abs (1) adrenal fatigue (1) Alli McKee (2) Alvin Pearman (1) Apolo Ohno (1) athlete (1) Axiom Fitness (1) Bagels (1) Barbara Mencer (1) Black Friday (1) body fat (12) bodybuilding (1) book (1) boot camp (2) Breads (1) breakfast (1) Brendan Foley (2) Brock Lesnar (1) business (1) cable bands (1) Carb Backloading (1) carb load (1) carbs (5) cardio (5) carnivore (1) Charleston (1) Circuit (2) College (3) Common (1) complex carbs (2) core (1) cortisol (1) Craig Ballantyne (3) Creative Loafing (1) CrossFit (17) Dana Sorensen (1) David Goggins (1) Davidson (2) defeat (1) Demi Goodman (2) diet (24) Diet & Nutrition (20) Ellen DeGeneres (1) endurance (4) energy levels (2) Erin Stern (1) fasting (1) fat loss (3) female (2) Fight Gone Bad (1) figure competitor (1) Fitness Spotlight - Men (8) Fitness Spotlight - Women (16) flexible (1) football (2) fruits (1) Georges St. Pierre (3) glycogen (1) GPP (1) grains (4) Grant Hill (1) Green (3) Green Monster (1) Greens (1) Greg Plitt (1) half-marathon (3) heart rate (2) Heather Mitts (2) herbivore (1) hotel (1) improvement (2) injury (2) inspiration (2) insulin (1) Intermittent Fasting (2) Intervals (7) interview (9) Ironman (2) Jade Teta (1) Jake Shields (1) Jamin Thompson (3) Jessica Biel (1) Jill Coleman (1) Julia Mancuso (1) junk food (1) Kelly Fillnow (1) Laura Gainor (1) Lolo Jones (1) Lust List (1) Lyndsay Braswell (2) magazine (1) Mark Sisson (2) marketing (1) Martin Berkhan (1) Max Wettstein (1) Metro Dash (1) Milwaukee (2) Miranda Olydroyd (1) MMA (2) model (4) motivation (4) muscle (1) Myrtle Beach (1) Navy SEAL (1) NBA (2) NFL (1) Nick Tumminello (1) Nike (2) nutrition (7) oatmeal (1) Olympics (4) organic (1) overtraining (1) P90X (1) Paleo (4) Personal Trainer (3) Philip Ciccarello (3) Phillipe Nover (1) Phoenix Suns (1) photo (1) plyos (3) post-workout (1) pregnancy (1) Preston Thomas (1) Processed (1) protein (2) Rachel Elizabeth Murray (1) Raw Food (1) receipes (1) Rich Froning (1) Rob Riches (1) Robert Cheeke (1) rope climbs (1) running (4) Sarah Rippel (1) Scivation (1) Sebastian Ekberg (1) shake (2) shoes (2) six-pack (4) Smoothie (3) softball (1) Spinach (3) sprints (2) Steve Nash (2) stress (1) sugar (2) Tabata (4) tattoo (1) Thanksgiving (1) The Rock (2) time management (1) Tony Gonzalez (2) track & field (5) training (7) Training & Workouts (18) transformation (5) travel (1) Triathlon (1) ttime management (1) Twitter (10) UFC (3) Under Armour (4) University (1) vegan (4) Vegetables (4) vegetarian (3) video (21) walking (1) Warm-up (1) weight loss (13) weightloss (1) women (2) YouTube (1)
Powered by Squarespace

No Sugar Diet (cont.) - Grant Hill & Jared Dudley

As time goes on, I'm learning of more famous people who have discovered both the health and performance benefits of a diet focused on natural foods and restricting (or eliminating) sugars and processed foods.

First we reviewed Steve Nash, then Ellen DeGeneres, now Nash's Phoenix Suns teammate Grant Hill.

Without reviewing Grant Hill's entire career resume, he basically saw his career plunge from multiple-time NBA All-Star with the Detroit Pistons, to plagued by ankle and foot injuries that kept him out of action for years.  After sporatic playing time with the Orlando Magic, he ended up in Phoenix (with Nash) and at age 37 has seen a career resurrection and is somewhat of a medical marvel. 

He interviews about his new-found dedication towards food intake here, I was particularly drawn to his tales of negligent eating as a young athlete which sound familiar to my own poor habits:

Q: What have you cut out?

A: My first year in the NBA I ate nothing but fast food. There was a street in Michigan near my home that had seven or eight fast-food places. I went eeny-meeny-miney-moe. I got a chef my second year, but I still kept two or three pitchers of Kool-Aid in the refrigerator. And of course we had to have Sprite (which Hill endorsed commercially). And we made lot of cakes. So I would go to bed with a quarter of a cake and a Big Gulp-sized container of Kool-Aid. I’d take that to bed with me.

Q: When did you change?

A: It was gradual. At one point, I cut out all drinks except water. That’s when I started getting away from some of that. I was still eating red meat, less pasta. As I’ve gotten older and become more educated about it, I’ve slowly changed. My wife (Tamia) and I practice a macrobiotic diet. (A macrobiotic diet eliminates processed foods and emphasizes water, vegetables, fruits and organically grown grains, such as brown rice. It typically does not include red meat, dairy or eggs.)

It’s hard to eat like that on the road, but you want to try to make healthy decisions. When we get on the plane after the game and the options are turkey with mashed potatoes and yams, or a Cobb salad with chicken, I’ll get the salad. I drink a lot of water. It’s just understanding what you put in your body and how it will affect your energy level.

 Here's another anedcote where Grant Hill talks about a typical day's eating and meals:

Q: In order to reach your maximum performance level for games, what meals do you eat pre-game? Post-game?

A: It’s easier at home to control what you’re eating. At home I eat an oatmeal batter made into a waffle and use agave nectar as a syrup. Agave is a natural sweetner that doesn’t have the rise in sugar levels that syrup or honey has. I tend to eat that in the morning for breakfast and usually a salad and some sort of fish, a sea bass or salmon. I may have that once or twice before a game, and then usually an hour or two before the game and in the locker room we have a fruit platter or tray of some sort. That’s what works for me.

Since I’ve become really particular in the last few years about what I eat, my energy level and my recovery level post-work out are so much better. I try to eat afterwards a salad and try to get some protein in my body, but keeping it simple, staying away from heavy pastas, sauces, butters, all those types of things I feel great. I feel better now than I did 5 years ago. My body feels better as I go through the season. I’m not as tired and sluggish and I sleep better. I’m not sore. A lot of that has to do with what I eat.

Not only has Nash's disciplined approach to his nutrition helped Hill, but teammate (and former Charlotte Bobcat) Jared Dudley has also seen benefits from taking food intake more seriously.

Those habits are what caught the eye of Suns swingman Jared Dudley. Whenever the team was flying on the franchise’s charter plane, Nash would almost always pass on the food prepared and order a salad. In addition, Dudley would overhear Hill and Nash discussing different nutritional strategies and he figured he’d seek out some pointers from the two co-captains. After losing 10 pounds, the third-year man officially became a convert.

“You ask them for hints and you try to use those tips because you see the ways your body reacts after you junk food,” Dudley said. “Those guys have played 13, 14 years and a lot of that has to do with God-given ability, but you see Steve and somehow his body is in shape and you know that if he just ate junk every day, I bet you he wouldn’t be the player he is now.”

The Suns already play an exciting brand of basketball, but for health-conscious people there's one more reason to pull for Phoenix in the NBA Playoffs later this month.


How do I get lean? Part 2 - Zero Carb diet

From the Atkins craze, to the Ketogenic craze, lots of people have found immediate success with "zero carb" diets.  Now in reality, it's close to impossible to consume ZERO carbs since many foods have trace carbs in them, but for the sake of this post I'll speak in real generalities.

It is definitely possible to get leaner and lose body fat with a Zero Carb diet.  The problem is that this sort of eating approach is only meant for the short-term (ie - prepping for a photo shoot or bodybuilding/figure competition, last-minute beach vacation prep, etc).  This sort of eating approach is not meant for long-term success without VERY close monitoring and periodic-to-frequent refeeding of surplus carbs and calories.


Now that I've gotten the disclaimer out of the way, back to the original task.  A zero carb diet is fairly easy to implement (the challenge is sticking to it).  You basically center your meals around protein (think anywhere from 1.5-2x body weight per day) and green vegetables.  That's basically it (besides your standard multi-vitamin and probably some fish oil caps during the day).

I've both studied and tested this philosophy myself several times and actually noticed it during a recent UFC Primetime episode to hype the St. Pierre-Hardy fight.  The week before the fight, cameras followed Georges St. Pierre into a Montreal restaurant where his nutritionist was preparing one of his meals.

 His chef, Jennifer Nickel explains: "I do this for Georges Monday through Friday, three meals a day.  We've done two fights so far with him, and we will cook for his weight cut in exactly this style - absolutely no carbs, or sugar, or dairy so...it gets a lot more strict.  The only fat in this meal is the olive oil."

St. Pierre sat down to a pretty good looking meal of grilled tuna, sauteed asparagus, and mixed diced vegetables with what looked like citrus flavoring.  Clearly the zero carb plan is working for GSP, both aesthetically and athletically, since he went on to beat Dan Hardy by unanimous decision on Saturday night. 

Everybody doesn't have a professional chef to make their zero carb meals (I know I sure don't), but compliance is still possible.  Fitness model Jamin Thompson recently underwent a zero carb phase for about 3-4 days to prep for a photo shoot.  He kept those of us interested in such things updated on Twitter:

@jaminthompson: Day 2 of "no carb"...not bad so far, just had ground turkey, steamed cabbage, green beans, & flax...now off 2 train legs. LETS GO!

 You can see how well the results worked out for him here.

There are plenty of resources available online about temporary zero carb diets.  Lyle McDonald is another well-studied resource, having written a book on to topic.  I actually tried his "Rapid Fat Loss" diet which is also termed a "Protein Sparing Modified Fast".  I made a few mistakes with this diet, not realizing two key points:

1 - It is very easy to over-train.

I didn't realize that recovery can be slowed by zero carb dieting, so it's important to reduce cardio and/or allow for rest days from resistance training.  MMA Nutritionist PR Cole made a great point on Twitter:

@FueltheFighter metabolic rate is slower if there is a cal deficit-that can mean suboptimal recovery rate/potential for compromised immune fxn

2 - It is important to "re-feed" within 4-5 days, if not sooner

At some point, the body will need carbs again, at least in my experience.  That doesn't necessarily mean a gorge-fest on pancakes and bagels, the refeed can still be clean complex carbs like oatmeal, brown rice, and sweet potatoes.  The amount of carbs and length of the refeed can be complex, and there are numerous sources and strategies available with a Google search.  But in general terms, refeeding with a substantial amount of carbs (preferably stretched over a day's worth of meals) is important after such a severe restriction.

I'll be traveling to Indianapolis for the NCAA Final Four this week, so my hope is to stick to a zero carb diet while I am there.  There will be lots of hotel, restaurant, and hospitality party food available, so my goal is to take down as much chicken, steak, shrimp, and vegetables as are available.  I can't guarantee I won't slip up "accidentally", but at least there's a goal and plan in-mind.

I'll let you know how it goes.


Ellen DeGeneres joins the No-Sugar Bandwagon

Out at a bar the other night, a friend who is well plugged into the social media landscape and pop culture universe made a comment about my recent article highlighting Steve Nash's no-sugar diet.  She asked, "Have you heard about Ellen? She's given up sugar too!"

Well naturally my initial response was, "Uh...who is Ellen???"  After some clarity, she explained that Ellen DeGeneres had began a sugarless crusade of her own recently.  Ellen apparently took a look at her increased daily schedule and workload thanks to being a new judge on American Idol, and rationalized (perhaps with some consultation, I don't know for sure) that eliminating sugars from her diet would be a great way to prevent the wild insulin surges and subsequent energy crashes that come with regularly ingesting sugars.  Much like Steve Nash, she has focused on getting her sugars the natural way, mainly through fruits.

I don't know how long Ellen will stick with this (cutting sugar is by no means an easy pursuit, especially the first few days) but I am proud of her for taking on this challenge.  My hope is that for someone with such an enormous platform as "The Ellen Show", she will influence many of her viewers to follow suit.  Let's be honest, quite often people feel more motivated to give something a try if one of their favorite celebrities is already doing it.  This is one instance where I hope the trend continues.

For continued learning, here's a great blog I found by a woman who decided to give up sugar for a year back in 2008.  I won't spoil her story, but I think you can guess how it turned out.


Steve Nash's No-Sugar Diet

This may be the first entry so far that is completely self-explanatory, thanks to the title.

 Odds are I don't need to explain to you who Steve Nash is, so instead of repeating his bio, I'll save some time.  I was blown away earlier today when I found out how seriously Steve Nash takes his nutrition and how closely he monitors what foods he eats.  His diet is pretty simple and as "idiot-proof" as it gets:

No sugar.

That's it.  Nothing fancy, nothing elaborate, no calculations, or balancing of macronutrients each day. 

Nash guest-wrote a column for Men's Journal back in December 2009 where he outlined his discovery of what eliminating sugars from his diet could do for his health and NBA career:

"Refined sugars, Dr. Jain told me, impair your immune system. In fact, one teaspoon of refined sugar suppresses our white blood cells for up to six hours, making it a lot easier to catch a cold. I really can’t afford colds during the season, so that’s all I needed to hear: I cut out refined sugars cold turkey. No M&M’s at the movies, no energy bars, no Gatorade — I even had to be more careful when going to Jamba Juice, because sometimes they use sugar-filled juice from concentrate. After a few months, I stopped craving sugar entirely."

"The difference was instantaneous: I slept better, I recovered from workouts more easily, and I had more energy. When we started training camp in September, we were doing two-a-days — four or five hours on the court — and I never got sore. Even more telling is the fact that this summer I traveled all over the world for my foundation, bringing team sports to war-ravaged countries. I was missing out on sleep and still training the whole time, but I never got sick. I’ve got to think it’s because sugar wasn’t wearing me down."


Steve Nash is also a big fan of green tea, one of my personal favorites.  His meals in an average day (aside from a fiber breakfast cereal) generally follow Paleo qualities (lean chicken, fish, lots of vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds).  He even replaces the dairy milk at breakfast with rice milk or almond milk.

There's even a site dedicated to anecdotes around Nash's great nutritional habits and the effects they've had on NBA teammates like Shaq (now with the Cavs) and Jared Dudley.

Aside from being a two-time MVP,  one of my favorite pro athletes, and generally all-around cool guy, Steve Nash is yet another athlete who proves that you can compete at a high level, well into your thirties when you take command of what goes into your body.  More times than not, the better foods that go into your system, the better performances and overall health that will result.

Here's a Nike video where Steve Nash shows off his multi-sport skills:


How do I get lean? - Part 1

"How do I get lean?" 

"How do I get abs?"

"How do I get a six-pack?"

There's a dozen variations on this question, but "answers" to the above can be found all over the internet, usually followed  closely by an attempt to sell you something.

Well I'm not about to sell any product or supplement or workout book, but I do want to share what I've learned through trial and error (mostly error) that finally helped me locate my long-lost six-pack that had been hiding since I stopped playing football in 2001.

In Part I of this series - I'm going to focus on what I believe to be the MOST important part of "getting lean", and that's your diet.  As I've said before, I hate the term "diet" but I'll use it here just to keep things simple and uniform.  This is definitely going to be a simplistic approach to nutrition and subsequent fat loss, as there is a ton of more scientific research and context available online.  My hope is to make a complex process simple and easy to digest.

One of the best quotes I've ever read on this topic was in Runner's World magazine -

 "Great abs are made in the kitchen"

To this day, it's the best advice I've ever received with respect to shedding body fat and "getting lean".  Fitness experts Brad Pilon and Craig Ballantyne would say, you can't out-train a bad diet and they are correct.  Most bodybuilders or fitness pros or figure models would agree that the only difference in training for "muscle gain" vs "fat loss" is the way you eat.

Most "fat loss" eating plans are going to be structured with either low carbs, or carb cycling during the course of a week.  It's my opinion that it is nearly impossible to "get lean" while on a high carbohydrate diet.  Carb-cycling is essentially 2-3 days of low carbs (anywhere from 0.3-1g carb per pound of body weight). Followed by 1-2 days of higher carbs (1.5-2g per pound of body weight).

This does drift into the more complex habit of counting macronutrients, which isn't for everyone.  An easier way of ensuring that those carbs don't become "fat" is to make sure they are from complex sources (oatmeal, brown rice, sweet potatoes, and LOTS of vegetables with moderate fruit).  Higher GI (glycemic index) carbs like white breads, pastas, and white potatoes make for a messy carb load and you will rarely find any one with a desirable level of "leanness" that uses high GI/simple carb sources in their diet.

Another simple approach if one doesn't wish to go through the science of carb cycling (but still has a level of self-discipline) would be to adopt a Paleo approach to eating.  To stick with my goal of maintaining simplicity, a Paleo diet is built upon the approach that we stick to foods that were around during the Paleolithic age or the "Caveman" era.  This eating approach is built around lean meats, fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds.  Grains and breads have no place on this diet.  Here's a tremendously simplistic but funny video that helps bottom line it all:

Mark Sisson is one of the proponents of this sort of high protein/moderate (healthy) fat/low carb approach.

There is plenty more to discuss on the topic of "eating to get lean", but I'll pause for now.  Next time I hope to delve into the way to structure workouts with an eye towards dropping winter body fat to get ready for the warm weather beach season.  Here's a quick preview and hint - if you're putting hours and hours on the treadmill at a slow pace, there's a reason you're probably not where you want to be.

More to come...