Great Back Exercises to build larger Lats

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STARTING POSITION

Sit on a lat machine, grasp the wide bar with a pronated grip (the palms facing forwards). The distance between the hands should be wider than the distance between shoulders.
MOVEMENT
Pull the bar down until it touches the upper part of the chest. The elbows face outwards. Hold the contraction and after a moment bring the arms back to the starting position.
GOAL
This exercise focuses on latissimus dorsi muscle and involves also the rear deltoid and the central part of the traps as secondary muscles. The exercise involves additional muscle such as the forearms and the biceps.
BREATHING
Breathe out polling down the bar and breathe in bringing the arms back to the starting position.

 

 

 

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STARTING POSITION
Stand up in front of the lat machine, grasp the bar slightly wider than the shoulders width, bent slightly the knees and bend your torso at the waist by around 45°, the grip slightly higher than the shoulders height.
MOVEMENT
Contract the latissimus dorsi pulling down the bar, from the extended arms starting position the elbows slightly bend bringing the bar until your navel. Bring the bar back slowly and in a controlled way, the arms are fully extended again and stop above the shoulders.The torso doesn’t move.
GOAL
The exercise involves the upper and sides part of the muscle. It is fit for the definition and the thickness of the latissimus dorsi, it contributes to create the “V” shape of the back
BREATHING
Breathe in starting the motion, breathe out during the pull until the bar reaches the navel and contract the abs during the breathing out.
TIPS
The exercise can be performed at the cable machine too, using the bar of the lat machine or any straight bar.
MISTAKES
Usign a machine that guides the motion you reduce the possibility to make mistakes. Hold the back fixed and flat throughout the performance, the contraction of the abs allows to stabilize the torso. The head is aligned with the backbone, do not move it forwards. The knees don’t move to avoid moving the back.

Meal Planning and Meal Prep

You know that you have to eat several times per day, so why is that that so many people leave their meal planning to the last minute and wonder why they can never follow a healthy nutrient-rich diet?

21 Days & Top 3 Tips

Here are my top three tips that everyone, including you, can start using today. Turning your old habits into new ones takes 21 days. Remember this magic number and try these tips. Mark the 21-day point on your calendar.
1 Cook Your Meals In Advance & Keep It Simple

Preparing your meals in advance ensures that you won’t be tempted to make a detour into a fast food establishment. If you want to have a gourmet meal for dinner every day, you may be setting yourself up for disappointment since gourmet eating may take more prep time than you have.

Plan ahead by cooking your meals every other day, providing you with enough food for the next two days. If you are really busy, keep Sundays and Wednesdays as your ‘chef’ days. I normally eat breakfast at home unless I am doing morning cardio and am not returning home right away.
Breakfast Suggestions

Keep your breakfast (meal #1) simple, with foods such as oatmeal, yogurt, eggs, cottage cheese and whole wheat toast with almond butter (or organic peanut butter).
peanut butter

Choose the foods that will equal a carbohydrate and protein. Healthy fats will also be included with the protein choice.
Meal 1: Sample Choices

Carbs Oatmeal
Protein Egg whites
Fats Two full eggs (fat comes from the yokes)

For your next meals, which should be spaced every 2.5 to 3 hours apart, choose foods such as:

chicken
turkey
yams/sweet potatoes
almonds
whole wheat pasta & breads
avocados (with a sprinkle of lemon juice)
brown rice sushi (yes, it’s out there!)
fish (salmon, tuna, snapper, orange roughy, tilapia, swordfish, halibut) and brown rice

Also remember your fibrous vegetables, such as:

broccoli
asparagus
spinach
green beans
brussel sprouts
peppers
cucumbers

Many of my suggestions are foods that are low in the glycemic index, though there are many other healthy choices such as raisins, peas, corns, carrots, and white potatoes. See a complete list of foods below.

For my meals #2, #3, and #4, I will plan ahead the night before by cooking a large amount of chicken in the oven. Simply spray some PAM® on a baking pan, lay out your chicken and sprinkle on any spices you like. Spices will be your best friends when it comes to making your meals enjoyable.

While my chicken is in the oven, I will cook a large amount of rice or sweet potatoes, and steam some green beans and/or broccoli.
Meals 2-4: Sample Choices.

Carbs: ½ cup rice and 1 cup of green beans
Protein: 1½ chicken breasts
Fat: Flax oil

If I am preparing for a show or photoshoot, I will leave the complex carbs out and feast on a massive salad featuring grilled chicken or fish, with fibrous carbohydrates and a delicious vinaigrette made from balsamic vinegar, flax oil, lemon juice, and a sprinkle of Splenda®. Sometimes I will add seasoning, too.
2 Divide Your Meals Into Portion Sizes

Get yourself plastic containers that are the correct size for your mini-meals on the go. If you are not sure what a portion size looks like, remember this:
Container Size Guide

1 oz. meat: size of a matchbox
3 oz. fish: size of a checkbook
1 oz. cheese: size of four dice
1 medium potato: size of a computer mouse
2 tbsp. peanut butter: size of a ping pong ball
1 cup pasta: size of a tennis ball
1 average bagel: size of a hockey puck
3 oz. meat: size of a deck of cards or bar of soap (the recommended portion for a meal)
8 oz. meat: size of a thin paperback book
eggs, cheese, chicken

Having your meals prepared ahead and stored in a cooler with you will triple your chances of achieving your fitness goals. Look at the amateur and pro competitors. Whether they are male or female, competing in fitness and figure or bodybuilding, all of them will plan their meals in advance.

If you are not at all hungry three hours after your last meal, you may have consumed too many calories. Try making your portion sizes a little smaller.
3 Always Have A Bottle Of Water With You

Some vital H2O facts:

Blood is 83% water
Muscles are 75% water
The brain is 74% water
Bone is 22% water

It may feel like a hassle at the start but having water with you will make a major difference in your life. Water is a necessity. Your body needs water to digest and absorb vitamins and nutrients. Water also detoxifies the liver and kidneys, and carries away waste from the bod, and makes digestion possible.

Fiber alone cannot aid proper digestive function. Feeling dehydrated? You may be, and not even know it! Without water, your blood is literally thicker, and your body has to work much harder to cause it to circulate.

As a result, your brain becomes less active, it’s hard to concentrate, your body feels fatigued, and you just tire out. Aim for a gallon a day. Before you know it, you will start to crave and love your water. Add lemon for a new taste you’ll come to enjoy.
This Is About You!

Are you worried that people are going to joke about your bringing your own food to work, or that you can’t have lunch with the rest of the gang? Remember your reasons for why you planning your meals ahead.

If your friends and work associates joke and have an issue about how you are eating they certainly have some issues of their own. Remember this: I will be with you every step of the way.

So mark down on your calendar that for the next 21 days you are going to plan your meals ahead. In three weeks, by creating healthy meals in advance you will have noticed not only that your clothes are fitting better but you are also saving time and money.
Recommended Food Sources

The following are sources of proteins, carbohydrates, fibrous vegetables, and fats.
Protein

The richest sources of protein are animal foods such as chicken, meat, fish, cheese and eggs. However, plant proteins are believed to be healthier because of their lower fat content.

Other sources of protein include:

Whole grains
Rice
Corn
Beans
Legumes
Oatmeal
Peas
Peanut butter

For vegetarians, vegans and/or those who do not eat meat, fish, eggs, or dairy products, it is important to eat a variety of these other foods in order to get enough protein.

Protein supplements are a fast and efficient way to gain all your high-protein diet needs, however when you have access to real foods choose them for their nutritional value.
Simple Carbohydrates

White and brown sugar
Fruit sugar
Corn syrup
Molasses
Honey
White flour
White bread
Candy & alcohol

These foods are usually high in calories and offer very little nutritional value.
Fats

Good fats include the ‘good’ vegetable oils, such as olive, canola, soy oil, flax, & Udo’s oil. Always use oil in place of all-animal fats and solid fats (such as shortening). Nuts, olives, seeds, and avocado are good sources of monounsaturated fat.

MY COACH RUINED ME…..

Here is a great Article written by John Gorman.

Let me preface this by saying, this is where some of you are going to get pissed at what I have to say and stop following some of the content I put out. This is who I am tho, 110% real and I say the things a lot of other people just wont say. If this offends you, realize something- it’s probably hitting home with you then. Most people that get pissed cant take an honest look at themselves in the mirror.

We have all heard the stories from competitors out there about how their coach “ruined them” and it’s been going on for years now. I’ll be honest, it’s a coaches worst nightmare to be called out somewhere on social media with someone claiming things like “my coach had me doing an insane amount of cardio, like 2-3 hours a day, to the point I just couldnt function” or “my coach had me eating under 1000 cals a day to get ready for my show, I cant believe he/she would do that to me!” or my favorite “my coach dieted me so hard that I blew up and gained fat rapidly after my show!”…..Ok, wait, I have an even better one. “My coach made me take DRUGS!!!!!” You may see where I am going with this, but first lets talk about coaches ruining people.

It’s def a very real thing out there, there are a shitload of coaches who have no idea what the fuck they are doing. All they know is low cals, high cardio, starve starve stave, cookie cutter diets for everyone. So, dont think for a minute coaches arent to blame for some of the plans they do with their clients and really playing hell on their hormones, metab, and overall health.

Let’s break down each of those things an athlete will say about their coach, and lets find out who is at fault here.

“My coach had me eating under 1000 cals a day to get ready for my show, I cant believe he/she would do that to me!” – The athlete hired the coach, the athlete ultimately decides if they are going to go that low in calories. If they athlete decides to go along with it, then it’s the athlete who is making the final decision.

“My coach dieted me so hard that I blew up and gained fat rapidly after my show!” – The athlete’s diet coach isnt putting that fucking cookie in their mouth. STOP IT.

“My coach made me take DRUGS!!!!!” This one really pisses me off. If the athlete is not fucking smart enough to decide if they are going to put a drug in their body or not, or if they are going to blame the coach, then they are a part of one of the things that’s wrong with the industry, hell even our nation- lack of taking personal responsibility for our OWN actions. The athlete’s coach is not in their house giving them drugs, forcing it on them at gun point.

Yes I know coaches need to be held accountable and that’s a whole other post/topic in and of itself. One thing I know is always true, coaches get way more credit (good or bad) than they deserve. When a client wins, they get too much credit. When they are out of shape, they get too much credit. When someone gains 30 lbs in a month after their show, it’s the coaches dieting approach that is to blame. While the coach is def tied to the outcome, the athlete is ALWAYS the one making the final decision and needs to take more responsibility instead of pushing it off onto others.

Anyone out there considering hiring a coach, do yourself a favor, research your potential coach before you make the actual commitment to work with them. KNOW what their business and what their approaches look like. If you dont do that up front as an athlete, everything you agree to do with that coach from that point forward is 110% up to you, making most of this your responsibility.

Article provided by John Gorman Fitness and Weight loss Coach

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RAPID POST DIET MUSCLE GAIN

This is a topic you rarely see someone go into detail about so I want to shed some light on what to expect after the diet is over. A lot of people believe in the “post show rebound” and the ability to put on muscle. You have some that say it’s Bro-science (that’s partly true but more on that in a minute), some say that the ability to gain muscle is extremely fast after the diet, and some that just don’t know for sure. Here’s the truth of it all and why there is a period of faster muscle gain after a diet is over.

For almost everyone out there reading, when you diet you are going to lose muscle. Just part of the process. When you come off the diet, it’s way easier to put that lost muscle back on. It’s not “new” muscle, it’s muscle that has been built prior to losing it, so the nuclei are already there and “muscle memory” happens making it appear that there is a post show muscle rebound. Just remember, it’s not NEW muscle, it’s regaining lost muscle at a very fast rate.

After the lost muscle is put back on, that’s when new nuclei have to be added and new muscle starts to be put on. This process takes much longer, esp as you get older. So after the short muscle re-gain period is over it’s back to normal time frames for muscle gain.

A lot of people that compete end up going apeshit after their show for a few weeks and pounding food left and right and they fill out their muscle glycogen stores and for a short period really look crazy. It looks like muscle gain is happening at an alarming rate. It doesn’t last long, and fat gain is happening as well. It’s just an achieved look and not tied to experiencing any sort of magical post diet muscle gain period.

If you look at hormones in the body after dieting, they are set up for FAT gain not muscle gain. Testosterone is low, thyroid hormone is low, leptin is low, ghrelin is high.

Take home point-
If anything this is the time to strive to maximize regaining lost muscle without a ton of fat gain. Even though lost muscle is going to come on faster after the diet there is only so much that will come on at once. Fat on the other hand, that will come on fast as hell and there is no set amount it’s limited to like muscle gain.

Article provided by John Gorman Fitness and Weight loss Coach

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Hitting macros per meal versus macros per day

Folks this isnt going to be the most popular thing to say but I gotta speak up. You may agree or disagree with me here to varying degrees, but I am going to speak through experience over the years with myself, and my clients.

I see so many people struggle with hitting their pro/carbs/fats (macros) that are just eating and logging the food they eat. Sigh….maybe it’s the old school way I learned but what happened to eating X amount of meals a day (however many work for your daily routine) and hitting macros per meal? Do I think there is an advantage for fat loss there? Minimal to none, but that’s not why I think more people should be trying to hit macro’s per MEAL instead of macros per DAY.

When you strive to hit your numbers per meal you will get much closer to your macros per day total than you will just randomly eating food and logging it into myfitnesspal or some other app. I have clients, friends, etc that say “I was under my carb intake today 30 grams” or “I went over my protein today by accident, sorry coach” and I find out they are just eating and logging their food and not trying to hit meals totals I give them. It seems these day’s with flexible dieting that people have abandoned the concept of planning meals out and are just more focused on hitting numbers at the end of the day. The only problem I have with that is when the problem comes up of being “off” your numbers. Especially protein, I mean if you are a guy eating 240 g of protein and you only eat like 15 g at one sitting and then 80 at another your missing out on the point of optimizing protein synthesis from that protein feeding. Balancing your meals with protein at least should be a minimum and there is plenty of data to support that. I give every single client a certain amount of pro/carbs/fats per meal to do 2 things- optimize protein synthesis from their protein at that meal, and to get them more accurately hitting their daily totals instead of trying to figure out how to make them all fit at the end of the day.

I hate to think this way, but it’s almost like people just dont want to plan anything out anymore. If you are a physique athlete, I suggest planning your meals for the day instead of just eating and logging. Sure people will say “but it works for me, I even get contest lean” and that’s fine, but if you are constantly juggling numbers and off that’s not ideal for you. Just plan your meals out for the day or days and put a bit more effort in and make sure your calories and macros are where they should be.

Article provided by John Gorman Fitness and Weightloss Coach

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How many re feeds are best when dieting versus offseason

I get a ton of questions about refeeds wanting to know how to set them up, how much to have, and interesting enough here lately more questions over having multiple refeeds a week which I want to touch on today to help people understand it better. In most situations I believe people have it backwards. Here’s what I have learned over the years and use with most of my clients.

First lets talk about the primary goals of a refeed. They boost leptin (which boost metab), they refill glycogen to help fuel workouts and also help against muscle loss, and they can give a nice mental break from being at a deficit. Refeeds can either be eating back to maintenance cals, or slightly over to promote growth. When dieting I have seen better results getting my clients back to maintenance versus going over to promote growth.

Lets also talk about 2 very important topics that you wont see most people posting or talking about. 1. The difference in muscle loss when you are lean at the end of a diet and when you are in the first half of the diet is very different. This is HUGE to understand. The higher your body fat is, the harder it is to lose muscle. The leaner you are, the easier it is for your body to tap into muscle and burn it. Keep this in mind as I go. 2. Leptin is the hormone that helps boost metabolism, and it’s made in the fat cells- when you are higher body fat leptin levels are HIGH, as you diet and get leaner leptin levels LOWER. This is important to understand that as you get leaner you need to boost leptin MORE OFTEN to boost metabolism because you have less of it available.

When dieting, if someone has just straight calories across the board every day in a caloric deficit, their metab adapts to those calories because they are not giving their body a boost in leptin with a refeed. IMO the worst way to diet is to eat the same cals every day. Think about cookie cutter diets given out to all the same people. The best way to keep metab boosted and from adapting is to throw a higher calorie day back in, to maintenance cals for example. Maybe you are dieting on 225 carbs and your maintenance you started from was 300 carbs a month ago. Going back to 300 carbs would boost leptin/metab but not store as fat and set you behind. I have seen the refeeds work to help people hit new lows as well when they had just been on all days in a deficit.

Here’s the way I recommend starting people. When body fat and leptin is higher in the beginning of a diet 1 refeed day will work, or two smaller refeed days. (I actually am starting a lot more of my clients on 2 small refeeds a week these days, 2 higher cal days that are back to maintenance). Then as you get leaner and leaner you really need to make sure you have at least 2 refeeds a week. Why? As you diet and get leaner your metab will naturally slow, hitting a refeed every 3-4 days is going to help with metab not adapting to lower cals for 6 days for example. (note, some of you are going to have to do this to push through hard if you are a tad behind. I have a couple clients reading this right now saying MFer then why you only giving me 1 refeed a week and I am 3 weeks out!?) Remember the leaner you are, the less leptin your body makes so the more important it is to get more refeeds in.

Offseason should be the opposite, leptin will be higher because body fat levels are higher, you dont need to boost it so often. Once a week is enough. Also, now metab is humming and cals are up to maintenance or above ALL days of the week, having a refeed will lead to fat gain much easier. Refeeds less often as you are in the offseason are best.

Article provided by John Gorman Fitness and Weight loss Coach

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Why Bodybuilders eat Rice Cakes.

As a bodybuilder, you may be more concerned with putting on weight than losing it, so typical “diet foods” like rice cakes might not be on your radar. But rice cakes are a good addition to your diet. They’re a good source of high-energy carbs and low in sodium to help prevent fluid retention.

Rice Cake Nutrition

Rice cakes are not only low in calories, but also fat-free. One cake has 35 calories, 7 grams of carbs, 0.5 gram of fiber and 1 gram of protein. It’s also a good source of manganese, meeting 17 percent of the daily value. Although not a significant source of any other nutrient, rice cakes can help boost your intake of niacin, magnesium, selenium and phosphorus.

Carbs for Energy

When it comes to nutrition as a bodybuilder, your focus may be protein. But carbs are an important part of your diet plan, providing the energy your muscles need to lift those weights. Rice cakes are considered a high-glycemic food, which means they digest fast and act as a quick source of energy, so they’re a good pre-workout carb choice. Rice cakes can also be part of a nourishing post-workout meal, which is necessary for replenishing energy stores.

Low in Sodium

As a low-sodium food, with 29 milligrams per serving, rice cakes are a good choice when trying to limit your sodium intake to improve muscle definition. Limiting your sodium intake helps prevent fluid retention and is the safest way to cut weight before a competition, according to Human Kinetics. A 1,500-milligram sodium diet is considered very low-sodium, but you can survive on 250 milligrams of sodium a day, according to Clemson Cooperative Extension.

Serving Tips

You can eat rice cakes plain, but it’s better to combine them with foods high in protein and healthy fat. For a pre-workout snack, top your rice cake with turkey and fresh cranberry sauce or tuna with a touch of balsamic vinegar. After your workout, get the carbs, protein and fat your body needs by topping your rice cake with peanut butter and sliced bananas. Or smear some avocado on your cake and top it with thinly sliced chicken breast.

What’s Your Body Type?

Most people have combinations of the three body types. For example, some have an upper body that is ectomorphic and a lower body that is endomorphic, resulting in a slim upper body and a more fat-prone lower body, creating a pear shape. Sometimes the variation is not as clear-cut as having one body type for the upper body and another for the lower.

Height has little to do with body type, despite the fact that people tend to think of skinny people (ectomorphs) as tall and heavy-set people (endomorphs) as short.

Ectomorph Mesomorph Endomorph
Skinny, linear/ ruler appearance
Naturally lean
Smooth, round body
Lightly muscled
Naturally muscular
Gains muscle easily, but tends to be underdeveloped
Small joints/ boned
Medium to large size joints/ bones
Medium to large joints/ bones
Low body fat (without exercising or following low calorie diets)
Naturally strong
High levels of body fat (may be overweight)
Small shoulders, chest and buttocks
Broad/ square shoulders
Small shoulders, high waist and large hips creating a pear-shaped physique
Long arms and legs
Body fat evenly distributed
Difficult to keep lost body fat off
Difficulty gaining weight
Losing fat is easy
Slow metabolic rate
Fast & efficient metabolism
Efficient metabolism
Attacks of tiredness/ fatigue
Hyperactive
Gaining muscle easy
Lose weight slowly
Difficulty gaining muscle
Responds quickly to exercise

DETERMINE BODY TYPE

Perhaps it was immediately obvious which body group you fell into. But, if it wasn’t think about how you react to food and exercise.

1.   METABOLISM

Do you gain weight quickly if you eat the wrong foods or after going on a lazy holiday? If you lose this weight rapidly after a change in diet or some exercise, you are probably a mesomorph. If you struggle to lose these extra pounds, then you exhibit endomorphic features. If you don’t put on any weight, you most likely are an ectomorph.

2.   EATING HABITS

Compare your eating habits with your appearance. If you consume a large amount of calories and are still thin, you are probably an ectomorph. If you eat a small number of calories and still appear thin and healthy you are probably a mesomorph. If you consume few calories and still appears heavy you are probably an endomorph.

3.   SIZE OF JOINTS/ BONES

To determine whether you are small, medium or larger boned/ jointed, encircle your wrist with your thumb and middle finger. If your middle finger overlaps your thumb, then you are small boned/ jointed (ectomorph). If your middle finger and thumb just touch, you have medium sized bones/ joints (mesomorph). If your finger and thumb do not touch then you are larger boned/ jointed (endomorph).

4.   THINK BACK!

To help determine your body type, think back to your adolescence, a time before age (metabolism slows as you get older, making you more prone to weight gain) and lifestyle transformed your body into what it is today.

5.     PICTURES

Look at some images of the various body types here and see if you identify with any of the body types.

ONE LAST THING …

Everyone has the potential to develop a great shape – regardless of his or her dominant body type. Losing inches, especially off your problem areas, can be accomplished through proper exercise and eating habits. If you are a large-framed person, though you will never be willowy, you can be slender and fit, wear a size 8 with room to spare and look super sexy in a bikini. However, it is futile for a person with strong mesomorph or endomorph characteristics to aim to be willowy like an ectomorph, this will only lead to disappointment and ill health. Even if this target thinness were reached, it probably would not look good, could be difficult in the extreme to maintain and would continue to have adverse effects on the body.

Do the right cardiovascular exercise for your body type to improve your body and get the results you want. Also, ectomorph workouts, mesomorph and endomorphs need to train differently when it comes to resistance training.

Good vs. Bad Carbohydrates Or Simple vs Complex Carbs

Carbohydrates, often referred to as “carbs,” are your body’s primary energy source, and they’re a crucial part of any healthy diet. Carbs should never be avoided, but it is important to understand that not all carbs are alike.

Carbohydrates can be either simple (nicknamed “bad” ) or complex (nicknamed “good”) based on their chemical makeup and what your body does with them.

Complex carbohydrates, like whole grains and legumes, contain longer chains of sugar molecules; these usually take more time for the body to break down and use. This, in turn, provides you with a more even amount of energy.

Simple carbohydrates are composed of simple-to-digest, basic sugars with little real value for your body. The higher in sugar and lower in fiber, the worse the carbohydrate is for you — remember those leading indicators when trying to figure out if a carbohydrate is good or bad.

Fruits and vegetables are actually simple carbohydrates — still composed of basic sugars, although they are drastically different from other foods in the category, like cookies and cakes. The fiber in fruits and vegetables changes the way that the body processes their sugars and slows down their digestion, making them a bit more like complex carbohydrates.

Simple carbohydrates to limit in your diet include:

  • Soda
  • Candy
  • Artificial syrups
  • Sugar
  • White rice (jasmine), white bread, and white pasta
  • Potatoes (which are technically a complex carb, but act more like simple carbs in the body)
  • Pastries and desserts

You can enjoy simple carbohydrates on occasion, you just don’t want them to be your primary sources of carbs. And within the simple carb category, there are better choices — a baked potato, white rice, and regular pasta — than others — chips, cakes, pies, and cookies.

The Detail on Complex Carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates are considered “good” because of the longer series of sugars that make them up and take the body more time to break down. They generally have a lower glycemic load, which means that you will get lower amounts of sugars released at a more consistent rate — instead of peaks and valleys —to keep you going throughout the day.  Complex carbs are slower digesting so you will fill full longer especially if you metabolism is operating at an optimal level.

Picking complex carbohydrates over simple carbohydrates is a matter of making some simple substitutions when it comes to your meals. “Have brown rice instead of white rice, have whole-wheat pasta instead of plain white pasta.

To know if a packaged food is made of simple or complex carbohydrates, look at the label. Read the box so you know what exactly you’re getting. If the first ingredient is whole-wheat flour or whole-oat flower, it’s likely going to be a complex carbohydrate. And if there’s fiber there, it’s probably more complex in nature.

Complex carbs pack in more nutrients than simple carbs, because they are higher in fiber and digest more slowly. This also makes them more filling, which means they’re a good option for weight control. They are also ideal for people with type 2 diabetes because they help manage post-meal blood sugar spikes.

Fiber and starch are the two types of complex carbohydrates. Fiber is especially important because it promotes bowel regularity and helps to control cholesterol. The main sources of dietary fiber include:

  • fruits such as apples, berries, and bananas (avoid canned fruit, as they usually contain added syrup)
  • vegetables including broccoli, leafy greens, and carrots
  • nuts
  • beans these are good sources of folate, iron, and potassium
  • whole grains

Starch is also found in some of the same foods as fiber. The difference is certain foods are considered more starchy than fibrous, such as potatoes. Other high-starch foods are:

  • whole wheat bread
  • cereal
  • corn
  • oats
  • peas
  • rice (brown rice)

Complex carbohydrates are key to long-term health. They make it easier to maintain your weight, and can even help guard against type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular problems in the future.

The Glycemic Load Factor

Describing carbs as being either simple or complex is one way to classify them, but nutritionists and dietitians now use another concept to guide people in making decisions about the carbs they choose to eat.

The glycemic index of a food basically tells you how quickly and how high your blood sugar will rise after eating the carbohydrate contained in that food, as compared to eating pure sugar. Lower glycemic index foods are healthier for your body, and you will tend to feel full longer after eating them. Most, but not all, complex carbs fall into the low glycemic index category.

It is easy to find lists of food classified by their glycemic index. You can see the difference between the glycemic index of some simple and complex carbohydrates in these examples:

White rice, 64
Brown rice, 55
White spaghetti, 44
Whole wheat spaghetti, 37
Corn flakes, 81
100 percent bran (whole grain) cereal, 38

To take this approach one step farther, you want to look at the glycemic load of a food. The glycemic load takes into account not only its glycemic index, but also the amount of carbohydrate in the food. A food can contain carbs that have a high glycemic index, but if there is only a tiny amount of that carb in the food, it won’t really have much of an impact. An example of a food with a high glycemic index but a low glycemic load is watermelon, which of course tastes sweet, but is mostly water.

The bottom line: Just be sensible about the carbs you choose. Skip low-nutrient dessert, consider the levels of sugar and fiber in carbs, and focus on healthy whole grains, fruits, and veggies to get the energy your body needs every day.

 

Understand how to measure your body fat

Most of us have heard of body mass index, or BMI, a formula that determines whether you are at a healthy weight for your height.

What BMI doesn’t tell you, however, is your body composition — percent fat and lean tissue — which is equally important in determining your risk for health problems such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

In fact, some people with a normal BMI actually have a high percentage of body fat, putting them at risk for the same serious health problems as people who are obese. Conversely, people whose BMI indicates they’re obese may not have much excess body fat at all.

What’s more, where your fat is stored on your body can affect how damaging it is to your health.

Upper body obesity — your waistline — increases your risk for chronic diseases more than lower-body obesity — around your hips. Generally, the acceptable waistline for women is 35 or fewer inches and for men, 40 or fewer inches.

So what is the best way to better understand body composition?

It can be assessed in any number of ways, including:

  • Hydrostatic (underwater) weighing. During underwater weighing, you’re seated on a special chair and submerged under water. Because bone and muscle are more dense than water — and fat, less dense — the more you weigh, the lower your percent body fat. This method, currently considered the “gold standard” in percent body fat measurement, is usually available at colleges or universities.
  • Skinfolds. This method is the most widely used body composition testing method for assessing percent body fat. Equipment used for this assessment includes a skinfold caliper. A skinfold caliper is designed specifically for simple accurate measurement of subcutaneous tissue. Either a seven- or three-site skinfold may be assessed. This assessment is often performed at fitness clubs, sport and exercise physiology labs, hospitals and schools.
  • Bioelectrical impedance analysis. By standing barefoot on metal foot plates — or using a hand-held device — an undetectably low voltage electric current is sent up one leg and down the other. Since fat is a very poor conductor of electricity, a lot of fat will impede the current more so than a lot of lean tissue. By measuring the resistance to the current, the machine estimates the percent body fat. This method is widely available in health and fitness clubs. St. Charles’ dietitians also have one available.
  • Dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA.) A new technology, DEXA uses two X-ray energies to measure body fat, muscle, and bone mineral. When having the scan done, one must lay still in the supine position on what looks like an X-ray table. It takes approximately 12 minutes for the computer software to produce an image of the tissues. The results may be viewed as whole body estimates of body fat, muscle, and bone mineral as well as regional body estimates. This method is typically available at universities and research facilities.
  • Bod Pod. Instead of using water to measure body volume, the Bod Pod uses air displacement to measure body volume. Measurement time takes roughly 5 to 8 minutes per individual. Oregon Health & Science University has one that occasionally comes to Bend (usually the Athletic Club of Bend.)

FYI:

General body fat percentage categories

Classification Women (percentage fat) Men (percentage fat)
Essential fat 10 – 12% 2 – 4%
Athletes 14 – 20% 6 – 13%
Fitness 21 – 24% 14 – 17%
Acceptable 25 – 31% 18 – 25%
Obese 32% + 26% +

*Body mass index (BMI) categories

BMI Weight status
Below 18.5 Underweight
18.5 – 24.9 Normal
25 – 29 Overweight
30 and above Obese

*To calculate your body mass index (BMI) or Fat Percentage contact a local Personal Training Facility.

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