Not All Calories Are Created Equal

One of the biggest mistakes we often see customers and clients making is to put The All-Important Calorie on a pedestal. The thought of “calorie expenditure” and “calore intake” seems to lord over all diets — the idea that you can control how your body processes food, and what it will look like because of it, based on sheer numbers.

Some of that is true. Nobody would argue that eating more food is more likely to cause you to gain weight, and the reverse is true as well (sometimes). But, like the title of this post says, not all calories are created equal. In fact, they’re wildly different when it comes to 1) what they provide for your body, 2) how much “bang for your buck” you’ll get from them and 3) how easy it is to consume LOTS of one kind, compared to others.

Let’s say you’re doing some shopping for snacks, and you’re trying to figure out which is the healthy option, completely based on calories alone. You stroll down the cookie aisle, and see them marked as “100-Calorie Packs.” Perfect, right? Well, not really. Because those 100 calories are high-glycemic calories from simple sugars (even little crackers are eventually broken down into extra glucose), that 100-calorie figure loses some appeal. Compare that to, say, a half cup of brown rice with olive oil stirred in (lots of calories, but full of fiber and healthy fats) or a couple sticks of string cheese. Both the latter options have more calories, but the nutrition they provide for your body are unquestionably more useful than the empty 100 calories you’d be ingesting with the cookies. This all boils down to EATING WITH A PURPOSE.

You’ll also realize, as you go about your calorie-counting, just how easy it is to underestimate them, and why the old 2,000-calories-a-day adage that the FDA uses to gauge your standard diet is pretty far off-course — everyone is different! You have to listen to your body, take note of what you see in the mirror and adjust continuously; following a hard-and-fast number that might not even apply to you is crazy. The “daily values” listed on most American food products assume an “average,” sedentary person. Athletes and those concerned with their fitness DO NOT fit this mold! If you’re exercising or trying to burn fat, you need more muscle, and more muscle requires more food, and more calories. This is what we mean when we say “bang for your buck” — yes, you will be taking in more calories, and you might even gain weight. But just like you’d rather have a 250-calorie meal that provides some nutrition to your body than a 100-calorie snack that is simply 100 extra calories floating around, standing in at a lean, fierce 125 pounds (for example) is almost always going to look better and healthier than you would at 100 pounds lighter, with no muscle tone or shape to speak of.

And, let’s not forget, one of the easiest way to lose track of calories is by drinking them. Of all the macronutrient groups, alcohol is second-“heaviest” in terms of calories — a little goes a long way in bogging down your metabolism. Obviously, a fitness-focused individual should try to limit beer, wine and liquor consumption as much as possible. But let’s not get off-track: We’re actually talking about juices, soda and sports drinks that are adding useless calories to your diet, fast.

Consider that one can of Coke is like wolfing down two candy bars, or that many flavored teas, juices, sodas and other drinks often times have as much or MORE sugar than a serving of pure maple syrup, and it’s easy to see why Americans are so fat — we drink way too many of our calories! The best option is almost always water, as it not only is calorie-free but essential to just about every bodily function you have, including your metabolism. Again, some drinks with equal calories aren’t going to be the same as others; a post-workout chocolate milk, high in calories, is clearly a better choice than a 3 p.m. can of Pepsi at your desk. Our recommendation: Fill a gallon jug with water (optionally, mix in some muscle-building BCAAs!) and make sure it’s empty by the end of the day. This keeps you hydrated and full, meaning you’re less likely to want to keep reaching for unnecessary calories in the first place.

By making smart decisions on what calories are worth eating and which aren’t, you can take control over your diet and be an informed food consumer. Remember, not all calories are created equal!

Workout of the Week: Full-Body Fat Loss

Follow the workout listed below, or just print out this page for a .pdf you can take with you to the gym!

Full Body Fat Loss Workout

  • Superset 1 (x3): Box jumps (10)/push-ups (20)
  • Superset 2 (x3): Leg press (10)/pull-ups (to failure)
  • Cardio: 5 mins HIIT on a treadmill
  • Superset 3 (x3): Romanian deadlifts (10)/cleans (10)
  • Planks (3 sets x 45 seconds)
  • Hanging leg raises (3×8)
  • Medicine ball twists (3×8 per side): Sit on the ground with your feet flat in front of you and a 5- to-10-pound medicine ball behind your back. Twist to your right, keeping your torso straight up, grab the ball, rotate it quickly in front of your body, and set it down behind you where you picked it up. Repeat that eight times, then switch directions for eight more.
  • Cardio: 5 mins HIIT on a treadmill

Diabetes Awareness and Prevention at NUTRISHOP

Both living with and preventing diabetes is an important part of the human diet today. The common associations with high blood sugar, increased body fat and/or obesity and hypertension make diabetes a real, dangerous and prevalent disease, especially in Western cultures, where the “standard” diet guidelines have gone by the wayside.

To battle this, it’s recommended highly that everyone — not only athletes, dieters or fitness models — control their dietary sugar intake. This one step alone is a major victory in preventing and addressing diabetes.

So, while we love the aesthetic benefits of lowering dietary sugar — namely, reduced body fat and a leaner frame — there are big-time health benefits to it as well. The purpose of this week’s blog is to show how dietary changes can make a big difference in your everyday life.

To begin with, we want to explain why protein is needed with each meal to balance blood sugar. The digestion process normally works this way: The body absorbs the sugars from food and converts them to glycogen (blood sugar); then, the pancreas releases the hormone insulin to help carry glycogen as fuel to the muscles and other cells for function. Diabetics’ bodies either don’t respond to the insulin enough, or the pancreas doesn’t make enough (or both).

Over time, too many high-glycemic foods (sugars) blunt the body’s sensitivity to insulin, and that sugar gets stored in the blood and as fat cells. This, fortunately, can be countered with some wise eating habits.

Glycemic weight can be lowered in meals by a higher protein content. Because glucose helps to shuttle protein to the muscles, it is less likely to be stored as fat, and over time, this adds up. The body will not be so used to sugar spikes that it is desensitized to insulin — the very culprit behind diabetes. This is why our advice is to eat some protein with every meal. Keeping your sugar intake low, while balancing it with protein, is a great way to manage blood sugar and body fat.

That is why our meal plans (always FREE with purchase) that help you lose fat are designed to balance blood sugar as well — because that is the best way to burn body fat. We customize these for everyone, and we can tailor your plan to include the healthiest possible plan for you.

Stay tuned throughout the week for the top NUTRISHOP products that are either diabetic-friendly, or that will be safe, low-sugar options.

PROTEIN

One of the best steps you can take in fighting high blood sugar is to make sure you get enough quality protein without adding tons of sugars. For example, most “side dishes” tend to add lots of simple carbohydrates — people eat steak, but they need mashed potatoes; they have chicken, but they need white rice; they have lean ham, but need a sweet roll with it. Being diligent about making sure your clean protein sources don’t get bogged down with high-glycemic foods is important.

But what if you have a sweet tooth? This is where a tasty protein shake can work wonders. NUTRISHOP carries several brands of whey protein powder blends that taste great and have just one gram of sugar, including FORZA PRO and PRO7EIN SYNTHESIS. And remember, a high protein intake often leads to a faster metabolism, which in turn helps to process the occasional simple sugars that much more efficiently. This is how blood sugar and pressure is kept low — regulating the body’s insulin production by controlling simple sugar consumption and encouraging a faster metabolism.

REPLACING SUGAR

One of the top ways you can avoid or deal with blood sugar problems is to cut out simple sugars from your diet, or at the very least limit them. But for those of us with a sweet tooth, the options when it comes to facing a bland diet or just caving in and eating sugar aren’t all that appealing.

Even natural sweeteners — honey, nectar, etc. — don’t help us. They still contain sugars that have the same insulin-spiking glycemic effect and they still carry big calorie totals. That’s not our goal.

That’s where artificial sweeteners come in, but over the years, they’ve taken somewhat of a hit in their reputation and developed a bad rap. NUTRISHOP is all for all-natural products when they promote health, but there are some things in nature that just don’t help our bodies look good or function well. Natural sugar is just one of those things, and when science can step up and provide a healthy alternative, it’s worth listening.

A recent investigation from the Mayo Clinic broke down the different types of artificial sweeteners and found that the reputation they’ve earned are hardly justified, while some “natural” products don’t deserve the hype they get. Below is a look at the most common artificial sweetener, sucralose.

  • Sucralose: Definitely the safest and most common artificial sweetener, you might see it most of the time when you’re fixing up your coffee at Starbucks or in a restaurant. The classic pink-yellow-blue sweetener packets are all actually different types of sweeteners (the yellow one, Splenda, is sucralose). Many of the exclusive NUTRISHOP products contain this favored sweetener, approved by the FDA in the ‘70s as a completely safe alternative to sugar. Sucralose is actually derived from sugar itself, its 600 times sweeter than sugar and is virtually calorie-free.

WORKOUT WEDNESDAY: Core and HIIT Cardio

CORE AND HIIT CARDIO

hiit, cardio, core, abs

Three Giant Sets:

8 Hanging Leg Raises/12 Decline Sit-Ups/8 Twisting Crunches (to the left, down, to the right is one rep)/30 seconds plank.

3×15: Kneeling Cable Crunches

8 x 20 seconds: Side planks (4 sets per side). Stay rigid as possible, without letting your hips dip.

–Have a BCAA shake, to fight off catabolism, before moving on to cardio.–

Cardio: 15 minutes of HIIT, with a 2:1 ratio of high intensity to low intensity. Do five straight “sets” of 1 minute at full sprint, followed by one minute of a fast run, followed by a moderate-paced jog for a minute.

Save your ink! Print out the workout and take it to the gym with you!

Fight School and Work Stress with the Right Supplements

Deadlines, homework, tests, quizzes, meetings: Whether you’re in school or doing the daily work grind (or both), there are plenty of opportunities for stress to invade your life. We know all too well how stress can negatively impact not only your mental state of mind, but also your body — the stress hormone cortisol can wreak havoc on body fat levels and metabolism, and even affect digestion and sleep habits, which in turn does even more damage to your energy levels. And that’s all not to mention what it does to your mood, which, when degraded for long enough, can seriously damage your social and home life. It’s a vicious cycle. Fighting stress is the name of the game this week, and we’ll have some of the best supplements you can use to both improve your body and your state of mind. Bookmark this blog post, and check back throughout the week to see which products can help banish stress and ease the tension of  external pressures, and get you back to your productive, clear-minded self.

NATURE’S FUEL

A high-quality multivitamin is first and foremost on this list. Because of its many and various uses, NATURE’S FUEL should be part of everyone’s daily supplementation anyway. But, speaking specifically to stress, its unique formula makes it a wonder against stress. By including a few well-known stress-busters, NATURE’S FUEL is a no-brainer when it comes to fighting off the anxiety associated with busy schedules and high demands. For example, vitamin C, magnesium and the amino acid L-tryptophan are renowned stress reducers, and you can commonly find them in many foods. However, the quick and more efficient way is to find them in NATURE’S FUEL, all at once, in a formula that’s one of the most effectively absorbed on the market. This ensures that you actually get the nutrients you’re ingesting. One of the most common reviews we hear about NATURE’S FUEL is how much energy and clear-headedness it provides. Fighting off cortisol to relieve stress is just one part of this great formula, though; it also is a prime choice to help avoid sickness and promote overall health. If you need an everyday mood-booster that also amps up your immune function, Square One is with NATURE’S FUEL.

BCAAs

bcaa, muscle building, muscle

The branched-chain amino acids Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine are directly related not only to muscle size and recovery, but energy as well, and that ties in to our discussion here on stress. Simply put, physical energy and stress — the actual recovery by the central nervous system and skeletal muscle after a workout, for example — can play a role in mental stress, too, because it can increase cortisol production. Healthful post-workout supplementation and nutrition can be a way to counteract this. Plenty of protein, quality carbohydrates and BCAAs can speed up the recovery process in your body, quickly reducing cortisol levels that may influence your mood and energy levels.

HYPERCOR

On top of being NUTRISHOP’s most popular and effective fat-burner, HYPERCOR is an elite option for boosting your mood and melting away stress.

This is because of several blends within HYPERCOR’s formula, specifically the patented Adrenal-Cortical Suppression Blend, designed to work with your own metabolism and control your cortisol levels. Plus, as a mood-booster, HYPERCOR is second to none because of its Neuro-Phoric Blend. Studies suggest there is a significant link between mental and physical health, meaning happy people are healthy people, and vice versa — you can help control your energy and mood with HYPERCOR while fighting body fat. Three major players in this product help improve your sense of well-being, including Beta-PEA (which helps signal the brain to produce more dopamine) and two other very long-worded ingredients that stimulate production of norepinephrine and the “feel-good” chemical found naturally in dark chocolate.

Yes, while HYPERCOR is best-known as a fat fighter, it’s also a tremendous option for melting away stress.

1-XD

forzaone 1XDThis one’s for the guys. We’ve been over stress pretty thoroughly to this point, and it’s clear that cortisol, for all intents and purposes, is the enemy when it comes to the stress we feel. We over-worry, feel stressed out, produce cortisol and, in turn, our testosterone production actually decreases and body fat increases. For men, especially those 30 or older, these effects can snowball into a cyclical problem, where mood and physique both suffer.

That’s why 1-XD, our best-selling testosterone booster, is such a vital choice for guys. Not only does it boost testosterone, by up to 42 percent in 12 days, but its main ingredient, D-Aspartic Acid (DAA), has been shown in recent studies to not only improve the body’s musculature and strength, but also to reduce cortisol and stress levels. Plus, 1-XD contains its own anti-aromatase — this keeps the body from converting newly produced testosterone, which you need as a man, into a form of estrogen, which can, in abundance, make you gain body fat and drastically lose muscle tone.

Food Focus: Grapes

Everyone likes finding out that one of their favorite foods is healthy. Grapes, those delicious, candy-like fruits you probably don’t eat enough of, are just another example!

GrapesOne of the amazing things about grapes is that, despite their relatively high sugar content (it’s a fruit, after all), they actually help burn fat — provided you don’t skin them. Grape skin is loaded with nutrients, including resveratrol, a nutrient that not only can help ease cellular inflammation and reduce the fat-storing capability of existing cells, but that can also improve the dilation of blood vessels and even decrease risk of heart attack.

Plus, the edible seeds in grape are chock full of antioxidants, eliminating free radicals that might cause cellular harm, and in many instances grapeseed extract is used as treatment for those with, or those hoping to prevent, vascular problems. And, to top it off, grapes are a top source of vitamin K.

Next time you’re browsing the produce section, grab a bag of red grapes. They’re great any time (and when frozen, they’re an amazing, guilt-free dessert)!

The Health Benefits of OPCs in ANX-P3

You’ve come to know ANX-P3 as a great pre-workout product that gives you a great pump. But it’s also got some other great properties, including a healthy dose of OPCs (oligomeric proanthocyanidin complexes) that specifically help with vascular function and the prevention of swelling and other blood-flow abnormalities.

Since ANX-P3’s primary function is to promote improved blood flow for that crazy workout pump, it stands to reason that OPCs would be included in its proprietary blend. Sure enough, a closer look at ANX-P3 shows them in the formula, in the form of Grape Seed Extract, PowerGrape Whole Grape Extract and Pine Bark Extract Concentrate. The early uses of OPCs for treatment actually were derived from the extract of French maritime pine.

OPCs are, according to the NYU Langone Medical Center, a family of closely-related compounds that has been used for years to treat myriad symptoms, including chronic venous insufficiency (similar to varicose veins), erectile dysfunction (when paired with arginine) and PMS swelling, on top of improving cholesterol and serving as a fat- and water-soluble antioxidant. From the Center’s website:

OPCs are strong antioxidants. Vitamin E defends against fat-soluble oxidants, and vitamin C neutralizes water-soluble ones, but OPCs are active against both types. … Regular use of OPCs has been proposed as a measure to prevent cancer, diabetic neuropathy and diabetic retinopathy and heart disease.

A double-blind, placebo-controlled study … reported that use of OPCs from pine bark produced benefits in all symptoms of menopause.

On top of the inclusion of OPCs, you’ll also note the Beet Root Extract Concentrate in ANX-P3’s main blend — it is known to be key for lowering blood pressure, another significant benefit when it comes to vascular health.