Tag archive: diet

4

Where Are My Abs? How To Build A Great Abdominal Foundation!

This article was written for Muscle and Strength, look for it now in the January 2012 issue of Natural Muscle Magazine!

When people start working out, they almost invariably go straight for their abs. And perhaps it is reasonable – the abdominal area is where people are most acutely aware of carrying extra weight, bloat, or softness, and it is the spot almost all people want to see direct improvement.

What’s more, having a great set of abs is the primary marker of ‘fitness’ in the general world. And when the abs don’t seem to be improving any more drastically than the rest of the body despite receiving the most attention, people get discouraged and begin to think that perhaps they are just not genetically capable of building a tight, lean six pack.

However, as we should all know, there is no effective way to spot-fix a body part. Regardless of how manycrunches you may do, an isolated focus is an ineffective way to change your body, especially when it comes to your midsection.

In order to train your abs for the best results, a full-body approach is necessary. In fact, if you are carrying extra weight in your abdominal area, chances are it is not the only culprit. Bearing this in mind, there are two key concepts that are crucial to building a strong foundation for ripped abs: Engage, and Diet.

Engage:

Rather than going straight for the crunches, consider that the most effective way to see improvement in your abdominal areas is to hold off on direct and exclusive ab exercises until you have begun to reduce your overall body fat percentage. Why? Like all other forms of resistance work, ab exercise increases the growth of muscle, and muscle under fat has a tendency to look like more bulk.

This is why some people get discouraged with their middle thickness despite heavy ab workouts – they have the muscle, but the fat overtop is hiding their achievement. This is not to say ‘neglect your abs entirely until later on’, as this would be a serious detriment to your fitness goals. Strong core muscles (Abs, obliques, back, glutes, etc) are vital to all other types of workouts — without them, you could seriously injure yourself, especially while lifting.

So what do you do? You engage. Engage your core muscles in everything you do. Squeeze your core tight when you jog, when you squat, when you do jumping jacks, when you do push ups, when you lift weights, when you do pull ups, when you do ALL types of workouts. If you are doing squats and not even thinking about your abs, you are missing out on the full potential of what that move can do for your body! Is it not better to work more at once?

Abdominal engagement can be done anywhere – in the office, at home while cooking dinner, or even while enjoying your favourite evening TV show. By doing so, the strength in all your core muscles, especially your abs, will start to improve, while you are working on melting the fat from all areas of your body, and building a nice frame of lean muscle. You will be surprised, when they softness burns away, that you have a nicer, flatter stomach to work with, and finally give that extra attention to.

Diet:

Here, the old adage of “abs are made in the kitchen” truly needs to be stressed! What you eat and how you eat are fundamental to the aesthetic results of your midsection; if your diet is not en pointe, shredded abs are not going to develop. Even the fittest of people will noticeably bloat and soften when they consume something full of sugar, fat or sodium – and this shows most in the midsection.

It must be emphasized that a diet full of processed, sugary foods will be a serious detriment to the fat burning process that will uncover your strong, toned abs. If you want to have a great six-pack, your focus needs to be on eating clean, eating at proper intervals, and most importantly, eating enough! If you’re not getting enough calories to support your caloric burn and exercise activity, your body will begin to cling to fat as a survival instinct.

Eating smaller, more frequent meals that comprise of lean proteins, whole wheat or whole grain complex carbohydrates and bountiful portions of veggies are the best way to ensure that you are left feeling satisfied and energized with every meal, while still shedding fat from your midsection to reveal your abdominal foundation. So never forget to think about what you are eating, and how that one thing will reflect on your body, especially when you want to see firm, taut abs.

Overall, these two key concepts are crucial for building the best, strongest and most aesthetic foundation for your midsection. Utilizing these tricks will help you to sculpt your abs into the six pack of your dreams!

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6

Spicy Sweet Potatoes!

I love sweet potatoes. Before I started eating clean, I had no interest in them, but they have become one of my favourite carbs to enjoy with my meals. And as a result, they have made their way not only into my every day diet, but to my holiday meals!

This recipe is one of the most delicious, indulgent-tasting holiday foods I have made to date, and I serve them as often as possible, to incredible rave reviews!

Spicy Sweet Potatoes

  • 1-3 Sweet Potatoes, depending on the size.
  • 1/2 tbsp Ginger
  • 1 tbsp Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tbsp Nutmeg
  • 1/2 tbsp Brown Sugar
  • 1 tbsp Chili Powder
  • 1/2 – 1 tbsp Cayenne, depending on your spice tolerance.
  • 1 handful crushed walnuts (if desired)
Directions
  • Peel and slice the sweet potato into discs approximately one half inch to one inch thick
  • Boil for approximately 20 minutes, until they are soft enough to be pierced through with a fork, without force.
  • Drain and mash, add your spices. If needed, add a small amount of water to help the mashing process.
  • Add crushed walnuts for presentation.
  • Enjoy!!
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8

Ginger Cinnamon Protein Bars!

Protein bars are a part of my every day diet, so making sure I have an option that is high in protein, moderate in carbs and LOW in sugar is crucial to keeping my eating plan on track — and these home made treats are rewarding and satisfying, without being a ‘glorified candy bar’ like store bought protein bars Believing that credit should always be given where it is due, this recipe was inspired by Jamie Eason’s protein bar recipes, which I highly recommend. She has some wonderful flavors!

Ginger-Cinnamon Protein Bars

  • 1 cup oat flour (Blended oats)
  • 2 scoops vanilla whey protein
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 4 egg whites
  • 6 oz baby food applesauce
  • 4 oz water
  • ~2 tbsp each of cinnamon and ginger (to taste, I like lots)
  • Optional: crushed walnuts or almonds
    Optional: 1/2 cup of preferred no sugar sweetener
Note: I often make a double batch of these; as a serving size is two ‘muffins’, they go very quickly in my house.
These can be baked in a cake tin, but I prefer to do mine in a muffin/cupcake pan. I find they cook more evenly this way, and are perfectly portion sized!
Directions
  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F
  • Mix wet and dry ingredients separately, mix thoroughly
  • Combine ingredients, add optional nuts if desired.
  • If using a muffin tin, line with cupcake holders or a very thin coating of olive oil to prevent stick.
  • Place thoroughly mixed ingredients in the cake pan or muffin tin
  • Let bake for 20 minutes, then perform a quick check to ensure they are cooking through. Cook for another 5-10 minutes as needed.
  • Let cool before removing from pan or cutting.
  • Enjoy!

**Stick these in the fridge! They CAN, and WILL go bad otherwise. Remember, there are no preservatives!

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4

Clean Eating Chili

When I get sick, I don’t crave sweets, ice cream or chicken noodle soup, what I crave is Chili. Chili also happens to be one of my favourite foods of all time, so having a healthy clean eating chili recipe is an absolute must! Over time I have developed, altered and improved this recipe, and since it has been requested of me on several occasions, I have decided to inaugurate the recipe listings on my new website with it! I hope you give it a whirl, and enjoy!

Note: To say I like my food hot would be an enormous understatement, so I have provided this recipe sans my level of spice so that it can be altered to suit any palate or tolerance level. See below for my spice additions.

Clean Eating Chili (Makes a Pot)

  • 2 diced chicken breasts
  • 1 can of Kidney beans
  • 1 can of Black beans
  • 1 small white onion, chopped large
  • 1-2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 large can, organic diced tomatoes (with juice)
  • 2 stalks green onions, chopped
  • 2 tbsp (or a splash) White vinegar
  • 1 handful dried chilies
  • 1 handful pickled chilies
  • Mrs. Dash Extra Spicy
  • At least 1 tbsp cayenne powder, 2 tbsp chili powder
Directions:
  • Defrost, cook, and dice your chicken breasts – I opt to pre-dice and pan-cook my chicken, while I prepare the remainder of my ingredients
  • Slice your vegetables and pickled chilies, strain and rinse your beans.
  • Add the 1 can of organic diced tomatoes to the pot, juice included. This will be your base.
  • Add your beans and vegetables, white vinegar, and dried chilies.
  • Set the pot to boil, and as it heats up, add your chicken, Mrs. Dash seasoning, and any other desired spicy ingredients (see below)
  • Bring to a boil, let simmer about 10 minutes, and you’re ready to eat!

Bry’s Fire Factor:

To this base mixture, I double the inclusion of chili and cayenne powder and amount of chilies, and add Dave’s Insanity Sauce (use carefully!) and Sriracha sauce (also known as rooster sauce).

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Diet, Health, Recipes
4

Tips for Getting Through the Holidays!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This article was written for Muscle and Strength

The advent of Thanksgiving commences the holiday season; a time for togetherness, giving, and of course, lots of delicious dinners and desserts. What is a health oriented individual to do when it seems everyone else is indulging?

The holiday season is a difficult time to stick to health goals as we all know — certainly contributing to the upcoming New Years’ Resolutions surrounding wellness. But this does not mean we should throw our carefully crafted discipline to the wind! So in light of the approaching holiday challenges, I present to you my survival tips for making it through the holidays with a clear conscience, no guilt or regrets, and less worries for your waistline.

Don’t go hungry. Temptation is much easier to resist if your stomach is not growling at you. Save overindulging later by eating breakfast and lunch on holiday dinner days. This way, you will not feel ravenous while selecting what you put on your plate.

Watch portion sizes. Follow the Plate Proportion Rule:Protein and carbs should make up 1/4 of your plate, whereas veggies should take up half. By setting a visual guideline for yourself, you will prevent overindulging on filler such as mashed potatoes and gravy, and ensure you get a serving of vegetables that you may have otherwise passed on. Fill your plate reasonably, and avoid seconds. The second helping will not taste better than the first!

Be condiment conscious. Have your vegetables without the cheese sauce and your meat without the skin or fat. The slimmer alternatives are just as delicious, and you will save an enormous amount of calories. Do not add extra salt, and you will avoid bloat. NO Gravy! Gravy is as empty in nutritional value as a soda, and just as potent in calorie content. Avoid!

Eat slowly. Allow your mind the time it requires to communicate appetite satiety to the rest of your body. Holidays are often culprits of overeating, given the tendency to enjoy as much as we can, as quickly as we can. Everyone has had the experience afterwards of “I ate too much!” Avoid this by savoring your food, and reap the rewards.

Do not consume empty calories. Liquids, such as wine, beer, juice and soda, contain no nutritional value. Each is filled with sugar and calories that we often not even considered when we eat. Save these calories for the food; stick with water. Not only will you be able to enjoy more, but water consumption will help you feel more full.

Stick to your guns. Aunt Mabel shouldn’t guilt you into having her famous cheesy potatoes if they are not part of what you have allotted for your planned plate. Remember that these are your goals, and what someone else does, or says, does not affect you. Only you have the power to improve yourself. Do not give that up!

Have some. Just be wise. Remember that indulging every now and then is perfectly acceptable! In fact, it has been shown that those who ‘cheat’ occasionally, are more likely to stick to their diets in the long run. This is a result of satisfaction; it is easy to resent your healthy choices if you receive no enjoyment.

Like a child who knows good behavior will earn him periodic privileges, we can accept our parameters, if the payoff is worth it. In the end, if you choose this option, just be wise about your choices. The piece of pie may not turf your results, but a whole pie and whipped cream might. Be reasonable.

To conclude, I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season, and I look forward to any comments or tips you might have about how you make it through the holidays in a healthy way!

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2

Easy Diet Tips that can Change Your Body!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This article was written for ActivewearUSA.

Eat breakfast.  I cannot stress enough the importance of eating within an hour of waking. Not only does this fuel you with adequate energy for the day ahead, it also jump-starts your metabolism, which will keep you burning calories and fat at an elevated rate throughout the day. And I know for those who don’t eat breakfast, the majority will respond they just can’t eat breakfast because it unsettles the stomach.  You need to STOP making this excuse! The reason your stomach doesn’t respond well to breakfast is because you aren’t used to it; like any diet change, it takes time to adapt. Stop whining, start eating breakfast, and in two weeks, you’ll no longer have an issue.

Eat every two to three hours.  Nearly everyone in the modern world understands or has heard that the traditional three meal schedule we structure our society around isn’t the healthiest or most effective way to eat. Instead, try eating five to six smaller meals throughout the day, spaced apart by two to three hours.  This keeps your metabolism running smoothly because there are no long stretches without fuel; when those periods happen, your metabolism drops off and your body tries to conserve energy.  Smaller meals are also more comfortable for your digestive system; no bloating, no “I ate too much” feelings, because you will have never allowed yourself to get that hungry!

Eliminate empty liquid calories.  Nothing you drink should have caloric or sugar content. You gain no satisfaction from the surprising amount of calories you drink, nor is there truly any nutritional value that warrants their consumption. This includes soda, alcohol, and juice – yes, juice. It’s not as healthy as you think!  One serving of orange juice is a whopping 250 calories with 20 grams of sugar!  (Comparatively, a can of Coke has 27 grams.)  Instead, opt for zero calorie beverages such as water or tea. Not only will you remove excess sugar from your diet, you’ll flush toxins from your system, gain more energy, see improvements in your skin, and reduce cellulite!

Even if you cannot remove liquid juices entirely, consider removing one can of soda a day which saves you around 679 calories and 189 grams of sugar a week!

Make “processed” a dirty word.  There should be no room in your diet for processed foods. This means anything that has been fried, pre-cooked, and packaged, such as frozen dinners and junk food (chips, chocolate, soda, even non-natural peanut butter; all these items have been processed). Instead, opt for things in their natural or whole state; buy your meat uncooked and prepare your own meals, invest in whole fruits and vegetables, and look for natural peanut butters. By removing the preservatives and unncessecary chemicals from your system, you will feel more energetic, and your body will function more efficiently!

Consider simple replacements.  Switch from white bread and rice to whole wheat and save yourself the additional processing that these foods undergo. Switch out your normal yogurt for a no-fat Greek yogurt and save mass amounts of sugar while gaining protein.  Switch from regular to natural peanut butter and lose fat.  Replace your condiments with low-sodium, low-sugar versions and watch your bloating and water weight disappear.

These are a few easy steps you can take to make positive changes in your diet, your health, and your overall fitness outcomes. Now isn’t that worth it?

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