” strategically your body never goes into starvation mode, thyroid function stays high, hunger stays in check, and muscles get glycogen refueling when they need it.
Carb cycling is a high-level nutrition strategy that requires planning. There are several different carb cycling strategies with varying degrees of difficulty and aggressiveness. Some of the strategies short term solutions, while others can be used as a long-term lifestyle approach.*
*I have been using a form of carb cycling and intermittent fasting (IF), which I will cover tomorrow in Easy Intermittent Fasting, for the last 4 months. In that time I have lost 12 lbs of fat, recorded several strength training personal records (PR’s), and had more energy than I can remember without feeling deprived. Keep in mind I also managed to do this with a baby that is now 3 months old (shout-out to my girlfriend, Lauren).
Benefits and How it Works
Sugar intake causes your body to make more fat cells, triggers those fat cells to fill up, and impairs cellular fat metabolism making it difficult for your body to utilize what is in those fat cells (Read Myth #4: Eating Fat Makes You Fat for more information on the factors that make you fat). Keeping blood sugar and insulin levels low is the key to losing and maintaining a healthy weight. Eating carbs also makes you retain water, three molecules of water per molecule of glucose (Read Guide to Labor Day Cheating). Too much carb deprivation however, can be difficult and may actually hinder performance.
The basic premise of carb cycling is that fat and protein intake are kept relatively constant while carbohydrate intake is varied. Throughout the cycle carbs are kept low or gradually depleted leading up to a high carbohydrate, “re-feed” period that lasts between 8 and 12 hours. Typically, fat and protein intake is scaled back on re-feed days unless hypertrophy is the goal. The bolus of carbs mitigates the need for energy from dietary fat and carbohydrates have a protein sparing affect so less dietary protein is required.
Carb Cycling Strategies
The following are several strategies. This is not a definitive list of every possible carb cycling plan.
Schedule one re-feed every 7-14 days. The high carb re-feeds on this plan are the biggest because it the low-carb phase is the longest. This is the most aggressive plan and the one that will result in the fastest fat loss. Depending on the length of your low-carb phase this may not be sustainable long term. You may keep a relatively steady low-carb amount through the low-carb phase, but it may help to do a progressive decrease. A progressive decrease would look something like the following:
- Day 1 Carbs = 60 grams
- Day 2 Carbs = 50 grams
- Day 3 Carbs = 40 grams
- Day 4 Carbs = 30 grams
- Day 5 Carbs = 20 grams
- Day 6 Carbs = 0-20 grams
- Day 7 Re-feed
Schedule a re-feed every 3-5 days. This is easiest and most sustainable program to follow. On this plan you can constantly tweak your ratio of low-carb days to re-feeds.**
Start with a ratio of fat day to re-feed ratio of 3:1. Ride that ratio for as long as you get results and then experiment with 4:1 and 5:1. If 3:1 is working there is no need to use a more aggressive plan until you need it. Don’t use a nuke if a fly swatter will get the job done.
Note: The re-feeds should be a little more moderate than the Infrequent Re-feed plan.
**Personally, I never refer to days as “low-carb” days. It has a negative connotation and it makes it sound like it is anything other than a normal day. The re-feed is the deviation from the norm, not the days that are low-carb. Instead I call them “fat days” because that is where I am getting my energy.
This is a great approach for serious trainees, endurance athletes and those that travel frequently. This approach requires the most amount of planning because you are structuring varying carbohydrate intake days at different intervals in synchronization with intense training days, travel or special events. This is an extremely affective approach for someone who is organized.
To illustrate an example, lets say that I am training multiple energy systems 5 days a week. Two days a week I train two times a day, one intense strength training session and another steady state aerobic session in the evening. Also factor in that my best friend is getting married the third Saturday of the month. My goal is to lose 5 lbs of fat to improve my power-to-weight ratio, but I don’t want to hinder my performance.
In this scenario I would lay out my calendar for the month. I start by identifying the re-feed days. The obvious first choices are days that I am training twice in one day because I will want to support my training. Another obvious re-feed is the day of the wedding because I want to enjoy being social and taking part in the festivities. That will work out to 9 re-feeds out of 30 days in the month (8 days of “two-a-day” workouts and 1 wedding). That is a ratio of a little over 3:1 low-carb to re-feed days.
Let’s say for my goals I know I need to be close to a 4:1 ratio to fuel the amount of fat loss I want while keeping my performance high (note: a lot of this is done through trial and error). I will have to adjust by taking away a couple re-feed days when I train twice in a day.
Keep in mind that low-carb days may vary in the amount of carbs in this plan or any other carb cycing strategy. Let’s say that as a baseline anything less than 100 grams of carbs is a low-carb day. That baseline varies from person to person based on gender, muscle mass, training intensity, training duration, etc. That means there is variability from 0 to 100 carbs on your low-carb days. When I am looking at my training program and I see a particularly taxing workout I may plan for that day to be a low-carb day at the top end of the low-carb scale. On a low intensity day, for example a 60-90 minute aerobic workout on the ERG machine, I will plan to stay on the lower end of the scale.
Conclusions and Tips
There are infinite different ways to carb cycle. The best program will take some trial and error. Generally it is a good idea to periodically do a re-feed lasting several days or even a week if you have been carb cycling for a long period of time. This will ensure your metabolism stays high long term and you don’t impair thyroid function. Go into those extended re-feeds with the expectation that you will gain a little body weight. Look at that as taking a couple steps back so that you can move three steps forward in sustaining a healthy metabolism that makes it easy to burn fat if you ever have to get really lean for something.
In my experience carb cycling works best with some form of Intermittent Fasting (IF). Register for my blog updates at the bottom of this page to get my upcoming article Easy Intermittent Fasting.
It is important to maintain good food quality during the re-feeds. “High carb” does not mean “junk food.” Don’t let carb cycling become an excuse to binge on crappy food. Treating yourself from time to time is a good thing, but everything in moderation.
Labor Day is all about bidding summer farewell with BBQ and beers, but that is no reason to ruin the summer physique you have sculpted. If you are strategic you can actually make that Labor Day BBQ binge work in your favor to give you an even better physique than you have today! Life is all about balance. If you are training your butt off and eating well you are going to get results. That part is straightforward. There are however, days like Labor Day when social conventions and celebrations call for a deviation from the norm. Rather than going without or wasting what should be a fun day with friends obsessing about what you’re putting in your mouth you should learn how to cheat.
Knowing the Rules So That You Can Break Them
Put simply, sugar makes you fat. It also ages you, makes you retain water, and a host of other bad things. There is a ton of research and statistics to back me up on this, but I’d rather get on with teaching you how to cheat rather than convincing you that sugar is the issue. Let’s save the debate until someone sustains a hard body, six-pack, high levels of performance, and health all while eating a lot of sugar. Until then there is no argument.
There are two things that can stand in the way of you showing off all the chiseled muscle you’ve earned in the gym or out at the park.
- Adipose tissue (aka body fat)
- Water retention
The following factors make you fat:
- Arachidonic acid (AA), converted from Omega 6 fatty acids, makes fat cells divide thereby increasing the total number of fat cells. Stress, sleep deprivation and obesity generate more AA.
- Insulin tells your body to increase its number of fat cells.
- increase insulin levels,
- increase triglyceride production in the liver,
- trigger fat cells to start making more fat that from sugar in the blood stream that will then fill up the cells like a sponge saturating with water
- Glucocorticoids stimulate fat cell division. Our bodies make glucocorticoids all the time, but levels rise during stress and sleep deprivation.
- Unnatural, trans fats (vegetable oils) distort all cellular function to the point that it stops fat from being able to leave fat cells.
The following factors make you retain water:
The amount of water you retain is changing all the time. Everything from hormonal changes throughout the month like menstruation, carbohydrate intake, sodium intake, and water intake affect your water retention. Heck, even flying in an airplane will make you retain water.
- Hormonal changes, especially menstruation, make you retain more water. Estrogen and cortisol, the stress hormone, in high levels will tend to cause more water retention. Men have fluctuations too. There have been studies that have shown that some men get so attuned with their partner’s menstruation cycle that they actually start retaining more water at the same time of the month.
- Carbohydrates make you retain water. For every molecule of glucose stored in places like your muscles and liver, your body holds on to three additional molecules of water. This what gives your muscles that pumped up feeling after you drink a post-workout shake with a lot of sugar.
- Contrary to what a lot of people think, a diet low in sodium will actually cause your body to retain more water because it is trying to hold on to the water and sodium it does have. Table salt affects water retention differently than sea salt or kosher salt. Salt your foods generously with sea salt, but avoid table salt.
- Drinking too little water will make you retain water for the same reason as above.
Focusing too much on water retention will be an exercise in frustration, but there are several things you can do to minimize water retention, such as
- Drink more water. Putting a pinch of sea salt in your water will help balance electrolyte levels.
- Get more sleep, or at least better quality sleep to lower cortisol levels.
- De-stress with exercise or meditation.
- Eat less sugar.
- Use more salt. It is common for people eating very clean diets with lot of unprocessed foods to actually be low in sodium if they aren’t salting their foods.
- Intermittent fasting (IF) will keep your water retention very low during the fasting periods as long as you are drinking water. This is the best way to manage water retention. Register at the bottom of this blog to receive updates on new articles if you are interested in IF. I will be posting an article summarizing the reasons you should be practicing IF and how to get started.
Do you notice any common themes here?
- Minimize sugar intake.
- Keep blood sugar and insulin levels low (see #1) through diet and exercise.
- Manage stress.
- Get good sleep.
- Drink more water.
How to Cheat for a Better Physique
Now that you know the rules, you are ready to break them. Cheating the right way is very liberating because it makes it easier to be social around your friends that don’t share your nutrition philosophy and allows you to eat some of the foods you miss. It does however, take planning if you want to minimize damage and actually get some benefit from cheating.
This week I am going to guide you through your Labor Day strategy, laying out a plan that you can follow anytime you have a cheat day on the horizon. I will explain the methods I employ and how to execute them leading up to a big cheat.
Register at the bottom of this blog or the top of any page on my site to receive my email updates throughout the week so you can follow along and learn how to do this in the future. I am also including a week of workout programming and a killer Pre-BBQ Workout that you will have you looking your best on Labor Day.
This week I will cover the following and much, much more:
Easy Intermittent Fasting
Week of Workouts including the Pre-BBQ Beast:
Practical and delicious recipes:
There are very few guarantees in life, but if you do the following five things I can guarantee you will live longer than you would have if you didn’t.
- Make your body resilient by doing regular strength training at least 2-3 times a week. Our bodies tend to get more brittle and fragile as we age. If you don’t use it, you will lose it. Luckily, you can slow that process and damn near hold it to a stand still through the application of proper and consistent strength training. Strength training increases muscle and bone density and it upregulates growth factors like testosterone and growth hormone that normally decline with age. The other day I read about a 73 year old grandma who deadlifted 180 lbs! She talked about how strength training helped her rehabilitate her body and improve her quality of life after an illness she had in her 60’s. She said she was more fit at 73 than she was at 33. Absolutely inspiring! From personal experience, I have a male client that is 75 years old who deadlifted 260 lbs for 5 reps at a bodyweight of only 160 lbs. He’s been training with me 2-3 times a week for almost 3 years and is in better shape than a lot of 20 and 30 year olds I know.
- Never stop accumulating movement skills, especially tumbling and getting back up. When we are young we tumble, fall and play all day long. Our bodies get good at minimizing and absorbing punishment. As we get older we stop tumbling and playing. After too long our bodies don’t absorb punishment and bounce back the same way they did when we were young. Sometimes a bad fall can be the beginning of the end. I’ll share another personal experience on this one. When I was a kid my grandmother lived with us. Despite being a long time smoker she was in pretty good health until she had a bad fall and shattered her hip. She lost the ability to do some of the most basic things like use the bathroom on her own. We literally watched her health deteriorate in a matter of months before she died. It was extremely sad and shocking at how quick her health declined when she lost the ability to move on her own.
- Get some aerobic exercise lasting at least 30 minutes a few times a week. This can be as simple as a walking, hiking, or riding your bike to work. It will get your heart and lungs pumping, improve circulation, help your body detoxify, calm stress, stimulate the pleasure centers of your brain and help you recover from more intense strength training.
- Eat food that was food 2000 years ago.
- Up your food quality at least one notch from where it is today. The more notches you raise your food quality the longer you will live and the better your quality of life. This one is the gift that keeps on giving.
- Brush and floss your teeth daily. Poor dental hygiene is linked to cardiovascular disease (CVD). More systemic inflammation originates from your mouth than anywhere else in your body. If you don’t like to floss buy a water pick. I asked my dentist about it and she said that it’s all good as long as you get something between your teeth every day. I’ll admit something to you. I have a block against flossing. For some reason I only do it regularly when I stay in hotel rooms. Maybe its because I keep my floss in a really visible place in my toiletry bag or because I find myself trying to kill time in hotel rooms that I don’t normally have at home. Whatever the reason behind my block against flossing, I decided to buy a water pick one day and I instantly became compliant. It seems like it takes less time and I love the way it makes my teeth feel.
- Don’t text, or sext, and drive. Whatever it is can wait. If that isn’t enough then just try to keep in mind how big of an asshole it makes you look like.
- Wear your seatbelt. Odds are that you will get in at least one car crash in your life. It takes two seconds to increase your chances of surviving by 80%.
- Look both ways before crossing the street.
So that covers about everything from exercise to getting hit crossing the street. I can’t guarantee how long you will live, but I do feel comfortable guaranteeing it will be longer than if you didn’t follow these rules.
Live long and prosper!
A Guide to Choosing Your Booze
Alcohol is a question that comes up all the time and for good reason. People enjoy it, myself included, but we know there are some obvious negatives to alcohol consumption when it comes to weight management, athletic performance and longevity. I recommend going periods of time from 14 to 90 days without alcohol throughout the year, however, I do enjoy and support alcohol consumption in moderation if you are someone that handles alcohol well. There is certainly plenty of research to support health benefits from certain alcoholic beverages. Perhaps even more important are the stress relieving and social benefits. Humans are social creatures and alcohol is the ultimate social lubricant.
Positives & Negatives
The body doesn’t metabolize alcohol like a carbohydrate and it doesn’t spike your blood sugar like carbs, meaning there isn’t the same insulin spike. Alcohol gets sent straight to your liver where it moves to the front of the line as an energy source to be burned in front of stored glycogen. If fat loss is your goal, this can be a problem because in addition to detoxifying and processing alcohol, your liver is responsible for mobilizing body fat into energy your body can burn. Detoxification and alcohol processing are higher up on the liver’s To-Do List than fat burning so every time you drink you are robbing your body of some of its fat burning resources.
It’s pretty well known that certain alcoholic beverages are high in antioxidants that fight free radicals and promote longevity. Epidemiological evidence shows that those who consume moderate amounts of alcohol live longer and are at lower risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease (CVD) in comparison with those that completely abstain and “heavy” drinkers. Moderate alcohol consumption has also been shown to reduce incidence of Type II diabetes and CVD in diabetic men and women. As long as you aren’t looking to lose weight there is no reason you shouldn’t enjoy an occasional drink. If your goals are weight loss oriented I suggest going without alcohol or going extended periods of time (14-90 days) without it and then timing alcohol consumption to follow a few days of carb depletion and then a longer, relatively intense aerobic workout on the day of drinking. Drinking alcohol, or any liquid calories, will only stand in the way of your fat loss goals.
Hierarchy of Alcohol: Top Shelf to Bottom of the Barrel
- Red wine takes the #1 spot because it has the biggest health benefit with the fewest carbs and additives. It is high in antioxidants, particularly resveratrol, which has been shown to fight cancer and reduce signs of aging.
- Unflavored distilled wood aged spirits like whiskey, scotch and brandy are low carb and have an underrated antioxidant content.
- Other unflavored spirits like vodka and gin are low carb, but have virtually no antioxidant benefit.
- White wines don’t stack up to red wines in terms of antioxidant or phenol content and they don’t have resveratrol, but they still offer a healthy dose of antioxidants.
- Beer offers about the same antioxidant content as white wine, but more carbs and calories. Don’t always assume that darker beer has more calories either. This is a pretty good resource for figuring out where your favorite beer stands. Although light beers offer less calories they also offer less taste and enjoyment in my personal opinion. If I’m going to drink a beer I want to drink a real beer. My personal favorite is Baba Black Lager, an organic beer made by Uinta Brewing.
- Sugary drinks like Grand Marnier, Amaretto, Kahlua, daiquiris, and pretty much anything that is popular in tropical beach locales or at spring break are the bottom of the barrel in this hierarchy by a long shot. Putting them only one numerical spot behind beer does a disservice to beer. They are high calorie, high carb, and lacking in any health benefits, not to mention that at a certain age you shouldn’t be drinking anything that is neon colored.
It is worth mentioning that mixers need to be taken into consideration when drinking. From a health and weight loss perspective it is always best to drink alcohol straight up or with mineral water. Soda water is acceptable too. Stay away from orange juice, 7Up, Coke and tonic water, which goes about 90 calories per serving.
Always keep in mind that you aren’t missing out if you abstain. A healthy diet and supplementation with fish oil can offer all the same health benefits as red wine. If you are in weight loss mode I recommend abstaining until you reach your goal and then seeing how you respond. Regardless of what your goals are, enjoy responsibly and never drink and drive.
15 Commandments of Fat Loss
Options aren’t always a good thing. Too many of them can paralyze your decision making process. The time you spend on decision-making takes time away from execution. My motivation for creating the Hierarchy of Fat Loss was to simplify the decision-making process to help you get the most out of your time and energy. Proper nutrition holds down both the #1 and #2 spots on my hierarchy because it is that important.
The following 15 commandments make up the backbone of my system for fat loss and weight management. They are meant to be simple and straightforward because most people need things to be simple, not complicated. These rules are not necessarily ranked in any order although if you are being honest with yourself it should be obvious which ones you most need to implement first.
If you consistently live by these rules I guarantee you will lose fat, increase your power-to-weight ratio, feel better, improve your health, have more energy and be able to easily maintain a desired weight once you get there. Living by these rules consistently is the key. In my experience people like to cherry pick the elements from a system that they like and ignore the ones they don’t like. Then they combine the elements they like from one system with the ones they like from another system. They end up with a lot of rules they like living by and no results. Then they blame the information for being bad rather than looking in the mirror. Don’t be a cherry picker.
- Eat quality food. Quality food maximizes the efficiency of cellular function keeping your metabolism burning hot.
- Figure out an effective way to deal with stress and practice it with daily consistency. Try meditation, prayer, art, yoga, or simply time spent in nature. High levels of stress cause your body to make more arachidonic acid (AA) and glucocorticoids which stimulate fat cell division.
- Eat a high protein diet to boost your metabolism and give your body the building blocks it needs to recover from the hard training you should be doing to support fat loss. Start your day by eating 30 grams of protein within 30 minutes of waking up. This has been shown to boost metabolism for the entire day.
- Eat fat to lose fat. There is no direct metabolic pathway for fat you eat to be stored as body fat. By eating more fat your body will actually begin to prefer it as a primary fuel source, making your body more efficient at burning fat. Unlike carbs, fat doesn’t spike insulin.
- Keep insulin low by eating fewer carbs. You don’t need carbs as an energy source to survive or even thrive unless you are doing some serious endurance training on a regular basis at a high intensity level >90 minutes. In the absence of dietary carbs our bodies are capable of making them through gluconeogenesis. Carbs spike your insulin levels, which triggers your body to start storing body fat. I am not saying go zero carb. I’m saying the better you are at managing your insulin levels and using fat as your primary energy source the better you will be at losing fat.
- Get more sleep to prolong HGH release. HGH is a super fat burner. Also keep in mind that insulin deactivates HGH.
- Eat a variety of vegetables prepared a variety of different ways (raw, steamed, braised, grilled, sautéed, etc.). Different cooking methods unlock different nutrients from vegetables that become the catalysts of metabolic reactions that boost our metabolisms.
- Supplement with fish oil every day. Fish oil turns on your fat burning genes and turns off your fat storing genes. Omega 3’s, especially fish oils high in EPA and DHA, also stimulate a part of your cell structures called the peroxisomes. Peroxisomes handle the breakdown of fats to energy similar to the mitochondria, however, when fats are broken down by the peroxisome, 30-40% more heat is produced and 30% less energy for your body to use. That means more fat breakdown is required to produce the same amount of energy. Since so many fish sources are polluted quality really matters when it comes to fish oil. I recommend Ascenta Omega 3 DHA because it's a high quality product, it has a big dose per serving (4.5g), and it's very high in DHA. It's the one I take and the one sold at the gym.
- Integrate medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) from foods like coconut oil. The easiest way to do this is to do all of your cooking with coconut oil or to just take 1-2 Tbsp/day. MCTs have been shown to boost thyroid function and they act as a natural fat burning (read Boost Your Metabolism with Coconut Oil).
- Avoid trans-fat, vegetable oil and any hydrogenated oils. These are the single worst things along with processed sugars that you can put in your body from a nutrition standpoint. Fact, most restaurants cook with vegetable oil because it is cheap. Do your research.
- Avoid processed sugars.
- Eat quality food. It matters! Eating organic produce and grass-fed/pasture raised meat not only makes you healthier, but it also boosts your metabolism through a myriad of different mechanisms that I will cover in more depth in another article. If you have to make some compromises on food quality because of financial reasons check out my Hierarchy of Food Quality.
- Don’t drink your calories. They are more quickly absorbed and they spike your insulin more than an equal amount of carbs from food.
- Cut back on your alcohol. Read up on my Hierarchy of Alcohol for guidance on making the right choices.
- Intermittently fast. Intermittent fasting restricts energy intake and also allows the liver a chance to detoxify the body so that it can get to its secondary job of mobilizing fat.
Teaching my body transformation clients how to prioritize their time and energy on addressing and applying change to their life is the most important thing I teach. The level of success anyone has with weight loss is directly correlated to the net improvement of their decision-making over a period of time.
The level of success anyone has with weight loss is directly correlated to the net improvement of their decision-making over a period of time.
To ensure that you have a large net improvement, your decision-making must be in the black in all the following areas: nutrition, physical exercise, time management and planning. In an effort to make the learning process easy for my clients I was inspired by Alwyn Cosgrove to create my own Fat Loss Hierarchy for Los Angeles*. Los Angeles is one of the easiest cities in the US in which to get fit because we have amazing places to train, high quality food, and knowledgeable health & fitness professionals, but you still have to know how to prioritize your time and energy because it is limited. Use the following hierarchy as your guide for prioritizing your time and energy to maximize your results.
- Proper nutrition is #1 in the Fat Loss Hierarchy. You can’t out train a bad diet. Improving food choices is the biggest hurdle to jump when your goal is fat loss. The more natural and less processed your diet the better. Year round great weather in Southern California ensures that we have access to fresh produce all year long. The 3rd Street Promenade farmer’s market on Wednesday or the Sunday farmer’s market in Hollywood are the best in the city with a great variety of organic produce and grass-fed meat without spending your whole paycheck at Whole Foods. You can even score raw dairy products for a reasonable price at both of these markets.
- Nutrition is so important that it also holds the #2 spot. Even though Angelino’s tend to get a late start to work they are hard working, busy people that burn the midnight oil. Many of you don’t have time to do your own cooking. Fortunately, food delivery services like My Fit Foods and Annie's Edibles will custom make your meals to meet your weight loss goals, satisfy your palate, and address your allergy concerns.
- Surrounding yourself with positive influences is #3 on my list. It is said that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. Make an effort to spend more time with positive people that support your goals. Hire a trainer, find a training partner, or join a group that will hold you accountable and support you.
- Up to 3 hours/week of resistance interval training with bodyweight exercises and basic implements like barbells and kettlebells is by far the best use of exercise time for fat loss. I have Body Transformation clients that have made dramatic changes doing only calisthenics (bodyweight training) and kettlebell exercises. Research has shown experienced subjects doing a kettlebell swing burned an average of 20.2 calories a minute, making it one of the most efficient fat burning exercises ever tested. At that rate you would burn 1200 calories in an hour! The best part about calisthenics and kettlebells is that you can do them anywhere while enjoying the sunshine and beautiful views around Los Angeles
- High Intensity Anaerobic IntervalTraining (HIIT) is the next best use of training time if you have another 1-2 hours to train/week. Hillsprints are my top suggestion for HIIT training. The hills in the neighborhood north of Lincoln Blvd. in Santa Monica or the sand dunes in Manhattan Beach are two of my favorite locations. Sometimes to mix it up I do sprint interval workouts on stairs. Matt Aporta from Stronger Faster Healthier introduced me to the Culver City stairs which offer the most challenging stair workout in the city. The staircase is over 230 yards with randomly varied step heights that have an average height of 10.5" and a max height of 20". I still haven't gotten the chance to thank Matt with a kettlebell workout yet.
- Aerobic intervals and steady state aerobics round out the best kinds of training for weight loss if you have even more time to exercise. Since most people spend way too much time inside during the day, I like to recommend getting as much exercise outside as possible. Rowing, swimming and cycling are great ways to get your aerobic exercise. If you like a little variety and more intensity try a fitness scavenger hunt. If you are interested in swimming, Santa Monica College has open swim hours at their world class salt water pool facility. I get my aerobic exercise by commuting back and forth from work all week on my bike. Several of my clients that are big cyclists tell me that the roads in the Santa Monica Mountains are the best in Los Angeles for riding.
Time and energy are our most precious and limited resources. People that have the most success in any area of life are the ones that do the best job of utilizing them. Use my fat loss hierarchy as your guide to ensure that you will be a massive success.
*This hierarchy applies to fat loss in any city. With a little research I'm sure you can find places similar to the ones I describe in your town.