What diet is right for me? – 5 categories of diet

 

What Diet Is Right For Me ?

So first, a diet is what you eat… it doesn’t mean that you’re going to lose 10 pounds fat, or gain 5 pounds of muscle in a month, or that it’s going to shred you out and make you win your upcoming competition! A diet is JUST…what you eat. Anthropologists often study the ‘indigenous diet’ of different cultures to see how different types of food patterns affect human health or how different genes could affect people ability to thrive of different food patterns. However, this series is going to focus on various popular consumer and therapeutic diets that you commonly hear about, the types of diets that your friends try to corral you into doing with them (or maybe you’re the friend doing the corralling, like me J).

 

So here’s it is, and big 5 category break down of the diet world:

 

The 5 categories of diets:

 

Portion control

Macronutrient

Food quality

Food timing

Therapeutic

 

Here’s a short list of examples of popular diets:

Keto, zone, paleo, whole 30, autoimmune, dash, weight watchers, wild diet, primal diet, IIFYM, Atkins, vegetarian, vegan, dash, gluten-free, raw foodism, juice fast, Daniel fast, fasting, intermittent fasting, and renaissance diet (breath a deep breath)

 

Okay lets start at the beginning with category 1 and the O.G. diet type- a portion or calorie based diet.

 

  • Category 1: A Portion-Controlled Diet
    • These diets give you pre-packaged meals, shakes, portion-sized containers or designate a calorie goal to control portion amounts of foods. These can also take the form of a ‘block’ or ‘points system’ to make it easier to follow. Saying things like ’10 points a day’ or you get 3 5-block meals each day.
    • These can be very effective and work well for most people who don’t want to have to count each and every macronutrient, or learn how to use a calorie tracker.
    • Popular systems that use this approach include: beach body, weight watchers, medifast, and other programs with portion sized frozen meals, bars and/or shakes.
    • In general, these diets are successful when followed and are not necessarily meant to be followed forever. However, weight watchers and the ‘block method’ are flexible enough to include going out to eat, having an occasional drink and other social events and therefore could be reasonable permanent diets if you appreciated that type of consistency and routine!

 

Okay, now that we learned about the easiest style of diets to follow, lets get into the nitty-gritty calorie-tracking, crazy meal-prepping, every-nutrient crunching madness that is a Macronutrient-based diet.

 

  • Category #2: A Macro-Based Diet
    • Macros, of ‘If it fits your macros’ is a popular diet style that is capable of achieving measureable and predictable body composition changes that makes it perfect for body-builders and serious athletes alike. A macronutrient-based diet categorizes every food into 3 macronutrients: protein, carbs and fat – and then keeps track of intake of each precisely- to the gram. Popular ways to organize your diet is by grams or to a specific calorie amount as a percentage of calories from each of the 3 groups.
    • There are technically 4 macronutrients (because alcohol is a macronutrient) but we only practically use 3 of them: protein, carbohydrates and fat. Carbs and protein are 4 kcal/gram, fat is 9 kcal/gram and alcohol is 7 kcal/gram.
    • A popular example is the Zone Diet 40/30/30. Basically, you get 40% of your calories from carbohydrate, 30% from protein, and 30% from fat. This was initially research based as a way to still fuel intense workouts and high activity levels while maintaining healthy insulin sensitivity and a lean athletic physique without excess body fat. This is an effective and safe moderate plan that most people do well on and feel good on.
    • Then, on the opposite side of the coin, we have the 0 parts moderate and much riskier ketogenic diet. This diet is high risk/high reward. The reward is the potential for extreme and rapid fat loss, improvement of gut health by reduction of a bad bacterial overgrowth, and promotion of nerve and brain health- if eased into and done properly. The risk is severe metabolic damage if you don’t eat adequate vegetables, choose the highest quality fats, and pair this diet with the most rigorous food quality standards.
    • A ketogenic diet is defined as a diet in which your body produces ketones to use for energy (specifically by the brain) in a low glucose, low insulin state that mimics fasting. This diet was initially designed to treat epilepsy in the 1920’s. It was created in response to the observation that many people with epilepsy wouldn’t experience seizures during religious fasts. Side note: it is my opinion and practice that you really need to ease into keto and it’s not a good permanent diet but rather to cycle in and out of for therapeutic or fat metabolism purposes if you don’t have epilepsy. Performance-wise there can be significant ‘boosts’ from optimizing your fat metabolism during the keto period. However, during peak competition season it is important to add higher carbohydrate meals and higher glycemic snacks, specifically around your intense and heavily glycolytic workouts.
    • Ketogenic diets are a hot and controversial topic. This diet has experts lined on opposite sides of the fence… yelling and throwing things at each other. However, the politics of this controversy will be covered in a future episode J. Okay… I’m going to leave you hanging on that – it’s going to be a big and very loved and hated episode J
    • Okay so then there’s keto’s more moderate cousin: the low carbohydrate diets, and ‘keto’s parent’ that’s been popular much longer – the Atkins diet.

 

Annnnnd we’re moving on after that very long rant – you can see where my interest lie J

  • Category #3: Food Quality Based Diets
    • I would argue that a majority of diets fall under this category from the South Beach Diet, the Paleo Diet, the AIP Diet, the Mediterranean Diet, a primal diet, the wild diet and so on.
    • These diets do not require you to log your food daily though you can pair a macro-based approach with a diet that’s food quality based and often people will do this. These diets can be followed forever but many are not designed for this, and of course humans aren’t perfect. Following a diet like this 90% of the time is often just as good or even better than following it 100%. A large issue with diet is the stress that comes with approaching them as a perfectionist and using that as an added stressor or as a means to stop going out to eat or engaging in social and community bonding around food – don’t fall prey to this! Again – perfection is not the goal, it’s a lifestyle and 80-90% of the time that is just as good or better!
    • So the most popular diet in this category is probably Paleo. This diet was named for the diet that hunter-gatherers ate in the Paleolithic era before agriculture and dairy cows. This diet includes whatever you could hunt or gather: meat, vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds. It is often called the ‘caveman diet’ and your friend who does CrossFit has absolutely tried this diet – just google ‘paleo…and insert your favorite recipe’ and I guarantee there’s a paleo version of it that doesn’t suck!
    • Also popular in the category are elimination diets which include the Whole 30…which as it’s name suggests it is meant to be followed strictly for 30 days and the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP). These elimination diets are meant to lower inflammation from autoimmune disorders, to heal leaky gut which could be fueling autoimmune issues, and then slowly reintroduce foods one at a time to see which foods triggers inflammation. I think everyone should do this at least once in their lives!
    • Additionally in this category is the primal diet coined by Mark Sisson in the Primal Blueprint, which includes lifestyle components such as sleep and varied movement and exercise patterns.
    • Also in this category is the wild diet, the vegetarian diet which includes no animal products for either health or ethical reasons, the stricter version of that, the vegan diet which additionally excludes products from animals like leather accessories or fur coats
    • Just as popular as Paleo is a gluten-free diet, and then more rare diets such as raw foodism, and more short term diets such as juice fasting, the Daniel fast which is biblical in nature and all sorts of other fasts!
    • These food-quality based diets give no regulations on how much to eat of any one food or any of the different ‘groups’ of macronutrients. Instead these focus on the ‘quality’ of foods and tend to focus on removing or avoiding foods for health or moral reasons.
    • Okay and lastly – our topic of the week hits this category- Anti-inflammatory diets. This is a bit of a misnomer because there isn’t just one, but rather many diets fall into this subcategory– paleo falls here, The Whole 30 and its best friend the Autoimmune Protocol are extremely anti-inflammatory. Anti-inflammatory diets focus on removing any possible preservatives, inflammatory compounds or irritants such as gluten, even healthy ‘natural’ sugar alcohols such as erythritol. There is usually no dairy or processed foods. In the strictest diet in this subcategory, the Autoimmune Protocol, there’s also no eggs, nuts, seeds, or nightshade vegetables for the first 6 weeks. This is not because they’re bad in general, but because many people have inflammatory reactions to these foods and we are quelling inflammation to heal potential SIBO or leaky gut! The goal of that first phase is to lower inflammation in the gut so that your gut can heal any bacterial imbalance along with any active inflammation that could be perpetuating inadequate absorption of your vitamins and mineral from the foods you are eating. Then in phase 2, the reintroduction phase, you slowly reintroduce foods over a 5 day period per food to see if sensitivities exist. More on this later.

 

Just a quick highlight on category 4…food-timing based diets. In general these are used in combination with other categories with the exception being intermittent fasting.

 

  • Category #4: Food Timing Based Diets
    • In this category are the Renaissance Diet, intermittent fasting, water fasting, Daniel fast, really all the fasts, the core diet used by endurance athletes to periodize their carbs, and many other religious and performance diets.
    • The most popular diet to highlight here is intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting is often paired with a ketogenic diet used as a means to get your body using fat for energy during the fasting period, which is often 16-19 hours of the day. This leaves 5-8 hours for eating food. Many people report losing fat and weight on this diet, but it is not designed for that exclusively. Intermittent fasting is a great and more moderate way to ramp up your fat metabolism without having to do a strict ketogenic diet.
    • On the other side of this coin, if your goal is to get lean, the completely opposite approach achieves that for many of the leanest people who do bodybuilding competitions. It is just as popular and often effective (though not always convenient) to eat every snacks and small meals 2-3 hours.

 

Okay we finally made it to the last category! You thought we’d never make it, but here we are!

 

  • Category 5: Therapeutic Diets
    • There are many clinical and outpatient based diets used by registered dietitians to help patients manage diseases such as carbohydrate counting for diabetes, the DASH diet for cardiovascular diseases, a low FODMAP diet for some GI disorders, the Renal Diet – low in potassium sodium for kidney patients, and then fluid, autoimmune protocols for autoimmune conditions, and dietary texture modifications for patients with swallowing issues including: ground meat, mechanical soft, clear liquid, nectar thick liquids, or pureed diet. We won’t be talking about these because these diets are for clinical use and don’t generally have applications in a healthy population.

 

  • To be noted – Combo Macronutrient-Based Diets and Food Quality-Based diets are OFTEN PAIRED by bodybuilders and athletes
    • Paleo-zone, popular with bodybuilders and crossfitters alike, is a great combo for achieving a predictable change in body composition.
    • Another example would be paleo-keto, which would be more drastic and extreme in nature, but often athletes can do this in the off season or bodybuilders leading up to a very important competition.
    • These diets can be very complicated and often repetitive in nature. They usually involve meal prep and a lot of time and effort if you can’t pay a fortune to have it done for you. These diets also require the highest level of motivation.

 

In recap: the 5 diet categories are portion-controlled, macronutrient-based, food quality based, food timing based, therapeutic diets, or a combination of multiple categories such as paleo-zone or paleo-keto.

The World Needs You Need To Get Some Dang Sleep

Howdy and Welcome to the PledgeTraining Podcast…today i’ll be making a case for an often overlooked part of everyones health – you’re sleep. Ideally you spend 1/3rd of you life asleep…but not most of us!

Argue as you might that you’re too busy for sleep, maybe you’re an entrepreneur that is moonlighting after their full-time job, a single parent, or a a straight-a student that stays up studying and cramming for tests….whatever the case, i’m going to go through the evidence in hopes of convincing you to put aside those 7-8 hours for your longterm gain, your brain health, your cognitive function, your waistline, for your cancer risk and even for your heart health.

First, did you know that Human beings are the only species that deprive themselves for no reason… in fact, mother nature in all of her glory and wisdom has never had to some up a solution for intentional sleep deprivation…and this has only been happening since the 1940’s which is only the blink of an eye on a history timeline.

In fact the only way you could get a species to sleep less before the 1940’s was to put them in conditions of extreme starvation … perhaps so that they could forage for longer amounts of time and in larger radiuses. In any event, sleep deprivation has been idolized and glorified in recent history and in our pop culture now… it’s seen as a way to ‘get ahead’… if you want to be a champion and you want to be fit… you have to wake up at 5am, take a cold shower and go run, lift and grind until the sun comes up all the while thinking of how far ahead you are of all those peons who slept in and got their 8 hours of sleep. THIS COULDN’T BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH Y’ALL.

Sleep deprivation, stated as less than 7 hours which means half of the entire human population, has been found in research to increase all cause mortality. ALL CAUSE MORTALITY… it effects so many different ways of dying… and inhibits so many ways of us fully living…which i’m about to get deep into. So first, since everyone does seem to care about their waist line – it’s directly correlated to weight gain and obesity through it’s affect on cortisol, gherkin and leptin, yep it jacks up your hormones! Do you know how much harder it is to lose weight with cortisol telling your body to shed your muscle mass and store fat, lowered leptin telling you that you’re never full and ghrelin increasing and giving you those hangry episodes? yeah i bet your friends wont appreciate you as much in that hangry state!

Furthermore, low sleep over a lifetime is the HIGHEST predictive value of Alzheimers risk, not genetics….not even diet. …We all know the short term decreases in mental function after a sleepless night…well it’s actually doing longterm irreversible damage as well.

Okay, so we’ve got the longterm covered pretty well… but it also screws your short term happiness and ability to be present and ‘show up’ at work and for the people around you.there’s. in fact in research found less productivity, creativity, and less motivation marked as the sleep deprived taking on fewer projects at work overall and choosing the ones that were simple in nature when they did – such as listening to voice messages rather than ‘big picture tasks.’ And, furthermore when these research participants were given big picture tasks, sleep deprived employees produced less helpful, less creative and less meaningful solutions.  This is why In every language the term ‘sleeping on a problem’ exists, transcending all cultural boundaries. Less sleep does not mean more productivity. Why do we overvalue employees that undervalue sleep?

What about with your friends and family? Well you’re less charismatic the less sleep you get and You’re more emotionally unstable, unable to think longterm clearly and more likely to make mistakes in an unslept state. This is due to the loss of your prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex is the first thing to ‘go’ when you’re sleep deprived, and instead these deep emotional centers of the brain normally kept in ‘check’ by the prefrontal cortex become more active and just erupt. So it’s no wonder that you’re all emotional gas petal and too little brake in that under-slept state.

Okay so now that you guys are sold.…  What is the actual mechanism for all this sorcery? During sleep, the flow of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain increases dramatically, washing away harmful waste proteins that build up between brain cells during waking hours. Their brain cells actually shrink during sleep, making it easier for fluid to circulate.. Then when you wake up, the brain cells enlarged again and the flow between cells slows to a trickle. It’s almost like opening and closing a faucet if you’re looking for a good visual to latch on to!

These proteins can and will actually kill brain cells if left ‘unswept’.  One of the main proteins responsible for this is Beta amyloid, the substance that forms plaques seen in diseases like Alzheimers, which explains the elusive link between sleep disorders and psychiatric problems and brain diseases like Alzheimers.

Okay my last and final plea for you to get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep is how it supercharges your brain and body. Why just exist when you can excel, when you can grow, enhance your ability to move, think and interact with your world in meaningful and intentional ways.

When you sleep your brain is playing out patterns and skilled motor movements that you’ve learned in wakefullness, the exact same movement patterns are seen firing during REM sleep as those in training but at 20 x faster. Practice doesn’t make perfect ‘ practice plus good sleep makes perfect’! In studies people have been found to come back after a quality night of sleep to perform 20-30% better when they wake up.

With results like this, sleep could be the greatest legal performance enhancement that most people are neglecting! As stated above there are also tons of recuperative, interpersonal and memory benefits, and on top of this. And if you’re getting 6 or less hours then you’re completely missing out. Just for a statistic, research has found that your time

to physical exhaustion can drop up to 30% as lactic acid builds up quicker, your ability to expel CO2 lessens and your ability to bring in O2 decreases. Basically it kills your workout and fitness efforts through promoting fat retention, messing up your hunger signals, decreasing your aerobic abilities and completely killing your motivation and drive!

If you need more evidence, it decreases your testosterone and it also increases your risk of injury through decreasing your ability to activate stabilizer muscles and your coordination through non-optimal neural function. 

Hopefully you are now sufficiently convinced to stop short changing your cheapest, easiest performance, life, health and happiness enhancing practice available to every single human at no cost! The world needs you to be a valuable, creative, productive, happy, influential and well slept contributing member of society. So rest up and then get to work creating, planning and executing ways to enhance your lives and the lives of others.

This is Sarah Pledger Signing off – happy trails and have a great week!!

http://science.sciencemag.org/content/342/6156/373

Use Your Fat for Fuel – Part 1

  1. A healthy gut
    1. Good and bad bacteria are everywhere in the body but it’s all about balance. There’s a need for yeast in the GI tract but an excess causes UTI’s and yeast infections. There’s staph on everyone’s skin but when it gets out of control it’s a Staph infection.
    2. The thing about a ‘bad’ bacterial or yeast overgrowth is that often there’s a film that not only causes inflammation but also makes a physical barrier in the areas of the overgrowth that compromise our ability to absorb the nutrients that we eat. ALSO, the ‘bad’ bacteria do not make the short chain fatty acids that we need to feed out endothelial cells, specifically butyrate.
    3. Anyways so to reverse this you need to start eating a diet that feeds ‘good bateria’ aka lots of plants high in prebiotic fiber like broccoli, potato skins, spinach, cauliflower etc… then you want to take some enzymes to break down the bacterial biofilm, help break down the cell walls of some of the bad bacterial overgrowth and then to heal a bit of the inflammation going on in there. Serrapeptidase helps with the inflammation and excess mucus production and fibrotic deposits, cellullase helps break down some of that biofilm and S. boullardii is a ‘good yeast’ that out competes the common yeast strand that causes yeast infections. Then chitosanase breaks down chitin if the cell walls of yeast and fungus to get them gone and out of your gut.
  2. A High intake of quality water
    1. Quality water, meaning without toxins present of a good mineral and alkalinity can really aid in helping your body get back to homeostasis and keep toxins flowing out of the body at a good rate. You need adequate cellular hydration for optimal metabolism, optimal enzyme function meaning that cells can process energy at its maximal rate. Also this keeps blood flowing through the kidneys at a higher rate making detoxification much quicker and easier. Your heart can also pump less per minute and get more rest due to a higher volume at load and therefore pumping more blood and oxygen with each beat. As little as 3% dehydration can have affects like higher heart rate, headaches, nausea, decreased exercise ability, decreased energy, lower IQ and increased hunger.
  3. A normal estrogen level
    1. There’s a book out right now called ‘estro-generation’ that talks about all the compounds that can increase our estrogen hormone levels and it’s a little alarming how prevalent it’s becoming.
    2. For this reason, I’m not a huge fan of soy ….besides it being an estrogenic compound it’s largely GMO and can be found with levels of pesticides on much of the crops.
    3. Anywho things that increase estrogen are soy, edamame, soy sauce, tofu, tamari, chlorinated water, chlorinated pools, splenda, Red 40, animal, dairy and fat from animals fed grain and given hormones this also includes butter, yogurt and cheese.
    4. There’s even paraben in make-up and benzo’s in sunscreens and lip balms
  4. Increasing testosterone and growth factor
    1. Heavy Strength training – increases lean body mass, testosterone etc so that you burn more calories at rest and so that your body preferences building muscle over storing fat
    2. Concurrent Training – think crossfit, certain types of bootcamps, or obstacle course racing
  5. Having vitamins, minerals, trace mineral and nutrients in adequate amounts
  6. Intermittent fasting
  7. A moderate carb or low carb diet with a focus on anti-inflammatory foods–
    1. Eating more non-starchy veggies – the fiber makes you burn more calories by just digestion. This diet also keeps insulin low by eating low glycemic and high nutrient quality vegetables such as broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, asparagus, onions, bell peppers etc…
  8. Slow, fasted cardio – building more mitochondria, more capillaries to allow you to stay aerobic. Not only that, more mitochondria actually make the daily caloric need of that tissue higher, increasing your resting metabolic rate even further.
  9. Consistency – VEGF – vascular endothelial growth factor, local metabolites released by muscle, NO release – other factors creating this, heart gets stronger, arteries get thicker and stronger
  10. HIIT training – high intensity interval training increases heart rate (HR) for a long period after, especially if it was a long interval workout – increases your lactate threshold and your ability to stay aerobic at higher calorie burns and work loads
  11. Medium levels of activity during the day – having a standing desk, walking to lunch, doing some gardening or house work, easy hiking, bike commuting, yardwork etc…
  12. Sleeping 7-9 hours a night – keeps cortisol and insulin low, keeps your hormones balances and your brain detoxified so that it can keep your metabolism up and stay sharp, not to mention your much more likely to go workout if you feel good.
  13. lowering stress
    1. First there’s good and bad stress. The good stress includes things like exercise that momentarily add stress but promote the body to respond to this stimulus by lowering stress afterwards, increasing endogenous anti-inflammatory power by adding superoxide dismutase (SOD) and by lowering your blood pressure immediately after and for 24 hours thereafter we can see positive affects. In any event we are talking about chronic and longterm, ‘bad stress’. And lowering this involves everything from your mindset, thought life, and this includes a ton of the above topics already covered, but healing your gut, decreasing inflammation, increasing quality sleep, learning to relax or meditate, regular exercise and a strong social network all are the keys to balancing stress.
  14. Supplements
    1. bitter melon extract and cinnamon – blood sugar and insulin stabilizer
    2. probiotics with enzymes if you have a gut imbalance, a greens powder such as Garden of Life superfoods powder – helps you get all your vitamins, mineral, and trace minerals while also helping you increase your vegetable intake and antioxidant levels to lower inflammation
    3. ashwaganda – lowers inflammation.

DO NOT TRY ALL OF THESE AT ONCE :). Bookmark this page and just pick a couple of things you want to add into your life and focus on those two changes for 3 weeks until it becomes a habit and integrated into your ‘autopilot’. It takes a ton of energy to make changes and we are after a longterm change so don’t make this a short term fix or another ’30 day detox’ thing you do. It’s all about sustainable living, sustainable changes and becoming a better you. So do the work, have patience and feel free to post on here which changes you’re going to add!

CrossFit Open 18.1 – OPEN SEASON!!

Just did the first open workout for Crossfit 18.1 open Rx and here’s some feedback…
1. this will test your grip – you’ll be surprised how hard this is on your grip if you aren’t stringing together your toes to bar and end up hanging for minutes to reset that kip (like me)

2. the DB movement is harder than you think – it seems simple, but this is on the upper end up my pressing ability and i really needed to use my legs to save my arms. Also make sure you’ve practiced this move and are coordinated enough to end that hang EXACTLY where you want it for your press. There’s definitely some bruises that are currently forming on both shoulders because this was my first time doing this with a DB instead of a barbell.

3. keep the rower on ‘kcal per hour’ so that you can find your pace and stay steady during the workout, i really ended up catching my breath on the rowe. Take a small pause at the end of your stroke so there’s more resistance to explode through. match your breath to that movement and lock it in to keep your core tight through the pull. This really increased my Kcal about 150/hour… technique and efficiency are everything in this one!

If you haven’t signed up yet:
https://games.crossfit.com/cf/login…

You have to get your first workout done, judged and submitted by Monday night … but if you’re on the fence here’s the first workout (and if you’re in fredericksburg i’ll judge you!)

Rx(scaled) Workout:
20 Min AMRAP
8 toes to bar (scaled: 8 knee raises)
10 DB hang clean & jerk 50lb/35lb (scaled: 35lbs/20 lbs)
15/12 kcal row2016-crossfit-games-open-crossfit-opencertOfCompletion_judges_2018IMG_1589.JPG

Everything Fat: Fats to eat, hormones fat secretes and hacks to help – pt 1

Good day to you all and a good whatever-time-of-day you’re reading this! So today we are going to talk about all things fat. This will likely be a two-part series, because the more I got into this topic, the larger it became, and I realized that for a full understanding we’re going to need to learn about a ton of topics; from the endocrine role of fat tissue in our body, to more practical applications of how its made and which oils and fats to consume in our diets.

So first, fat is a dietary macronutrient along with proteins and carbohydrates. Fat contains 9 kilocalories per gram versus the 4 kilocalories per gram from the other macronutrients. The primary function of the various fat molecules in the body are: a storage form of energy, composing cell membranes, heat regulation by insulating against cold, proper functioning of the brain by insulating neurons (brains cells), cushions and keeps our organs safe, and it plays a vital role in regulating hunger and satiety to keep a ‘set point’ of metabolism.

The amount of fat that we have is largely based on our diet, activity levels, hormones and hormone sensitivity, our epigenetics and lifestyle factors, such as sleep and stress. There are different types of fat in our body: visceral, abdominal, subcutaneous, brown and white fat. These different kinds of fat release different hormones and are more or less metabolically active. 

Now that we’ve got our ‘base’ lets talk about which oils we should eat more of and which we should eat less of. 

Which fats to eat and which to avoid:

Here’s an awesome graphic that explains which fats to eat and avoid from Nutritionist to the L.A. Lakers, Dr. Cate:

1. Oils to avoid all-together: Vegetable oils, soybean oil, canola oil, corn oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil, sesame oil

These are oils that are extracted from seeds like Soybean, Cottonseed, Sunflower and a few others. They were never available to humans until the 20th century, because we simply didn’t have the technology to extract them. The way these oils are manufactured involves bleaching, deodorizing and the highly toxic solvent hexane. Many of these oils are marketed in ‘healthy’ salad dressings, mayonnaise, butter substitutes and much more.

2. Oils to enjoy:  Unrefined oils and low-PUFA fats and oils

Avocado oil, grass-fed butter, coconut oil, duck fat, Ghee, Lard, Olive oil, peanut oil, tallow, sesame oil, flax seed oil, walnut oil, almond oil, macadamia nut oil.

Also: anything that says cold-pressed and unrefined. IT MUST SAY UNREFINED. 

3. Use these for Cooking:

Almond oil, avocado oil, butter, coconut oil, duck fat, ghee, lard, macadamia nut oil, peanut oil, tallow.

4. DON’T Use these for Cooking:

Flax oil, sesame oil, walnut oil.

5. Limited Use Oils:

Oils that have been refined but because of their fatty acid profile they can handle the process without a significant amount of mutated fatty acids and are therefore less toxic. They do have less minerals and anti-oxidants due to this process. Think of them as empty calories.

6. DON’T use these oils:

Vegetable oils are so toxic in our bodies because they contain a high percentage of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). PUFAs are unstable, and break down rapidly when exposed to chemical stress.

The refining process exposes these PUFAs to heat, pressure, metals and bleaching agents, and chemically alters the molecules into a wide variety of potent toxins with long names like 4-hydroxynonanal and 4-hydroxyhexanol, aldehydes, and others. These molecules are toxic because they promote free-radical reactions that damage our cellular machinery including mitochondria, enzymes, hormone receptors, and DNA.

Omega-3, Omega-6, and Double Bonds:

It’s not the Omega-6, it’s the oxidation and the free radicals that Omega-6 fatty acids produce that damage cells. Vegetable oils are toxic because the fats they contain are oxidized. And it’s the double bonds that make PUFAs susceptible to oxidation. But omega-3 fats have more double bonds than omega-6, generally speaking, and so seeds with a high omega-3 content, like canola, actually lead to more toxic degradation products than seeds with a high omega-6, like soy (all else being equal). However, both Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are important for proper function, especially in the nervous system (including the brain).

Fat as an endocrine gland

Leptin 

A hormone whose primary function is regulating appetite. Leptin is “a peptide hormone that is produced by fat cells that plays a role in body weight regulation by acting on the hypothalamus to suppress appetite and burn fat stored in adipose tissue.”

Leptin is known as the starvation hormone (or sometimes the “satiety hormone”) because it notifies your brain if you have eaten enough and your energy levels (calorie intake) are sufficient, or if your energy intake needs to increase. A number of factors can influence leptin and ghrelin levels, including:

 Calorie intake

 Meal timing

 Sleep/wake schedule and sleep duration (both linked to your circadian rhythmn)

 Light exposure

 Exercise

 Stress

The main regulator of leptin production is body fat (or adipose tissue). Levels fluctuate depending on your current weight, especially your percentage of body fat. Leptin is produced mainly by adipocytes (fat cells), which is why levels of leptin usually increase when someone gains more body fat , and decrease when someone loses weight. Leptin also plays an important role in the regulation of the reproductive system, thyroid gland, adrenal glands and growth hormone production. (4)

Leptin does its job by binding to and activating receptors in the brain known as LEPR-B receptors. When leptin levels go up your hunger should decrease, while at the same time you start consciously and unconsciously increasing energy expenditure (the amount of “calories burned”). This feedback system helps most people to prevent too much weight gain.


However, when a person experiences excessive levels of leptin for too long (for example, because of the presence of excess adipose tissue; i.e. obesity), they develop leptin resistance. This results in a dysregulation in the brain’s ability to accurately assess satiety and energy balance, and excessive hunger occurs despite the presence of more than sufficient levels of energy stores in the body.

Grehlin

Leptin and ghrelin are two of the many hormones that help to regulate your metabolism, appetite and body weight. Where leptin is considered the main”satiety hormone” because higher levels decrease appetite, ghrelin is considered the main “hunger hormone” because it increases desire to eat.

When levels of ghrelin and leptin are disrupted, your ability to eat when you are truly hungry and stop when you are full can become severely compromised, leading to changes in body weight and other related consequences. Even though these two hormones have opposite effects, they work together in balance, and diet and lifestyle changes that help to regulate leptin are also helpful for controlling ghrelin.

Adiponectin

Many studies have found adiponectin to be inversely correlated with body mass index in patient populations.[9] Circulating adiponectin concentrations increase during caloric restriction in animals and humans, such as in patients with anorexia. This observation is surprising, given that adiponectin is produced by adipose tissue. However, a recent study suggests that adipose tissue within bone marrow, which increases during caloric restriction, contributes to elevated circulating adiponectin in this context.[11] 

The hormone plays a role in the suppression of the metabolic derangements that may result in Type 2 diabetes, obesity, atherosclerosis, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and as an independent risk factor for metabolic syndrome. Adiponectin in combination with leptin has been shown to completely reverse insulin resistance in mice.[14]Adiponectin exerts some of its weight reduction effects via the brain. This is similar to the action of leptin, but the two hormones perform complementary actions, and can have synergistic effects.

Tumor Necrosis Factor Alpha

Promotes inflammation, produces inflammation, this is secreted most by abdominal visceral fat, or deep belly fat. See more below.

Subcutaneous

Subcutaneous fat can shift around and move when you pinch it; its right under the skin and can fold. It mainly consists of white fat, but there can be some brown fat present, more if you’re constantly in cold water.

Visceral Fat

Exists in the body cavities, such as in the abdomen under the abdominal musculature; this can produce the hard “beer-belly” appearance. Visceral fat made of mostly white fat and is linked to cancer, high blood pressure, and dementia. Visceral fat secretes fatty acids directly into the hepatic portal vein that drains to the liver and can produce fatty liver disease, as well as promote unhealthy fat storage in the pancreas, heart, and other organs. An example of this is fatty liver disease, heart disease and Because visceral fat negatively impacts the microbiome of the gut, it can affect the gut-brain axis and contribute to dementia. While these organs can store fatty acids, they aren’t supposed to until there is a huge overflow, and ‘lipotoxicity’ (cellular and tissue damage due to fats) occurs.


In addition, visceral fat secretes Tumor Necrosis Factor alpha, an inflammatory cytokine that is distributed widely in the body and causes inflammation distant to the viscera itself.


How and why does visceral fat accumulate? 

Compared to subcutaneous fat, central visceral fat has more cortisol and insulin receptors; therefore, you are more likely to store fat there if you have chronic high cortisol and/or insulin due to poor diet, insufficient sleep, and unhealthy levels of stress. Additionally, it is very difficult to decrease levels of visceral fat without controlling cortisol, insulin, and stress. Testosterone, growth hormone and estrogens will have an opposite effect so you can also control your visceral belly fat by increasing these hormones by doing heavy full body lifting such as deadlifts, squats, cleans and snatches, and sprinting. Adequate sleep is also important for keeping growth hormone elevated. Other micronutrients are very important as well: high zinc and vitamin D, for instance. Ensuring you have good estrogen through maintaining a healthy liver – glutathione and other antioxidant in particular  support the liver.

Brown fat 

Seen in babies and people who do a lot of things in cold water. Brown fat burns calories to generate heat, is subcutaneous and makes very little tumor necrosis factor alpha.

White fat 

The classic fat that you envision when someone says ‘fat.’ Needs very few calories and is our storage form of energy. But it is hardly inert: it is extremely active as an endocrine gland, or in its creation of hormones.

A possible mechanism as to how exercise assists in ‘leaning you out’ past mere calorie burn and the increase in metabolism produced by increasing lean muscle mass.

Irisin 

A hormone produced by muscle and converts brown fat to white fat, as well as improves the ability of fat cells to utilize stored fat for energy. Irisin is a primary way that muscle-building exercise may aid in weight control and help to fend off diabetes. 

Irisin (named for the Greek goddess Iris) entered the scientific literature in 2012 after researchers from Harvard and other universities published a study in Nature that showed the previously unknown hormone was created in working muscles in mice. From there, it would enter the bloodstream and migrate to other tissues, particularly to fat, where it would jump-start a series of biochemical processes that caused some of the fat cells, normally white, to turn brown.

In the 2012 study, the researchers reported that if they injected irisin into living mice, it not only turned some white fat into brown fat, it apparently also prevented the rodents from becoming obese, even on a high-fat, high-calorie diet.

Best training 

The best type of training for burning fat is ‘concurrent training’ of strength and aerobic:

Such as a: 5 rounds of 10 deadlift, 20 wall balls and a 60 second sprint versus just strength training or just aerobic training

Sleep – 

Less sleep means higher cortisol and less insulin sensitivity and more visceral fat, as well as decreased levels of growth hormone which makes building muscle much more difficult.

Supplementation – 

  1. Catachins : in chocolate, red wine, green tea and berries that helps burn fat.
  2. catichins + caffeine: seen in green tea and cacoa  (no sugars and starches)
  3. Caffeine: before a long Slow cardio in the morning fasted – bike, jog, hike etc
  4. Johimbe: supplement that is a bit too much of a stimulant but works really well
    1. CNS stimulant. Kion lean (improves blood glucose effects and increases insulin resistance) apple cider vinegar, salon cinnamon, green tea, etc. 
  5. DIP – in broccoli and cauliflower
    1. diendylilemethane – endol group attached to a methane group – lowers estrogen in women who are estrogen prominent or guys with man boobs, also has promise for anti-cancer effects. (cruciferous veggies). Effect on fat loss only if you have estrogen dominance. If a man is taking testosterone and converting to estrogen…use this. Don’t purchase DIM, Purchase as endol-3-carbonyl because its better absorbed in SI and converted to DIM in the liver (good for liver detox) 400mg a couple times a day 1000-1500mg total (good after drinking).
  6. Things that mimic metforminMetformin has blood sugar and longevity effects and therefore helps you decrease fat: Berberine and Ashuaganda are the two natural versions highest on my list
    1. berberine – Berberine is able to reduce glucose production in the liver. Berberine’s main mechanism is partly responsible for its anti-diabetic and anti-inflammatory effects. Berberine is able to activate an enzyme called Adenosine Monophosphate-Activated Protein Kinase (AMPK) while inhibiting Protein-Tyrosine Phosphatase 1B (PTP1B).
    2. Ashuaganda or rather it’s active compound, withiferin – topped the list. It’s an adaptogenic herb with similarity to rapamycin and metfomin in that it’s a steroidal lactone. It is used in traditional indian medicine most.

Additional Info On Ashuaganda:


Popular in Ayurvedic medicine, shown to have an effect on lowering cortisol and balancing out thyroid hormones. In India it is known as ‘the strength of stallion’ since it is used to strengthen the immune system after illness. There have since been over 200 studies on Ashuaganda showing its ability to reduce the negative effects of stress, stabilize blood sugar, boost immunity, treat adrenal fatigue and improve thyroid function. Also known to benefit the liver and thyroid.


Animal studies reveal ashwagandha has a thyroid hormone balancing effect.  In a 20 days study mice were give ashwagandha and their T3 and T4 levels were analyzed along with lipid peroxidation (anti-oxidant protection).  Significant increases in serum T4 were found which indicates this herb has a stimulatory effect on a sluggish thyroid.

Also, ashwagandha may benefit thyroid function because it greatly reduced lipid peroxidation by promoting scavenging of free radicals that cause cellular damage.  These results prove ashwagandha can be useful in treating hypothyroidism.

There are currently millions of people who struggle with thyroid problems (many who don’t even know it) and ashwagandha may just be the solution they are searching for.

If your adrenals are overtaxed due to an overabundance of emotional, physical and mental stress, it can lead to a condition known as adrenal fatigue. As you can see from this chart below, if your adrenals become exhausted it can also disrupt your other hormones, including progesterone, which can cause infertility and lower DHEA — which can cause you to age faster.

Medical studies have shown that ashwagandha improves cortisol levels, improves insulin sensitivity and naturally balances hormones. A case study reported a case of a 57-year-old woman with non-classical adrenal hyperplasia. She was treated with ashwagandha for six months, and after her treatment she saw improvements in four adrenal hormone markers, including corticoosterone and 11-deoxycortisol, which decreased by 69 percent and 55 percent respectively — a major improvement!This hormonal improvement was also accompanied by a noticeable reduction in hair loss.

Maintain Don’t Gain – Holiday Edition

First lets go through the basics and then take a deep dive into some of the newest research and the finer points to keep your waistline through this holiday season!

We’re already past Thanksgiving and heading straight into all of the holiday parties… which means tons of baked goods, cakes, pies and treats all around the house, office and set out at holiday parties calling your name. 

The Exercise Routine:

First, let’s talk about your basic exercise routine… 

1. You’ll want to do cardio 3 x a week or more for 30 + minutes + each bout.  

Cardio counts as a brisk walk, jog, bike ride, elliptical or row machine. If you have a heart rate monitor don’t try to kill this part of the routine – we’ll talk about your intense workout right after this … keep your heart rate from about 110-140 beats per minute. We want to burn all fat and increase our fat burning enzymes in our mitochondria to keep them healthy and working during the rest of the day. 

2. Okay next you’ll want to do your intense strength and/or anaerobic workout routine 3 x a week.

So the goal of this is to spike your testosterone, to keep that lean muscle torching through calories and to give your body some room in the muscles and liver to store those extra carbs that you’ll likely be eating.  For this you can do some intense body weight high-intensity-interval training for 20+ minutes, a crossfit workout for time or as many rounds as possible at your local crossfit gym, or to just go to your local gym and do some heavy lifting mixed with some super sets to keep your heart rate elevated.  An example of this would be doing 5 sets of 5 reps heavy bench press, followed by 15 plyopush-ups (or push ups where you clap, or come off the ground etc…) or you could do the same thing  with 5 rounds of 5 heavy squats superset with 15 jump squats immediately following each squat set before moving on to the second round.

Here’s an easy series of tons of at-home workouts that i’ve made to fit the bill:

Shred Series (at-home workouts)

Knee-Friendly HIIT workouts

The Diet:

Moving onto diet, you’ll want to be eating super-clean around the parties…so the simplest way to do this is to make 1/2 your plate at each meal as non-starchy veggies, then a serving of meat or another complete protein and a serving of some healthy fat like olive oil, avocado, avocado oil, grass-fed butter, coconut oil etc…

Alright now lets get to how to manage the holiday parties! It’s not just food that’s the issue, it’s also the cocktails, spiked eggnogs and mulled wine! In fact, in a recent research study alcohol consumption was found the be the most closely linked with weight gain and specifically fat gained around the mid section. The reason for this is due to the differences in hormonal sensitivity and hormone secretion from visceral abdominal adipocytes (aka fat in your belly).

If you want a custom meal plan, check here :):

Custom Made Nutrition and Fitness

How To Drink Like a Fit Person:

(And Keep Your Social Events, Your Fitness, and your Abs this season)

In fact, excess alcohol consumption (over 1 drink for women and over 2 drinks for men) affect your hormones, your gut microbiome and your mitochondria in ways that ensure you put those pounds just where you don’t want them. Alcohol is so readily burned as energy after being consumed as a means to keep the toxic properties of alcohol at bay, essentially it shuts down the liver’s blood sugar regulating function and forces it to go into overdrive converting alcohol to glucose in order to detoxify the body, which is the liver’s secondary function. Alcohol also increases overall systemic inflammation which stops your body’s ability to oxidize, burn and release fat…In addition to this the liver is needed in the conversion of endogenous proteins (proteins from your diet) to complete proteins so that you can build muscle after your hard lift or crossfit WOD. Then since the liver is no longer regulating blood sugar, your blood sugar drops and you get those late night muchies! Oh, and one more thing, it decreases the secretion from fat cells that are your satiety signals, namely adiponectin and leptin.

Okay so now that i’m done bashing on alcohol… there’s no reason to completely avoid having fun with your friends and drinking if that’s something you really look forward to this time of year. Perhaps you just like a drink or two to help you get those walls down so that you can get the convos flowing with coworkers, new friends or maybe someone cute that you’ve been wanting to talk to. So here’s how you do it with the least metabolic damage possible… Eat a small-moderate sized meal with a normal serving of protein (like a chicken breast), then some fibrous non-starchy veggies like broccoli, green beans, carrots, or cauliflower …and if you want add some healthy fat in the mix – maybe 1/4-1/2 an avocado and then you’re ready for your first drink…sip on it slow and enjoy the company and the flavor. Personally, i love dry red wine. If you want to go that extra mile choose dry red because of the catechins it has that actually helps you burn fat (also seen in green tea and cacao powder or quality chocolate).

Anything with no-added sugar is going to really be your friend here. If you’re a liquor type person why don’t you try mixing it with a sugar-free mixer or sparkling water and lime. Any sugar that’s mixed with the alcohol is going to go straight to fat since your liver is about to be shut down, and with it, it’s ability to convert that sugar to glycogen…the only storage form left is …you guessed it…FAT

Okay, so you’re going to be alternating one alcoholic drink with one glass of sparkling water all night -do sparkling water so that your friends don’t give you a hard time about not drinking ….lol. So if you’re a girl… i’m gonna suggest you keep your drink total to 2-3 and if you’re a guy 3-4, but take your time…the point is to get connect to the people around you, so focus on that…not the drinks! 

Oh…and keep this drinking to ONE NIGHT A WEEK. You’re hormone sensitivity after drinking or a really big sugar binge takes 3 days to get back to normal. That means that you’re metabolism is going to be a little slow and you won’t be burning fat like normal for 2-3 full days. 

If you want to short cut this, a long-slow cardio workout is going to be the quickest way back to revving back up your metabolism, getting that insulin sensitive back and dipping into those fat stores for energy. A close second would be a concurrent training workout with strength and cardio mixed into circuits and intervals – think your normal crossfit WOD for time or for as many rounds as possible.

What’s with the 5-10 lbs of Weight Gain after a Binge:

Alright now let’s take a second and explain the weight gain that you experience after a classic holiday binge – we’re talking about just food, not alcohol. As far as a singular holiday binge, the weight that you gain is almost all water in the form of  water in various parts of the body. 

  1. First, glycogen from the carbs is stored in the muscle and liver, which is 3.4g of water per 1g of carbohydrate.  
  2. Next, that extra food in your intestines itself weighs quite a bit and tends to draw water with it into your GI tract. 
  3. And last, if it’s an excess of processed foods, oxidized fats and simple sugars then you better know that your entire body is going to get puffy from an increase in overall inflammation (It’s easiest to notice this in the face or if you always wear a ring and notice it’s fitting a little snugger than usual)

That water should be gone along with the inflammation in 1 day, and 2 days at most assuming you go back to your normal clean diet and exercise routine.

As far as the calories, it takes 3500kcal to make one pound of fat in your body, so rest assured that you did not gain more than a lb of fat in even the most heinous of binges… and your body has what is called a ‘set point’ that it likes to keep you at. Due to this …your body will likely rev up your metabolism a little bit at night…think about those post turkey day night sweats. In research this effects is normally consumes 50-300 extra calories burned off as heat but this is largely dependent on genetics. 

What to do after a Holiday Binge:

Oh, and when you do binge like that…because let’s be real…it happens… you’ll want to walk IMMEDIATELY. One particular study found a significant amount less weight gain, a blunting of the spike in blood sugar and a maintenance of insulin sensitivity if you just walk 20-30 minutes immediately after a binge. 

If you want to go the extra mile this holiday season and even perhaps even lose a little weight – you’ll want to do a fasted brisk walk, jog, bike or any for of cardio in the morning for 30 minutes-60 minutes certainly after drinking nights or binges, but also for a total of 3 x a week!

Alright so let’s break this down:

10 steps to maintain this holiday season

  1. Maintain an exercise routine of at least 3 x a week of cardio 30+ mins  and 3 x a week of concurrent strength training, crossfit, or HIIT workouts.
  2. Eat your normal, clean healthy diet around the holiday parties
  3. Focus on connecting with people rather than the drinking
  4. If you do drink, do so moderately with dry wine or beverages without added sugar. 
  5. Alternate alcoholic drinks with glasses of water 
  6. Keep total drinks under 3 drinks for women and under 4 drinks for men. 
  7. Only drink 1 night a week at most to maintain hormone sensitivity
  8. Don’t munch at night after drinking
  9. Do fasted cardio at least 3 x a week 30+ minutes and especially after night with alcohol or food binges.
  10. Walk IMMEDIATELY after a large meal 20-30 minutes

HIIT Training – Why, How and What Intervals to Use

HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training which means spiking your heart rate and then having a short period of rest (or just a lower intensity move) where your heart rate can drop and recover. Then, of course, doing it over and over again.

Though there is no universal HIIT session duration, these intense workouts typically last under 30 minutes ( though they don’t have to 🙂 ). Length of high intensity intervals, rest periods and workout duration all vary based on  fitness level and length of event you are training for.

For example if you were a volleyball player using a HIIT workout for overall strength and as a means to increase time to fatigue on the court, your intervals would be short and sweet such as the classic ‘tabata scheme.’ Volleyball points are quick bursts of energy with plenty of time to recover therefore in volleyball you’ll need to be able to go all out for about 20 seconds or so and then recover fully before the next point. You need LONG intervals if your sport is LONG.

On the other hand if you are using high intensity intervals for an olympic distance triathlon (1k swim, 40k bike and 10k run) and in particular you are training your run that day, you’ll need MUCH longer high intensity intervals and longer than 10 seconds to recover. One of my favorite timed interval sets for running is a ‘ladder set.’ So in general the fittest cardiovascular athletes can recover from their max heart rate in about 2 minutes so i use this as a means to slowly mold myself into just that! warm up 10 minute jog, 2 minutes hard/2 minutes easy, 4 minutes hard/2 minutes easy, 6 minutes hard/2 minutes easy…then back down the ladder – 6 minutes hard/2 minutes easy, 4 minutes hard/2 minutes easy, 2 minutes hard/2 minutes easy… and then a 10 minute cooldown jog (optionally barefoot).

The key marker of cardiovascular fitness is your heart rate variability, and how quickly your heart rate can drop to normal after getting close to your max heart rate.

The best example of this in the world is the sport of Biathlon: cross country skiing which spikes your heart rate and then shooting which demands a low heart rate to steady your hands and focus. This can also be seen in basketball and any sport that requires high intensity efforts such as sprints with finesse skills such as shooting.

IF YOU ARE NOT TRAINING FOR A SPORT:

For general fitness i suggest that you start off with something like tabata which is 20 seconds of work all out followed by 10 seconds of rest for 8 rounds. The total work time is only 4 minutes and it has great cardiovascular increases in just that short of a duration. You can use different exercises or the same exercise for each work interval.

Example 1: 8 rounds of: 20 seconds fast squats/10 seconds rest

Example 2: 2 rounds of: 20 sec fast squats/10 sec rest; 20 seconds of jumping jacks/10 seconds rest; 20 seconds fast back lunges/10 seconds rest; 20 seconds of mountain climbers/10 seconds rest

An example of a multi-tabata workout is like the one that i did in crossfitFBG in Fredericksburg last Friday:

8 rounds of: 20 seconds of max sit ups/10 sec rest

8 rounds of: 20 seconds sprint on the bike/10 seconds rest

8 rounds of: 20 sec kettlebell swings/10 sec rest

8 rounds of: 20 sec double unders(jump rope)/10 seconds rest

 

as you get fitter you can increase the intensity of your workouts by:

  1. going harder during your interval: do more reps and increase your heart rate higher in the interval
  2. increasing the intensity of the move itself: jump squats versus squats, plyolunges vs lunges
  3. lengthening out the duration of the high intensity interval without sacrificing intensity
  4. shortening the rest interval
  5. exchanging the rest interval for a lower intensity move (no rest)

 

HIIT Training – History, Why do HIIT, and how to choose your interval length

 

HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training which means spiking your heart rate and then having a short period of rest (or just a lower intensity move) where your heart rate can drop and recover. Then, of course, doing it over and over again.

Though there is no universal HIIT session duration, these intense workouts typically last under 30 minutes ( though they don’t have to 🙂 ). Length of high intensity intervals, rest periods and workout duration all vary based on  fitness level and length of event you are training for.

For example if you were a volleyball player using a HIIT workout for overall strength and as a means to increase time to fatigue on the court, your intervals would be short and sweet such as the classic ‘tabata scheme.’ Volleyball points are quick bursts of energy with plenty of time to recover therefore in volleyball you’ll need to be able to go all out for about 20 seconds or so and then recover fully before the next point. You need LONG intervals if your sport is LONG.

On the other hand if you are using high intensity intervals for an olympic distance triathlon (1k swim, 40k bike and 10k run) and in particular you are training your run that day, you’ll need MUCH longer high intensity intervals and longer than 10 seconds to recover. One of my favorite timed interval sets for running is a ‘ladder set.’ So in general the fittest cardiovascular athletes can recover from their max heart rate in about 2 minutes so i use this as a means to slowly mold myself into just that! warm up 10 minute jog, 2 minutes hard/2 minutes easy, 4 minutes hard/2 minutes easy, 6 minutes hard/2 minutes easy…then back down the ladder – 6 minutes hard/2 minutes easy, 4 minutes hard/2 minutes easy, 2 minutes hard/2 minutes easy… and then a 10 minute cooldown jog (optionally barefoot).

The key marker of cardiovascular fitness is your heart rate variability, and how quickly your heart rate can drop to normal after getting close to your max heart rate.

The best example of this in the world is the sport of Biathlon: cross country skiing which spikes your heart rate and then shooting which demands a low heart rate to steady your hands and focus. This can also be seen in basketball and any sport that requires high intensity efforts such as sprints with finesse skills such as shooting.

IF YOU ARE NOT TRAINING FOR A SPORT:

For general fitness i suggest that you start off with something like tabata which is 20 seconds of work all out followed by 10 seconds of rest for 8 rounds. The total work time is only 4 minutes and it has great cardiovascular increases in just that short of a duration. You can use different exercises or the same exercise for each work interval.

Example 1: 8 rounds of: 20 seconds fast squats/10 seconds rest

Example 2: 2 rounds of: 20 sec fast squats/10 sec rest; 20 seconds of jumping jacks/10 seconds rest; 20 seconds fast back lunges/10 seconds rest; 20 seconds of mountain climbers/10 seconds rest

An example of a multi-tabata workout is like the one that i did in crossfitFBG in Fredericksburg last Friday:

8 rounds of: 20 seconds of max sit ups/10 sec rest

8 rounds of: 20 seconds sprint on the bike/10 seconds rest

8 rounds of: 20 sec kettlebell swings/10 sec rest

8 rounds of: 20 sec double unders(jump rope)/10 seconds rest

 

as you get fitter you can increase the intensity of your workouts by:

  1. going harder during your interval: do more reps and increase your heart rate higher in the interval
  2. increasing the intensity of the move itself: jump squats versus squats, plyolunges vs lunges
  3. lengthening out the duration of the high intensity interval without sacrificing intensity
  4. shortening the rest interval
  5. exchanging the rest interval for a lower intensity move (no rest)