Posts Tagged ‘nutrition’

Tracking is Knowing: The Fitbit

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Last week we talked about the notion of tracking is knowing as it relates to understanding the food you eat (in terms of caloric value and macronutrient breakdown). As I said, it’s probably the biggest step you can take to getting a handle on your health and fitness, because very few people understand how much food, energy-wise, they’re eating on a daily basis. When you exercise and want to get the best results to gain muscle don’t forget to get this appetite booster!

The next step is understanding how much you’re moving. This isn’t about tracking your workouts – that’s another topic. What I’m talking about here is simply getting a handle on how much you move on a daily basis. Spoiler: it’s astounding how sedentary most of us really are.

Let’s face it: we all pretty much sit around at a desk all day staring at an LCD panel. Or we’re in our cars, sitting, taking calls, getting info about the valeters insurance, listening to the radio. Or we’re at home, sitting on the couch, watching TV or messing around on our iPads. You can visit this link for more information.

Very few folks have an ‘active’ job where they have to stand or walk for a good part of every day.

Enter the Fitbit. The Fitbit is a wireless tracking device that clips to your clothes. It has an uncannily accurate gyrocope/accelerometer combination that tracks how many steps you take every day, how many flights of stairs you climb, how far you wind up walking and how many calories you burn. You can even wear it to bed and have it track your sleep quality. Once you set up your profile (which takes into account your gender, age, and weight) and start using the Fitbit, you will have a picture of your quantified-self that you’ve never seen before.

(Note: Fitbit can also track food (like My Fitness Pal, mentioned last week), but I find its database far inferior to My Fitness Pal’s. It can also track workouts and factor them into your activity, but I don’t use that feature because of the specialized workouts I do. If you do fairly standard exercise, Fitbit’s exercise tracking is fantastic and I recommend it.)

I use the Fitbit One, which is the smallest tracker they have, as well as the most feature complete. The battery lasts a solid week (maybe more) between charges. It’s so small you barely notice it.

And there’s the rub: it’s so small, you barely notice it. You need to be very mindful that you’re wearing it, or you will wind up washing whatever piece of clothing it’s attached to, and boom, goodbye Fitbit. That’s the only caveat I’ll yell from the rooftops.

Here are some pics of my Fitbit. This is the basic information you can get from the LCD display:

How many steps I’ve taken.

How many flights of stairs I’ve climbed so far.

The distance I’ve walked so far in miles.

How may calories I’ve burned so far. This is based on my age, gender and weight, which Fitbit uses to calculate your BMR, or Basal Metabolic Rate.

Finally, your flower. Your Fitbit flower grows or shrinks based on recent activity, so it’s a graphic reminder to get up and move if you see it withered and shrunken.

The default goals Fitbit uses for your daily activity are:

  • Steps: 10,000. This is more difficult to achieve than it sounds. As a general rule, you need to walk somewhere between 3-4 miles to even have a chance at 10K. That’s not too hard, but you must get up and move around regularly to hit the 10K number.
  • Flights of stairs: 10. Pretty easy to hit, especially if you live in a house or work in an office with stairs.

Of course, no biometric tracking endeavor would be complete without a web presence, and here Fitbit doesn’t disappoint. Here’s a snap of my Fitbit ‘dashboard’:

(Click to enlarge)

This, in conjunction with My Fitness Pal, gives you everything you need to know about your current state of food intake/nutrition combined with activity level. This is enough to make meaningful changes in your life. In fact, it’s more than enough. You walk into any doctor’s office with this sort of data, and most likely they won’t know where to begin.

So, the Fitbit one is about a hundred bucks very well spent. I wear mine every day.

If you believe that you will have a harder time getting to where you are going without knowing where you are at the current moment, this is your device.

Understanding Food: What Are Fats Besides a Bad Word?

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For the past three (four?) decades, the macronutrient we were most often told to avoid is fat. Fat is joined by protein and carbohydrates to form the triumvirate of macronutrients you hear bandied about the media so often. Fat, a short form of ‘fatty acids’, is thought to make you fat, predicated on the fact that fat has 9 calories per gram, whereas protein and carbohydrate only have 4. Fat is fattening, so says the mainstream, because it’s caloric energy is over twice that of neighboring macronutrients.

While fat is more calorie-dense than protein or carbohydrate, that’s where the ‘danger’ ends. (The Inuit, whose diet is comprised of 90% fat, would probably agree). Without writing a biochemistry text, here is what you need to know about fat.

Saturated Fat

There have been no two more demonized words over the past 30 years than ‘saturated fat’. Which is too bad, because these form some of the most basic structural fats found in a healthy human body, and they’re a primary energy source for the human metabolism.

We have been relentlessly bombarded over the past 30+ years to think this type of fat gives us heart disease and makes us fat, and that’s simply not true. The fact is that you can eat as much of these as you want if you’re metabolically healthy, and be better off for it.


Casual Friday: Taking Control of Your Health and Fitness

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Welcome back. I hope everyone had some relaxing time over the holidays.

A ferocious number people head up their new year resolution lists with one thing: get in shape. For most, this means losing weight. This goal is atop resolution lists every year, and it’s also one of the least-achieved goals a person can set.


There’s an absolute ton of information out there, some of it contradictory, all of it perplexing for the layman. In a lot of cases, the “I don’t know where to start!” complaint is what derails a fitness/weight loss effort before it can even begin. Starting Omega Burn can help you lose the extra weight, here are the main ingredient of Ultra Omega Burn.

Many people combine trainings and special bodybuilding supplements (YK11, for instance) to get a well-shaped body.

I consider myself a self-educated expert on fitness and nutrition, and it’s something I’m passionate about. If I were going to write a book or start a business about anything, it would be in the realm of health, exercise and diet. That is why I participated in the Keto Tone Diet Review : Live a healthier life, to educate others about this hyper trendy diet. In order to lose weight and gain control of your health you need reliable information. I think it’s one of the most profound transformations a person can make.

The good news is that there’s never been a better time to want to get in shape. If you’re lucky enough to have a smartphone, there are very valuable tools at your disposal.

But none as valuable as knowledge.

Over the next several weeks, my Friday feature here on MIPRO Unfiltered will be a series about health, fitness, exercise and diet. We will cover a wide range of information, and I will be happy to take questions about whatever it is you might want to know. If I don’t know the answer, I will research it for you. No charge, no BS. If I still can’t get you a solid answer, I will refer you to some resources who might be able to help.

A bit about me: I’ve been active all my life. In my 20s, I played semi-pro beach volleyball in the MPVA. After that career was over, I became something of a gym rat, and then a whole bunch of real-life happened and I was sedentary for several years. My energy levels and overall vigor suffered. Then, three years ago, I got serious about fitness again. Today, I’m 43, 6’2″, 200 lbs. with 11.5% bodyfat — a massive improvement from where I started 36 months ago. When I read, I’m reading about this stuff, looking for better health habits, or reading luna trim reviews or about any other supplement.

I’m an insufferable nerd in more ways than one.

So, if you are looking to get in shape and improve your health — and whether you’re sedentary and suffering the ravages of a desk job or an athlete and just want to improve performance — I’m going to do everything I can to help.

If you have questions already, ask away. If not, peek back on Fridays, starting next week.

Ready? Let’s do this.

Here’s more: San Diego Jiu Jitsu.

Casual Friday: Riffing on Health, Exercise and Nutrition

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I see you injure yourself a lot. Can you help me?

When I’m not being an annoying blogger/web wonk, I often do athletic things like lift weights, play soccer and injure myself. When people see me do these things (even including the injury part, oddly), they invariably ask me questions about how they can get in shape, what they should eat, what workout program they should do, and why my neck makes crunching noises.

Instead of try to be coherent and give anyone who’s interested a logical guide to these questions, I will instead secrete a bunch of bullet points from my finger motion, which are below. If you are an astute reader (and you are), you’ll notice these are in no discernable order. That’s OK, because order isn’t important, mainly because I lack the discipline right this second to infuse this post with even the slightest bit of structure. And if you’re honest with yourself, you’re reading this before your first meeting, Starbucks coffee in hand, while the printer spits out some documents for said meeting that you’ll doodle on for 45 minutes. So let’s not get carried away with formality.

So, yes, anyway. These bullet points about health and fitness:

  • I wish everyone would understand that fat isn’t necessarily the enemy. We’ve been led for years to believe fat is what makes us fat, and that’s calorically-speaking: fat has 9 calories per gram, whereas carbs and protein only have 4. So, with over double the caloric value, fat must make you fat, right? Not really. It’s not the main culprit.
  • Sugar is the main culprit, which means instead of counting fat grams, you better start moderating your carb intake. Without getting into the biochemistry and forcing you to pass out face-down on your keyboard, let’s just say carbs invoke your body’s insulin response, which in turn stores excess sugar (glycogen) as fat. Excess or wrong-type carbs create a metabolic cascade that is very much at the center of the obesity problem we’re seeing today.
  • Again: don’t freak out about fat. I know you want to. Everyone does. But understand that your fat-free dressing is full of nasty vegetable oil and additional sugar and salt to make it even somewhat palatable, which is far, far worse than a couple tablespoons of olive oil on your salad. Eat real food.
  • Exercise isn’t optional. It really isn’t. Yes, you can manage your weight by keeping a really tight diet, but eventually you will cheat or fall off. We all do. Without stoking your metabolic furnace, you’re really pushing a boulder uphill.
  • What kind of exercise? Not endless cardio. I tell folks to lift heavy things 2–3 times per week for no longer than 30 minutes, and to sprint twice per week, but there are many option like kickboxing, Martial Arts Classes, and boxing. If you can’t run, do very short, intense 20 second intervals on a bike, rowing machine, or elliptical. Intervals mean you should go at 90–100% of your max effort for 20 seconds, then take 40 seconds to recover. As your fitness improves, you’ll be able to reduce your rest interval all the way down to 10 seconds. Doing 20 seconds of high-intensity work followed by 10 seconds of rest is known as the Tabta Protocol. In just eight minutes you can get a better cardio and metabolically-stimulating workout than 45 minutes doing steady-state cardio work.
  • When you lift, don’t be afraid of going heavy. Heavier weights build more muscle, and they hit metabolic pathways that help you burn fat, gain lean tissue and even impmrove your cardio capacity. Ladies, you do not have the hormones required to put on much bulk, so concerns about you turning into a hulking, stinking she-devil are unfounded.
  • Walk. A lot. As many times as you can per week. Beats the heck out of staring at TV.
  • Don’t ignore sleep. Amazing things happen in your sleep, and I’m not talking about having that dream where you are a robot superhero and fly around on a chocolate dragon. I’m talking about tissue recovery and growth, fat loss, stress reduction – you name it. We’re a nation of overtired, super-stimulated people, and we need sleep. Don’t skimp it – especially if you start exercising more.
  • Avoid grains if you can. I mean it. All grains. I can go on and on about this, but I’d rather refer you to Robb Wolf’s excellent The Paleo Solution or Mark Sisson’s The Primal Blueprint for thorough explanations. This should actually be bullet point #1, but I didn’t want to freak you out right way. (But I am OK with freaking you out now.)

See? No discerable order, yet pretty reasonable advice. Is it Friday or what, baby?

One last thing: supplements. Everyone asks what supplements they should take. Here’s what I recommend:

  • If you can’t get enough protein from real food (with enough being .6-.7 grams per pound of bodyweight; more if you are an athlete), get yourself a good whey protein supplement. I use this daily.
  • Fish oil for omega–3 fatty acids. Back when we ate more off the land, we had many more omega–3s in our diet. Today, with the preponderance of grains and processed food, we have a 20:1 omega–6 to omega–3 ratio. That’s way upside-down. We should be closer to 2:1. Fish oil helps this massively. Here’s what I take.
  • Unless you spend a lot of time outdoors, I recommend a Vitamin D3 supplement. Nearly every single blood panel I’ve seen is deficient in this, and often massively so. I use a liquid version.

So. Yeah. Friday post. Okay then.

Seriously, if you have any questions, you let me know in the comments. If you prefer email, no problem.

Have a good weekend, everyone.


More links:

MIPRO Consulting main website.

MIPRO on Twitter and LinkedIn.

About this blog.

Linkology: The Best of the Internet for 8/5/11

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It’s Friday, and that means I get to answer the hundreds of reader emails I don’t get.  From anyone.  Ever.  So what I do is sit around on Thursday night and send emails to myself from ancient, forgotten email accounts, then I answer them. Sad and pathetic? Yes. Sociopathic?  Probably.  But how many well-written, inquisitive emails are you getting from yourself, big shot?  Exactly.

That aside, I do get asked about what I eat for breakfast by people who know I’m into the primal/paleo thing that’s going around right now.  As someone who tries to eat as close to paleo/primal as he can and who is almost always in a fevered rush, smoothies are a blenderful of awesomeness that even I can prepare without messing anything up.  Honestly, I have them five or six days a week for breakfast, and they’re fantastic. Today, because you asked nicely last night, I’m going to share my recipe with you.

You have to be careful with smoothies, even though they’re universally marketed as healthy.  Done wrong, smoothies are a sugar bomb, and the calories climb very quickly if you don’t keep an eye on what you toss into your blender.

Regardless if you’re a primal/paleo nerd or not, just about any modern diet will tell you that it’s all about controlling your insulin response, i.e. how much sugar you ingest. Fearing fat is the stinky potatoes of yesteryear.  In the smoothie world, watching insulin response means traditional standbys like orange juice or apple juice are things you’re going to want to avoid.  You’ll also want to avoid milk, as it’s horrendously over-processed and highly insulinogenic.  Don’t get me started on milk, because I have a ton of things to say and you probably don’t have the attention span to listen to a food nerd go on and on about homogenization.

(I don’t blame you, either.)

Oh I can’t help myself, sorry: If you must do milk in your smoothies, please make the effort to go and find full-fat, raw milk from a farm or similar source.  If you can’t do that, the next best milk I’ve found is Farmer’s Creamery, which is vat pasteurized and non-homogenized.  Don’t opt for skim, because it lacks the fat that helps slow insulin response.

So anyway.

I have been making almost the same smoothie for a year now, and as far as primal/paleo goes, it’s pretty solid.  It’s also full of deliciousness.  Here it is.

Primal/Paleo Smoothie

If you like your smoothies a bit thinner, add water to taste.  Also, if you want more calories, add some heavy cream (I sometimes add one tablespoon).

Making this with the PaleoMeal product, it’s a very reasonable 352 calories.  Usually, the carbs are higher than any other meal I eat during the day, and this is because 4-5 days a week I am in the gym doing stupid stuff to make my body hate me and break itself so I don’t keep doing it.  Every human body needs some glycogen if it’s going to voluntarily injure itself in a gym.

Here’s the smoothie macronutrient breakdown: 9.9g of fat (4.4 saturated), 48g of carbohydrates (only 12g of sugar and 15g of fiber), and 28.3g of protein.  If I’m feeling tired or think I need more help with recovery, I’ll add a half scoop of Optimum Nutrition Natural Gold Standard protein, which adds 65 calories and 12g of protein.

If you happen to be a DailyBurn user, I’ve created the recipe for you here. You’re welcome.

Give it a shot and let me know what you think.  Once you get the hang of it, it’s the healthiest and best quick breakfast going.  The major flaw is a distinct lack of bacon, which is why on the weekends I go insane and eat all the bacon I can cook before I get dehydrated and someone needs to hook me up to an IV.

In addition to the smoothie trick, I have some links for you. Yay? Yes, yay.

What is this crazy primal thing, anyway? If you’re interested, you should head over to Mark Sisson’s site and spend, oh, ten hours there. I know I have.

A great collection of significant historical and cultural Creative Commons or No Rights Reserved audio clips.

This is one stubborn bird.

Have a good weekend, everyone.


More links:

MIPRO Consulting main website.

MIPRO on Twitter and Facebook.

About this blog.