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Could Your Breakfast be Sabotaging Your Energy Levels and Fat Loss?

If you find yourself sluggish and/or hungry soon after breakfast it may be time to change things up!

A bowl of oatmeal topped with coconut sugar and fresh fruit is definitely a delicious way to start the day, but it’s all carbohydrates. It’s good to have carbs in your morning meal but too much (even the good kind) may lead to weight gain and sluggish energy.

What Happens When we Eat Carbohydrates?

  • Carbohydrates raise blood sugar signaling the release of a hormone produced in the pancreas called insulin. When blood sugar elevates insulin works to regulate these levels by taking up the sugar from your bloodstream and bringing it to your cells to use for energy. Insulin works to eliminate or store fat.
  • Too much insulin causes your body to stop burning fat and start storing it.

What Causes High Insulin Levels and Sugar Crash and How it Leads to Weight Gain 

  1. Refined carbs- When we eat low fiber refined carbohydrates (cakes, cookies, white bread, pasta, etc.) blood sugars rapidly increase (sugar rush). Insulin levels rise and quickly swoops in to take the sugar from your bloodstream (sugar crash).

2. Not including protein and fat in your meal– A breakfast consisting of sliced banana on 100%             whole wheat toast with a drizzle of honey has nutritional value, but its still all carbs. Although                 these complex carbs contain fiber which helps slow that rise and fall in blood sugar and insulin,             incorporating a protein and fat in the meal slows it down further. Remake your breakfast by                   adding greek yogurt or hard boiled egg for protein and nuts or nut butter for fat.

Do you find yourself needing to eat several times a day because of poor energy or hunger? Or do you think you’re hungry but you’re actually just tired? When we eat a meal that is high in carbohydrates and low in protein and fat we risk taking a ride on the sugar rollercoaster. When blood sugars run high and then crash it leads us to reach for more food soon after the meal we just had. The unfortunate result of this scenario is we tend to choose foods with high sugar content for quick energy. When we do this, the cycle repeats.

On another note fiber keeps us full, and since refined carbs contain little to no fiber eating a bowl of lucky charms for breakfast will not fill you up and lead to eating more food.

Carbs Stimulate Hormones That May Lead to Overeating 

Eating lots of carbs in the morning causes an increase in the calming hormone, serotonin and a decrease in cortisol, the hormone that gets us up and moving. Starting your day with a carb filled meal may make you feel tired and reaching for more food for energy.

If you have a hard time getting going in the morning try swapping out your bagel and cream cheese for an omelet with veggies and a slice of ezekial bread.

Bottom Line:

  • Eating a breakfast high in carbs (especially refined) and not incorporating protein and fat can lead to a sugar crash and overeating soon after your meal to compensate for lack of energy.
  • To avoid this eat complex carbohydrates full of fiber like fruits, veggies and wholesome grains like brown rice,  quinoa, and Ezekiel bread (or another quality 100% whole wheat bread).
  • Incorporate proteins and fats into all your meals

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Post-Workout Nutrition and Why it’s So Important

This morning I woke up extremely sore and super energized. After noticing the sky was still pitch black I grabbed my phone to check the time– it was 3:50AM! I shut my eyes and tried to go back to sleep, but after an hour and a half of counting backwards, meditating, and changing positions I realized there was nothing left to do but get up and roll with it *Sigh*.

Let’s rewind and discuss why my body was reacting this way.

One of my best friends, CarlyAnn, recently moved back to New York from Nashville. Yesterday she suggested we hit the gym to lift and catch up. The intense leg workout left us hobbling back to my car in a successful yet miserable state.

The smart thing to do would be to have a nutrient dense meal, but instead we decided to skip lunch and run a couple errands!

When I finally got home (hours later) it was almost time for kickboxing. I grabbed some homemade jerky and headed to the studio. Towards the end of class my body was shot and my muscles felt useless. I dragged my lifeless body home, forced down a piece of fish and peas and turned in for the night. This morning I woke up extremely sore.

Can you tell where I went wrong? Lets see..

  1. I totally overtrained my body
  2. I did not refuel properly

What Happens to Our Bodies When We Exercise

Here are just a few things going on inside our bodies during exercise:

  1. Fatty acids from fat, protein in the form of amino acids, and glucose and glycogen, both of which are sugars that come from consuming carbohydrates are used as fuel
  2. Muscle fibers are being torn (this is a good thing! With a good post workout meal and adequate sleep these muscle fibers repair, grow, and gain strength!).
  3. Cortisol levels rise

What is Glycogen?

Glycogen is a form of sugar stored in the muscles and liver. Our bodies are programmed to use the sugar in the blood before tapping into glycogen stores (1). When blood sugar levels drop too low, glycogen is released from its stores to give the body quick sugar and a jolt of energy. Think of glycogen as a backup battery pack for the body.

Cortisol the Fat Burning, Lean Muscle Building Hormone

Cortisol is a steroid stress hormone that gets a bad rep for being associated with weight gain, acne, etc. But when released at the right time cortisol acts fat burning, muscle building and energizing stimulant. Cortisol levels peak in the morning to help wake us up and get the day started. As the day progresses, cortisol levels naturally begin to drop so that by the end of the day we are able to fall asleep.

We also elevate cortisol when we engage in physical activity. Cortisol production promotes the development of lean muscle which is essential in losing fat (yay!). However, when we finish our workouts cortisol level are high and should be lowered by having a wholesome meal of mainly protein and carbs. If you make it a habit to not eat upon exercise cortisol levels will remain elevated causing weight gain (mainly in the abdominal region), sleep disruption, and muscle breakdown.

Bottom Line:

After an intense workout..

  • some of our glycogen stores are depleted
  • muscle is broken down
  • cortisol remains elevated causing a multitude of negative effects

Therefore the purpose of a post workout meal is to restore glycogen and repair muscles in order to build beautiful lean muscle, lower cortisol levels and to just feel good!

How Soon Should You be Eating After a Workout?

It is important to eat within 60 minutes of your workout, but if you really want to take full advantage of your revved up metabolism eat within 30 minutes of exercise (2). The quicker you get some nutrition in your body the sooner you restore glycogen stores and rebuild muscle proteins to stimulate the growth of new lean muscle.

What Should You Eat?

A meal consisting of protein and medium to high glycemic carbs that is low in fat is the quickest and most efficient way in recovering your muscles and utilizing the meal as energy rather than storing it as fat.

High Glycemic Carbs: Digest quicker

Protein: Helps repair muscles

Keeping the meal low in fat: Fat slows digestion and we want our muscle cells to be replenished as quickly as possible.

The following lists contain examples of simple and easily digested foods:

Carbs:

  • Potatoes
  • Carrots, corn, peas
  • Rice
  • Fruits (pineapple, berries, banana, kiwi)
  • Rice cakes
  • Rice
  • Oatmeal
  • Note: I always promote eating wholesome foods but if you’ve been craving lucky charms or that chocolate chip cookie (AKA cheat meal) then post workout would be the best time to eat it!

Protein

  • Grassfed organic protein powder
  • Eggs
  • Greek yogurt
  • Wild caught fish
  • Chicken
  • Lean beef

 

References:

  1. Berg JM, Tymoczko JL, Stryer L. Biochemistry. 5th edition. New York: W H Freeman; 2002. Chapter 21, Glycogen Metabolism. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK21190/
  2. Jentjens, R. & Jeukendrup, A. (2003). Determinants of Post-Exercise Glycogen Synthesis During Short-Term Recovery. Sports Medicine, 33(2), 117-144. http://dx.doi.org/10.2165/00007256-200333020-00004

Photos:

  1. Carbohydrate metabolism. (2017). Slideshare.net. Retrieved 8 January 2017, from http://www.slideshare.net/ganeshbond/carbohydrate-metabolism-31707764
  2. Ballachey, G. (2017). Cortisol and Sleep – Sustainable Balance. Sustainable Balance. Retrieved 8 January 2017, from http://sustainablebalance.ca/cortisol-and-sleep/

Back Workout Trisets 1

Tri-Set Back Workout

I try to incorporate tri-sets into my weekly routine. Not only are tri-sets super effective, but they shave time off your workout and keep gym boredom at bay.

During this form of training you will perform 3 consecutive exercises with little to no rest in between. Once you complete the first tri-set rest for 60 seconds and repeat it 3-4 more times.

You can incorporate more than one muscle group into tri-sets. For example, if you did an upper body splits a sample tri-set could be…

  • Chest press
  • Bicep curl
  • Lat pulldown

I tend to do more isolated workouts therefore my tri-sets focus on one muscle group at a time. Since these workouts can be very taxing on your muscles I recommend doing no more than 3 tri-sets per workout. However, you know your body best, so go based on how you feel!

Here is a back workout to get you started: