Category Archives: Nutrition

Breakfast of Champions

Before I begin this blog I must add a disclaimer. I am not a Registered Dietitian or a Nutritionist. I am a person who worked in strength and conditioning, as well as the fitness industry for over twenty years. I cannot and will not tell you what to eat.

 

We see far too many “coaches” these days. There are life coaches, nutrition coaches, strength coaches, fitness coaches, speed coaches, and many others. The reality is most people don’t need a coach, and most people who coach are not qualified to coach. I feel confident with these statements, as I have seen way too many inexperienced people get a degree, pass a certification, and magicly they are a coach. I am not here to coach you I am here to empower you. Be careful selecting a “coach”, instead learn from a multitude of people.

 

Breakfast

 

It has been said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I agree with this statement. We must avoid breakfast cereal, sugar filled oatmeal, and yes even doughnuts. Breakfast is our chance to start the day off right.

 

I have eaten the same variation with my breakfast for years.  One word of caution, if you eat the same food daily the body will eventually reject what you are eating. Variety is very important.

 

My breakfast consists of eggs, local seasonal vegetables (during winter I do bend this rule), water, coffee, and half a Dave’s bagel with peanut butter and jelly. Today the vegetables were mini eggplant, spinach, tomato, peppers, and mushrooms. Each of these came from either my CSA or the farmers market. I just add a few eggs cook it up with some garlic and a touch of salt. One important rule is to always begin the day with a glass of tepid water. The reason this matters is I always drink coffee. Coffee is a wonderful food and supplement, yet throwing a boiling liquid into a cold GI Tract is not a great way to start your day. Prepare your body with water, and not cold water. Remember the GI tract is no different than other parts of the body, it too needs warmed up.

 

I have a nasty habit of starting my day off right with a great breakfast, and then falling off and eating bad the rest of the day. This is when meal prep matters. Eat a healthy breakfast, yet be prepared for the rest of your day.

 

Health to you.

Hamer

3 Things That May Be Holding You Back From Reaching Your Goals

I think we have all been at that point where you’ve been making the changes, putting in the work, but feel like you have gotten nowhere. This can be extremely discouraging but it doesn’t mean you should accept defeat. This should be your sign to look closer at what you’re doing to pinpoint exactly what’s holding you back. Let’s look at some of the most common things that could be hindering your progress.

 

1. Nutrition: This is hands down, in my opinion, the number one reason people do not hit their fitness goals. Proper nutrition is so important! However, it can be tricky to get right, so let’s make it simple.

 

  • Decide your goal (lose fat, gain muscle, or maintain).
  • Calculate your macros (protein, carbohydrates, and fat). There are tons of macro calculators you can find on the internet to make it quick and easy. Here is one https://nasmbwpcalculator.com/.

 

You must choose a calculator that accounts for your BMR (basal metabolic rate) and your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure). It is also very very important that you give yourself a realistic time frame to hit that goal. If you say you want to lose 10lbs in 1 week it will probably calculate a very small calorie intake which is extremely unrealistic and dangerous. For a guide, recommended calorie intake for adult women is 1,600-2,400 cal/day. Recommended calorie intake for adult men is 2,000-3000 cal/day. Again, everyone is different and requires different things so what may work for you may be outside of that recommendation.

 

  • Choose foods that are going to help you hit your macros, and most importantly that you’re going to enjoy.

 

-For protein, prioritize fresh, lean, minimally processed sources: eggs & egg whites, fish, chicken, lean beef, plain Greek yogurt, etc.

 

-For carbohydrates, focus on whole, minimally processed sources with nutrients and fiber with a mix of starches and fruits: beans and lentils, oats, quinoa, brown rice, sweet potatoes, whole or sprouted grain bread, bananas, etc.

 

-For fats, aim for a mix of whole-food fats and pressed oils: extra virgin olive oil, cheese, egg yolks, nuts (cashews, pistachios, almonds, peanuts, etc).

 

  • Hit your macros and prioritize your protein! Following a high protein diet can preserve or increase fat-free mass, increase satiety, and aid in body fat reduction. This is especially important for those eating in a calorie deficit. A good guide is to eat 1g/lb of body weight. For example, Joe weighs 180lbs so he will eat 180g of protein.

 

2. Recovery: This is something that is often neglected. Recovery can include stretching, proper hydration and nutrition, proper rest, and even chiropractic or massage services.

 

Rest is essential for muscle growth. When you exercise it creates tiny tears in your muscles and during rest is when your body repairs those tears. This is how we build muscle. Each time the muscles tear and repair they get stronger. So, by not getting in the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep each night you could be killing your gains.

 

3. Patience, Consistency, & Adaptability: These things take time. You can’t do one cardio session or eat one salad and expect a six-pack. You must work hard and stay consistent. That’s where the food and exercise choices become so important. If you are gagging eating mouthfuls of kale and crying while doing burpees, then don’t ever eat kale or do a burpee again. My point is if it’s not something you enjoy, and it won’t aid you on your journey then get rid of it. Continuing to partake in things that are agonizing for you is just going to make it that much harder to stick to. Also, don’t be too hard on yourself, allow for the slip-ups. All that matters is that you get back on track as soon as possible.

 

Remember that we’re all different! What works for someone else is probably not what’s going to work best for you. This is your journey; make it about YOU!

 

Cheers to hitting your goals,

 

April

Hungry Food Fun

Hello my hungry homies,

 

If you follow along on my adventure shenanigans you can see that I love cooking and trying new exciting foods with a twist. What you may not have known is that I’m pretty much a veg head these days. Long ago a grumpy gray bearded man told me I couldn’t get bumpy by being a veg head, so we had to stubbornly prove him wrong. Also, I’m team animal and team save the planet which helps fuel the fire, and forces me to think outside of the box and be more creative. With all that being said, I have two fun and easy food recipes to show you that will definitely spice up your life and give you a twist on some classics, veg head style of course.

 

First we have the Black Bean & Beet Fiesta Burger which was inspired by our trip to The Independent, a Squirrel Hill tavern and restaurant (a fan favorite).

 

Take your Beets (fresh is better for most things) black beans, chickpeas, quinoa, jalapeños, onion, thyme, oregano, salt, pepper, a bit of A1(for that umami hit) and send it all through the food processor. Mix all that up well and refrigerate for a bit, then create your patties and cook them like you would your favorite burger. Then Boom, toss your go to toppings, some guac on that burger and send it between some fresh buns. There you have it, a quick and easy twist on a tasty burger.

 

As a nice side for the Triple B Fiesta Burger we created a Cashew Queso, for our lactose belly ache friends out there. I believe we first had this on our adventure pit stop at a brewery in Boulder Colorado but it could have also been on a ride up Pacific Highway 1. I’ll consult the elders for the determination.

 

Any-who, get some cashews and soak those puppies overnight to start the process. Boil some potatoes, take some unsweetened vegan cream or almond/ cashew milk, diced tomatoes, chopped jalapeños, garlic, salt, onion, cayenne powder and nutritional yeast. That is correct, I don’t measure anything, just all eyes and elbows over here. Blend all that fun stuff together and TADA Cashew Queso. Dip your chips and enjoy.

 

There you have it my hungry homies. Let me know if you tried these out and how it all went. Hold onto your butts for more twisted food ideas.

 

Cheers,

CeJ

Meal of the Week; Breakfast of Champions

Years ago I used to write for elitefts, I was lucky enough to be a columnist for a decade or so with them. For the younger or newer people reading this elitefts was the go to for all things strength. Dave Tate had assembled some of the top coaches, lifters, and scientists to write about training. On a few occasions we did programs or articles together. One article was entitled, “Breakfast of Champions.” I am going to borrow that name for today’s blog. The article was just a pic and description of what each of us ate for breakfast. Today I will do something similar, and hope you start your day off with a healthy and nutritious breakfast.

 

My diet tends to be solid at the bookends of the day. When I am at work I fall apart due to all of you bringing me treats (don’t stop please). I am at the point in my life where I don’t worry too much about my diet, as long as it isn’t terrible. For breakfast I pretty much stick to the same outline with small variations daily. It is important to have some variation to your food no matter how healthy. Without going too deep into science you must vary your food or even the healthiest of foods can become unhealthy.

Eggs are key. I don’t eat much meat so I need to keep my protein up. From there veggies are a huge part of breakfast. One mistake I see often is people wait to eat their veggies. Get them in early, today is radishes, tomatoes (fake veggies), peppers (more fake ones), garlic, and tons of mushrooms. Add eggs and a little cheese, this is the perfect main course. For the sides I go with fruit and a Dave’s bagel (Tenzing calls them Popeye bagels). Add some water, freshly ground coffee and there it is.

 

When people hear what I eat daily the response is often, I don’t have time to do that. My entire set up takes 15 minutes. So find 15 minutes to get your day started right and you won’t be disappointed.

 

Go EAT BIG!

 

 

Know Your Protein

Unioners,

 

We always talk about Getting Bumpy but often don’t mention one of the building blocks of the bumps, protein.

 

Getting enough protein is important for muscle, metabolic, and tissue health. However, not all protein is created equally. There is complete and incomplete protein. The difference between the two proteins is the amount of essential amino acids they contain. What are amino acids you ask? Well they are molecular building blocks that combine to form the protein you eat. When you eat protein-rich foods, your body breaks those proteins back down into amino acids. We then use those amino acids to build muscle, repair tissues, support metabolism, and support other processes in the body.

 

Out of the 20 amino acids, 9 are essential, meaning the body can’t produce them. Those 9 are, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. The only way to get these amino acids is through food. Foods that contain all of them, and in amounts similar to those required by the body, are called complete proteins. Those that do not contain enough of one or more essential amino acids are incomplete proteins. All animal-based foods; meat, dairy, and eggs contain complete protein. The majority of plant-based protein sources, such as whole grains, legumes, seeds, nuts, spinach and others are incomplete. However, some plant-based foods, such as soy, quinoa and buckwheat are complete. Many incomplete protein sources have some of every single essential amino acid, just not in levels high enough that protein can accomplish everything. Leucine, which is a main driver of muscle building, tends to be relatively low in most incomplete proteins. If you’re eating meat, you’re good to go with essential aminos and if you’re eating a wide variety of plant-based protein sources you can get all of the amino acids you need also. Thankfully, whether you try to pair protein at each meal or do so throughout the day, you don’t have to worry about memorizing each amino acid. Just focus on variety of sources. Eat your whole grains, veggies, legumes, seeds, nuts for you veggie heads, toss in some meat for you carnivores and you’ll be good with your portion variety. 

 

Variety is the spice of life and let’s keep our meals interesting. You’ll be seeing some fun food recipes coming your way very soon from my end of the blogs. 

 

Eat up my friends, 

 

CeJ

Sugar, Sugar, Sugar, and HFCS

The good old American diet, quick and assessable greasy fat or sugary foods. YUM, am I right? In America, there is heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and an obesity epidemic. There is room to point fingers at a lot of reasons but in this, we’ll focus on added sugars like high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS).  

 

HFCS was invented in 1965 and in the 70s it was being marketed. Over the years, this has been used more often for food and drink products. Which is found in most of the foods and drinks we consume (e.g. bread, soda, juice, canned fruit, cereal, & coffee creamers, etc). This has become a common ingredient because it is cheap and easy to manufacture. 

 

High-fructose corn syrup is an artificial sugar made from corn syrup. HFCS needs to be broken down into glucose, glycogen, or fat by the liver before being used as fuel. In America, the increased sugar consumption per person per year has greatly increased. This increase consumption can cause serious health issues mentioned in the beginning. Glucose will stimulate the area of your brain that controls appetite, whereas, fructose does not, which means you could eat more than planned. Are you wondering what overeating can lead to? Well, have you heard of visceral fat? It is the most harmful type of body fat. HFCS will promote visceral fat build-up on your major organs such as the liver, kidneys, pancreas, intestines, and heart. This can increase your risk for heart disease, stroke, artery disease, diabetes, and some cancers.

 

I’m not saying avoid HFCS or sugars at all costs. These sugars are everywhere and can be hard to avoid, especially in our more sedentary, grab-and-go society. Just try to be mindful of what you are putting into your body. 

Member Spotlight

Here at UF we love our members so much it’s time we show you off and have CJ climb the incline like King Kong, he will shout your presence from atop of the highest point of Mt. Washington!

 

This week we’d like to shout out Jessie Theisen.

 

Ladies & Gents, here is Jessie in her own words.

 

“I grew up in central California (where the cows overpopulate the people) in a small town called Visalia, however, I was born at Fort Bragg, NC (military brat- dad was 20 years 82nd Airborne and mom a marine). After spending the majority of my childhood in central CA, at 19 I picked up and moved to LA in 2008 where I lived there intermittently through 2016 (moved to PGH with my then boyfriend, now husband summer of 2016). Of my past lives, the most interesting is probably the opportunity I had as a professional makeup artist working in film, runway, magazines, commercials and doing everything from beauty makeup to special effects/gore (the latter was the most fun)! I was a professional makeup artist for the 8 year stint I was in LA.

 

For my current work, I am a team lead for a group of loan analysts at a financial tech company called LendingHome (they specialize in mortgages for people who fix and flip houses)- my team helps process that product, attempting to locate any process/design flaws and work with our engineering team to better perfect it. In short, it’s a fancy customer service job. I love the people I work with and can’t imagine being anywhere else anytime soon.

 

My training background really starts with Union Fitness. I was never the sporty or athletic type- I was a band nerd who could play Sweet Child O’ Mine on 5 different instruments while marching in a god-awful wool suit (feather and all). I would always strive to find ways to be active, though; I just never really landed on what worked for me. Took everything from cardio barre, to pilates, yoga, I just didn’t fit in any of those spaces. My drive and motivation quickly waned until I found UF, where they encouraged people of all athletic abilities to pick up a weight, and put it down, and pushed to do the same the following day/week, only heavier. THIS.WAS.MY. SHIT. Attending the #powerful classes on a regular was therapeutic for me. There were stents where I was going 5-6 days a week, sometimes two-a-days. It wasn’t even just the workouts anymore, it was the community of people who went to the same classes, continuing to build each other up and cheer each other on in their small(or big) victories. A place of misfits that I could call my own; UF is home to where I’ve made some of my closest friends. I’m grateful to the atmosphere it has cultivated and maintained from its origination until now.

 

The fun shit:

  1. If I could eat one food every day it’d be a cold-cut turkey sandwich (you’re free to DM me on particulars), I’m a fanatic and those close to me know it, there’s a certain consistency to the bread, color combo of the mayo and mustard together, a particular type of ground oregano- there’s an art to it, I promise; to which I must add, PITTSBURGH! Stop heating that shit up and putting fries on it…. STOP THAT SHIT! STOP IT RIGHT NOW!
  2. If I was a piece of equipment at Union, I’d probably be the EliteEFTS PRO, short monster mini band (yeah, the small green one) – functional, small, sturdy, pain in the ass.
  3. I’m competing in my first ever bodybuilding competition this May 8th. Signed up last March a week before Covid shut everything down- (original show meant to be last Oct). I have gone through 2 cuts now, and 2 refeeds. What was originally meant to be a 6 month prep will be 14 after all is said and done. I’m f’n jazzed to get on stage and have one of them cold-cuts mentioned under #1 right after!
  4. The most under-rated candy is Chewy Sprees.
  5. I have only ever owned pitbull dogs as pets; they’re the biggest derpsters and I love everything about them. I have a black and white named Trouble; I would die for her.
  6. Oh, fave exercise:  deadlifts.”

 

Thank you, Jessie for being a great member of our community!

 

Cheers,

CeJ

Peanut Butter Pie

Today let’s indulge in some delicious food. While scrolling da ‘gram yesterday I saw my guy Ryan Nosak posted a recipe. In Ryan’s words, “I usually don’t make many of the high protein or so called “healthier” desserts because let’s face it, usually they are never close to the real thing.” Well I can promise you (Tenzing too) that this dessert is great!

 

Here is the recipe.

 

Filling

 

1 & 1/4 cups peanut butter (unfortunately it must be peanut butter with sugar for mixing purposes).

1 & 1/2 cups plain greek yogurt.

1/2 cup raw honey.

1/4 cup almond milk (you have options here depending on your calorie requirements).

 

Crust

 

Make your own out of graham crackers or just save time and use store bought.

 

Now putting it all together.

 

  1.  Add all ingredients and mix in bowl.
  2. Freeze crust for 4 hours.
  3. Add filling to crust and freeze for another 4 hours.
  4. Add toppings of your choice (be careful with too much sugar here just be smart).

 

Now enjoy this dessert and give Ryan Nosak a follow for other great options.

 

 

 

I Love Eggs and You Should Too

Hang around lifters, (the humans not the bad nickname for your shoes) long enough and the topic of protein will come up. The rule of thumb that most of you have probably already heard is eat one gram of protein for every pound of bodyweight. For me I float around 200 lbs so around 200 grams of protein a day is a good goal. There is some debate about this number yet we can use it as a starting point. From there the quality of protein matters. If you do not understand amino acids that’s OK here is how you can think of it. For this blog we are going to just use numbers to represent different amino acids(AA). Let’s say AA your body can produce AA’s 1-5 but not 6-10. AA’s 6-10 must one supplied through diet. That is what makes a protein a “complete protein.”

 

Your goal for protein intake can include some non complete protein, yet getting complete proteins is very important for recovery. Another rule of thumb (no this is not a fact yet a decent rule of thumb) is animal proteins are generally complete. This is why being a vegetarian is so hard. Often times you will have to supplement with AA’s that you miss in your diet.

 

Onto the egg. Here are some fun facts about eggs.

 

  1. Eggs are a complete protein
  2. The yolk has as much protein as the white.
  3. They are one of the few foods high in Vitamin D.
  4. The are delicious and easy to prepare.
  5. This is the big one. The egg has a cheat sheet inside of it to tell you how awesome it really is. That cheat sheet is the yoke. A yellow yoke=BAD egg. A dark gold or almost brown yoke=Gainz. Without delving into hens diets too much a darker yolk means that the animal had a healthier diet and more than likely a better life. Run an experiment for yourself. Go to a local grocery store by the cheapest eggs you can look at the the yolk, cook it and taste it. Now go to a farmers market or east end food co-op, do the same thing. See and taste the difference for yourself.

 

Clearly point #5 was the one I really wanted to write about. The yolk tells you most of what you need to know. Now I am aware that people will say “Hamer, those eggs are expensive.” I do understand yet let’s look at the bigger picture. If you are willing to spend 4-6 dollars on your fancy coffee yet not 4-6 dollars on your eggs then you made your decision as to what’s important. I love the fancy coffee too and I also know the fancy eggs are more important. So skip the mocha, soy, chai, skinny, latte, with the sugar free, sugar infused vanilla and a pump of hazelnut and buy some real eggs.

 

Eat real food.

 

Hamer

 

Drink Coffee, Get Bumpy.. Mo Joe

Union, Let’s raise a cup of Joe ,

 

It has been said loooooong ago in a land far away, that a herd of goats stumbled upon a berry, ate said berry and had a jolt of energy. The goat herder took these berries to the local monastery for the monks to observe. A drink was made with these berries and boom, the nectar of the gods which we call coffee was born!

 

The Effects of Coffee on Exercise:

1) Caffeine blocks adenosine receptors in the brain which in turn reduces grogginess & smacks the parasympathetic system up, boosting alertness & response time. 

2) Caffeine improves blood circulation, which brings oxygen and other nutrients to muscle tissues.

3) A study by old Johnny Hopkins University suggests 200-400mg of caffeine can improve mental and physical performance.

4) Pain in post exercise soreness decreases with pre-training coffee consumption.

5) Coffee has antioxidants which are badass and help defeat evil inside of you.

 

Now go french press your own, or head on over to your local coffee beanery and enjoy a cup for your health & performance. 

 

Cheers, 

CeJ