Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Truth About Junk Food

Whenever I happen to be over someone's house for a party or get-together of some sort, the subject at some point will inadvertently turn to someone asking me about my best-selling fitness book which then leads us into other discussions about food or fitness.

The interesting thing I've noticed over the years is that almost every single person that has told me that they are "trying" to lose weight, almost always has their house filled with tons of junk foods instead of whole unprocessed natural foods.It's not uncommon for people to tell me that they're trying really hard to lose weight, but I'll notice boxes of frosted flakes and fruit loops on their counter, cookies, crackers, and donuts in their cupboard, and soda or syrup-filled juices in their fridge.

So the question that always boggles my mind is that if all of these people really want to get in shape and lose their body fat so bad, why on earth does everybody still have their house filled with junk food instead of healthy foods?I always tread lightly in these situations because if people don't ask for my advice, I certainly don't want to go spreading my fitness propaganda around without them wanting to hear my advice... but if they do ask for my help, then I'll ask about why they still buy junk foods if they want to improve their body...

Interestingly, the answer usually is that they don't want to give up their favorite foods because they think that eating these junk foods allows them to "live a little" (more like "die a little" with each bite!).In my opinion, eating junk food has nothing at all to do with enjoying life...actually, when you give up junk food you actually enjoy living more because you FEEL better all the time and have more energy every day...plus getting into better shape by NOT eating junk foods gives you more confidence because you actually look better in addition to feeling better, thereby enjoying life more once again.

One thing that many people don't realize is that eating healthy DOESN'T mean eating bland and boring food. Rather, when you learn to enjoy natural unprocessed foods and start exploring all of the varieties of natural foods this planet has to offer, you discover that you enjoy the natural flavors of real foods better than overly processed aggressive tastes so common with excessively salty and sweet junk foods.

An example of this is that the other day I was at a golf course and wanted an unsweetened iced tea, but all they had available was these bottles of heavily sweetened tea (some sugar, some artificial sweeteners).

Well, I haven't bought a fully sweetened tea in probably a couple years now... I've actually gotten used to drinking unsweetened tea and have learned to appreciate the natural taste of tea without needing sugar or artificial sweeteners.I swear I almost gagged when I drank this bottle of iced tea... it was so syrupy sweet, it was just disgusting.

Same thing for coffee... I used to need a lot of sugar in coffee, but after a while of slowly using less and less sugar, I can actually drink black coffee now and enjoy the natural flavor of it without needing sugar (although I rarely drink coffee)...

These are just examples of how once you start appreciating the natural flavors of real foods, you find that you no longer need the overly aggressive sugary, salty, or artificial flavors that have been ingrained in us by food manufacturers and all of the junk they push on us.

Anyway, I believe everyone should actually enjoy what you eat, but do it without eating overly processed foods... people are often surprised to hear that a lot of the foods that they think are junk foods, I actually consider healthy foods, but only because I put a healthy spin on traditional junk foods...

For example:
*Junk food: a cheap fast-food burger on a crappy refined white bun
*My healthy alternative: A grass-fed burger (with higher omega-3's and CLA) with raw grass-fed cheese on a sprouted grain roll topped with avocado slices

*Junk food: Deep fried and breaded chicken fingers with french fries (tons of nasty trannies)*My healthy alternative: grilled chicken breast strips with peanut dipping sauce and vegetables

*Junk food: a piece of chocolate cupcake, chocolate donut, or chocolate candy bar
*My healthy alternative: a couple squares of super-dark chocolate (greater than 70% cocoa content only)... higher in fiber & antioxidants and much less sugar than milk chocolate or dark chocolate at less than 70% cocoa.Now that's how to enjoy food while eating healthier at the same time!

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Its the no nonsense way that thousands of people are getting rid of the spare tire. Save yourself hundreds of dollars on maigc pills and next months garage sale junk and get with the program.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Truth About Energy Drinks

I receive a ton of questions about all of these new "energy" drinks that have hit the market over the last few years. They seem to be all the rage, especially with the youth, and they promise you the world with outrageous claims of all of the super energy that you are going to have, and how you'll be crushing the competition in your sport, and so on.

So a couple questions arise:
Are these "energy" drinks really any good for you? Do they actually increase your energy? Do they really have some sort of magical energy formula? Will they help you lose weight?

First of all, let's look at what most of these energy drinks are usually made of. Most of them are simply carbonated water loaded with gut-fattening high fructose corn syrup, caffeine, the amino acid taurine, and a few random B-vitamins thrown in for show to trick you into thinking there's something healthy about these concoctions.

Let's start with the high fructose corn syrup. Well, here we've got empty calories that will go straight to your belly fat, and that are actually even WORSE for you than plain old refined sugar.
Ok, so you say that they have low-sugar or sugar-free varieties as an alternative to the HFCS-laden energy drinks. Yes, but now you have the problem of the harmful chemicals in the artificial sweeteners.

Another problem with artificial sweeteners is that there are some researchers that believe artificial sweetener use leads people to inadvertently consume more calories and gain more weight in the long run. I won't go into the details on that because that would fill up an entire discussion by itself. Just trust me that artificial sweeteners and artificial chemicals in food in general, are all bad news for your body!

What about the caffeine? Well, first of all, caffeine in itself doesn't provide "energy". Technically, the only substances that actually provide energy are calories (from carbs, protein, and fat).

However, caffeine can be an aid for livening or waking some people up, by means of stimulating the central nervous system. Keep in mind though, if you're a regular coffee drinker, you're probably addicted to caffeine and probably wouldn't receive too much benefit from the caffeine in an energy drink anyway.

Besides, instead of caffeine added to some carbonated drink, I'd rather get my caffeine from a natural source like green, white, or oolong teas, which actually provide healthful antioxidants too!

Now what about that so called magical blend of taurine and B-vitamins that they load into these energy drinks? Well, big deal...you can get taurine in almost any protein source. And the vast majority of those B-vitamins are simply coming right out into the toilet in your pee. Vitamins are best obtained naturally from real food sources, not artificially added to some carbonated drink. Your body just doesn't use fake sources of vitamins as readily as natural sources from real food.
So as you can see, in my opinion, I give all of these energy drinks a big time THUMBS DOWN!

You're better off mixing up your own homemade energy drink with some iced unsweetened green, white, and oolong teas, a little bit of 100% pure berry or pomegranate juice, and maybe a touch of a non-denatured whey protein.

Well, I hope this article cleared up some of the confusion about these energy drinks that are being so heavily marketed these days, and will help you make more informed decisions for your health.

Visit The Truth About Abs to receive a free copy of the innovative ebook, Training & Nutrition Secrets for a Lean-Body, as well as your own free personalized metabolic rate calculator.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Abs Diet - 5 Minute Healthy Carb Meal

With so much talk, confusion, and controversy in recent years about "carbs", I wanted to give you my take on healthy carbs and also one of my favorites.

The perfect Six Pack Abs Diet really isn't as unachievable as most people think. You meals can be prepared quickly and still taste good if you just put a little more thought into your abs diet.

First of all, although I'm not a "low carb" extremist, I do believe that one of the main reasons so many people struggle to ever lose any body fat is that they are overconsuming processed carbohydrates such as cereals, pasta, rice, bagels, muffins, breads (even whole grain varieties), sodas, juices, candies, crackers, and so on.

It is extremely hard to lose body fat if you're overconsuming any of these types of carbohydrates (even if you workout very hard). In addition to causing wild blood sugar swings and insulin surges promoting direct body fat deposition, eating too many carbs also increases your appetite and cravings.

Even carbohydrate sources that most people think are "healthy" really are just excess calories that don't really deliver a whole lot of nutrient density... and many types of breads and cereals pretend to be "whole grain" with clever marketing while in reality the first ingredient in them is refined flour, which is just going to shoot your blood sugar through the roof.

My take on it is that the majority of people struggling to lose body fat would do much better following these types of guidelines:

1. Reducing grain-based products in the diet (cereal, pasta, rice, crackers, etc) and focusing more of the diet on healthy grass-fed and/or free-range meats and eggs, grass-fed raw dairy, and TONS of vegetables.

2. Instead of the grains for most of the carbs, try getting most of your carbs from vegetables, sweet potatoes, and a variety of whole fruits and berries (NOT fruit juices, which remove the beneficial fiber as well as other essential parts of the fruit)

3. If you're going to get any grains at all, focus on the most nutrient dense and fibrous portions of the grain... the germ and bran... this means that the best parts are getting oat bran instead of oatmeal, and using rice bran and wheat germ by adding to your yogurt, cottage cheese, salads, soups, etc. This way you get all of the most beneficial nutritious parts of grains without all of the excess starches and calories.

4. To replace the void if you're used to consuming lots of bread, pasta, cereals, and other carb sources... try filling that void with more healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, avocados, nut butters as well as healthy proteins such as raw grass-fed dairy and meats, whole free-range organic eggs, etc. Healthy fats and proteins go a long way to satisfying your appetite, controlling proper hormone and blood sugar levels, and helping you to make real progress on fat loss.

With all of that said, here's one of my favorite carb sources in my abs diet that is high in fiber as well as tons of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants:

*Sweet potatoes or yams

I always choose the orange varieties instead of the white varieties. One of the problems with sweet potatoes is the time it takes to bake a sweet potato for 1 to 1.5 hrs.

I cook my sweet potatoes in a different way that only takes 5 minutes and they come out delicious... and no, I would NEVER use a microwave (I'll talk more about why never to use a microwave to cook your foods in a future newsletter).

The easiest and quickest way I've found to cook up a sweet potato is to slice it up into thin slivers and put it into a pan that you can cover with a lid. I add a touch of butter, virgin coconut oil (beneficial medium chain triglycerides), and about 3-4 Tbsp of water and simmer with a covered lid for about 5 minutes.

When the sweet potatoes are soft, then add a little cinnamon and maybe a touch of stevia (if you want a little more sweet flavor) and you're all set with a delicious healthy carb side dish to go with any meat dish. Add a side salad and you've got the perfect lean-body meal plan.

For more Six Pack Abs Diet tips and a free 27 page report on how to get those Six Pack Abs you've always dreamed of check out The Truth About Abs