So how can you eat more protein when your busy lifestyle meets a demanding high intensity interval training program (HIIT)? We know that diet is responsible for 50% (at least!) of your results, so it’s crucial to get enough protein to pack on lean muscle, burn fat, and continue on with the rest of your day while proudly crushing your fitness goals.
Today we’ll look at several ways to boost your protein consumption following the GSP Rushfit Nutrition Guide so you can meet your bodies demands while eating real foods.
We’re big fans of snack time at GSP Rushfit, because it’s an easy way to fill up on healthy foods in small amounts and keep your metabolism burning. You can also avoid greasy potato chips and other junk foods by choosing delicious alternatives bursting with protein and other necessary nutrients.
First up? Nuts and seeds. We recently posted on the nutritional value of various nuts and seeds like almonds, walnuts, cashews and flaxseed, and gave an example of what 100grams of each contains. The example? Almonds 21g, Walnuts 15g, Cashews 18g, Flaxseed 18g of just protein! For more information on the nutrition content and benefit of nuts and seeds, click here.
Next up? Jerky. Depending on the source (beef, turkey, etc.) the precise content will vary slightly, but generally jerky, dried lean meat, is a great low-fat snack packed with protein. A one-ounce (28 gram) piece of beef jerky contains about 9.4 grams of protein and a total of 116 calories. The one key to watch in jerky is sodium content, as salt is very often used in the curing process, so choose low-sodium options if available.
Some athletes are still skeptical of the availability of quality protein through green sources, but we’ve created a list of the top 11 green goods bursting with protein here. Additional benefits of green protein sources are they tend to be easier to digest, higher in other vitamins and minerals and lower in risk factors for heart disease, diabetes and other chronic health conditions.
COMPLETE, INCOMPLETE and COMPLIMENTARY PROTEINS
Proteins are made up of amino acids, of which there are over a hundred found in nature, but only twenty used by your body to form protein.
Eleven of those twenty can by synthesized by your body, and are considered non-essential. The other nine must come from your diet, so are considered essential. Animal proteins (meat, dairy, eggs) contain complete proteins. Green (vegetable and legume) proteins contain incomplete proteins, but when paired correctly, combine to form complimentary proteins that together contain all twenty essential amino acids. A great example of complimentary proteins is the classic dish of beans and rice. Whole wheat pasta topped with shredded cheddar is another. Sounds good, doesn’t it?
For more information on complimentary proteins and amino acids, check out our post here.
The beauty of protein is not just in the fact that it’s a filling food source crucial to growing a leaner, more explosive body, but it’s also available from a wide variety of sources to satisfy any diet, vegetarian, pescetarian, Paleo or other. By identifying the many sources of protein in the everyday foods in your pantry or fridge, you never run out of options to consume it in a balanced meal or quick snack. In other words, you can eat more protein any time, any where you choose, and keep the results of your hard work growing by the hour with wholesome, delicious food.
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Your powerful results with GSP Rushfit depend on a healthy, balanced diet as equally as they are the result of training at a higher intensity than ever before. With the reality of busy schedules, not everyone has the time to perfectly plan out each meal, or even sit down and eat several complete meals throughout the day to meet their training needs. The answer? Power snacks!
Smart snacking is about eating the right foods in the right amounts, and for that nuts and seeds have been legends of training enthusiasts everywhere. Full of vital nutrients and calorie packed, they are an excellent idea for snacks.
Using almonds, walnuts, cashews and flaxseed as examples with real figures, let’s take a look at what they provide for your training diet based on the nutritional data of a 100 gram serving, which is about two large handfuls. Take a look!
We all know the importance of protein for muscle repair and growth right? It also helps your immune system and the regulation of hormones. Did you know that nuts and seeds are a great source of protein?
If you’re trying to eat better portions for your training diet and go with smaller meals supplemented by snacks, these could be the key to feeling satisfied and still meeting your body’s requirements to pack on lean muscle.
Almonds 21g, Walnuts 15g, Cashews 18g, Flaxseed 18g
Carbohydrates are your primary source of energy, but you want to stick with complex carbohydrates like the ones found in grains, nuts and legumes for a sustainable energy level, as opposed to the simple carbs found in refined sugars that spike your energy levels and burn faster, causing you to crash.
Almonds 22g, Walnuts 14g, Cashews 33g, Flaxseed 29g
Nuts are high in fat content. MOST of that content is the good, unsaturated fat that helps lower cholesterol levels and stabilize your insulin levels. What you should do is focus on getting your fat content from nut or vegetable sources and reducing the amount of saturated fats (meat sources) in your diet.
Nuts are also a rich source of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, which are healthy fats your body cannot produce but needs for a variety of functions including regulation of blood pressure, optimal liver function and healthy skin.
For example. 100 grams of almonds contains 49 grams of fat, of which approximately 4 grams are saturated (bad) and 45 are unsaturated.
Walnuts 15g, Cashews 44g, Flaxseed 42g
Based on our sample of nuts and seeds, it’s evident that they are a healthy, well-rounded snack with an ample supple of the three major nutrients. Yes, they are high in calories, which means the filling and healthy contents make them a perfect candidate as a power snack to keep the hunger pains at bay while also keeping your diet on track and your training at optimal levels.
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With each new year, another diet appears on the horizon that excites workout warriors and bandwagon health experts alike. As always, it’s best to examine the evidence and science behind each nutrition approach to decipher the legitimate diets and their benefits from crash-fads and dangerous techniques that carry more risk than harm.
Just a few days ago, the US News & World Report named the DASH diet #1 Best Diet Overall for 2015. Not surprisingly, a lot of people hadn’t heard about the diet, and like many of you, we wanted to find out more. Let’s take a look at what the DASH diet is and how it stacks up to other nutritional programs, and most importantly how impacts anyone training with GSP Rushfit or any other HIIT program.
DASH is an acronym that stands for Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension. In other words, it’s a diet specifically designed to lower high blood pressure. Like most diets, that is not the only benefit that comes along with its main goal.
According to other sources, thanks to the focus on healthier eating and specific recommendations, the DASH diet also helps lower heart disease, risk of diabetes, stroke, cancer, and osteoporosis. For anyone familiar with health risks for people 40 and older, this covers the most common health issues.
The basic guidelines in the DASH diet are simple and follow sound advice. Lower your sodium intake, limit your portion size, and eat a variety of foods rich in nutrients. We’ve grouped their recommendations into the three sections of emphasis:
Grains: 6 to 8 servings a day
Lean Meat: 6 or fewer servings a day
(poultry and fish)
Vegetables: 4 to 5 servings a day
Fruits: 4 to 5 servings a day
Fats/oils: 2 to 3 servings a day
Dairy: 2 to 3 servings a day
Sweets: 5 or fewer a week
As you can see, the main nutrients consumed are carbohydrates (from grains) and protein (from lean meats), supported by healthy amounts of fruits and vegetables (vitamins, minerals), supported by fats and dairy products to round out your food intake. Yes, the DASH is a balanced diet with it’s own emphasis in certain areas.
In addition to the guidelines on how many servings of each group to eat, the DASH diet also comes in two varieties, Standard and Low Sodium, to help people reduce the amount of salt they eat as sodium intake plays a major role in blood pressure.
As a balanced nutritional plan, the DASH diet very wells falls under the general guidelines of the RUSHFIT Nutrition Guide. As any athlete who takes their training seriously knows, carbs and protein are crucial to fueling for workouts and repairing your muscle tissue. Fruits, veg and fats are also crucially essential in aiding the recovery as well as supporting the various systems (nervous, immune, digestive system) and organs to keep an overall healthy body growing and aging in the healthiest way possible.
The DASH has also been noted for its similarity to the Mediterranean Diet, which we’ve profiled and found to be compatible with Rushfit training if you stick to the calorie guidelines in the Nutrition Guide and fuel properly for your training sessions. This is also our conclusion with the DASH diet; it is not specifically designed for weight-loss or high intensity interval training, so while the general guidelines are good, the balance of calories may not be realistic for the difficult workout/recovery process. Keep in mind, DASH was designed to lower blood pressure, not boost performance or lose weight.
When following any of the training calendars, we strongly urge you to follow the Rushfit Nutrition Guide because it’s the only diet specifically tested and approved by us to help you burn fat, build muscle and get in the best shape of your life. You also want to limit the amount of changes you make to your diet and/or training at any given time, and with just 8 Weeks to complete the training calendars from beginning to end, following one specific plan is your best choice for maximum results.
That said, if you’re out of training or thinking about starting a workout program but have a history of hypertension (high blood pressure), the DASH may be the right diet for you. As always you should discuss these issues with your doctor before you begin either a new program or any diet aimed at addressing a medical issue so that you can train and gain results worry free.
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That being said, success is not so much how hard you train in your first week back at the gym as it is how you set yourself up for the 8 Week Training Camp by starting off right and following through for the next two months.
In Part I of our 3 Keys to Smashing Your Fitness Goals in 2015, we’ll look at three basic areas of training and nutrition to help you train at a higher intensity than ever before. Remember, if you want better results than you’ve ever had, you must train harder, and smarter, than you have ever trained before. READY? GO!
SET YOUR TARGET
In order to smash your goals and arrive at your destination, you have to know what it is. It’s one thing to tell yourself you want to be stronger and lose weight, it’s better to put a number to those goals and give yourself a time frame to reach them.
The SMART goal setting method is very simple and most effective for helping people do just that. It’s an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. Basically, it helps you set goals that make sense with a specified action plan to reach them. Read a more detailed guide HERE, then use it to launch your training to a higher intensity with better results than ever.
Another way to set your target, measure your progress, and put your abilities to the ultimate test is our GSP Rushfit Assessment. Four basic exercises, stacked after each other with a short break, to test your maximum output. That’s it. Oh wait, one more thing… You get to do them in real-time against GSP, the 5-time UFC World Champion. Think you’re fit now? Maybe YOU DO have what it takes to go toe-to-toe with the man himself. How will you know if you don’t do it?
We strongly encourage people to do the assessment before starting the program for a baseline score (starting point), and after completing the 8 Week Training Camp to measure your progress. If you like, you can also take the assessment around Week 4 to convince yourself your training is paying off, but most people who make it to Week 4 can feel the difference already, and end up setting their goals even higher. Either way, we’ve got a primer on the GSP Rushfit Assessment HERE so you know how to set yourself up for maximum success.
Anyone who’s done high-intensity training before knows that at least half your results come from your training diet. You can’t fuel a Ferrari with garbage, so eating junkfood and expecting top performance and permanent results isn’t wise at all.
The GSP Rushfit Nutrition Guide has simple lists of foods to focus on, foods to avoid, do’s, dont’s, and a good overview of what a balanced diet should look and taste like.
Our Nutrition Section on this blog has even more supplemental material to help you make the right decisions and eat right not just for performance, but for an overall healthier, stronger, more endurable body that pays off on more ways than we can count.
Want to know about foods that boost your immune system? Read HERE
For good foods that are filling and stop you from overeating, Read HERE
Did you know there are foods that can actually help you stay hydrated? We didn’t, until we read the blog post HERE.
This is just a FRACTION of the information we have available to answer all your nutrition questions, and we’ve even included a search function in the top right corner so you can find what you need quickly. Visit blog.gsprushfit.com/nutrition/ now and often, and you won’t have any problems sticking to the foods that will maximize your muscle building and fat loss at the same time.
This step is surprisingly overlooked and underestimated by many people, but trust us when we tell you that quality of rest and recover is as important as the intensity of your training sessions. The harder your workouts, the more your body needs to recover, grow, and prepare for the next session.
Sleep for performance is very important, and power naps are a great way to supplement your rest while providing a midday boost of energy. If you don’t get enough sleep, your body has trouble losing weight, that’s just a fact you can check HERE.
Are you stretching after each session by following the DVD? Stretching improves flexibility, increases range of motion, reduces injury, and releases the tension and stiffness of sore muscles. Do it, and do it often. We’ve got a good overview of stretching for performance HERE.
Yoga, massage therapy, foam rollers, hot/cold baths… There are many simple yet effective methods to repair your muscles and allow your body to heal that don’t involve supplements or pills. Make use of them, and watch your energy grow along with your results.
Start your new training routine in the right direction and you’ll be on the road to success in no time.
We’ll follow up with PART II of this post later this week, so stay tuned and get sweating!
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As New Year’s Eve approaches and people anticipate the start of a new training calendar, it’s easy to get carried away with the festivities and add a lot more to your waistline than you had planned by drinking more than expected. A reliable answer to removing excess body fat is a steady dose of intense training with GSP Rushfit, but another answer is to keep it from accumulating in the first place.
Of course we fully expected you to indulge during the holidays, but do you know how many calories you’re sipping each time you raise your glass? Let’s take a look at the calorie content of alcoholic beverages so you have an idea just how much work you’ll need to perform to burn off all your partying, or reconsider your options before drinking more than you think.
The classic beverage at sporting events as well as holidays, beer deceptively comes in packs of six or multiples of six. Did you know that just one bottle or can of beer, (12 fl oz/356 g) contains 153 calories? Those calories are mostly from alcohol but include about 12 grams of carbohydrates. That means a six-pack of beer contains a hefty 918 calories! Depending on your training intensity, that’s anywhere from 1 to 2 full GSP Rushfit sessions!
There are many “lite” beers on the market with lower calorie counts, though these vary by manufacturer. Alcohol content will make a difference in calorie content, but these numbers are a good guideline for anyone drinking ‘regular’ beer with an alcohol content of 4.6-5.1%.
The average 1 oz serving of 40%(80 proof) hard alcohol contains 66-70 calories, while stronger 60% (120 proof) contains between 98-105 calories, per serving.
Keep in mind we’re only talking about your alcohol, so if you like to mix with soda, juice or anything other than water, your calories will be even higher.
Mixing with water isn’t a bad idea, because as you drink and flush the alcohol out of your system you will be losing a lot of bodily fluids as well. Consider keeping your calories to a minimum and while preventing yourself from becoming totally dehydrated as well.
We found a good web resource to check the specific alcohol and calorie contents of many of the name brand liquor labels available HERE. Take a peek and see if you can’t find yours!
Wine, especially red wine, is notorious for hangovers. Over consuming any kind of alcohol will result in hangover, but both red and white wine pack a good amount of calories. The average 5ounce serving of wine contains 125 calories, meaning the average bottle (25 ounces, 750ml) contains 625 calories.
When it comes to headaches, hangovers and alcohol, eating plenty of food is always recommended to balance the effects, so keep your overall calorie consumption in mind if you want to stay accountable to your training regime and achieve the results you’ve got your eye on.
Whether you consumed too much or waaaay too much the night before, it’s a great idea to know the shortcuts to recovery so your body and training don’t miss too much time.
We’ve put together a comprehensive Recovery post HERE that covers subjects like hydration, electrolytes, food and sleep for recovery, and to be honest the answers are simple and easy to follow. We’ve all been there, now let’s all get back to training and back to burning calories!
Happy New Year and Best Wishes on ALL You Training in 2015!
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Most people know the fastest way to burn the most fat is to eat right and workout at a higher intensity. The GSP Rushfit program is designed to help you do just that, but rather than explain the entire 8 Week Training Camp in detail, let’s take a look at how anyone can lose more fat than ever before by following 6 easy guidelines suitable for even the busiest schedules, ability levels or age.
EAT LESS MORE OFTEN:
Yes, you can still eat the same amount over the course of the day but just not all in two or three sittings. If you can stop yourself from going into “all-you-can-eat” mode, your body will maintain a higher metabolism and you will feel less full by spreading out your daily diet over 5-6 smaller meals.
Smaller spikes in blood sugar levels, no “food coma” feeling, but with all the same calories and nutrients to keep your fat loss burning more steadily. Big meals slow down your metabolism and blunt your fat loss. Small meals keep you burning. Follow these easy tips to eat less more often HERE.
EAT MORE PROTEIN:
We’re not just telling you to eat more protein because you need it for muscle recovery and repair, though that’s true because the more lean muscle you have on your body the higher your metabolism is.
Protein, made up of branch-chains of amino acids, takes more energy to digest and absorb into your body than carbohydrates and fat. Any excess protein calories in your body can also be used as a fuel source, unlike carbohydrates and fat. Excess fat is stored as body fat, excess carbohydrates are also stored as body fat.
The key to remember is to look for proteins from vegetables or lean meats, preferably not processed meat products or those packed with fat. If you’re unsure, check out your GSP RUSHFIT Nutrition Guide for easy to follow lists of low-fat foods.
High intensity interval training (HIIT) has time and again been proven as the most effective method to burn fat (and build strength, stamina and a ripped body). It’s no secret that the HIIT principles are part of what make GSP Rushfit so successful. Combining light weights and high reps for a more intense pace prevents you from having to do cardio AFTER your weightlifting, and burns more calories than either weight lifting or cardio. If you want to raise your intensity and amplify your fat burn, we recommend you get RUSHFIT!
As mentioned above, cardiovascular training is a lower intensity exercise than HIIT. That’s why cardio activities are a perfect way to boost your metabolism on rest days without risking overtraining and injuring yourself along the way.
Our cardio section is full of suggested activities, but really any activity done at moderate intensity (just enough to break a light sweat) for 30-45 minutes on rest days will do. Try doing cardio for 30 minutes and then stretch for 30 minutes. Even yoga counts. The key is to boost your heart rate moderately for to kickstart your metabolism. The activity won’t just burn more fat, it will deliver more oxygen to your tired muscles so they recover faster.
Burn fat on days off by taking it easy? Yes, you can.
BEFORE & AFTER:
At the beginning of the 8 Week Training Camp, we ask people to take a Before photo they can look at later on in the program to see how far they have come. Many people don’t do this, and as a result regret it towards the end when their results blow expectations out of the water and they look, feel and perform better than ever.
Why don’t they do this? Some feel embarrassed, some aren’t in the shape they want to be, and others just don’t feel like it. True, you don’t have to take a Before photo and you can still succeed. Realistically it’ll be much more rewarding to compare it with the After photo taken upon completing Week 8. You can also use your Before photo as motivation throughout the program as the workouts push you to work at intensities you’ve never experienced before.
When you brag to your friends about your newly ripped physique, it’s a lot more impressive to show them where you came from. Trust us. Or check out our Success Stories for people just like you who did the Before and After for amazing results!
Still one of the most underrated habits that can sink your training results if you don’t get enough, sleep plays a vital role in training success and overall health. If you’re chronically tired and find you aren’t recovering fast enough, make sure you’re getting a bare minimum 7 hours (preferably 8) a night. Any less than that will impact your short-term performance and long-term health.
Did you know that a chronic sleep deficit is linked to obesity and weight gain?
Many people have busy schedules and many commitments, so it’s not always possible to get the nightly requirement of sleep. In that case, power naps are a great supplement to your sleep that will help your daily energy levels and also lower your stress levels. If you aren’t convinced, we have some real easy tips on how to use power naps to boost your fat loss and performance.
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Fruits are generally full of nutrients and health benefits, but for the training diet they pose an even more important role because the demands on the body are much higher during an 8 Week Training Camp than for the average person.
Thanks to certain nutrients, bananas hold even more benefits for athletes and workout recovery than most fruits, so check out the details below and make sure to pickup a bunch on your next trip to the grocery store.
Technically, bananas are a berry (yup!) and though there are several different types, the kind we are referring to are the Cavendish group of yellow, sweet-tasting fruits found in your grocery store.
Other types appear red or green and are used for cooking in dishes across a wide variety of cultures. Originally, bananas were grown in Southeast Asia and the New Guinea region. In modern times, bananas are grown all over the world in warmer climates, especially South America and Africa.
Like many fruits, bananas are loaded with nutrients to compliment your training diet and provide a boost to your overall health. In fact, bananas have more nutrients than most fruits as evidenced below.
One medium-sized banana, (approximately 110-120 grams) contains just about 105 calories, with 1 gram of protein, 27 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber and NO FAT.
In terms of vitamin and mineral content, bananas are known for being high in potassium, manganese, vitamin C, and unlike most fruits are also high in vitamin B6 with almost 30% of the average recommended daily intake.
Potassium is one of the main electrolytes in the body, and plays a major role in everything from balancing fluid levels, building protein and muscle fibers, and regulates normal cardiac function and regular muscle function during activity.
Manganese, an antioxidant trace mineral needed in smaller quantities, is especially important for healthy nerve and brain function and in the absorption of calcium into bones. Signs of manganese deficiency include heart problems, high blood pressure, improper muscle contractions, poor eyesight, poor hearing and memory loss. Safe to say, you may not need a lot of manganese but it is vital to your daily life AND long-term health.
Vitamin B6, which is crucial for muscle tissue repair, immune support, and formation of red blood cells, is one of the B complex of vitamins you can read more about HERE.
So bananas are generally good for you. Surprised? Of course not. Most people know this, but do most people know how much bananas can benefit the training diet? Of course not.
The high content of potassium in bananas makes them a great food to prevent muscle cramping. As sodium and potassium are the two electrolytes responsible for muscle contraction and relaxation, an imbalance or deficiency in either can lead to painful cramps when you need your muscles to work the most.
A simple way to take advantage of this is to regularly consumer bananas during your 8-week training camp. The moment your muscles cramp is too late; eat them during the morning of your training days, and better yet include them in your pre-workout meal or snack. Keep in mind they cannot cure cramps, just prevent them. If cramping is something you experience, make sure to up your potassium intake after the session to prevent these recurring aches, and don’t be afraid to add coconut water to balance your electrolytes.
You can eat bananas on their own, add them to your favorite bowl of oatmeal, on top of a peanut butter sandwich, in a delicious loaf of banana bread… You get the point.
If you are running late for a workout or had to skip a meal, the small calorie punch of a banana is a fast and healthy way to get some energy for a training session without feeling bloated or loading up on artificial calories. Likewise, if you are facing an extended wait before a post-activity meal, the banana will hold you over and replenish the nutrient stores highlighted above to get you back on the road to recovery without slipping.
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Amanda M lost 10 lbs and started her transformation to her pre-baby body with GSP RUSHFIT!
Age: 27 Start Date: 06/24/14 – End Date: 08/19/14
Starting Weight: 137 Ending Weight: 127
>>> WHY RUSHFIT?
I initially purchased RUSHFIT a few years ago because although I was in pretty good shape, I wanted more tone and definition throughout my body; I didn’t want to just be skinny, I wanted to be strong. I did my research on various home workout programs and ultimately decided on Rushfit. After I finished my first 8 week cycle back in 2013, I had abs for the first time in my life! So, after I had my son in May of this year (2014), it was a no-brainer that RUSHFIT was my workout of choice to help kickstart the process of getting my pre-baby body back. I am now 13 weeks postpartum and while I still have a way to go to reach my fitness goals, I have RUSHFIT to credit with helping me begin to regain the confidence, strength, endurance (and abs!) I previously had.
>>> WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE RUSHFIT WORKOUT?
Explosive Power Training is my absolute favorite. It is so much different than other workouts I typically do and I love how challenging the plyometrics are, especially Round 2 - “the grand daddy of ‘em all” per Eric
>>> WHAT DIET AND NUTRITIONAL CHANGES DID YOU MAKE?
While I generally eat pretty healthy, I was much more mindful of what I was putting in my body after I began RUSHFIT (e.g., less processed foods). The workouts are tough and I didn’t want to compromise all of the hard work I had been putting in by not fueling my body with the proper nutrition.
>>> WHAT WAS THE HARDEST PART OF COMPLETING RUSHFIT?
The hardest part by far was finding the time and motivation to workout with a newborn in the house. Despite how exhausted I frequently was, putting aside 45 minutes/day (thanks to help from my mom and husband) for RUSHFIT became a little chunk of “me” time that I looked forward to. I knew the workouts were helping make me a healthier mom, mentally and physically, and a healthy, happy momma = healthy, happy baby.
>>> ANY FINAL THOUGHTS?
This program truly will help get you in the best shape of your life if you stay dedicated and don’t tap out. There were plenty of days when I was so tired I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it through another set of air squats or burpees, but Georges and Eric do a great job of motivating you to push yourself, and you will be so glad you did. I am on to the intermediate calendar next and cannot wait to see the results the next 8 weeks of RUSHFIT will bring.
Finished 8 Weeks of RUSHFIT? Learn how to receive your FREE RUSHFIT shirt: www.gsprushfit.com/free-shirt
Most people know that regular exercise relieves built up tension in your muscles. High intensity interval training is even more effective at this than moderate exercise, and has shown to have many other benefits like improved confidence and mental focus, not to mention the obvious benefits of fat loss, calorie burn and increased strength.
What if we told you there’s also a healthy way to reduce stress with the food you eat? No, we’re not talking about emotional eating, where you sit down with a tub of ice cream or family-sized bag of chips to accompany a tv show or game.
There’s no point in using food as therapy if it’s junk food that’s going to undermine your whole training diet. Is it possible there are actually healthy foods that can reduce your stress level AND contribute benefits to the training diet? Yes there are!
This versatile, natural source of healthy fats is also loaded with B vitamins, which help ease distressed nerves and brain cells. The high content of monounsaturated fat and potassium also work to reduce blood pressure, meaning that if you eat avocado regularly you’ll feel the calming effects both mentally in the short term AND physically in the long-term
A warm cup of milk has long been a home remedy for insomnia. That’s because milk can produce a calming effect on the body to relieve stress. High in antioxidants, calcium and protein, milk will also lower blood pressure and ease muscle spasms related to tension.
ORANGES & CITRUS FRUITS
Oranges, and any other food especially high in Vitamin C, are excellent foods to eat when you are feeling stressed. Why? Because Vitamin C is very effective in lowering the levels of cortisol (the main stress hormone) AND blood pressure rather quickly. Don’t forget it also boosts your immune system, so you won’t get sick when you are also tired and worried.
OATMEAL & CEREALS
Oatmeal and other cereals like corn flakes, puffed rice and other grains contain B vitamins like other foods, which are good for stress reduction, and another compound called folic acid. Folic acid is vital to the healthy function of your nervous system, cognitive performance, and improved memory. So it won’t just help your body feel better, it will remind your mind to relax as well.
Dark chocolate will require some moderation and self control, but we already know its full of antioxidants for many health benefits. Now, what if we told you a study has shown that people with high levels of stress, who ate half a bar of dark chocolate in the morning and again at night, showed significantly lower levels of the stress hormones like catecholamines and cortisol after just two weeks?
If you’re interested in the health benefits of dark chocolate, eat a small amount twice a day and account for it in your carbohydrate and fat calorie counts. A training diet is one that should both benefit your training AND satisfy your taste buds and nutritional requirements. If you work it into your training diet and make sure to account for the calories there is no reason you can’t enjoy all the stress reducing benefits dark chocolate has to offer.
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Maybe they strike when you’re watching television, completely relaxed and unassuming. Others strike at difficult times just when you’re about to lie down for sleep, or stuck in traffic on a hot day. What are these dreaded episodes?
We’re not talking about legitimate hunger after training or getting your daily meals, we’re talking about those urges that threaten to derail your balanced diet by convincing you to eat a bowl of chips late at night or down that chocolate bar in between meals.
Cravings are a fact of life and most people experience them at some point in the day if not at least several times a week. Here’s a few simple ways to minimize your cravings and their impact without drastically changing your diet. Remember that your diet is responsible for at least 50% of your results, you’ll want to arm yourself with these tips.
Snacking allows you bridge those hours between full meals to prevent distractions or hunger from slowing you down.
Snacking IS DIFFERENT than giving into a simple craving because you’re planning ahead and eating something beneficial such as fruit, nuts, half a sandwich, as opposed to scrambling for something loaded with calories and additives when the mood strikes you.
We’ve looked at simple but effective snacking strategies here, and also suggest you read our primer on snacking late at night so you can balance your urges and sleep well without hunger interrupting your dreams.
2) Limit Artificial Sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners are added to food to reduce the total number of calories while maintain the same flavor. While that may work for the taste side of the equation, once digested into your system artificial sweeteners still cause spikes in your blood and confuse your body because it believes you’re digesting calories when you aren’t. This causes people to overeat, because they think sugar-free means calorie-free.
Of course, we’re not suggesting you focus on sugar-heavy, calorie rich foods. We’re suggesting you limit the amount of junk food you eat PERIOD, so don’t let artificial sweeteners like aspartame, saccharin, and sucralose fool you into thinking you’ve avoided the issue. Chances are the calories you skip by using artificial sweeteners will be made up in your total calorie intake. Consider this question as a good example:
Do you ever order a diet burger and diet fries with you diet soda?
Right? Stop kidding yourself and avoid artificial sweeteners.
Water can help blunt cravings or even legitimate hunger pangs when used properly, and not simply because it fills up the space in your stomach for a brief time.
Thirst is regulated by the same part of your brain (the hypothalamus) as hunger, so what you may think is a spot of hunger could actually be thirst. On the other hand, a glass of water will signal back the brain that you ingested something and at least delay the craving by another 15 minutes or so.
4) Balance Your Routine
Some people find they tend to get cravings after large meals and wonder why. The easy answer is that large meals cause large spikes in blood sugar, and once those spikes are gone lethargy sets in and your system frets for more food to metabolize.
A simple yet very effective way to reduce the constant spike/crash cycle and reduce food cravings in between meals is to eat smaller meals more often. We’ve discussed the many benefits of eating 6 small meals a day opposed to 3 large meals here, but that’s just one example.
You may not have the time to eat 6 meals a day, but 4 meals spread out are probably still better than 6, especially if you add power snacks to help you transition from your old routine to one that works better for your training needs.
5) Reduce Stress
Yes, emotional eating is a real thing and cravings can directly result from stress. When you are stressed your body releases the hormone cortisol, which normally regulates metabolism, immune function, and insulin levels, but at higher-than-regular levels increases blood pressure, weakens your immune system, and increases storage of abdominal fat.
So where do cravings come into the equation?
Frustratingly enough, fat and sugar inhibit some of the functions of cortisol, helping to minimize its effect at elevated levels.
A healthier long-term approach would be to reduce your stress levels so you don’t punish your body with foods that sabotage your training efforts.
Great methods to dealing with stress are a basic warm up and long, slow stretch, a yoga class, or even a simple walk outside to clear your mind. Do yourself a favor now and keep them off to begin with, then thank us later and let us know how you’re redefining your intensity!
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