Coach Robb’s Two-Week Food Challenge

Ready, Set, Go!

Welcome to day one of the 2-Week Food Challenge. Making healthy food choices should be easy, right? But we often don’t recognize all of the things put in our food that negatively affect our health in so many ways. We are surrounded by packaged and processed foods and sometimes we inadvertently get off track. The 2-Week Food Challenge is designed to help you get clean – from the inside out – and get you back on track to leading the healthy lifestyle you deserve. Whether you are looking to shed a few pounds or increase athletic performance, the Challenge is a great way to “tune up” your body. Used once a quarter, the 2-Week Food Challenge will help you look better, sleep better, be more mentally focused, and feel more energized.

The 2-Week Food Challenge was created by Dr. Phil Maffetone, doctor and coach to six-time Ironman Hawaii winner Mark Allen. The Challenge will help stabilize your blood sugar levels and determine if you are carbohydrate intolerant (CI). CI is a common problem in many populations and the diseases associated with this condition are reaching epidemic proportions. Common symptoms of CI include sleepiness after meals, intestinal bloating, increased body fat, fatigue and others.

Early stages of CI include elusive problems associated with blood-sugar handling, such as fatigue, intestinal bloating and loss of concentration. Middle stages include a more serious conditions including hypertension, elevations of LDL, lowering of HDL, elevated triglycerides, excess body fat and often obesity. Long term CI manifests itself as various diseases, including diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

Final stages include a condition referred to as Metabolic Syndrome. This stage is includes disorders such as: hyperinsulinemia, Type 2 Diabetes, Hypertension, Obesity, Polycystic ovary, Stroke, Breast Cancer, Coronary Heart Disease, High Blood Cholesterol and Triglycerides.

Please note, CI is individual to every person meaning it affects different people in different ways. The key to avoiding disease is to be aware of CI in its earliest stage and to make the appropriate diet and lifestyle changes. Common complaints that occur immediately after eating a meal or sometimes remain a constant symptom are evaluated in Step 1 of the 2-Week Food Challenge.
Before you start, follow the six easy steps outlined here.

Step 1: Evaluate

Physical Fatigue – Overall feeling of fatigue; morning through lunch or even all day.

Mental Fatigue – Inability to concentrate; loss of creativity, poor memory, poor grades, various forms of “learning disabilities.” This is more pronounced immediately after a meal or if a meal is delayed or missed.

Blood Sugar Handling Issues -Fluctuations in blood sugar are normal during the day, but are amplified if meals are not eaten on a regular schedule. Feeling jittery, agitated and/or moody (symptoms that immediately subside once food is consumed). Craving for simple sugars, chocolate or caffeine; bouts of dizziness.

Intestinal Bloating – Suffer from excessive gas; antacids or other remedies are not successful in dealing with the gas levels; gas tends to be worse later in the day and into the night.

Sleepiness – Feel sleepy immediately after meals containing carbohydrates, particularly a pasta meal or meal that contains bread, potatoes or dessert.

Increased Fat Storages & Weight – For more individuals, too much weight is too much fat. In males, abdominal fat is more evident and in females it is more prominent in the upper body, upper thighs and in the face.

Increased Triglycerides – High triglycerides are not only found in overweight individuals. Individuals with high triglycerides are the direct result of carbohydrates from the diet being converted by insulin into fat.

High Blood Pressure – Most individuals dealing with hypertension produce too much insulin and as a result are carbohydrate intolerant. For some, sodium sensitivity is common and eating too much sodium causes water retention along with elevated blood pressure.

Depression – Because carbohydrate adversely affect the levels of neurotransmitters made in the brain, feelings of depression and/or sleepiness can result. Sugar has been promoted as if it is a stimulate, but in actuality, has the opposite effect.

Addiction – Individuals who are addicted to alcohol, caffeine, cigarettes or other drugs often have many of the above mentioned symptoms.

Step 2: Measure

Open the Body Measurements spreadsheet and capture your numbers prior to starting the food challenge. If you do not have a Body Measurements spreadsheet, contact us to request your FREE copy. Click here to watch a video on how to correctly capture your body measurements for accuracy.

Step 3: Purge

Purge your cabinets and refrigerator of the following:

  • Breads, rolls, pasta, pancakes, cereal, muffins, chips, crackers and rice cakes
  • Sweets and products that contain sugar such as ketchup, honey, (read the labels to ensure there is no sugar)
  • Fruit juice
  • Processed meats that contain sugar
  • Fat Free, Skim & 2% Milk, half and half
  • Fat Free or Low Fat Yogurt
  • Energy Bars and Energy Drinks
  • All soda, including diet
  • Alcohol, except dry wines

Step 4: Stock Up

Time to go shopping to stock up with what you will need tobget this challenge under way!

A few considerations:

  1. Note: don’t consume anything on this list without prior approval from your NO EXCEPTIONS!
  2. Plan ahead so that you are never without sufficient food
  3. Avoid becoming hungry – unlimited amounts of food are available to you, eat every two hours
  4. Don’t focus on the volume of food you are consuming – just eat
  5. Take the time to chew your food completely – this will aid in the digestion and absorption of your food
  6. Consume enough vegetables (at least six servings per day) to maintain fiber intake (and avoid constipation)
  7. Drink cold filtered water at a rate of .5 ounces per pound of body weight. Example: 150 pounds x .5 ounces = 75 ounces per day

Food you can eat in unlimited amounts:

  • Steamed or raw vegetables (avoid white potatoes and corn) – organic ideally
  • Fresh fruit – organic ideally
  • Nuts and seeds – organic and free of any oils and salt
  • Almond butter – organic ideally
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Whole fat mayonnaise
  • Whole eggs
  • Non American yellow cheese – look for hard cheeses like Swiss, Provolone, etc.
  • Meats (beef, turkey, chicken, lamb, etc.) – free range and sugar free (read the label here!)
  • Fresh Fish (cold water Atlantic) – salmon, sardines, albacore white tuna (nothing out of a can)
  • Fresh Shellfish
  • Tofu
  • Mustard (as long as there isn’t any sugar added)

Helpful Suggestions:

Eggs: Omelets: any combination of vegetables, meats and cheeses

Scrambled eggs with guacamole, sour cream and salsa Scrambled eggs with a scoop of ricotta or cottage cheese Boiled or poached eggs with spinach or asparagus

Salads:  Chef-leaf lettuce, meats, cheese, eggs Spinach-with bacon & eggs

Caesar-romaine lettuce, eggs & parmesan cheese Any salad with chicken, tuna, shrimp or other meat

Salad Dressings: Extra-virgin olive oil & vinegar with sea salt and spices Creamy-heavy cream, mayonnaise, garlic and spices

Fish and Meats:  Pot roast cooked with onions, carrots and celery

Roasted chicken

Chili made with fresh meat, and a variety of vegetables such as diced onions, celery, peppers, zucchini, tomatoes

Fish (not fried) with any variety of steamed vegetables

Snacks: Celery stuffed with nut butter or cream cheese

Guacamole with vegetable sticks for dipping

Hard boiled eggs

Step 5: Eat & Train

Time to eat and train! As mentioned before, eat every two hours (even if you are not hungry). During the next two weeks, keep the majority of your workouts aerobic, which means eliminating any and all weight lifting (it is anaerobic by nature) and any strenuous workouts (above heart rate zone 2).

What to expect during the first week:

  • If you have been eating lots of sweets or other carbohydrates, you may experience cravings for sugar for the first few
  • You may experience a headache associated with withdraws – strive to use manual massage to relax the muscles in the neck and upper
  • You may find yourself falling off of the program, not because you intend to, but rather due to the realization that processed foods are everywhere. If you eat something that is not “approved” you need to start over and this is ok!

Step 6: Stay Consistent

Stay consistent with both your food and aerobic training. Maintain a food intake log along with a detailed training log – specifically energy levels, average and max heart rate with each workout.

Now, let’s begin the challenge!

The 2-Week Food Challenge

Building the Perfect Soup

When made with the optimum ingredients, soup can provide carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins, minerals and powerful antioxidants to improve your health, wellness and ultimately your performance. The good news is you can make nutritionally dense soup with whatever is in your kitchen and have it ready to consume within 30 minutes. Create your own power soup by following these five steps, choosing among the fresh, frozen, and leftover ingredients you have on hand from the list below:

Step 1: Aromatics

Optimum Choices: onion, garlic, celery, carrots, dried sage, thyme, oregano, bay leaves, rosemary, cumin, cinnamon, chili powder

Health Benefits: they add anti-inflammatory compounds that fight soreness.

Step 2: Liquids

Optimum Choices: vegetables, chicken, beef and fish stock; tomato puree and juice

Health Benefits: liquids keep you hydrated in the winter and relieve congestion

Step 3: Vegetables 

Optimum Choices: kale, carrots, peppers, bok choy, cabbage, tomatoes, mushrooms, squash, broccoli, sweet potatoes

Health Benefits: vegetables are loaded in antioxidant vitamins and minerals

Step 4: Proteins

Optimum Choices: beans (any kind), chicken, beef, fish, shrimp, tofu, edamame, lentils

Health Benefits: lean protein repairs muscles and provides iron – an imperative mineral needed to carry hemoglobin (a carrier for oxygen in the blood)

Step 5: Carbohydrates

Optimum Choices: cooked whole grains (brown, black or wild rice, faro, quinoa and barley; whole-wheat pasta; potatoes

Health Benefits: carbohydrates replenish depleted stored sugar levels within your liver (to feed the brain) and the muscles (fuel movement), provide B vitamins which are imperative for the production of energy

Top 5 Tips for Eating Healthy on a Budget

Although you know good nutrition is like quality fuel for your car, spending a few extra dollars for high quality fruits and vegetables can be a difficult habit to adopt.  These 5 tips can help meet the needs of both your body and your budget.

  1. Understand & Prioritize Nutrition

How important is good nutrition to your health ? Answering these questions will help you determine how much money you are willing to invest in your food on a weekly basis.  Once you decide that your health is worth investing in, you’re buying and eating habits will change accordingly.

  1. Purchase, Prep & Store Your Food

Set your weekly schedule so that you visit the grocery store on specific days: ideally Tuesday and Friday.  Block out time in your personal schedule to wash, dice and package your food into tupperware or baggies. Write the specific day and whether it is breakfast, lunch or dinner on each package and store in your freezer or refrigerator.  The convenience of grab and go packages will increase your intake of high quality fruits and vegetables by 100%.  It is rarely the lack of desire to eat healthy, but rather convenience that drives you to fast food.

  1. Eat your Food

You have taken the time to purchase & prep your food, now you have to sit down and eat the food!  Just like the time that you carved out of your schedule to purchase and prepare your food, you now need to block out time to sit down and consume your food.  Digestion begins inside your mouth.  By sitting down and avoiding any distractions (TV, iPhone, computer, etc.) you will chew your food more completely making digestion easier inside your stomach which results in higher absorption of nutrients and water in a shorter period of time (because the food pieces are smaller and easier to break down).

  1. Avoid Fast Food

You have been lead to believe that the dollar menu at a fast food chain is “cheap” eating.  Well the marketing is both right and wrong.  The food is cheap when you look at the quality – some fast food restaurants use meat quality that is so low, it literally says “Safe for human consumption on the boxes”.  However, it is NOT cheap when you add up all  the add on features to a combo meal, on average you spend nearly five ($5.00) dollars per person every time you run through the fast through line and what you purchased is gone in ten minutes or less.  If you headed to your grocery store and purchased $5.00 worth of fruits and/or vegetables, you will be consuming both a high quality food item along with purchasing a lot more food.  Now when you spend $5.00, you are getting both “good food” and “good quality” for the same $5.00 that can last you through two or more meals.

  1. Learn to Read Labels

There’s nothing frustrating than finding out that you’ve been spending your money on high quality fruits and vegetables that you thought were healthy, only to find out that they are not. Many labels use terms like natural, raw, and whole wheat; however, they are not regulated and can be used to sell products at a higher price. By reading labels you can determine which foods live up to their labels and which are just clever marketing.

  1. Don’t Shop Hungry & Without a List

When your blood sugar is low (i.e. hungry), your ability to make rational decisions is gone.  When you shop in this mental state, you are more likely to purchase items you normally wouldn’t (or shouldn’t) resulting in a higher food bill with lower quality.  While shopping with a full stomach of high quality fruits, vegetables and low fat protein while purchasing ONLY the items on your shopping list will result in a lower food bill at the checkout register.  When you get home, your refrigerator is stocked with exactly what you need to prepare your high quality meals and snacks.

Eat Your Way to Your Potential

New research suggests that changing the way you eat could result in your body being able to adapt to the stress of training – especially hard training!

We all realize that nothing causes the human body to adapt to training and racing except sport specific training and racing. However, through proper eating – quality, timing and quantity, you can improve your ability to adapt and absorb hard, interval type workouts.

Between food and sleep, you have THE two key elements to improvement – sleep allows the body to rejuvenate and the food provides the vitamins, minerals and macro nutrients (carbs, protein and fat) to rebuild the torn down muscle tissue, hormonal system and the cardiovascular system.

I always have my clients focus on health and wellness first and then performance. I utilize several tools to ensure that my clients are recovering adequately and consistently improving. You are either getting healthier, stronger and faster or you are not – there isn’t any middle ground. It is just a physiological fact.

What is Adaptation?

When you train, one of the adaptations is an increase in the development of mitochondria within your muscle tissue. Mitochondria are the cellular power plants which are responsible for producing a majority of the energy you use during endurance training and racing. Through consistent training, your body naturally produces chemicals that tell your body to produce additional mitochondria. This concept is not a new one, but is intriguing because we have become acclimated to the idea that training improves endurance by enhancing the production of mitochondria within the muscle tissue. But what if I told you that eating fruits and vegetables may produce the same effect? Let’s take a look.

Food to Help You Train Harder and Faster

While trying to determine the true source of obesity and develop that “wonder pill” that will help offset the negative health issues associated with obesity, research has tripped upon some intriguing results associated with endurance training and racing.

The area of research has stemmed around polyphenols and flavonoids. Please don’t get caught up with the big words and become intimidated, the concept is what I want you to take away, not the actual pronunciation! Both of these nutrients are found in fruit and vegetables and are available to the human body in many different types, but with similar functions within the body.

Resveratrol is one type of polyphenol which is found in red grapes (and also red wine!). In a 2006 edition of the science journal Cell, mice that were supplemented with Resveratrol had a 33% higher peak oxygen uptake and lasted nearly 50% longer before exhaustion.

When researchers took muscle samples of the mice, there was 2.5 times greater mitochondria within the muscles. Also increased was Citrate Cynthase, a key enzyme to producing energy within the muscles, along with additional triggers telling the muscle to produce more mitochondria.

Here is an interesting observation on behalf of the researchers. The mice that were supplemented with the resveratrol, were also able to complete more exercise on a consistent basis which in turn improved the fitness level of the mice which allowed them to longer and faster. This is a huge observation when you consider an athletes ability to get fitter involves being able to go both longer in duration (active recovery workouts) and faster (high quality interval workouts). An additional health benefit to consuming polyphenols is an improved immune system which will keep you from becoming run down, sick and away from training – hence improving your consistency. Another key factor within the world of health, wellness and ultimately performance.

Research completed here in the US has been researching another polyphenol called Quercetin. Mice that were supplemented with quercetin showed significant increases in the molecular triggers within the muscle tissue, indicating that their bodies were preparing to produce more mitochondria. After only seven days of supplementation, the mice were able to run 40% longer before becoming exhausted.

This research has validated that this supplementation has benefited individuals “less fit”. However, when you consider most athletes are running deficient in micro and macro nutrients within their bodies, this research validates that when these nutrients are present within the body, athletic performance improves.

Quercetin is found naturally in onions and apples – so maybe that saying that an “apple a day keeps the doctor away” may not be far-fetched. Research provides overwhelming evidence that quercetin can help reduce the stress of high intensity training and support the immune system. So this falls right in line with my desire to have my clients healthy first, then fit and fast!
Fruits and Vegetables Aren’t The Only Source of Improved Speed!

All natural herbs and spices are an excellent source for polyphenols as well. For example, research is validating that cinnamon has shown to stimulate the production of mitochondria within muscle tissue.

Before you Overdose on Supplementation

It is imperative that you realize that this research on quercetin and resveratrol is just that – research. As I mentioned earlier, the realization of these mitochondrial production levels within the muscle tissue came as a byproduct of researching obesity at a chemical and muscular tissue level. With this in mind, the improvements associated with physical performances cannot be overlooked. Factor in the all-natural source of these elements: fresh fruits, vegetable, herbs and spices, and you have another way to improve your immune system and make you more resilient to high intensity training.

Four Tasty Sources of Polyphenols

Blueberries – one of the highest polyphenol contents of all foods; benefits include enhanced aerobic function and off-setting the development of cancer. Add blueberries to your salad and top off your Greek full fat yogurt for additional nutrients, fiber and flavor.
Cinnamon – not only loaded in polyphenols, it helps reduce the insulin response to high glycemic meals, which helps you stabilize blood sugar levels and burn carbohydrates more efficiently. Add cinnamon to your all natural oatmeal.
Dark Chocolate – look for chocolates that have over 75% cocoa. In addition to having high polyphenol content, it has been shown to improve blood flow to working muscles. Consume high quality, dark chocolate as a mid-day snack (unless you can have a glass of red wine instead!).
Nutritionally Green Smoothies – these products are derived from real fruits and vegetables and provide a hefty dose of vitamin and minerals per scoop. They are easily absorbed by the body because it isn’t broken down through the digestion process in the gut. A scoop can easily be added to soups, broths, and smoothies to add to the nutrient value.

Grocery Shopping For Better Speed

Stock up on these items the next time you head to your grocery store:

  • Dark Chocolate
  • Red kidney beans
  • Blueberries, Strawberries
  • Acai berries
  • Olives
  • Spinach
  • Walnuts
  • Chestnuts
  • Cherry juice
  • Green tea/coffee
  • Cinnamon, Sage, Rosemary, Spearmint, Thyme, Tumeric
  • Cloves, Dried Mexican Oregano, Basil, Curry, Celery Seed
  • Flaxseed
  • Black Elderberry

Top 5 Nutritional Mistakes and How to Fix Them

Over the last 33 years, I have seen nutritional mistakes that have resulted in weight gain rather than weight loss. Here are the top five mistakes and how to correct them.

Not knowing your sweat rate

You may ask how your sweat rate relates to nutritional mistakes; the reason is associated with how your body stores water relevant to what you eat. Fruits in vegetables are high in vitamins & minerals, but they are also high in water and natural forms of electrolytes (what you lose in through sweat). Also, for your body to store one gram of sugar for energy, it stores 2.5 grams of water. If you want to improve your pre-hydration levels, eat more raw fruits and vegetables.

When it comes to sweating, your goal is to lose between 1-2% of your body weight in a given workout – no more or less. If you lose more than 2% of your body weight you are officially dehydrated, if you lose less than 1% you are over hydrated. This is a very fine line that needs to be evaluated on a regular basis with the following variables being factored in: air temperature, humidity, intensity and duration.

To help you calculate your personal sweat rate, please email me at robb@coachrobb.com and I will send you a simple to use Sweat Rate Calculator. It will provide you insight into your sweat rate along with inform you if you’re eating habits are helping or hurting your weightloss efforts.

Not eating enough high quality calories

As mentioned above, fruits and vegetables are high in water, vitamins, minerals and electrolytes. However, fruits and vegetables are not high in calories. This means that you must eat a lot of fruits and vegetables (along with lean protein sources) for your body to perform at an optimal level.

To determine if you are consuming enough calories to fuel your exercise,  you need to evaluate exactly what and how much you have eaten, when you have eaten and then evaluate the quality of your workouts. This is very simple to do by maintaining a daily food log (Note: if you don’t have a simple to use food log, please email me at robb@coachrobb.com and I will send you a copy of our food log that is easy to use and maintain on a daily basis).

There are two typical realizations that come from maintaining a food log; one is the quantity of food that comes out of a box and/or a can; the amount of total calories consumed on a daily basis is not enough to fuel your efforts. By maintaining a daily food log and evaluating your energy levels/performance results you will develop a personalized nutritional plan in less than two weeks.

Not eating enough high quality fat

Fat has gotten a bad rap in the media, but the fact of the matter is that your body needs high quality fat on a daily basis for your body to perform at an optimal level. Typical symptoms of insufficient fat intake include: fatigue, delayed recovery, depression, over eating, constantly hungry and more.  It is imperative that you consume the following unsaturated fats on a daily basis: extra virgin olive oil, avocados and fish oil.

These fats are either used by your body as energy or passed as waste – which means no stored body fat! This is a win-win situation for you: improved performance and decreased body fat. When you increase your clean fat intake, there are two things you will notice within two weeks: improved endurance and not hungry all of the time. The reason for this is because most individuals don’t consume enough high quality fat – simple fix with huge benefits.

Not eating immediately after a workout

When you work out your body gets the majority of its energy from stored sugar from your muscles (your brain gets its sugar from your liver); the longer and more intense your workout the more you “empty” your stored muscle sugar. When you are finished with your  workout you have a 20-30 minute window to replenish these depleted stored sugar levels optimally. During this short post exercise window, you have an enzyme (glycogen synthase enzyme) that is highly activate within your muscles cells that helps increase the replenishment of sugar within the muscles (and liver).

The longer you wait to consume high quality food after your workout, the less effective your replenishment will be and your recovery window will take longer as a result. Ideally, you want to consume food in a 4:1 ration between carbohydrates and lean protein. Simple solutions include fruit smoothies made with Greek yogurt or chocolate milk.

Not drinking enough water

The average human body contains 96 pints of water – 64 of these are found inside the body’s cells. Your brain is 75% water, your blood is 85% water, muscle is 70% water, and you see how important being hydrated is literally from the inside out. Please don’t confuse hydration levels with sweat rate discussed earlier; hydration levels are strictly relevant to maintaining proper fluid levels within your body for optimum health and ultimately performance. Your sweat rate is relevant to how much perspiration you are creating as your body attempts to rid itself of internal heat.

As a general rule of thumb, your need to consume half of your body weight in ounces of water – for example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you need to consume 75 ounces of water on a daily basis to maintain proper hydration levels. Any activities that you perform on a daily basis: exercise, work, leisure, etc. has to be factored in addition to your daily needs.

There are two simple indicators of proper hydration levels: urine color and urination frequency. Regarding your urine color, the lighter your urine the more hydrated you are. Please note, if you are taking a multi vitamin that contains B vitamins, your urine will be a tad darker as a result. As your body absorbs and purges the B vitamin, the color of your urine will become lighter in color. In regards to your urination frequency, you should be visiting the restroom once an hour. Though this can be an inconvenience at time, the health and performance benefits are definitely worth it!

The Power of Protein

The Importance of Protein

Because of the numerous responsibilities of protein in the body (from muscle regeneration to energy production) consuming the proper amounts on a daily basis are imperative for both health and performance. Your body continually makes new cells for your muscles, organs, glands and bones on a daily basis. All of these are built on the foundation of protein, their main building block. Keep in mind, the longer and/or harder you exercise the higher your protein intake on daily basis needs to be.

The Role of Protein

Before we get into how much protein your need on a daily basis, let’s discuss the role of protein. In addition to growth and repair of muscles and other tissues, some protein is used for energy. Per Dr. Phil Maffetone, the amount of energy contributed by protein may be as high as 15% in some individuals. Protein is also necessary for enzymes important to metabolism.

Protein is essential for maintaining neurotransmitters – the chemical messengers used by the nervous system to signal proper function throughout the body. Additionally, oxygen, fats and vitamins are transported throughout the body with the help of proteins.

Protein also plays an instrumental role in making natural antibodies for your immune system. Those who lose muscle mass through reduced protein consumption have a weakened immune system. Additionally, those who consume inadequate protein may not get enough of certain nutrients necessary for proper immune function. For example, the amino acid cysteine  contained in whey protein can improve immune function. This amino acid is necessary for your body to make its most powerful antioxidant, glutathione.

How Much Protein?

The argument about how much protein is needed for optimum health and performance has become so convoluted, it has been revised by the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowence) 10 times since 1943! The RDA’s current recommendation of 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight has been declared too low by many doctors and nutrition experts. Some of these professionals believe that the gram per kilogram needs to be increased by 3 – 4 times this amount to maintain proper lean muscle mass, recover from exercise and keep the blood chemistry healthy.

As clearly declared by Dr. Phil Maffetone, the issue of protein needs dictated by body weight is very distorted and inaccurate. These inaccuracies are created because if you are going to use grams per kilogram of body weight, it needs to be calculated off of body mass (total weight minus your body fat). It is your muscle that needs protein, NOT your stored fat. Keep in mind that over 50% of the dry weight of your body is protein.

As you can see, this can get complex and consuming quite quickly. It is for this exact reason that I don’t want you to count calories, calculate grams or weigh your food. Why? Because you can determine your personal needs by listening to your body, document your mental clarity and performance results and capture eight simple body measurements to determine how your protein, carbohydrate and fat intake is affecting your health and wellness.

Importance of Protein

All bodily functions, from breathing to muscle movement to new muscle development is controlled by thousands of different enzymes – and you guessed it, enzymes are made from protein as well. Even the hemoglobin, that carries the oxygen in your blood, is manufactured out of protein. The structure of your genes and your brain cells are totally fabricated from protein.

As documented by Dr. Michael Colgan, research using radioisotope techniques show that over 98% of the molecules of the human body are completely replaced each year. Bits and pieces of all your structures are constantly being replaced with new proteins. Research has proven that every six months your muscles, blood, enzymes and even the structures of your genes are completely replaced. Think about this, the body that you have today is the result of what you have eaten for the last six months. Garbage in, inferior health, wellness out!

Dangers of Inadequate Protein Intake

Signs of low protein (or low quality) intake includes:

  • Muscle Weakness
  • Low Energy Levels
  • Easily Broken Bones
  • Slow Recovery after Exercise

In a study completed by Dr. Gontzea at the Institute of Medicine in Bucharest, he demonstrated that exercise causes increased demands on the body’s need for protein. During this study (and most studies on protein synthesis) he evaluated the nitrogen balances in urine and feces. A positive nitrogen balance means that the body is obtaining sufficient quantity and quality from the diet. A negative nitrogen balance means that the body is not receiving enough quality or quantity of protein from the diet. A negative nitrogen balance means that the body is not receiving enough quality and quantity of protein so the body literally “eats” muscle and other protein structures in the body for its daily needs.

Dangers of Taking in Too Much Protein

Many people are afraid of eating too much protein – and justifiably so; excessive protein intake is harsh on your body with painful side effects (i.e. kidney stones). However, if your body needs 100 grams of protein per day, then 100 grams is not too much but rather your personalized protein needs!

On a quick side note, many times kidney stones are a result of chronic dehydration, not excessive protein intake. If you are consuming half of your body weight in ounces of water and calculating your sweat rate during exercise, you will minimize your risk of dehydration and the development of kidney stones.

Protein Intake to Build Muscle

One of the big misconceptions of building muscle is that you can accomplish this task by eating tremendous amounts of meat, nuts and protein shakes. The truth about building muscle has little to do with the amount of protein you take in, but rather the demands of the body to “need” more protein to rebuild stressed muscle tissue. If you consume more protein that your body needs (and your liver processes), the excess protein is broken down into carbohydrates and passed as urea waste.

The key to building more muscle mass is to stress the tendons, ligaments and muscles in a systematic manner to break down the muscle tissue without tearing it. This is a big problem with athletes who try to grow too fast, they overstress the system and instead of developing new muscle (natural anabolic growth mode) they put their bodies in a tear down mode (catabolic mode).

As you incrementally add more load and stress on your tendons, ligaments and muscles, consuming high quality protein will result in increased muscle mass as the body “absorbs” the much needed amino acids which build new muscle (in addition to repairing the torn down existing muscle tissue).

Amino Acids

Like everything we eat, it isn’t just what you consume but also what you absorb that improves your health and performance. The important component of protein is an element called amino acids. Think about amino acids as the “building blocks of muscle”. Amino acids must be digested in the intestine and broken down into amino acids for absorption. Once absorbed, the amino acids are used either as individual products or recombined as proteins. For example, the amino acid tryptophan is used to make certain neurotransmitters in the brain. Additionally, recombining many amino acids provides for the manufacture of new muscle cells.

Experts say that there are at least 20 amino acids necessary for optimum health and performance. While some of these amino acids can be made by the body (non-essential), others must be taken in through the diet (essential). The following table lists both types:

Essential Amino Acids Non-Essential Amino Acids
Arginine Alanine
Histidine Asparagine
Isoleucine Aspartate
Leucine Cysteine
Lysine Glutamate
Methionine Glutamine
Phenylalanine Glycine
Threonline Proline
Tryptophan Serine
Valine Tyrosine

One topic that pops up when discussing amino acids is “complete amino acids” and “incomplete amino acids”. Animal protein sources such as meat, fish, cheese and eggs contain all amino acids, and are what we consider complete amino acids. The only non-animal product that is a complete protein is tofu. Vegetables foods contain only some of the amino acids. With this in mind, combining various vegetable foods can produce a complete amino acid profile. Keep in mind that it is NOT necessary to eat all of them in one meal. For non-meat eating individuals, the combination of whole grains and legumes will provide a complete amino acid profile. Simple examples are brown rice and beans or almond butter and whole wheat bread.

Protein Sources for Optimum Speed & Endurance – The Nutritional Cell, the Egg!

We previously discussed the importance of protein and the dangers of not consuming enough protein as it relates to your immunity, strength and endurance. If you haven’t had a chance to read that article, please do so before continuing to read (otherwise, this article may not make much sense).

Now that you know the importance of protein in your diet, you need to make good decisions regarding where you source the protein that you eat. For individuals that eat meat and dairy products, getting enough protein should not be a problem. However, there are many health choices to consider if you’re going to eat meat, dairy and eggs for your protein sources (which will be discussed below). For vegetarians, getting enough protein can be a challenge; soy and certain combinations of legumes and grains can supply all essential amino acids.

Consuming a variety of foods from real sources such as eggs, meat, fish, whey or soy improves the potential of your body getting adequate protein and more specifically, amino acids on a daily basis. In addition to consuming a variety of lean, high quality protein, it is important that you strive to consume only high quality protein whenever possible. However, for some individuals, high quality protein may not be readily available. For instance, it’s not often that you’ll find organic steak or eggs on the menu at your local restaurant. Likewise the chicken you buy from the grocery store may not always be free range and you may have to settle for a farm raised salmon the next time you want grilled fish.

The worst thing you can do is not eat protein foods at all. The best thing you can do is make the best decision most of the time. If your body is healthy, eating some less-than-perfect foods from time to time will have less negative effect on your health wellness and performance.

Healthy aspects of animal foods

Humans have been consuming animal food for centuries – specifically meat, fish and eggs. Despite what some mainstream media outlets may report, the human G.I. (Gastro Intestinal) tract is well adapted for consuming food from animals with a history of mankind eating high quality protein, low carbohydrate diet with varying amounts of raw fruits, vegetables & nuts. As described by nutritionalist Dr. Maffetone, the media trend has been towards the misconception that meat consumption is unhealthy. However, there are variety of unique features of an animal food diet that are vital for health, wellness and performance:

  • Animal foods contain all essential amino acids
  • Vitamin A is found only in animal products
  • Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient found only in animal foods
  • Iron deficiency is prevented by eating animal foods which contain this mineral and in its most bio-available form
  • EPA, the most powerful fatty acid and the one most preferred by the human body, is almost exclusively found in animal foods
  • Animal products are considered dense protein foods with little or no carbohydrates interfere with digestion and absorption
  • People who consume less animal proteins have greater rates of bone loss that those who need larger amounts of animal protein.

The Egg – A Nutritional Cell

Eggs can be called the “perfect food all wrapped up in one single cell”. Yes that’s right – an egg is an individual cell. In this single cell contains the most complete and highest protein rating of any food containing all essential amino acids. Additionally, eggs also contain many essential nutrients including significant amounts of vitamins a A, D, E, B1 B2 B6 folic acid and especially vitamin B12.

Simple Facts about eggs:

  • An extra large egg contains approximately 75 calories; 7 grams of protein and 2 grams of carbohydrates
  • Eggs also contain port minerals including calcium magnesium potassium zinc and iron. Choline and biotin, also important for energy production and stress management, are contained in large amounts in eggs. Most of these nutrients are found in the yoke of an egg.
  • The fat in an egg yolk is also nearly a perfect balance containing mostly mono unsaturated fats and about 36% saturated fat.
  • Egg yolks contain linoleic and linolenic – both essential fatty acids.
  • Eggs have almost no carbohydrates less than 1 g making them the perfect meal or snack for the millions who are carbohydrate intolerant.
  • Eggs come in many sizes and colors, not just white and brown. The color is dependent on the type of chicken, where the egg is laid and when the egg is laid.
  • Eggs should always be stored in the refrigerator.
  • Because of the egg shell is porous, there is a slight amount of evaporation of moisture from the inner egg which changes its flavor and freshness.
  • If you’re not using your eggs quickly, then store them in a sealed container to prevent loss of moisture.
  • Never store eggs next to highly favored foods such as onions and fish because they will absorb these strong flavors.
  • Always store eggs with the large side up which spends the yolk effectively within the egg.

Most people love taste of eggs but many people are concerned about eating them because of cholesterol. Ironically, the cholesterol in eggs is not something to be feared but rather embraced in to an attempt to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.

As outlined by Dr. Maffetone, “while eggs are one of nature’s most perfect foods, they’re only as healthy as the hens that lay them, since the nutritional make up of eggs, especially the fat, is dependent on what the chickens eat. For this reason you should avoid run-of-the-mill grocery store eggs that have been produced in chicken factories. The healthiest eggs are those that come from organic free range hens. This means that the chickens are raised on land that has been certified organic, free range hens. Free range means that the hens are allowed to roam and in doing so they generally will eat bugs and vegetable matter thus the eggs yield a better fat profile with more mono unsaturated fat and more essential fatty acids”.

If you can’t find organic-free range eggs, most grocery stores carry either one or the other: organic or free range. While organic and free range may cost a bit more than regular eggs, they remain a protein bargain. And if you can’t find organic or free range eggs, regular grocery store eggs are better than no eggs at all.

Before you buy your eggs, make sure that they are relatively fresh by looking at the date on the package. Another way to check for freshness is to shake them close to your ear. If you hear a sloshing sound, it is evident that the egg has lost a significant amount of moisture and there’s a big airspace within – avoid these eggs. Eggs also contain a natural barrier and invisible protecting coding which keeps out bacteria, never wash the eggs you’re going to store because you remove this natural protection.

Protein Sources for Optimum Weight Loss & Endurance – Beef, Chicken, Fish and the Vegetarian

In previous articles we have taken a look at how important protein as it relates to health and ultimately performance. In this article we will continue to outline and discuss the various protein sources as outlined by well known nutritionalists Dr’s Maffetone & Michael Colgan. By choosing a variety of protein sources from the healthiest possible: eggs, beef, poultry, fish and other meats, as well as cultured dairy products, and soy in whey, you will obtain a wide variety of other nutrients from these foods. Four instance, eggs contain the important nutrient choline; beef contains L glutamine; Wade contains bio files; and soy contains I.c.e. flavonoids. Additionally, these foods also contain a variety of vitamins and minerals.

Beef – Nutritional Powerhouse

Look at the nutritional facts of a 3 ounce lean porterhouse:

  • At least 70% water, contains 20 g of protein
  • 6 g of saturated fat and balanced by 7 g of monounsaturated fat
  • Rich in B vitamins, glutamine, calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc and other nutrients that are lacking in many diets

Organic and natural beef have not been treated with antibiotics growth hormones or fed any type of animal source protein common in most other animals.

With the threat of mad cow disease, it is especially important to buy beef that has not been given feeds that contain animal by-products. Organically raised beef cattle are fed only certified organic feed and graze on organically certified land.

When cooking beef keep it on the rare side. Studies show that beef cooked medium, medium well or well is associated with higher rates of stomach cancer. This is due to the production of carcinogens from naturally occurring creatinine during cooking. Heat sensitive nutrients such as the amino acids glutamine are also significantly reduced in the cook beyond rare.

Chicken

Recently the poultry industry decided to stop adding antibiotics for poultry feed. This action was based on evidence that bacteria in chicken and turkey were becoming resistance to the drugs. The result is that when humans become infected with bacteria, antibiotics prescribed to them mat be ineffective. This actually follows a measure in the 1950s banning the use of growth hormone and poultry.

While these actions are certainly steps in the right direction, there are still some concerns when it comes to eating chicken or turkey. The poultry industry has done a good job telling you on paper how healthy chicken is over other meats, but few people really look at the way chickens are raised. Typically more than any other animals, chickens are raised in very unhealthy environments. The chicken houses are really a city containing hundred thousand birds or more, cooped up in tiny boxes and very crowded conditions.

Most turkeys, like chicken, are raised in unhealthy environments of poultry factories and are managed for quick growth rather than healthy table fare. In addition, some birds are injected after slaughter with unhealthy substances for flavor and color it to tenderize the meat.

All this does not mean that chicken and other poultry is not a good source of protein – you just need to find a good source. The best for the table is organic raised. This means that the animal has not been treated with or fed any chemicals or drugs, and has only been fed certified organic feed. This is the safest of all poultry. If you can’t find organic poultry, free range bird that have not been treated with pesticides, and which have been fed a diet that does not include animal byproducts such as chicken parts are your best option.

Fish – The Power of Omega 3

Many people turned his fish as a healthy protein source. Fish are a good source of protein and some also contain significant amounts of essential fatty acids especially omega-3 fats. However just as with other protein foods, some fish are healthier choices than others. For instance if you’re eating farm raised salmon or other fish, your catch of the day may include antibiotic’s, pesticides, steroids, hormones and artificial pigments. Additionally, pollution of waterways and oceans has increased the potential danger to eating all fish and seafood.

As outlined by Dr. Maffetone, farm raised salmon, which make up 95% of the salmon on the market, and the bulk of fish purchased by consumers, are raised in aquatic pens – the undersea equivalent to cattle feedlots and chicken factories. Since these fish are raised in confined crowded and unsanitary conditions, the threat of disease and parasites is great. To combat disease and parasites, some fish farms add antibiotics to salmon feed and treat the salmon and their pens with pesticides. Some salmon are also treated with steroids to make the fish sterile and growth hormone to speed them to market size and reduce production costs. In addition, since farm raised salmon do not naturally eat crustaceans, which makes the flesh pink or orange, salmon growers often feed color additives to pigment the flesh.

As clearly outlined by Dr. Maffetone, if you choose to eat fish, it is best to buy wild caught fish. However this is not perfectly safe either. One study found that more than 74% of wild fish caught near fish farms contained antibiotics from eating feed that drifted out of the fish farm pens. In addition to feeds from the fish farms, there are other concerns to eating wild fish. Contamination is possible due to infection from bacteria or viruses, heavy metals such as mercury, food additives such as sulfites and histamines, pesticides such as DDT and other chemicals such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB’s).

As a general rule, avoid consuming seafood that includes the so-called bottom feeders, these fish and others see that eat from the ocean’s floor, are extremely dangerous because of the potential of consuming toxic material is at its highest concentration levels. This is especially true for those species that feed close to shore. Flounder, sole, catfish and crabs are some examples of foods to avoid eating regularly. Oysters, clams, mussels and scallops are also sources of potential pollutants.

Clams are perhaps the worst seafood to eat, especially when raw, since they normally filter out and concentrate viruses and bacteria, heavy metals and other chemical pollutants from the waters in which they live.

If you enjoy eating seafood, here are some tips for doing so more safely and more nutritiously:

  • Choose fish and crustaceans caught far away from polluted industrial areas. Some examples are northern Maine lobster, Canadian salmon, sardines and herring.
  • Look for cold water fish like salmon, tuna, sardines and others which contain higher amounts of omega-3 fat and EPA.
  • Eat smaller fish and crustaceans; Trout, bass and shrimp rather than Marlon and swordfish. Smaller and younger fish have not accumulated the toxins found in larger and older species.
  • Avoid pre-cooked fish, and prepared or processed seafood such as breaded fish or seafood, fish cakes, ground fish and imitation crab meat.
  • If you catch your own fish, ask local authorities about the limits of safety. Some regions recommend limiting how much of certain species you should eat any year.

Other Meats

In addition to beef, poultry and fish, other meats are also good sources of protein according to Dr. Maffetone. Pork and lamb are popular meats and recently more exotic meat such as buffalo have appeared in some grocery stores and fresh markets. When choosing these meats, use the same guidelines as with beef and poultry – buy those that are raised naturally, or better yet, organically. A good deal of pork on the market is raising large-scale hog operations just like chickens, so it is advisable to look for better sources of meat.

Wild Game

Including big-game animals such as deer as well as small game such as rabbits and game birds, is also another great source of protein. Wild game meat is generally leaner but higher in essential fatty acids than domestic meats. While hunting your own meat is nearly ideal, there’s a growing concern in some areas like the northeastern United States that the use of pesticides and other environmental chemicals have affected wild animals. But in general, wild game is much safer than store bought meat.

Ground Meat (of any kind)

One of the worst types of meat to consume is ground meat of any kind. Avoid all ground beef, poultry, pork or other meats, unless it has been freshly ground right before you freeze or consume immediately.

Ground meat is a haven for bacteria in can ferment in your intestine much worse than whole meat. If you like ground meat, or have a recipe that requires it, it is better to buy a large piece of meat and have it ground up just before cooking – most butchers, even those in large grocery stores, will do this for you. Also, beware of other meats that have been cut, such as sliced meat, chopped meat and stew meat. Try to buy as large a piece of meat as possible and cut it yourself.

Please Pass the Cheese for Nutritional Power

Cheese, cottage cheese and plain yogurt are dairy products that contain quality protein without many of the problems associated with milk. This is especially true if you can find products made from goat or sheep milk rather than cow milk. Goat and sheep milk are much more compatible for humans than cow milk.

As described by Dr. Maffetone, whichever type of milk they’re made from; culture products such as these are good sources of protein because the lactose, or milk sugar, has been consumed by bacteria in the culturing process. These bacteria literally gobble up the sugar. To be sure that an item is fully cultured, check the nutritional facts on the label; the carbohydrate should be very low. This is also true of yogurt – many popular brands are not fully cultured. Of course you want to avoid the fruit flavored varieties which are always full of sugar, with some containing more than ice cream.

If you use cheese, whole milk cottage cheese or yogurt as protein sources, it’s important to remember that these are also high in B fat. Avoid American cheese, cheese spreads and other processed cheeses. These highly processed products, which outsell natural cheese, are usually several types of unripe cheeses, ground up with added chemical stabilizers, preservatives and emulsifiers. Sheep, goat cheese and yogurt can be found in many supermarkets, health food stores and are also available on the Internet.

Whey Protein

Two proteins found in milk: curds and whey. Whey protein is the thin liquid part of milk remaining after the casein (the curds) and fat are removed. Whey is the part of the milk containing most of the vitamins and minerals, including calcium. Whey is a complete protein. It’s nutritional and therapeutic values are well documented, and this food is often referred to as nutraceutical.

Biothiols are a group of natural sulfur containing substances that promote basic antioxidant activity in your cells, and are contained in high amounts in whey. In providing this vital raw material, whey is a key food for the immune system – one that can help prevent and treat many chronic conditions, from asthma and allergies to cancer and heart disease. It can also help improve muscle function.

The body uses the biothiols in whey as a raw material to produce a substance called glutathione. This substance is at the heart of regulating the bodies antioxidant defense mechanism, and is even more important than vitamin C and E, and others in that group of popular antioxidants.

Those who are allergic to cow’s milk can usually consume whey without problems. Small amounts of lactose are found in whey (much less than is found in liquid milk), but this is usually too little to cause intestinal problems, even in most people sensitive to lactose. In those who are truly lactose intolerant (less than 5% of the population), this amount of lactose could be a problem.

Whey protein is contained in high amounts in certain cheeses, such as a Italian ricotta (check the ingredient label on ricotta to make sure the main ingredient is whey). Avoid highly processed whey products such as those, which contain whey-protein isolate and caseinate.

Myths and facts About Soy

According to Dr. Maffetone, soy is one vegetarian source of a complete protein. Whole green soybeans or edamame are excellent sources of protein and also fiber. Soy products such as tofu also contain quality protein.

When buying products that contain soy it is important to avoid those which have been highly processed. These include soy protein isolate and caseinates and hydrolyzed soy, which often contain monosoodium glutamate (MSG) as a byproduct of processing. This MSG byproduct is not listed in the ingredients.

Soy is acceptable as a food and food ingredient only if it reflects real soybean quantity and quality rather than a highly processed product. Examples of real soy foods include soy beans, tofu and soy concentrates with the same amino acid profile as whole soybeans.

Many people think soy is a wonder food. But like all foods, some people will benefit from soy while others may not. In fact, just as many people maybe intolerant to soy as dairy. In addition, soy products fortified with concentrated isoflavones can pose serious dangers, including an increased risk of cancer, particularly for postmenopausal women, the very audiences products are marketed to by the big companies. This may also contribute to hormone imbalance.

10 Shopping Rules For Optimum Health & Performance

Yes, believe it or not, there are some “rules” to follow EVERY time you go shopping, these will keep you from purchasing items that will keep you from making wise food choices and ultimately undermining you’re eating & drinking habits. Keep in mind that you eat for only one purpose: to fuel your life in the healthiest way possible. Following these rules will ensure that you have exactly what you need, how much you need and avoid having to throw anything away because it has spoiled (this will save you money too!).

Shopping Rule #1: DON’T SHOP ON AN EMPTY STOMACH

Literally eat a high protein & fat snack (protein & fat are the ONLY nutrients that satisfy hunger) prior to walking in (i.e. apple and cheese stick, banana and almond butter).

Shopping Rule #2: PREPARE A SHOPPING LIST & ONLY PURCHASE WHAT IS ON YOUR LIST

If you have to purchase something this isn’t on your list but a necessary ingredient to a recipe, meal or snack then add the item to your shopping list for future reference. The key is to create & maintain a consistent shopping list (you will notice that you eat 18-25 of the same items every week) to carry with you to your farmers market or grocery store every time you go shopping. [NOTE: your energy levels & performance results will help you determine if you should keep an item on your weekly shopping list. If your energy is high & your performance results are good, you know your food items are working and vice versa.]

Shopping Rule #3: SHOP 2 TO 3 TIMES A WEEK

Shopping two to three times per week will ensure that you have ripe, high quality fruits, vegetables and lean sources of protein readily available. Ideally, set your personal schedule to permit you visiting the store on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Shopping on Sunday allows you the opportunity to go home and prep, pack and store your food items for Monday – Wednesday. Wednesday allows you to purchase, prep and store for Thursday and Friday. Friday provides you the opportunity to purchase, prep and store what you will need for an active Saturday and Sunday. As we will discuss later, it is the lack of availability that keeps individuals from eating properly verses the lack of desire. If it isn’t available, you are forced to lean on convenience and you find yourself eating out of a drive through window or out of a package.

Shopping Rule #4: SHOP SOLO

Shop solo – this will keep others from influencing your shopping efforts. This will eliminate the impulsive purchases and save you money.

Shopping Rule #5: SHOP THE PERIMETER OF THE STORE

Shopping the perimeter of your grocery store is where you will find fresh/raw food items. With the exception of small ingredients (salt, pepper, olive oil, etc.), there is nothing in the center of the store that you need to be eating. This is NOT to be confused regarding the dairy case – especially the organic items. Dairy items can be a good source of protein, calcium, etc. for those that are not lactose intolerant.

Shopping Rule #6: PURCHASE MORE THAN YOU NEED

Purchase one or two more items than what is on your shopping list – especially your fruits and vegetables. If you think you will consume 10 oranges, purchase 12. This will keep you from running out. If you find that every three days you have two to three items left, then cut back. But as a general rule of thumb, it is better to want it and not have it verses wanting it and not having it available. Running out should be avoided at all costs – your health is worth it.

Shopping Rule #7: USE A SHOPPING CART VERSES A BASKET

If the basket becomes full (or heavy) you will be tempted to cut back on the amount of real-raw food that you are purchasing – this undermines Rule #6. If you are purchasing fruits and vegetables in bulk, you will have numerous bags; putting them in a shopping cart will minimize the amount of damage to your items because you are not “stacking” them in your basket.

Shopping Rule #8: LABELS SHOULD ONLY CONTAIN 1 INGREDIENT

When you pick up an item, stop and read the ingredients listed on the label. If it has more than one ingredient, put the item back on the shelf. Remember, single ingredient packages represent an ingredient that will be used with your snack and meal preparations. If the item has more than one ingredient, read shopping rule #9.

Shopping Rule #9: EAT ONLY WHAT YOU CAN PRONOUNCE

If you can’t pronounce it, don’t purchase–much less eat it! This shopping rule is actually eliminated when you implement shopping rule #8; however, if you must purchase something that has more than one ingredient (we all have weak moments & time restraints) you should be able to pronounce each ingredient in the product (the Braap Bar is a perfect example of a convenient, real food snack bar). If you can’t pronounce the ingredient Trimethylxanthine, it is safe to assume that it isn’t good for you to consume!

Shopping Rule #10: UPDATE YOUR SHOPPING LIST

Before checking out, take a moment to review and update (with items you forgot to write down before you left for the store) your shopping list. This is also your last opportunity to verify that you have everything on your shopping list in your shopping cart. Not only will this eliminate you having to make another time consuming trip back to the store for one or two items, it will also eliminate the need to run through a drive through because you didn’t have the necessary elements to prep, prepare and pack your snacks and meals.

Two-Week Food Challenge – Part 2

Whether you completed the challenge to drop some body fat or to improve your strength to weight ratios as an athlete, congratulations on finishing your 14-day food challenge! As you can see (and feel), the influence of food on your body is absolutely incredible.

The key to eliminating negative symptoms in the future is being aware of what you are consuming (solid foods and liquids), how much you are consuming, when you are consuming them and how your body responds to the food & liquid 20-30 minutes after eating.

Here is where I will inform you of the highly technical component of what you did over the last 14 days: you have stabilized your blood sugar levels. Think about it, you have consumed foods and fluids that don’t increase your blood sugar levels quickly (along with a burst of insulin) and as a result your body has become less dependent on simple sugars (this is also known as a low glycemic meal strategy). It is that simple!

Notice that there wasn’t anything to purchase (unless you found that you weren’t consuming enough high quality fish or protein); instead the food recommendations were based on raw fruits & vegetables and clean sources of protein – real food that you can easily find at your local grocery store or farmers market.

To help you keep your momentum going, I want you to complete the following steps:

Step 1: Re-take your Symptom Survey & Create Your Customized Eating Plan

Compare your results between your two surveys, has any of your negative symptoms improved? If so, you now realize that you have created an eating plan (NOT A DIET) that will directly reduce and eventually eliminate your frustrations or discomforts associated with food. Compare your results of retaking your Symptom Survey and see which category you fall into:

Result #1: Your symptoms have decreased by 70% or Less In this situation, you know that the food selection & quality is correct, you just need to continue with your current way of eating.

Keep in mind that your symptoms are a residual result of your eating & exercise habits over many years; though it will not require the same amount of time, you will need to stay consistent (with selection, consistency, quantity and quality) to replenish and re-balance your body with essential vitamins, minerals and protein to eliminate any deficiencies.

Solution #1: Don’t add any new foods to your meal plans other than what you have been eating over the last 14 days and complete the 14 day Clean Eating Challenge again. If you are feeling “hungry” at any time, continue to add more volume when you snack or eat a complete meal along with food items that satisfy appetite effectively (avocados, lean protein sources, extra virgin olive oil)

Result #2: Your symptoms have decreased by 80-90% In this situation, you have provided your body the calories (carbohydrates, protein & fat), along with vitamins & minerals it needed to address & eliminate your symptoms.

Solution #2: Take the food items & quantity that you have been consuming and continue to consume them like you were during the 14 day challenge. If you want to add a new item, only add one (1) item per week and run it through your mental clarity & energy level assessment: If your mental clarity & energy levels are good – keep the item in your weekly meals & snacks If your mental clarity & energy are not good – drop the item from your weekly meals & snacks

Continue this process indefinitely until you are satisfied with the amount of items you have verified interacts with your body in a healthy and positive way. Ironically, you may find that you have certain sensitivities that are outside the mainstream categories such as: carbohydrate intolerant, lactose intolerant, etc.

It has been my experience with clients over the years that the combinations of certain food items create negative symptoms, not a single item. It is for this reason that you will want to add only one item at a time to your existing list of food items that you have verified don’t create the negative effects on your mental clarity and energy levels. This is the foundation to your customized nutrition & hydration program!

Step #2: Re-Capture your Body Measurements

In my world, I live in a world of zero and ones – you are either making progress towards your goals or you are not.

If you are on track, we want to know what is contributing to this success: exercise, food, etc. However, if you are not achieving your goals, we want to know what is causing the goals to not be achieved. Notice that I don’t mention the word fail – you are not failing, you are simply not achieving your goals and we will determine what the cause is.

Your body measurements will help you see how your body is dropping body fat (adipose tissue) and building lean muscle by body part. This information is invaluable because it provides you immediate feedback into how your body is adapting to both food (quality and quantity) & exercise (intensity, duration and frequency).

Set your calendar up to re-capture your body measurements every six (6) weeks so that you don’t let too much time get past you to determine if your nutrition and exercise efforts are producing the results you desire.

Step #3: Make Clean Shopping a Priority

The same way that you initially went through and “purged your cabinets and refrigerator”, it is time to set your weekly personal calendar up so that you are going shopping for real food every three days.

It has been my experience with clients that the lack of time to purchase, clean, prep and pack fresh fruits, vegetables and lean protein sources is the number one reason why people default back to fast food, canned and packaged food items (all of which are loaded in sugar, salt and numerous unhealthy ingredients).

By shopping every third day, you will eliminate throwing away spoiled fruits; vegetables and protein along with ensure that you have plenty of high quality food readily available.

Step #4: Consume Real Food Smoothies

Throughout the 14 Day Clean Eating Challenge, one of the immediate sensations you will feel is that you are eating frequently (every 2 hours), but yet you are still hungry. The reason for this is associated with the fact that fruits and vegetables don’t contain very little to no protein and fat. Ironically, protein and fat are the only two elements that satisfy your hunger levels.

To help satisfy & manage your appetite on a daily basis, mix up this simple smoothie recipe in the morning and make enough to fill up two to three more glasses so that you can consume them as your mid morning and mid afternoon snacks.

When you consume your calories in a liquid format, your body absorbs the vitamins, minerals and calories much quicker; because of this, you will notice an improvement in both your energy levels and mental clarity throughout your day. Mix up and enjoy!

Coach Robb’s Good Morning Chocolate Necessary Ingredients: ½ Cup of Greek Full Fat Yogurt ¼ Cup of Organic Whole Milk 1 Scoop of Nutritionally Green’s Chocolate Premium Muscle Builder (appetite suppressant) 1 Large, ripe, organic banana

How to Prepare: Step 1: combine and puree all ingredients into the blender

Optional Supplemental Support: Complete Endurance Formula (high potency essential fatty acids) Complete Multi-Vitamin (enzyme & amino acid formulation)

Step #5: Exercise Correctly

When it comes to exercise, ironically most individuals exercise too hard, too long and too often which undermines the progress they are striving to achieve. Let’s briefly look at each variable:

Exercising too hard: training with a heart rate monitor will ensure that you are using the correct mixture of fat, stored sugar & protein for energy based on your personalized heart rate training zones. Please email me if you don’t know your personalized heart rate training zones and I will send you an assessment program along with a copy of my Coach Robb Heart Rate Training Zones Spreadsheet.

Exercising too long: there is a fine line between exercise serving as a tool to reduce stress and becoming another stress in your life (like financial, personal, professional, etc.). If your body is training too hard and too long, it will tap the parasympathetic system and release Cortisol, which is a fat magnet hormone. To ensure that you are not training too hard or long, keep a daily log of your resting heart rate and morning body weight. These two variables will provide you immediate feedback if your exercise is too much for your current state of fitness. Please email me directly for a FREE copy of my Coach Robb Body Analysis Spreadsheet.

Exercising too often: identical to exercising too long, there is a fine line between exercising as a stress reducer and another stress in your life. Depending on your personal goals and objectives, your training duration and frequency needs to be adjusted accordingly.

Step #6: Determine Your Current Fitness & Performance Levels

When it comes to determining “How fit you are”, you need to look at the combinations of your Body Measurements, Body Weight and complete a few fitness assessments. The goal is to calculate what I call Health or Performance Ratios (depending on your personal goals).

General Fitness/Weight Loss: For those of you looking to keep the weight off for your overall health, in the next newsletter I will outline a walking & strength program that I have used with thousands of clients to effectively keep those unwanted pounds off and tone up your entire body in 20-30 minutes a day.

Athletic Performance: For those of you looking to improve your athletic ability, I will be launching my new Anatomy of Speed series that will break down each component of performance and teach you what you can be doing to improve your performance while reducing your risk of injury and/or sickness (two negative side effects of training too hard, too long and too often).