No Excuse Fitness by Niko2016-07-21T11:29:29Z Rifat Jipu <![CDATA[The Ultimate Hangover Cure]]> 2016-02-14T01:40:20Z 2016-02-14T01:38:11Z Too much booze. Headaches. Stomach aches. Memory aches. Let’s end them all. This simple recipe, based on nutrition science, is the perfect hangover cure. Sometimes you drink too much. Other times, you drink way too much. This hangover smoothie might as well be called a hangover cure because […]

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Too much booze. Headaches. Stomach aches. Memory aches. Let’s end them all. This simple recipe, based on nutrition science, is the perfect hangover cure.

Sometimes you drink too much. Other times, you drink way too much. This hangover smoothie might as well be called a hangover cure because it was designed for these moments.

Whether it was your choice in alcohol, your lack of hydration, or just that you happened to wake up with the most brutal hangover of your life, this drink mixes nutrition science with a little culinary skill to make your recovery taste (and feel) a lot better.

Stock up on these 8 ingredients, keep them handy, and your hangover recovery will be better than ever.

The Science of The Ultimate Hangover Cure

You can drink the healthy smoothie and not worry about why it works. But if you’re curious, here’s why the drink is better than your average hangover drink.

Coconut water: Hangover recovery starts with hydration. Coconut water provides more that double the electrolytes as

Kiwi: Contains the same amount of potassium as a banana, but with less sugar.

Pear: Pears provide a good source of fiber and potassium.

Celery: It might seem bland, but celery has anti-inflammatory properties, and it’s rich in vitamin K, folate, vitamin A, potassium, and vitamin C.

Cucumber: Adds to your (much needed) hydration.

Ginger: Science suggests it can help decrease nausea and motion sickness.

Lemon: Helps with the flavor because you want to enjoy your drink.

Himalayan sea salt: Restores lost trace minerals from all the boozing.


Yields: 1 smoothie

Cook time:  5 minutes

Difficulty: Very easy

  • 1 cup coconut water, not from concentrate
  • 1 peeled kiwi
  • ½ pear or green apple
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 small cucumber
  • 1 small chunk of fresh ginger
  • ½ fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • Pinch of Himalayan sea salt


  1. Add everything to a high-powered blender. Blend and pour over ice.

This article was originally published by Olivia Langdon on BornFitness

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Rifat Jipu <![CDATA[FLAWED: The Tom Brady and Giselle Bündchen Diet Plan]]> 2016-02-14T01:18:41Z 2016-02-14T01:18:41Z They avoid tomatoes, non-organic foods, and don’t cook with olive oil. Should you do the same? A top nutritionist shares the truth. You don’t need me to tell you there’s an overwhelming amount of bad fitness and nutrition information. But you would probably prefer a simpler way […]

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They avoid tomatoes, non-organic foods, and don’t cook with olive oil. Should you do the same? A top nutritionist shares the truth.

You don’t need me to tell you there’s an overwhelming amount of bad fitness and nutrition information. But you would probably prefer a simpler way to reduce the confusion, and know what to believe and what’s not worth your time.

That’s what’s delivered for free through The Born Reality, an insider digital magazine where we make sense of the nonsense.

This is just a sample of what’s typically sent, where Born Fitness takes an inside look at Tom Brady and Giselle Bündchen’s diet, based on this article from The Boston Globe.

We all know that Tom Brady is an incredible quarterback and Giselle is beautiful, but that doesn’t mean you should follow their nutrition plan. Despite their star power, are their chef’s recommendations worth your time?

To answer that question, I reviewed his advice with nutritionist Andy Bellatti, MS, RD.

So just what are Tom and Giselle doing right and wrong? Read on to find out how Bellatti translates the dietary suggestions into advice you can use and mistakes you can avoid.

The Tom Brady Diet: An Inside Look

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady made nutrition headlines late last year over his harsh criticism of Frosted Flakes and Coca-Cola. But Tom is obviously not a nutritionist, so his opinions come from somewhere. The main source: his personal chef, Allen Campbell. The Boston Globe interviewed Allen Campbell about the power couple’s dietary habits.

As a dietitian, these sorts of articles are often a mixed bag. On the one hand, the celebrity packaging takes the message of healthful eating to a wide audience that can otherwise be difficult to reach. Conversely, there is always a high risk of spotting nutritional inaccuracies and myths that only further confuse the general public.

The Good: Finding the Magic Ratio

Campbell has a plant-based, whole-food perspective, and roughly 80 percent of the food he prepares for Tom and Gisele is plant-based. That’s terrific.

Current health statistics — heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., 1 in 3 American adults has high blood pressure, and 50 percent of Americans have Type 2 diabetes or prediabetes — point to a nation in the grips of a nutritional deficit disorder.

Eating more whole, plant-based foods and fewer highly processed foods (aka “junk food”) are two of the best things the average American can do to improve his or her health. Campbell frequently prepares nutrient-rich brown rice, quinoa, millet, and beans for the superstar couple. Can’t argue with any of those recommendations.

Campbell also mentions an effort to procure sustainable and local food as much as possible, which is commendable. Unfortunately, this is where the good stops and the bad begins.

Red Flag #1: Organic is Not the Only Way

“If it’s not organic, I don’t use it.”

Organic agriculture has many environmental benefits (i.e.: reduction of agricultural pollutants and the preservation of on-farm biodiversity), but from a nutritional standpoint, a conventional avocado offers the same heart-healthy fats found in an organic avocado, and both conventional and organic oranges are excellent sources of vitamin C.

Or put more clearly: both of those conventional produce choices will always trump an organic cookie.

Red Flag #2: The Acid/Alkaline Myth

“If you just eat sugar and carbs—which a lot of people do—your body is so acidic, and that causes disease.” 

Framing all carbohydrates – essentially everything from lentils, apples, and broccoli to muffins, Swedish Fish, and soda – as unhealthy is nutritionally inaccurate. And it’s enough to confuse you into not knowing what’s OK to eat.

This statement also supports the acid-alkaline myth, a thoroughly debunked theory, which suggests that certain foods (i.e.: refined starches, coffee, and white sugar), are “acid-forming”, while others (i.e.: almonds, spinach, and grapefruit) are “alkaline-forming”.

The theory works like this: the more alkaline-forming foods you eat, the more alkaline your blood, and the more alkaline your blood, the lower your risk of developing a host of chronic diseases.

This is simply not true and here’s why. Your blood pH is tightly regulated so it stays between 7.35 and 7.45, which is slightly alkaline (1 is acidic, 7 is neutral, and 14 is alkaline).

No food can lower or raise blood pH. (Let that sink in as the first sign that any acid/alkaline diet suggestions are simply scare tactics based on bad science.)

Furthermore, a blood pH below 7.35 is known as metabolic acidosis, while alkalosis refers to a blood pH above 7.45. Either case is cause for serious concern and requires medical attention.

Copious amounts of added sugars and refined starches are problematic not because they are “acid-forming,” but because they are minimally nutritious, raise biomarkers for heart disease, and can wreak havoc on our blood sugar levels.

Red Flag #3: “No white sugar.”

Americans’ current intake of added sugars — that is, sugar added to foods during processing and preparation — is cause for concern. An ever-growing body of research has linked higher amounts of added sugar to increased risks of type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease.

According to the latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the average adult man in the United States consumes 21 teaspoons a day; the average woman: 15 teaspoons.

These figures far exceed the American Heart Association’s recommendation of no more than 36 grams (9 teaspoons) for men, and 24 grams (6 teaspoons) for women per day, and the World Health Organization’s recommendation to cap added sugar intake at 10 percent of calories for adults (for a 2,000-calorie diet, that equates to 12 teaspoons per day). It’s worth noting, too, that WHO states a further reduction to five percent of total calories is suggested for additional health benefits.

Do you probably need to eat less sugar? Sure. But does white sugar need to be demonized as the source of all health problems? Not at all.

Sugar is sugar is sugar. Two tablespoons of agave nectar, maple syrup, or coconut nectar are no healthier than two tablespoons of white sugar. All forms of added sugar should be equally limited, and no form of added sugar should ever be framed as ‘healthier’ because your body will process it the same way no matter what healthy spin you try to create.

Red Flag #4: Cooking Oils and Salt

“I’ll use raw olive oil, but I never cook with olive oil. I only cook with coconut oil. I use Himalayan pink salt as the sodium. I never use iodized salt.”

This is a perfect example of someone taking a food most people believe is healthy—olive oil—and creating unnecessary confusion and fear.

Olive oil is actually quite heat stable due to its high monounsaturated fat content. Extra virgin olive oil has been shown to retain its nutritional properties up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and its smoke point is anywhere between 374 and 400 degrees Fahrenheit (when cooking oil surpasses its smoke point, free radicals are formed).

Oils high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as flax, walnut, and hempseed oil are best used in salad dressings or raw dips, as the fats are fragile and have significantly lower smoke points.

As far as salt goes, while Himalayan pink salt gets its hue from its mineral content, you would need multiple heaping tablespoons – surpassing daily sodium recommendations by tenfold – to add a substantial amount of minerals to your diet. From a culinary standpoint, different salts can provide different properties, but nutritionally all are equal.

Red Flag #5: Are Nightshades Dangerous?

“[Tom] doesn’t eat nightshades, because they’re not anti-inflammatory. So no tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms, or eggplants. Tomatoes trickle in every now and then, but just maybe once a month. I’m very cautious about tomatoes. They cause inflammation.”

It is a shame that nightshade vegetables are still relegated by some to the “do not eat” pile based on inaccurate information. Nightshade vegetables – which include tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and potatoes; mushrooms are not nightshades – offer a plethora of vitamins, minerals, and anti-inflammatory compounds.

There is no scientific evidence that tomatoes cause inflammation, and, barring issues with heartburn, no real reason to avoid them. In fact, men should consume tomatoes – especially cooked ones – frequently, as they are an excellent source of lycopene, an antioxidant that may help protect against the development of prostate cancer (you also find lycopene in watermelon and red peppers, but it is abundant in cooked tomatoes).

Some eschew nightshades due to the presence of compounds known as saponins, which are also found in beans, legumes, garlic, asparagus, matcha tea, and oats. Although some dietary circles blame saponins for some health issues — especially “leaky gut”, which is not yet a recognized diagnosis due to an absence of scientific evidence — animal studies have found anti-inflammatory properties as well as an ability to bind cholesterol.

The good takeaways from this piece? Eat more plants, eat more real food, and get a be your own personal chef.

This article was originally published by Adam Bornstein on BornFitness

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Rifat Jipu <![CDATA[The Meal Timing Myth?]]> 2016-02-14T01:06:39Z 2016-02-14T01:06:39Z Most people assume meal timing after your workout is essential. But new research shows that nutrient timing might now be as important as we once thought. If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I enjoy hosting random Q&A’s using the hashtag #AskBorn. Oftentimes this happens […]

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Meal Timing

Most people assume meal timing after your workout is essential. But new research shows that nutrient timing might now be as important as we once thought.

If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I enjoy hosting random Q&A’s using the hashtag #AskBorn. Oftentimes this happens while in a Taxi, at the airport, or just because I feel like talking. This week I was asked about meal timing, what to eat post-workout, and the importance of protein and carbs. It’s one of the most common questions I’m asked in my online coaching program. And since 140 characters really isn’t enough to answer on Twitter, here is what you need to know.

ASK BORN: How many carbs and protein should I be eating post-workout? You like waixy maize? –Max

When I first started training, there was nothing I looked forward to more than my post-workout meal. It was the time when my muscles were starved for food. But more importantly, I thought it was a time when my body needed a massive insulin surge to take carbs and transform them into hard earned muscle.

In my mind, insulin meant sugar, and sugar meant Frosted Flakes. (And lots of Frosted Flakes, as in several very large bowls.) After all, I was convinced my body was like a sponge after a workout and would soak up all the carbs.

Turns out, my mindset regarding the need for significant carbs after a workout was misguided. Of all the ingredients involved in building the body you want, there’s a certain mystique about the role and importance of the meal you enjoy after your workout.

There’s no shortage of information and opinions on what you should eat, how much you should eat, the importance of the timing, and the dangers of what you risk by not emphasizing this meal. And while timing is not insignificant, the latest research indicates that most what we thought was true about the post-workout meal no longer holds as much accuracy.

One of the most common suggestions revolves around the consumption of carbs after your exercise session. While consuming carbs after a workout is perfectly fine—and carbs are necessary for muscle growth—our bodies don’t need as many carbs as we think. More importantly, we don’t need to load up on simple carbs (think sugar) in order to refuel and see changes.

The New Rules of Post-Workout Meals

The biggest problem with focusing on what to eat after your workout is that we tend to view this meal in isolation. Instead, it’s best to be aware of what you had before your workout, or if you train in the morning, what you had for your last meal before you sleep.

Your body doesn’t run on a short-term fuel supply. Your glycogen (muscle energy, if you will) is filled up anywhere between 350 to 500 grams of carbohydrates. If those numbers don’t mean much to you, that’s more than enough fuel to get you through your weigh workout; and plenty for most endurance sessions, too.

Your goal is to promote muscle protein synthesis (muscle growth and repair), and for that to happen, you don’t need a massive insulin spike. In fact, research has shown that a moderate amount of protein and carbs (or even protein alone, more on that soon) can max out the muscle protein response after exercise.

In this study, scientists found that insulin is “permissive rather than stimulatory.” Instead, it’s to make sure you activate insulin and allow it to do its job.

Translation: the goal isn’t to jack up insulin to see a greater response.  More carbs and insulin is not better and does not accomplish more.

Pre-Workout v.s. Post-Workout: A Team Approach

This certainly differs significantly from the general ideology passed down from some supplement companies. The commonly held belief is that if you don’t use fast-acting carbs immediately after a workout, then you won’t elevate your insulin levels, you won’t recover, your body will shrink, and all potential gains will be lost.

Your body isn’t carb-dependent because post-workout because you ate before your workout can have a big impact.

In fact, a pre-exercise meal can help ensure that your insulin levels remain elevated up until your workout is over. If you eat protein and carbs before you train, insulin can remain elevated for several hours. And if you don’t like solid foods, combining 6 grams of essential amino acids with about 35 grams of carbohydrates can keep insulin levels about four times higher than fasting levels for about two hours.

This isn’t to tell you must eat before you train (it’s completely goal dependent and also a matter of how well you digest food before you exercise).

Instead, it’s to emphasize how easy it is to create an insulin response that will help your body before, during, and after training. And more importantly, it allows you to know the flexibility involved in choosing what you eat before or after a workout without having to worry that you must follow a specific plan that might not feel right for you. (This is something I’ve tested with clients and have found to be much more beneficial than rigid plans.)

Insulin’s ability to prevent muscle protein breakdown and maximize muscle protein synthesis isn’t dependent on massive amounts of carbs (because you’re not completely depleting your glycogen stores), and doesn’t require a special carb blend.

This is another instance of people majoring in the minor. The, “I need magical fast-acting carbs from waixy maize within 30 minutes of training” is not as important as focusing on the bigger picture. In this case, making sure you have some protein and carbohydrates after a meal, and focusing on a good overall diet.

Whereas many people believe that the 5 percent is where winners are made, it’s really where the most stress occurs, arguments erupt, and progress can be stalled.

Master the big picture details first, and you’re likely to see more results, have better compliance, and achieve much better clarity. Then you can tackle the most specific details.

What You Should Eat Post-Workout

The urgency of a post-workout meal is significantly exaggerated. Moreover, most research with glycogen depletion and repletion focuses on endurance athletes. If you’re a runner putting in serious mileage, for instance, your need for glycogen-replenishing carbs is greater but still not urgent—and it’s on both ends of the spectrum.

Most people who have exercised are familiar with the concept of carb-loading. And yet, research published in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that bumping up carbohydrates to more than 50 percent of their diet (and maxing out at 75 percent) didn’t improve muscle glycogen and only led to a minor 5 percent improvement in their performance. In other words, all those extra carbs are not worth it. (Although the meals might be enjoyable.)

When it comes to weight training, your body is in even less of a need for the instant carb surge. That’s because most weight workouts—even the more aggressive approaches in the 45 to 60 minute range—won’t come close to depleting your glycogen stores.

And if you do eat a preworkout meal, that need is even less as the food you ate beforehand is most likely still being absorbed by your body even after you’ve finished. What’s more, even if you don’t eat carbs before a workout and skip them in the time period immediately after you train, as long as you eat carbs several hours later your body will still recover and glycogen resynthesis will occur within about 24 hours. (Yes, the body is an amazing machine.) Consider this good news as the benefits of the post-workout meal period are experienced for a longer period of time.

The majority of the most recent research emphasizes that timing is less important than the total amount of food you eat, and the macronutrient ratios (of proteins, carbs, and fats) you consume.

That’s not to say eating after a workout isn’t important; rather, “after a workout” is just a much longer period of time than originally thought. In fact, the idea of the “small anabolic window” is minimized with each passing year (this is not a bad thing).

It now appears that your post-workout window is really open for about 24 hours rather than 30 to 60 minutes, with the first 4 hours being when you want to make sure you eat or have a shake. 

That means more flexibility with your meals and not feeling forced to slog down a shake if you’re not hungry.

Just as valuable is the research that suggests the increasing importance of protein after your workout. A study published in 2010 found that adding carbs (about 50 grams) to 25 grams of whey protein did not increase post-exercise protein balance compared to the protein without carbs.

As for carbs? Unfortunately the research just isn’t as clear. This excerpt is from a research review in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition on nutrient timing published by Alan Aragon and Brad Schoenfeld.

It is tempting to recommend pre- and post-exercise carbohydrate doses that at least match or exceed the amounts of protein consumed in these meals. However, carbohydrate availability during and after exercise is of greater concern for endurance as opposed to strength or hypertrophy goals.

Furthermore, the importance of co-ingesting post-exercise protein and carbohydrate has recently been challenged by studies examining the early recovery period, particularly when sufficient protein is provided. Koopman et al 52 found that after full-body resistance training, adding carbohydrate (0.15, or 0.6 g/kg/hr) to amply dosed casein hydrolysate (0.3 g/kg/hr) did not increase whole body protein balance during a 6-hour post-exercise recovery period compared to the protein-only treatment….

For the goal of maximizing rates of muscle gain, these findings support the broader objective of meeting total daily carbohydrate need instead of specifically timing its constituent doses. Collectively, these data indicate an increased potential for dietary flexibility while maintaining the pursuit of optimal timing.

Lab to the Kitchen: Designing Post-Workout Meals

What does it all mean? There is no “perfect meal” for after your workout. While the post-workout time period is still important and valuable, when it comes to achieving your goals, what you eat after (or even before) a workout is less important than meeting your overall calorie and macronutrient guidelines for the day.

If you are someone who tracks calories or macros, your daily goals should be focus 1A and 1B. In general, days where you train you should eat more carbs, and days when you don’t train you’ll most likely have less.

From there, determining what to eat post-workout depends on your preference. If eating pre-workout leaves you feel groggy or sick to your stomach, some branched-chain amino acids or potentially fasting (research has shown that protein breakdown is elevated after fasting and eating after training while fasted can have a positive effect; or if you don’t fast not eating 3 to 4 hours before your workout can be beneficial because a meal of protein andcarbs can keep amino acid levels elevated for up to 6 hours) might be best for you.

But if you still need more direction for your post-workout meal, your top priority is probably protein. That’s because research shows that if you eat protein any time around your workout (before, during, after) then you have a similar increase in muscle protein synthesis.

Anywhere between 20 and 40 grams of protein before or after (or both) should do the trick, and based on Aragon’s research, a similar amount of carbs should work—although the science is not as definitive.

If you’re worried about eating fat in your post-workout meal, well, don’t. The idea that post-workout fat will slow down an “anabolic effect” of protein is unsubstantiated in any research. While protein and carbs are still the preferred nutrients, having some fat (think eating eggs) is not going to slow your process.

What you eat during the course of the day matters more than what you eat before or after your workout. In the post-workout meal prioritize protein over carbs, and when adding carbs understand there’s no need for massive amounts to raise insulin. This is not an anti-carb approach. Instead, it’s a matter of realizing the lack of urgency for carbohydrates post-workout, and understanding that you don’t need to consume excess amounts of carbs to recover properly.

This article was originally published by Adam Bornstein on BornFitness

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Rifat Jipu <![CDATA[The Foods that Fight Inflammation]]> 2016-02-12T21:04:15Z 2016-02-12T21:04:15Z Can food really fix and protect your body? These 10 options can help everything from muscle recovery to cancer prevention. Your body might be under attack–only you probably don’t realize it. You have no symptoms. You feel fine. Everything seems to be operating normally. So what’s the problem? […]

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Food Fight

Can food really fix and protect your body? These 10 options can help everything from muscle recovery to cancer prevention.

Your body might be under attack–only you probably don’t realize it.

You have no symptoms. You feel fine. Everything seems to be operating normally. So what’s the problem?

Inflammation. It’s a normal process that is designed to help your body recover, which causes the occasional ache or pain. In small doses, this is fine.

But if you’re constantly putting your body under stress–whether from work, illness, or even exercise–your body flips into protection mode. The inflammation that’s meant to protect you instead causes your body to fight against itself. The system breaks down, and you become more vulnerable to injury, slows muscle recovery, or even triggers disease.

But all hope is not lost. The process of healing your body can be improved with several small, simple changes. For example, many foods contain anti-inflammatory compounds that can alleviate pain and swelling, and help protect your body. Here are 10 foods that provide the most powerful boost to your body’s ability to regulate and reduce inflammation.

Once considered more precious than gold, cinnamon is one of the world’s oldest and most coveted spices. Research has shown that cinnamon not only reduces inflammation but also fights bacteria, assists with blood sugar control, and enhances brain function. Sprinkle cinnamon over yogurt, cereal, or oatmeal, or add it to a smoothie or a glass of low-fat milk.

This flavorful root is available all year and used in everything from soda to stir-fries. Ginger contains several anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols, which may relieve joint pain, prevent free radical damage, protect against colorectal cancer, and increase immunity. Ginger is also a natural anti-emetic, often used to alleviate motion sickness and morning sickness. Steep a couple of slices of ginger in hot water for ginger tea or blend it with soy sauce to top a stir-fried dish.

Onions are packed with sulfur-containing containing compounds, which are responsible for their pungent odor and associated with improved health. These widely-used and versatile vegetables are believed to inhibit inflammation and linked to everything from cholesterol reduction to cancer prevention. Try using onions as a base for soups, sauces, and stir-fries. Other foods with the same benefits include garlic, leeks, and chives.

Tart Cherries
One of the richest known sources of antioxidants, tart cherries are an anti-inflammatory powerhouse. New research suggests that tart cherries offer pain relief from gout and arthritis, reduce exercise-induced joint and muscle pain, lower cholesterol, and improve inflammatory markers. Drink a glass of tart cherry juice in the morning with breakfast or combine dried tart cherries with nuts for a snack.

Walnuts are one of the healthiest nuts you can eat. They’re loaded with anti-inflammatory, heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids and provide more antioxidants than Brazil nuts, pistachios, pecans, peanuts, almonds, macadamias, cashews, and hazelnuts. Walnuts are also a great source of protein and fiber. Top yogurt or salad with a handful of walnuts or eat raw walnuts as a snack.

A mustard-yellow spice from Asia, turmeric is a spice often used in yellow curry. It gets its coloring from a compound called curcumin. The University of Maryland Medical Center found that curcumin can help to improve chronic pain by suppressing inflammatory chemicals in the body. Make a homemade curry with turmeric or mix it into other recipes once or twice a week.

This tropical yellow fruit contains the enzyme bromelain, which is helpful in treating muscle injuries like sprains and strains. According to a study in the journal Inflammatory Bowel Disease, this enzyme may also help to improve digestion along with aches and pains associated with rheumatoid arthritis. Add pineapple to a smoothie or salad to help improve your body’s tweaks and twinges.

Flaxseed is packed with omega-3 fatty acids which can help to reduce inflammation in the body. The Harvard School of Public Health reports that omega-3 found in flaxseed may help in blocking pro-inflammatory agents. Grind flaxseed to release the oils, and then add a spoonful of it to your salad, oatmeal, or yogurt. For more omega-3-rich foods with anti-inflammatory benefits, eat soybeans, extra-virgin olive oil, and fatty fish like salmon and tuna.

Colorful orange carrots are rich in carotenoids, a group of phytochemicals known to help protect cells from free radicals and boost immunity. They also help regulate inflammation, according to the University of Rochester Medical Center. Add carrots to your salad or cook them as a side dish for any meal. Other carotenoid-rich foods include apricots, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, and pumpkin.

Dark, leafy greens
Dark, leafy greens like spinach and kale are packed with flavonoids, a phytonutrient that boost heart health and may help ward off cancer. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, flavonoid-rich foods may also reduce inflammation in the brain, possibly slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Eat a spinach salad a few days a week for a powerful punch of flavonoids. Other good sources are kale, soybeans, berries, tea, or even a glass of wine.

This article was originally published by Adam Bornstein on

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Rifat Jipu <![CDATA[Fix Your Diet: Understanding Proteins, Carbs, and Fats]]> 2016-02-12T20:47:42Z 2016-02-12T20:47:42Z The old saying is you can’t out-train a bad diet. The easiest way to fix your diet is to understand all the myths that surround the foods you love. Here’s what you need to know about protein, carbs, and fats in your diet. The biggest problem with your […]

The post Fix Your Diet: Understanding Proteins, Carbs, and Fats appeared first on No Excuse Fitness.



The old saying is you can’t out-train a bad diet. The easiest way to fix your diet is to understand all the myths that surround the foods you love. Here’s what you need to know about protein, carbs, and fats in your diet.

The biggest problem with your body transformation goals start—and end—with your diet. Yes, exercise is also extremely important. And even the best diet won’t offset a lack of physical activity.

If the engine is broken, it doesn’t matter what type of fuel you add to the machine.

But if the fuel is terrible, your body still won’t function the way you want.

Between fears of high protein diets, high fat diets, and really any type of carbohydrate, eating has become an overcomplicated mess that creates more stress than needed.

It’s time to change that mindset while simultaneously changing the way your body looks.

Use this guide to understand what your body needs, and why you don’t have to frustratingly avoid certain foods that you want as part of your healthy living plan.

Carbohydrates: The Misunderstood One

Carbohydrates seem to be the focus of most diets you read about (especially fat-loss diets), so it makes sense to start here.

Carbs have taken a real beating in the media ever since some guy named Atkins (you may have heard of him) decided we weren’t allowed to eat doughnuts anymore. (Prior to this we were allowed to eat doughnuts, but they had to be reduced fat; this made us feel better about ourselves.)

All joking aside, carbs have a bad reputation, or at least a worse one than they deserve.

Carbs come in a variety of forms. Some are good for you, and some are bad. The bad ones are usually highly processed and could barely be considered food other than the fact that they’re edible. They may be delicious, but they’re also the result of some crazy scientific processes.

Of course, if you process the crap out of anything, it reaches a point where it just isn’t healthy anymore. This doesn’t mean carbs are evil and to blame for the obesity epidemic—it just means that eating processed foods that are loaded with sugars and highly palatable are great at making people fat.

Why? Because we end up eating far too much of it. The reality is, your diet can include some processed carbs too, as long as it’s a minimal amount of the overall amount you eat.

Carbs 101: Simple vs. Complex

Carbohydrates are made up of sugar molecules, which your body breaks down into fuel, especially when you’re working hard. Sugars, starches, and fiber are all basic forms of the carbohydrate.

There are two main types of carbohydrates: simple and complex.

We could also mention fibrous carbs that you can find in foods like green veggies, lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, sprouts, spinach, cauliflower, peppers, cucumbers, zucchini … buuuut we won’t.

For the purposes of this discussion of carbs, we only want to touch on stuff that is probably causing issues with your weight. This doesn’t mean that these foods don’t count. They do.

But I don’t think a primary cause of weight gain is eating too many vegetables. And after coaching literally thousands of people, it’s become very clear that eating more veggies has always been a good thing.

Quite simply, eating vegetables allows you to eat more. And by eating more, you’re less hungry. And when you consider that hunger is strongly associated weight weight gain, winning war on hangry is half the battle.

Simple Carbohydrates

In the most basic sense, simple carbohydrates include table sugar, syrup, and soda. Most of the time, these carbs should be avoided (exceptions include cheat days or small daily indulgences, which should be included in any plan) and are usually the “bad carbs” that fitness pros talk about. Also included on this list are things like candy, cake, beer, and cookies. In other words, the best ones.

Complex Carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates include oatmeal, apples, cardboard, and peas.

For a long time, people believed that complex carbohydrates were universally better for you than simple carbohydrates, but that isn’t always the case.

You see, your body takes both complex and simple carbohydrates and tries to break them down into useable sugar energy to fuel your muscles and organs. It’s not the type of carbohydrate that really matters, but how quickly your body can break it down and how much it will spike your blood glucose levels.

It’s not as simple as dividing complex carbs from simple ones, though. A slightly more sophisticated way to rate carbohydrate quality is something called the glycemic index (GI).

The GI attempts to classify foods by how quickly they break down and how high they boost blood sugar levels.

For a while, the GI was all the rage, and people argued that by following a low-GI diet, you’d keep insulin levels in check even while eating more carbs overall.

This has turned out to be only partially true. Which is to say that while it’s probably better to eat low GI foods than high ones, there probably won’t be a tremendous difference in your waistline if you’re still eating your weight in sweet potatoes instead of Cheerios.

Neither low-carb diets nor low-GI diets are a magic pill for fat loss; the main thing is to eat the right amount of healthy foods that fuel metabolism, which in turn will help you burn fat.

The important thing to remember is that your body needs carbs, even if some of the fad diets tell you otherwise. This becomes even more important if you’re performing intense exercise. Without carbohydrates, your body will begin to break down your muscle tissue to fuel your body, which will sabotage your efforts.

Carb lovers lament low-carb diets, and anti-carb crusaders posit that you can avoid carbs for the most part and still do well.

It is true that low-carb diets offer many health benefits, but as I’ve stated before, low carb doesn’t mean no carb.

Just as important, those health benefits don’t mean low carb is strategically better for fat loss. Research published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition dropped a bomb when it compared a lower carb diet to a higher carb diet and discovered no significant difference on fat loss, metabolism, or muscle retention.

Your Eating Tip: Ultimately, the number of carbs you eat is going to be highly based on personal preference, activity levels, and how your body reacts to what you eat. Carb intake should be determine after you prioritize fat and protein levels.

Fats: From Zero to Hero?

For a long time, fats were like carbs—blamed for every health problem possible. It’s the reason that for nearly twenty years, low fat was synonymous with healthy.

And for many people—maybe even several of you reading this—that’s still how you determine if something is safe to eat. If it’s low fat, it has to be good. Or if it doesn’t have saturated fat, then it’s okay.

Much like any silver bullet nutrition solution, this isn’t the case. As our nation’s fat consumption decreased, its obesity increased, according to CDC data. This was due to a variety of factors—the frequency of meals and snacks, the size of meals, and the consumption of sugar.

So what is the bottom line on fat? For starters, fat is a necessary component of your diet and something you’re probably not consuming enough of.

Fat is good. It’s good for testosterone. It’s good for your heart (yes, you read that correctly). And it’s good for your muscles.

Fat plays an important role in helping the general functioning of your body. Fat is a critical coating for nerves. This coating serves to speed up conduction down the nerve so that every neurochemical signal that is sent through your body (any time your brain wants to tell your body to do something), it happens efficiently.

What’s more, fat also serves as a substrate for a whole set of hormones known as eicosanoids. Eicosanoids are essential for numerous functions that regulate things like blood pressure, inflammation, and even blood clotting. This kind of fat is needed for basic human physiology, which is reason enough to include it in your diet.

Now that you know what fats are needed in your diet, here’s what you should know about the different types of fats—and why each needs to be included in your diet, with the exception of trans fats.

Monounsaturated Fat

Monounsaturated fats are found mostly in high-fat fruits such as avocados as well as nuts like pistachios, almonds, walnuts, and cashews. This type of fat can also be found in olive oil.

Monounsaturated fats help lower bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol. They’ve also been shown to help fight weight gain and may even help reduce body fat levels.

Polyunsaturated Fat

Like monounsaturated fats, these good fats help fight bad cholesterol. Polyunsaturated fats stay liquid even in the cold because their melting point is lower than that of monounsaturated fats.

You can find polyunsaturated fats in foods like salmon, fish oil, sunflower oil, and seeds. Polyunsaturated fats contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which have largely been processed out of our food.

Omega-3s and 6s are very important and are oftentimes referred to as essential fatty acids, or EFAs. These cannot be manufactured by our bodies, and so it becomes essential to ingest them. And because your body needs these sources to function optimally and remain healthy, it’s your job to make sure your diet has enough of these fats to avoid problems and breakdown.

Saturated Fat

Saturated fats might be the most misunderstood substance you can eat. And for good reason: there have been studies linking high intake of saturated fats to heart disease. But those studies also have more questions than the Riddler.

When researches have gone back in and looked at the data from all the countries where data was available, there actually was no link between fat consumption and heart disease deaths.

Much of the debate about dietary fat comes from sources like The China Study and movies like Forks Over Knives, which have pointed the finger at saturated fats—and all animal fats—as the reason for all health problems. And yet, these studies all took a very slanted bias toward the saturated fat hypothesis and completely ignored populations that were incredibly healthy despite diets based on saturated fats.

In fact, people who live in Tokelau (a territory off of New Zealand) eat a diet that is 50 percent saturated fats, and they have cardiovascular health superior to any other group of people, and yet this data and information is ignored.

There are several studies of hunter-gatherer tribes that consumed 50 to 70 percent of all their calories from saturated fats without any health problems. When you receive the specific calculations for your fat intake, up to half of the fat can derive from saturated fats.

Even Walter Willett, chairman of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard, has publicly stated (after a twenty-year review of research) that fats—and more specifically saturated fats—are not the cause of the obesity crisis and are not the cause of heart disease.

Listen, saturated fat is one of the best sources of energy for your body. It’s why your body naturally stores carbohydrates as saturated fat.

Are you going to argue with one of the most basic structures of how your body was intended to work? Not to mention, saturated fats are some of the most satiating foods, meaning they keep you fuller longer.

And research shows diets that are higher in saturated fats are oftentimes lower in total calories consumed.

That leaves you with one option: assuming you’re not a vegetarian, you should be eating red meat, dairy, and eggs to consume your share of saturated fats. Not overeating them, or downing sticks of butter like they’re going out of style. But also not avoiding them as if they’ll break the scale.

The exception: Trans Fat

Trans fats are the black sheep of the fat family. Trans fats are the worst fats, and in truth, one of the worst forms of food that you could possibly consume. They’re found in foods such as French fries, potato chips, and most fried foods.

While some trace amounts of trans fats are naturally occurring in meats and other foods, by and large, most are not naturally occurring. Instead, they are generally manmade.

Trans fats are made by a chemical process called partial hydrogenation.

Manufacturers take liquid vegetable oil (an otherwise decent monounsaturated fat) and pack it with hydrogen atoms, which convert it into a solid fat. This makes what seems to be an ideal fat for the food industry because it has a high melting point and a smooth texture, and it can be reused in deep-fat frying.

Essentially, trans fats come about as a result of overprocessing our foods in order to offer consumers a longer shelf life. If your food is pre-packaged, it’s a pretty safe bet that it has its fair share of trans fats. If you are serious about your goals, you should try to avoid trans fats at all costs. Or if you just don’t want to be eating plastic garbage.

Of course, we take a moderate approach. If you’re limiting your intake of junk foods, exercising regularly, and getting good nutrition otherwise—including a variety of healthy fats—then chances are, you can have the occasional Twinkie once every few months and be okay.

Your Eating Tip: Research suggests that about 20 to 35 percent of your daily calories should come from fats.

Protein: The White Knight

While both carbs and fats have spent their time as public enemy #1, being demonized or lauded by turns, no macronutrient has enjoyed the rise to prominence and popularity as our friend, protein.

A favorite among bodybuilders, athletes, and just about any fitness enthusiast, protein is used by your body to repair damaged muscle, bone, skin, teeth, and hair, among other things. Think of it as the mortar between the bricks; without it, the entire structure of your body begins to break down.

Unlike other nutrients, your body can not assemble protein by combining other nutrients, so it needs to be prioritized if you’re to achieve your healthiest (and best looking) body possible.

Protein helps to create an anabolic hormonal environment (good for muscle building and fat loss), and along the lines of the brick metaphor, it provides a lot of the materials used to build your muscles.

There are two categories of protein: complete and incomplete.

Protein is comprised of smaller molecules called amino acids. There are twenty-two amino acids that warrant attention, of which nine belong to a subcategory that can only be obtained through your food. Your body can manufacture the remainder of the amino acids.

The nine amino acids that are obtained from food are called essential amino acids. For those interested in such things, the essential amino acids are:

  • Tryptophan
  • Lysine
  • Methionine
  • Phenylalanine
  • Threonin
  • Valine
  • Leucine
  • Histidine
  • Isoleucine

A complete protein (also known as a whole protein) is one that contains adequate portions of those nine amino acids. By contrast, an incomplete protein is one that is lacking in one or more of those amino acids.

These amino acids also help your body create hormones that help regulate things like blood pressure and blood sugar levels, which are directly responsible for your metabolic rate and muscular growth. In short, protein is extremely important, especially the complete proteins that are found in foods such as fish, poultry, eggs, red meat, and cheese.

The Pink Elephant: The Kidney Question 

Some “experts” would like to have you believe that eating lots of protein will cause all sorts of problems, ranging from kidney stones and gallstones.

For most people, this is not a concern—or rather, it is a moot point. That’s because there’s no research showing any relationship between eating lots of protein and developing kidney problems.

In fact, a study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research tested up to 400 grams of protein per day without any negative consequences. Now, if you have a preexisting kidney problem, it’s possible that a higher protein diet could be hard on your body. But if you have a kidney problem, you should be talking to your doctor about your diet anyway.

If you’re healthy, you are clear to eat protein and not worry about any health problems—because there are none.

What’s more, protein is one of the most metabolic macronutrients, meaning that the more protein you eat the more calories you burn. For that reason–and protein’s ability to help spare muscle mass–it’s a common reason why if you’re going to overeat on any macronutrient, protein is usually your safest bet.

But don’t forget—calories are still calories so you can’t eat as much as you want.

Your Eating Tip: Protein should be set about .5 to 1 gram per body of goal body weight. If you’re very active, you can veer slightly upward, but it’s not necessary and should be based more on food preference than anything else.

This article was originally published by Adam Bornstein on

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The post Fix Your Diet: Understanding Proteins, Carbs, and Fats appeared first on No Excuse Fitness.