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Transform Your Body and Health with Author, Speaker and Coach Jason Atkinson!


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Training for Maximum Fat Burning

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When people ask “What’s the best type of exercise to burn fat, weight training or cardio?” my standard response is “Both!” You see, different types of activity rely on different energy “pathways” and so they affect our metabolism differently.

Moderate-intensity activity such as walking, hiking, cycling, etc utilizes a mix of glycogen (stored carbohydrate) and fat to fuel performance. If you are following a lower-carbohydrate eating plan the muscles will burn fat more readily once the glycogen stores have been depleted. (This is why I recommend doing weight training first before a cardio session.)

Higher-intensity activity like running or higher-repetition weight training uses more glycogen (carbohydrate) for fuel but it also pushes the body to make more adaptations resulting in a higher level of fitness along with  increased cardiovascular capacity, improved ability to utilize oxygen, improved blood pressure, reduced insulin levels, and more.

The best mix I’ve discovered when it comes to cardiovascular exercise is something called H.I.I.T or High-Intensity-Interval-Training.

It sounds complicated but it’s really not! It simply involves alternating bursts of higher effort with lower-intensity or recovery periods.

My standard pattern is 5 rounds of 5 minute cycles going from lower to higher intensity effort on an elliptical machine. I increase the resistance level each minute. On every 5th minute I try to push my heart rate to about 75%-80% of my max.

Another secret to maximizing fat burning during exercise is to keep the intensity to a level that allows you to breathe through your nose. Once you reach a level that requires you to breathe through your mouth you have crossed from aerobic (with oxygen) to anaerobic (without oxygen) and are more likely to require glucose from stored carbohydrates or worse, force your body to break down your hard earned muscle tissue and turn it into glucose!

The majority of effort needed to transform your physique  and improve your health can come from dietary changes and a few key supplements. It’s not necessary to go so hard in the gym that you don’t enjoy your workouts. Put these tips into practice and take your workout to a whole new level!

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Supplement Science: MCT Oil

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After years of following the pattern of eating every three hours and combining protein and carbs at every meal I’ve finally jumped on the “Eat Fat Burn Fat” bandwagon and I’ve got to say I’m impressed with the results. It’s only been a few weeks and I’ve already burned through 10 lbs of body fat!

One tactic I’ve used to increase my intake of healthy fats while lowering my sugar consumption is ditching the honey and creamer in my morning coffee in favor of MCT oil.

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I quit putting regular table sugar in a few years ago, switching to honey since it’s a natural product and I feel it’s a healthier alternative. The fact remains however, it’s still a source of sugar and I know that taking it in first thing in the morning can’t be doing good things for my insulin levels.

I have to admit it was a bit of an adjustment going from my usual blast of morning sweetness to a slightly bitter drink. (A little almond milk blended in does help take the edge off). Here’s what I’ve noticed in the past few weeks after making the shift.

  • I’ve had more energy during my early morning workouts and feel like I’m using more body fat to fuel my performance.
  • I’m not as hungry during the day which signals to me that I’ve reduced the levels of insulin and glucose circulating in my bloodstream.
  • I’m dropping 2-3 lbs a week without increasing exercise intensity above my baseline of 45 minutes 5 times a week.

MCT oil is just a concentrated and convenient source of healthy fats I’ve added to my diet along with more egg yolks, olives and olive oil, almonds and other tree nuts, plus avacados.

MCT’s (medium chain triglycerides) are fats that are naturally found in coconuts. They are more easily assimilated and rapidly digested than other types of fats since they require lower amounts of enzymes and bile acids for intestinal absorption. MCT’s are metabolized rapidly in the liver and encourage energy expenditure rather than promoting fat storage. Studies suggest MCT’s may help support a healthy weight and body composition.


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Wake Up and Smell the FAT Burning!

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If you’re like most Americans you’ve spent a lifetime training your body (and being trained) to use sugar as a primary source of fuel. The problem is not only does eating that way spike your insulin creating cravings for sweets, but it also keeps you from burning fat efficiently.

The secret is out! You have to eat fat to burn fat. In the fullness of time, the idea of a high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet turned out to be a really bad idea. It all started in 1977 when the McGovern Report was issued showing a low-fat diet as preventative for heart disease. It further escalated in 1992 when the USDA Food Guide Pyramid was introduced showing “6-11 servings of bread, cereal, rice and pasta” as the basis of a healthy way of eating. An entire generation of Americans was indoctrinated to this nonsense and it shaped food policy for decades.

“Sweets” are all the way at the top of the pyramid, mixed in with fats and oils and a word of caution: Use Sparingly. Ironically, flour-based products impact blood sugar levels just like cookies and candy (even though they don’t taste sweet) while fats and oils of the right type are actually health promoting!

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In response to the announcement that fat was unhealthy and carbohydrates were now the best choice. The multi-billion dollar food industry began churning out “fat-free” versions of everything. When we pulled the fat out however, we put tons of sugar in its place. This led to an epidemic in obesity, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and related conditions (Metabolic Syndrome) unlike any in history.

NEWS FLASH: Just last year the USDA revised the guidelines and for the first time in 25 years they completely removed all restrictions on total dietary fat and set limits on total sugar intake!

Why wasn’t this more widely publicized? Isn’t this absolutely earth-shattering news? Here’s a link to an article from The Harvard School of Public Health which summarizes the major changes. It’s much easier to read than the USDA website itself.

Here are a few Fast Facts About Fat:

  • Dietary fat does not promote the release of insulin, a fat-storage hormone produced by the pancreas in response to carbohydrate, and to a lesser degree, protein intake.
  • The purpose of insulin is to transport glucose (blood sugar) into the muscle cells to be used as energy, into the liver as glycogen which is used as fuel for the brain or into fat cells (adipose tissue) to be stored as, you guessed it, body fat.
  • When total carbohydrate intake exceeds energy and immediate storage demands it is stored primarily as body fat.
  • High amounts of refined carbohydrate intake keep insulin levels elevated effectively locking the stored body fat into the adipose tissue.
  • Over time, muscle (and adipose) tissue become “resistant” to insulin and will not allow more glucose to enter. Left unchecked, this can eventually become Type 2 or “Adult-Onset” Diabetes.
  • The easiest “treatment” is reducing overall carbohydrate consumption, especially simple ones like those found in sugar and flour-based products.
  • The effect of insulin is blunted  somewhat when carbohydrates are consumed with adequate protein and fat.

Recommended Resources:

Mark’s Daily Apple (Mark Sisson)  What Does it Mean to be Fat-Adapted?

Dr. Joseph Mercola: Anti-Obesity Report Calls for High-Fat Diet Recommendations

Dr Mark Hyman MD : 10 Reasons Why You Should Eat Fat to Get Thin

Free Bonus: Eat Fat Get Thin 80 Page Beta Test Manual PDF

Dr Robert H Lustig: Why is a Calorie NOT a Calorie? (Video)

 


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Weight Training 101

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Most people think weight training is only useful if you’re trying to “get big” or “bulk up”. The idea that weight training can also be helpful for getting lean and improving general health is one that is still catching on.

Here are the facts: Your body composition (the amount of lean tissue you have relative to your overall body weight) is the main determining factor in how you look and even in the level of health and fitness you are able to attain. Muscle tissue is highly active metabolically speaking. It requires more energy to maintain and thus creates an increase in your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate). That’s the rate at which your body burns calories, even at rest.

Fat (or adipose tissue)  on the other hand, is basically an inert substance. Think of it as a storage reservoir of energy. Your body won’t tap into that stored energy unless it becomes necessary. While you can create a calorie deficit by eating less and moving around more (ie. cardio) weight training is a much more efficient method since the activity itself uses more energy and the resulting increase in muscle tissue creates an even greater demand for energy.

So, now that you know why building muscle is important, it’s time to learn exactly how to do it. The basic premise behind progressive resistance training is very simple:

“In order to increase the size and strength of your muscles, you must continually apply resistance against a demand that exceeds your current limitations.”

You probably know that training your entire body is better than just training isolated body parts. You probably know that it’s important to give equal attention to pushing and pulling movements to ensure balanced development. You probably know that you should train your upper and lower body. There is no shortage of online workouts and thousands of books have been written on the subject.  What you may not know is that in order to improve, you must continually strive to exceed your current level of development.

In the gym, this means continually adding more weights, completing more repetitions, or both.

I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much physiology but there are two main types of muscle fibers:

  • Type I Muscle Fiber. Also known as slow twitch fibers, type I muscle fibers use oxygen more efficiently and can be used over longer periods of time ( think endurance). These are our smaller, least powerful muscle fibers that have little potential for hypertrophy.
  • Type II Muscle Fiber. This is the fast twitch type of muscle fiber that can burn energy quickly for short bursts of strength. These are our larger, more powerful muscle fibers that have a great potential for hypertrophy or growth.                                   (Source: International Sports Sciences Association )

So, the muscles that have the greatest potential for increase are composed of fibers that respond to heavier weights and a relatively lower number of repetitions (4-8). “Feeling the burn” by pushing for more and more repetitions is fine to warm up, to thoroughly tax a muscle or to induce a “pump” but it’s not optimal for increasing size or strength.

I created an outline of the exact workout technique I use. It’s called “pyramiding”. Basically, it involves starting with a lighter weight at higher repetitions (13-16) and adding weight on each set while reducing the number of repetitions on each successive set. If you would like to check it out, just contact me here and I’ll send you a copy.


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How to Speed Up Your Metabolism

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We usually think of weight loss as the product of a “diet” (overly restrictive guidelines that keep us feeling deprived of our favorite foods until we give up and go back to what we were doing before).

The key to lifelong success is to fill up on real food (things like fiber rich vegetables, lean protein and healthy fats) and take a detour to those things you “just can’t live without” at least once or twice a week. (That’s right! It’s o.k. to swerve every week as long as you get right back on track the next day.)

My nutrition method is very simple. It relies on feeding your body consistently. You see, when you give your body the nutrients it actually needs from whole food sources like lean protein and vegetables, all those “cravings” you were having instantly and miraculously disappear.

Success on this program does require that you eliminate or restrict certain refined and processed “foods” like chips, cookies, crackers, sodas and candy temporarily to break the addictive patterns. Once your blood sugar is stabilized you can have your favorites every single week and still lose weight!

Combine those tips with a safe, effective workout program that includes strength training and cardiovascular exercise and you have a plan that will get results!

To find out more click here to pick up a free copy of my ebook Finding a Better Balance that details the steps I used to lose 70 lbs and keep it off!


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The Science of Addictive Food (video)

The biggest three substances that have the most potential to cause long term damage to our health are salt, sugar and fat. (Most flour could also be lumped in with sugar since it causes an immediate rise in blood sugar and has no nutritional value).

It might surprise you to learn that the big food companies employ scientists who work around the clock to discover the precise amount of these ingredients required to elicit an addictive response. I did quite a bit of research on the subject while writing my book. Pick up a copy below and learn the simple secrets to overcome the problems associated with processed foods for good!

 

 


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Reducing Stress for Weight Loss

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Many experts are now predicting that this generation of Americans may actually have a shorter life span than the previous one! For the first time in history, our very survival as a species is being threatened by an attacker of our own creation.

Everyone knows that stress kills. In the proper context however, stress also ensures that we take action and adapt. In our modern hectic lives, rather than saber-toothed tigers and woolly mammoths, we are assaulted on a daily basis by commutes and desk jobs.

This combination of inactivity and the increasing amount of processed foods we consume is killing us. The body can’t make a distinction between these perceived threats and the real thing, so it triggers the adrenal glands to produce a flood of stress hormones and sends us into fight or flight mode, a state in which we prepare to face an attacker or run away.

Not only do the excess calories from processed foods contribute an an ever-expanding waistline, many of these foods also contain artificial colors, flavors and preservatives that we are not equipped to deal with, so the body just simply stores them as excess adipose tissue (a.k.a FAT!)

Intense physical activity is the way our bodies are designed to naturally burn off excess stress hormones and other nasty toxins in the bloodstream. These hormones, like adrenaline, epinephrine and cortisol are there to give us a burst of energy when we need it most. Here are three keys to “maximize your exercise” and survive in the modern world. (In order to F.I.T. daily activity into your daily life just remember this simple acronym:)

Frequency: The first consideration is training often enough. I say treat it like brushing your teeth and make it a daily habit. At a minimum you should strive for about 2-3 hours of focused activity per week.

Intensity: Any effort is better than none, but as you progress you should strive for higher and higher levels of intensity. Aim for 60%-80% of your maximum heart rate (220-your age).

Teamwork: In times past, we had to band together in tribes in order to survive. Find a group or individual to partner up with and push each other towards staying consistent with good health habits.

Do you have a tip or technique that helps you exercise more consistently? I’d love to hear about it! Please comment below