Tuesday, August 31, 2010

One bad day will not make you gain fat!

Don't Worry!
So you had a bad day, and you step on the scale and you gained a pound. Don't worry, it happens to all of us. I intentionally have a bad day every week, and guess what the bad day NEVER results in fat gain.  The pound you or I gained was simply water weight. In fact for most of us on a diet when we quickly lose or gain a pound is is normally just water weight. For a pound of fat to be lost or gained we need a calorie deficit of 3,500 calories, and to lose a pound of water we only need a deficit of 1,800 calories. I think more people quit their diet because of water weight than anything else. I know how frustrating it is to see the scale not move or move in the wrong direction, but I now know if i am following my diet plan the scale short-term does NOT matter. If I am in a calorie deficit, fat is being burned up. 

Don't stop drinking this
The reason why water weight fluctuates so much on a diet is because of glycogen. 
Glycogen is our body's premium source of energy during workouts and is used up when we are in a calorie deficit. It is also important to note that when we have excess calories (over-eat) the extra calories are stored as glycogen first and when our glycogen stores are full the remaining is stored as fat. Glycogen is used as short-term energy storage and fat is long-term. 

How big our glycogen storage is varies person to person and it depends on our body and muscle size, but it is something that we can also train our body into becoming more efficient at and actually increase our storage capabilities. 



So for the average person they can store 100grams of glycogen in their liver and 280 grams in their muscles. Glycogen is directly tied to water weight or water retention. For every gram of glycogen our body holds 3 grams of water. When we use a gram of glycogen our body releases 3 grams of water. 
When we don't eat enough carbohydrates (energy calories) our body becomes more reliant on our glycogen stores for everyday energy. Hence the main reason we drop more pounds the first week of our diet, and the main reason low-carb dieters lose more weight week one on their diet than people on a balanced calorie diet. To be clear if someone on Atkins loses 5 pounds the first week of their diet, I would conclude half of that is water weight. 

This is the same reason why we gain weight after a Spike Day, or because you slipped up and had a "bad day" and over- ate. For example, you've been eating great on your diet for a few weeks but then you go to you grandma's house and she has cooked and baked for you and not wanting to be rude you end up gorging yourself. You go home feeling guilty and step on the scale and you gained 2 pounds. We have all been there, but don't fret my friend. You did not gain 2 pounds of fat, your body simply stored or re-stored the excess calories as glycogen and the 2 pounds you gained was the water stored with it. If you go back to diet, that 2lbs would be gone in 24-48 hours. If you are restricting calories you really never have to worry about fat storage even if you have a weekly spike day, glycogen is always low when in a calorie deficit and glycogen is always stored first before body-fat. Just like by blog post about eating at night. I eat about 75% of my daily calories after 5pm, and my body is a revved up “fat burning machine”! 

Blog post on glycogen and exercise

Blog post on fat burning windows

Marathon runners train to store extra glycogen

Important things to know: 

  • The amount of glycogen you store varies on muscle size and glycogen training.
  • Glycogen is premium energy stored in muscles and our liver
  • Glycogen makes you look leaner and more muscular, and does NOT make look fat.
  • The Average person stores 380 grams of glycogen
  • A well trained athlete can store up to 880 grams of glycogen!
  • Your body stores 3 grams of water for every gram of glycogen.
  • 453 grams equals one pound.
  • Water weight fluctuates because of glycogen depletion and re-storage
  • The average person’s water weight can fluctuate 2-3 pounds every week because of glycogen. 

The main point, don’t worry about the scale or water weight. If you make eating well and exercising part of your new lifestyle you will lose weight and you will get in shape. It just takes time and patience.

Monday, August 30, 2010

HCG Diet is Dangerous

The HCG Diet is all over the web and I am starting to see it in stores now too, but what is it?

  • The HCG Diet is a diet based on extremely low calories, how low? 500 calories!!! Let me start with that; Only 500 calories a day of course you are going to lose weight, the average person will burn over 2,000 calories a day which means by diet alone there is a daily 1,500 calorie deficit which equals 3lb lost per week. The problem is you are starving yourself, and one meal away from flat out fasting. You will slip into "starvation mode" and your metabolism will slow down. Good luck maintaining a 500 calorie a day diet for the rest of your life, because once you go back to "normal" you will indeed gain the weight back too.. In my opinion this is the definition of a crash diet that is impossible to maintain as a lifestyle.
  • HCG is short for human chorionic gonadotropin, it's a hormone produced during pregnancy, and the reason why people thinks this is good for weight loss is because of Dr. A.T.W Simeons HCG Weight Loss Protocol, or the Original 500 Calorie a Day Diet. Apparently this hormone keeps the hunger away but according to numerous studies there is no difference in weight-loss through placebo or HCG and there is no difference in hunger either. Source LA Times
  • HCG is expensive, shots can run hundreds of dollars a month, and since the FDA ruled that is not safe for weight loss you need a prescription for another issue, like what it's really used for, fertility.  
  • Sure you can buy it online from what may be a real source, but without a prescription you are breaking the law, and paying lots of money for nothing that really helps you lose weight.

 I am normally not one to knock another person's diet because there are a lot different plans that work, but this plan is flat out dangerous! I hope by getting the word out, I can stop someone from going down this unsafe path. You need to find a safe plan that works for you and your lifestyle, I have learned that if you want to lose weight and keep it off, you need to find something you can follow the rest of your life.  Otherwise once you go back to "normal" the weight will come back too.

To summarize, stay far away from anything related to HCG for weight-loss, here's why.

  1. Extremely low calories, only 500 a day.
  2. Injecting your body with a non-FDA approved drug for weight-loss
  3. It's expensive
  4. It's illegal without a prescription, which Doctor's are not supposed to prescribe for weight loss.
You do not need to starve yourself to lose weight, nor pump your body full of illegal drugs. 

Please share this with your friends and family, if they are trying to lose weight they will undoubtedly come across HCG. The marketers behind it are very smart and have websites everywhere keeping the real information about the dangers of HCG buried behind hundreds of Pro-HCG websites.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Anytime Radio 33 - 08-24-2010 - Trainer and author Russ Branjord; diets; news and updates.

Check out my interview on Anytime Fitness Radio!

Anytime Radio 33 - 08-24-2010 - Trainer and author Russ Branjord; diets; news and updates.

The Importance of the Spike Day

Why is the Spike Day important for long term results?

1.       The Spike Day gives your brain what it wants, you to feed. You break the downward movement of metabolism by having a surplus of calories, the extra calories you eat spikes your metabolism up. This way you are able to diet long term without slipping into “starvation mode”.

2.       You are able to restore muscle glycogen, the hierarchy of energy storage is glycogen first and then body-fat.  So you do not have to worry about gaining fat with one day of over-eating. Muscle glycogen is our body’s premium fuel for exercise and the glycogen in our liver helps regulate blood sugar.

3.        You give yourself a break mentally from your diet, you feel less deprived during the week and because you spike yourself out of starvation mode the cravings go away. The spike day is meant to be fun and enjoyable.  You eat what you want guilt-free.

      I learned how this worked through experience, I was in a 3 week weigh loss plateau when my cravings were beginning to overwhelm me, so I told myself I would have one day to get all of my cravings out and then get back on my diet so I could literally stop dreaming about food. That day I had donuts, a cookie dough blizzard, and a large pizza.  To my surprise within a week later I lost 3lbs. Of course after that I did it again and again with the same amazing results. I will be spiking the rest of my life, I  never thought losing weight could be this easy. 

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Creating Fat Burning Windows

This is a very important blog post, and it's going to be the opposite of what you have been told in the past. It's the goes against everything I've been told.

So I will just go right ahead and say it. I now think it's best to eat the majority of your calories at night. There I said it, I will wait for the WTF's!!

Here's why;

I will start with the myths.

Myth #1
When you eat too many carbohydrates at night they are stored as body-fat
Wrong, excess carbs are stored as glycogen in your liver and muscles, if your glycogen is full then the remaining will get stored as body-fat.When we diet our glycogen is never full, and if it is we are not dieting.

Myth #2
We need carbohydrates for energy and exercise
Our body needs glucose(blood sugar) for energy, our body prefers to use glycogen for workout energy.

Myth #3
If we eat lower carbs during the day our blood sugar drops.
Yes and no, it can drop but our liver will convert glycogen to glucose to regulate blood sugar.

Myth #4
We get an extra metabolism boost by eating 5-6 small equal meals daily.
This is wrong, we get a Thermic Effect from Food (TEF) for short, in recent studies it has been proven that whether we eat 5-300 calories meals or one 1,500 calories meal the overall effect on metabolism is the same.The bonus of eating 5-6 meals has more to do with not feeling hungry and convenience. Personally I still eat 5-6 times a day but my early meals are mostly protein calories.
If you feel hungry drink 10-20 ounces of water and wait to see if the "hunger" goes away.

 Now the positives of eating more at night.

Bonus #1
We usually prefer to eat more at night after work, when we can relax and enjoy it more.

Bonus #2
When we cheat, it's usually at night and if are already near our calorie goal it will hurt our weight loss, but if we reserve a higher amount of calories for night time, our chances of going over are less.

Bonus #3
It helps us preserve muscle and sleep better while we are about to be "fasting" for 7-8 hours while we sleep.
Some people wake up in the middle of the night because they are hungry and binge eat, typically it's because they stop eating too early and they are forced awake by their brain's need for calories.

Bonus # 4
By eating less during the day and forcing our body to burn up glycogen we actually can train our body to store more glycogen and be more efficient at using it. Much like athletes who routinely deplete and restore glycogen  for training purposes. Trust me after a while your workouts will be significantly stronger.

Bonus #5
You create a larger "fat burning window"

While at rest our body will happily burn body-fat for needed energy, but as soon as we eat energy calories like carbohydrates a switch goes off and we stop burning fat and instead burn what we ate.

By eating less during the day, and adding on the 7-8 hours of fasting from sleep we have a full day of fat-burning.  Then at night we eat more to restore glycogen, satisfy our cravings, and get ready for the next day.

The real key to burning fat and keeping it off is learning how to maximize and work with our metabolism.  If we limit calories we will lose weight, whether it's 5-6 equal meals, or 4 small ones and one large one. The point is you do not have to stick to the 5-6 meal deal, I prefer eating one large meal at night and my progress is proof that it works.

In this series, you could see how many calories you need daily, how much protein you should be getting, and a solution for us night-time eaters that thought we had to give it up to lose weight.

I have been eating the majority of my calories at night for the past 2 months, and I've dropped another 12 pounds. While I have lost weight my strength has increased and my progress pics show that what I've lost is body-fat.

My plan
I eat about 2,000 calories a day according to my BMR, my goal is to get less than 30 carbs before 4-5pm. So daily I snack on beef jerky, cheese sticks, protein shakes, low carb wraps, ect. Then after 4-5pm I eat about 1,500 calories more balanced with about 100-120 carbs. I never go to bed hungry, and everyday I am full of energy.

Start of my trial
2 Months and 12 pounds later.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A Calorie is a Calorie, or is it?

This is a trick question, the answer is yes and no.

What to do? There are low carb diets and low fat diets, and some low everything diets. The Atkins people blame carbs for obesity and many nutritionist blame dietary fat for obesity. So what's going on? Who is right?

The fact is if we overeat on carbohydrates or dietary fat we will gain weight.

This is why I simply use daily calorie goals in the Spike Diet. It works with any type of macro-nutrient split you want to use. The main factor is calories in versus calories out. 

While everything can work if the total calories eaten are less than we burn, I believe the best most efficient way is a good balance of everything.

Personally I aim for 40% of my daily calories from both protein and carbohydrates, and 20% from dietary fat.

People who exercise on a regular basis need more protein than the average person.  Protein is broken down into amino acids which are essential for rebuilding muscle tissue. Another bonus is protein increases metabolism far more than carbohydrates and dietary fat. So the more you eat the more you burn.

Carbohydrates are important for daily energy and are easily converted to glucose(blood sugar/energy) When we have excess carbohydrates they are converted to glycogen for quick energy to be used later on, like exercise. When our glycogen stores are full the remaining is stored as body-fat.

Some dietary fats are essential and they help us feel more "full" which helps keep us from overeating. Unfortunately they are not efficient energy, and excess dietary fat is easily stored as body-fat. Which is why it is the lowest priority among the other macro-nutrients.

By limiting your calories and eating a good balance of protein, carbohydrates, and fat you cover all of your bases.  You give your body what it needs while creating a calorie deficit. Allowing your body to burn body-fat to make up the difference and still give it what it needs to recover from activities and workouts.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

How to Effectively Create a Calorie Deficit.

In order to lose weight you have to have a calorie deficit, no if, ands, or buts about it. Like I said before it's all energy balance and our body gets energy in three main ways:

  1. Calories from the foods we eat
  2. Stored glycogen in our liver and muscles
  3. body-fat
Our body prefers glycogen while we exercise and a mix of the food we eat and body-fat at other times.  While we rest our body uses the highest percentage of body-fat when we have a calorie deficit. 

This post is about being effective, and I think effective means long term results.  Yes, if you only ate 800 calories and exercised for several hours a day you would lose a lot of weight in the short-term, but it would haunt you in the end when your metabolism shuts down on you. It is best to do it gradually.

The math is very simple, 3,500 calories is equal to one pound of body-fat. So if you want to lose one pound a week you need a daily deficit average of 500, and for two pounds an average deficit of 1,000.

You can get this deficit by simply eating less or just by increasing exercise. The fact is our body just sees the net of our calories in versus our calories out so you can do it anyway you like, but yet again effective long-term results come from a combination of diet and exercise. 

If your goal is to lose two pounds a week, then daily in some sort of combination of diet and exercise you need to have a net of -1,000 calories. 

This again is why it is so important to log your calories.  If you simply guess how much you ate, you are setting yourself up for heartbreak and failure. 

The Sound of Music c'est fini

"Really?  Just in their underwear?"

Wow! What an amazingly great time I had working on this show. I had a blast performing in front of  large audiences and building friendships with my talented fellow cast members that I think will last a lifetime. I had no idea I would be so sad that it's over.

I have so many memorable moments; like when I was too nervous to look at the crowd opening night, until my dance partner told me they were all in their underwear, so of course I took a peak.

Sorry "Fro" I didn't mean the things I said.
Or when I had had to yell and look nasty at Frau Schmidt, who in real life was the kindest and sweetest lady I've ever met. I felt so bad being mean to her, but at the same time it also felt pretty good.
My Favorite scene was getting in the face of the Captain- I knew the Van Trapp's were up to something.  The actor playing Captain Von Trapp and I get a long great, he is a great guy, but for that scene we truly hated each other. We got nose to nose, our faces twitched and I really wanted to punch him. It felt amazing to act so nasty, but I'm not really nasty, or am I?
Just sing the darnn song!

It's safe to say that I caught the "theatre bug". While I deeply miss the Sound of Music I am already getting excited for my next show, and hopefully my next role will be one I can really sink my teeth in to.

Backstage working on my anger issues.
Me and the enchanting Elsa
I miss my tux
"Sister, I need to confess my sins"

Monday, August 9, 2010

Overeating is the #1 cause of obesity!

Not really a shocker, but with doctors and experts trying to find a fix for the next great epidemic the simple truth gets lost in all of the excuses.  The fact is if you consistently overeat you will gain weight.

It all comes down to energy and energy balance. Our bodies are machines, and calories are the energy our machines run on. We both output calories and input calories and when we have excess calories our body has a very nifty long term storage system called body-fat.  Body-fat has a purpose other than making our lives miserable, when we have times when calories are scarce like a famine, we have back-up energy to prolong our survival.

The only way to lose weight the right way is create a calorie deficit, and the only way to effectively do this is to know how many calories you need daily and as tedious as it may be, keep track of your daily calories. You can have the best intentions and be very motivated but we are prone to overeat when we do not know how much we can have.

How many calories do you need?

Harris and Benedict Formula for Basal Metabolic Rate

Women: BMR = 655 + ( 4.35 x weight in pounds ) + ( 4.7 x height in inches ) - ( 4.7 x age in years )
Men: BMR = 66 + ( 6.23 x weight in pounds ) + ( 12.7 x height in inches ) - ( 6.8 x age in year )

  • Find your BMR, this is very important. Your BMR is how many calories you need daily to maintain normal functions, this does not include exercise or activities.  BMR is your true metabolism, and it's key because when we have a deficit of calories your BMR will burn body-fat to make up the difference.

Harris Benedict Formula for daily calories needs:

(Note the formula below is daily needs, it will not create a deficit and therefor is not a formula for losing weight but a formula for maintenance.)

To determine your total daily calorie needs, multiply your BMR by the activity multiplier:
  • If you are sedentary (little or no exercise) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.2
  • If you are lightly active (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.375
  • If you are moderatetely active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.55
  • If you are very active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days a week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.725
  • If you are extra active (very hard exercise/sports & physical job or 2x training) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.9
Now you know how to determine your calorie needs, and knowing is half the battle. 
Check back tomorrow for my post on effectively creating a calorie deficit. 

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Sound of Music

One of the coolest benefits of losing a lot of weight is the opportunity to re-define yourself.  In life we seem to act the way we believe other people think we should act. We misplace who we are because of fear and conformity. When I was overweight as child, and as an adult, I was extremely quiet and shy.  I really didn’t want anyone to notice me and, God forbid, the anxiety I felt when I was the center of attention.  In public I really wasn’t me- my personality was lost in my fat. When the weight started coming off I started to open up to people.  When the disgusted looks were replaced with smiles I stopped feeling insecure.  I literally became a new person inside and out.
The talented cast
When I was over 300lbs there was no way I would ever be on stage in a play, but the fit me loves acting.  My   8 year old son is the true actor in the family and his love for it has drawn me into theatre.  
Me as Herr Zeller yelling at poor Max
Photo courtesy of Bruce Strand at the Star News
I am the nasty Nazi, Herr Zeller, in the Elk River Community Theatre Production of The Sound of Music. This is my second show after I had my debut as the huntsman in Snow White this past spring.  This is the true meaning of re-defining one’s self; from shy to outgoing I have done a full 180.
 Today I don’t feel bound to what other people think of me, after losing 120lbs I know I can do anything I put my mind to, and I also understand that all things are possible with faith and patience.
I am not sad about the years of my life that were sort of lost being overweight because I am too thankful for the life I have now.