How would you like to get rid of your bathroom scale? To never again subject yourself to the angst and humiliation of stepping on and waiting for the number-that-will-determine-your-self-esteem to light up the screen.
Sounds awesome, right?!
It’s been ingrained in us from an early age to worry about our weight, however today I’d like to show you how the number on your bathroom scale is an unreliable measurement of your progress that should really be thrown out the window.
Bathroom scales are unreliable.
Take that number with a grain of salt. Your typical bathroom scale is a digital gadget with serious limitations, attempting to measure your gravitational force.
Digital scales must be recalibrated after every move. This means that if you pick up your scale and the place it down again you must press on the scale for a reading, wait for the numbers to clear, and then proceed with weighing yourself. Most people miss this step and end up with inaccurate readings.
Digital scales must be placed on a hard, flat surface. Since the reading is coming from gravitational force, the slightest inconsistency with the weight distribution into the floor could skew the reading.
Accurate scales only tell part of the story.
At the doctor’s office you’ll encounter the more accurate balance beam scale. This scale directly compares your weight (gravitational force) to counterweights. The readings from balance beam scales are more consistent and accurate than digital scales.
Even an accurate reading of your weight only tells part of the story. Your weight (gravitational force) naturally fluctuates throughout every day due to in the intake and excretion of fluids and food.
A pound gained from drinking a large glass of water has no distinction from a pound gained as a result of fat storage on your body when measured on a balance beam scale. However, these two weight sources will lead to two very different bodies!
Body composition is what you’re after.
Your body is composed of three things: fat, lean mass and water. An attractive, fit body is composed of a low amount of fat, ample lean mass, and healthy water levels. When you walk into the gym and tell me that you want to lose weight, what you’re really telling me is that you want to lower your percentage of body fat.
When you begin the process of fat loss, the initial drop that you see on your scale is mostly water weight. This happens as your controlled diet empties out stored energy that releases the water that is held with it. This initial drop in weight makes you feel good…
Until you get back on the scale the following week to see that your weight has barely even budged. This normal ebb and flow of body transformation nearly always brings discouragement. You feel like somehow you’re failing since that initial weight loss has now slowed to a crawl.
What’s crazy about the psychological mind game that the scale plays is that during the third week of a body transformation, when the scale shows the least impressive change, your body composition is actually cranking up to very impressive levels. So while you saw half a pound lost on the scale, behind the scenes you lost three pounds of fat.
Remember that all weight is not bad. What you don’t like to see and feel on your body is fat. As noted above, fat is not the only thing measured by your weight. Those toned muscles that you want to have will bring up the number on your scale, but as long as fat is converting to lean mass, the result is a stunning body transformation.
Pictures are more powerful than numbers!
It’s possible to measure your body fat levels using different tools. These readings will give you a clearer picture of what is taking place beneath your skin, as your body composition shifts to a lower percentage of body fat.
However, pictures are what I have found to be the most powerful measure of body transformation. A picture is truly worth a thousand body composition number readings!
When you see two images of yourself, side-by-side, and your eyes take in the differences in the shape and appearance of your arms, legs and stomach it is truly a magical moment; a moment when you understand how silly the number on the scale really is in the face of your undeniable, stunning body transformation. If you’re ready to begin your own stunning body transformation, with the goal of lowering your body fat, feel free to reach out to me. I’m here to get you into the most spectacular shape of your life!
As a personal trainer, I see that there are two distinctly different approaches to losing fat and getting into amazing shape. One of these approaches works. (Every. Single. Time.) And the other approach fails. (Every. Single. Time.)
I call these the Fitness Short Game and the Fitness Long Game. Let’s find out which game you’re playing…
Fitness Short Game: Those who choose to play short are looking for the quick fix. They are looking for the program that will give them dramatic fat loss results in the shortest amount of time. They want results, they want it NOW, and they don’t play to stick with it. This is the instant gratification crowd.
Fitness Long Game: Those who choose to play long are focusing on making lifestyle changes to sustain for the long haul. They are working on steadily adapting healthier habits and putting in the time and effort to maintain these improvements. They are patient and focused on their end goal, knowing full well that gratification will be delayed, and results will be permanent.
Which of these two strategies do you think leads to pounds lost and muscles sculpted? There’s no question that playing the fitness long game is the only way to successfully transform your health and your body.
Let’s take a closer look at what it means to play the Fitness Long Game…
1. Create a Long-Term Vision
A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step…and also with a selected destination. The first step in playing the fitness long game is to have a clear picture in your mind of what the success you are striving for looks like.
What will you look like when you’ve hit your fitness stride? How often will you exercise each week to maintain your fab new body? What foods will you eat to support your muscles and aid your fat loss? How many hours each night will you sleep? Who will you spend your time with?
The clearer your vision, the steadier your path, and the more likely your chance to succeed.
2. Learn to Delay Gratification
As you read above, no one attains a hot body through quick, miracle fixes. This means that as you strive towards your goal you will need to practice the art of delayed gratification.
This is not to say that there won’t be victories along the way, to fuel your fire and give you a boost of motivation. Pay attention to every little victory, such as every single pound lost, each size down, and compliments from friends and family. Learn to derive gratification from each inch of progress towards your goal.
Imagine how sweetly gratifying it will be to achieve your long-term vision and lean into this feeling when the going gets tough.
3. Fall in Love with the Process
Why is it that you aren’t in tiptop shape right now? Because you’ve fallen in love with the process of being out-of-shape. You’ve fallen in love with the hours on your couch, the comfort food, the late night desserts and the extra hours of sleep in the morning.
Playing the fitness long game means falling in love with the process of getting fit. You must fall in love with the early morning wake up, the muscle pain, the sweaty clothes and the clean foods. Remember, this process is part of your long-term vision for your fit life, and so accepting the new habits now, rather than later, will get you to your goals faster.
Won’t getting and staying in shape be that much easier if you LOVED the habits and actions necessary for your success? This is also where hiring a personal trainer comes in handy. They make the process fun!
4. Take Notice of All Progress
On week 2 of a 12-week challenge you will not wake up looking like a fitness competitor. You’ll wake up sore, tired, and probably hungry. The scale will tell you that you’ve lost a modest number of pounds, and you’ll mentally calculate the percentage left to lose. You’ve barely scratched the surface.
I’ll bet if you tried you could find half a dozen signs of your early progress. Sure, these may be undetectable to everyone else, but it’s your body so you can feel the change before anyone else can see it. Take the time to stop and congratulate yourself on every inch of progress in your journey.
No step is too small to celebrate.
5. Focus Less on What You Want and More on Who You Want to Become
What you want is to look a certain way, to feel a certain way, and to have others look at you in a certain way. It’s easy to imagine what you want. However, it’s who you become that dictates what you get.
Spend time focusing on the kind of person who achieves the things that you want to achieve. What are their daily habits? What do they do differently than you do? What can you learn from them? By focusing on the kind of person that you need to become, you will automatically achieve the success that you want.
Transform your daily habits to those of the person who has achieved the things you wish to achieve. And don’t be afraid to ask for help. Try reaching out to a personal trainer like myself to time collapse the time it takes to reach your fitness goals.
Want more free tips? Sign up for my Blueprint Newsletter here.
Personal Trainer Advice
Personal Trainer Advice
When foam rollers first hit the market, most guys looked at them like an ab roller. “Nice toy, but I’ll pass.”
As time went on the fad turned out to be a trend you couldn’t ignore. Gyms made them standard fare, athletes started rolling before games, and next thing you know everyone was rolling with the movement.
At this point, you probably know it’s “good” for your body—but what does that actually mean? After all, you have limited time, so you want hard hitting answers. Because on thing is certain: you can foam roll all day but that won’t give you bigger biceps.
THE BIGGEST ENEMY OF PROGRESS IS LACK OF CONSISTENCY AND INJURIES. WHEN YOU DON’T WARMUP YOU’RE PLACING YOUR BODY AT A GREATER RISK OF INJURY.
If you look at research, foam rolling and mobility work doesn’t show much in the way of, “Do this warmup and you will build more muscle.” Part of the reason is SMR (self myofascial release, the fancy name for rolling) is relatively new to the workout world so research is limited. Stretching is as old as the sun, but there are so many mixed reviews that it’s almost more of a personal preference.
That said, understanding the benefits of foam rolling can make it easier to determine how 5 to 10 minutes of soft tissue work before a workout could be the first domino that accelerates the gain train.
Instead of viewing your warmup as cause and effect, think of it as part of a system, with each part playing a role in enhancing another element of muscle growth. Specifically, a great warmup prepares your body for the stress of lifting weights.
If your muscles are warm and prepared, then they can generate more force and move more weight. And on any program, you know this is a part of packing on new size.
Maybe more importantly, the warmup keeps you in the one place you need to be to grow: the gym.
The biggest enemy of progress is lack of consistency and injuries. When you don’t warmup you’re placing your body at a greater risk of injury. Why? A cold muscle is like a cold rubber band. Ever frozen something seemingly pliable? It changes everything. What was once easy-to-move is now stiff; what once seemed unbreakable can now easily snap.
This is the hidden value of foam rolling. A little pre-workout prep (or even work on off days) can help keep you injury-free. Is this full-proof? Of course not. I’ve seen guys who can come in after a 15-minute walk in the snow and bust out a 300-pound deadlift with no problem. But that’s the exception to the rule.
Put differently: There’s a reason athletes go through such a rigorous pregame routine. It’s not to make them jump higher or run faster. it’s to prevent injury in a situation where there’s lots of stress on your body. And As a personal trainer I use it with my clients constantly.
If you want to lift without insurance, then that’s your choice. Personally, for 5-10 minutes, it’s not a risk I’d take.
Personal Trainer Advice
“What supplements should I take?”
It’s easily one of the most common questions I’ve been asked during the past 10 years, as supplements transformed from a niche market into a perceived quick fix for everything from fat loss to increasing your strength.
And while the supplement industry clearly doesn’t need any help selling their products—they make an estimated 25 billion dollars, consumers clearly need more help deciphering what they really need.
Here are 7 supplements that are worth your money.
While the human body can produce many vitamins and minerals naturally, fish oil is something we can’t make naturally, so you need to supplement to supply your body with what you need. And while you can receive some from eating fish, you’ll have to eat a lot of fish consistently. For most people, eating fish 1 to 2 times per week will not do the job, which means you need to supplement.
The key is making sure you’re taking more omega 3’s. You see, most people’s diets are higher in omega-6 fats, which are inflammatory. You want more omega 3s, which have anti-inflammatory benefits. Increasing intake of a high quality fish oil, can reduce triglycerides, reduce the risk of heart disease, help with recovery from exercise, brain health, potentially diabetes and may even help with losing body fat. The key is getting a high ratio of EPA to DHA (these are 2 of the 3 omega-3’s), so look for brands that offer a high concentration and aim to get a minimum of 2 g EPA + DHA daily.
If fish oil is most important, than Vitamin D is arguably tied for the title of “most important supplement to take”. Data suggests a majority of Americans have less than optimal blood levels, primarily because it’s difficult to get from food (sources included canned salmon, milk, sardines are all good sources). While most know that sunlight is a great source of vitamin D, the sun is not strong enough from November to March in most places to provide you with sufficient amounts. And even when you are outside, you’re mostly covered with clothing and/or sunscreen, which block the beneficial (and harmful) rays.
Vitamin D researcher, Dr. Robert Heaney said in a recent interview “Vitamin D won’t cure anything, but supplementing with it will make everything better.” Most experts agree that supplementing with a minimum of 1000 IU’s daily is a good start.
While a high quality omega-3 and vitamin D are both essential to take daily, whey protein isn’t a supplement you “need,” but it’s probably a great idea to take it. Whey does certainly offer some unique benefits; it’s high in the ever-important branched chain amino acids (BCAA’s), which can play an important role in muscle building, muscle recovery, and even fat loss. More importantly, whey protein is a quick, convenient source of quality calories. Add some fruit a scoop of nut butter and you’ve got a perfect, on the go meal that takes 60 seconds to make.
While not quite a replacement for fruits and vegetables, these are a good “insurance” policy. Greens supplements can help improve a diet that is low in fruits and vegetables. That’s because less than 1 percent of men and 4 percent of women ages 18 to 24 eat the recommended 5 servings (or more) of fruits and vegetables each day. And for people ages 25 to 34, those percentages on jump to 6 percent and 9 percent, respectively.
Again, your best bet is to just eat more fruits and vegetables. Food is always a better option than supplements. But if you’re not going to eat them, or you’re not going to eat enough, it’s better to supplement with greens than completely neglect this essential part of your nutrition.
Cinnamon might seem like an odd addition, but this spice is actually loaded with antioxidants, which as most people know help with everything from fighting disease to protecting your body against the effects of aging. But maybe more importantly, studies have shown that cinnamon may improve insulin sensitivity, an important hormone that plays a key role in the process of storing fat. And the more you improve your insulin sensitivity, the more you can control your blood sugar and enjoy carbohydrates.
Most studies have shown 1 g (about 1/2 a teaspoon if adding your own) daily is sufficient.
Turmeric is a spiced commonly used in Indian dishes. One component of turmeric is called curcumin and with 100’s studies and counting, it is gaining some serious traction in the supplement world. A 2010 study suggested curcumin has anti-cancer, anti-viral, anti-arthritic and anti-inflammatory properties.
Here’s the caveat: Several of these studies have been done for with animals and for specific clinical situations (Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, etc), but there seems to be one undeniable major benefit of turmeric that can help you even if you are disease free; turmeric has strong anti-inflammatory benefits. And if there’s a point to be driven home, it’s that the more you can fight inflammation, the better your body will respond and the healthier you’ll be.
We all eat (a lot) of food every day, and yet we really pay attention to our digestive system. Healthy gut bacteria plays an important role in overall health, digestion and immune system. More specifically, probiotics can help replenish and nourish our internal supply of good bacteria. What does this mean for you? Possibly less gas, bloating, abdominal pain, and inflammation. You see, there are millions and millions of different strains of bacteria in our guts. Probiotics help keep a healthy GI “ecosystem” and keep things in balance.
Personal Trainer Advice
Personal Trainer Advice
How close are you to your goals? You might be closer than you think!
You see we as humans tend to match our efforts to the amount of time we think its going to take to reach our goal. For example if your running a marathon your going to pace yourself much slower than if you were running a 100 yard dash! We match our efforts to our belief of how ling it will take to finish
But what if your goals were like a 100 yard dash? Lets say you want to lose 20, 30 or 50 plus pounds of fat and completely transform your body. How long do you think it will take? The truth is not as long as you think! Generally what hinders our efforts is failed attempts in the past, how long we’ve been overweight and sometimes just a poor mindset.
Ive experience this first hand. Back in 2015 I tipped the scales at over 280 pounds. I hated how I felt and looked and had just a poor mindset on my body image and how much time and effort it would take to lose the weight. In fact it was so daunting that I procrastinated doing anything about my weight for almost 2 years! When I finally decided to lose the weight and give it my maximum effort the pounds shed off in no time. Within just a few months I had lost over 50 pounds and felt amazing!
And you want to know what? It didn’t take nearly as long as I thought it would take. And in fact I see my clients losing 30, 40, 50 and even 60 pounds in record time. And every one of them tells me it didn’t take nearly as long as they thought it would. If they can do it you can too! And if you feel you need help try reaching out to a personal trainer like myself to help you reach your goals even faster.
So remember, your goals are a lot closer than you think. Don’t give up and don’t jog… Sprint!
Until next time,
Personal Trainer Advice
Imagine if you walked into school on the first day of kindergarten and your teacher handed you an exam for calculus. Or maybe even algebra. What would happen? You’d fail, obviously.
The same thing happens with diet and exercise. You walk into a trap. One that is designed for most people to start and stop with limited success, regardless of the plan. Instead of receiving a foundation built to help you accept your lifestyle changes, you focus on “best exercises” and “superfoods.” Sounds great, but that’s not enough for most.
In working with clients on every goal from fat loss to muscle gain, one of the most common weaknesses has become too loud to ignore. The situation plays out like this:
Step 1: You start a plan, feel excited, and dive in with extreme compliance.
Step 2: Eventually (usually around the 4-week mark), you’ve suddenly lost motivation, almost as if it was sucked from your body. Going to the gym is harder. Eating healthy is stressful. And eventually, you quit. Or you don’t exercise as hard. You make more exceptions in your diet.
Unlike most diet books, I’m not going to clear you of blame, suggest that you need to buy a supplement, or recommend “one change that will fix everything.”
Sometimes the problem is the plan itself, whether a faulty 4-week fix or a diet plan not designed for your body.
The bigger issue is you’re missing a basic concept that allows you to apply new information and strategies to your life. You usually look at why things changed and how you someone seemed to lose your edge. It’s not that motivation isn’t real. TED talks or videos (Rocky montage, anyone?) can obviously trigger a spark that helps you regain your lost motivation and help you push forward. You’re treating the symptom, not the problem.
Don’t wait to regain your mojo before you push ahead. It’s a bankrupt approach. Motivation, willpower, and any other mental capacity is limited. So relying on motivation is not an effective success strategy, especially with your fitness and diet goals.
Overworked: Why You Lost Motivation
The area of your brain (the prefrontal cortex, if you’re interested) that controls willpower is the same part of your brain that also handles your day-to-day tasks, short-term memory, and focus. It’s more overworked than your Facebook feed.
Take a minute and think about everything you have to manage on a daily basis. And now imagine that same overworked employee also having the responsibility of dragging your butt to the gym, eating the right foods, and preventing you from half-a-dozen Jack and cokes at the end of the day.
Still want to pin your hopes on willpower?
If you really want to transform your body, the most important plan starts not with your body or meal plan, but instead an approach that will strengthen your mind.
The Art of Body Transformation
If self-motivation and willpower can’t lead you to body transformation, what can?
The answer is intention and commitment—two acts that turn a goal into a concrete process.
This might seem like a joke, but the facts are undeniable: there are countless studies showing how making a commitment—and preferably writing down your intentions in specific details—make it much more likely that you’ll not only stay on task but also achieve your goals. It’s behavioral psychology 101, but it’s skipped for training and meal plans. And yet, making these simple changes will enhance the effectiveness of any workout or diet.
Research from the British Journal of Health Psychology shows how it works. In the experiment which focused on helping people become more consistent with workouts, one group tracked their exercise [the control group], and another group tracked exercise. This second group was motivated by reading about how exercise prevents disease. [The motivation group]
And a third group did the same thing as the motivation group, but they also had to specify their intentions in the following way:
During the next week, I will partake in at least 20 minutes of vigorous exercise on [DAY] at [TIME OF DAY] at/in [PLACE].
The results? About 35 percent in both Group A and B trained at least once per week. And Group C? They had an awesome 91% compliance rate. Coincidence? I think not.
The examples are everywhere. For diet compliance, researchers from Norway found that those that formulate a plan for their diet eat healthier.
Why does it work?
Several factors make your transformation dreams a reality. Researchers from Australia found that taking a step-by-step approach, such as building one habit at a time, helps reduce cognitive load. Or in simple English: your brain has less to process, which makes it easier for you to find your way to the gym.
When you create big tasks (I’ll lose 20 pounds), your brain relies on precedent. Did you fail in the past at getting shredded? Your brain will remind you of that on a subconscious level and trigger what’s known as learned helplessness. Fail enough and you come to expect failure.
You still have to work hard, put in the effort, and stay consistent. If you expect a miracle in a month, I can almost guarantee that you’ll be frustrated and searching for a new plan in a month. You must play the long game to see success.
But following a plan instead of achieving an intended goal is different. It’s basic processing, no different that taking a grocery list to the store and buying food.
When you make your goal simple, clear, and easy to follow, you reinforce behaviors that make success a more likely option.
It might seem basic or even ridiculous. But in no time, you won’t worry about lost motivation. Training your brain for success will build a mindset that will guide you to the body you want.
Personal Trainer Advice
Personal Trainer Advice
You know how some exercises seem almost too intimidating to perform? Chances are, you’re right.
Many exercise programs place you — and your body — in positions that leave you vulnerable.
That’s not to say you should never squat with a barbell on your back, perform deadlifts, or do a variety of other exercises.
But, it does mean that recognizing when you are at risk — and how to avoid putting yourself in a position to get hurt — are the first steps of assessing whether a program is right for you. After all, if you can stay healthy and exercise consistently, you will see results.
Before you start another workout, let these tips be your guide to staying healthy, picking the right moves for you, and progressing to the more intimidating when they no longer feel like a challenge.
The Revolving Door of Pain
There are really only two ways you could hurt yourself in the gym. Call them “Whoops!” and “Wearing Down.”
“Whoops!” refers to times when you do something like drop a dumbbell on your foot and break your toes (not that it would ever happen to you). If you dive into the data, you’ll see these events are breathtakingly rare.
Research published in The American Journal of Sports Medicine found that just of 0.2 percent of lifters were admitted to emergency departments—over the span of 18 years. Four times more people wind up in emergency rooms due to bathroom-related injuriesevery year. Seriously.
YOU’RE FAR MORE LIKELY TO WIND UP IN AN EMERGENCY ROOM DUE TO A “BATHROOM-RELATED INJURY” THAN YOU ARE FROM LIFTING. WEIGHTLIFTING IS A TREMENDOUSLY SAFE ACTIVITY.
Bottom line: Weightlifting is surprisingly safe, so you don’t need to spend much time worrying about “whoops!” events.
The real danger — the revolving door of injury — is by “wearing down” — and it can oftentimes be prevented.
Wearing Down refers to those times when a move just feels…not quite right. Like when you perform an overhead press and your shoulder says, “stop!” Or when your elbows hurt when you bench. Or when you finish a set of squats or deadlifts and it feels like your lower back got more of a workout than your legs.
These pains can start out subtle and may seem like no big deal, but they can grow into something serious (think: strains, sprains or tendinitis) over time. So it’s important to tune in to these cues. Then you can address them before they become full-blown issues.
The vast majority of strength-training related injuries are due to overuse or poor technique, and can build up over time into more serious problems.
The good news? “Wearing Down” injuries are entirely preventable. Rather than muscling through those times when your body sends you a warning shot, you can identify what they are trying to tell you. Then you can correct the problem.
Or, in some cases, knowing that there are different variations of an exercise can help you avoid pain in the first place. You wouldn’t do algebra before you could add, so why are you doing complex lifts before you master the basics?
Here are the most common causes of weight-room pain for each of the four major movement patterns—squats (or “knee-dominant” moves), hinges (“hip dominant” moves like deadlifts), push exercises, and pull exercises—and explain what’s happening. Follow this advice and you’ll ensure that the lifts you perform do what they’re meant to do: Build you up and make you stronger.
Squats, Step-ups and Lunges
What you feel: Knee pain (especially around the kneecap), low back pain
What’s causing the problem: Most knee injuries for knee-dominant moves stem from improper tracking of the knee joint, Basically, your knee should go in one direction, but winds up going in another instead.
In the case of the squat, your knees collapse inward, a position called valgus. Valgus knees place damaging side-to-side stress on your joint, particularly on your patellar tendon.
Worst of all? “Going valgus” isn’t your knees’ fault. The real culprit is a set of weak glutes.
When your glutes aren’t as strong as they need to be to handle the load on your back, your knees automatically fall inward in order to help you lift the weight. This is okay if it were to happen only occasionally, like on the last rep of your last set while setting a new max. (You’ll see some powerlifters’ knees go inward onsets when they’re really going for broke.) But other than that, you don’t want this to happen.
Making matters worse, having weak glutes can cause you to lean too far forward when you squat. While a little bit of a forward lean is OK, having too much of one can put excess pressure on your lower back.
There’s one more thing that can cause you to lean forward excessively when you squat: poor ankle mobility. You’ll know this is your problem if you feel that it’s difficult to keep your heels on the floor as you lower your butt to the floor.
WANT TO AVOID KNEE PAIN? DEVELOP A STRONGER BUTT.
What you can do: Your first goal is simple: Develop a stronger butt to save your knees. Building up your glutes will help your knees track correctly (think of them angling toward the pinky toes when you squat or lunge). To strengthen them, try adding frog pumps, glute bridges and hip thrusts to your workouts.
If you have a bar on your back, focus on pulling it down into your traps. That will help stabilize the upper part of your torso and prevent it from tipping forward.
If you’re having a hard time keeping your heels on the floor, McCall recommends foam rolling, stretching, and doing mobility drills for your calves prior to squats. Try taking them through their full range of motion with toes-elevated bodyweight calf raises.
Lastly, you don’t need to squat with a barbell on your back. Goblet squats — which are typically done with a dumbbell or kettlebell — are variation that is knee and back friendly, and it makes it easier to squat without your knees collapsing or body leaning forward.
Personal Trainer Advice
Personal Trainer Advice
You’ve probably heard that you need more protein in your diet — and for good reason.
You might think of protein as the main building block for muscle, but it’s so much more.
Protein is also essential for maintaining a strong immune system, bones, tendons, and is responsible for many metabolic reactions. There is also clear relationship between protein and weight loss.
Here’s the thing:
NOT ALL PROTEINS ARE CREATED EQUAL
Quality counts. But what’s the difference between protein and “high-quality protein?”
It can be a confusing distinction and one that doesn’t receive enough attention.
The good news: Distinguishing high-quality protein from lesser-quality protein is easier than you might think.
If you just want a list of high-quality protein sources, we have you covered. The top sources are:
YOUR HIGH QUALITY PROTEIN SOURCES
- Dairy products; milk, whey powders, cheese and cottage cheese, yogurt
- Seafood and fish
- Pea Protein
- Blended meals (beans and rice)
- Vegan protein powders with multiple protein sources
WHAT MAKES PROTEIN “HIGH QUALITY’?
A high-quality protein really is a function of three things:
- protein digestibility (i.e. “Can your body break it down?”)
- amino acid content (i.e. “What’s really inside the protein?”)
- the resulting amino acid availability to support metabolic function (i.e. “Will your body be able to use those amino acids the way you want it to?”) .
The process of digesting any food begins in your mouth when you chew. But protein is unique among the three major macronutrients in that your body’s digestion of it truly begins in the stomach and continues into the small intestine.
Within those organs, acidic digestive juices, powerful enzymes, and other components fully break down intact proteins into smaller chains of amino acids, the building blocks of protein.
Before a chain can be absorbed into the bloodstream, it must be shortened into individual amino acids. Only then, when these amino acids hit the bloodstream, can they be transported to working tissues, reassembled into larger proteins that the body needs.
They may also be held for a short time with other amino acids in what’s referred to as an amino acid pool. The body can turn to this pool and take the exact amino acids it needs to create a larger protein molecule required for one function or another, and leave behind what it doesn’t require at the moment.
MORE PROTEIN ISNT ALWAYS BETTER. QUALITY COUNTS
While the process might appear cut-and-dry, it’s not that simple. And like many processes within the body, it isn’t 100 percent perfect. In other words, less than 100 percent of the protein you consume will be digested, absorbed, and put to use.
Scientists can measure a protein’s digestibility in the lab is by monitoring nitrogen absorption and excretion. (Protein is the only macronutrient that contains nitrogen, which is why this works.) The outcome of this test typically produces a digestibility score.
Proteins that are highly digestible receive scores close to 100% (digestible). Lower scores are less digestible. If you were to consume a protein with a digestibility score of 90%, then for every 10g you consumed, you would absorb 9g and excrete 1g.
In general, animal proteins — such as dairy, eggs, and meat — score highly. Vegetarian proteins typically score lower.
But there’s another wrinkle in the process. Your body’s ability to absorb nutrients compared to its actual requirements don’t always line up.
AMINO ACIDS. WHATS INSIDE YOUR PROTEIN?
Every source of protein has a different amino acid profile. These amino acids — or the component parts that a protein will become when you digest it — are a big determinant of whether or not a protein is high quality.
Your body can produce many amino acids on its own. But there are some it can’t make. They are:
These are the “essential amino acids,” and you must get them through your diet.
Any food that contains all nine essential amino acids is known as a “complete protein.”
WHY ANIMAL BASED PROTEIN IS THE “EASY BUTTON”
Animal protein sources mimic the protein composition of human tissue. Which is why meat naturally offers a highly usable blend of amino acids—including all nine essential amino acids (with some exceptions, which we’ll get to in a second).
As a result, we humans can use protein from an animal source in a very efficient manner.
Animal proteins range from the obvious—beef, pork, chicken, eggs, and fish—to fluid sources such as milk. All of these are high-quality protein sources that are highly bioavailable (your body can put them to use easily).
NEARLY ALL ANIMAL PROTEINS ARE HIGHLY BIOAVAILABLE
– MEANING YOUT BODY CAN PUT THEM TO USE MORE EASILY
This includes dairy, which supplies a wealth of amino acids, including a high amount of leucine. So perhaps it’s not surprising that studies involving chronic exercisers have found that consuming milk-based protein after resistance exercise promotes muscle protein synthesis, more muscle, and less flab.
While collagen and bone broths are popular for their potential to support joint health and other tissue function within the body, collagen protein is high in only 3 amino acids (glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline) while being fairly devoid of the other essential amino acids.
Bone broths may deliver health benefits, but they alone won’t help with muscle building or fat loss (or satisfy your body’s amino acid requirements, unless you add chicken or beef to the broth, in which case, you’re all set.)
WHAT ABOUT HIGH QUALITY PLANT PROTEIN?
Conversely, most plant sources (but not all) have an amino acid profile that differs drastically from that of humans.
Many (but not all) plant proteins are low in various essential amino acids, especially leucine. This is important to note, because leucine plays a critical role in turning on muscle protein synthesis (MPS), which is key for building and repairing muscle tissue.
The big exceptions are soy and select sources of pea protein (like pea protein isolate). These vegetarian sources contain all, or nearly all, of the essential amino acids you require.
Outside of those sources, most plant-based proteins are not complete. All this means is that consuming one lone source of plant protein cannot support body growth and maintenance.
But there’s a simple fix. If you combine different plant protein sources, then you can receive adequate amounts of all nine essential amino acids.
Examples of complementary proteins include combining legumes and grains, such as red beans and rice, or vegetables and legumes, like you’d find in a 9-bean vegetable soup.
WHEN YOU EAT COMPLEMENTARY PROTEINS, THE COMBINED PROTEIN SOURCES EQAL A COMPLETE PROTEIN SOURCE
You don’t have to do this at the same meal. Your body will store the amino acids as they come in, and then resynthesize proteins as it needs by pulling from body cells and blood supplies later. So even if you had rice at breakfast and beans at dinner, you’re covered.
Often you need to eat more plant-based protein to get the equivalent amount of amino acids that you would from a smaller amount of animal protein.
So really, your main takeaways here are:
- The exact amount of protein you need will depend on the quality of the protein you eat.
- If you consume a lot of plant-based protein, or are exclusively plant-based, you may need to increase your total daily protein intake even more to compensate for the lower protein quality.
- If you are vegetarian or vegan, eat a diverse mix of foods, and you may want to research the amino acid profiles of the foods you eat.
P.S. If you have any questions or would like help with your fitness and nutrition needs then try a personal trainer and drop me a message. I would love to connect with you.
Personal Trainer Advice
Starting a fitness program is one of the best things you can do for your health. While the benefits are too great to list with just one blog post, most people just don’t know where or how to start.
Well… im here to help 🙋♂️
Step 1: Start SLOW
This goes for everyone starting a new fitness program. Weather your an ex athlete, used to be an avid gym goer or never stepped foot into a gym in your life. Start sloooooow. Stick with machines at the beginning. Let your muscles get used to the weight, time under tension, contracting and relaxing and of course, dealing with new muscle soreness following the days after.
Step 2: Function Before Strength
This is the most crucial step because if not done properly (or not at all) will almost certainly lead to injury sooner or later. In fact almost all exercise injuries stem from disfunction. When starting a new program you want to make sure you have good stability through a full range of motion before progressing. Spend the first 2-4 weeks focusing on stabilization exercises to get those intricate muscles around your joints used to stabilizing those joints. The last thing you want is for your knee to become unstable while squatting 225 pounds. OUCH!
Start by adding instability to regular exercises with a much lighter weight like…
- Squats on a BoSu ball
- single leg overhead press
- single leg Romanian deadlifts
- stability ball exercises
and so on…
Step 3: Don’t jump levels, take the stairs!
Now that you’ve improved your stability your ready to transition to more complex exercises. But where most people get it wrong is they jump to the next level instead of progressing step by step. Which is the smart thing to do because remember… NEVER add strength to disfunction.
Moving forward start by adding staple exercises to your stabilization exercises in a compound set fashion like so.
- Bench press to stability ball bench press
- leg press to BoSu squats
- Cable rows to single leg bent over rows
- lateral raises to stability ball overhead press
And always start with the main exercise BEFORE the stability exercise to prevent injury.
Step 4: Repeat Step 2 every few months
Make sure you continue to incorporate stabilization exercises into your regular training program. This can be done every couple of months and can help with things like range of motion, recovery, blood circulation, and breaking through plateaus.
Step 5: Always Seek Knowledge From Experts
The fitness and nutrition industry is still in its infancy stages as far as knowledge goes. Us as a human species have been around for thousands of years but fitness and exercise nutrition didn’t become a major topic until the early 1900’s. This means new knowledge in the subject is always being discovered. In fact its at such a rapid pace that if your not constantly studying, learning and implementing these new practices then you will not continue to grow.
But if your like most people and you don’t have the time to become a fitness and nutrition expert than seek out the expertise of one. Start reading on the subject or hire a personal trainer like me to help guide you to your fitness goals in the safest and fastest way possible. If your interested just fill out the “Free Trial” box on the home page and lets see if were a good fit for each other.
Personal Trainer Advice
Lets see if this relates to you…
You wake up in the morning to get started on your day. as your brushing your teeth you glance over at the scale tucked away from reach and then you remember the 10/20/30+ pounds of body fat you have been wanting to lose since well… forever!
I can tell you my friends that this happens to a lot of us. And even though I am a personal trainer ,this too, has happened to me before as well. You want to lose the weight but you don’t know how or feel you just don’t have the time. Then the next thing you know another year goes by and you’ve only gained weight. Killing your motivation entirely.
But I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to be like this! Let me just say this truth to you first. You are a badass! You have the ability to create anything in life that you want IF your just willing to put in the work. And that’s where most people get hung up. You see, if your willing to just take that first step, to look past all your inadequacies and failures at reaching your goals in the past and see the truth… That your amazing and you can accomplish any goal you set for yourself the path becomes simple.
Yes you will have to put in the work, yes you will have to do things you don’t want to because simple DOESNT mean easy. But well take simple. Everything in life worth having shouldn’t come easy because its the challenge that adds value to the things we do. Its through the work that we become great, not the end result…
So fall in love with the process and you will achieve any goal you set for yourself whether it be weight loss, in business or in life. Set small goals and find joy in the process of reaching these short term goals. Don’t look at the end result because you will get discouraged. Look at the next milestone you need to reach. And fall in love with the process because I can tell you from personal experience thats what it really takes to achieve your fitness goal. The person who is in amazing shape got there not by hating the work and only waiting for the end result. They got there because they fell in love with the process (exercising).
So if you want to reach your fitness goals (or any goals for that matter). Fall in love with the process of becoming great.
Until next time,
P.S. If you want to make the process as simple and straight forward as possible with guaranteed results then seek out a coach or mentor that has the knowledge and experience to achieve the goals that you want. So if your looking for a personal trainer to help you reach your goals than submit a free trial here on my website and see if were a good fit for each other.