Archive for April, 2008

Play Games to Increase IQ, Intelligence, Memory, and Problem Solving Ability

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008

A recent study has determined that playing certain games really does boost intelligence, problem solving skills, and memory. These brain exercises are a fun way to keep our brains alert and capable. In the study, a Swiss-American research team reports on how they used a computer based brain-training method to improve general problem-solving ability.

Play chess to improve problem solving skillsGames like Sudoku, crossword puzzles, Scrabble, and memory games all result in improved memory and expanded vocabulary. The young an the elderly can benefit most from these types of games, while the rest of us can use this as a tool to stay sharp and articulate throughout the years.

Many psychologists had thought the only way to improve problem solving ability, was to actually practice the specific problem solving task you wanted to get better at. However, this theory is overturned in the work by Dr. Susanne Jaeggi, Dr. Martin Buschkühl and additional colleagues at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and University of Bern. These experts have determined that anyone can improve general problem solving by participating in unrelated mental exercises and puzzles.

The Experiment

In the experiment, the team gave 35 volunteers a series of mental training exercises designed to improve their working memory, while they also had 35 more subjects who did not undergo the exercises.

Those who underwent the tests were shown a sequence of squares appearing one after another on the computer screen every three seconds. The task was to decide whether a certain square was at the same position as another one previously seen in the sequence. At the same time, participants heard spoken letters and had to decide whether the currently heard letter was the same as one presented two or three steps earlier in the sequence.

If a participant did well the tasks became harder, while if they performed poorly it became easier. This experiment went on for between 8 and 19 days, after which participants’ problem solving ability was assessed and compared to the group who had not taken part in the exercises.

The Results

According to the results of the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the group who took part in the puzzles had significantly improved their problem solving ability. In addition, the more the participants trained, the more problems they could solve.

Play sudokuMotivation appears to be an important factor in this exercise. The experts suggest that people have to be committed to mental exercise to reap the benefits. Haphazard gaming will not produce the same effects as ambitious mind training. This finding is no surprise considering the general rule that ‘practice makes perfect’. After all, you wouldn’t expect a couch potato to get up and run a 5k. Nor would a beginning weight trainee walk in the gym and squat 550 lbs. Nor would a football player step out into the national spotlight without daily, hardcore practice and training.

This study provides the first evidence that mental exercise improves intelligence and general problem solving ability. You can now take solace in time well-spent on crosswords, Sudoko, Scrabble, or any other thought intensive games.

Back to Kickboxing and Back to Weights

Monday, April 28th, 2008

Whew, I have been in a major slump due to income worries, work hours, family problems, and basically being WAY too stressed out. Well today I am taking a step forward by getting back into kickboxing after about 2 weeks off. It should be great!

I plan to be very tight and very slow. My lungs will probably feel close to bursting. Lactic acid just might shut my body down, especially if Roger has us doing duck walks. Oh, and my wrist hurts a bit from lugging around a 200 lb air conditioner whilst cleaning out my garage this weekend, so hitting the pads should be sweet!

Basically though, I have to get back into it. Once I go tonight, I will be psyched, and I will look forward to going back on Wednesday too.

How to Get a Workout and a Clean Garage at the Same Time

Follow these five simple rules to turn garage clean-out into the best workout of the month.

  1. Stock your garage with 5 ft long boxes filled with books and clothes.
  2. Keep several 40+ inch TVs in your garage.
  3. Put a 200 lb air conditioner all the way in the back of the garage, knowing full well you will need to hook it up this summer.
  4. Decide to clean the garage out 100% then reorganize everything and put it back.
  5. Don’t ask for help lifting anything! Do it all yourself.

Just remember that no matter how heavy anything is, you must lift with your legs, not with your back. This is key to being able to move the next day. My garage clean-out took all of Saturday and half of Sunday, and when I was finished I still had enough energy to scratch up 3 inches of dirt and lay down seed and fertilizer in half of my back yard and half of my front yard. So how do I feel today? A little sore, but my back, legs, and abs are perfectly healthy.
Steve circa July 2006

Back to Weights?

I dug out my Powerblocks, my ez curl bar, and all my nasty plastic weights during the garage clean-out. The bar is a bit rusty, but the Powerblocks are still nice. I intend to use them, and the rusty free weights, to ease myself back into weightlifting since I am so busy that I can’t really make time for kickboxing and going to the gym. Every time I attempt I do pull-ups lately I am able to add 1 rep. This weekend I knocked off a set of 8, which is up from 6 two weeks ago.

Man, if I could just get serious about the lifting and the dieting, it I could end up looking like I did in summer of 2006. This type of mindset is what Project Swole is all about; if I could just start making more money than I spend on bills every month, I would have much more free time in the morning and the night… I’d be golden.

The Hulk: A Pistachio Protein Shake Recipe

Saturday, April 26th, 2008

When you’re on the run, a protein shake could be your solution for hunger. What better way to kill the doldrums of protein shakes, than to whip up something unusual? Sick of strawberry, chocolate, and vanilla? Try this wholesome pistachio protein shake that could even entice a kid. Get shredded with the water recipe or bulk up by using cream or whole milk; you can even use skim or low-fat milk to add calcium and a little extra protein to the shake.
The Hulk

The Recipe

  • 2 scoops vanilla protein powder
  • 1/2 tbsp sugar free pistachio pudding mix
  • 8 oz. cold water
  • 4 ice cubes

The instructions for this shake are very easy. Blend all the ingredients together and pour into cup. The shake is light green even without the food coloring but if you want it to be Hulk-green just add a few drops.

Optional Upgrades

Hulk Out: turn this guy really green with a few drops of the green food coloring
The Spicy Hulk: add a kick with 1 mint leaf or a few drops of peppermint extract
Hulk Bulk: blend the ingredients with cream or whole milk instead of water or skim

Another Short Hiatus

Monday, April 21st, 2008

I have been on hiatus from working out and from this blog, for a couple days. This is because my life is flipping upside down in front of my eyes and I have alot to deal with right now. Rest assured, I shall return shortly with more articles, a new workout plan, and a new question of the week. I have to focus on work and my family for a couple days until everything is under control. Until then, don’t forget to train to get swole and to eat with a purpose.

Steve

20 Relaxation Techniques to Totally Destress

Friday, April 18th, 2008

Is 98% of the World Stressed Out?

It seems like every time life is looking up, something nasty happens. This is a pattern I have noticed over the past 20 years. Just recently I was laid off from my contract position at a global trading management software company. That’s 20-25 hours a week of revenue gone, kaput, vanished, and ceased. Now I have to balance working on client projects with finding a new job or more contract hours.

Just when I think my family situation is going well, my parents or my son’s mom does or says something stupid, people get mad and fight, and I end up right in the middle of it. Just when I think my financial situation is getting better, I get hit with several thousands of dollars worth of bills that I wasn’t anticipating. The cycle never ends. Is everyone else’s life like this? I would venture to guess that for 98% of the people in the world, this is exactly how life transpires.

Stressed Out Woman

How to Combat Stress

  1. Take a deep breath and blow it out slowly, repeat at least 10 times. Now realize that you have power to control your life.
  2. Be aware that you always have a choice with both emotions and work. Sometimes you need to let your emotions out but still stay in control.
  3. Say something positive to yourself as soon as you wake up.
  4. Start every day with reflection on the previous day, focusing on positive accomplishments and events.
  5. Set goals for what needs to be achieved in the day then write a to-do list. Steps to consider when writing your to-do list:
    • Know your limits and be realistic about what you can accomplish in a day.
    • Prioritize your tasks and work to finish them starting with the highest priority (urgent/important).
    • Do your most difficult task at the beginning of the day when you are fresh, thereby avoiding the stress of last minute preparation. Procrastination only facilitates stress!
    • Focus on one task at a time. Multitasking is one reason people feel like they haven’t accomplished anything.
    • Emphasize quality in your work, rather than quantity. A finished quality product is much better than a shoddy one that will have to be fixed later. Microsoft could stand to take a tip like this.
    • Stagger deadlines for large projects. This will help you to deal with less stress at any one time.
    • Schedule personal time-outs. This will allow you to relax and reflect at strategic points throughout the day. You will also be better prepared when an unanticipated task arrives.
    • Delegate some of your tasks to others. Why should you have to do something that someone else is better at?
    • Review your goals and accomplishments at the end of the day. This is soothing and will help you sleep better.
    • Know your limits and do not push yourself too hard or beat yourself up when you do not achieve your goals. If you have unfinished tasks, go ahead and start your to-do list for the following day.
  6. Improve organizational skills. Stress arises from feeling overwhelmed, thus you should get organized by breaking responsibilities down into manageable pieces and by focusing on the things that really matter.
  7. Stop worrying about what you cannot change. This is hard, but it also acknowledged as an important coping mechanism.
  8. Take responsibility for your life. Control your own destiny by deciding what you want and go for it!
  9. You will have more self-confidence and energy if you treat your body right by following these tips:
    • Eat a healthy breakfast and healthy snacks only. Stay away from sugary snacks by keeping fruit, vegetables, nuts, and high-protein snacks available when you feel like a snack.
    • Drink water. Avoid alcohol and caffeine as they both contribute to stress in the grand scheme of the day.
    • Exercise a little every day. Endorphins released by exercise can lower stress levels.
    • Eat a small amount of chocolate for more endorphins. A SMALL amount.
    • Use a good vitamin and mineral supplement everyday to keep micronutrients balanced.
    • Get enough sleep and try to get into regular sleeping patterns. Most people need at least 7 hours of sleep a night, kids need more like 10.
  10. Listen to music. Get some aggression out by listening to something heavy, or calm yourself down with some positive and relaxing music.
  11. Use positive self-talk by reminding yourself that you have been in similar situations and that you can get through this one too.
  12. Visualize yourself overcoming a stressful situation. See it and feel it.
  13. Visualize positive things; this does not take long but can help you regain focus.
  14. Develop a sense of humor. I know I have been so stressed out before that I just have to laugh otherwise I will freak out.
  15. Talk to friends. This is one of the most important things, as keeping things bottled up can only cause more stress.
  16. Learn to say no. You can’t possibly do everything you are asked.
  17. Communicate to those around you, that you need a change in communication and situation.
  18. Learn to meditate and let the stress go.
  19. Taking a bath will give you private time and relax the body.
  20. Chew gum. It has been shown that the action of chewing can reduces stress, which is why some people under constant stress tend to overeat. If you don’t like gum, chew on a toothpick.

Spruce Up Snack Time With Tasty Cottage Cheese Recipes

Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

Quick Tasty Cottage Cheese Recipes

Cottage Cheese is a great high protein snack that is often underestimated for its usefulness in a high-protein, low carb diet. Just one half cup serving of 2% cottage cheese has 16 grams of protein. For those of you who closely monitor their carb intake, you will be happy to know that a serving of cottage cheese contains only 4-5 grams of carbohydrates. This nutritional profile is perfect for those of us watching what we eat in order to lose fat, gain muscle, or just eat healthy food.

Cottage Cheese RecipesThe taste of chicken, tuna, protein shakes, and protein bars gets old after a while. Since we need these kind of high protein, low carb foods, we are forced to look around for any possible food alternatives. Enter our friend cottage cheese. By snacking every 3-4 hours on foods like cottage cheese, we are able to further our goals to look good naked, set personal records, or whatever your fitness goals might be.

Cottage cheese can be a tasty addition to your protein choices. If you’ve avoided cottage cheese because you’ve envisioned the only way of serving it was plopping it on a lonely lettuce leaf, here are a few flavor combinations for you to try with your next scoop.

Cottage Cheese and Tuna: A mixture you can take anywhere or eat with anything. I used to survive on this stuff. Just mix a half can of tuna with a half cup of cottage cheese and eat. Top salads with it, make a sandwich, eat it plain, experiment with various spices. See my spicy tuna cottage cheese recipe.

Pepper: Sprinkle cottage cheese with a few dashes of fresh crack pepper.

Pseudo Tapioca Pudding: If you like tapioca pudding, try this low-carb alternative. For each ½ cup serving, mix in ½ tsp vanilla flavoring and 1 packet artificial sweetener.

Fresh Fruit: A few blueberries, diced peaches, strawberries, chopped banana, or pineapple chunks sprinkled on top go a long way with cottage cheese. Stick with the berries if you prefer low-glycemic fruits. If the fructose is a concern, try using dash of tropical or strawberry-banana flavored sugar-free drink mix as an alternative fruity flavoring.

Jelly and Curds: Add 1 tbsp no-added-sugar jam or jelly per ½ cup cottage cheese.

Chocolate Delight: Add a ½ scoop of chocolate flavored protein (or 1 tsp of cocoa + 2 packets artificial sweetener), 1 tbsp sugar-free chocolate instant pudding mix and whip in blender (you may need to add a little water or milk to thin it a little bit). Top with diced walnuts or almonds if desired and chill until set or ready to eat.

Cottage Cheese Over Potatoes: Combine 1/2 cup cottage cheese, freshly chopped herbs (suggestion: oregano, basil, chives), a pinch of salt, and an optional splash of lemon juice in a blender. Serve over hot baked potatoes.

Fruit Dip: Combine 1 cup cottage cheese, 1 packet of sugar substitute (I like Splenda), 1 tsp cinnamon, and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract in a blender. Serve with fruit or use as a topping on other desserts like nut bread or banana bread.

Bean and Avocado Salad: Mix together 1 part chopped cooked green beans, 1 part cooked kidney beans, 1 part chopped avocado, 1 part cottage cheese, a splash of lemon juice, and a pinch of salt. Serve cold. Leave out avocado if you don’t like it, the bean salad is still excellent.

Now go eat your curds and whey!

Lean Mean Turkey Burger Recipe

Thursday, April 10th, 2008

The first part of this recipe provides your workout for the day. Step 1: go out into the woods and find yourself a fat wild turkey. Step 2: run after him until he grows tired from flying away from you, then jump on him. Step 3: now submit him with a well placed triangle choke and drag him home for dinner.

OK, I kid. But seriously, turkey is a very healthy meat. You should choose turkey over beef, pork, lamb, and other darker, fattier meats. Tonight we will make some nice turkey burgers on the grill, and this is how we will do it:

Turkey Burger
Turkey Burger

The Recipe

1 pound of lean ground turkey
4 tablespoons of fat free or low fat mayonnaise, you could also try miracle whip but it is sweeter
4 tablespoons of barbecue sauce
1/2 cup fresh, diced or sliced tomatoes
4 large leaves of green leaf lettuce
a pinch or two of salt
a pinch or two of freshly ground black pepper
whole grain sandwich buns

Start by preheating the grill to medium-high. Mold the ground turkey into 4, 1/2 inch thick patties. Season with salt and pepper. Grill the burgers for about 6 minutes per side, or until they are cooked through. In the meantime I recommend also toasting the rolls on the grill. In a small bowl, stir the mayonnaise and barbecue sauce together. When the burgers are done, top them with the mayonnaise sauce, lettuce, and tomatoes and serve on the toasted rolls.

Nutritional Information

Calories – 270
Carbs – 25 g
Fat- 4 g, 1 g saturated
Protein – 32 g
Fiber – 2 g

Other Options

Turkey In My Salad – You could also chop up the turkey burger and toss it in a nice salad with low fat dressing.
Alternative Dressing Options – Consider any of your favorite dressings instead of the mayo and BBQ sauce. I recommend reduced fat ranch. Never tried blue cheese on a turk burger, but it might be worth a taste.

A Generic Full Body Workout Routine

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

Man doing pushups
There are about 956,586 workout routines that you can try. One of the most effective types of routines I have found in my first 14 years of training is total body training.

The Principles of Total Body Training

  • Work every muscle group 3 times per week.
  • Select one exercise per muscle group, per day.
  • Hit each muscle group from a different angle or intensity in each workout.
  • Never go to absolute failure on any exercise; leave one rep in the bank.
  • Keep workouts under one hour, not counting warm ups and stretching.
  • Change everything up after two months.

Why Might This Be the Most Effective Form of Training?

  • High frequency (how often you train any given muscle) means more chances to recover and grow stronger/bigger.
  • Low daily stimulus (# of exercises and sets per day for any given muscle) lowers your chances of overtraining.
  • Avoiding training to failure also lowers chances of overtraining.
  • Hitting muscles from all angles each week strengthens stabilizers and is proactive injury prevention.
  • Avoid muscle adaptation by changing up the whole routine after 2 months.

So What is the Routine Already?

I will outline a basic routine to follow in a 7 day period, but it can also be shortened to a 6 day period just as long as you see no signs of overtraining.

Your warm-up strategy: Please spend 5-10 minutes warming up your body with some cardio and some light weight lifting. This is your opportunity to do some shoulder rotations and non-hyperextending back extensions to warm up those areas that are prone to injury. For any given compound exercise, you decide if you want to include an initial warm-up set. I recommend it, but for a sissy exercise like bicep curls for example, you don’t really need to do a warm-up set.

Your weight/rep strategy: The first set should be a warm-up if necessary. Middle sets should increase by 10-20% depending on how you feel. Fourth set should be 100% of the max for the given rep range. For example if I can bench 100 lbs x 5 reps, I would do sets of 50 x 5, 80 x 5, 90 x 5, and 100 x 5. Once I set a new 5 rep personal record (PR) I would add the smallest amount of weight possible the next time I did that exercise. Most gyms have 2.5 lb plates, so next week I would use 105 lbs as my finishing weight on that exercise. This is called linear progression. Again, if the rep range is 5, you should be finishing with a weight you can get for 5, but not a weight that causes you to struggle to get 4.

Your exercise selection strategy: Given three workouts a week for each muscle, you must choose three exercises for each muscle group. You should choose one compound exercise and two assistance exercises. The assistance exercises should focus on bringing up weak points, fixing muscle imbalances, or breaking through a sticking point. This strategy was inspired by a training philosophy called the conjugate method.

Your exercise execution strategy: The first exercise of the workout should be done solo, as it is the most important exercise of the day. Rest for a minute or two between sets. All subsequent exercises should be done in groups of two. This is sometimes called a superset. Rest for a minute or two after each superset.

This program as it is outlined below is for men.

Ladies should do 4 sets of 7 where this program calls for 5 sets of 5.

Day 1:
a) Quads – Barbell back squats
reps: 5/5/5/5/5
b1) Chest – Incline dumbbell press
reps: 7/7/7/7
b2) Calves – Standing calf press
reps: 7/7/7/7
c1) Hamstrings – Stiff leg deadlifts
reps: 7/7/7
c2) Abs – (Weighted) decline sit ups
reps: 7/7/7
d1) Back – (Weighted) wide grip pull-ups
reps: 10/10/10
d2) Shoulders – Seated dumbbell shoulder press
reps: 10/10/10
e1) Stretch all your muscles for 10 minutes while sipping your post-workout drink.
e2) If you are still within your 60 minute workout and have gas left in the tank, do a tricep extension of your choice for 2 sets of 5 reps, or as many diamond push-ups as you can do.

Day 2:
Off or light cardio.

Day 3:
a) Chest – Flat bench press
reps: 5/5/5/5/5
b1) Quads – Step ups onto a bench or box holding dumbbells
reps: 7/7/7/7
b2) Abs – Lying leg raises, get your lower back and butt off the floor, try to touch the ceiling with your toes
reps: 20/20/20/20
c1) Back/Hamstrings – Standing bent over dumbbell rows
reps: 7/7/7
c2) Calves – Seated calf raises
reps: 7/7/7
d1) Shoulders – Standing dumbbell raises to the side
reps: 10/10/10
d2) Biceps – Standing alternating dumbbell curls
reps: 10/10/10
e1) Stretch all your muscles for 10 minutes while sipping your post-workout drink.
e2) If you are still within your 60 minute workout and have gas left in the tank, do a hamstring curl machine for 2 sets of 5 reps;or lock your heels under something with the instep of your foot facing down and, starting with your thighs perpendicular to the floor, lower your upper body forward and down a couple degrees then use your hamstrings to pull it back up. I’ll have to see if I can find a picture of this somewhere.

Day 4:
Off or light cardio.

Day 5:
a) Hamstrings – Deadlifts
reps: 5/5/5/5/5
b1) Shoulders – Standing overhead shoulder press
reps: 7/7/7/7
b2) Abs – Standing side bends holding dumbbells
reps: 7/7/7/7
c1) Quads – Alternating barbell lunges
reps: 7/7/7
c2) Triceps/Chest – Decline close grip bench
reps: 7/7/7
d1) Back/Biceps – (Weighted) close grip chin-ups
reps: 10/10/10
d2) Calves – One leg standing calf raise on a 2 inch block or plate holding a dumbbell
reps: 10/10/10
e1) Stretch all your muscles for 10 minutes while sipping your post-workout drink.
e2) If you are still within your 60 minute workout and have gas left in the tank, do two sets of clapping pushups.

Day 6 and Day 7:
Off or light cardio.

So that’s it! Please take this full body workout routine with a grain of salt. At times you might need to skip the e) exercises and maybe even one of the second exercises in the d) superset. This will not kill you. Feel free to change up the exercises if you think you know what appropriate replacements would be. This is just a guide for those that have never experiences total body training before.

This workout should only be done for 2 months max before you either try a different workout, specialize for a certain muscle group, or completely overhaul the exercises and reps.

If I have helped or inspired you, please leave me a message so that I can tell that someone is actually reading this blog. Good luck!

Spicy Lemon Tuna Burger Recipe

Tuesday, April 8th, 2008

Tuna is an athlete’s best friend. What else can you whip up in a matter of 15 seconds, which provides the benefits of fish with 0 carbs and 1 gram of fat? This easy cookin’ tuna burger has a touch of lemon with a spicy kick. Add in the breadcrumbs if you don’t care about the carbs or if you just want the burger to be a little heartier.
Spicy Tuna Burger

The Recipe:

1 can drained, solid white albacore tuna
2 small egg whites or 1 jumbo egg white
a squirt of lemon juice or a dash of lemon-pepper seasoning
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper

Mix all ingredients together in small bowl. Form two patties and cook on a non-stick pan sprayed with non-stick cooking spray like PAM until tuna patties are slightly browned. Served on top of a small salad, on a whole wheat bun, or on whole wheat bread. Serves two regular athletes or one hungry powerlifter.

Optional Upgrades:

The McTuna Meal: serve with oven-baked steak fries, a touch of ketchup, and a super-size Diet Coke. =P

Extra Hearty Tuna Burger: make the burgers with 1 tablespoon of bread crumbs.

Cheesy Fish Burger: either slap a piece of 2% cheese on there, or sprinkle on some shredded cheddar.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:
Calories- 205
Carbs- 5g
Protein- 28g
Fat- 7g

How Much Fat Should I Eat in a Day?

Monday, April 7th, 2008

Need protein powder?

Shakeology

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  • Whole-food ingredients curbs cravings and burn stored fat
  • Over 20 phytonutrients and antioxidants
  • Reduces risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke
  • Probiotics to assist digestion and nutrient absorption
  • Tastes awesome mixed with plain cold water!!

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If you are looking for a pure protein powder, check out Optimum Nutrition. Optimum Nutrition protein powder comes in about 20 different flavors, and is available in 1 lb, 2 lb, 5 lb, and 10 lb containers.

Click here to order or learn more about Optimum Nutrition.

Almost all nutritious food has fat in it. Fats are used for a variety of purposes including transporting vital nutrients to cells, assisting in digestion of certain foods, and providing us with energy in times of nutrient depletion. To be healthy you can’t, and shouldn’t, stay away from fat. Still we find ourselves asking: how much fat should I eat in a day? What are the pros and cons of eating low-fat or fat-free? What kind of fat should I be eating most? Which foods provide healthy fats and which foods will kill me quickly?

As with my other articles how many carbs to eat in a day and how much protein to eat in a day, it all depends on a couple factors:
Butter

  • current bodyweight
  • dietary goals
  • cholesterol profile
  • activity level
  • lifestyle
  • time of day

The American Heart Association recommends limiting dietary fat to 30% of total calories. Take into consideration however, if you are overweight, need to lower blood cholesterol, or have another medical concern, you may need less than the recommended 30%.

Why do I Need to Eat Fat?

Fats are vital to many of the body’s primary functions, specifically digestion and nutrient absorption. The main form of fat found in food and also found in the body, makes up most of the body’s stored energy. You may have heard of these type of fats before, we call them triglycerides. When your body is at rest or performing activity of a low intensity, it generates most of its energy from free fatty acids, which are released from the body’s stores of triglycerides.

The calories in fat molecules (9 calories per gram) provide more than twice as much energy as carbs and protein (4 calories per gram). This is especially true in a glycogen depleted state, in which the body turns to fat for nearly all of its energy.

Lipids (fats) in foods transport fat-soluble vitamins to the intestines. This facilitates the absorption of of many vital nutrients such as A ,D, E and K. You risk developing deficiencies for some of these nutrients without an adequate amount of fat in your diet.

Eating foods that are high in fat helps us moderate our appetite through two means:

  1. fat satiates hunger; you feel more satisfied after eating when you consume a meal higher in fat
  2. since fat digests slower than carbs or protein, the presence of fat in the digestive system slows down the digestion process. This means a higher fat meal will stay in your stomach longer than a lower fat meal.

You might find yourself faced with increased hunger when your intake of calories from fat is reduced below 20% of total caloric intake.

Omega-3s and Omega-6s, the essential fatty acids, need to be ingested as part of the diet, as they cannot be manufactured within the body. These nutrients are the essential building blocks of compounds and molecules that are responsible for performing vital bodily functions such as helping blood to clot, immune system response, and blood pressure regulation. In women, the essential fatty acids also aid in healthy childbirth. The essential fatty acids can be found in foods containing soybean or canola oil, as well as in sardines, tuna, and salmon.

We also need to be aware that when fat is removed from most foods, the food manufacturers usually add carbohydrates in order to perserve a desirable taste and texture. Typically these carbohydrates are the worst kind of carbs for your body as they are mostly high-glycemic, processed refined sugars. Many low-fat and fat-free products remain energy dense for just this reason, since they still contain a high concentration of calories from carbohydrates rather than fat. I rant about low-fat and fat-free foods in another article.

We always need to remember that the source of our calories counts. Whether they come from fat, protein, or carbs we always need to be sure to use moderation when choosing portion sizes, even when eating fat-reduced foods. By now everyone is aware that the increasing variety of lower fat items is directly proportional to the American publics average weight going up, up, up. As I mentioned in my article about the hidden dangers of “healthy” foods, eating reduced fat or fat free is not the solution for weight loss. In fact, eating too many of these foods over the course of our childhood, teenage, and young adult years, can often lead to nasty diseases such as adult-onset type II diabetes.

Why Should I Stay Away From Fat?

The answer is simple: you shouldn’t. The folks that should really stay away from fat the most are those with high cholesterol, and even then, they should be sure to consume the proper ratio and amounts of Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids to stay healthy. If you have been told by your doctor that you need to reduce cholesterol, you should attempt to stay away from pork, beef, and eggs. Also check labels often for cholesterol content, because something like a salad dressing might contain more cholesterol than you think.

If you are extremely overweight, you will probably want to go easy on the fat only because it is so calorie dense. But in the same respect, if you are willing to bring your carbohydrate intake under 100 grams per day, then you should replace those lost carbs with protein and healthy fats.

When Should I Stay Away From Fat?

During the day you will probably want to stay away from fat late at night, and anytime near or around a workout. You want glycogen to be readily available, so you won’t want slow down digestion by consuming fat before or during a workout. Doing so would also steal blood away from your extremities to send to the stomach to assist with digestion. It may sound petty, but every little bit counts. You also want to get fat-free glycogen back into the muscles ASAP after training. Therefore your post workout shake should contain 0 grams of fat if possible. As usual, I recommend Biotest Surge as a post-workout drink.

In conclusion we can say that fat is good. Deriving 30-40% of your daily calories from fat is acceptable. Try to eat healthy fats from fruits, veggies, fish, eggs, nuts, and canola/soybean/olive oil. Minimize trans fats and saturated fats, making sure not to eat fats that are solid at room temperature like butter and animal fat. Try not to cook with fat either, since cooking healthy fats actually makes them unhealthy fats.

Eating a lower calorie, higher protein, higher healthy fat, lower carb kind of diet is one sure way to stay healthy and lose some weight. This is the type of lifestyle that can be permanent and effective!

See also:
How many grams of carbs should I eat?
How many grams of protein should I eat?