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Why Your Scale Sucks

By Kelli Kratt | TeamDrewFitness

After a couple conversations about it, I have been good for a few weeks now, I think I’ve turned the page, but I admit being something of a slave to the scale in the past, especially during show prep. What I mean is that I was giving the scale the power to ruin my day. After weighing, I would be depressed, crabby, and angry despite following my nutrition plan, having great workouts and even liking the way I looked. When I think about it, how ridiculous. Things aren’t as simple as a number. And when competing as a woman (unless in the bodybuilding division), no one cares how much you weigh – it is all in how you look.

My excuse for being a slave to the scale always was that I need to monitor my progress. If you don’t know what’s going on, you don’t know what to adjust. While that is true, there are multiple ways to monitor your progress and guess what… they are FAR better than the scale!

First off, why your scale might be lying to you….

A scale doesn’t look at how much muscle or fat you actually have. Plain and simple, it’s your weight which includes muscle, bone, organs, water, and undigested food. So it’s important to remember a change on the scale could mean more than fat loss or gain… it could be your water fluctuating, carbs stored (glycogen) or just your last meal.

The scale doesn’t know if you gained a pound of fat or muscle. If you are eating right and training consistently, you very well may be gaining muscle. Muscle gain should be a big goal…it is smaller/more compact than fat (looks better) and muscle burns more calories than fat. We look better – leaner, and defined with more muscle.

The average person can fluctuate about 2 pounds in water weight a day and that is keeping nutrition and workout habits the same!   The amount of water in your body depends on the temperature (how much you’ve sweated), how much salt you’ve had, how much water you’ve drank, and how many carbohydrates you’ve had in a day. When you get on the scale repeatedly in a day or over a few days, it is normal to see a change and this makes many of us crazy. Really, all those different weights mean nothing.

What is the answer?   As I have been told too many times (and I finally listened): THROW OUT THE SCALE!!!!   Look for the non-scale victories and progress.

Non-scale indicators of progress:

Clothes – how do your clothes fit? Try on your “skinny” pants and take inventory of where you are.

Progress Pictures – this is what “selfies” are for! You and only you needs to see them. Taking pictures every few weeks or month and looking back will help you see your body change.

Measurements – use a measuring tape (careful to write down exactly where you measured) and check your waist, hips, chest, arms, etc every month.

Body Fat Testing – not from one of those hand-held things or a scale (too inaccurate) but from a trainer with good calipers or a bod pod/hydrostatic testing. (note that you can use a body-fat scale to look for trends…as in going down but don’t focus on the actual number since it is likely quite off).

Doctor visit – how’s your blood pressure, cholesterol, etc.

How you feel – eating right & working out gives you more energy. You generally sleep better and get a confidence boost from these things. That IS progress too!

If you are a slave to the scale…or even weigh yourself any more than weekly (I recommend biweekly) then I challenge you to give up the scale, at least temporarily, and look for the non-scale victories. They are the items above and more. Learn to listen to your body. By tuning in we can learn what works best for us, and know if we are fluctuating or truly changing without a scale. And also let’s not discount the importance of knowing your value beyond your weight. It is, after all, just a number.

Is Agave Nectar really a healthy substitute for sugar?

By Kelli Kratt | TeamDrewFitness

 

I loved agave nectar.  It makes my healthy granola bars taste AMAZING.  I have decided to stick to using raw local honey in them.  Why?   I did some research and yikes....    

Introduced in the 90s, agave syrup has become quite popular with people who are health and fitness conscious as well as those who are into more natural, gluten-free or organic products. After all, agave comes from a plant so it must be healthy, natural, and great for us, right? As it turns out, this is not necessarily the case.

Agave syrup comes from the agave plant, which is grown almost exclusively in Mexico. In the past several thousands of years, natives in Mexico used agave for medicine and as a sweetener, which they boiled a few hours and did nothing else to it (2). This brought about the misconception of today’s agave nectar or syrup – most people think of it as natural like the agave of the past. Many agave syrup bottles are even labelled with the story of agave in ancient times.  The core or root of the plant is made up of starch and inulin, which consists of fructose chains (2). Since inulin isn’t sweet, it needs to be converted or hydrolyzed to fructose (3). The core is smashed to extract the syrup, and then must be processed with heat, enzymes, and chemicals (3). The process can be compared to the process of creating high-fructose corn syrup (2). It may include caustic acids, filtration chemicals and genetically modified enzymes (2).  Anything compared to high-fructose corn syrup isn't what I want to be eating or feeding my son!

The chemical make-up of agave nectar is a large portion of fructose, ranging from 60 to 90% depending on the brand, and the remainder of agave syrup is glucose (1). All sugars contain these, but in different amounts. As a basis for comparison, table sugar contains a 50% to 50% ratio of the two, and high-fructose corn syrup comes in at 55% fructose and 45% glucose (2).  Essentially, this is saying agave nectar may be WORSE than high-fructose corn syrup!

Agave nectar or syrup is metabolized in the liver where it is converted to fat and stored. This is due to it having such a high fructose percentage -- it cannot be absorbed into the bloodstream (3). A downside to this is that too much fructose could be very harmful to one’s health. Possible issues with high fructose consumption are hardening of the arteries, mineral depletion, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease (2). There are many studies linking high levels of it to fatty liver disease, metabolic syndrome and high triglyceride counts (3). In fact, a study on rats used only moderate amounts of agave syrup and still showed a sizeable increase in their triglycerides (3).  It is interesting that fructose is such a huge portion of agave as it is marketed to diabetics since it is low-glycemic, or doesn’t raise blood-sugar as much as other sweeteners or sugar, since fructose can cause insulin resistance (1).   Overall, this suggests that while it isn’t the best choice for diabetics, the key is still moderation and that it would be a better choice than refined sugar.                                                                                                                                                                                                              The calorie content of agave syrup is 20 calories per teaspoon, while sugar is 16 calories (4). However, agave is much sweeter than sugar, about 1.4 to 1.5 times as sweet (4). This could be an advantage, since a person could use less in baking or cooking of agave than other sweeteners. A baker should use about 2/3 cup agave syrup in place of 1 cup in recipes (5). It can be substituted in cakes, pastries, granola bars, drinks, and more.                                                                                                                                                                     As an overview, agave syrup is a lab-created sweetener that has been through a series of complex chemical processes. There are many possible negative health consequences, some very serious. As a fitness & nutrition professional as well as a dietetics student, my recommendation would be to avoid agave syrup whenever possible due to its manufacturing process and how it reacts in the body. We should stick to the more natural sweeteners, such as raw local honey, or perhaps try fruit to satisfy a sweet tooth. 

 

References

1. Bowden, J. Debunking the Blue Agave Myth [Internet]. HuffPost Healthy Living 2010 [posted 2010 February 15; cited 2014 February 9]. Available from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-jonny-bowden/debunking-the-blue-agave_b_450144.html

2. Fallon, S. & Nagel, R. Agave Nectar: Worse Than We Thought [Internet]. Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts Weston Price Foundation Magazine [posted 2009 May 1; cited 2014 February 9]. Available from : http://www.westonaprice.org/modern-foods/agave-nectar-worse-than-we-thought

3. Lamphere, K. Agave: considering the issues [Internet]. Sound Consumer 2010 [posted 2010 April; cited 2014 February 9]. Available from: http://www.pccnaturalmarkets.com/sc/1004/sc1004-agave.html

4. Phillips, V. How Sweet It Is: Cooking with Agave [Internet]. Deseret News 2009 [posted 2009 May 12; cited 2014 February 9]. Available from: http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_17906.cfm

5. Trover, S. Tips for Substituting Agave in Baked Goods [Internet]. The Kitchn [posted 2010 January 11; cited 2014 February 11]. Available from: http://www.thekitchn.com/5-tips-on-substituting-agave-i-105651

 

 

Looking for a Prep Coach? Or Personal Trainer?   Read this first!!!

By Kelli Kratt | TeamDrewFitness

 

A few years ago, I joined a competitive team because it was the “best”. If you wanted a pro card in bikini, then it was the team for you. After almost a year of eating 700 calories, doing 2 ½ hours of cardio a day plus a 60-90 minute strenuous weight workout I realized being hungry, crabby, weak, and desperate for food at the same time you are desperate for fat loss is no way to live. How to choose a competition prep coach, or a personal trainer is an issue that has been on my mind for a LONG time.

If you take away nothing from this article but one thing – let it be this: you DO NOT have to starve or spend hours in the gym to have a successful competitive prep or simply to lose weight! Going to the extreme might win you a few trophies or have you in your size 2 clothes short term but long term it is going to damage your body, metabolism, leave you bingeing, and have you gaining 20 lbs in a week after a show. I could go on for hours about the ill effects. So please remember, in the fitness world MORE is not always more. More and MORE work will NOT give you more results!

Back to the business of how to choose a coach. First, here are a few coaches to avoid:

1. The Local Guru – you think: “Everyone knows him around here. One of his clients won the last NPC show in bikini and his other client took 2nd in bodybuilding. He’s the best!”     

 Ok…so first of all, the success of a few clients can be good but it does not guarantee YOUR success. Or tell you anything about the methods this trainer is using. Also…the client that won…how many people were in her class? 9 or 2?!

2. The Local Hero – “She’s an IFBB pro! If anyone can get me a pro card it’s her!” 

I have a friend. She’s a professional figure competitor. She looks amazing all the time BUT there’s one problem. She has a coach…for nutrition and workouts. So while she looks fantastic and got that elusive pro card, she doesn’t necessarily know how to train people. She knows what worked for HER based off what her coaches gave her. Everyone is different, and to succeed you need a plan for your body – not a diet or workout plan that someone else is passing on to you because it worked for them. What if you have a different body type, starting weight, height, etc ?

3. The National/WorldWide Team – “I am ready to take it to the next level…I’m going to join a team. The coaches helped a bunch of girls get their pro cards, that’s how I’ll get mine!”  

Sadly, I fell victim to this one. It is a great idea in theory. Teams can be great – you can get support of other competitor’s local and all over the world. You could attend camps for posing, workout with others, etc. BUT – again, it all boils down to the methods used by the coaches. Are they safe and effective? Are they just giving out cookie cutter diets to all 100 bikini girls?  

4. The Personal Trainer turned Prep Coach Overnight– He competed in his first show this fall and placed 3rd! Since he is a certified trainer, he must be the perfect person to prep me for a show!  

No, no, and no. Again, he may know what works for him…but does it work for other people? Does this trainer know anything about nutrition, the HUGEST part of competition prep?   Do they have any experience in that realm besides one little show?!  

 

There’s a million more types of coaches. When the time comes to choose a coach for your show prep or to meet your goals, the main take away points or questions for them should be as follows:

  1. What is your philosophy?     You want to know if they believe in spending lots of time in the gym, or perfection, or if-it-fits-your-macros, etc. Their views need to align with yours for a successful prep. If you have a very busy life and can dedicate 1 hour to the gym per day, a coach who demands 2 hours per day isn’t going to work for you. You need to know this upfront.
  2. What kind of show prep experience do you have?   Have they competed themselves, have they trained other competitors, judged shows, watched shows, been to prep camps or have formal education?   This helps you know what you are getting.
  3. Do you have a client or two I can ask a few questions about you?   A good coach will say yes. Or atleast have testimonials. Former clients tell the real story. And ASK these clients questions. How was the prep? Did you spend hours in the gym? What was the food like? Were they available for your questions? Did they help you AFTER the show?  If I had bothered to talk to a few former team members of the team I was on, I could have saved myself thousands of dollars not only on prep but also on medical bills!

The bottom line is any coach who will not take the time to answer your questions isn’t worth your time. We only get one body…it is up to us to take care of it and make sure we don’t choose to work with anyone who may help damage our bodies. And trust yourself…if it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Remember, what you do and who you work with is YOUR choice – it’s your body, your life, take responsibility for yourself!

 

Looking for fitness tips to take your workouts and body to the next level? Need a little extra motivation? Check out our NEW email program starting March 15 at www.teamdrewfitness.com.  It is a super affordable way to gain expert knowledge on a daily basis.

 

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- Drew