Tuesday, 12 July 2011

The Top 3 Things to AVOID at Restaurants to Stay Lean and Healthy

by Mike Geary, Certified Nutrition Specialist, Certified Personal Trainer
Author of best-selling program: 
The Truth About Six Pack Abs

I've been traveling a lot for business in the last year, and I've noticed that most people totally fall off their fitness routines while traveling...

In fact, eating out at restaurants frequently is one of the biggest reasons why so many people fatten up while traveling.  It's almost damn near impossible to eat healthy when you dine out, UNLESS you follow a couple simple tricks that I use to make every restaurant meal healthier, reduce calories, and not lose control.

Here's a few tricks you can use to eat healthier and stay lean even while traveling on business or eating out any time for that matter...

The 3 most important things to avoid that are EVERYWHERE at restaurants are:
  • the deep fried foods
  • the refined starchy foods
  • and any sodas, juices, or other sugary foods (except whole fruits, which are great)
This eliminates the major food sources that do the worst damage in our food supply - the evil trans fats, the inflammatory refined vegetable oils, refined starches, and processed sugars.
This means trying to skip the table bread, skipping the french fries (that come with every single sandwich on every menu known to man), and reducing all of the heaping portions of rice and pasta that are often loaded on the plates as well.

Instead, try to order just meat, side vegetables, and a salad, asking for the vegetables or salad as a substitute for the typical fries, rice, or pasta that the meal probably comes with.

Almost every restaurant I've ever been to will always allow me to substitute veggies or a side salad for the fries or chips that almost always come with sandwiches or burgers.

Side note:  It always amazes me how many people scrutinize me because I substitute veggies for fries by telling me that I'm "not living" because I won't eat fries...

Yet they are always the first to complain that they are overweight and have "tried everything", yet can't lose weight.  I'm not sure why so many people think eating french fries equals "living it up"... I'm all for moderation with many things, but if there's 2 things that should be almost totally removed from everyone's diet because these foods are simply that evil... it's fries and sodas!

Take a look at the typical difference this simple substitution makes between choosing smart and doing what most people do...

Most people will eat a meal out such as this:
  • Sandwich or burger
  • fries or chips
  • soda or other sweetened drink
A MUCH smarter alternative for a leaner, healthier body is very simply this:
These 2 simple substitutions save at least 400 - 900 calories EACH time you dine out (depending on drink refills and fries portion sizes)... AND you're cutting out the most harmful foods to your body as well by avoiding the trannies and high fructose corn syrup.

Also, it may be rare to find this in most restaurants, but if you can find some that offer much healthier grass-fed beef burgers, it's a much smarter decision compared to grain fattened beef.

Side note:  a little-known way to eat full portions of rice, pasta, and breads and actually get away with it without packing on the bodyfat is to make sure to schedule a high intensity full body resistance training workout before your scheduled meal time.

Sometimes it may be hard to fit the workout into your schedule right before the meal event, but if you can, the meal can be your "post-workout meal", in which case, your body can handle a higher amount of carbs than normal to help replenish the muscle glycogen depletion you had during the intense workout.

A cardio workout WON'T cut it for this... it must be high intensity resistance training to deplete enough muscle glycogen to handle restaurant portions of carbohydrates.

I hope these dining tips help you choose smarter and healthier next time you eat out. Feel free to share this article with your friends:

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Ask The Fat Loss Expert

What's the Required Bodyfat Percentage to See Your Abs?
Tom Venuto
QUESTION: "Tom, I know what I want to look like and I follow your advice about visualization and seeing my abs the way I want them to look. But what I can't figure out is what body fat % I should be aiming at to achieve that look? I am female, 35 yrs old and I've done awesome on your Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle program. I started at 19% body fat and the lowest I've gotten so far was 11.8% body fat with a caliper test. I've been thinking about doing a figure competition, but even at that body fat percentage, which I know is very low, I still had some "patches" of fat. How do I know what body fat percentage I should target so that all the fat is gone?"

ANSWER: Congrats! For most women, 11.8% is ripped, and for many women, that’s contest ready.
Just for comparison, I’ve done over 7,000 body fat tests during my career, and the lowest I have ever measured on a female was 8.9% (4-site skinfold method). She was a national-level figure competitor and she was shredded - full six pack of abs… “onion skin!”

However, I do know some women who get down to 11-13% body fat - by all standards extremely lean, complete with six pack abs - but oddly, they still had a few stubborn fat spots - usually the hips and lower body - so this would confirm your experience.

I know a guy who looks absolutely chiseled in his abs at 11% body fat, but other guys don’t look really cut in the abs until they get down to 6-8% body fat.

That’s the trouble with trying to pin down one specific body fat number as THE body fat level for seeing 6-pack abs (or being contest or photo-shoot ready).

Everyone distributes their body fat differently and two people may look different at the same percentage.
Here’s what I’d recommend:

Get familiar with some benchmarks for body fat levels.
My Burn The Fat system has a body fat rating scale, which includes averages and my suggested optimal body fat percentages.

This is my own chart, which I created with a combination of research literature and my own personal experience.

:: Burn The Fat, Feed the Muscle Body Fat Rating Scale ::
Competition Shape (“ripped”): 8-12%
Very Lean (excellent): < 15%
Lean (good): 16-20%
Satisfactory (fair): 21-25%
Improvement needed (poor): 26-30%
Major improvement needed (very poor): 31-40+%

Competition Shape (“ripped”): 3-6%
Very Lean (excellent): < 9%
Lean (good): 10-14%
Satisfactory (fair): 15-19%
Improvement needed (poor): 20-25%
Major improvement needed (very poor): 26-30+%

Just a quick note: You’re not destined to get fatter as you get older, but in the general population (non fitness and bodybuilding folks), the average older person has more body fat.

What I did to accomodate this is to include a range instead of one number, so younger people can use the low end of the range and older people can use the higher number.

Also, just so the average reader can keep things in perspective, single digit body fat for women and low single digits for men is far beyond lean - it’s RIPPED - and that’s usually solely the domain of competitive physique athletes.

Competition body fat levels were not meant to be maintained all year round. It’s not realistic and it may may not be healthy, particularly for women.

The average guy or gal should probably aim for the “lean” category as a realistic year round goal, or if you’re really ambitious and dedicated, the “very lean category.”

You’ll probably have to hit the “very lean” category for six pack abs. However, the bottom line is that there’s no “perfect” body fat percentage where you’re assured of seeing your abs.

Besides, body fat is one of those numbers that gets fudged and exaggerated all the time. I hear reports of women with body fat between 4 and 8% and I usually dismiss it as error in measurement (or there’s some “assistance” involved). Body fat testing, especially with skinfolds, is not an exact science. All body fat tests are estimations and there is always room for human error.

The low numbers are nice for bragging rights, but the judges don’t measure your body fat on stage. What counts is how you look and whether you’re happy with that (or whether the judges are happy with it, if you’re competing).

You can use my chart to help you set some initial goals, but for the most part, I recommend using body fat testing as a way of charting your progress over time to see if you’re improving rather than pursuing some holy grail number.

One final note: there are always a few people out there who take exception to my body fat rating scale. More often it's females than males. More often older than younger. And more often non athletes than athletes. Usually it's because they have a body fat of 26% or 27% or thereabouts, they are perfectly healthy and they are not significantly overweight. They argue that a body fat of 26% or so should not be rated as "poor" and that the standards on my chart are too high.

Having been influenced by the bodybuilding and physique world my entire life, I do have high standards, and my chart is admittedly skewed slightly toward an athletic population. However, for a young girl, 26% body fat and for a 40 or 50-something woman, 30% body fat, does in fact, leave plenty of room for improvement which is exactly what the chart says.

I'd like to encourage all my readers to consider setting higher standards and loftier goals. Not everyone wants or needs to be "ripped." But in my opinion, many people set goals too low and settle for what they think they can get, not what they really want. With that said, please use my chart only as a guideline and not as gospel. Ultimately, it's up to you to set your own goals and standards. if 6-pack abs are your goal, I think this info should give you a better idea of what it will take.

In my Burn The fat, Feed The Muscle system, you can learn more about how to measure your body fat - professionally or even by yourself in the privacy of your own home.

Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle explains why body mass index and height and weight charts are virtually worthless, and shows you how to track your body composition over time and “tweak” your nutrition and training according to your weekly results.

Get more details at: www.BurnTheFat.com
Train hard and expect success!
Tom Venuto, author of
Burn The Fat Feed The Muscle

About the Author:
Tom Venuto is the author of the #1 best seller, Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle: Fat Burning Secrets of the World’s Best Bodybuilders and Fitness Models. Tom is a lifetime natural bodybuilder and fat loss expert who achieved an astonishing 3.7% body fat level without drugs or supplements. Discover how to increase your metabolism and burn stubborn body fat, find out which foods burn fat and which foods turn to fat, plus get a free fat loss report and mini course by visiting Tom's site at: www.BurnTheFat.com

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Fat Loss Per Week: Average vs High Achievers
Tom Venuto

QUESTION: Dear Tom: I know it will probably be different for everyone, but I find it hard to set weekly goals for body fat percentage because I don't know what an average body fat percentage drop in a week is supposed to look like. I'm a 30 year old female. Any input?

ANSWER: I recommend setting a fat reduction goal of about half a percent per week (0.5%). Based on many years of testing clients in person with skinfold calipers, I've concluded that this is about average.

This is an honest number that reflects not just the outliers in the top success stories, but an average of everyone. That's what makes this figure a good realistic weekly goal

To see some of the more exceptional transformations, click here:

Chris, for example dropped 9% body fat in 7 weeks. That's not typical, but its possible in a highly motivating environment like our Burn the Fat body transformation contests]

To calculate realistic, average weekly fat loss:

If your body fat measured 24.6 percent on day one of week one, then 24.1 percent would be your goal for the end of that seven-day period. That will be an impressive 6% drop in your body fat if you keep that up over 12 weeks.

If you're more ambitious and you want to shed body fat even faster, it's certainly possible, although it does depend on body size. Larger people can often lose larger amounts of weight and body fat.

When someone is already lean and wants to get even leaner, there is less fat remaining so it becomes more difficult to lose large amounts every week.

I've seen many people drop 0.6 percent or 0.7 percent body fat per week if they worked hard, usually doing multiple cardio sessions per week on top of their weight training, combined with excellent dietary compliance.

I've even seen people shed 0.8 to 1.0 percent body fat per week, but more often than not, those were temporary spikes in progress, reflecting one exceptionally good week, or in conjunction with a highly motivating event, like one of our burn the fat challenge contests (where the reward of a luxury trip to Maui is dangling in front of you).

If you lose less than a half a percent per week, as long as you made some forward progress, you should celebrate that as success.

It's more normal for results to vary from one week to the next than to drop the same amount every week, so an occasional slow week is nothing to get upset about. It's just feedback.

After a below average week, to bring the rate of fat loss up to average or better for the next week, you'll need to:

(a) re-establish compliance if you had a bad week (get back on the wagon! and start tracking food intake more meticulously if necessary) or

(b) make adjustments to your nutrition and training to increase your caloric deficit and optimize body composition changes.

Last but not least, if you want to be one of those "not typical" people, then remember this:

* Above average results require above average effort.
* Extraordinary results require extraordinary effort.
Everything in this article is explained in even further detail in my fat loss program, Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle at:  http://www.BurnTheFat.com
Train hard and expect success!

Tom Venuto, author of
Burn The Fat Feed The Muscle

About the Author:

Tom Venuto is the author of the #1 best seller, Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle: Fat Burning Secrets of the World’s Best Bodybuilders and Fitness Models. Tom is a lifetime natural bodybuilder and fat loss expert who achieved an astonishing 3.7% body fat level without drugs or supplements. Discover how to increase your metabolism and burn stubborn body fat, find out which foods burn fat and which foods turn to fat, plus get a free fat loss report and mini course by visiting Tom's site at: www.BurnTheFat.com

Thursday, 7 July 2011

The DIRTY truth about canola oil

Have you been lied to about the health benefits of canola oil?
by Mike Geary, Certified Personal Trainer, Certified Nutrition Specialist
Author of best selling program: 
The Truth about Six-Pack Abs

If you've been following my fitness newsletters for some time, you may have noticed that I NEVER include canola oil in any of my recipes or any of my lists of healthy foods.

Many people have asked me why, because all they hear in the mainstream media is that canola oil is "heart healthy" and a good source of monounsaturated fats similar to olive oil.

Well, first of all, you need to realize that much of what you hear in the mainstream media has been influenced by heavy handed marketing tactics by big food companies.  Canola oil is cheap for them to produce so they want to fool you into thinking it's a "health oil" so that people, restaurants, etc will buy it up as their main oil of choice.

The dirty truth about canola oil

Yes, it's true that canola oil is high in monounsaturates, but let me explain why canola oil is anything but "healthy".

Canola oil is made from something called rapeseed. Rapeseed actually had to be bred over the years to reduce the percentage of a problematic component of rapeseed, which is erucic acid.

Important note on canola oil "urban legends":  There is a problem with most websites that DEFEND canola oil, saying that internet "urban legends" on the dangers of canola oil are unfounded.  The problem is that these websites that defend canola oil ONLY talk about the issue of erucic acid.  The issue of erucic acid IS an urban legend, because erucic acid has been bred out to very low levels over the years, so it is a non-issue.

However, these websites that defend canola oil are barking up the wrong tree because they don't address the issue of the processing of canola oil and oxidation of the polyunsaturated component of canola oil, which is what makes it unhealthy for human consumption.  THAT'S the real issue that they either don't understand (because they are not nutrition experts) or are simply ignoring.

Let's look at the REAL issues with canola oil:

Canola oil typically ranges between 55-65% monounsaturated fat and between 28-35% polyunsaturated fat, with just a small amount of saturated fat.

While we've been led to believe that high monounsaturated fat oils are good for us (which they are in the case of virgin olive oil or from unprocessed nuts or seeds), the fact is that canola oil has more detriments than it does benefits.

As you may have heard me talk about in other newsletters or in my The Truth about Six-Pack Abs Programone of the biggest problems with highly processed and refined vegetable oils such as corn oil, soybean oil, and yes, even canola oil, is that the polyunsaturated component of the oil is highly unstable under heat, light, and pressure, and this heavily oxidizes the polyunsaturates which increases free radicals in your body.
The end result of all of this refining and processing are oils that are highly inflammatory in your body when you ingest them, potentially contributing to heart disease, weight gain, and other degenerative diseases.

The reason that extra virgin olive oil is good for you is that it is cold pressed without the use of heat and solvents to aid extraction. EVOO also contains important antioxidants that help protect the stability of the oil.
Canola oil, on the other hand, is typically extracted and refined using high heat, pressure, and petroleum solvents such as hexane. Most canola oil undergoes a process of caustic refining, degumming, bleaching, and deoderization, all using high heat and questionable chemicals.

Does canola even have trans fats?

Even worse, all of this high heat, high pressure processing with solvents actually forces some of the omega-3 content of canola oil to be transformed into trans fats.

According to Dr. Mary Enig, PhD, and Nutritional Biochemist, "Although the Canadian government lists the trans fat content of canola at a minimal 0.2 percent, research at the University of Florida at Gainesville, found trans fat levels as high as 4.6 percent in commercial liquid canola oil".

And this is the crap that they are marketing to you as a "healthy oil"!

As you can see from the details above on how canola oil is processed, it is barely any healthier for you than other junk oils like soybean oil or corn oil.  The bottom line is that it is an inflammatory oil in your body and should be avoided as much as possible.

The only canola oil that might be reasonable is if you see that it is "cold pressed" and organic. Most canola oil is NOT cold pressed or organic, so you might as well choose oils that you know are healthier.

Your best bets are these truly healthy oils:
  • extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) - for lower temperature cooking or used as a healthy salad dressing oil
  • Udo's Choice Oil Blend - NEVER use this for cooking as it has a higher polyunsaturated fat content (therefore heat destroys the benefits of this oil, and increases it's inflammatory properties), but it is a cold processed blend of healthy oils that mixes well with olive oil for salad dressings.
  • Virgin coconut oil - great for all temperatures of cooking due to its super high stability under heat.  A great source of healthy saturated fats in the form of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), one of which is Lauric Acid, which helps support the immune system and is lacking in most western diets.
  • Organic grass-fed butter - I like to use a mix of grass-fed butter, coconut oil, and a small bit of olive oil for most of my cooking. Grass-fed butter is a great source of the healthy fat, CLA, which has even been shown in studies to have muscle building and fat burning properties.  Grass-fed butter also has a much healthier omega-6 to omega-3 ratio than standard butter at your grocery store.  Kerrygold Irish butter is my favorite grass-fed butter.
So don't be fooled by food labels claiming that they contain "healthy canola oil"... as you can see, this couldn't be further from the truth!  Choose some of the healthier options above and your body will thank you!
If you liked this article and want to help protect the health of your friends, please feel free to share it below

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Are There Over 20 Nasty Chemicals in Your Burgers?

The "bionic burger" that won't decompose even after 18 years?

by Mike Geary - Certified Personal Trainer, Certified Nutrition Specialist
Author of best-selling program: 
The Truth about Six-Pack Abs

Whether you choose to believe the exact story that this popular video below portrays is up to you.  However, I think we all know that there are some major issues with the sources of food in popular fast food chains, and the amount of pesticide residues, hormones, antibiotics, preservatives, and other nasty chemicals in typical fast food meals.  Check this story out:

I know that the story in that video may sound a bit embellished, and that's possible... however, I've seen news stories of dozens of these types of informal experiments that random people have done over the years with popular fast food burgers that won't decompose even after years in their basement.
Seriously, if even mold refuses to consume these burgers and buns, is this really something that we (and our children) should be putting in our bodies?  What chemicals, preservatives, etc are in this fast food that is preventing even mold and bacteria from being able to consume this "food"?

And can we really consider this to be real "food" at all?

Here's another example of these types of experiments below... about half way through this video, you see some shocking examples that this woman kept from her own experiments:

I hope this gives you something to think about in terms of what we are putting inside our bodies if we choose to consume fast food.  Don't we deserve better?  Don't our children deserve better food?
I personally have not eaten a meal at any of the major fast food chains in years.  I will eat burgers sometimes, but only from restaurants that use higher quality ingredients.  And at home, I choose to only use grass-fed organic beef, as we've discussed the superior nutrition of grass-fed beef dozens of times in this newsletter previously.

Please share this article with your friends and family to help them avoid the nutritional disaster lurking in fast-food.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Is the Area that You Live Harming Your Health?

A fascinating, but serious investigation into how our location that we live and our skin pigmentation affects our health
by Mike Geary - Certified Personal Trainer, Certified Nutrition Specialist
Author of best-selling program: 
The Truth about Six-Pack Abs

I thought the video below was VERY interesting, and is explained in a way that's easy to understand.  It's also one of the reasons for a MAJOR problem in the health of many people.

I know we've been discussing a lot about Vitamin D levels in your body lately and how vitally important that is to almost EVERY single aspect of your health, including your immune system, your ability to deter cancer and other diseases from developing, your ability to lose fat and build muscle, your bone strength, and so on.
This video shows the health problem we humans have created for ourselves because we have moved around the globe to areas of either higher UV radiation or lower UV radiation than what would have been ideal for our particular genetics.  It talks about skin pigmentation and how each person can be vastly different in how their body deals with UV radition for both good and bad, including Vitamin D production based on what latitude (distance from the equator) that you live.

This really is an information packed video, so please watch the whole thing.  I really think you'll get a lot out this, and it shows a very sinister aspect of health that is not talked about often... how some people can have health problems based on their degree of skin pigmentation, where they live, and how they may actually be sun deficient.

I hope you got a lot out of that video.  Here are a few comments...

1.  I think you can see the main issue as it relates to your ancestry and what part of the world that your particular genetics have you adapted to thrive best.  For example, let's say that you have very light skin pigmentation, and your heritage is from a far northern latitude such as Sweden, Russia, Finland, or Ireland.  This means that based on your genetics, you weren't meant to live too close to the equator and get excessive UV radiation exposure.  If you moved to Hawaii for example, you may experience skin problems if you're out in the strong Hawaii sun too much or get burned too often.  There's a balancing act here where this type of person would need small amounts of daily sunshine on their skin to produce enough Vitamin D, but not too much sun to get burned.

2.  But let's look at the opposite scenerio, which is rarely talked about... The opposite scenerio would be a person with more darkly pigmented skin that has a heritage that originated from closer to the equator, such as Columbia, Thailand, or Central Africa as a few examples.

If a person with this type of heritage and darkly pigmented skin moved to live in a latitude that is far away from the equator, such as the northern US, Canada, or northern Europe, this person could end up SEVERELY vitamin D deficient since their body is programmed to require much stronger sun exposure for optimal health.  And THAT is a major health problem that could be brewing for a person with darkly pigmented skin living in high latitudes far from the equator.

As you can see, all of this information means that we need to understand as individuals how much sun exposure we really need based on our heritage and skin pigmentation.  We need to get our Vitamin D levels tested in a blood test and see if we're dangerously deficient or if we're at adequate levels.  Don't just assume that you're getting enough simply because you're getting 400IU per day from a supplement -- although 400IU is considered 100% daily value, it has been determined by many scientists to be insufficient for most people.
I'd love to go on more with this, because this topic is so vitally important to your health.  But I want to dedicated separate articles to exploring this topic even more.  I'm working on those as we speak.