Category Archives: Nutrition

The Cheat Meal–Should You Do It? When To Do It, How To Do It Without Looking Like You Did

“If you earned it, eat it.”

— IFBB Pro Ben Pakulski

Eating is one of the many great joys in life, but so is being comfortable in your own skin. There is a saying, “Food never tastes as good as being in shape feels.” Well, I’m here to tell you they are both good! And you are missing out by having one without the other. So can you indulge without bulging over? Absolutely! Here are some important points to remember:

  • If you have the goal of losing a significant amount of weight, don’t kid yourself; you’re better off saving the cheat until you reach your goal.
  • Work up an appetite; don’t try to purge your sins on the treadmill. Doing so is an exercise in frustration.
  • Have what you want! Don’t settle for substitutions.
  • Treat a cheat like any other meal. Once you’re satisfied, there is no need to stuff yourself. Avoid the “clean your plate” club (I’m guilty of this, too!).
  • Just because it’s a cheat, doesn’t mean you need to aim for the shittiest foods possible. I’m a fan of “wholesome” versions of junk food (what an oxymoron). All that means is that I look for the purest ingredients, even if the meal is loaded in fat, carbs and sodium.
  • If you’re a sweet tooth, make a meal out of dessert.
  • Cardio is actually a very inefficient way to burn fat. Get on a regular weight training routine, which will improve your metabolism.

The day after your cheat, you will weigh up to 3 pounds more on the scale. I’ve gone as high as 8 pounds! Don’t be frustrated; this is a lot of water retention from the high carbs and sodium. Get back to your normal routine and you’ll shed water like a dog sheds fur. Happy cheating!

Is Subway Healthy?

Q: Is Subway a healthy place to eat on a regular basis?

A: Subway focuses on low-fat menu items, and that’s where their edge ends. People eat there because it’s cheap and convenient, but the ingredients are not the highest quality, and not all of the menu items are low in fat content (their cookies are delicious). My suggestion, if you do go there, is to get the “Veggie Delite” on any of the breads since none of them are really whole grain (my favorite is Honey Oat) along with low-calorie dressing. You’ll need to tell them to add extra vegetables, because I’m convinced that they’re trained to skimp on the ingredients. Better yet, go to your neighborhood grocer or farmer’s market and get a fresh fruit bowl, fruit, or a basic vegetable salad with added protein. Simple is healthy.

One Meal a Day for Optimal Health?

Eating only one meal a day for health and fitness seems like such a radical concept, but I’ve experienced success with it over the years. At the same time, I have eschewed commonly accepted dogma, such as:

  • Eat 5 to 6 small, frequent meals throughout the day.
  • Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
  • Avoid eating at night, it will make you fat.

Rather than tell you which way is right, here are some advantages to eating only one “main” meal, at night [Update: I now do my main meal as a late lunch, since I exercise in the evenings; but I make sure there is time to rest around eating]:

More energy

Digesting food is a more energy costly process than most would believe, so when you’re not busy digesting food, you have this energy available for mental and physical tasks. Furthermore, since exercising on an empty stomach is ideal, there is no issue of timing on when you last ate vs. when you’re exercising.

Better sleep

Because of the energy expended in digestion, food can be a natural sedative, which is perfect for insomniacs, as timing your meal in the evening can raise serotonin levels and help you fall asleep easier. The digestive process will continue throughout the night, and by the time you wake up, you’ll have an empty stomach, ready to be alert and wide awake.

Deal with cravings

Throughout the day, you’ll be exposed to a lot of temptation when it comes to food, so by holding off eating until the evening, you can make a conscious decision on what it really is you want to eat when that time comes. You might find that some cravings were merely incidental.

Something to look forward to

We’re all familiar with “comfort food”, so by having your meal as the last thing you do in the day, you’ll always know you’ll have something to look forward to. This would typically be a very satisfying meal if you’re eating the same amount of food in one meal as you were in 3 meals.

After reading this, you may not want to try the one meal a day way of living. However, if you do, realize there are several benefits and that it’s not detrimental to your health. Stay positive.

*People with blood sugar irregularities may need to be on a more frequent eating schedule. Check with your doctor.

5 Huge Benefits of Eating Healthy

We all know we’re “supposed to” eat healthier if we want more vitality and a better body; but once your favorite hedonistic foods are put in front of you, it’s easy to forget what motivated you in the first place. Here are some major benefits you can be sure to experience with good nutrition:

1. Easier Weight Control

You know I’m a big believer in the fact that calories control weight, but it’s much easier to control calories when you’re eating nutritious foods. By getting the nutrients and bulk you need from whole foods, you’ll be satisfied a lot sooner and at a much lower calorie amount compared to high-fat, processed foods.

2. More Energy

When you give your digestive system a rest from the burden of processing complicated food mixtures, you’ll be surprised how much energy you free up. You may find you need less sleep and have an increased inclination to exercise–you may even enjoy it more. Things that used to cause stress will seem less significant, you’ll be happier and skip to a different beat.

3. Saves Money

I don’t care what people say about “eating healthier costs more”.  In my experience, it’s much cheaper (and simpler) to live on whole, unprocessed foods. Plus, you’re getting more nutrition for your calories, so you won’t need to spend a bunch of money on supplements.

4. Mental Clarity

When your bloodstream isn’t clogged with refined sugar, salt, and trans fats, you’ll think a lot clearer and you may experience a major boost in creativity. You might also start to see your work as a labor of love instead of something you dread doing.

5. Setting an Example

Living a healthy lifestyle makes you a model, not necessarily a magazine model (although that could be your goal), but a role model to those who think it’s too difficult or not worthwhile to live this way. There is a level of well-being that many people are missing out on, and by being a living example (rather than simply talking about it), you’ll become humbled and proud of your own accomplishments and inspire others along the way. This is doubly important if you’re a parent.

Happy Living

Fast Food for Weight Loss?

Fat loss is a numbers game:

Calories In – Calories Out = Change in Fat Stores

Therefore, fast food can absolutely fit into a fat loss plan, however:

Nobody needs huge portion sizes when it comes to processed foods.

We would probably be better eating all organic, unadulterated foodstuffs like our ancestors, but I like to remain practical and live in the environment as it is.

Do you know why fast food chain restaurants offer ever-increasing portion sizes of their menu items? From a business standpoint, it made more sense (and dollars) to offer larger sizes instead of assuming customers would just order more of the same item, because consumers don’t want to appear “gluttonous”. Instead of 3 burgers, you order a triple stack. Instead of 3 orders of fries, you get the large, and so on. In fact, the “small” sizes as we know them now were once the standard size.

Fast food is known to have a high calorie density (food energy per weight/volume). In other words, you get more calories per bite in processed foods vs. non-processed foods. This is why cake tastes better than carrots. However, your eyes (and stomach) will deceive you when determining a “sensible” portion size of man-made food. Long story short, the most waist-friendly size is usually the smallest. I go for “value” or “junior” when I want a tasty treat because I get the same satisfaction (without the bloated regret) as I do from larger sizes. If it’s there, you’ll eat it. The last bite is always the same as the first, so might as well enjoy it slowly without sacrificing leanness. Did you know the average person spends only 11 minutes in a fast food restaurant? It’s easy to pile in 2000 calories in one sitting, so you have to be careful.

Remember, the way to lose fat is through a calorie deficit and as a result, you’re going to feel hungry some of the time. Get used to it.

You Can’t Out Train a Poor Diet

I wasn’t the first person to come up with this phrase but I’ll share my thoughts on it.

As a fitness professional, I’m always emphasizing the benefits of exercise, particularly cardiovascular exercise. Having said that, I’m afraid the majority of people use “cardio” primarily as a means to lose fat; but unless eating is controlled, you will end up spinning your wheels.

Consider the following example: a fit individual would have to work at a high intensity to “burn” 1000 calories in 60 minutes of working out. That’s one-hour of total body movement, sweat, heavy breathing, and feeling exhausted when the workout is over. What if an emotional trigger, social outing, or just plain bad moment triggers a trip to the drive-thru? One fast food meal (double burger, large fries, and a milkshake), aside from being a difficult-to-digest conglomeration, can easily pack 1500 calories. How long would it take to eat this meal? Maybe 15 minutes.

Get your priorities straight. In my experience, it’s best to keep a plan that you can stick to–no matter what, because the body will tend towards a “comfortable” body fat percentage if only guided by instinct. If you’re a sucker for what’s in your immediate environment, then you’re really at a disadvantage. So control your calories and plan ahead. See my formula for how to lose weight.

Once calorie intake is determined and managed, all extra movement would be an added bonus and should mostly be fun. There are so many options for physical activity that it makes no sense to torture yourself doing something you don’t like–especially if the added stress may justify a cheesecake! Furthermore, no matter what you do, make sure to include some weight training because let’s face it–85-90% of people train to improve their physical appearance, even if they’re doing it for health. It’s the muscles that give you fantastic shape once you’re already lean. It’s not about skin and bone; but a healthy appearance with well-developed muscle and just enough fat to round them out.

Enjoy the journey. It’s a lifestyle that pays off every day.

– Jason

The First Bite is Always the Best

Hello everyone, as you go into the 4th of July weekend, where cookouts, picnics, and Patriotic food will be the flavor of the day, remember that there is no reason you can’t have a little fun and also stick to your summer health goals.

I’m more of a watermelon-on-a-hot-summer-day type of guy, but I know that hot dogs, chips, beer and even desserts will also be common fare this weekend, so just remember:

The first bite of ANYTHING is always the best.

There’s no reason you can’t have something tasty; but it’s always true that the first bite is the tastiest, and every morsel beyond that becomes progressively less appealing, as well as bringing you closer to the point of overeating–which may make you feel uncomfortable and bad about yourself come Tuesday.

So enjoy the party, but remember this rule. You’re doing yourself a favor, not only because the first few bites are the best, but they also keep you closer to your body and health ideals.

Happy 4th of July