The answer you want to hear is “all the time” but unfortunately we all know that isn’t the case. So what are the best times to eat junk food and why? There are two specific times of the day that I’ll allow…occasionally even encourage eating “junk food” and there’s a reason for it. I’m an advocate for eating clean 80% of the time and living life the other 20% of the time. The 20% that you’re more flexible you should try to work around these times of the day:
1. First thing in the morning.
Let me make this clear, nothing feels better than eating a large, well-balanced breakfast consisting of fruit, vegetables, protein and complex carbs. There’s just not. However, first thing in the morning is one of the best times to eat things like pancakes and jelly donuts because your insulin levels are low from 6+ hours of fasting. You may experience a sugar crash but that sugar is less likely to be stored as fat for two reasons. First, because your blood sugar is low from fasting your body is more likely to use that sugar. Second, you have the whole day to burn off that jelly donut. Again, you would get the same blood sugar spiking benefits from eating fruit in the morning.
An intense workout will deplete your muscles of glycogen (blood sugar) or at least burn a significant amount of it. Post workout pancakes, Gatorade, donuts, Swedish Fish, and other high-sugar foods make great post-workout meals because they replenish glycogen quickly. This is why it’s common to see bodybuilders posting insanely delicious post-workout meals on Instagram.
People assume dietitians and nutritionists will force them to eat celery sticks and boiled chicken but here’s some insider advice: dietitians teach you how to incorporate your favorite foods into your diet, not exclude them. It comes down to quality of life, balance, variety, and moderation. Learn the 80/20 Diet Rule, practice it, and stay active. Improving your health is really that simple, we just tend to overcomplicate it.
Want more advice? Tweet me & follow me on Instagram. Plus, you can always check out the new Advice column on my homepage menu for advice on dieting, training and supplementation.
No gym? No problem. If there are times when getting to the gym isn’t an option, read on. Whether you’re on vacation, stuck home in a snowstorm, or only have 20 minutes to work out before getting ready for work, you can do this home workout for a quick, fat burning fix. Pair it with a healthy diet and you’ll get the results you’re looking for right in the comfort of your own living room. Try this out:
Circuit #1 30 seconds of Jumping Jacks
30 seconds of Body Squats
30 seconds Reverse Lunges
Rest: 30 seconds
Circuit #2 30 seconds of Push Ups
30 seconds of Mountain Climbers
30 second Plank
Rest: 30 seconds
Even if you can’t get through every circuit in the 20 minutes you’ll have done a killer, whole body workout and you’ll have a goal to strive toward. This workout requires no equipment and no gym. Give it a try next time you think you don’t have enough time to make it to the gym. I guarantee you’ll have more energy and feel more accomplished afterward.
Binge eating is a hot topic right now but it’s been a problem for many people for a long time as it wasn’t considered a legitimate condition until recently. We have an emotional response to the food we eat. A delicious meal can make our day while a gross meal can ruin it. Sometimes a piece of chocolate (or whatever your fix is) is all it takes to make sitting in bumper to bumper traffic less frustrating. Everyone binge eats from time to time, but if you feel like you may need help here are my tips to keep yourself from binge eating:
1) Set a post-meal goal.
As ridiculous as this may sound, try setting a post-meal goal. For me a post-meal goal may be to drink 24 oz. in between meals. If I haven’t finished my 24 oz. of water then I don’t get to move on to my next meal. This is an easy way to hold yourself accountable. Try making your goal physical by using a fitness tracker. Set a goal like “I won’t eat again until I’ve walked 500, 1000, or 1500 steps”.
Pop a mint after your meal to signal to yourself that you’re done eating. At first this may not be effective but over time you’ll create a pattern. The mint is a signal to your brain that you’re done eating for at least 2-3 hours. A 10 calorie mint can save you from downing another 500 calories in snacks.
3) Don’t keep snacks that you can’t resist at home.
This is the way most people hold themselves accountable. Keep binge-worthy snacks out of your kitchen so you’re not tempted, it always starts with “just one”. Following a meal plan helps you not just save money but also teaches you when to eat, how much to eat, and what to eat. If it’s not on the plan, don’t grab it. Of course there’s leniency with this rule (going back to the emotional release of food) but the point is chips, ice cream, popcorn, and pizza don’t coincide with your goals.
4) Find an activity that keeps your hands and your brain occupied.
Watching a movie may keep your brain occupied but it’s not enough to physically force you to stop eating. Find an activity that occupies your hands also. Think reading a book, playing an instrument, playing a sport, drawing, writing, exercising or learning a new skill.
Similar to point #2 in that it signals to your brain that the meal is finished. In addition to point #2, most food tastes awful after you brush your teeth (think anything citrus, sour, and salty) which may kill your appetite enough to stop your binge eating right in its tracks. Don’t brush more than twice every day as you’ll run the risk of over brushing and wearing down your enamel. Consider this as a last resort to cutting yourself off. Basic Meal Plan Rules.
Find out how many calories you need every day, divide that number into 4-5 meals, eat every 2-3 hours and stop after each meal is done. Put yourself in control and remember your goal with every meal. All you need is willpower. Once you start seeing results it will be much easier to stay on track.
My friends at 6 Pack Fitness sent me their brand new luxury non-meal management backpack, the ACE Elite Luxury Backpack. Now that I’ve finally had the opportunity to use the bag for a couple weeks, I can give a breakdown on what I like and dislike about it. I posted a quick video snippet on my Instagram to show it off but here I’ll give static images so you can really get a good look at why this bag is considered a “luxury” backpack. Here are the pros and cons of the Ace Elite Luxury Backpack:
1. So many pockets & hidden compartments.
Each side of the bag has about 10 pockets, which seems overwhelming at first, but after a day or so you’ll find that it’s very convenient being able to compartmentalize everything in your bag. Instead of reaching into a jumbled mess to get your car keys everything is filed neatly. If you’ve ever reached into your bag to pull out one item, like your car keys, and consequently pulled out your keys, phone charger, chapstick, and money because everything was piled on top of each other then this bag is definitely for you.
As for the hidden compartments, they aren’t exactly “hidden” but because the lining is a tiled mosaic it makes smaller pockets seem stealthy. Chances are if someone goes into your bag while your back is turned they’ll end up staring at the lining long enough for you to catch them before they can even find something worth taking.
The back compartment of this backpack offers a laptop/tablet sleeve, storage space for things like supplements, toiletries, small pieces of workout equipment (ab roller, tiger tail, etc.), with a slightly hidden zip up compartment for gym clothes. Even though it isn’t a meal management bag, I used the storage space for supplements and food until I got to work to put my food in the fridge. For a small, light bag there’s seemingly endless storage space with a pocket designed for just about anything. There’s even a fleece lined compartment for sunglasses located safely in the front away from all of your other things .
I can’t get over how much I love the lining. The colorful, tiled mosaic lining is a surprise every time you unzip the bag. Each vividly colored tile has the 6 Pack Bags name and diverse fitness related images. The bag goes from stealthy to “all eyes on me” in one zip. It’s an awesome bag to look at alone, but once you open it you can expect some attention.
4. Super light.
This bag probably weighs less than a pound which, when you compare it to the meal management bags and other multipurpose backpacks, is incredibly light. Even when it’s fully stocked with all of my supplies this bag feels like nothing. The large number of compartments helps to distribute the weight throughout the bag nicely.
5. Bad Ass in Stealth.
Black on black has always been a personal preference of mine. Blacked out cars, blacked out shoes, blacked out everything. This bag in particular looks absolutely badass in Stealth. It makes unzipping it to unveil the bright lining even more exciting. The Stealth design makes this backpack look like an elegant fashion piece that makes your co-workers briefcase look dated.
1. Does not hold any meals.
Of course one of the only hang ups with this bag is that there isn’t an insulated compartment for even one meal like The Contender. If there was a small storage compartment for one tupperware container on the bottom of the bag it would barely make the bag seem bigger visually, it wouldn’t add much weight, but it would most likely increase the price point raising the price to nearly $300.
2. The lining’s color scheme may turn some off and others on.
If you couldn’t tell already, I love the lining. As much as I love blacked out everything, I also love vibrant colors. Even blacked out whips need badass red, blue or yellow led interior lights or headlight accents. If you’re not into vibrant color schemes you may not be into the lining.
3. High price point.
This is an amazing bag that comes at a high price point (as does anything in the luxury world). You’ll get a carefully crafted, one of a kind product but you’ll pay a premium for it. At $250 you better be sure you’re going to use this bag enough to get your money’s worth. If you live out of your car 5 days a week, if you feel like you never have enough pockets, if you take your laptop/tablet everywhere, then I definitely recommend investing $250 and getting a quality product you can show off.
Overall, this bag is awesome and I look bringing it anywhere that it’s socially acceptable to have. The 6 Pack Fitness team put a lot of work into making a one of a kind luxury backpack and they really nailed it.
Believe it or not, not being able to put on weight is a very common problem for gym-goers. I’ve heard the tired line “I just can’t gain weight” time and time again from Skinnies (ectomorphs). They claim that they eat massive quantities of food every day yet can’t seem to shift the numbers on the scale. Here’s what you may be doing wrong if you’re “suffering” from this problem:
1. You’re Not Eating Enough “Big” Meals.
Maybe you eat 1 or 2 seemingly big meals (500+ calories/meal) but for the rest of the day you either don’t really eat or your meals are significantly smaller (200 calories/meal). By the end of the day you may only be taking in 2500 calories when you really need closer to 3500 calories to pack on some mass. Eating five 700 calorie meals per day to get to that 3500 calorie intake is easier than choking down three 1000+ calorie meals. Chances are you can get two of those big meals down but then you’re coming up short for the rest of the day.
If my first point doesn’t apply to you and you actually are eating 5 big meals per day, my next thought is that you’re hitting a calorie surplus 4 or 5 days per week but those other 2-3 days you’re coming up short. Very short. By the end of the week your weight is the same because you aren’t maintaining a consistent surplus calorie intake to keep up with your metabolism.
3. You Make Eating A Lot of Calories a Chore.
I know people that used to choke down 2 cups of oatmeal and 4 plain eggs, or 2 cups of rice and 8 oz. of plain grilled chicken to meet their macro needs. Scrolling through Instagram you may find meal preppers with a hundred tupperware containers filled with asparagus and tilapia. Bland, uninspired meals make gaining weight (and losing weight) much harder than it needs to be. Include calorie dense foods to your plate to get more out of each bite.
This is probably the most common mistake out of them all, your meals aren’t actually that big. You could be eating 5, 6, even 10 meals per day but if you’re not hitting a calorie surplus by the end of the day you’re not going to gain any weight. An easy way to figure out how big your meals should be find out how many calories you need per day to gain weight and divide those calories by the amount of meals you want to eat per day (I recommend 4-6).
Here are some tips on how to pack in extra calories in your meals without feeling disgustingly full:
+ Add 2 tbsp. peanut/almond butter to your meals wherever necessary.
+ Add 1 extra tbsp. of olive oil to grilled meats and vegetables.
+ Add an extra protein shake to your diet: 1-2 scoops whey, 1 scoop vanilla ice cream, 8 oz skim milk, 1 tbsp. peanut butter.
Unilateral training is defined as a form of training that only affects one side, muscle, or structure of the body. This effective yet often overlooked form of training adds several benefits to your routine. Whether you’re bodybuilding, powerlifting, training for sport, or just a weekend warrior, you should include unilateral training somewhere in your workout. Here’s what you’re missing out on:
1. Unilateral Training Creates Symmetry
Is your left arm bigger than your right? Or maybe one pec is slightly larger than the other. Chances are you’re left-side or right-side dominant. Unilateral training forces you to focus all of your attention on one limb or one muscle at a time. Over time your muscles will become more symmetrical creating a more balanced physique.
2. Unilateral Training Balances Strength
Similar to my first point, maybe one side is stronger than the other although not necessarily noticeably bigger or smaller. Unilateral training addresses this issue by forcing you to exert the same energy on each side of your body. Maybe you’ve noticed some people in your gym dumbbell pressing and one arm locks out at the top while the other arm only comes up about 80% of the way. Unilateral training helps you make sure you’re completing each rep on either side of your body.
3. Unilateral Training Works Your Core More
By placing resistance on only one side of your body you’re forcing your body to have to stabilize itself. To do so you have to activate your core to keep your trunk, hips or shoulders stable. Unilateral training forces you into an effective ab workout with each set, even if you thought you were only working your triceps, pecs or legs.
Every training program needs variety to be fun and successful. Doing the same workouts over and over again becomes stagnant, eventually you’ll lose interest and progress. Try doing single arm lat pull down instead of your regular lat pulldown workout to spice things up and see some new results.
Here are some Unilateral Training Exercises to add to your routine! + Exploding Single Leg TRX Squat
+ Single Arm Overhead Dumbbell Press
+ Single Leg Leg Press
+ Single Arm Behind the Neck Tricep Extension
+ Single Arm Dumbbell Row
I may only do one or two Unilateral Exercises in my daily routine but it’s enough to make sure each muscle is equally strong and symmetrical on either side of my body. Balance is key. Try it out and see the difference for yourself.
EXOS, an adidas sponsored company and leader in sports performance & corporate wellness, broke down the idea of training into four main components: Mindset (25%), Nutrition (25%), Movement (25%) and Recovery (25%). They are equally important and neglecting one will lead to a less effective training program. The only catch is that you HAVE to give each component 110% to be successful.
Do you have a generally positive attitude in the gym? What about on the field? What about at work? What about at home? Your mindset is the first step you must conquer in order to be successful. Are you prepared for change? Do you believe that you WILL succeed? These are all important questions to ask yourself and your answer should be YES to all of them. Do you know WHY you’re starting your program (and when I say program I really mean lifestyle)?
Are you fueling your body for performance inside and outside the gym? Are your meals made up of a variety of colors? Are you confident that your meals are consistent with a healthy lifestyle, with the ability to prevent disease and improve performance? Probably the most important question I can ask you is…do you know how to prepare meals? If not you could find easy tutorials online. Anybody can meal prep, it’s super easy. I use my 6 Pack Bag to store my meals, gym clothes, and supplements for the work day. It only takes me 15 minutes tops per night to prepare for the next day. This way I’m always on track and all of my meals are portioned correctly.
Does your routine meet the needs of your goals? Are you addressing your weaknesses and tackling them head-on? Do you change your exercises, in some way, every few weeks? Do you have a warm-up routine, a cardio routine, a strength routine, a recovery routine, etc.? It’s important to focus on addressing every aspect of training, not just hypertrophy and aesthetics. To piggyback off that last note, make sure you’re training for the sport you’re in. If you don’t have a sport then train for life. If you’re a powerlifter then obviously the majority of your training should focus on core strength and power. If you’re a bodybuilder then you train for hypertrophy, symmetry, aesthetics, etc. If you’re like me and you just want to be in above average, incredible shape with a lot of definition, power, size, but not in a competitive way, then your routine should include strength, endurance, calisthenics, and recovery.
Are you always feeling tired and overworked? Do you sleep at least 6 hours per night? It’s time to focus on recovery. Not just of your body, but of your mind. Recovery means soothing muscle pain, decompressing mental stress, recollecting your emotions and feeling at peace.
If you answered “no” to any of the questions I asked in my points, then take some time to address that component. Maybe you need to focus more on recovery, but that doesn’t mean you should neglect movement to achieve better recovery. Balance is the key to success. Use these 4 components to improve your performance in all aspects of life.
You woke up stuffy, sneezy, and coughing. After dragging your feet to the refrigerator and searching for some citrus salvation, you pour yourself a glass of OJ with high hopes of defeating your cold. You may even have plans of making chicken noodle soup and abusing a pack of NyQuil. Your plan may work but it could take over 7 days to defeat your cold. I’ll give you several tips on how to defeat your cold even faster!
1. Get your Vitamin C from better sources.
Vitamin C is more of a preventative weapon when it comes to the common cold (as in consuming it while you’re already sick may not be a huge help), but you should still supply your body with this immune system boosting nutrient. Oranges aren’t your best source, believe it or not.This doesn’t mean you can’t drink orange juice and emergen-C, but there are whole sources out there that are even higher in Vitamin C than oranges. 1 serving of mini bell peppers packs in 270% of your DV of Vitamin C.
Tea, coffee, soup, it’s all good! The purpose of the hot fluids is to help thin the mucus which your body is producing to trap the bug that’s in your system. Drinking hot fluids will alleviate the hacking, stuffiness, and discomfort associated with mucus build up. You can also look into medicine like Mucinex, Nyquil, Cold Ez, etc., but I tend to take a whole-foods approach to conquering illness.
3. Hold off on intense exercise.
This is highly debated concept and a lot of weight lifters will scoff at people who stop lifting for a few days when they have a cold, but I let science dictate my approach. If your body has to focus its energy and nutrients to regenerating muscle tissue, then it can’t focus on killing the virus in your system. Give yourself 1-2+ days off when you feel a cold blossoming and give your body nutrients and rest.
Staying hydrated is critically important when fighting a cold. The hot fluids will help thin the extra mucus your body is producing for a while but drinking water consistently will help keep that mucus thin and will help mobilize it.
This is mostly effective for sore throats, especially if you have post-nasal drip. If it feels like I’m swallowing glass all day (and night) I’ll be absolutely miserable.Considering this is my least favorite cold symptom, I thought it was important to include a tip on how to defeat this symptom. Fill a glass up with 4-6 oz of warm water, mix in 1-2 tsp. of salt, and gargle the mixture over and over until it’s all gone. The salt draws out the “gunk” that’s dried up on your throat causing inflammation and pain. Afterward, you can gargle some mouthwash to kill any bacteria. It will also provide a cooling effect on the throat but the salt water gargle is really what helps the most so don’t skip that!
If you’ve been on Instagram anytime within the last 5 years chances are you’ve noticed one of your fit friends post a picture of an ice cream sundae covered in broken up Pop Tarts and chocolate syrup with the hashtag: #iifym. The idea is that the sources of your macro nutrients don’t matter as long as you hit your day’s goal of carbohydrates, protein and fat. There’s an element of truth here and depending on your goal it may work just fine for you. But, here’s what you need to know about IIFYM:
The best way to fuel for any sport/training session is to time your meals and make sure they consist of nutrition content adequate enough to meet your needs. 30 grams of sugar from ice cream acts very differently in your body than 30 grams of whole grains or fruit. If you eat 30 grams of sugar before your workout you’re most likely going to spike your blood sugar, subsequently leading to a sugar crash mid-workout. Not the best idea for any athlete that needs to perform for more than 30 minutes.
What I like about IIFYM is that if your daily carbohydrate goal is 250 grams and you’re short by 100 grams without much time left in the day, then that ice cream sundae is an easy (and delicious) solution to your problem. Oatmeal is clearly better for you but it takes some serious emotional strength to sit and eat a giant bowl of plain oatmeal. Most people don’t have this problem, and if you’re looking to cut up, assuming you’re not one of the genetically gifted, a giant bowl of ice cream before bed isn’t going to help your fat burning goal by any meals.
3. IIFYM For Emotional Health.
I consider IIFYM to be the 20% part of my 80/20 Diet Rule. I think that’s the healthiest way to utilize IIFYM. There are people who make IIFYM 80% of their diet and that’s where you begin to run the risk of health complications. Giving yourself that 20% leniency rule allows you to fit some of the food you love in your diet without filling your body with processed junk food all day. It’s more for emotional eating satisfaction than physical, although there is the physical benefit of restoring glycogen stores.
In short, IIFYM should not be a guideline but rather a “break in case of emergency” excuse to meet your macro nutrient needs when you need a very occasional break from eating super clean. Here’s an example of the 80/20 Diet Rule with the 20% coming from an IIFYM mindset.
Meal 1 Green Smoothie
Meal 2 Egg White Omelet w/ peppers, onions, reduced fat cheese, and spinach
Ezekiel Toast w/ raspberry preserves
“6 Pack Fitness™ creates iconic bags, luggage, and meal management travel gear for serious athletes, bodybuilding, CrossFit™ and fitness enthusiasts” – 6 Pack Fitness’ Mission Statement. After receiving the Innovator 500 as a gift and posting it on my Instagram repeatedly, I was headhunted by the6 Pack Fitness team and given an amazing opportunity to work with them. Being an avid meal prepper with a degree in Dietetics and a career in the fitness industry, this was a dream come true. This review is going to focus on the Stealth Black Expedition 300 backpack though. The first bag they sent me after joining the team.
Features 1. Holds 3 meals in 3 Sure Seal Containers
2. Includes a mini Sports Nutrition container
3. A fleece-lined pocket for a laptop/tablet.
4. Fleece-lined pockets for sunglasses and accessories.
5. Side pockets for shaker bottles
6. A large storage pocket that I use for gym clothes, supplements, and shower supplies.
7. Insulated refrigeration unit that stays cold for 12+ hours.
8. A small front pocket that I use as a quick First Aid kit (bandaids, lip balm, hydrocortisone, Neosporin, eye drops, etc.).
9. Includes a small carrying bag for gym shoes.
Great for: 1. Gym use, especially if you work as a Trainer or Group Exercise Instructor.
3. Beach Days (although the Innovator 300 or 500 is a better option)
4. Office (although the Elite Executive Briefcase is a better option)
To summarize, I would definitely recommend getting the Expedition 300 if you work a fitness related job where your days are generally 8-9 hours. I used to carry the Innovator 500 around with a separate bag for gym clothes and a case for my laptop. What I like most about the Expedition 300 is that it holds just enough meals to get me through work, enough room for a change of clothes, and a compartment for my laptop at just . If your days are typically 9+ hours I would recommend stepping it up to the Expedition 500. If you work a job where the dress code is more business/business casual I would recommend looking into the Elite Executive Briefcase because it looks more professional but still functions like the Expedition 300. I’ll have a review of the Innovator 500 up soon that will highlight the features and benefits of that bag versus the Expedition 300.