Sunday, July 25, 2010

Going out to eat?

My new favorite diet friendly dinner is at TGIFriday's.

I believe going out for dinner is one of the most stressful situations that we go through when we are dieting and trying to lose weight.   The food at restaurants, while delicious, is extremely high in the wrong kinds of calories. The Spike Diet gives us a solution to this problem by giving us one day a week where we can chose whatever we want on the menu. But what about the other 6 days when we need to restrict our calories in order to create a deficit so our body will be forced to burn fat for energy? What do you do when you are going to a restaurant and it's not your Spike Day?
The answer is not to give up or just give in. Many restaurants today are offering us lower calorie, lower fat options, we just need to look for them.  They usually post a little heart or a "low fat" tag next to the item on the menu.  Also, if you know where you are going to eat at , look up their menu online and check the calories so you know what you can order before you even get there.  This may help the impulse choice of barbecue ribs and french fries.

But what if they don't mark their menu with their healthier options and you have not had time to check out their nutritional menu?
My back-up plan is always grilled chicken, and I check their side dish menu for veggies and fruit.

Today my family and I went to TGIFriday's and, while getting a bacon cheeseburger and fries was very tempting, it just was not my Spike Day. Today I have a calorie limit and that one meal would have ruined my daily goal. They had one low fat option on their menu but it sounded too spicy so I went with the Jack Daniel's Grilled Chicken  and from the sides I chose the broccoli and mashed potatoes.  I checked out the calories on my fatsecret app on my phone and I was thrilled to see that it fit perfectly into my daily plan. Only 500 calories, with the mashed potatoes, and only 10 grams of fat. Overall  42% of the calories were from protein, 40% were from carbohyrdates and 18% were from fat. On the Spike Diet my goal is 40-40-20...PERFECT FIT!
Jack Daniels Grilled Chicken Dinner

The taste was awesome! I love grilled chicken and this was one of my all-time favorite chicken meals. The broccoli was great, the potatoes were great, and I didn't feel like I was missing my cheeseburger and fries.  It's nice having a "safe meal" at a restaurant that I know I both love and fits with my eating goals.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Metabolism is NOT the same as Energy

One huge common misconception is that metabolism and energy are the same.  Metabolism in layman's terms is really just the process of how our body breaks down matter or in a dieter's case food, and also the process it builds cells like muscle tissue.

One way to really see the difference between energy and metabolism is sleep.  If I had a scale of 1-100 noting my energy level I'd say while sleeping I'd be a 1, but my metabolism is still going, processing and building all night long. If I were to drink a few cups of coffee I may be a 100 on the energy scale but it's increase in my metabolism would be very minimal. Just to be clear caffeine does have an effect on metabolism, but it's small and not at the same level it has on my energy.

I'm sure you have heard of negative calorie foods, things like broccoli and grapefruit.  I hate to be the bearer of bad news but they are not "negative calories" and the only thing that could be truly called a negative calorie food is water, which is another advantage to getting your 8-12 glasses a day. All foods have a Thermic Effect, or TEF for short. The thermic effect is related to the amount of energy needed to metabolize food. Protein is the ultimate burner and dietary fat will have very little effect on your metabolism. The TEF of protein is around 30-33%, so to metabolize a calorie of protein it takes 1/3 calorie of energy. Or for every 100 calories from protein it takes 33 calories to process it.  Dietary fat is only 2-3%, and carbohydrates only about 7%, making Protein the undisputed Metabolism Booster of the World!

So protein is one way to increase your metabolism, another huge way to increase metabolism is lifting weights.  Lifting weights helps metabolism 2 very important ways.

1. When we lift we are tearing muscle tissue that will need to be rebuilt later, causing an increase in metabolism.
2. After the muscle are rebuilt and now stronger it takes more calories daily for them to function and maintain thus increasing our resting metabolism.

Metabolism is extremely important to weight loss, when we are dieting our stored body-fat really can be the main source of energy to run our metabolism.  When our metabolism slows down our weight-loss will slow down too.

In general eating increases metabolism and dieting decreases it, making the Spike Day so very important to long-term weight loss.  This is how I named my diet plan, I have one day a week to eat a surplus of calories to rev up and SPIKE my metabolism so that I will be a fat burning machine for another 6 days before I Spike again.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


When I was younger and first started working out I busted my butt 4-5 days a week and while I was getting stronger, I seamed to plateau often, and it took several months to get any good results.

Now I workout about 30 minutes, 2-3 times a week and I progress weekly.

So what's the difference? PROTEIN!

Yes my overall diet is much better but my main missing ingredient was recovery. Without adequate protein our gains in strength and lean muscle will be minimal. The day I bought the Arnold Schwarzenegger Guide to Modern Day Bodybuilding my whole mentality on fitness changed.  No longer was a eating salad after salad, or drinking V8, I began eating more lean meat and I was introduced to the world of protein shakes.  Which I must say  protein shakes have come a long way in the past 15 years. The first drinks I had were comparable to mixing clumps of chalk with water, but I drank them anyway.  Today there are several protein mixes that are not only full of the best amino acids available but they also taste great.

The three most important types of protein are:

  1. Whey Protein- It's the fasting absorbing protein making it perfect post workout and when you wake up.
  2. Casein Protein- Both Whey and Casein come from milk but Casein is slower digesting and naturally time released making it a great meal replacement and pre-bed snack.
  3. Egg Albumin- Before Whey Protein was introduced Eggs were the benchmark for all proteins.  It had the best bio-availability meaning it had the best rate for absorption so it was given a score of 100 on the BV scale.  In comparison Whey Protein is anywhere from a 102-150 on the BV Scale depending on if it's isolate the best, or a concentrate. Albumin is also great as a meal replacement.   
The Most Important times to have protein are:
  1. Post Workout, there is a window where your muscles are craving amino acids, so I choose to have 40 grams of Whey Isolate as soon as I finish lifting.
  2. Before Bed, You are about to be fasting for several hours so it's good to have a blend or time released protein like a glass of milk so your body will not turn catabolic(literally your body eats muscles for their amino acids).
  3. As soon as you wake-up, Same as above, break your fasting state with some quick absorbing amino acids.  It kicks starts your metabolism and feeds your muscles.
As far as how much protein you need, check out these calculators from The amount we need definitely varies by our body types and activities.

I am a protein drink connoisseur and I have tried just about everything out there. My favorites not only provide top notch nutrition but they are delicious.

You can purchase these from ,or nutrition stores like Vitamin Shoppe or GNC.

My Favorites:
  1. Myofusion from Gaspari, both the Strawberry and their Milk Chocolate-Blended protein
  2. Syntrax Matrix Cookies and Cream-Blended Protein, good for meal replacements.
  3. Syntrax Nectar-Fruit Flavored Whey Isolate,  mixes and tastes great with water. This is the perfect protein post workout and in the morning.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Spike Day and Holiday's

One of the toughest things to do on a diet is enjoy a family holiday.  Everyone is eating foods we really should not eat while trying to lose weight.  Then when you try to be "good" you have people commenting about your food choices: We've all heard it,  "Oh, are you trying to lose weight?", "Oh, one piece won't hurt you". Then comes the advice we don't want to hear: "Did you know my firend lost 50lbs by just eating grapefruit all day" 

It makes for one uncomfortable day. Then if we eventually do give in to the constant offers of junk food, we get a good dose of guilt afterwards from our conscience..

I have a theory on why others try and make us eat junk while they know we are on a diet and trying to lose weight. Misery loves company. It's not that they don't care about us, but if we eat what they are, they will feel better about themselves eating it.
Don't let anyone pressure you into doing something you don't want to do.
Now with the Spike Diet you can avoid those uncomfortable eating moments by eating whatever the heck you want.  Sunday is the 4th of July and I will be Spiking that day. There is nothing forbidden for me, so if it looks good I will be eating it. If you are a Spiker, enjoy the 4th and when someones makes a comment about how pieces of cake you're eating, just tell them you are on a diet.