Cardio Burns Muscle — Here’s How to Save It

Running is one of the oldest, most-beloved, low-fuss sports there is. All you need is you and your shoes and you’re off. Runners love many aspects of this sport: the scenery if you’re taking to a trail, the serenity if you do a distance run by yourself, and, of course, the physical benefits.

Running — in fact, any kind of long-distance cardio like cycling or even competitive swimming — is a great way to burn body fat, and while cardio may never have the same kind of after-burn effect on calories that weight-lifting does, research has shown that body fat gets eaten alive by cardio while it’s happening.

Unfortunately, so does muscle.

Because muscle tissue takes more energy to preserve and build than does fat, the body will try to break down muscle that is not used or needed in an effort to build up readily available supplies of glycogen. Sure, fat will burn too. But since muscle tissue is so precious to a fat-burning metabolism — remember, the act of simply maintaining it burns calories as you rest — those concerned with losing muscle mass can ill afford catabolism. This obviously presents a problem for athletes who enjoy prolonged periods of aerobic exercise but who don’t want to see their iron gains go to waste, either.
Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are one of our favorite products, and their best, most practical use could very well be in preventing muscle wasting and aiding fat loss. Your muscles are built of proteins, proteins which your body is itching to break back down into energy if you give it the chance. It will target proteins before it targets body fat! When proteins are broken down back into amino acids (the process is called proteolysis), the muscle loses size, your metabolism gets slower and fat becomes harder to lose.
Where BCAAs come in is during that exact moment. Research has basically come to a consensus that the big three amino acids – Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine – are muscle-savers and fat-burners (via increased metabolism). The International Journal of Sports Medicine performed a double-blind, placebo-controlled study that tested two control groups performing moderate-intensity endurance exercise: one taking BCAAs, and the other taking the placebo. The study found, of course, that running, cycling and swimming (and other aerobic activity) does indeed increase muscle breakdown. But there’s more:
Endurance exercise at moderate intensity enhances proteolysis in working muscles … [But] a single oral intake of 2 g of BCAA … at onset of exercise effectively suppresses exercise-induced skeletal muscle proteolysis. (Source)
In other words, the amino acids you give your body when you take BCAAs provides a buffer your body can use without affecting the muscle you’ve worked to build. The upshot, then, is that you build or maintain muscle mass while still continuing to burn body fat. And that is a trade-off just about every athlete wants to make.

Stop Fat Absorption As You Eat: Fat Grabbers


What if there was a way to eliminate unhealthy dietary fats from your body before they ever got the chance to settle in in the first place?

Well, you could simply not eat them. But with Thanksgiving and Christmas coming up, let’s face it: You’re going to chow down. That’s why NUTRISHOP is now carrying Fat Grabbers, a weight loss product designed to be taken with a high-fat meal to trap fat and eliminate it, instead of letting it be absorbed.

Also a powerful tool for maintaining healthy cholesterol levels and stabilizing blood sugar levels, Fat Grabbers is available now, just in time for the holidays!


  • Helps decrease the body’s absorption of fat.
  • Helps maintain cholesterol levels that are already within the normal range.

Guar Gum, Psyllium Hulls: The fat-binding properties of fiber from guar gum and psyllium hulls interfere with the absorption of the emulsified fat from the small intestine. The bound fat molecules are then eliminated. Unlike some other types of fiber, guar gum does not affect mineral absorption. However, this fiber does slow down sugar absorption, which helps to maintain blood sugar levels already within the normal range. It also swells with fluid intake, promoting a feeling of satiety. (Source)

Are You Getting Enough Fat in Your Diet?

Fat is not the enemy.

Well, dietary fat isn’t, anyway. Body fat is what we’re trying to eradicate, because it’s unhealthy and, to many people, unattractive. But nixing fats in the diet isn’t the way to go about it.

In fact, many  body fat-burning benefits can be enjoyed simply by eating more essential fatty acids — that is, fats that the body does not produce and must get from food. The difference is the source: Avocado, eggs, fish — there are lots of food options for fat that are preferable to the ones we usually see and associate with “bad” fat. Even some animal fats (yes, saturated) are necessary from time to time. And, for the record, you never, EVER need to eat trans fats. That’s the easiest diet advice you’ll ever get.

We want to focus on the importance of dietary fats this week, breaking down the different types of fats and how they can make you either lose or (we hope not!) gain body fat. There’s a lot of “don’t eat this” advice out there, and somehow, perfectly healthy essential fatty acids have gotten dragged into the conversation. We mean to clear that up this week, showing you the foods and supplements that you can take to fill in the dietary gaps you might have.

Today’s lesson: Not all fats are created equal. There are many that are great for the body. But if you’re looking for a place to start hacking and slashing, feel free to eliminate those aforementioned trans fats — derived from oils injected with hydrogen to make their shelf lives last longer, these fats are an abomination. Basic rule: If it comes in a wrapper or package, and contains “partially hydrogenated oil” in the ingredients, just leave it on the shelf.


Found in olive oil, nuts, red meat, dairy, avocados and even some grains, monounsaturated fats are the most commonly consumed form of fats, particularly in non-Western diets. In the Mediterranean, for example, these fats can comprise a huge percentage of the typical diet — in Crete, according to one article, monounsaturated fats make up about 40 percent of the daily diet (mostly from olive oil), while its people enjoy a markedly decreased risk of coronary heart disease.

The other big benefit of this type of fat is its correlation to cholesterol in the body. Research indicates that monounsaturated fats contribute to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, with the possibility of raising HDL (healthy) cholesterol. We can’t stress this enough: Eat your natural, healthy fats! A handful of almonds, sunflower seeds, cashews or yes, even olives, can make a big difference daily.


These fatty acids are another source you want to involve in your diet, especially as a means of eliminating or limiting other, less healthy fats (like saturated and trans fats). ALA, DHA and EPA , and omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, are part of the polyunsaturated family and can be found in nuts, seeds, fish and leafy greens, with the emphasis on the fish — fish oil is a major provider of healthy fats, whether it’s taken in supplement form or with a diet that has plenty of seafood.

A recent study from the National Institute of Health found that these fats have a direct correlation to a lower risk of heart attack, and the Journal of Cardiovascular Medicine has suggested that omega-6 acids can prevent cardiovascular disease. Meanwhile, previously mentioned DHA is essential for organ function — particularly in the brain. Fats in general are necessary for skin, hair, nail, brain and sex organ function and health.


Again, here’s where to start cutting and slashing if you’re trying to get calories and fat out of your diet. Trans fats are, quite simply, a dietary abomination and have no worthwhile role in a healthy person’s diet. Almost universally shown in research to lead directly to elevated bad cholesterol levels and increase risk of coronary heart disease, trans fats are unnatural, unhealthy and unnecessary.

Most of what we need to know about trans fats comes from how they’re made. Because natural fats eventually spoil, food companies long ago discovered that they could sell more of their product if their product stayed on the shelf longer. To do this, they came up with a way to prevent fats that held up better over time — they took poly- or monounsaturated oils, infused them with hydrogen, and voila: They had a solid fat that could be chemically altered to taste delicious and preserve shelf life exponentially.

Of course, these fats are horrific on our bodies. In 1994, the American Journal of Public Health released a report indicating that up to 20,000 deaths occurred because of coronary heart disease in relation to increased trans fat consumption. On your labels, these are known as “partially hydrogenated oils,” and the FDA has very loose guidelines on how honest food manufacturers have to be in admitting use of trans fats. Zero grams on the label only means that there is no more than .49 grams per serving size — but with something as deadly and dangerous as trans fats, a little goes a long way.

On top of the increased risk of coronary heart disease, trans fat consumption is directly related to myriad health problems, including Alzheimer’s, cancer, diabetes, obesity, liver dysfunction and more.

So, how can you get rid of trans fats in your diet? The first step should be to avoid processed or pre-packaged foods. When doing your grocery shopping, stick to the perimeter of the store as much as possible — produce and meat is where you’ll find whole foods, not ones injected with hydrogenated oils. Failing that, read your labels, and not just the nutrition facts — check out the ingredients, too. Partially hydrogenated oils are a dead giveaway.

What’s in a Gram?

Our theme this week: Not all calories are created equal. To show exactly what that means, consider this breakdown on what a gram of each macronutrient brings to the table, calorie-wise.

Protein = 4 calories

Carbohydrate = 4 calories

Alcohol = 7 calories

Fat = 9 calories

When talking calories, it’s important to always remember what exactly it is – it’s a unit of energy. Consuming calories is consuming energy, meant to be used, and if it’s not used, it’s stored. So, with that in mind, how can you use that information to affect your everyday eating habits? First off, let’s start with protein — it is by far the efficient macronutrient here, because of what it provides at such a low caloric cost. If you’re eating to gain muscle, you should be around 1 gram per pound of your own body weight.  So if you’re a 180-pound man, that’s about 180 grams of protein a day. That is 720 calories, just in protein — obviously, then, that standard 2,0o0-calorie diet isn’t for muscle-builders.

This should signify how important it is to keep alcohol consumption within reason. Your body will use carbs and fats, as long as you aren’t overindulging on them — carbs are fast, quickly used energy and fats help keep you feeling full (though, at 9 calories per gram, you can see that this is a lot of excess energy to be consuming). Alcohol, on the other hand, is ahefty  price (7 calories per gram) to pay for something that actually inhibits your metabolism’s ability to process calories in the first place. Alcohol weight is MUCH different from the weight you’ll gain by adding healthy fats and proteins to your diet!

Another Dr. Oz Miracle? Not Quite

The famous TV doctor, Dr. Oz, is at it again, with yet another “exciting” “miracle” fat-burner known as Garcinia Cambogia Extract. One of its most popular claims is that it will help you lose weight while doing nothing. He went so far as to call it the “holy grail” of weight loss. Let’s take a second and breathe before we lose our minds over a fruit extract.

This, of course, sounds like bunk to us — we firmly believe that diet and exercise are two pillars of body fat loss. We are not doubting the efficacy of a product without looking into it (which we will here shortly), but it serves as a good reminder: There are no miracles, and there are no shortcuts! That said, let’s take a look at Garcinia Cambogia, what it is and what it does.

First, Garcinia Cambogia is a fancy name for a type of tamarind — in this case, a small, pumpkin-shaped fruit usually native to Indonesia. As an herbal remedy, the extract of it has indeed been used as a weight-loss product, but there are two key caveats to this. One, its biggest attribute to that end is that it is an appetite suppressant, meaning that it itself doesn’t cause you to directly lose body fat — you just cease to be hungry when it’s consumed. This is not to be confused for satiety! It is one thing to feel full after a high-protein, high-fiber meal, because you have provided the body with nutrients it needs; the chemical reaction produced with appetite suppressants, naturally occurring or not, is entirely different and can cause health problems. In fact, the World Journal of Gastroenterology published a review of Garcinia Cambogia that linked it to hepatotoxicity — chemical-driven liver damage.

The second is that it is far from proven, and in some cases, disproved, as a weight-loss supplement. The active ingredient, supposedly, in tamarind is hydroxycitric acid; studies of it as an anti-obesity product were far from conclusive and, to a degree, found that it does nothing to fight fat: The Journal of the American Medical Association surmised that “Garcinia cambogia failed to produce significant weight loss and fat mass loss beyond that observed with placebo” after surveying 135 test subjects. Source

Remember: There are no miracles, and there are no shortcuts!

4 Fat Loss Diet Strategy Tips

Today we want to focus on losing body fat. This isn’t necessarily just for those who have 20 pounds to lose, either – even if you just want your muscles to be a little more well-defined or tone up your midsection a little, these tips are for you, too.  Used in conjunction with a fat loss-specific workout, these pointers should help you burn the unwanted fat in no time.

Mostly, this is stuff you’ve probably even heard already, but it’s worth repeating.

1. Try to limit refined sugars and carbohydrates. White flour, white rice, white potatoes — throw them in this category, too. These starchy foods are all equivalent of snacking on a Snickers bar, metabolically speaking. When you eat them, you’re telling your body there is some reason to save all this sugar for energy later, and it will do so — in the form of slow-burning, sustainable fat. Simply put, the fewer sugars and fast-burning carbs you eat, the less fat you’ll store.

2. You are When you eat. You read that right. The times you eat play a huge role in determining what that food gets used for, as do the times between meals. A banana and protein shake right after an intense workout will get used for replenishing broken-down muscle tissue. The exact same meal right before bed has a more adverse effect — the sugar from the banana has no purpose, no reason to shuttle protein or nutrients to a healing muscle. Into the fat stores it goes. Generally speaking, you want to taper your calories down as the day progresses, and try to cut off carb intake the closer you get to bed time.

3. Understanding glycemic weight. This can get tricky, so we’ll give you a shortcut to think of instead. Dense, whole foods like yams, meats, whole grain breads, nuts, vegetables, etc., are generally “heavier,” but on the Glycemic Index, they’re actually lower. The high-glycemic foods, the ones to avoid, are ones that you might associate as light — crackers, chips, white bread, French fries, sweets. The feeling of fullness is a good way to tell the difference, really. The latter group is more likely to actually make you more hungry. Generally, the more a food is processed or the more sugar it contains naturally, the higher it’s likely to be on the Glycemic Index, giving it a higher glycemic weight (GW). You can lower the GW of your meals by adding lower-weight foods. For instance, a nectarine is a much healthier option as a snack when combined with a few slices of Swiss cheese, some nuts or some deli meat. If you’re trying to lose fat, skip the sugar and the fruit entirely.

4. Get efficiently full. In other words, eat the smallest amount of food possible that fills your stomach the fastest. This will happen inevitably with a high-protein and -fiber diet. Imagine a meal of a moderate-sized chicken breast, a side of broccoli and a half of a yam, with a large glass of water. Without a doubt, a meal like this would leave you full! Now, consider how huge of a portion of white pasta you’d have to knock out to get that same feeling — it’d be much more food in general, with more calories, faster-burning carbs and less nutrients that actually help. In short, make the most of each calorie.

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The Only “No-Fat” Diet Plan You Need

Low-fat and no-fat is a bad idea. Your body needs fats for multiple purposes, including lowering bad cholesterol, raising the good kind, and improving the health and vitality of many organs and functions in the body.

However, today is meant to show you the kind of fat you can feel comfortable crossing off your list, forever: trans fats.

Trans fat is made by injecting hydrogen into natural oils, usually vegetable oil, through hydrogenation, in order to increase shelf life (because the longer something lasts before spoiling, the more it can sell).

This chemical reformatting of a perfectly good food product comes with a cost: It increases your cholesterol more than regular food fats do.  The Mayo Clinic says scientists are led to believe that adding hydrogen to oil makes the oil more difficult to digest, and the body recognizes trans fats as saturated fats. (Source)

So, why’s it so dangerous? In short, trans fat has a double-negative effect on the body’s cholesterol levels, raising the bad (LDL) and lowering the good (HDL). Out-of-balance cholesterol levels can lead to heart disease, which has long been identified as the No. 1 killer of Americans.

Trans fats can be tough to avoid, too, because they are often hidden in items you wouldn’t suspect. Most store-bought nacho cheese seems like a dead giveaway, and it is in there, but the big culprit is commercial baked goods — cupcakes, muffins, cakes, crackers, chips, etc. Because trans fat is less greasy than its natural counterparts (oil is oily, fat is greasy — this is how natural fat looks), it is appealing to food manufacturers to include in these products. And, because of an FDA loophole that allows anything less than .5 a gram of trans fats to be included as “0 grams” on the nutrition facts label (Source), people often scarf them down without even knowing it.

By paying close attention to ingredient labels, though, you can be clued in to where trans fats lie. The key words “partially hydrogenated” oils are red flags; though fully hydrogenated oils actually do not contain trans fats. If a label simply says “hydrogenated vegetable (or any other type of) oil”, it is safest to assume it is partially hydrogenated and therefore contains trans fat. And then, of course, there is food that has no label — restaurant food. The Mayo Clinic estimates that, because some of the oils that restaurants use for fried foods contains trans fat,  a serving of French fries may contain up to five grams of it. And, considering their nasty attributes, that’s a lot.

The American Heart Association recommends that no more than 1 percent of a person’s daily calorie intake come from trans fat (there is no daily value established for them by the FDA). For most people, that works out to about two grams, at most, a day. Because there are actually trace amounts of trans fats produced naturally in meats and dairy products — scant in comparison to manufacturer-produced foods, though — this guideline insinuates rather clearly that commercial treats containing trans fats are to be avoided.