Friday, June 26, 2009

Nutrition 101

What is a Calorie?
Calories are not something to be avoided! They are simply a measurement of the amount of energy stored in food. We mainly consume calories in the form of macronutrients, which are also known as carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Each macronutrient has a different caloric density.

What is a Macronutrient?
The 3 main macronuteints we consume are carbohydrates, protein, and fat. They provide your body with its structure and the biological fuel necessary to live!

• Carbohydrates are our primary source of fuel. They are stored in our muscles and liver for ready and available energy. (See Focus on Carbohydrates for more information)

• Proteins make up the bulk of our structure. They are used for building muscle, bone and enzymes. Proteins make up 17% of our body weight! (See Focus on Protein for more information)

• Fats provide energy during endurance exercise and between meals. They also insulate your body and protect your bones and organs. Unsaturated fats decrease the risk of heart disease and can assist in growth development and brain function (omega-3). (See Focus on Fats for more information)

Where does Fiber fit in?
Fiber, though not a macronutrient, causes you to stay full longer, lowers blood cholesterol, decreases heart disease and type-2 diabetes, and maintains a healthy digestive system. The recommended daily intake is 38g for males and 25g for females. (See Focus on Fiber for more information)

What is a Micronutrient?
Micronutrients are substances we only need in small amounts, but without them our bodies cannot function. Vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, vitamin D, iron, and calcium are among the many micronutrients that enable our bodies to produce enzymes and hormones necessary for growth and development.

What is Caloric Density?
Caloric Density refers to the amount of calories packed into 1 gram of a macronutrient. Here is the calorie breakdown of 1 gram of carbohydrate, protein, and fat:
• Carbohydrate – 4 calories / 1 gram
• Protein – 4 calories / 1 gram
• Fat – 9 calories / 1 gram

For example, a piece of whole wheat bread has 13g of carbohydrates, 3g of protein, and 1g of fat. This piece of bread amounts to 73 calories. Here’s how we got it: [(13g carbohydrates x 4kcal) + (3g protein x 4kcal) + (1g fat x 9kcal) = 73kcals]

How do I divvy up my calories?
It is always up for debate what percentage of calories should come from each major macronutrient. Percentages can vary according to level and intensity of physical activity. Here is a general guideline for how to break up your calories into carbohydrates, protein, and fat:

• 45-65% of calories should come from carbohydrates (No more than 25% coming from added sugars)
• 15-25% of calories should come from protein
• 30% of calories should come from fat (Saturated fats: 10% of total calories)

Written by Alison Wilson, Nutritionist/Wellness Director at the Seattle Athletic Club Downtown.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Welcome to the Seattle Health and Fitness Professionals Blog!

Welcome to the Seattle Health and Fitness Professionals blog! Our goal is to provide our readers with an invaluable resource of health and fitness advice, articles, videos and programs from some of the most qualified professionals in the industry. We hope that it will play an integral role in your quest to achieve your personal health and wellness goals, whatever they may be!

We believe that your personal definition of fitness should never be defined by social expectations. Whether your goals are simply moving through your day without pain, running a marathon, or living with a clinical aliment such as diabetes, your goals should only be defined by your own expectations.

As Health and Fitness professionals, we also believe it is our responsibility to devote ourselves to the improving the health and wellness of our wider community. Only by thinking more globally, can we start to conquer the growing health problems that are ailing our nation. We will be regularly posting a variety of different articles, videos, and programs that cover a broad spectrum of health and fitness topics. From how to start a fitness program, to more advanced and specific training concepts.

Yours in Health,
Seattle Health and Fitness Professionals

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Choosing the Right Exercise

Before you start any sport or exercise program there are a couple of questions you should be able to answer:

1. What are your goals? This will determine the kind of workouts you will want to do.

2. What do you feel confident doing? How much experience and knowledge do you have/need?

3. What do you like to do? What physical activities or types of exercise do you enjoy doing?

4. How much time do you have to workout? This will also determine what you do in the gym that will benefit you the most, in the least amount of time.

What are your goals? This is important because it will help you chose the right exercises to help you get to your goals as fast as possible. For instance, if you are looking to gain more flexibility then your goal should be to warm up and stretch or take a yoga class. If your goal is to increase your lean muscle mass and lose body fat then your exercises should be based more on high intensity weightlifting. If you are looking to get into better overall shape and increase strength then you should be do more complex full body exercises.

What do you feel confident doing? Do you have a ton of free weight experience? Have you never used a Free Motion machine before? Do you know how to use the elliptical but have never seen a Stepmill before? It's important to stick with stuff that you are comfortable with. Making sure your are doing exercises correctly, making sure you are not self-conscious about what you are doing, and making sure that your not wasting time wondering how to work something. Make sure you choose the equipment that you have had experience with is a good place to start.

What do you like to do? Do you hate running? Are you a die hard swimmer? Especially when you first start in a routine make sure to pick out the exercises that will keep you coming back. If you hate free weights but insist on making yourself do them make sure that doing so doesn't keep you avoiding the gym because you are dreading your workout. You have to be enjoying (at least somewhat) the things that you are doing in the gym. It's all about getting on a routine and sticking to it so make sure you having something to look forward to and that keeps you coming back.

How much time do you have to workout? If you are really limited with time, say 30 minutes, make sure you come into the gym with a plan of action. Make sure you know what you will be doing. A good example would be using Cybex equipment and going through a quick circuit making sure you hit all muscle groups. Or if you are dying to come in and work on your upper body strength make sure to have all the muscle groups you want in mind and make sure you know if you want to use dumbbells or barbells, etc. But most of all make sure to pick exercises (or exercise modes) that you know how to do so you don't waste time trying to figure out how to do something. A short amount of time means getting the best bang out of your buck, efficiency is key!

Written by Adriana Brown, Personal Trainer at the Seattle Athletic Club Downtown.
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The Do's and Don'ts of a Successful Fitness Program

Many people at new years try and change their lifestyle to become a healthier person. Of those people only about 20% can actually stick with their new year's goals for more than 3 months. That's not a very high number, so here are some tips to make your new fitness program one that stays with you for your lifetime.

The first thing to do is find a gym that fits all of your needs. Basically you want to get the best bang for your buck. This means find a gym that is convenient, clean, and organized well enough that you can do exercises without being in your fellow member's personal bubble. The gym should also offer a wide range classes and amenities that fit your needs and preferences.

The next thing to do is contemplate what your personal goals for your fitness program will; they should be both long-term and short-term goals. These goals then need to be written down and visible every day. It is a proven fact that people who write down their goals achieve them at a higher percentage than those who do not.

Now that you know where you are working out and what you want to achieve, you need to think about nutrition and water intake to fuel your workout. You should drink two cups (16 oz) of water about two hours before you exercise, drink one glass for every 15 min of exercise, and drink two cups of water for every pound of weight lost after exercise. As far as food goes, eating before exercise can help prevent a crash in energy during your workout. If you are trying to eat with an hour of your exercise, stick to light foods rich in carbohydrates; if you have a couple hours before exercise grab food rich in carbohydrates as well as protein, and if you have over three hours before your exercise get a small mean of complex carbohydrates, protein and good fat. Right after you exercise, replenish your energy with carbohydrates and protein.

As for the exercise, if you are a new exercise enthusiast keep the workout simple. Do not try and do all of these crazy exercises you see other gym goers doing. Stay simple and basic in your exercises first, and then progress into other advanced exercises. If you are experienced but have lost that drive to exercise, try finding an exercise partner or asking for advice from a fitness expert, like a personal trainer, to vamp up your routine.

To have a successful fitness plan DO: find the right gym, write down those long and short term goals, eat food before and after your workout as well as drink plenty of water throughout the day and your workout and keep your workouts simple, but ask for advice from a someone if you need to vamp up your workout.

Written by Jacob Galloway, Fitness Director at the Seattle Athletic Club Downtown.

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