gym jewellery cj banner lower horizontal 1-1-b.jpg

Nutritional based articles straight from's specialist writers 

Posted 16 April 2013 by Amy Jo Horvath - NPC Figure Competitor

Recipe: Healthy

Blueberry Muffins


Recipe: Healthy Blueberry Muffins

I love muffins but do not love what they do to my waistline, so what could be better then a delicious blueberry muffin without added refined sugar, flour or loaded in butter. These are naturally sweetened by the blueberries, a cup of mashed banana and a touch of raw honey. The coconut oil keeps these moist and adds a healthy fat to the muffin. These healthy muffins will be sure to please yet save you from the dreaded muffin top!


  • 3/4 cup Whole Grain Spelt Flour
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 1/2 tsp of baking soda
  • 1 tsp of Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Tbsp of Pure raw Honey
  • 4 Tbsp of Coconut Oil (measure the Tbsp when liquid)
  • 1 Cup of mashed banana
  • Juice from 1/2 of a fresh lemon
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 cup of fresh blueberries


Mix together the dry ingredients and set aside. Beat the whole eggs and egg whites. Mix in the mashed banana, vanilla, honey, oil and lemon juice. Add in the dry ingredients and mix well. Fold in the blueberries. Using a 1/4 measuring cup, pour batter evenly into 12 prepared muffin tins. Bake at 400 degrees for 14 - 18 minutes or until slightly brown on top.

Nutrient stats: 1 Muffin

  • Calories: 127
  • Fat: 6.1g
  • Saturated: 4.7g (Healthy fats from the coconut oil)
  • Cholesterol: 53.8mg
  • Sodium: 184 mg
  • Potassium: 92.4 mg
  • Carbs: 13.3g
  • Dietary Fiber: 1.8g
  • Sugars: 5g
  • Protein: 4g

Amy Jo Horvath:

Posted 09 July 2013 by Adam Bisek

Cheating to Leanness: Make

Cheat Days Work In Your Diet

cheating to leanness scr1.jpg

Cheating to Leanness:
How to make cheat days work in your diet

If you are wondering how the occasional deviation from your plate of chicken and broccoli benefit you, you're in the right place. Cheat days, or what I call "refeed" days, shouldn't be a green light for an all out sloth, but rather a strategically planned aspect of a well implemented fat loss diet. Both from a physical and a psychological standpoint I have had many clients who cheating to leanness q1.pngreap the benefits of enjoying their favorite foods. When it comes down to it, our basic physiology and psychology backs the notion of refeed days, and my clients do as well.
A sneak peak at the hormone Leptin will shed a little light on how cheating helps us lose fat. Leptin is a hormone secreted by fat cells, and to an extent the cells lining the stomach. Leptin essentially gives a real-time play-by-play to a part of the brain known as the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus for all intents and purposes controls metabolism and hunger. There is an inverse relationship between our body fat and our fed state in regards to leptin's signals and subsequently the hypothalamus's actions. Theoretically, the fatter we are and the more fed we are, the higher our metabolism will be and the lower our hunger hormones should be (see figure below). There are of course exceptions as seen in leptin resistance, which is a whole separate article.

   ↓ Fat = ↓ Leptin = ↑ Hunger Hormones + ↓ Metabolism

   ↑ Fat = ↑ Leptin = ↓ Hunger Hormones + ↑ Metabolism

So that leaves us with the questions, "What does cheating on your diet and leptin have to do with each other, and how can their relationship help my six-pack?" Really it's pretty simple once you know the mechanisms. When you partake in modern day famine, or what we would cheating to leanness q2.pngcall dieting, your body's natural defense mechanisms try to preserve you. This manifests itself when you chronically restrict calories and consequently leptin's signals to the brain decrease, making the hypothalamus turn the dial down on your metabolism. It seems pretty intuitive doesn't it? Much like our ancestors, if you haven't stumbled upon a water buffalo or a bushel of berries (bear with me, think chicken breasts and sweet potatoes) in quite some time, your body will want to keep enough insulation on you for the winter to come. Thus the body will decrease what it can control, your metabolism.

Don't fret however, the fate of your metabolism plummeting can be blunted by an occasional dietary sidetrack. Leptin is sensitive to acute, or short-term, increases in carbohydrate consumption. That is to say if you have been dieting on both a calorically restricted diet and carbohydrate restricted diet, occasional periods of high carbohydrate consumption will increase leptin levels. Thus the higher carbohydrate "refeed," is born. Carbohydrate cycling ring a bell? By increasing leptin during caloric restriction through higher carbohydrate days, and keeping insulin in check on lower carbohydrate days, carbohydrate cycling sheds fat and keeps the metabolism humming. Of course the organization and implementation of a carbohydrate cycling diet is individual, and dynamic.

With this all in mind I would be remised to leave you without a plan to implement all this information into your nutritional regimen. After all, your reading this with the aspirations of an Adonis-like physique, and the luster of a cheat day to help you do so. As promised, below is a basic protocol to implement a higher carbohydrate cheat, or "refeed," day into your diet:

Day 1: 0.5grams of carbohydrates per lb bodyweight
Day 2: 0.5 grams/lb bw
Day 3: 1.5g/lb bw
Day 4: 0.5g/lb bw
Day 5: 0.5g/lb bw
Day 6: 0.5g/lb bw
Day 7 (Cheat Day): 2.5-3g/lb bw

Bear in mind while the above may not be a typical carbohydrate cycling protocol, it certainly enables fat loss results. On the lowest carbohydrate days (0.5g/lb bw), the source of carbohydrates should come from non-starchy vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, and green beans. Proteins and healthier fats such as coconut oil, olive oil, avocados, and almonds should make up the lion share of your calories. On the medium day (1.5g/lb bw) starchy carbohydrates such as oatmeal, brown rice, and sweet potatoes can be incorporated in your post-workout meal. And finally, what you have been waiting for, on your cheat day (2.5-3g/lb bw) it's your choice! However, I would recommend an abundance of healthy starchy carbs, like the ones mentioned above, if your intensions are to get lean and mean.

Remember though, you are aiming to increase carbohydrate consumption not fat consumption. Personally, my cheat day involves a trip to my favorite Mexican restaurant for corn chips and salsa, as well as fajitas with corn tortillas, as I am gluten intolerant.
There you have it! The how and why to cheat on your diet. So break out your calculator and figure out just how much you can liberate yourself from the rigors of dieting one day a week. You'll not only be looking forward to that cheat meal, but also looking at a more chiseled physique in the mirror.

Written By Adam Bisek

Posted 18 March 2013 by Kwesi Keller

10 Common Fitness And

Nutrition Questions Answered


1) How long should my workout last?

The length of a workout is dependent on multiple factors. To build muscle a workout may last anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours. When lifting to grow muscle, the attempt is not to Uncommon_kwesi_path_q1.pngexhaust the cardiac muscle, but to strategically break down muscle tissue through moving objects against gravity. The average rest time between sets may be anywhere from 1 -2 minutes; allowing the muscles to re-oxygenate and allowing for maximal effort in every set. If the attempt is to burn fat and increase muscular and cardiovascular endurance, effective techniques are supersets, tri –sets, and shorter rest duration; between 30-45 seconds.

2) Can I do abs every day?

Working the core every day is a bad idea. The abdominal muscles are a thin layer of muscle that needs recovery time like any other muscle. The core is used during every movement of the body, so to continually break down the muscle is counterproductive. To maximize each workout, train the abdominals intensely like any other muscle group.

3) How often should I cardio?

It is important to understand the difference between cardio and burning fat; many people confuse the two. Cardio is strengthening the cardiac muscle (heart). The body burns fat in two ways: 1) Long and slow bouts of energy expenditure or 2) high intensity/short in duration interval training (sprints, sled pulls, and running stairs). To answer the question posed, cardio every other day is appropriate. Cardio is a workout, and just like lifting weights, muscle is broken down and the body produces cortisol (hormone use to convert muscle into energy source); so it is important to allow the legs to recover before breaking them down again.

Uncommon_kwesi_main_tips scr1.jpg

4) What do you consider a rest day?
Is it a day without weights, cardio, or both?

A rest day is just that, a day to do nothing but eat and allow your mind and body to rest. The mind controls hormone regulation in the body; therefore, it is essential to allow the body time to recover and regain balance. When the body is constantly worked with no rest it can fall into a state of over training. Over training is easily identifiable:

• Prolonged muscle soreness
• Strength loss
• Muscle strain/pains
• No muscle gain

5) Is it better to do cardio before
or after lifting weights?

If cardio as discussed earlier is being completed, it should be done on its own as a workout. If a person is attempting to complement their nutrition by burning a few extra calories, then anytime of the day is good. However, if it is done in the morning a person must understand Uncommon_kwesi_path_q2.pngthey have to combat the hormone cortisol that is being produced due to the fast of the night. The ways a person can offset this hormone is to take BCAA or hydrolyzed whey protein to blunt the effects of the hormone. If done after a workout (not recommended) it’s important to understand the body is producing cortisol; therefore a hydrolyzed whey (protein peptides broken down to allow for faster absorption) should be used. This blunts cortisol but does not interfere with the bodies GH (growth hormone) production.

6) Is diet or working out more important?

Neither is more important than the other, rather they complement one another. Diet without exercise will leave the body absent of shape and tone. Exercise without proper nutrition is counterproductive because for the body to repair itself, the nutrients and elements used have to be replaced. When these elements or nutrients aren’t replaced the body will use muscle tissue and bone minerals as a substitute.

Uncommon_kwesi_main_tips scr2.jpg

7) How do I get a flat stomach?

Bottom line, a flat stomach or washboard abs are both made in the kitchen. Everyone has abs but what separates a flat stomach from a fat stomach is adipose tissue (belly fat). A proper nutrition plan is the only way to a flat stomach.

8) What should I eat after a workout and why?

This is a two part answer so let’s start with what to eat if you are doing weight training. A common myth is that after a workout a simple carbohydrate should be consumed. This is a myth because the scientific studies conducted that led to this conclusion were inappropriately evaluated and applied; all of these studies where comprised of runners. For a weight lifter hydrolyzed or micronized whey protein should be consumed to allow the body’s growth hormone to stay elevated. For an endurance athlete a simple carbohydrate is appropriate to replenish glycogen stores depleted during the event.

9) Why do I never see results after months of training?

There are so many possible reasons that it would be impossible to determine without proper evaluation, but here is a list of possible reasons:
• Lack of a plan
• Lack of sleep
• Poor nutrition
• Poor training form
• Over training

10) Why do athletes take sports enhancement drugs?

I can’t answer for every athlete, but I can explain what sports enhancement drugs do and then I’m sure everyone can form their own opinion. These drugs are not miracles; these athletes still have to eat clean, train hard, and recover.
Sports enhancement drugs are synthetic hormones that speed up the body’s natural abilities to repair muscle fibers, metabolize food, and suppress other hormones that are counterproductive to muscle growth. They are not legal nor are they advised, but they do not take away from the hard work, discipline, and desire of an athlete who is willing to put it all on the line for their dream of being the greatest at their craft.

Written by: Kwesi Keller, interview with Kwesi Keller

Posted 07 March 2013 by Brad Borland, M.A., CSCS

No More Breaking The Bank:

Big results on a skinny budget

 Big results on a skinny budget


Have you ever thought to yourself that if you only had the time, money and conveniences of a successful competitive bodybuilder of fitness model you too could achieve the physique of your dreams? You too could workout when and how you wanted to, prepare and eat all the skinny_budget_q1.pngright kinds of foods and supplements, and get the rest you need to repair and grow new muscle. You say to yourself that you just don’t have the time and resources like those “other guys and girls” do. Those “other guys” have “the life” conducive to the bodybuilding/fitness lifestyle. It is so easy for them and you have such a difficult time inching up the ladder scrapping every morsel of time and bit of knowledge just to gain an ounce of progress.
Hopefully this article will shed a little light on scheduling your time, finding ways to save money on food and supplements, convenient food preparation, and other little tricks to help you reach your goals a little easier. Sometimes all it takes is a little tweaking to make your workouts a little more effective and to get more out of each set, rep, meal and supplement you take. Being more efficient and effective will enable you to reach those goals all the while saving a little time and money on your journey.


Below is a list of tips and tricks to help you make the road to success a little easier on your schedule and your wallet.

1. Wheel and Deal

1. Wheel and Deal: When joining a gym see if the facility is running any specials such as the first month being free or waiving the registration fee. Maybe they have a special couples rate for your significant other. Most fitness facilities want your business so they will try to work with you to get you in their door, but don’t be afraid to ask about special offers just in case they were not offered up front. For college students there are ways to utilize on-campus facilities such as recreation centers specifically for students which are usually included in the price for tuition. Many facilities will also offer student discounts.

2. Buy in Bulk

2. Buy in Bulk: Get a membership at a local wholesale warehouse. They sell foods in bulk which break down to be cheaper per serving. Remember when buying in bulk to freeze most of your meats and thaw as you prepare them for the week ahead. You can easily buy large amounts of chicken, ground meats, beef, oatmeal, rice, frozen vegetables, milk, and other staples of your nutrition plan. You will have large amounts of food and less trips to the store.

3. Clip Coupons

3. Clip Coupons: If you do not have access to one of those wholesale stores you can always find ways to save at your local grocer. Many stores have special discount cards, coupons to save 10 or 15%, and 2 for 1 deals. Keep an eye on their deals and what time of the week they are running them.


4. Be Supplement Savvy

4. Be Supplement Savvy: As I said regarding food, have the same mindset with supplements. Look for deals at your local supplement store. Find out if they have specials during each month and/or if they have a special discount club to belong to. Even better, look online for great prices. Many sites will also offer you free gifts with your purchases. Compare prices and carefully look at prices per serving as to serving sizes and servings per container vary from product to product.

5. Brown Bag It

5. Brown Bag It: Try to prepare your meals at home as much as possible. Take meals to work instead of going out to lunch every day, make smoothies and protein shakes at home instead of buying them pre made, and going out to dinner should be kept to a minimum. This will ensure you are eating all of your goal friendly meals on a regular basis and will give you consistency and keep you on a schedule toward your goals. Make going to lunch or dinner a treat and something that you do only once a week or so.

6. One at a Time

6. One at a Time: No one said you had to use every supplement on the planet to guarantee success. Try one supplement at a time to see what effects it will have. You will know if most are working within six weeks or so. This will not only save you money in the long run but will also let you know which ones work and which ones you are wasting your time with. Experiment and stick with the ones that work for you.

7. Spend Your Time Wisely

7. Spend Your Time Wisely: If you are the type to go home from work before hitting the gym, save some time and pack a gym bag and head to the gym right after work. If time permits you may want to train in the morning before work or class to free up time for other things in your personal life. It takes a great commitment to schedule your time wisely. If time is not on your side when in the gym try supersets and staggered sets during your workout. It not only saves time but will also give you a cardio effect. Do calves in between sets of arms or superset chest and back or biceps and triceps together.

So there you have it, just a few tips for the financially struggling but committed. There are ways to your goals you just have to be creative and careful in your choices. If you want it bad enough you will find resources and creative techniques to get you there without breaking your bank. Good luck.

By: Brad Borland, M.A., CSCS 

Posted 16 February 2013 by Brad Borland

A Simple Guide To What Is

In Your Supplements


Your simple guide to what is in your supplements
and other odd sounding compounds

Microfiltered, isolates, extracts, ethyl esters, concentrates, acetyl-L, sulfates, what on earth do all of these terms mean? Is monohydrate a good thing? Do I really need to include guggulsterones to my supplement plan? Will I actually burn fat with forskolin? You may have heard of some of these words attached to your favorite supplements such as creatine ethyl ester, microfiltered whey isolate, and acetyl-L-carnitine.

But, what do these added compounds signify regarding the efficacy of these supplements? supp_guide_q1.pngHow do they improve absorption, metabolism, and integrity so that you can build a leaner, more muscular physique in the quickest time possible? More importantly, what the heck are they?

Supplement science has advanced by leaps and bounds over the last decade from the improvements of creatine to the new forms of protein. With all of these new developments one can now devise a precise supplement plan based on absorption, timing and bioavailability.
Below is a short list of some of the more popular supplements on the market and what these different forms or additions actually do. Let us begin by explaining a new twist on some your old favorites.

World Of Whey

When milk is made into cheese, whey is the substance that has floated to the top due to the separation process. Whey protein concentrate goes through a couple of manufacturing processes known as ultrafiltration and diafiltration which leave most of the proteins intact with a small amount of fats and carbohydrate. Although whey concentrate is somewhat fast digesting, it is still slow compared to its relatives.

Whey protein isolate is next in line when it comes to speed of digestion which is due to the extra step in processing that concentrate does not go through. Ion-exchange chromatography, which is a longer filtration process, allows isolate to be purer and the protein to absorb faster, however, some protein fractions are lost in this process.
supp_guide_q2.pngThe fastest sibling in the protein family is whey protein hydrolysate. This protein is taken to an even more thorough filtration process known as hydrolysis to break the amino acid bonds increase absorption. That is why hydrolysate is the best protein to take immediately after a workout.

Whatever whey protein form you choose, try taking it around your training times and first thing in the morning when amino acids are critical for continued growth. Try 20 grams in the morning about a half hour before your first solid meal, 20-30 grams before training and 40-50 grams after training. Of course you must weigh all your options when choosing a whey protein product such as price, availability and taste.

Casein, Casein, and Casein

Casein is the largest compound found in milk. It is slow to digest and some forms take up to six to seven hours to fully metabolize. That is why casein is a great choice when you know you may not eat for a while or right before bed. This slow release of amino acids will ensure your muscles are getting exactly what they need to keep growing.
Caseinate is a form of casein that is made mostly of protein and is somewhat soluble.

Usually as calcium caseinate, potassium caseinate, or sodium caseinate manufacturers like the solubility of caseinate as it mixes well in fluid.
Micellar casein protein undergoes a microfiltration process to separate lactose, fat and whey from the casein part of the milk. Because of this extra process micellar casein does not mix easily with fluid but it is the slowest digesting of the casein proteins making it ideal for nighttime use.

Lastly, the fastest digesting protein of the casein family is hydrolyzed casein. It goes through a process called hydrolysis where amino acid bonds are broken making short-chained proteins. Due to the faster absorption rate hydrolyzed protein is a good addition to your pre and post workout shakes.

Try utilizing Micellar casein at times when you have a long time period between meals and before you go to bed. The slow release of amino acids will ensure you are getting what you need for accelerated muscle growth. Hydrolyzed casein is best used in combination with your post-workout whey shake. Its fast action will supply yet another form of protein so you get a full spectrum of the building blocks of your physique.


Monohydrate, Malate and Ethyl Ester

Creatine monohydrate is the simplest form of creatine which is formed from arginine, glycine, and methionine and helps support ATP in muscular contraction. Unfortunately a significant amount of creatine has the potential to bypass absorption and be expelled while causing bloating and discomfort. Other forms have been designed to remedy this problem. Enter creatine malate and Creatine ethyl ester.

Malic acid (which helps to provide energy) and creatine monohydrate combine to make tri-creatine malate. Tri-creatine malate potentially makes creatine more bioavailable and can reduce gastric discomfort as well as impact the ATP cycle more effectively. All of these positives give creatine a greater chance to do what it was meant to do; replenish energy stores in muscle tissue for more muscular endurance and subsequently strength and muscle mass gains.

Creatine ethyl ester works a little differently. Creatine is combined with an ester, which are compounds that help transport creatine across cell walls for greater absorption. Ester utilizes fat in a way so greater amounts of creatine actually react inside of the cell instead of outside creating water retention. The results? More creatine is absorbed, less is wasted, and you get longer and stronger workouts.

If you want to try creatine and are somewhat on a budget, try monohydrate and pay close attention to the effects. If you feel bloated or gastric discomfort then try the malic acid or ethyl ester varieties to see which works best for you. 3-5 grams pre and post workout should do the trick.


Carnitine is synthesized in the body from the amino acids lysine and methionine. By transporting fat to the mitochondria of cells carnitine helps burn it for fuel. Not only will it utilize supp_guide_q3.pngmore of your fat stores for energy, it will also enhance recovery after those long bouts in the gym. As if the benefits couldn’t get any better, carntine will increase the number of testosterone receptors in muscle cells to enhance muscle growth. Once L-carnitine takes fatty acids to the mitochondria of muscle cells it is converted to acetyl-L-carnitine which has been shown to positively affect the body by preventing brain-cell death and to protect nerve cells from degeneration due to aging or disease.

The best bet for L-carnitine in either form is to start slow with 1 or 2 grams per day around workout times and slowly build up to 4 or 5 grams with one gram in the morning, pre and post workout, and a gram before bed. L-carnitine is not an overnight sensation like creatine, but it will help you get leaner and help protect you from chronic muscle damage.



As the active compound in the mint herb Coleus forskohlii, forskolin will help boost testosterone levels and increase fat loss. This natural thermogenic compound activates enzymes to start a chain of events breaking down fat stores in fat cells and using them for fuel. Try 20-40 grams three times per day preferably before meals.


Guggul is from the gum resin of the guggul tree Commiphora mukul. Its thermogenic effects cause a significant increase in fat loss by boosting metabolism. Additionally, it helps prevent fat from being stored. Guggulsterones are added to many fat burners to help burn calories while dieting and intense training. Usually manufacturers suggest 30-60 mg three times per day with meals.


Usually used to spice up foods Cayenne is a pepper plant found in South America also known as Capsicum annuum and Capsicum frutescens. The medicinal properties of cayenne are derived from a chemical called capsaicin which gives the pepper its heat effect. This has been shown to raise core temperature, increase blood flow and burn more fat in the process. Cayenne (in pepper or powder form) can easily be added to any diet and it is found in numerous fat burners.


Also referred to as yohimbe, yohimbine is the active ingredient found in the African Pausinystalia yohimbe tree. The positive fat loss effects of this natural compound are numerous; it helps fat cells release fatty acids more easily to be burned as energy, it causes blood vessel dialation to occur much like the effects of nitric oxide, and it helps to maximize norepinephrine levels which is the neurotransmitter responsible for regulating. 2-8 mg three times per day included in your favorite fat burner will do the job.

Green Tea Extract

Contrary to popular belief green tea’s main component regarding fat loss is a compound known as EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) and not caffeine. EGCG inhibits an enzyme that breaks down norepinephrine resulting in higher levels of the metabolic hormone and increased fat loss. Combined with caffeine, green tea extract is one powerful and widely used natural supplement. When supplementing with green tea extract shoot for 500 to 1000 mg three times per day before meals.

Written By Brad Borland, M.A., CSCS,

Posted 10 February 2013 by Brandan Fokken

What You Need To Know

About Sugar Alcohols

What You Need To Know About Sugar Alcohols

You go to the grocery store and read some food labels and notice sugar alcohols listed as part of the ingredients. It doesn’t mean it is sugar, nor does it mean it is alcohol. So yes, the name is a bit misleading. Or maybe you’ve heard of the big craze with labels that read “sugar free” or “no sugar added”. Instead they use sugar alcohols which are a form of carbohydrate that add some sweetness to foods and are added to your favorite ice creams, cookies, gum, chocolates and countless other food items in your local grocery store.

The most common sugar alcohols you will see and hear about are:

•Erythritol – 0.2 calories per gram and 60% to 80% as sweet as sugar
•Isomalt - 2 calories per gram and 45% to 65% as sweet as sugar
•Lactitol – 2 calories per gram and 30% to 40% as sweet at sugar
•Maltitol – 2.1 calories per gram and 90% as sweet as sugar
•Mannitol – 1.6 calories per gram and 50% to 70% as sweet as sugar
•Sorbitol – 2.6 calories per gram and 50% to 70% as sweet as sugar
•Xylitol - 2.4 calories per gram and as sweet as sugar

What They Are:

As noted, the term “sugar alcohol” can be very misleading. And keep in mind, there is no alcohol in this sugar substitute, so take a deep breath – you will not be getting tipsy! Despite the name, there is no sugar in sugar alcohols either. The name originates from their chemical structures, which are similar to the chemical structures of both alcohol and sugar. Sugar alcohols are a type of carbohydrate that is used to sweeten foods, but have half the calories of sugar.

Where They Come From:

Sugar alcohols originate from various plant products, such as fruits and vegetables. Each type of sugar alcohol will vary in sweetness, ranging from 25% to 100% + the sweetness of real sugar; also dependent on the food that it is being used in. The carbohydrates contained in these plant products is then altered through a chemical process, which then leads to the production of the sugar alcohols you are familiar with and found on food labels.

Why They Have Carbs:

Sugar alcohols are a known type of carbohydrate named “polyols”. Part of the chemical structure of sugar alcohols resembles sugar, and another part resembles alcohol. But sugar alcohols are carbohydrates your body does not completely absorb, but are still classified as a type of carbohydrate, as they will affect blood glucose levels to a certain degree; varying for each person – a spike in blood sugar levels for some, while no spike at all in others. When you view a food label, you will find that the sugar alcohol will be accounted for in the total carbohydrates column under the Nutritional Facts.

Tips for Carb Counting and Sugar Alcohols

The effect that sugar alcohols have on your blood glucose can vary so it is difficult to know how sugar alcohols will affect your blood glucose levels every time. Because there is less of an effect from sugar alcohols than either sugar or starch, you can use the following tips to estimate how much carbohydrate from a serving to count in your meal plan for foods that contain more than 5 grams of sugar alcohols.

If a food has more than 5 grams of sugar alcohols:

•Subtract ½ the grams of sugar alcohol from the amount of total carbohydrate
•Count the remaining grams of carbohydrate in your meal plan

How They Act In Your System:

Sugar alcohols are similar to sugar, but in fact your body will not absorb them completely. As a result, your blood sugar levels may be impacted very little or not at all. This is great for people who are on low carbohydrate diets or those who are diabetic. But it’s also important to note that all sugar alcohols don’t behave the same exact way.

Sugar alcohols do contain some calories; roughly 2 calories per gram depending on which specific sugar alcohol we are talking about (where sugar itself contains 4 calories per gram). This is due to the fact that sugar alcohols are converted into glucose more slowly, which is how your body metabolizes them. And because your body does not absorb sugar alcohols completely, like fiber they simply pass through your body. But because they are absorbed differently than sugar in the body, gas and bloating are side affects you may experience if too much is consumed.

Are They Safe:

Sugar alcohols have been used for many years, so yes, you can now sleep at night – they are safe! The United States has classified sugar alcohols as safe for consumption by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

With the sweet imitation of sugar and lower calorie count, it would only be fair that they also have some cons, right? Well unfortunately there are some cons. Sugar alcohols can lead to bloating, diarrhea and gas if they are eaten in large quantities, can cause cravings, not to mention we don’t know what the long term affects are yet. According to the American Dietetic Association, consuming more than 50 grams of sorbitol or 20 grams of mannitol per day can cause diarrhea. The FDA requires foods and drinks that contain sorbitol or mannitol to include a warning label describing this laxative effect.

Your personal experience will depend on your body’s level of sensitivity. So to avoid such complications, it’s best to stick to eating less than 50 grams of sugar alcohols per day; and to completely avoid such food items if they cause great discomfort.

How We Burn Them:

Like any other food source that we consume, which contains calories, we need to exercise in order to burn off the calories and maintain a healthy weight. So although sugar alcohols may not affect your blood sugar levels as sugar does, and contain half the calories, if they are not burned off with exercise, you can experience weight gain. So yes, they are a choice, but haven’t been created with the magical ability to cause no weight change either. As a result, straying away from exercise is not an option when consuming foods containing sugar alcohols.


Sugar alcohols are great for satisfying your sweet tooth, as well as helping you manage your waist line and reach your low carb diet goals. Just be sure not to overeat, as you do not want to gain any extra unwanted pounds and to avoid gastrointestinal distress. So yes they contain fewer calories, are safe for diabetics, and you’ll even have a greater smile! How so? Well because sugar alcohols are not metabolized by the bacteria that cause tooth decay, visits to the dentist won’t be so frightening anymore. Another added bonus! Eat these foods in moderation, while continuing with an overall healthy diet.  

Team Athlete Brandan Fokken

Posted 31 January 2013 by Adam Bisek

A look At Getting Ripped Via

(IIFYM) 'If It Fits Your Macros'


Getting Shredded: If it fits your macros, really?  (IIFYM)

Much debate exists amongst dieting gurus these days. Many different methods have shown great anecdotal results, even with greatly contrasting approaches. One of the most argued approaches is the "If It Fits Your Macros" or IIFYM for short dieting approach. From a very general standpoint IIFYM is concerned with the quantity of the food in your diet rather than the quality. Shades of gray do exist within IIFYM approach, and thus through a quick logical view I plan to help distill whether it's quantity, quality, or somewhere in the middle that leads to a shredded 6-pack!

What's really the argument?

To truly disseminate the "If It Fits In Your Macros" (IIFYM) approach to dieting, you must understand its basic concepts as well as its different methods. To utilize IIFYM simply means that your meals, and subsequently your diet, need to fit the outline protein, fat, carbohydrate, and overall calories assigned, but the actual foods take a metaphorical backseat. Layne Norton, IFPA & NGA pro bodybuilder, uses what could be categorized as an IIFYM approach for his physique clientele, but ensures that enough fiber is consumed. Norton essentially states that as long as the fiber content is high, and you are truly hitting the correct ratios of macronutrients for a physique competitor style diet, then it would be hard to eat a box of "pop tarts" a day and still be doing it right

With Norton's technique, he himself has had much success bringing a well-conditioned physique to the stage, as have many of his clients. Norton's style, however, is not necessarily used by all in the IIFYM culture.

While some use the IIFYM method to bring some laxity to their diets, others take the freedom a bit further. The post workout window brings about 20oz Mt. Dews and half pint of Ben and Jerry's for those who really take fitting solely their macronutrient requirements. "Why not, the logic is to get an insulin spike right?" I would affectionately give this the trendy phrase "bro-science;" a termed used for undereducated gym members half-hazardly using their interpretation of the current literature. On the other end of the spectrum more modest IIFYM'rs would substitute white rice for brown as a carbohydrate source, or lighten their caloric load earlier in the day to allow for a meal with friends that may be more calorically rich in the evening. While at the end of the day both examples above use the IIFYM approach, you can see much variation in the implementation exists.

Questioning IIFYM methodology

Venturing back to the "golden days" of the bodybuilding movement really sets the context for any legitimate discussion on diet. The original basis by which health seekers engaged in this lifestyle was to become just that, healthier. The idea was to eat healthy nutritious foods and train in such a manner that the combined effect would create both a health vibrant external being and an equally healthy inside. It seems as though this mindset of extremes has become iifym_q1.pngtransient amongst almost every facet of the sport of bodybuilding and the fitness industry in general. A good contrast would be a classic bodybuilder reaching for a banana as his or her post workout carbohydrate source, while the IIFYM bodybuilder trying to pack on as much mass could reach for a mountain dew. While depending quantity, these two options may have similar carbohydrate content, one is rich in micronutrients and has some fiber, while the other is devoid of the latter and is loaded with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which in excess has a plethora of proposed negative health correlates.

If I were to bring about an argument refuting IIFYM and its implementation it would focus on its overall message and abuse. When I work with clients the message I want to get across is that sustained, practical weight loss and positive body composition change occurs with a habitual adaptation to consuming healthy foods. The idea is that if you eat the right foods the numbers (i.e. macronutrients and calories) will fall in line. To my point any novice can spend the day matching up Little Debbie's snack line up to their macro's, but I think they would be better served reading Myotropics author Stacey Natio's article about learning what types of healthy fats could meet their requirements. Below is a list of ways to Implement the IIFYM methodology in the way I believe it was originally meant for; a means to decrease dietary rigidity, and increasing practicality of dieting while still being healthy on the whole.


Switch up your starches: Don't be afraid to occasionally use white or basmati rice instead of brown, or red skin potatoes in lieu of yams. One of my favorite treats is Ezekiel sprouted bread made into French toast. The idea is that you don't have to have 8oz of sweet potatoes at each sitting to get ripped. And as you may already know, protein consumed at the same meal as the aforementioned starch switch hitters will decrease the glycemic index of the meal.

Swap protein sources: Getting stuck in the extra lean ground turkey and tilapia rut is no fun, and I can certainly empathize. Don't be afraid to use fattier types of meat such as 93/7 ground meats or even more marbled cuts of steak. Again, if the fat content fits into your fat macronutrients then it should be fine, just remove what may have been a tablespoon of peanut butter from your meal plan and you’re golden. Using fattier fish like salmon can fit in, and certainly make room for egg yolks, just simply account for the fat, it's what the whole idea of IIFYM really is.

Be compliant, not perfect: I like to use the 95:5 compliance rule with my clients. Let’s say you have 35 meals in a week, that's 5 meals a day, pretty normal right? That means that 2 meals a week can be meals that are not typical meals in your diet. This could be a night out with your friends and you have a burger, maybe even an adult beverage. This "allowance" of a cheat meal can give psychological and physiological benefits.

Wrapping it up!

In reality the IIFYM model on dieting isn't an inherently bad approach. When the concept utilizes whole, nutritious foods on a 95% basis to reach the assigned macronutrient and caloric requirements is when it flourishes. This allows 5% for that night out where you can indulge. Not only have I found this approach to be even more successful than complete rigidity, but also keeps dieters sane. So when it comes down to it, IIFYM correctly can be a great approach to dieting, but like I said, when done correctly!

Adam Bisek (Bodyspace)

Posted 26 January 2013 by Anna Sward

Recipe: Banana

Protein Waffles




  • 1 whole egg
  • 1/2 a large banana (70g)
  • 1/4 cup (28g) of banana whey protein powder
  • 1/4 cup (66ml) of milk
  • 1/4 cup (40g) of quinoa flour (could sub with oatflour)


Blended together and cooked inside a waffle iron until...
well, until the light of the iron indicates they're ready!



Macros per waffle (out of the two you get from the mix above):

  • 192.1kcals
  • 21.7g carbs
  • 16.3g protein
  • 4.7g fat
  • 2.15g fiber!

Recipe created by Anna Sward


Facebook fanpage:

Posted 21 December 2012 by Amy Jo Horvath - NPC Figure Competitor

Holiday Eating: 8 Tips to

Beat The Holiday Binge


8 Tips to Beat the Holiday Binge

For years of Holidays I said I will start my diet after the Holiday or I will run an extra mile in the morning on the treadmill. Well my passion to change finally became bigger than my passion to find excuses. So I am determined to make this Holiday season more about the sounds, smells, decorations, and the company than the FOOD! Here are some tips I plan to follow for the upcoming Holiday and I hope you will also find helpful to keep the unhealthy calories and resulting body fat on Santa where it belongs...


1. Workout in the mornings

1. Workout in the mornings before the day is filled with holiday shopping, parties, planning, and cooking. By putting your workouts off, you will easily get busy with the chores of everyday life and additional excitement of the Holiday. By getting it done first thing, you will not need to say “No” to unexpected chores, errands, etc that always have a way of finding their way into the season.


2. Journal your Food

2. Journal your Food. And keep it accurate... by cheating on the journal, it only hurts your “bottom line” ... pun intended. The journal can help keep you accountable and serve as a visual reminder to what you ate the day before. It is too easy to conveniently forget that piece of fudge you mindlessly popped in your mouth after dinner yesterday too!

3. Eat BEFORE you go to a holiday party

3. Eat BEFORE you go to a holiday party. This will help prevent loading your plate with the unhealthy stuff containing butter, sodium, oil and added sugars at your gathering. Additionally, grab the dessert plate to use as your dinner plate to keep your portions in check.


4. ALLOW for your favorite Holiday treats

4. ALLOW for your favorite Holiday treats. If you enter the Holiday season saying you are not going to enjoy any of the foods of the season... you might just be setting yourself up for failure. Life is all about balance. If you SCHEDULE your “cheat treats” into your week, it will Tips_to_beat_Holiday_q1.pnghelp prevent from a possible mental failure. Too many times in my unhealthy living days, I would wake up saying I am going to do better today with out any real plan on how that was going to happen... and then when I would over indulge, it would feel like a failure and all too easy to just quit and say I will “start another day”. By allowing yourself a scheduled treat it allows you to have a bigger game plan and the ability to realize that it is simply a treat and no longer your lifestyle.

5. Enlist the support of a Holiday Buddy

5. Enlist the support of a Holiday Buddy. Find someone who has similar goals and hold each other accountable. Share your food journals and party schedules so you can check in on each other!

6. Have a “Spotter” when baking

6. Have a “Spotter” when baking. Ok, this one is really all about me. My weakness is all of the Holiday baking I do for neighbors, family and friends who do not share my goals. I like to “taste” the cookies, the fudge, the bread, the candy....oh my! My children have some Holiday favorites and they will be with me every time I pull out my blender!

7. Spend one day a week doing Food Preparation

7. Spend one day a week doing Food Preparation. Plan a weekly meal of healthy items to keep you on track through each week. Take a day to grill some lean chicken, boil eggs, make some healthy snacks all to keep you on track. If you do not have the healthy choices readily available as you are rushing in or out the door you will be more inclined to grab the unhealthy, boxed, processed foods or even skipping a meal... neither of which is going to help with your goals and create insulin fluctuations and cravings. Food prepping is a recipe for success! This is something I do all year long but is especially important during this time so you have healthy food available to grab when a craving hits.


8. Do not set unrealistic goals.

8. Do not set unrealistic goals. For many, the Holiday season is not a time to set aggressive exercise and weight loss goals. If you are one of these people, be realistic about your goals to avoid frustration and possibly losing your motivation. Instead set small goals and celebrate them... the importance here is to not let the Holiday season be a reason for you to lose your motivation and forward momentum. If you have longer-term goals, longer than “make it through the holidays without gaining 10 pounds” keep them! Make an accommodation for the holidays and the treats and indulgences that come along with it, so you can truly enjoy them. Make adjustments to your training, your timelines of your goals and above all, be creative. Your long-term goals do not have to be abandoned. Many people fail because they start their journey strong, being too strict, which is NOT sustainable. Consistency is key when it comes to success in your nutrition and training.

Amy Jo Horvath, NPC National Figure Athlete

Posted 22 April 2014 by Amy Jo Horvath - NPC Figure Competitor

Recipe: Pumpkin And

Oatmeal Casserole

Pumpkin And Oatmeal Casserole



  • 2 medium ripe bananas, sliced
  • 1 cup canned pure pumpkin
  • 2 Tbsp raw honey, divided
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 cup uncooked oats
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, plus 1 TBSP for topping
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder (I use low sodium)
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon, divided
  • 1-1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1-cup original almond milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract


Arrange the banana slices in a layer on the bottom of a prepared 8x8" pan. Sprinkle 1/4 tsp of the cinnamon over the bananas and drizzle 1 tbsp of the raw honey over the bananas. Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes at 375 degrees.

Meanwhile, combine the oats, 1/4 of the walnuts, baking powder, pure maple syrup, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg and salt and stir together. In a separate bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, remaining honey, milk, egg and vanilla.

Remove the bananas from the oven. Pour the oat mixture over the bananas. Pour the pumpkin mixture over the oats, making sure to distribute the mixture as evenly as p possible. Sprinkle the remaining tablespoon of walnuts over the top.

Bake for 35 - 40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the oatmeal has set. Serve warm from the oven. Makes 9 servings.


  • 1 Serving:
  • Calories: 119.9
  • Fat: 3.8g
  • Cholesterol: 23.9mg
  • Sodium: 66 mg
  • Potassium: 165.4mg
  • Carbs: 19.9g
  • Dietary Fiber: 3.2g
  • Sugars: 10.4g
  • Protein: 3.1g

by Amy Jo Horvath - NPC Figure Competitor


Subscribe To The CutAndJacked Newsletter

gmt banner_clean 1.jpg