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The Sunny Vitamin…Fitness Friday 24

Many apologies for my last weeks absence from Fitness Friday, you see here was my week…

Midterm number 1 Tuesday + Group assignment due for clinical 2

Midterm 2 on Friday morning (Keep in mind that Tuesday and Thursday are full days on campus aka very lil study time)

Midterm 3 (CLINCIAL aka extremely dense material) Tuesday, where I could only start studying following my Friday midterm.

Every day basically went like this..

Get up, eat, study, gym, school, study, eat, study, etc, bed. Repeat for 1.5 weeks.

Did my body hate me after that period…? 1000% yes. I retained so much water which I’m still trying to be patient about it coming off and my digestion has been messed for the past week.

Stress my friends, stress is a problem.

Obviously burnt the candle from both ends and overall burnt out in the end. Thankfully, although I, and all the nutrition students, was a complete zombie come Tuesday, I have managed to pull off an 88 in one and a 90 in another, so at least I get some reward from working my ass off.

Okay now that I have cleared my mental space all over you, lets get on with today’s topic


Yes, the “sunshine vitamin

Did you know that a huge number of athletes are deficient in this vitamin and that is has been linked to deficits in athletic performance?

Before I go on, here a quick fact sheet on the sunny vitamin:

~It is fat soluble and is thus best absorbed in the body if taken with fat.

~It’s technically also a hormone. It plays a role as a steroid hormone though working to activate

~The active form, 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D (or calcitriol) is synthesized in the kidneys and released to respond to decreasing serum calcium levels.

~Most of a persons daily needs of vitamin D can actually be made if you get adequate sunning time as it is converted endogenously from UV light. This is with the help of the liver. Of course, most of use don’t get enough real sun time due to fear of skin cancer and being in places that doesn’t give adequate sunlight throughout the year

~One of it’s most important functions is helping with the absorption of calcium in the intestines.

~It is used for more than just bone health, but has also been linked to immunity, growth, and reduction of inflammation.

If you want more facts, visit here.

Okay so you say that many athletes are deficient in it?

A recent study (2015) presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) found that more than 1/3 of their elite collegiate athlete sample had insufficient levels of vitamin D. Moreover, greater risk was associated with being male and having darker skin tones.

This isn’t just an American issue though, many northern latitudes have also found similar issues. This study presented a few studies of athletes in other countries from Finland to France to Germany who also showed drastically high levels of inadequacy in their elite athletes.

Why is this important? 

As mentioned above, yes it is a concern for bones and overall health, but what about in athletic performance, as it is Fitness Friday after all?

Numerous studies have found impaired performance in athletes who were deficient.

~This study gave a great highlight reel of studies showing how UV radiation improved performance in athletes. The research dated back into the 1930’s and continues to show a seasonal variation in performance that follows a similar pattern as vitamin D levels. Basically, greater activation of the active form of vitamin D occurred during times when there sunlight was greater and more people were taking that sunlight in. So peak training took place during the summer months and a sharp decrease was shown in the fall and winter months.

~This review gave a great presentation of the role of vitamin D in the muscle.

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~This study, among many others, suggested that athletes may require higher than normal levels of vitamin D to support performance and recovery. Furthermore, a safe dose of radiation therapy may be beneficial, but more research is needed.

Overall, despite a lot of research on why low vitamin D levels could contribute to performance and recovery deficits, the research in supplementation with athletes is minimal and mixed. Perhaps they need higher doses of supplements as supplemental forms do not get as well absorbed in the body? This could be a good guess as these have been numerous studies showing that UV light (which enables more endogenously created vitamin D) increases performance and that is the form that is most related to circulating vitamin D.

So how can I make sure I get enough?

Another quick fact is that the majority of your vitamin D that contributes to circulating serum levels is not from you diet. In fact, there is quite a shortage of foods that contain vitamin D and the actual amount of that you absorb is not that great.

Most of us here in Canada are deficient, in the winter time especially, and so supplementation is always recommended on top of trying to get in some sources from food. Overall, all methods that include ingesting sources are not the best at reaching your targets so the best idea is simply to try to get a bit of all sources. Some sun, some food (natural sources + fortified) and take a good supplement.

Foods highest in Vitamin D

~Fatty, cold water fish (mackerel, sardines, etc)

~Egg yolks


~Fortified sources like dairy and even some juices like O-J are also fortified. NOTE that being a fat soluble vitamin, you best bet is to buy full fat dairy sources. 

***NO this is not bad for you. Fat is not bad for you. It is simply more calorically dense, which should leave you feeling more satisfied and fuller. Sorry had to get that out of the way. 

For you supplement route..

If you take a daily fish oil (one of my top recommendations), most of those contain a good dose of vitamin D. For example, cod liver oil is a great choice. I will also say liquids first, try to avoid capsules for fish oils or pure vitamin D supplements. The sublingual forms of vitamin D, those that go under the tongue, often come in flavours these days and fish oils have come a long way as well. No excuses folks, just chuck them back. 

So what is my take on all of this?

It appears to be too early to tell whether performance can be enhanced with a supplement. It may be that supplements are just not absorbed well enough to present any benefit for athletic performance or it could be that athletes just need more. That is unclear. What I will say that is that regardless, I still recommend a supplement to help you out because most of us Canadians and Americans are deficient and there are umpteen other health benefits of vitamin D that are important to consider.

Well that’s it for tonight friends!

Happy start to your weekend 🙂

Do you take a vitamin D supplement? 



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Gotta Keep That Metabolism Firing…Fitness Friday 20

I’m sure we have all heard this..

Gotta eat every few hours to keep that metabolism chuggin along.

Well guys, this idea is FALSE.

How often you eat has no effect on muscle gaining and/or fat loss so eating more often doesn’t mean your metabolism is tickin faster either….



I’m going to introduce this post with a video I watched recently that inspired this topic. Eric Helms is featured and discusses the controversial topic of meal frequency and explains how it has no effect on metabolism.  Instead, it’s more about what fits your life best. Click the video below and take a listen!

Eric Helms is a very prominent figure in the sports and exercise field.  He has multiple degrees in exercise and nutrition (BS in fitness and wellness, MS in exercise science, and MS in sports nutrition), is a natural bodybuilding Pro and coach, often writes for excise and nutrition journals and even speaks at Universities and other events sharing all of his knowledge.

Some Highlights

~No specific number of meals is associated with greater or less muscle gain/fat loss

~Studies have shown that number of daily meals MAY be associated with satiety and therefore diet adherence (which in the context of weight management is the most critical component). It appears that having less then 3 meals (the average number of meals most people eat) may be associated with greater hunger. BUT that being said, if you have way more than 3 (one study even did 14 daily feedings) that hunger was also greater.

~Tips for success: Find a number of meals around 3ish or slightly more that fits your schedule and leave you feeling the most satisfied. Spread your protein across these meals for additional satiety.

I think the message here is clear. As with many things, it’s not a specific one-size-fits-all protocol for how many meals you should eat, it’s about what will fit your lifestyle best and allow for you to reach your goals while not overthinking and becoming obsessed with food.


So lets address this well known myth that was discussed in the video:

You need to eat X number of times a day because if you don’t, your metabolism will slow down to a crawl and you will get fat.

I swear every generic personal trainer will preach and preach this like it’s going out of style. You should be eating 3 square meals and 2-3 snacks every day because if you’re not eating every 2-3 hours, your metabolism will not be running as fast as it can be.


Well ain’t that a lot of time in your day spent eating…


Well don’t worry, unless that is how you like to live your life, it ain’t necessary. You want to eat 3 times a day, do it. You want to eat 14 times a day, do you. It doesn’t matter.

Here’s some research to back up my words because I like to be accountable and prove that I ain’t just spewing iissshhhh

~An article co-written by Eric himself discussed the current research in nutrient amount, nutrient timing and meal frequency in body builders and specifically highlighted that no studies have shown that more frequent meals leads to greater thermogenesis (which is a factor that affects metabolism). Studies that have been done, which have been tightly controlled, looked at meal numbers anywhere from two to seven and found no difference.

~An early review (1997) by Bellisle et al addressed the idea that ‘nibbling’ is better for ones’ metabolism during dieting than ‘gorging,’ or, in other words, eating more frequently during the day is beneficial for greater fat loss over less frequent, larger meals. From their review, they failed to find a relationship and concluded that if any study did find a small difference that it was probably due to intake records (ie. under-reporting their nibbles during the day).


~A 2008 study by Smeets and Westerterp-Plantenga looked at the effect of having 2 vs. 3 meals on things like diet induced thermogenesis, 24-hour energy expenditure, exercise-induced thermogenesis and sleep expenditure. Overall they found no relationship between the number of meals and these outcome variables of interest.

One of their findings warrants further discussion and will conclude this discussion is this:

“The same amount of energy divided over three meals compared with over two meals increased satiety feelings over 24h”

I believe that this is the main point of this all: SATIETY! What will ultimately affect your weight management the most is whether you are satisfied or not. If you are starving trying to eat only 2 meals a day, then you are likely to go over your calories because you will over eat at some point or binge outside your 2-meal schedule. On the other hand, if ‘snacking’ your way through the day never leaves you satisfied you may find yourself picking away too much and over eating your calorie needs.

So to re-state the message a lil bit more simply
Meal frequency means nothing. Do what works for both your schedule and satiety/sanity. If you enjoy eating large meals and 3 leaves you able to live your life and feel good than have 3 square meals. If you feel better having 3 meals and 2 snacks, than do that.

When it comes to things like this, its always about calories in and whether that is higher then your needs that will ultimately affect your weight status.

So don’t over think it, just do you.

Disclaimer: This is for the generally healthy individual. There may be some medical benefits of eating more frequently for individuals with health conditions like diabetes, although more research is needed as results are mixed. Look here (potential benefit) vs. here (no relationship)


How many meals do you eat a day?


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Something Salty…Fitness Friday 19

If you eat too much salt, the extra water stored in your body raises your blood pressure. So, the more salt you eat, the higher your blood pressure. The higher your blood pressure, the greater the strain on your heart, arteries, kidneys and brain. This can lead to heart attacks, strokes, dementia and kidney disease. ~Blood Pressure UK

Hmmmm…Salt is bad eh?

Did you know that 80% of the salt you eat every day is “hidden” in the processed foods you eat? ~also Blood Pressure UK

Ahhh there we go.


Hiya Friends! Okay today I wanted to touch on yet another controversial topic in nutrition, which is …


So we have all grown up hearing how bad salt is for you and how it basically will cause heart attacks. Is that actually true though?

Think for a second…Salt is natural. Our ancestors ate salt and I’m pretty sure they didn’t die from consuming it. I always think about these types of things in this way:

If it comes from nature, it’s probably A-okay. The bigger problem is how we choose to use it these days that makes it a ‘health risk.’

Yes, salt, or sodium chloride to be more specific, causes the body to hold onto water, but that actually is an important function (and not it’s only function) for a number of reasons.

~Muscles need it to be able to contract, including our heart.

~Nerves need it to send signals

~Blood volume levels are maintained with the help of salt

~Chloride is integral for digestion as it forms HCL (or your stomach acid)

~Chloride also help keeps acid balance in the body

And many more functions.

So why are we always told to limit it?

Well you see if we didn’t have packaged foods and we simply sprinkled salt on our foods, salt would never be a problem because our taste buds just can’t handle an excess of straight salt poured on our foods. The issue is the fact that, like said above, most of the sodium that we take in is hidden and almost tasteless in processed foods. The simplest of boxed items are filled with the stuff and so then as the amount of sodium creeps up and then yes, you may start to overload and may see negative consequences.

There is no such thing as ‘you can’t have too much’ even in beneficial things. So while salt is essential for you, when you start going way too high, it has negative consequences in the body.

Our bodies are not used to dealing with all this processed crap we force it to break down. So we can’t just pee it out and say its all good.

So this is controversial yes, but really it’s just another simple case of how humans have taken something natural, processed the crap out of it and now its black listed.


It’s not evil. Case closed. 

Also, I felt the need to touch on this because of it’s importance in athletes. You see, many athletes don’t tend to eat much of the processed stuff because they have learned that they feel better and perform better on whole foods. This is a good and a bad thing. Good because they are eating more wholesome foods and getting more vitamins and minerals BUT bad because often they forget about salt. If you neglect salt in your diet, you can actually potentially harm yourself.

Take a track athlete for example.  During a hot day, they are running their event and sweating like crazy. Well in that sweat is salt…

Following their event, they run to grab the first bottle of water they can find and down a good amount of it. After a few minutes, they start to feel a lil dizzy and out of it and next thing they know they are on the ground and have their coach leaning over them with a fan in one hand and a Gatorade in another. 

They just experienced hyponatremia, or abnormally low serum salinity. They drank water to rehydrate, but diluted their blood saline because they didn’t replace the electrolytes they lost. Too little sodium in the blood then can lead to dizziness, nausea, or even worse neurological and/or muscle complications. Read more about exercised-associated hypernatremia here.

So yes, salt is essential. You need it. As a result, stop seeing salt as evil. If you are thinking that you need to cut back, starting taking a look at those boxed products and not at the pure stuff. More importantly, if you don’t eat much processed food, don’t forget that you need salt in your food somewhere. I made that mistake and used to feel light headed during my training.


So to conclude, a good quality sea salt (try pink salt!) has great benefits, so go ahead and sprinkle away to your taste. Instead of giving it the stank face, give that boxed food the cold shoulder.


PS a good crack or three of pink salt on peanut butter oatmeal is kinda the **it.

Try it out!

Did you ever fear salt?



Sunday Link-Love

Happy Lazy Sunday Friends. I thought I would jump in on this lil blogger favourite as I happened to come across some interesting reads and listens over the past few days. Thought I would share them and my thoughts associated with their content. Hope you enjoy.

1. Your Child is a Brat and it’s Your Fault.

I have often mentioned that I think that this generation is a disrespectful and entitled bunch and this read brings up some good points as to why that may be. There may be some extremes listed here, but in general I think the main point

Parents are spending more time with their kids then ever (in the form of hovering), but that time is the wrong kind of time.

Sometimes parents need to stop worrying about upsetting their child or being their protector and be their parent and teach them some responsibility. Charging into a principles office following their child getting a bad grade leads to children thinking they don’t have to work hard, daddy will take care of it if I don’t do well. Bargaining with a child and saying if you do X I will buy you Y doesn’t teach them responsibility. Things like chores are just done. That’s that. Plain and simple.

2. Fuck Fat Loss

Pardon my french, but this is in fact true. Ever wonder why things like diets and new years/September resolutions don’t stick? Well it’s because we are obsessed with superficial things like fat loss as a main motivation.

You do not have to always be on a diet or think about burning calories or revolving your life around some bullshit regimen that is too impractical to be sustained beyond a few weeks.

You need something more internal to sustain anything. Working out is hard. Making sure your diet is on point while you are working a full time job and wanting a life can be hard too. Body composition changes take time and so if that is your sole reason for making changes in your life, guess what, those changes are not going to happen fast enough for you to use that as the driving force.

Obsessing over fat loss is effective for one thing: Making women increasingly dissatisfied with their bodies.

As it mentioned in the article, if obsessing over fat loss was actually giving results, than perhaps it would be something recommended to do, but it doesn’t. It does however cause disordered eating, stress, potentially eating disorders and unnecessary restriction.

So take a piece of advice from this article and eat and workout for YOU and your health, not just to loose a few inches. Make that fat loss a SIDE EFFECT and not the main goal.

3. Sigma Nutrition Podcasts

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This is a site full of great research and expert based podcasts on a number of interesting topics related to fitness and nutrition. If you are gym rat or nutrition knowledge-seeker like myself, then this is definitely a site to check out. Some of the ones that I have enjoyed thus far include topics on…

~Exercise-Induced GI Distress and the Impact of Gluten and FODMAPs on Athletic Performance

~Hypothalamic Amernorrhea

And this one is next up for a listen

~Role of Micronutrients on Mental Health and Psychiatric Disorders. 

Cool stuff!

4. Latest Interview from Jeff Nippard

You all know how much I love Em Dunc and so I was excited to listen to her words of (very young!) wisdom. She is such a powerful, positive and insightful person to listen to. She takes life my the reins and goes full speed towards her dreams. She makes mistakes and only uses those to fuel her fire and learn more about herself.

“If you fail at something…don’t be that person that it defeats. Be that person that it fuels.”

The famous line of the interview…

“[regarding prep] you go from being a baguette to a breadstick.” 

5. Nia Shanks Twitter Feed

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This lovely lady is the leader of the “Lift Like a Girl” movement that we have seen more recently. I’m no feminist, but I do enjoy female empowerment, especially in the gym! I just came across her profile and have just been enjoying her tweets.

It’s perfectly OK to finish a workout saying “Hell yeah, I did that!” It should build you up, not tear you down. Exercise is not punishment.

Ever wonder what you could experience and achieve if you didn’t allow fear of the “what-ifs” hold you back?

Well those are what have been catchin my eye over the past few days. Hope at least one of them interests you and can give you some insight or inspiration.

Take on the new week with passion and drive! 


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The Forgotten Nutrient…Fitness Friday 13

Guys there is a micronutrient that is feeling left out. Do many even consider it a nutrient at this point? Well, we all should be because it is essential to your overall well-being.

~It helps you stay satiated which can help with maintaining your weight

~It helps your body bed rid of excess toxins

~It keeps your colon healthy and clean

~Healthy digestion requires it

~Keeps cholesterol in check by helping to excrete excess from the body

~Helps keep your blood sugar normalized by slowing the entrance of nutrients into the blood stream via digestion. 

And so much more.

Did you guess what I’m talking about yet?


Cough…that would be FIBRE we Canadian here eh!

Fibre Fibre Fibre, oh where do we begin…

Fibre is a necessity to life for more then the reasons than I mentioned about above. If I were to go into a lot of detail on all of those then this post would go on for eternity so, take my word for it that it’s a wee bit important.

One thing I wanted to really touch on was the importance of fibre for performance and body composition, as this is a fitness related post right?

So lets start with Body Composition

Because lets be honest, that is probably the first thing people will want to hear about.

So, I would say that the general relationship between body composition and fibre focuses on satiety. Satiety is a critical component of maintaining a healthy weight because it is what keeps your calories in check because, obviously if you’re full, most of you won’t eat more.

Also, if you really think about it, what foods are often higher in fibre? Well it’s not the highly processed ones. Nope, it’s your natural foods like fruits, grains, and vegetables. These are the foods that help keep you fuller for longer and can keep you from raiding your pantry 5 minutes after eating your meal.

fibre foods

Another thing about these foods is that they tend to be much lower calorie (Given appropriate portion sizes for things like grains and starches) than their lower fibre counterparts. So, despite filling you up more, they actually will contribute to your total caloric input much less.

What else affects your body composition?

Bloating –> If your gut is not healthy and things aren’t moving nicely, it can lead to poor waste removal and that build up not only makes you feel icky but often leads to water retention and bloating. By incorporating foods high in fibre you can keep your tummy happy and keep you feeling less puffy. Please note that the opposite is true here too! Too much fibre can wreck havoc on your gut and leading discomfort and gas, so watch how much roughage you eat. You’re not a herbivore with 2 stomachs, so don’t eat like one or you will suffer. 

If you’re looking for some research, here was a study done in females that looked at the effect of increasing fibre on weight. What is particularly interesting was that they factored in exercise too. So, yes exercise can be a tool for keeping your weight steady, but even in those who exercised, when their fibre intake was lower, they actually gained more weight over the duration of the study. One conclusion made was that it appeared that fibres influence was most probably due to less of a caloric intake, which goes back to our whole satiety discussion.

So what about performance in athletes?

There aren’t really studies showing that fibre helps with performance directly per say, but obviously nutrition is critical for ones ability to perform at their best.

For one, if you’re not getting enough fibre then you may actually not be fuelling your body effectively for your craft. For example, if you’re fibre is low that may mean that you’re not taking in enough good sources of carbohydrates, which can lead to not having enough energy to supply your training. This could also mean that you’re not getting enough fruits and vegetables, which can also hinder performance as those are where the majority of the vitamins and minerals are which are often found as co-factors in energy releasing reactions.

Performance would also suffer if your gut is being a pain right? I know if my stomach is not happy, my performance in the gym suffers because 1. I have a lot of energy going towards trying to fix said tummy issue and 2. because I feel like crap so I’m distracted and off my game. Fibre helps the tummy so eat yo fibre rich foods!

Lastly, obviously body composition comes into play here as well. In many sports, weight maintenance is a big deal. If you are maintaining a healthy weight, you are often better able to be more efficient and perform more optimally than if you were overweight. Unfortunately, that is just a reality.

So overall, can we now give some love to this very critical micronutrient? It does way more for you then you can ever imagine! Despite being so simple to get, it’s one nutrient that is often overlooked and under consumed in our typical American diets these days.

If everyone got in the right amount of fibre, would we be having such a hard time with obesity? Hmmm..

So, take a look to nature a few times a day and get in some foods that boost up that fibre intake. And no, this doesn’t mean you have to eat like a rabbit and hate your life. Natural foods are yummy too, you just need to be a bit creative! Your body will thank you and you will be happier because you will have more energy and feel much more satisfied in the long run.

For specific daily intakes, there have been ball park estimates here and there. From Canada’s Food Guide (eww don’t like that thing) it says around 25-38g per day. The Canadian Diabetes Association says upwards of 50g for the upper limit which seems like a world of pain in my eyes. From the fitness community, I have heard that around 10-15g per 1000 cals is sufficient. So, I would say take an average, so anywhere from 25-35 seems reasonable to me, smaller number being for smaller people like females. 

fiber shake


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Down She Goes…Fitness Friday 12

Happy Friday friends.

I have a bone to pick with the ladies out there who choose not to eat before they workout


Okay so IF (intermittent fasting) is a whole other topic to discuss later, but I wanted to bring up the idea of a pre-workout meal because of something that happened earlier this week.

I had just arrived at the gym and saw one of the trainers running over to her client, who was on the floor, with a juice and a protein bar.

Well that ain’t looking good.

After about 15 minutes of them chatting, her nibbling and drinking, she got up and walked out of the gym.

Of course me being too curious and nosey spoke to the trainer afterwards (I didn’t just go right up to her and ask, I know her and she was training beside me) and asked her if her previous client was okay and she mentioned that yeah, she didn’t eat much before she came in…


She also mentioned that she was pre-diabetic

Further #FacePlant moment…

If you’re diabetic you need to talk to your doctor about how to eat if you’re working out! That is potentially life threatening!

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Now, I talk more so about women here because that is who is most doing this. Men on there other hand typically have no issue fueling their bodies before they lift. Why is this? Perhaps it’s an attempt to limit calories. Maybe they have heard that the “fitchicks” workout fasted and obviously they look good so it must be right. Or maybe it’s just a lack of education on how the body responds to training in the absence of fuel.

I dunno.

But whatever the reason is, it needs to be addressed and changed.

Please note that what I’m referring to here is working out first thing in the morning on empty or going hours upon hours without food and then training. 

Saving my calories.

This is something we definitely need to get out of our heads. If any time is a time for eating, it’s pre and post workout. What are you thinking is going to fuel that workout? If you think that working out without eating automatically leads to your body using your own fat stores as fuel, I’m sorry, but that’s not true. #BroScience

So, not only does it not speed up fat loss, but for most people, you will just end up leaving you tired, weak and having a bad workout because you just can’t give it everything you have.

Or in the case of the poor woman mentioned above (well almost)…


Lets avoid that mmmmkay?

But the fit girls on Instagram do fasted training?

First off, that’s most often fasted, LOW INTENSITY cardio first thing in the morning NOT HIIT or weight lifting. Cardio is a funny thing, some people feel sick doing it with anything in their stomach, while others are fine. So often the best suggestion is to say “go on how you feel.” Also, I have already addressed before that fasted cardio is not a means of effective weight loss as opposed to non-fasted.

So, once again, no weight loss gains from not eating for cardio.

As far as lifting on empty, just don’t do it. Lifting weights really requires fuel. Them Intermittent Fasters may argue all they want with me but from personal experience (which, actually I don’t think I have every thought to even lift without food as I pass out easy) and other knowledgable people (listen to a few podcasts by Dolce, whom I mentioned in an earlier post) it’s just not a good idea and leads to sucky and unproductive workouts.

Most people just cannot focus and give a workout all they have if their stomach is growling at them. Very generally, weight lifting tends to use carbohydrates as the main fuel as you are working in an anabolic state (without oxygen) during a lift.

….Provided you are working at a good intensity…

Carbs are a fast and easy fuel to get at to energize those quick bursts of activity (ie. lifts) effectively and so if you don’t have much in the tank, your lifts will suffer.

Plus, did I mention how distracted we all tend to get when we’re hungry.


So if there are no benefits to training fasted and it ends up messing up your workout, why do it?

Lack of education.

Now it’s entirely possible that many don’t even think to eat in a closer proximity to their training because it just doesn’t occur to them that that working out is an additional energy expenditure and, thus, needs more fuel. Maybe they think that if they’re not hungry now, then all is good.

This is not always the case. If it has been hours since your last meal and you’re looking to hit the weights soon, I would suggest giving it something. It doesn’t have to be huge, especially if it’s mid day, but just something that has some carbs and protein in it.

Fats are often dependent on timing. If it’s right before, they may not be the best choice as they take long to digest and your energy will go to digestion rather then to your workout. Also, they may fill you up too much for your liking. 

Consider this, if you’re body doesn’t have the fuel it needs, it may start to search for itself for fuel…and often that is your own body protein (ie. muscle). We don’t want that do we? So avoid the tummy grumbles and self-eating process all together.

So here’s a few scenarios to consider.

Morning lifters. DEFINITELY EAT! You have been fasting already for upwards of 8-9 hours and now you’re expecting your body to give you enough energy to lift weights. Uh no. Give yourself enough time, eat something with good sustainable fuel and power through that workouts. Suggestions? If you have a little bit of digestion time (1-2 hours), aim for a balanced meal of protein, complex carbs and some fat. A common staple is oatmeal. Whip in some egg whites or add a scoop of protein powder, throw on some cool toppings (fruits, nut butter, etc) and enjoy. If you need to be out the door quickly, oats may not be the best as the fibre takes too long to digest. Think faster digesting carbohydrate and protein sources and minimize the fats. Consider a smoothie of sorts perhaps?

REALLY EARLY morning lifters. If you’re one of those people who have to train at some gawd awful hour and you just can’t even fathom eating something, I would still say to try to have something. Your body will adjust but I just don’t think it’s a good idea to go in with nothing. A rice cake with protein powder ‘icing’ or peanut flour and banana could be something small with some carbs and protein. If you can stand drinking half of a smoothie that could work too. Just try something.

Afternoon and evening lifters. The need to eat is less of a immediate cause of concern here as you have already got a few meals in you. That being said, if you haven’t eaten for more then 3-4 hours, perhaps think about a snack or plan you workout about an hour or two after a meal (depending on it’s size). Say you eat lunch around 1, get off work at 4:30 and hit the gym for 5, try to sneak in a snack on your way to the gym. Again, think some carbs and protein but the amount will depend on how you feel and how long you have before hitting the gym.

Cardio only. If your focus is just cardio, then it may be a bit different. If you’re doing HIIT (high intensity) follow the same protocol as lifting. If endurance is your thing, if it’s first thing in the morning, reach for something small but packed with energy. Often I see runners using dates with a bit of nut butter just for a quick burst of energy that won’t weight heavy in their stomach. If you’re an afternoon runner/cardio goer, go with how you feel and what makes you feel best. Once again, I don’t recommend going hours without food as your body will compensate in ways you won’t like, but you also don’t want to eat so much that your puke mid run either.

So yeah, no research this week, but just my thoughts and experience to share here. You don’t save calories by not eating before hand. Most often you will actually just ruin a potentially good workout by performing at a sub par level because you’re inadequately fueled. You can’t build muscle without food. Sorry you just can’t. Your body is smarter then you are as I always say, so don’t try to fool it.

I hope you enjoyed and if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, fire away in the comments 🙂

Have a great long weekend all! 



The New Biggest Loser

Let The Diets Begin…

A new show this season, My Diet Is Better Than Yours, came to CTV and randomly caught to my attention when I was waiting for my post-ice cream sugar crash to send me into a slumber Friday night.

I was curious.

I clicked play.

My thoughts starting going…as usual.


Oh hey looky it’s Shawn T!

This show, like The Biggest Loser, is all about weight loss but it takes a slightly different spin as each individual is placed with an expert that is passionate about a certain diet. They believe that their diet is not just a short term thing, but a longer term solution or lifestyle change to weight management.

Now while it’s interesting to see the different fad diets put head to head in a real life experiment, you know how I feel about diets…

Diet= Short term (if it even does anything in the first place) and possibly puts your health at risk!

I don’t agree with diets whatsoever. I think that everyone needs to take the time to learn their bodies, play around with their nutrition and find out what works effectively for THEIR body and lifestyle. This allows it to be maintainable for the rest of their lives and not feel deprived.

For most, I feel as if this is a lifestyle of eating mostly whole foods with some processed and/or treats in moderation. I believe that is sustainable and something that is sustainable is your secret to success.

Plans that TAKE AWAY are not sustainable because whenever something is lost we want it more.

Anyways, I wanted to take the time and go through the fad diets that are being highlighted and give thoughts on them. Now these are strictly my opinion and I’m no expert, I just wanted to go through and discuss them. I would love for you all to give your thoughts too so feel free to jump into the commentary in the comments section! 🙂

The Wild Diet


Basic Idea: My automatic thought here was that it was a paleo or even maybe a ketogenic style of diet. The first thing he introduced to his client was bullet proof coffee, or when you butter grass fed butter in your coffee. This may seem gross to you at first, but many ketogenic followers love this high fat, caffeine boosting start to their day.  Personally I don’t agree with the ketogenic diet, but my thoughts aside, the basic principles here are eating higher fats to compensate for the lower carbohydrate consumption. This is supposed to make you a ‘fat burner’ rather then the standard ‘sugar burner.’ With regards to proteins, they will be high quality the fattier cuts and varieties are encouraged because these are natural fats that are nourishing for the body. Despite by initial perception, he does have a major focus on plant based foods (2/3 of the diet) which is different from the ketogenic diet which I believe is more like 75% fats.

In addition also utilizes a 7-minute workout a day as your exercise and that’s it for the most part.

Despite my hesitations due to the whole keto feel of this diet, there are a lot of things I do like about it.

My Thoughts THE GOOD:

~Focus on REAL food. Don’t count calories but just avoid processed crap and diet foods, which he states are just cardboard tasting things disguised as food. I completely agree with this logic. Too many people just read calorie counts and ignore what is actually making up those calories. Something lower calorie may be completely made up of chemicals while a higher calorie food may be all natural foods. Now, considering both, which would rather eat?

~Meeting your farmers/butchers/etc. He talks a lot about eating quality meats and seafood and to know where you food comes from. If you have the opportunity to do this, I think this is so important. I always feel better knowing that my meats come from a local source rather then shipped across the ocean from a place where the conditions the animals were raised are unknown.

~You have to eat fat to loose fat. SOOOO TRUE! Low fat is not the answer. Fat is satiating and thus by cutting it out, you are basically setting yourself up for a binge. In addition, you body needs it for basic hormone production and guess what is included in hormones? What cues hunger and satiety.

~While I love my long workouts and despite being hesitant to say that a mere 7 minutes can really work especially once the initial weight comes off, the idea that short bursts (think HIIT) works as a very effective fat burner is completely correct.

My Thoughts THE BAD:

~I still don’t like the idea that carbohydrates are evil. This diet and many others place a negative light on all carbohydrate sources (vegetables are exempt here) and I still don’t believe this to be true. Saying you shouldn’t eat a sweet potato just doesn’t seem right to me but my learning continues on this topic.

~I don’t know how sustainable this is. I don’t think you should worry about what everyone else is eating, but true low carbohydrate eating is really not the norm and so many may have issues eating out. Also, alcohol is often banned with these types of diets and while some people like myself are perfectly content without the booze, most are not and would then feel deprived.

~I also still believe that there is never one true lifestyle for everyone. Right now for me personally, my coach would laugh in my face if I told him that I wanted to even reduce my carbohydrates let alone reduce them to sub 100g levels. Carbohydrates are the easiest fuel for your body to use and call me a sugar burner all you want, but most bodybuilders thrive on carbohydrates when building muscle because it’s an easily accessible source of energy that your body is set up to use.

The “No Diet” Plan


Basic Idea: This one is really interesting to me because he specifically states that it’s not about the food. Instead, he states that the food has become the habit that needs to be tackled. So yes he does tweak their diet and their exercise habits, but he focuses on behavioural changes that are supposed to lead to weight loss. Some of his ideas may sound crazy, like eating on a blue plate to reduce how much you eat (Reasoning: blue is not found in nature often and therefore you eat less because you don’t automatically think of a food), but when really think about some of them, they make sense. So he refocuses your thoughts on the way you shop, the way you sleep and how you perceive food in order to help you loose weight. One of the things that really stuck with me was…

If it goes bad, it’s good for you.

My Thoughts THE GOOD:

~I’m on board with the notion that often it’s not the food that is the problem, its the underlying behaviours and attitudes that lead to weight gain. Much like eating disorders, food becomes the way of dealing with something they don’t want to face. Notice how many individuals with depression or poor self esteem often turn to food for comfort?

~I love the fact that sleep is a major focus because many Americans are not getting enough and that really does have a potentially deviating effect on the body and that cortisol (i.e. product of stress) can lead to weight gain all by itself.

My Thoughts THE BAD:

~As I mentioned, many of his ideas may seem bizarre and therefore may not be followed in the long run.

~Due to not focusing a lot on food and exercise, I’m wondering how long the weight loss will continue before a plateau occurs. When their goal weight is 100+ pounds away, I’m wondering if these changes are enough to reach where they want to be.

The Superfoods Swap


Basic Idea: This plan says that can really have whatever you are craving because you can just swap out some of the less nutrient dense foods for more nutritious ones. As an example, in the first episode she made a cauliflower cheese sauce for her daughter’s beloved mac n’cheese and she said it was good and couldn’t even taste the cauliflower in it. This plan also says that you can have your treats, they just have to be a social thing (eat it out, don’t bring it home) rather then something done in secret.

Cut the CRAP


R- Refined Flours and Sugars

A- Artificial Stuff

P- Preservatives

My Thoughts THE GOOD:

~Teaches proper servings and how to eyeball proper proportions on a plate. Instead of the typical American plate that is probably 50/50 carbs/protein, dedicate 1/2 to veggies and a 1/4 to each other macronutrient (carbs and protein). A healthy dose of healthy fats is also called for as a topping.

~You are not depriving yourself. Taking out always leads to binge eating if there are underlying food relationship issues so I like how this talks about how you can eat your treats but do with others to take your focus off the food and make it more about the company.

~This seems more reasonable and sustainable then some of the other plans. A little bit of learning on what nutrient dense foods are, how to shop for them and how to incorporate them into your favourite dishes are really all you need.

My Thoughts THE BAD:

~I always think the term ‘superfood’ is misleading. Personally I think a majority of vegetables and many fruits are superb in their nutrition stats. Yes, there are some such as your greens that pack a huge nutrition punch, but you should always remember that a rainbow is best. Just because green is getting the spotlight, the reds, oranges, yellows and purples need lovin’ too because they also give you a great range of those nutrients.

The Wellness Smackdown


Basic Idea: This plan is focused on detoxifying the body and is anti-inflammatory. It centres around lots of water, vegetables, vegan eats, and other lifestyle habits including oil massages, non traditional exercise (yoga, meditation, etc) and really listening to your body and dealing with stress in a more positive manner.

My Thoughts THE GOOD:

~I like the idea of focusing on inflammation and dealing with stress better because cortisol is really NOT your friend when maintaining not only a healthy weight but also overall wellness as well

~Drinking lots of water is great because it’s something that many forget but is vital in letting the body cleanse itself and for basic processes.

~Focus around vegetables and wholesome foods. With the amount of processed foods these days, it’s no wonder why many kids have no idea what vegetable makes up ketchup.

My Thoughts THE BAD:

~The initial liquid cleanse. I HATE CLEANSES. Can I say that any louder? What is your liver for? Your body is designed to detoxify and cleanse itself naturally. Yes, it has taken a bit more of a hit with all the crap food we eat these days but to put yourself on a liquid diet of juices for a week is not something I would ever recommend.

~This leads me into my second issue which is the reinforcement that juices and such make you loose weight. The initial week she lost about 6 pounds. Granted because she is overweight, she will loose more then an individual in the healthy range, but she lost mainly water weight because SHES NOT EATING! When you consume only liquids, typically you will show “weight loss” but it’s not long term. DONT FALL FOR THAT.

~The notion that veganism is best. She stated that research shows that those who practice a plant based diet get sick less and live longer. Although I would need to do more research, I doubt that the relationship here is direct. I feel like it may have something to do with the focus being shifted to more vegetables then the average person because of the loss many of the other food groups. Vitamins and minerals that protect you from illness mostly come from your vegetables and fruits, so if you eat lots of those, of course you should then have a stronger immune system. Concluding thought. Don’t blame meat for illness.

~She stated some interesting thoughts on these oil massages and how it apparently releases toxins that allows them to then leave the body. I don’t know how strongly I believe this. Toxins are invaders and often get stored in fat as your body doesn’t want them freely floating around. I have a  hard time vouching for massaging causing weight loss due to releasing said toxins. I do think that toxins can lead to weight gain, but I don’t believe that if you can actually rub those free to get rid of them that the loss will be a great one.

~Listen to your body BUT DONT SNACK!….Hmmm…

~A lot of raw is included here which is a bit rough on the system. I have stated before, we are not cows and we started fire for a reason. Cooked is easier to digest and therefore we absorb more of the nutrients. I’m not saying cook the **it out of your food and never touch anything raw, I’m just not suggesting eating the majority raw or you may run into some GI upset.

UPDATE: She got the boot after the premiere unfortunately. 

The cLean Mama Plan


Basic Idea: As a busy mom, Carolyn’s plan was made to try to advantage of the busy lives of her clients through ‘taskercise.’ This is where you take your every day chores and tasks and tweak them to be a form of exercise. She doesn’t believe you need a gym or equipment, instead squat while playing with your child, use your stairs for cardio or even pushups, etc. She also believes in making healthy food options quick and easily accessible so that you are less likely to grab the less nutritious foods due to being busy.

My Thoughts THE GOOD:

~I like that she is trying to make this more doable for the busy bees of our world. At least it’s something they can do every day if they just use a lil bit of imagination.

~Focuses on cLean eating. The notion of CLEAN aside, she means to fuel your body often to avoid crashes (which can then lead to poor food choices), and places an emphasis on whole foods and vegetables in particular.

~I love that she stresses variety to get a bunch of different nutrients. Many people forget that foods lack certain nutrients and therefore a healthy diet should include many different foods to ensure you are getting a broad spectrum of vitamins and minerals. Yes, eating kale is great, but if that is your only vegetable you may run into other deficiencies.

My Thoughts THE BAD:

~Eating every two hours would probably not be doable for someone who doesn’t even have the time to sit down.

~I don’t see this form of exercise being particular useful for large weight loss goals (diet aside). Perhaps in the beginning due to the increase in activity overall, but I do believe that you will plateau pretty quickly. The food will help to keep the losses going, but this is like any other ‘clean eating’ lifestyle.

~The idea of ‘Lean’ is concerning. I’m sure this lifestyle does include the use of healthy fats, but I never like the idea of only consuming lean proteins. It gives the false notion that the fattier cuts, like beef, lamb, etc are bad for you which is not the case. These are natural fats and how can you say that something that is natural is going to cause you harm when eaten in moderation?

Concluding Thoughts. 

Overall I think the superfood swap is most likely the one that can be maintained over the long term. It’s easy to understand and is about moderation and not deprivation.

Well there is a lot more that I could say, but at 2700 words already, I think I should be done.

Please give me your thoughts! I would love to hear them.

Which, if any, do you think are the most sustainable over the long term?