Sleep has come into the spotlight again. From the days of “high carb, low fat” diets and the “sleep is for pussies” era, we have arrived at an unhealthy place. One of the initial ways to get your health back on track is to improve your sleep. The reasons for improving sleep are abundantly beneficial and affordable. Here’s how “early to bed and early to rise” will benefit your health.
Some of the main benefits of a great night’s sleep are: One, you will think clearer and have a consistently better mood pattern. Two, you will potentially lose weight or change your body composition. The potential to burn fat and build muscle increases when you get appropriate rest. Three, you will look better because your healing and replenishing patterns will be able to do their job. Four, you will help all of your hormones get back towards a natural state.
Eight hours really isn’t eight hours unless you live in a box with no light. Our body is programmed to deal with light rhythms, known as the circadian rhythm, in that your body’s hormones rise and fall with your exposure to light. So midnight to 8 a.m. is not going to give you the same replenishing rest as going to bed at 10 p.m. and sleeping until 6 a.m. Here’s why: At night your cortisol level starts to fall, and your melatonin level starts to rise. You simply get the best sleep when your cortisol levels are lower and your melatonin levels are higher. This is abundantly clear when you realize that the main job of cortisol is to increase blood sugar for immediate use in physical and emotional stress and that of melatonin is to cause drowsiness and lower body temperature. Cortisol starts to change direction and swing back up around 1-2 a.m. when melatonin is decreasing. Are you still sleeping when this happens? Yes, but the quality of your sleep diminishes as the waking hormone, cortisol, rises and the sleeping hormone, melatonin, falls. Ok, now for the doubters out there: some studies say we were two-phase sleepers back “in the day”. The sun went down, we slept for four hours, woke up for two social or productive hours, and then slept another four. The problem with this sleep model today is that now we have MML ( man-made light ). Remember all forms of light can kill melatonin secretion, and the environment we are dealing with, MML from computer screens, TVs and light fixtures forces us to be highly efficient sleepers and pack in a solid eight hours in order to get enough rest. Most of us don’t have 10 hours of darkness to play with!
The first and simplest ( not easiest ) way to improve your sleep quality is to start turning down your electronics as early as possible. I am an advocate of putting my phone on “airplane mode” at 8 p.m. Most of my friends and clients know that if I’m not answering, I’m sleeping, or getting ready to. Avoid checking email and doing business unless it is urgent. What I’m saying is: start winding down and reduce your external stimuli as much as possible. Second, get your room as dark as you can, get blackout curtains, and keep the room at a cool temperature. NO light, period! That means no digital clocks, TVs, VCRs or other blinking type indicators. Some folks go as far as taking all electronics out of the bedroom. Reserve your bedroom for two things, sex and sleep.
The other way to help you monitor your sleep is with an iPhone application like Sleep by MotionX, which not only monitors your sleep, but also has an alarm that wakes you at the optimal time in your sleep cycle. That way, you have an easier time getting those feet on the floor and starting the day! I use this monitoring system EVERY night. It also shows me how long it took me to fall asleep, how long I slept, and it shows my light sleep and deep sleep cycles. You can even use it to track your heart rate! They say one of the best ways to improve something is by monitoring it. “Wait a minute! You just told me to shut off my electronics and now you want me to sleep with them?” No. Shut down your electronics earlier in the evening. This means turning down your screen brightness, getting your phone on ‘Airplane Mode’ and setting your alarm. Then when you get into bed, all you have to do is start your Sleep by MotionX timer and you are off to lala land. No melatonin spared.
Improving your quality of sleep is a major player in total health. Getting good quality sleep and letting your body repair and rejuvenate can really improve your overall quality of life. For practically every health and lifestyle issue out there, good sleep is a positive adjunct to improving everything you do, and how you feel about it! Do the best you can and take small steps in improving your sleep. You will see: It will make you Stronger, Healthier, and Happier!
"The Perfect Human Diet" brings together scientists and researchers in archaeological science, paleo and forensic anthropology, nutrition and metabolism, biomolecular archaeology, and much more to look at the history of the human diet and try and parse out what we should ideally be eating to maximize our health and well being. And in this exclusive poster for the film, it's pretty clear where that argument lies.
See if you agree when "The Perfect Human Diet" goes VOD on December 21st.
THE 5 RULES OF FAT LOSS
Successful fat loss plans have a few things in common. Five, actually. You probably already know what they are, but let’s refresh just in case.
1. Don’t eat so much
In other words, if you’re eating a typical diet, you’re probably eating a bit too much food to lose fat. That’s right, the food you eat that isn’t used by your body for energy and re-building gets stored as fat. Simple stuff, but it’s often overlooked. That’s because most of us have no idea how much food we really eat.
Our job is to help our clients become aware of how much food they’re eating. Seems small, but it makes a big difference.
Here’s a simple way to do that: Grab a notebook and write down everything you eat for the next three days. After three days of tracking your food, you’ll have a pretty good idea of how much food you normally eat.
Then all you have to do is replace a few calorie dense foods with calorie dilute foods. Or just trim back your portions a little. Voila. Same amount of food, instant calorie-reduction, no stress.
2. Eat healthy food
Depending on who you ask, “healthy” food can mean different things. But there is one universal truth: More nutrients with fewer calories is a recipe for success.
In general, the best foods are lean meats, vegetables, high-quality fats, and maybe a small amount of starches, depending on your carbohydrate tolerance. The best part about these foods? They’re also fairly low in calories compared to processed stuff.
And for those meals directly after a workout:
What about plant-based eaters? We’ve got them covered too.
3. Move more often
Most people think the only way to lose weight is to work out for 5+ hours per week or go for morning jogs. Fortunately, this isn't true. We’ve seen some remarkable fat-loss progress in clients who simply moved more often.
Taking the stairs, going for a morning bike ride, or walking to lunch instead of driving may seem like small steps, but they make a big impact on how your body feels and how many calories you burn.
Of course, this isn’t all you need to become a cover model, but it does kick-start the fat loss process. It also supports rules number four and five.
4. Do strength training a few times per week
To look and feel better and speed up the rate of fat loss, you need to do muscle-preserving exercises like weight-training or bodyweight workouts. They don’t need to be too intense, and they certainly don’t have to take a long time.
The best thing you can do is start slowly and visit the gym two or three times per week. Perform a small circuit of full-body exercises like squats, lunges, rows, and presses. It all takes about 45 minutes.
A word of caution: Working out is something most people over-think. The truth is, you don’t need a perfect program to start the process. All you need is something that gets you in the gym a few times per week and has you lifting weights or doing some sort of challenging body weight exercises. Adding complexity can come later.
5. Do intervals (aka “Cardio”)
If strength training was your muscle-preserving exercise, intervals are your calorie-burning activity. Doing short bursts of work followed by longer periods of recovery helps your body burn a tremendous amount of calories.
To start, all you have to do is get on an exercise bike, treadmill, or other cardio equipment and try the following:
-30 second burst of fast pedaling or running
-60 second recovery of slow pedaling or jogging
That’s one round. Go back and forth between the “intense burst” and “recovery” and repeat that for a total of six rounds. And that’s it.
THE WRONG WAY TO LOSE FAT
Typically, this is where most articles would stop and send you on your way.
Unfortunately, that information alone won’t help you. After all, most of our clients “know” all that stuff when they come to us for help.
They know how to lose fat. But they’re still having trouble actually losing it.
It’s all about your daily practices.
Your behavior. Your habits. What you do every day. The decisions you make — both consciously and unconsciously. But how do you change a habit?
Most people struggle to lose fat because they try to do too much at once. People take an "all or none" approach to their body: They remove all unhealthy foods, go full throttle on exercise, and even try to remove bad habits like not getting enough sleep. After a couple of weeks, those good habits are replaced by withdrawal, frustration, and a belief that you’ll never be able to look the way you want.
It’s heart-breaking because we see it so often. Trying to do too much at once — trying to adopt and change 20+ new habits from the start — never works.
That’s why we feel lucky to be able to help. Our approach consists of doing one habit at a time. Mastering it, and then making progress. And by using that approach, we have shown that you can lose fat faster than ever and get in the best shape of your life.
from the Poloquin Blog
Take vitamin D to lose fat and gain muscle. Over and over again,
research shows that if you have low vitamin D, you will be more likely
to be overweight, have less muscle mass, and higher risk of injury.
Vitamin D deficiency is SO easy to solve—don’t let it keep you from
getting and staying lean!
Here’s the deal with vitamin D:
• It is produced in the body in response to direct sunlight. In order to maintain vitamin D levels due from sun exposure, scientists suggest you need to be in direct sunlight for at least 20 minutes every day between the hours of 10 am and 2 pm.
• Wearing sunscreen or sunglasses, or having dark skin color will significantly impede your body’s ability to produce vitamin D. If you are a person of color or wear sunscreen and sunglasses you need to supplement with vitamin D even if you are in the sun daily.
• Low vitamin is associated with greater fat mass in all ages, races, and both genders. Low D leads to fat storage, which “produces a toxic milieu by initiating metabolic and inflammatory cascades,” write one research group. They go on to explain that this cascade increases fat storage rates and worsens the inflammatory state in the body.
• The inflammatory state associated with vitamin D compromises muscle function and may case muscle loss and increase risk of injury.
• Low D is associated with low testosterone in men. Research shows that men with adequate vitamin D (above 30 ng/ml) had higher testosterone levels, the leanest body composition, a greater percentage of lean mass, and better overall health.
• A study found that giving men with low testosterone and vitamin D deficiency 3,332 IUs of vitamin D daily for a year raised free testosterone by 20 percent. Vitamin D is thought to inhibit aromatization of testosterone to estrogen.
• Mothers who have adequate vitamin D have leaner offspring. Research suggests that vitamin D affects genetic signaling pathways linked to metabolism in a developing fetus.
• In two surveys of athletes, injury and illness rates increased over the winter season as vitamin D levels naturally dropped, reaching deficient status by early January.
• In a study of professional football players, the average vitamin D level of athletes who experienced an injury over the season was 19.9 ng/ml, which is considered “deficient.” The black players on the team were more likely to be deficient and more likely to be injured.
• Vitamin D levels are associated with muscular power and it has been found to increase size and strength of type II muscle fibers in a variety of populations. For example, a recent study found that overweight adults who took vitamin D in conjunction with doing a strength training program increased their explosive power significantly more than a group that didn’t take vitamin D.
What all this boils down to is that if you’re not attending to your vitamin D level, you’re not going to be as lean and strong as you could be. For instance, a new study of overweight women found that those who just took vitamin D for 12 weeks lost 2.7 kg of fat compared to a placebo group that lost nothing.
If you’re still not convinced, separate surveys of children, men, and women showed that those with lower vitamin D had more body fat, and more belly fat. Out of 237 children, the majority were deficient in vitamin D (73 percent of blacks and 40 percent of whites were deficient) and vitamin D levels were inversely associated with belly fat and total fat percentages.
The solution is so simple: Take vitamin D and lose fat. Take vitamin D and get better results from training. Ensure optimal vitamin D levels and improve athletic performance.
For information on how to make sure you are getting enough vitamin D, read Five Steps to Manage Your Vitamin D Levels.