Is Saturated Fat and Cholesterol Really Bad for You?

Dietary fat and cholesterol have long been demonized as being the cause of heart disease.   However the US recently changed its recommendations regarding the dietary intake of cholesterol.  The latest publication of "Dietary Guidelines for Americans" a federal publication that has far-reaching implications on what we eat – contained one very significant change.   Specifically it said “Cholesterol is not considered a nutrient of concern for overconsumption."    The fact is that dietary intake of cholesterol has very little to do with circulating levels of cholesterol, and there is well done research showing that people who consume higher levels of cholesterol in food have lower levels of cholesterol and live longer than…
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Ideal Rest Time between Sets of Resistance Training Exercise

There are several different training variables to consider when creating a resistance training workout including the exercises you chose to do, the amount of resistance used, the number of repetitions for each set of exercise, the total number of sets of exercise, and the rest time between sets of exercise.   There is an inverse relationship between the amount of resistance you use and the number of repetitions you can complete in a given exercise.   Heaver weights/more resistance and you will be able to complete fewer repetitions before fatiguing the target muscles.   In general higher levels of resistance with less repetitions focus more on building strength, and lower levels…
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Recovery: The Missing Element in many Workout Programs

When people embark on an exercise program they often do not understand that the progress actually occurs between workouts as the body recovers from the stress of exercise.     For exercise to work it acts as a stressor pushing the body and in many cases causing damage to specific muscles while stressing various body systems such as the cardiovascular and hormonal systems. The stress is the stimulus which triggers an adaptive response from the body, and this adaptive response is often called “Super-Compensation.”   The diagram below illustrates the concept nicely. Depending on the type of exercise stress involved in a workout recovery and adaptation to the stress can take place on…
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The Goblet Squat – The King of All Squat Exercises

Squatting is a fundamental human movement pattern and anyone who has spent time with young children can see how much time they spend squatting and how comfortable they are performing this movement.     As we grow older, become less active in general, sit in chairs more, and lose mobility we can lose the ability to perform this highly beneficial and functional movement pattern.   The key is not to stop squatting and learn a variation of the squat exercise that is safe and provides the benefits without the risks. When most people think about squatting they envision someone with a bar across their back with a massive amount of weight on each…
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Are Post Exercise Carbs Necessary to Build Muscle Mass?

One of the most popular myths is that it is critical to eat non-fiber carbohydrates following a strength training workout in order to elevate insulin to maximize muscle growth.      Non-fiber carbs consist of sugars and starches and definitely do increase insulin levels, but is this really necessary to build muscle?  The answer seems to be no.    A recent study* showed that there was no difference in protein synthesis in muscle when 25 grams of whey protein or the same amount of whey protein with 50 grams of carbs where ingested after strength training. Increasing insulin (which drives storage in muscle AND fat cells) does have a protective effect on muscle…
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How Many Reps and Sets Should You be Doing?

Reps are short for repetitions of an exercise, and a set is literally one set of a given number of repetitions of an exercise.     The number of reps and sets you should be performing depends on your resistance training goals and your current fitness level. Fitness level is very relevant because if you are new to resistance training or have not trained in a long time your body requires less stimulation to build strength and add muscle tissue.      For the vast majority of people starting a resistance training program one set of 8 – 12 repetitions of one exercise per body part for a total of 8 – 12 sets…
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The Benefits of Jumping

Watch a group of kids and you will likely see bobbing heads – kids love to jump and there are good reasons for them to jump.  A key aspect of human movement is learning to store energy and then reclaim it as part of a movement cycle.    For example up to 40% of the energy required for movement during walking and running is created by storing energy in the leg muscles as the foot lands and then using it during the push-off phase.     The technical name for this cycle is the “Stretch-Shortening Cycle” or SSC. The SSC takes advantage of the fact that muscles can act as springs:  they store…
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The Importance of Sleep for Successful Weight Loss

Everyone knows that sleep is important to look and feel your best, but what many people do not realize is that lack of sleep directly and significantly reduces your ability to lose weight and keep it off!  In fact a recent study suggests that missing out on just 30 minutes of sleep per day can increase your risk of obesity and diabetes. There are several reasons for the this phenomenon, but on one level it is pretty easy to understand.    If you do not get enough sleep you will not have energy to live a healthy, active lifestyle, and when you are tired it is very easy to skip workouts…
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Egg Whites vs Egg Yolks

Eggs in general and egg yolks in particular have gotten a bad rap for raising cholesterol and increasing the risk for heart attack and stroke.  This is not the case and in fact US Dietary Guidelines have been changed as per this quote from the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) “cholesterol is not considered a nutrient of concern for overconsumption.” Not only are eggs and egg yolks not bad for your health the fact is that egg yolks are full of essential nutrients including cholesterol!  That’s right you heard it here – cholesterol is an essential nutrient.   In fact it is so essential that every human being manufacturers cholesterol in…
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Key Training Metrics for Cycling

In order to progress in any fitness program it is important to have baseline measurements that are relevant to your overall goal, and to be able to use specific metrics/measurements on an ongoing basis to progress your workouts.    Before you can determine what to measure and how to measure it when it comes to cycling you first have to ask yourself what your overall goal is. Are you training for actual outdoor cycling?   Racing or just training to ride a specific event such as a 100 mile charity ride on the road? Once you know your goal you can then decide on the specific metrics you should use…
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