3 Ways to Burn More Calories in the New Year

Out with the old and in with the new. Looking to make 2021 the year that you change the way you look and feel? For that to really happen, you may just need a bit more dedication. Let’s take a look at how your body can burn additional calories each day.

Your body continually expends calories, every minute of every hour of every day. Even while you’re sitting reading this.

You will be happy to know that we burn calories even while we sleep. In one study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, two groups of overweight non-smokers were followed for a two-week period. One group slept 8.5 hours a night and a second group slept 5.5 hours while both groups ate about 1,500 calories a day. After two weeks, the people who slept more lost more fat than the group who slept less. Even more amazing was the fact that subjects who slept less lost more muscle (60 percent more muscle was lost by the sleep-deprived group). Those three hours of lost sleep caused a shift in metabolism that made the body want to preserve fat at the expense of lean muscle.

This same study showed that test subjects burned on average 400 more calories by sleeping 3 more hours – that’s an additional 2,800 calories burned for just one week. Think of sleeping as an extra calorie burning bonus. Here are three additional ways your body can expend more calories each day:

1. Building More Muscle Increases your Resting Metabolic Rate. 

2. Performing Higher Intensity Workouts will Increase your EPOC.

3. Adding More “Movement” will Increase your NEAT level.

“Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it.”  

Plato

Build More Muscle

Regular strength training sessions (3x/week) will overload your muscles and the stress (overload) placed on your muscles will eventually adapt and become stronger. As strength increases, the body can handle heavier loads and over time you will experience an increase in lean muscle, as long as you get adequate sleep and nutrition. Research has demonstrated that for every three pounds of muscle you add, your resting metabolic rate increases by about 6-7 percent. An elevated metabolism means you burn calories at a faster rate at rest and during activity.

Benefits of EPOC

Supplementing high intensity strength and cardio sessions into your weekly exercise routine will not only burn more calories during a workout but post workout as well. This is commonly referred to as the after-burn or in scientific research circles as EPOC or excess post oxygen consumption. If the intensity is high enough you have the potential to expend a few hundred calories up to about 24 hours post workout. EPOC depends on the intensity and duration of the exercise session; as they increase so does EPOC.

Take Advantage of NEAT

A study published in Science by Dr. James Levine took 20 “couch potatoes” (10 lean and 10 mildly obese) and recorded their bodily movements every half second for 10 days. He discovered that leaner subjects burned about 350 more calories a day through NEAT or non-exercise activity thermogenesis or about 33 pounds a year.

In a second NEAT study, Levine recruited 16 volunteers and for 8 weeks had them eat 1,000 calories a day over what they needed to maintain their weight. You might expect that all of the subjects put on weight—with 1,000 extra calories a day. But at the end of the study, the gain per individual ranged from less than 1 pound to greater than 9 pounds. And the variation, according to Levine, was explained by the amount of NEAT. A highly active person can expend three times more calories than an inactive person and NEAT levels can vary up to 2000 calories between individuals.

If you’re not seeing changes in body composition with your current program, take a look first at how you’re fueling your body. Secondly, increase your intensity with your cardio sessions and start building more muscle. Lastly, increase your daily movement and some NEAT things will begin to happen.

Use Jefit to Track Your Progress

Do what millions of others have already done, use Jefit as their workout log app. This in turn, will help you meet your fitness goals. By providing an extensive exercise library, you can pick and choose your workouts according to your goals. You can also join our members-only Facebook group where you can connect and interact with your fellow Jefit members. Share your successes, stories, advice, and tips so you learn and grow together. Stay Strong!

Reference

Nedeltcheva AV, Kilkus JM, Imperial J, Schoeller DA, and Penev PD (2010). Insufficient Sleep Undermines Dietary Efforts to Reduce Adiposity. Annals of Internal Medicine 153(7):435-441.

See How to Get More Protein on Plant-based Diet, Watch The Game Changers

Sometimes you read or watch something that changes how you think about a topic. The topic is this case is nutrition and more specifically, a plant-based diet. It’s always important to understand both sides of a story though. Many bodybuilders and recreational lifters alike think they can’t get enough protein from a plant-based diet. So, they tend to avoid it, even if they intuitively know it’s a healthy option. Most stay away because they can’t grasp how eating a plant-based diet would allow enough daily protein to build lean muscle.

Your mind could change a bit after watching an interesting documentary on Neflix called The Game Changers, produced by James Cameron. The show first dropped back in 2018 and is currently trending once again. I would highly recommend that you at least watch it. The show is 85-minutes long and interviews many great athletes who talk about how and why they transitioned to a plant-based diet.

Definition of a Plant-based Diet

One of the better definitions of a plant-based diet was found in this article published by Harvard Medical School and author Katherine McManus, MS, RD. She goes on to say that “plant-based or plant-forward eating patterns focus on foods primarily from plants. This includes not only fruits and vegetables, but also nuts, seeds, oils, whole grains, legumes, and beans. It doesn’t mean that you are vegetarian or vegan and never eat meat or dairy. Rather, you are proportionately choosing more of your foods from plant sources.”

There are several pro/con reviews of the documentary, however, saying they get a lot right but also some things wrong. One review mentioned the show vilified red and processed meats while claiming animal proteins like chicken, fish, and eggs were as equally bad for your health. We know that certain ways of eating like a vegetarian or Mediterranean diet, have been shown to be healthy, and they includes such foods.

There may be an argument that healthy eating is not an “all or nothing” diet or philosophy and more about finding the best option to eat healthy. To be able to eat healthy the majority of time would be a good thing; incorporating a manageable diet that enhances a healthy, sustainable lifestyle.

Check out the show and see what you think for yourself, who knows, maybe it’s something you’ve thought about trying in the past. In any event, this or something similar could be a reset for eating better during (1) this stressful, pandemic time and (2) for a fast approaching Holiday season.

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Stay Strong with a Plant-based Diet and Jefit

Take advantage of Jefit’s 1400 exercise database in your workouts. Jefit is a fitness app that comes equipped with a customizable workout planner, training log, and ability to track data. There is also a members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, and advice in order to get closer to reaching your fitness goals. Stay strong!

What’s More Important for Weight Loss: Exercise or Diet?

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Have you ever wondered about the value of exercise and diet as it relates to weight loss? Which do you think is more important, exercise or diet? If you’re looking to losing weight, both diet and exercise are critical pieces of the puzzle. Many people, though, place more focus on the diet aspect. If you’re looking to maintain a healthy, sustainable lifestyle then you need to consistently monitor both. Remember, you can’t manage something if you don’t measure it. Finally, if the goal is simply to build lean muscle mass, then strength training and diet are paramount. The goal in this scenario is to create a surplus of calories each day. Weight gain and ultimately adding more muscle mass can not occur if this does not happen.

National Weight Control Registry (NWCR)

One of the best research-based organizations that looks at the weight loss question is the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR). The NWCR is the brain-child of Rena Wing, PhD, from Brown University Medical School. The NWCR “provides information about the strategies used by successful weight loss maintainers to achieve and maintain long-term weight loss.” The NWCR is currently tracking over 10,000 individuals who have lost significant amounts of weight and, more importantly, have kept it off for long periods of time.

Main Outcome from NWCR

NWCR members have lost an average of 73 pounds and maintained the loss for more than 5 years. “To maintain their weight loss, members report high levels of physical activity (≈1 h/day/walking), eating a low-calorie, low-fat diet, eating breakfast regularly, self-monitoring weight, and maintaining a consistent eating pattern across weekdays and weekends.”

What should help clear up this debate is the fact that only 1 percent of the NWCR database (>10,000 subjects) have been successful at keeping their weight off with exercise alone. About 10 percent of the subjects have been successful with weight loss maintenance by focusing on diet alone. More than 89 percent of the subjects have been successful because of BOTH diet and exercise modifications.

NWCR

Finally, maintaining an active lifestyle throughout the week and especially on the weekend is important no matter what the goal. Focus on eating clean, healthy foods, avoid highly processed foods and finally, watch the added sugar in everything you eat. Lastly, sticking to a healthy diet and getting regular exercise will always be good choices when it comes to weight-loss.

Workout with Jefit

Take advantage of Jefit’s 1400 exercise database for your strength workouts. Jefit is a fitness app that comes equipped with a customizable workout planner, training log, and ability to track data. There is also a members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, and advice to help get closer to reaching your fitness goals. Stay strong with Jefit.

5 Foods to Eat for Accelerated Muscle Growth

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Food is quite literally our life energy source, think of it like high octane gas that fuels our brain and body. Eating specific foods may help when looking for muscle growth to occur. Our brain needs about 130 grams a day of carbohydrate to function optimally. It’s important for any nutrition plan to include all the major macronutrients and micronutrients. Our body also need amino acid-rich sources of protein for muscle growth to take place. Amino acids are considered the building blocks that eventually help form proteins. Almost all foods contain some source of protein. Amino acids are important because they play a big role in protein synthesis, tissue repair and nutrient absorption.

There are 20 different amino acids that are grouped together making up three separate categories. The body makes 12 of these amino acids and we get the other 8 from food we eat. The cool thing is our body produces thousands of different proteins using just these 20 amino acids. Amazing!

Non-Essential Amino Acids

Non-essential amino acids do not need to be included in the diet. Nine out of the 20 amino acids are essential, but adults only need to obtain eight of them: valine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine and tryptophan. The ninth amino acid, histidine, is only essential for infants. Your body doesn’t store amino acids, so it needs a regular daily supply of these essential building blocks.

Essential Amino Acids

Essential amino acids need to be included in the diet. There are handful of amino acids as you know but the one I’m going to mention here is leucine. “This amino acid directly contributes to muscle protein synthesis. It affects the ability to recover from both stress and exercise. Leucine facilitates cell growth as well as the formation of sterols which are used in the process of forming hormones like estrogen and testosterone.” Make sure the amino acid, leucine, is also in that whey protein shake you drink post workout. This will improve your chances for muscle growth. Research has shown just 1.5 grams of leucine can provide adequate stimulation for muscle protein synthesis. Other research has shown that 3 grams of leucine alone stimulates protein synthesis in young men.

Conditional Essential Amino Acids

You usually hear about essential and non-essential amino acids only. Conditional essential includes 8 amino acids that are specifically needed in the body under certain conditions like stress, exercise, aging, etc.

Some of the Best Protein Sources for Muscle Growth

1. Beef, Pork, Wild Game (especially if it’s grass-fed)

2. Poultry (i.e. chicken, turkey)

3. Eggs (the yolk contains most of the nutrients; also 185 mg cholesterol)

4. Fish & Seafood

5. Dairy (i.e. cottage cheese and plain Greek yogurt)

**Additional food sources like Tempeh, Tofu, Beans, and Nuts.

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Healthy food high in protein. Meat, fish, dairy products, nuts and beans

Did You Know…

Did you know that foods like broccoli (3 grams), baked potato (4 grams), avocado (4 grams), and a cup of quinoa (5 grams) also contain adequate amounts of protein. Add these healthy food options as “sides” with the main course mentioned above. They will also help meet your daily protein requirements to ensure muscle growth.

Great Recipe: Moroccan Lamb Stew (bonus recipe, contains 38 grams of protein)

What you’ll need to turn this into your dinner for tonight:

Canola oil (2 Tbsp)
Cubed lamb stew meat (2 lbs.)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
1 cinnamon stick
One (15 oz) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 cup dried apricots, chopped
1/2 cup pimento-stuffed green olives
1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes
2 cups beef broth

How to Make It:
1. In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Add the lamb, season well with salt and pepper, and cook until well browned, 10 to 15 minutes.

2. Add the garlic, onion, and carrots and saute until the onion softens, about 5 minutes. Add the coriander, cumin, and cinnamon stick. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the chickpeas, apricots, green olives, tomatoes (with their juices), reserved lamb, and beef broth. Bring to a boil over high heat, and then reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until the lamb is very tender, 60 to 90 minutes. Discard the cinnamon stick. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. Feeds 6

Nutrition per serving: 495 calories, 38g protein, 46g carbs, 10 g fiber, 16g fat (Credit: Paul Kita, Men’s Health Magazine)

How Much Protein Do I Really Need?

The average, healthy adult needs 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram per body weight. BUT, if your strength training and want to add muscle mass, that number needs to increase. See the protein recommendations (below) published by Precision Nutrition, found in The Essentials of Sport and Exercise Nutrition, 3rd edition pp. 216. They offer a great online nutrition certification course BTW, I actually took it a few years ago.

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Protein Requirements

Questions for you. What do you consider the best choice for protein intake? How much protein are you taking in on a daily basis? For muscle growth to actually occur, sufficient protein requirements need to be met. Also important are adequate training stimulus and plenty of recovery (between workouts and sleep). Think of it as a three pronged approach. Enjoy! Eat Well. Stay Strong!

Three Requirements for Muscle Growth

There are three key requirements for muscle growth to occur. To ensure muscle growth you need an appropriate training stimulus, proper diet with adequate protein and of course plenty of recovery. A fourth factor, not discussed here, is the important role that genetics play. We all know people who train hard, eat well and get plenty of sleep. They typically get stronger but don’t really pack on lean muscle. There are many variables that can effect (1) how much and (2) how quickly your body adds lean muscle. This ultimately depends on age, gender, genetic and hormonal factors. There is a saying out there when talking about the part genetics play: “If you want an Olympic athlete then you need Olympic parents.”

Appropriate Training Stimulus for Muscle Growth?

How do you stimulate muscle growth? When a persons muscles are challenged they adapt and change over time. Changes are dependent on the type of activity and muscle fiber types used, the load exerted on the muscle, and the velocity and duration of the contraction. (Marieb, 2004) The point is to push through all the hard workouts, because muscular growth or hypertrophy can only be accomplished through these adaptations and changes. “It takes about 16 workouts to have a noticeable ‘superficial’ effect. There is simply no other recipe to do this in a healthy, orderly, and long-lasting manner.” Try using the Jefit, a workout planner & tracker app to record all your workouts.

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Is the Current RDA for Protein Enough?

This is a tough area for a lot of people. Their eating habits are just not where they need to be. In addition to eating well-balanced, highly nutritious meals, protein intake needs to be sufficient. If not, muscle growth to say the least, will be difficult if not impossible. The scientific research has shown different results over the years in terms of protein needs.

The question we should ask ourselves is – do we follow the suggested RDA of 0.8 grams/kg/day for protein intake or is it more in line with 1-2 gram/kg/day? The answer may depend partly on the volume of daily exercise you’re doing, if you’re a strength or an endurance athlete, and your age.

Adequate Nutritional Intake (Especially Protein)

A classic study was done in 1988 at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University. I was actually one of the test subjects in that study and also later worked there. The team headed by Meredith and colleagues, looked at the protein needs of 12 subjects. Six were young (26.8 +/- 1.2 yr) and six were middle-aged (52.0 +/- 1.9 yr) endurance-trained men. All subjects consumed either 0.6, 0.9, or 1.2 grams/kg/day of high-quality protein over three separate 10-day periods. They did this while maintaining their training and a constant body weight. The results of the study estimated that protein requirement was 0.94 +/- 0.05 grams/kg/day for the 12 men. The data from the study showed endurance exercise was associated with a specific dietary protein requirement. These needs were actually greater than the current Recommended Dietary Allowance of 0.8 g/kg/day.

Since then, there have been several studies on individuals who engaged in regular aerobic exercise. The exercise, more vigorous in nature, demonstrated a higher protein need more in line with 1.1 to 1.4 grams/kg/day. This by the way is about 38%-75% above the current RDA range. There is good evidence that the current recommended protein intake may actually limit muscle growth. This was seen in a study published in the Journal Applied Physiology. Some researcher’s report an optimal intake more in line with a protein range of 1.5 to 1.8 grams/kg/day which is 88% to 125% above the suggested RDA. The best way to make this happen is by ingesting 25-30 grams/protein with each meal and of course supplement with a post recovery protein drink.

Optimal Recovery (Sleep)

You can have the two other two boxes checked but if sleep is not happening, muscle growth will not occur. As a persons training intensity increases, more recovery and sleep is needed. According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), we need 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. Are you getting that? When this happens on a regular basis for you, you can check that third box. Here are their guidelines for recommended amounts of sleep by the NSF.

  • School age children (6-13 yrs. old): Sleep range widened by one hour to 9-11 hours
  • Teenagers (14-17): Sleep range widened by one hour to 8-10 hours
  • Younger adults (18-25): Sleep range is 7-9 hours (new age category)
  • Adults (26-64): Sleep range did not change and remains 7-9 hours
  • Older adults (65+): Sleep range is 7-8 hours (new age category) 

Key Take Aways

Increasing strength and building muscle can seem like a full-time job at times. You will need all the help you can get to make this happen, especially on both fronts. By checking all three boxes (training/nutrition/sleep), your odds of finally adding lean muscle will improve greatly. Be Well and Stay Strong!

What’s a Healthy Body Fat Range?

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It seems like every time we pick up a magazine or surf the web we’re overwhelmed with outlandish weight-loss claims. Let’s do a reset on this for 2020 and change the narrative. Rather than focus on weight loss like so many of us do, let’s start looking more at our percent body fat level. Do you know what your current body fat level is? You should know this number and monitor it over time.

The ideal body fat percentage for an adult varies depending on the age of the individual. Other variables that also come into play are gender, genetics, bone structure and their exercise level. College-age men typically carry 15% body fat while women have 23%, keep in mind that these numbers are for non-athletes.

Age-Related Body Fat Levels

Women:

  • 20-40 yrs old: Low fat: under 21 percent, Healthy: 21-33 percent, Overweight: 33-39 percent, Obese: Over 39 percent
  • 41-60 yrs old: Low fat: under 23 percent, Healthy: 23-35 percent, Overweight : 35-40 percent Obese: over 40 percent
  • 61-79 yrs old: Low fat: under 24 percent, Healthy: 24-36 percent, Overweight: 36-42 percent, Obese: over 42 percent

Men:

  • 20-40 yrs old: Low fat: under 8 percent, Healthy: 8-19 percent, Overweight: 19-25 percent, Obese: over 25 percent
  • 41-60 yrs old: Low fat: under 11 percent, Healthy: 11-22 percent, Overweight: 22-27 percent, Obese: over 27 percent
  • 61-79 yrs old: Low fat: under 13 percent, Healthy: 13-25 percent, Overweight: 25-30 percent, Obese: over 30 percent

Stepping onto a bathroom scale does not tell you the real story about your overall health. Your body weight is not as important as how much body fat you’re carrying. Once you can determine your body fat level, you then have a better understanding of the ratio of muscle to fat that you have.

For example, a women who weights 145 pounds and 33% body fat, can calculate that she has 48 pound of fat and 97 pounds of muscle, bone and fluid. A male, who is 205 pounds and has 25% body fat can determine he is carrying 51 pounds of fat weight and about 154 pounds of muscle, bone and fluid. Once this is known, you can start using the Jefit app to keep track of how this number changes over time. In both of these cases, the goal would be to lose fat weight while maintaining or gaining muscle, depending of course what the goals are.

Monitoring your body fat is important, and in turn, offers great insight into the status of your overall health & fitness. As you see, it’s a valuable metric to follow and offers insight into understanding if a particular strength training program is actually working.