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Saturday, February 27, 2016

5 Reasons I Eat Fat...DAILY!

Avocado: a GREAT healthy fat
The other day my client caught me eating a quick snack between sessions.
“It must be nice to be able to eat avocados and nuts all the time and not have to worry about your figure!” Dana exclaimed incredulously. At first I didn’t understand what she was talking about. Then I realized, after she scrunched up her face and mouthed the word “fat” what was going on.

Doctors and nutritionists have been advising people for years now that a diet that’s low in fat and high in carbohydrates is the best way to eat. All too often, it’s dietary fat that gets blamed for our ever-increasing obesity rates, high cholesterol and heart disease. I’ve had clients (like Dana!) try and convince me before that it’s fat that makes them fat. 

I’m old enough to remember the fat-free phenomena of the early 90’s. It was a heady time where we all over-indulged on Snackwells Devil’s Food cookies and Entenmann's fat-free coffee cake. It was the illusion of guilt free eating at its best. The mantra of the day was eat as much of whatever you want… as long as it contains no fat! Nevermind the fact that all the fat was replaced with untold amounts of sugar in order for everything to taste delicious. I get it, there is a lot of confusion when it comes to fat, let me clear up some of it and help you understand why it’s not only important, but good for us!

Fat is an essential macronutrient that helps us grow and develop. Fats make it possible for us absorb several key vitamins. And, with 9 calories per gram, fat is the most concentrated source of energy. Now, with that being said, I did not just give you permission to swerve over to the nearest In-N-out Burger on the way home and binge on a double-double with extra fries. When we are talking about fats, it’s important to remember that not all fats are created equal. There are indeed good fats and bad fats. 

While saturated fats have often been demonized, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that there is not a correlation between saturated fat and heart disease. Examples of healthy fats include avocados, nuts, coconut oil, olive oil, fish and grass-fed beef. 

The fats we do want to be avoiding, the “bad” fats if you will, are trans fats and vegetable oils. Trans fats are typically found in items like store bought cookies, fried foods, non-dairy creamer, etc. Eating foods high in trans fats will actually increase our levels of  LDL cholesterol (the bad kind!) and lower our levels of GOOD cholesterol (HDL.) Trans fats also create inflammation increasing our risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke. 

Despite the fact that for decades we have been told to consume carbs and skip the fat, we have continued to gain weight at an alarming rate. Not only are we increasing our waistlines, we are setting ourselves up for becoming  insulin resistant and increasing our risk for type II diabetes.

Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why you need to put down those nasty rice cakes and grab an avocado.

1. You Actually LOSE Fat
I know it goes against everything you’ve probably ever been told, but it’s true, eating fat can actually make you lean. Omega-3 fats like those found in certain fish, nuts and flax seeds can help regulate lipolysis, essentially reducing weight gain and contributing to weight loss.

2. Bigger Muscles
Before you panic at the the thought of building muscle, I don’t mean you are going to look like Hercules or Xena, Warrior Princess. I simply mean that fats support your body’s ability to produce growth hormone which inhibit the breakdown of muscle as a result of strength training.

3. Stronger Bones
As we get older we naturally begin to lose bone density, but we can fight that decline with a little help.  Although strength training has been shown to be invaluable when it comes to bone strength, it is imperative that we supply our bodies with the proper building blocks. Vitamins K2 and D are both fat-soluble nutrients essential for building strong bones and preventing osteoporosis.

4. Better Immune System
Although working out is good for us, it is still a stressor on our bodies. Although a weakened immune system is usually just associated with working out TOO much, it’s still a good idea to take care of our immune system as much as we can. There is evidence that suggests that certain saturated fats found in coconut oil can help to improve our overall immune health.

5. Improved Brain Function
Don’t take this the wrong way, but your brain is primarily comprised of fat and cholesterol. Since your brain is almost 60% fat, fatty acids are some of the most important building blocks when it comes to your brain and its’ ability to perform. A majority of that 60% is comprised of the omega-3 fatty acid, DHA. DHA has been shown to improve brain functions like motor skills which are crucial for athletes. A diet high in omega-3 can also improve conditions of depression and ADHD. But because our bodies don’t produce these fatty acids it’s important that we get them from our diet.

It’s time to stop being afraid of fats, just be aware which fats you are consuming.
Do you include a wide variety of healthy fats in your diet? I’d love to hear what some of your favorites are! Feel free to share below or on my Facebook page.


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Thursday, January 14, 2016

Morning Has Broken...5 Ways to Fix It

Start the morning out right!
“This is the 4th time this month you’ve cancelled our plans, we can’t go on like this.” I texted. “I know, and I’m sorry...It’s just that, well, I have to work late. Again.” He responded.  What at one time had been such an amazing relationship had begun to unravel. He had finally been promoted to his dream job and the corner office. With that change however, things that were once a high priority began to take a backseat. I was determined to save what we had though. It was time to make (what some people may consider) an indecent proposal. “For us to continue, we need to move your sessions to first thing in the morning,” I said. 

I know a lot of people would rather sell their soul than entertain the thought of throwing the covers off and getting up before the sun is out. But I can tell you with absolute certainty that 

Friday, January 8, 2016

5 Reasons I Love My Coffee (Number 5 is Amazing!)

This is no cup 'o average Joe
“There desperately needs to be a separate line at The Coffee Bean for people who have their life together!” I muttered under my breath to my friend while patiently (okay, maybe not-so-patiently) waiting to order my organic, dark-roast dose of caffeine. Either there were way too many people who had never actually ordered coffee before, or I was just in a particularly cranky, java-deprived haze.

As a personal trainer, smoking, booze, and recreational heroin use (ha ha) or, any drugs for that matter! are obviously things that are not part of my life. However, admittedly, coffee is definitely a vice of mine… but one that I am unapologetic about.

Let me clear up any misconceptions about what I mean by consuming coffee.

Quality is key! Choosing

Friday, January 1, 2016

5 Common (and Important) Workout Mistakes

Not getting fit
As she strolled in with her soy-latte-whatever, gloating that she made it (OMG!) for the third time this week! I think she wanted me to shower her with accolades when what she really needed was a reality check on the wonders of soy.

Here’s where I’m going to dispense some tough love.  If your hour gym visit consists of

Friday, December 25, 2015

The One Thing You’re Not Doing that Could Jeopardize Your Workout Success

Getting that warrm-up in...for all the right reasons
“What do you MEAN we haven’t even started the workout yet?” my client breathlessly asked me, wiping her forehead with her sleeve. “This couldn’t just be the warm-up!”

I attempted a mischievous smile. Admittedly, I derive a modicum of pleasure knowing even my warm-ups begin to push and challenge my clients. I explained that this was her chance to get the blood flowing, muscles moving, and her head in the game.

I cry a little bit on the inside every time people run into the gym and immediately start throwing a bunch of weight around (and I see it ALL the time). Their only warm-up entails putting on headphones and filling up a water bottle. If you want a surefire way to guarantee injury, head straight into some deadlifts.

If you asked me the most important part of a workout, without hesitation I would reply the warm-up.

Every session I do includes a dynamic warm-up, which involves moving while you’re stretching compared with

Saturday, December 19, 2015

5 Ways to Cultivate More Gratitude in 2016

Living in gratitude
“How can you be so freaking positive at 5 a.m.?” a client recently asked me as we finished warming up and proceeded into the weight room. I took a big swig of my Starbucks dark roast and gave that query some thought.

Full transparency: Most days I want to punch my alarm clock. Plus, come on, it’s almost 2016. We can send vacationers to the moon; can’t we have our dark roast door-delivered?

But you know what? I always show up with a smile, a kind word, and a let’s-get-it-done attitude no matter how lousy I might be feeling.

Even a top-shelf trainer has days where we want to punch the alarm clock or, nothing  goes right so we want to crawl back in bed with a pint of Chunky Monkey and fantasize about running away to a secluded hammock on some remote North Shore cottage.

What’s the difference between not being able to crawl out of bed and face the day and feeling like you can tackle the world and come out on top?

Gratitude.

And I’m not talking about some rah-rah forced version of gratitude. I’m talking about

Friday, December 11, 2015

Can A Fitness Tracker Change Your Life...and Do You Want It To?

Fitness gadgets: help or hinder?
“Fabulous bracelet,” I recently remarked to my best friend while enjoying a mostly healthy lunch. (Sometimes you have to get the mixed berry cobbler or what’s the point of living, right?)

She quickly pointed out it wasn’t just a bracelet; it doubled as her latest fitness device that tracked precisely how many calories she burned, how many steps she took, and whether or not she needed to reapply her lipstick.

OK, I might be slightly exaggerating about that last part, but it certainly seemed to do everything else.

While I fully support optimizing health and getting in better shape, sometimes these gadgets bring with them, a certain