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Gather your food and HUNT down your workouts!

Posted in Nutrition Articles, Training Articles

Gather your food and HUNT down your workouts! Ladies and gentleman, boys and girls - we love your questions, and we get them all day long. "What do you eat, when do you eat, what amounts do you eat, what do you eat prior to training, during training, after training……". "What do you train on certain days, how do you do this, that, or the other, how do you build abs, how do you build legs, what about your butt, how do you get that…….." You get the idea. Over time, we will be providing you with intelligent information to assist you with all of your questions. In this article, we offer very simple, highly effective starting points. Enjoy! Hunt and Gather your Food. Sort-of. Traditional Hunter-gatherer societies obtained most, or all food from wild plants and animals, collecting eggs, nuts, fruits, and seafood. Of course nowadays we cannot obtain exactly the same food our ancestors did (and, thankfully for most of us, we don't have to hunt it either). Yet, we can follow a few guidelines to get as close as possible: 1. If you eat a lot of processed food (crackers, gluten-free snacks and cookies, cereals, microwave dinners, pastries, muffins, chips, etc), stop. Your health, and waist-line won't improve until you eliminate these types of foods. 2. For your proteins, choose sources like eggs, fish, meats (grass-fed when possible), vegetable and whey based protein powders. 3. For your fats, stick to fish oil, olive oil, coconut oil, ghee, grass-fed butter, and occasionally, nuts and seeds. Include raw cheese, and fermented foods in your diet. 4. Vegetable and fruit carbohydrates are best. In the cross-fit world, the saying "lots of veggies, little fruit, minimal starch and no sugar' prevails. Stick to this. Tinker with your "Intra-Workout" Nutrition. By this, we mean "play around with what you eat/drink before, during, and after your workout, to suit your body and your goals". Of course you hear a ton of general statements, such as "Carb up before all workouts", or, "if you eat fat, you'll just get fat!" There are many ridiculous and oftentimes harmful statements out there, so here are some safe and effective guiding principles: Pre-training: 1. If you have a significant amount of fat to lose, your pre-training meal should be higher in protein and healthy fats, with veggies in the mix. If you are going to be working out really early in the morning, you may benefit from a fasted session. Just grab a cup of coffee and go. During the workout, sipping on an amino acid blend will be highly beneficial. 2. If you are fairly lean and muscular, you can 'afford' a higher carb intake in this meal. Think proteins, a bit of fat, and perhaps a sweet potato on the side. We like to keep the carbs gluten free. During Training: Both camps (lean, muscular, and "with fat to lose") can benefit from supplement combinations including Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs), Creatine, and Glutamine. At the very least, a BCAA formulation should be used (we use Beverly International Glutamine Select as one). BCAAs are commonly used to improve exercise recovery, increase protein synthesis and muscle hypertrophy, and to increase energy levels. Creatine has been shown in numerous studies to increase exercise capacity and exercise...

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Great Guts

Posted in News, Nutrition Articles

Gut health, or lack thereof, is a hot topic in medicine today. Rightfully so, as proper gas-trointestinal (GI) function is critical to all aspects of body function and ad-equate nutritional status. Failures of the GI system can manifest as diges-tive diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and colorectal cancer (3). Autoimmune diseases can originate from GI dysfunction, and include Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, chronic dermatological conditions, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), allergies, asthma, schizophrenia, and autism (1,3). In my work with clients, I’ve found that most people aren’t really aware of their gut - until things go wrong. This makes sense, since we don’t ‘see’ our gut on daily basis. We go about our days eating and drinking, taking for granted that all of our meals end up getting digested and put to use. That is, until things go wrong and we begin experiencing common GI symptoms: bloating, cramping, gas, constipation, diar-rhea, and insomnia. Let’s review GI anatomy real quick in order to gain a better understanding of this system. The gut is also referred to as the enteric nervous system (ENS), or, “second brain” (1). This system contains tens of trillions of cells, and is home to 10 times more bacteria than all the cells in the entire body, 400+ species of which are known (2). The GI system begins with the mouth, and proceeds to the esophagus, stomach, duodenum, small intes-tine, large intestine, rectum, and the anus (1). It has a big role to play as the body’s gatekeeper between the outside world and the body’s inside environment. Our GI system is con-stantly analyzing everything coming in, differentiating between beneficial and harmful. It attempts to put to use beneficial (think high quality food) while discarding harmful (think poor quality, highly processed food). How do you know if you have opti-mal GI health? You have a couple easy bowel movements daily, don’t fart with each step you take, sleep soundly, have consistent energy throughout the day, feel good after eating, and experience minimal food cravings or mood swings. You aren’t taking acid blockers or antidepressant medications (to name a few) (1). Good Guts Gone Bad We spoke above about the gut as the “second brain”. Remember, trillions of cells, and tons of bacte-rial species? It’s a sensitive, highly aware system. If we bombard it for long enough with a poor diet (low protein, low veggies, low omega 3 fats, high sugar, high starch) certain medications (anti-biotics, acid blockers, NSAIDs) (3), genetically modified foods, and chronic stress (constantly being “connected” to mobile devices, relentless work and family stress, persistent unhappiness) the GI system will eventually fail. Bad Guts Restored Good news prevails, however. If you suffer from poor GI health and various symptoms associated with it, there’s hope. But, it’ll require change, and a few beneficial supplements. Initial dietary steps include the removal of of-fending, but often favorite foods. Get rid of anything containing gluten, toss the sugar bomb cereal (your kids don’t need it, either), and pick up a good cookbook (I recommend Paleo Comfort Foods, by Julie Sullivan Mayfield) and get to work. Multiple supplement protocols are available to assist this process, and will vary slightly depend-ing on your health care provider. These include essential fatty acids, amino acids and peptides such...

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Simple-To-Follow New Year’s Fitness Routine

Posted in News, Training Articles

Backflip off the fitness wagon this holiday season? Let me tell you how to stick the landing... Back to reality, or at least the perception of it. Back to the gym, to work, to 'healthy' eating, regular sleep, and te desire to look good naked. (I'd really like to assist you with the latter category). Good news - it's easier than you think. Bad news - all of your herculean goal setting won't work if you are still guzzling lo-fat instant oatmeal for breakfast every day. In this article, I will outline severl simple and easy strategies, that will, if followed, result in fat loss. I'' condense years of formal education and complicated biochemestry into a few bullet points for you. Here goes: 1. Upon rising, have you normal cup of coffee. This time though, after drinking it, head outside and do a 20 minute walk/jog session. The caffeine tastes good, and helps mobilize fat. Already complaining about lack of time to do this? Get up earlier. You want to look good naked, remember! The other option is to get your weight training session completed during this time frame. 2. When you're finished, head to work with food to go. Rules: you must eat protein, healthy fat, and vegetables. Preferably, green vegetables. Oatmeal, or any other concentrated carb source, will shut down fat-burning hormones immediately. Only eat a huge bowl of grains if you desire obesity and diabetes. 3. Throughout the day, continue to eat meals that consist of proteins, fats, and lots of vegetables. 4. After work, hit the gym (if you haven't done so already). Hit the gym doesn't mean social hour. It means train with intensity, come work with me and you will soon understand. 5. Go home, and eat a meal rich in proteins, vegetables, and good carbohydrate sources such as yams, squash, and sweet potatoes. 6. Go to bed, and repeat this cycle 3-4 days/weel. The above 6 points, truthfully, is as complicated as most of you need to make it. Doing this long enough to see long enough to see results and you'll earn a spot in "Club of Complicated", where we can begin tinkering with different notritional protocols, supplements, etc. Until then, keep it simple. To your success! Ashleigh Gass MS, CSCS, Certified Sports Nutritionist Muscle City Fitness, Clearwater Beach 310-666-0065 www.brilliantfitnessandnutrition.com This article was also published in the 01-13-2012 Issue - Page B3 of the Clearwater...

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How Do I Accomplish My Fitness Goals Over The Holidays?

Posted in News, Nutrition Articles, Training Articles

Did you know that half of the annual weigh gain in America takes place during the holiday period? Furthermore, a recent study found that most of this weight is retained indefinitely. Rather sobering when you realize that the average American gains 3lbs/year, while losing 1 percent of muscle mass/year after the age of 25. Thinking that through, if your lifestyle is largely sedentary, in 5 years you would have lost 5 percent of your muscle mass, and gained 15 lbs of fat. It's the perfect storm formula for insulin resistance, diabetes, abdominal obesity and a really big behind! The motivation to BEGIN, continue, and SUCCEED with fitness over the holidays has to come from a strong inner fire. A determination that come January, you are going to look and feel better than you have in months. A realization that, this holiday season, you can enjoy the food, family, and festivities, while kicking butt in the gym. Here are a few tips that will help you succeed. Sick with simple healthy meals. Holiday foods are usually highly palatable and trigger reward centers in the brain. When a food tastes good, it's palatable, and usually goes hand in hand with being 'rewarding'. So, you eat more of it. The solution to this is to prepare simple, more 'regular' meals throughout the holidays. These meals should be loaded with vegetables, salads, proteins, healthy fats, herbs, spices, and simple dressings such as olive oil and vinegar. Prepare these types of meals in bulk, and eat a few of them daily. Exercise daily - but preferably right before dinner or those 'big meal' days. Continue, or begin, daily exercise. If you are already weight lifting, move your session around so that you can train, the eat that big meal. This takes advantage of something called 'nutrient timing', which allows your body to use all that food to repair muscles and encourage their growth/recovery. On all other days, get up in the morning, and do your higher-intensity weight training circuit at home or in the gym. Enlist the support of a friend! Sleep well and manage stress. Continue to sleep well (aiming for 7-7 uninterrupted hours), and take time to breathe. The holidays can be stressful for many different reasons, so manage this to the best of your abilities. Slow down during several parts of the day and clear your mind. I wish all of you an awesome holiday season, and look forward to seeing you in the gym and on the beach. To your success! Ashleigh Gass MS, CSCS, Certified Sports Nutritionist Muscle City Fitness, Clearwater Beach 310-666-0065 www.brilliantfitnessandnutrition.com This article was also published in the 11-21-2012 Issue - Page B3 of the Clearwater...

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How Do I Train if I Don’t Have Time?

Posted in News, Training Articles

Good news - you are not alone. Better news - it has been done before, by many thousands of people with perhaps less time than you! Busy schedules, and general confusion about what to do in the gym are the two most common reasons people never really start a training program. Before I discuss a strategy that works for those of you with seemingly no time to train due to businesses, jobs, families, or all three, understandthis; this strategy is effective, but it's also intense. You will need a bit of coaching in order to do this style of training because there are movements that are likely new to you. These movements are challenging, and very effective for full body strength and toning but require a bit of technical "know-how". Additionally, I always recommend that you learn the basics of injury prevention (flexibility, tension reduction, warm up drills, etc) so that you can incorporate all of this stuff into your 'short and sweet' training program. I have a quick-start training program available that addresses these aspects of training as efficiently as possible. One circulating myth about getting in shape is that it takes several hours each day "in the gym". This is false. When you become proficient in the key movements of strength and conditioning, and combine this with better nutritional habits, your body will change. It will take work and time, but when things are done correctly, change occurs quite rapidly. This style of high-intensity training requires about 45 minutes, 3 days per week. On alternate days, an easy 20-minute walk is recommended. After interviewing hundreds of clients over the years, I have safely consluded that everyone has this much time available, every day, to do this. It will require varying degrees of re-organization of ones life. Less TV, less wasted time on the Internet, less time text messaging, and potentiall a bit more sleep (exercize programs are often quite effective if completed in the morning, before the day begins). If your exercize time were in the morning, the workout would flow something like this: general body warm up (5 minutes), injury prevention techniques (10 minutes), whole body strength exercises performed circuit style (25 minutes), cool down (5 minutes). Twenty-five minutes of whole body strenght exercises is extremely challenging when performed correctly, particularly if you were to mix interval style sprint work into the rotation. This routine would also hold true if your exercise time were in the evening. Although you do not need a gym to train this way, I recommend you joining one, or purchasing some equipment. You will need dumbells, and as you progress, barbells are very useful. Our local beach gym provides all of this for you, along with a group of encouraging, supportive people! Additionally, if you are interested in becoming part of a small group training sessions that operate in this manner, please contact me as we are forming these groups currently. To your success! Ashleigh Gass MS, CSCS, Certified Sports Nutritionist Muscle City Fitness, Clearwater Beach 310-666-0065 www.brilliantfitnessandnutrition.com This article was also published in the 10-25-2012 Issue - Page B3 of the Clearwater...

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Want Bones of Steel?

Posted in News, Nutrition Articles

The calcium in fresh vegetables, fruits, meats and seafood helps make bones strong.  So does weight training.  Plus, eating these real foods gives me the 13 vitamins and minerals most lacking in the U.S....

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Weak in the Knees

Posted in News, Nutrition Articles

The calcium in fresh vegetables, fruits, meats and seafood helps make bones strong.  So does Vitamin D we get from hanging out at the beach.  That works great for...

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Brushing Up on Vitamin D

Posted in News, Nutrition Articles

We all know Vitamin D as the "sunshine vitamin", due to the fact that our body makes it upon sun exposure. Specifically, when sun shines on our skin, Vitamin D3, the 'active' form, is made. Vitamin D3 has many roles in the body, including bone health, and prevention of cancer and autoimmune diseases such as insulin-dependent diabetes and multiple sclerosis.  Deficiencies of this vitamin are common, with studies estimating deficiencies in 40-100% of elderly men and women in the US and Europe. Deficiencies are common in those with limited sun exposure, impaired digestion, and low intake. Get Your Levels Checked! Ask your doctor to monitor your Vitamin D3 levels. Recommended levels are between 30-100ng/mL, or 70-250nmol/L (Lord and Bralley, Laboratory Evaluations for Integrative Medicine, 2008).  Good food sources of the vitamin include seafood, lean meats, and eggs. Aim for some daily sun exposure to really boost your...

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Listen to Your Gut

Posted in News, Nutrition Articles

Listen to your Gut to get that hard body: What does the Stomach and a little acid have to do with it? You may be wondering why I’d write an article about the stomach, the acid it makes, and what this has to do with training, nutrition, and shedding fat. After all, aren’t training, nutrition and fat loss just about "cardio and strength training"? Doesn’t it just involve showing up at the gym a few days weekly? What on earth would the stomach have to do with all that? You’d be surprised. In this article, you’ll learn a few things about what the stomach does, why it’s important to health and fat loss, and how to improve its function if problems are brewing. The study of digestive function has become a passion of mine over the past year, simply because so many of my clients present with digestive dysfunction and illnesses related to it. I suppose you know you’re a nerd when these things excite you! Collectively, the health of the stomach and intestines (usually called the digestive system) dictate our ability to digest and absorb the food we eat. This in turn has an immediate link to our health and ability to function, the results we get from training, and ultimately our ability to gain muscle and develop the ever-desired hard-body. If your stomach and intestines aren’t working well, you can forget achieving the body and health you desire. The Stomach and a thing called hydrochloric acid Our stomach basically functions as as a mixing chamber and holding reservoir for the food we eat (1). Food is retained in the stomach until a digestive acid, called hydrochloric acid (HCL), is released. Think of HCL as the knight in shining armor for the stomach - you begin eating a yummy meal, and like magic, HCL shows up to begin breaking the food down into useable parts. HCL secretion is an essential step in our ability to break down and absorb the food we eat. HCL is required for: assimilation of zinc and calcium (two very important minerals) digestion of protein sterilization of stomach contents the release of vitamin B12 from food defense of the digestive system from infection Here’s a picture of the stomach, and HCL, for your viewing pleasure. A decline in HCL secretion (referred to as hypochlorhydria) is associated with malabsorption of food (which means you aren’t getting the nutrients from the food you are eating), upper abdominal burning (acid reflux, etc) poor protein digestion, vitamin B12 deficiency, and multiple mineral deficiencies (2). Protein, which you get primarily from animal foods, requires large amounts of HCL for breakdown (along with other digestive enzymes from the pancreas and gall bladder). Takeaway from paragraph above: HCL production is critical for the breakdown of food in your stomach. HCL good.......no HCL.......bad. What does that have to do with my hard-body wanna be? Take another look at the numerous functions of HCL above. You know, the stuff like protein digestion, being able to absorb vitamins and minerals, fight off infection, etc. Well, silly, how the heck do you think you can lose fat and build muscle if your stomach can’t do the above properly?? Do you really think you can become a hard-body stallion if you can’t digest all that protein...

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Three Types

Posted in News, Nutrition Articles, Training Articles

There are 3 Types of Authors: Which are you working with? The purpose of this article is to bring to your attention the three types of authors, coaches, advisors, etc out there in any industry. Why? Because there are people in every industry on this planet who are marketing their services and products to you and it's important to learn how to evaluate them. Your success is determined in part by the people you learn from, and take advice from - so choose your author carefully! Author #1: Has never tried it - but writes about it, or tries to teach it. The absolute best example of this is the never-ending flexibility debate in the training world.  You will read almost everywhere, from many 'experts', that flexibility training either doesn't reduce exposure to injury, or, even more ridiculous, that it should not be performed prior to strength training.  Yet, these coaches/authors/academics have typically never trained flexibility properly themselves, and certainly have not used it in the real world with clients.  With due respect to academic research, in the realm of flexibility training the only opinions that matter are those coming from experienced coaches who have had the training and guidance to train this physical quality with clients, and themselves.  I was fortunate enough to learn a great deal about flexibility training from King Sports International. In the nutritional world, an example of this would be someone who claims to teach proper nutritional habits, yet they exist on Red Bull, coffee, and packaged foods.  While this may seem like an exaggeration, it happens all too often in the nutritional coaching world. Author #2: Tried it, and failed. These people tend to be easier to spot because of a general negative tone on a subject.  There are many trainers out there who take a weekend course, become certified as personal trainers, and after spending a year in the industry they quit.  They may say that the industry doesn't work, that people just won't listen and follow instruction, or that people just want to be lazy. What is typically going on here is that the trainer did not learn how to improve their services and communicate effectively with their clients.  It can be a frustrating position to be in - especially if you don't know how to change it! When you are searching for a trainer, ask them questions about the success they've had with other clients.  If they have positive testimonials, and speak highly of their success with others, you are on the right track.  Ask them about nutritional services they offer - if they begin explaining to you that they don't offer any advice or services because they've found 'people don't listen to what I suggest, and they don't do what I tell them to do", then look for someone else. Author #3: Tried it, and succeeded at it.  This is the person you want to work with and learn from!  You will know this person when you see them, because they walk their talk.  They train without getting injured all the time, they are vibrant, healthy looking individuals. You will also notice that this type of person improves all the time - physically and emotionally.  You notice each week that their physique improves a bit at a time.  Contrast...

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