Shari Duncan

Tag: Lean Muscle

NUTRITION: for Optimal Success

by on Jan.17, 2010, under General HEALTH, General Nutrition, Weight Loss

Just because you work out does not mean you can eat whatever you want. … that is if you want optimum results.

Here are 10 basic tips that will not only help with muscle building and fat burning from your training but will also provide a boost of energy throughout the day.

Exercise and Nutrition: Partnership for Success

Exercise and Nutrition: Partnership for Success

1.      EAT six meals a day.

Researchers and nutrition experts advise active people to eat frequently (about every 3 hours) to accelerate the metabolism and maintain steady energy levels throughout the day.

2.      COMBINE carbohydrates AND protein at every meal.

A simple fact: Our bodies work most efficiently with a balance of carbohydrates and protein.  Protein is essential for building healthy and maintaining a strong immune system. Protein paired with a nutritious carbohydrate has been shown to reduce appetite as proteins make you feel fuller longer.

3.      CHOOSE appropriate portions.

Portion size is important to weight management.  Use a common sense approach, such as using the palm of your hand or clenched fist to gauge portions for foods.

4.       PLAN meals ahead of time.

Fix meals in advance and pre-package or freeze them. It is important to plan ahead and shop at least once a week.  If you forget, you run out of “good” food and will be tempted to cheat or make impulsive and not so healthy choices.  Experiment with different recipes and seasonings and try new foods to add variety.

5.      STORE  food in reusable containers.

Purchase plastic storage containers, sports bottles, a water jug and a cooler to store and carry your food.  Having your pre-planned and prepared meals with you throughout your hectic day will keep you on track.

6.      DRINK 10 glasses of water daily.

Drink at least one glass of water with each of your 6 meals and 4 more throughout the day.  If you indulge in soda, coffee or tea, strive to consume even more water to compensate for the diuretic effect of these beverages.

7.      PROTEIN within 30 minutes of exercise.

Your muscles are primed for nutrients immediately after an intense workout, but within 2 hours, the body’s ability to refuel decreases.  Taken within 30 minutes of your workout, a high-quality protein helps to refuel and build muscle.

8.      SUPPLEMENT with high quality products.

Supplements can help make up for any nutritional deficiencies and enhance performance.

9.       Define your GOALS and your reason to succeed.

Research shows that those who are successful in transforming their bodies are motivated by an emotional trigger that helps them clarify their reasons for making that change.  Consider your “emotional trigger” and use it to stay committed to your nutrition program.

10.     CONSISTENCY, not perfection.

There will always be a meal or special event that offers foods not on your recommended food list.  When you get off track, don’t allow it to slow your progress. Enjoy the divergence, recommit to your goal and then get right back on track with your very next meal.

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Mirrors don’t Lie… and the Scale don’t tell the Whole Truth.

by on Dec.27, 2009, under General HEALTH, General Nutrition, Motivation, Natural Bodybuilding, Weight Loss

Lose the Fat, NOT the Muscle!

a little tidbit about body composition.

Obtaining your best  physique requires monitoring your weight and body composition changes. It also requires documenting changes in strength and energy all while tracking nutrient ratios by counting calories and weighing foods. The amount of calories you need to achieve your desired goal is influenced by body composition. Your body is made up of water, protein (or muscle), fat, bone, carbohydrate, vitamins, and minerals. Body composition refers to the amount of lean body mass (muscle) and fat mass in the body.

The goal of your diet and weight loss plan should not be to lose weight, but to lose body fatwhile maintaining lean muscle.  Losing muscle results in a lower metabolism, and can ultimately cause your weight loss plan to fail.

Muscle is healthy, makes you look better, and burns calories. That is a good thing. But the scale doesn’t tell you whether

Don't judge your progress by weight alone!

Don't judge your progress by weight alone!

you are losing body fat or muscle, so you could be losing muscle and not realize it.

A scale also doesn’t tell you if you are gaining muscle.  Again, muscle is good. But when you are on a weight loss program, gaining muscle can be both confusing and discouraging if you don’t realize how it’s affecting your weight.

The solution is not to judge your progress by weight alone, but to calculate the percentage of your weight that is body fat and make it your goal to reduce that number, not just your weight.

So hard as it might be, DO NOT RELY ON THE SCALE as a sole measure of success (or failure). Mirrors don’t lie, and a mirror is actually a great way to see changes in your body. Clothes don’t lie either, and seeing how your clothes fit is a great way to observe the changes in your body. Or if you’d like to be a little more accurate and keep records of your progress, you can take measurements. Measure the circumferences of your upper arm (bicep), chest, waist, hips, and thighs using a flexible tape. Your goal with body tape measurements is consistency. Take them the same every time you take them and you will get an accurate view of your progress with each body part.

Use a flexible tape measure to monitor changes in body composition.

If you use the scale to monitor and document your progress, weigh yourself only once per week, the first thing in the morning. This is when your water content is most constant.

There are several methods available to determine your body composition, or percentage of body fat. The most accurate is called hydrostatic testing (immersion in water) but it is not practical as it is usually performed in a lab or hospital setting.  More practical options include Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA) scales and skin fold measurements using calipers.

BIA scales are very convenient but do not give as accurate readings as calipers – unless the readings are done in a physician’s office.  The handheld body-fat analyzers that are often used in commercial gyms can often miscalculate the amount of fat you are carrying on your body. Results can be skewed by several factors because it has to factor in certain assumptions about the person and use those assumptions in the equations that are programmed. (Usually, height, weight, gender, age).

Skinfold Measurements measure the subcutaneous fat folds around specific body parts (triceps, waist, thigh, and back) with skin calipers and are available in either manual or digital formats. Either of these methods will enable you to monitor your progress at home.

An optimal body fat percentage for a non-athlete man is around 10-14%, while it is around 16-20% for a non-athlete woman. These percentages should provide a lean appearance. The difference between genders is due to the fact that men are naturally more muscular (lean) than women.

The American Council on Exercise provides the following ranges for men and women with classifications based on varying levels of body fat:

Classification Men Women
Essential Fat 2-5% 10-13%
Athlete 6-13% 14-20%
Fitness 14-17% 21-24%
Average 18-24% 25-31%
Obese 25% and above 32% and above

With proper nutrition and a healthy workout regimen, you will see those numbers get smaller as you burn fat.

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by on Dec.09, 2009, under General HEALTH, General Nutrition, Natural Bodybuilding

Protein is a critical part of a healthy diet, and eating the right amount helps with everything from higher energy to stronger muscles.

The trick is knowing the healthiest sources of protein and the right amounts for your body. Every cell in our body needs protein to carry out all metabolisms that sustain us. Our nerves, tissues, bones all are made up of proteins,. Proteins play all sorts of roles in maintaining our health and functionality.

  • Build Muscle. Since you need protein to build muscle, eating enough protein ensures your body has what it needs to build new one.
  • Maintain Muscle. Getting your body the protein it needs will improve muscle recovery and prevent muscle breakdown from exercising.

    Assorted fast, slow, and timed released blended proteins available in many flavors.

  • Fat Loss. Protein has the highest thermogenic effect, which means your body burns more calories digesting proteins than carbs or fat.

Eating protein rich foods with each meal helps reduce the appetite, plus the body uses energy to convert protein to carbohydrates.

If too much protein is consumed regularly, it can be converted to fat and stored, the same as carbohydrates can be converted for fat storage. However, protein contains Nitrogen, an important chemical essential for the production of antibodies, so the body prefers to hold onto this Nitrogen. Therefore, protein is more likely to be converted to carbohydrates rather than fat. These complex chemical reactions use up extra energy and help us burn more calories at rest!

So How Much Protein Does a Person Need?
The United States RDA is 0.4g/lbs. This is only about 80g protein per day for a 200 lb person. But this recommendation is based on studies done on non-active, sedentary people.

For those who train regularly and want to build or maintain lean mass while trimming fat, the recommendation is .8 – 1 gram protein per pound of body-weight per day. That equates to 160-200g daily protein for a 200lb individual. This amount can be easily reached by eating frequently and including a whole protein source with each meal.

Best Sources of Protein

It is important to vary your protein sources to get the full range of amino acids and nutrients from your foods. Here are some of the best & most popular protein-rich foods.


Seafood is one of the best sources of protein because it’s usually low in fat. Salmon contains more fat but it is the heart-healthy kind: omega-3 fatty acids.

White-Meat Poultry (Chicken & Turkey)

Stick to the white meat of poultry for excellent, lean protein. Dark meat is higher in fat. The skin is loaded with saturated fat, so remove skin before cooking.

Milk, Cheese, and Yogurt, Cottage Cheese

Not only are dairy foods — like milk, cheese, and yogurt — excellent sources of protein but they also contain valuable calcium. Choose skim or low fat dairy to keep bones and teeth strong, prevent osteoporosis, and enhance weight loss.

Eggs (Egg Whites)

Eggs are one of the least expensive forms of protein. One egg white is just 16 calories and has 3 grams of protein. One whole egg is about 75 calories, has double the protein and 5 grams of fat and 22 mg of cholesterol. To cut back on calories , fat and cholesterol, try using one whole egg to every two whites.


One-half cup of beans contains as much protein as three ounces of broiled steak. Plus, they are loaded with fiber to keep you feeling full for hours.

Pork Tenderloin

This great and versatile white meat is 31% leaner than 20 years ago.


Twenty five grams of soy protein daily can help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. Combine soy protein foods like tofu with a healthy low fat diet.

Lean Beef

Lean beef has only one more gram of saturated fat than a skinless chicken breast. Lean beef is also an excellent source of zinc, iron, and vitamin B12.

Protein on the Go

Grab a meal replacement drink, cereal bar, or energy bar. Whey protein shakes supply 30 or more grams of protein per serving. Check the label to be sure the product contains at least six grams of protein, and is low in sugar and fat.

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