Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Downside of Drinking your Meals

One of the most frequently asked questions we get is about our opinion on liquid calories, i.e. Protein Shakes and Smoothies. I am going to look at this from strictly a body composition stand point, because covering every side of this topic would take way to long for one blog post. Now for some this may be an ok choice to add to your daily dietary regime, however I am going to look at this from strictly a body composition stand point, which means that its not an ok choice for body comp. goals. I am looking at it from only one perspective because covering every side of this topic would take way to long for one blog post. Sometimes what we recommend for a daily protein intake can seem slightly impossible to some people, especially for those who are recovering vegetarians. So inevitably we get asked, “Can’t I just drink protein shakes to get all the protein I need in a day?”, and our answer in almost always “No”. People also have a tendency to overeat on fruit and other carb dense foods, so the questions of, “I’m really not hungry in the morning, can’t I just drink a homemade fruit smoothie?” also receives a resounding “NO!” Let’s discuss why we are so adamant about getting real foods into your system over liquid calories, starting with the easiest one to explain the down sides, Smoothies.

There are a few things that are wrong with downing a big glass of puréed fruits, but let’s just take a look at some of the simpler reasons why this can act against a lot of people goals. The biggest one for me is that it’s a lot easier to slurp down to many carbs from fruit than it is to actually eat it. Think about it, some smoothies claim to have 5-6 servings of fruit in a 6oz bottle. I’ve listened as people have told me what they put in their smoothies, like a whole banana, a cup of blueberries, ½ a cup of strawberries, and some juice. When I ask them if they could/would eat that much fruit in one sitting without turning it into juice, the answer I almost always get is No they wouldn’t/couldn’t. So the problem is it makes it a hell of a lot easier to over indulge in fruit (something which I am under the opinion one should eat in a limited fashion and used as a desert), and overindulge in fructose and send your whole system from your taste buds to your liver into a really bad situation. And we can argue all day on whether the heat that the blender gives off when you’re and making your smoothie breaks down the sugars and allows for a greater insulin response, and if that is really something we should worry about or if we are just getting to neurotic about the foods we eat. I am off the opinion that all liquid calories create a greater insulin response when consumed.

Now I know that there are some studies that show that protein shakes can help people lose weight if used as a meal replacement. This can be a very valid statement, if the meals they are replacing are based off of the modern American diet (high carb/low fat), and are full of grains, Trans fat, and gobs of fructose. However if you are taking an ancestral based meal of lean meats, veggies, and some good fats (olive oil, walnuts, coconut, etc.), and replacing it with what’s basically a highly processed glass of milk, that may cause some problems down the road. Are we saying that there is never an occasion where slugging down a protein shake is a good idea? No, there are some instance that protein shakes are completely fine and even a fairly smart choice, but for the vast majority of people out there (especially those with body composition goals) getting in real food is really the only way to go in my opinion. Let’s take a look at why this highly processed glass of milk is a bad idea for those who are concerned with body composition goals. It basically comes down to one reason. Protein shakes, for the most part, are a dairy based liquid protein substitute. This is a problem because of dairies natural ability to increase your insulin levels even though it’s a form of protein. According to a study put out by Garrett Hoyt, Matthew S. Hickey, and Loren Cordain, the insulinogenic amino acid profile of beef and milk are very similar, but beef has an II (Insulinemic Index) score of 51, and dairy products have an Insulin score that range from 89-115. The lactose alone in dairy products has an II of 50. Since in dairy products there is both the insulin stimulation from Lactose AND from the amino acid profile then the additive effect of lactose and amino acids might just be an underlying cause of why milk products cause such a high spike in insulin. This is a problem given the hypothesis that consistent Hyperinsulinemia can lend itself to, if not cause, insulin resistance which, for those who don’t know, is really bad. (

If you train or you are someone who is interested in improving body composition, it is really important that you get them/yourself to EAT your food instead of drinking it. There are a whole bunch of problem related to consistent hyperinsulinemia, and it’s much easier to put and keep yourself in that state if your food is coming through a straw instead of off a fork.

Please post any questions/comments, this is a topic worthy of a good debate or discussion.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Intro to Diet and Exercise Part 2: FIT 101

While you are reading this blog, I want you to think about the last time you took yourself out of the chair and participated in a physically taxing activity…Now I want you to ask yourself "How did this help me in the long run?" The truth is, most of our society is "plagued" by preventable diseases. These diseases stem from cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, types of cancer, musculoskeletal disease, etc.... True, certain biological make-ups make certain individuals more prone to these diseases. However, fitness as a whole can be thought of as a deterrent for these health issues.

Old age is thought of as a disease. On the contrary, old age is just division of telomeres in our cells. This division is natural and unpreventable. However, preparation for old age creates what is known as successful aging. Right now, weight-lifting and running, yoga, Crossfit, Pilates, etc…are all ways to enhance successful aging and quality of life. If someone is diagnosed with diabetes at age 18, I am willing to bet they will have a much harder time growing and staying active. Physical fitness is not only good for our current health, but it continues on through our aging process.

Long story short, exercise prepares the body for factors that affect how we live and age. Proper preparation for external and possible internal factors puts us ahead of the curve in survival and longevity of life. Get up and get moving.

So how does someone start a fitness program? What's the best way to "get up and get moving"? First off, let's begin with the statement that something is 100% better than nothing. Meaning that we would rather have people getting up and doing anything to better their health and fitness than doing nothing because they are unsure what the best way is to start moving toward their goals and better health. With that being said, the rest of this post will show people what the Ape and I think is the best way to move towards better health, longevity, performance, or whatever you goals may be.

Before you pick the style of training you want to use, start a fitness program, lift a weight, or run a mile, you have to know what you trying to move towards, you have to know what your own goals and expectations are going to be from the fitness program you choose to follow. This is very important; training without goals is just working out. If you don't know where you are trying to get to, it's much easier to get lost and give up. Write down you goals, make them real. I know a lot of gyms and trainers out there that make their clients write down their goals on a big white board. This is NOT for the amusement of the trainers, this is to make the goals real. It's no longer just a thought in your head that only gets verbalized when you're in front of your trainer or have had a few Irish Car bombs.

Once you've figured out what your goals are, whether they are based on performance (Crossfit, Powerlifting, Weightlifting, Football, Rugby, Life) or based on body composition (Weight Loss, Weight Gain, Body Building), then you can figure out you plan of attack. Your "Plan of Attack" is how much Strength, Skill, Mixed Modal Met Cons, or Cardio you need to do in order to obtain your goals. Someone who strictly wants to be the best Powerlifter they can be shouldn't be spending the majority of his time running long distances or doing 40min long Mixed Modal Met Con sessions. Someone who wants to compete at the Crossfit Games shouldn't be training the same way that a Body Builder or a person concerned with Body Compositions is training. Figuring out what's the best mix of these types of training is best for you is the tricky part, and one that is always going to be debated about. My personal opinion is that it comes down to what you are genetically wired to do. Some people are predisposed to being better Endurance athletes and barely have to train to be able to run forever, but really struggle with gaining strength and power. Others, it seems, can just walk into a gym and look at a barbell to get stronger, but have to bust their ass to gain any kind of endurance of stamina. This doesn't mean that if you are naturally an endurance athlete that you can't get ridiculously strong or vice versa, it just means it might be a little tougher for you to get there.

One of the biggest problems I see with people after they pick a plan of attack is that they get stuck in a routine. No matter what your goals are, keeping things constantly varied is a good idea and will get you a lot farther along than sticking with the same routine month after month will. This doesn't mean that you don't need a plan; it just means that your plan shouldn't be the same thing day in and day out for months at a time.

One of the other ways I find to keep you on track is to log EVERYTHING! Kevin Montoya of Crossfit Flex Gym in Lakewood, CO has a great notebook he makes and sells. It allows you to track not only your workouts but your warm-ups, your sleep, your nutrition, your mood for the day, if you did any extra strength, skills, or cardio. It even has some help with nutrition and a place to log PR's. Granted it is geared towards Crossfitters, but can be used or simply an example of the depth of tracking that someone needs to do IF they are serious about getting to the goals they set out and sticking to their plan of attack.

The next step of starting out is actually doing the work, and doing it safely. Pulling a muscle, tweaking your back, or any other injury you can think of can potentially side line you for a long time. Obviously this is not good, and won't help you get where you want to be. The best suggestion the Ape and I can give is practice form. When we first started most of our warm-up time and some of our TV watching time was spent working on form, so that when we did the movements in a workout with weight, we weren't going to hurt ourselves. Practice won't make perfect, but it will make you safer, more efficient and the lifts more effective. This will increase the power output, or your intensity for any of you that have been to a CF level 1 cert, exponentially. Another piece of advice that I had to learn the hard way, DRILL THE HELL OUT OF THE BASICS!!! The more sound you are in the basic movements of your sport the better off you'll be. For you Crossfitter's out there that means Air Squat, Shoulder Press, and Deadlift like it's your freaking job when you first start out. To this day I still work on my squats, presses, and deadlifts almost on a daily basis. No one can practice the basic movements enough PERIOD!

The other aspect of safely making it to your goals, is to know your limits when you first start out. No one became the best in their field overnight. Mikko Sallo and Jason Khalipa didn't wake up the morning of their Crossfit Games qualifiers and decide that that was the day they would start Crossfitting. When you first start out you should be focusing on your form and your recovery methods. Get familiar with Foam Rolling (myofasial release), stretching, contrast baths, dial in your nutrition, and the most forgotten form of recovery, get enough sleep.

After you've determined your goals, made a plan, and while you're religiously practicing form, and drilling the importance of recovery into your head, you have to learn to attack your weaknesses. If you suck at something do it, A LOT! This is really hard for most people because the things they are bad at are also the things they hate doing. Best advice here is simply get over it. Doing the things you suck at is the best way to get yourself to your goals quicker. If you just do the things you are good at you aren't going to get anywhere. This is true no matter whether you want to be a Body Builder or a Crossfit Gamer or anything in between.

Even though you should be doing the stuff you hate, you should still find a way to enjoy what you are doing. If you get a sense of dread and are having to force yourself to train every time you head to your gym, we have a problem. I'm not saying that your workout shouldn't be hard, you should be scared of them, but you should enjoy doing them. If you hate every second of every work out, you are not going to stick to it. Find friends, a gym, an affiliate, or a trainer that you like and enjoy working out at/with. This will increase your chances of enjoyment even on the days where you have to do the things you hate.

I hope this answers more questions then it makes. If you do have any questions, please feel free to post them to comments or email us.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Paleo Recipes: Paleo Pizza

Ok so even being the caveman that I am I still crave pizza from time to time. Most paleo people out there would say that Paleo Pizza would be an impossible feat seeing as one of the main parts of a delicious pizza is the doughy crust. Which is filled with grains, gluten, and probably rat feces if you get your pizza at a really gross pizza place. However a man named Scott Hagnas has come up with a way to create a crust that is delicious and Paleo, and he published it in an issue of the Performance Menu. This recipe was passed on to me and I liked it enough to pass it on to you Pizza Lovers who want to go Paleo.

  • 3 tsp Olive Oil, Divided
  • 1 cup ground Almonds (I prefer walnuts, your choice)
  • 3 tbsp Almond Butter
  • 1/3 cup Egg Whites (about 2 large eggs worth)
  • 1 chopped Red Pepper
  • 1/2 cup halved Grape Tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup diced Chicken
  • 1/2 cup Marinara Sauce (make your own or you can find some at your local grocer)
  • Oregano and Fennel Seed to taste. (I use about 1/2 tsp of both)
Mix ground nuts, almond butter, and egg whites in a small bowl. Grease a pizza baking sheet or similar with 2 tsp of olive oil, then spread the "dough" mixture over it, making a 1/4" thick crust. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. In a skillet, add the remaining olive oil and the diced chicken cook until almost fully cooked, add in the garlic and veggies. Saute lightly, making sure not to let them get too soft. Cover the dough with the marinara sauce, then add the meat and veggies, excluding the tomatoes. Add the oregano and fennel seed, then bake for 30mins. Remove from oven, add the halved tomatoes, and serve!! Use a large spatula to carefully remove the slices from the pan, as the nutty "dough" won't be as crisp as traditional grain dough. Makes 4 servings.

The original recipe called for sausage and onions, but that's the glory of this recipe you can add to or remove any of the toppings mentioned above. I personally think this pizza is a single person serving size, but I also eat A LOT! Also for those of you out there who go with the Paleo plus dairy you can add some cheese to this pizza and its delicious, and for those of you who want cheese on it but aren't in the paleo plus dairy click go grab a block of Kerrygold Swiss Cheese from your local grocer and slap that on their. It's legit grass-fed dairy and Ok by me!

For those of you out there who want to zone this pizza here you go.
For entire pizza:
5bl Protein
2bl Carbs
40bl fat (if you use almonds for ground nuts slightly higher if you use walnuts)
Adding cheese will change the blocking on this pizza as well.


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Intro to Diet and Exercise Part 1: The Paleo Lifestyle

Ok this post is going to be a two part post, but lets start this blog off at the beginning and discuss what paleo is/isn't and the best ways to jump into this lifestyle. The second part of this post will cover how the Ape and myself feel is the best way for people to start a fitness program for themselves, as well as explain how trainers should program for their clients. The main reason we chose to start this two part series with the nutrition aspect is: 1) Nutrition, in our minds, is the biggest part of anyone's fitness/strength/body composition goals. 2) Nutrition is the most difficult aspect of fitness for people to understand and commit to. This is apparent when one looks at the way most people were taught to eat... it is hideously wrong and back assward.
Eating Paleo isn't as hard as people think. The basic premise, for those who have never even heard of the word paleolithic, is to stick to the foods that our ancestors ate, and that our bodies are genetically set up to use as fuel. This just means sticking to leaner cuts of meat, eating your vegetables(yes your parents were right on this one), eating some nuts (walnuts and macadamia nuts) and seeds, cooking with healthy oils (Olive Oil) , and adding some none tropical fruit in as a desert. It also means that you need to stay away from grains, legumes(beans), and dairy (for most people). I always get asked, "What does that leave for me to eat?". The answer: a whole freaking hell of a lot! The number of meals you can prepare without the common neolithic foods is almost limitless.
With that being said the Paleo way of life is different for everyone. This is no cookie cutter, one size fits all type of thing, and it MUST be played with to see which foods work for you. For example, a soccer mom, who's trying to lose weight is going to have different nutritional needs from that of a high school kid trying to get bigger to play offensive line next year. However it is my opinion that both should stick to the same paleolithic foods to optimize their chances of obtaining what they both want to achieve.
Now that we've kinda got into what being paleo means, lets take a look at how we would suggest to begin. This can get tricky and I've seen two ways be the most successful with people, and those are the two I'm going to throw out there for you to try.
1) Jump Right in 100%- Swimming Pool Style
This is my favorite way for people to try eating paleo, and I think for most people it's the best way to do it. This means cutting out all grains, legumes, and dairies immediately for at least 4 weeks. When I say to cut out these foods I mean DON'T FREAKING TOUCH THESE FOODS PERIOD! I always suggest for people to track how they feel they look, how they sleep, their mood, and their performance without these foods compared to these same metrics with these foods. The next part to the success of "going Paleo" is just eating till your satisfied and don't worry about the amount. Quality is more important than quantity. I do like weighing and measuring meals for some people, however, if a person is just starting out it would be more beneficial to concentrate on the quality of your lean meats, veggies, and some healthy fats till your satisfied. This will put you right around where you need to be with your caloric intake. As one of the biggest names in the Paleo community likes to say, "people just need to learn the difference between a mouth and a vacuum" (Robb Wolf, How much is enough though? I suggest for people start with trying to get about 1 gram of protein per lb of body weight daily, while meeting the rest of your caloric needs with mostly veggies and healthy fats. As I mentioned above you are going to have to play with the amounts and varieties of the foods that YOU will be successful with, but those foods will not be in the categories of grain and legumes. Very few people will have equal success if they add in foods from the dairy category.
2). Easing into it- Getting in the pool step by step
This can be successful for some, and can be a great choice for people who have families who are not as receptive to this style of eating as you would like them to be. One of the best ways to ease into this way of eating is to do it meal by meal. Start out with just making sure that every breakfast you eat for a week is 100% paleo. For those with children or significant others who are stubborn, feeding them bacon and eggs for breakfast is a great breakfast to help change the minds of most people unwilling to try Paleo. The next week of the switch, since you already have a weeks worth of breakfast recipes ready to go, move on to lunch, and make your breakfast and lunch 100% Paleo. A good one to please most stubborn people is a big spinach salad with walnuts, strips chicken breast/salmon/steak, and some vinegar and oil dressing. After you've taken a week to perfect how to make your breakfast and lunch Paleo, you guessed it, try adding dinner to the Paleo menu. What person can say no to a delicious fillet of grilled salmon or a grilled steak with grilled aparagus(or the vegetable of your liking) and some strawberries for desert.
The other way to ease into going Paleo is to try and replace some of your grains, legumes, and dairies with veggies, fruits, and nuts. Slowly increase the amount of paleolithic foods in your meals while you decrease the amount of neolithic (processed) foods at each meal. This isn't the most optimal way of doing the Paleo lifestyle, but can be effective if you are really struggling with getting yourself or others to switch their foods over to a higher quality.
Like I said, jumping straight into this lifestyle is what I have seen produce the most success. These last two should be tried if you are really struggling with switching to Paleo.
The final aspect of this post about getting yourself or others to go Paleo is to find ways to make it easier on them or you. The first lesson is: LEARN TO COOK!!! It's not that hard. We will be posting recipes shortly with directions on how to prepare them. TRY THESE RECIPES! Some of them will get thrown in the trash, others will become instant favorites.
Which brings me to the next step of making it easier on yourself. This one is slightly contradictory. Stay strict to the paleo lifestyle for at least a month without adding in cheat meals or falling off the wagon. This is contradictory because its really hard to do at first, however if you do it, this will make it MUCH easier in the long run for a couple reasons. 1) It gets the drugs (the bad foods) out of your system, and will get you used to eating good foods. This will calm your cravings for the bad stuff. 2) This gives you a whole months worth of trial and error recipes to use and play with. Trust me, knowing a bunch of recipes you are good at making and that you enjoy eating is invaluable.
Lastly, and this ones another big one, DON'T KEEP BAD FOODS IN YOUR HOUSE! If there's ice cream in the freezer someones going to eat it and it's probably going to be you. Most people don't have the will power to be faced with foods they love but shouldn't eat on a daily basis. So don't buy them. You have the power to keep the temptation away. Exercise that power!
The final thing I will put on this post, because I know most people are now sleeping and/or have switched back to facebook and are now looking at pictures of last weeks Will Ferrel Movie themed pub crawl, but I cannot stress enough how important it is for anyone thinking about going paleo to read articles and studies for themselves. The more educated you are on the subject, the easier it will be for you. Google search the shit out of this subject, ask us questions, ask people who disagree with us questions, and make sure you read all sides of the argument for and against the Paleolithic diet.
Here are some links that you can go to to get some reading on the Paleo Diet:
Please post ANY question or comments to the comments and I will respond/answer them as soon as I can.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Decription and Fundraiser

Hello Blog readers, and welcome our blog!
We will be writing about pretty much everything to do with health, fitness, training, and last, but probably most important, nutrition. We will be coming at these topics from every angle possible such as the scientific basis for certain method and theories, practical application of these method and theories, and some of the cognitive aspects as well.
We will also post a new Paleo friendly recipe, for those people who are trying to eat more like our ancestral genes tell us to, at least once a week. This format will make it easier for us to answer question that we hear repeatedly, and it gives me the excuses to go geek out on some of this stuff.

This first post though I would like to, as the title implies, bring your attention to a fundraiser I am supporting. This fundraiser is to help a man named Owen Satterley make it to the 2010 Crossfit Games Northeast Regional in Albany, NY. Owen is a fellow Crossfitter, a friend, and a good guy who had to resign his spot at the European Regional when his pregnant wife got into a head on car accident. Both the mother and the baby are doing OK. Crossfit HQ was gracious enough to allow Owen to compete in the Northeast Regional if he could get there. The cost of medical bills, plane tickets, room accommodations, etc. can quickly add up to a terrifying amount. So I decided I wanted to help him out.
Here's what we are doing. For every $.05 donated I will complete 1lb from ground to overhead. So if $405 were to be donated I would have to do 8100lbs from ground to overhead, so 60 reps of 135lbs. To learn how to donate and more about this fundraiser please visit this link.!/note.php?note_id=121068677911452