Your Ultimate Fish Guide

Happy Fishy

Fish is an interesting topic for me.

To start, fish are a great source of protein, good fats (omega-3s) and have a healthy ratio of Omega 3’s to Omega 6’s. These healthy fats help to reduce cholesterol, reduce inflammation in your body, and keep your heart healthy.

Fish have also been a staple in many of the longest living societies on earth. We as humans (not as bears, well I guess bears too) have been eating fish since the beginning of time.

Fish has for a long time been considered a Superfood but since man has started to run things toxins like mercury and PCB’s are becoming more and more prevalent in our waterways mainly because of the continued use of coal power plants.

Now, we have a catch 22. Fish is a great source of many nutrients but do the nutrients outweigh the risk of heavy metal contamination?

These toxins can be very dangerous because they can accumulate in our body until they reach unsafe levels. Mercury, the most common toxin in our waterways, is a neurotoxin which means it affects our brain and nervous system.

Just for the record, nearly all fish and shellfish contain some mercury, but for most people with the exception of woman and small children the amount is not large enough to be of concern.

We can however minimize  exposure by choosing fish with lower mercury levels and limiting intake to only a few times a week.

Check out this handy dandy mercury calculator to see if you are taking in too much.

Also a quick and easy guide is to only eat fish lower on the food chain. These fishies are going to have lower levels of mercury. Fish that live for a long time and are big dog, err fish, predators typically have much higher contamination levels.

i have put together a quick and easy guide on selecting the best seafood with the lowest levels of mercury just for you.

*The following info comes straight from the FDA and EPA

Fish and Shellfish Mercury Levels

 

LOWEST MERCURY LEVELS (Enjoy 2-3 servings/week)


• Anchovies
• Butterfish
• Catfish
• Clam
• Crab (domestic)
• Crawfish/Crayfish
• Croaker (Atlantic)
• Flounder*
• Haddock (Atlantic)
• Hake
• Herring
• Mackerel (N. Atlantic, Chub)
• Mullet
• Oyster
• Perch (Ocean)
• Plaice
• Pollock
• Salmon (Canned) Stay away from farmed salmon (may contain PCB’s)
• Salmon (Fresh) Stay away from farmed salmon (may contain PCB’s)
• Sardine
• Scallop*
• Shad (American)
• Shrimp
• Sole (Pacific)
• Squid (Calamari)
• Tilapia
• Trout (Freshwater)
• Whitefish
• Whiting

 

Highest Mercury Levels (Avoid Eating)

• Mackerel King
• Marlin*
• Orange Roughy
• Shark*
• Swordfish*
• Tilefish*
• Tuna (Bigeye, Ahi)*

 

High Mercury (Eat 3 servings or less per month)

• Bluefish
• Grouper*
• Mackerel
• Sea Bass
• Tuna (Canned Albacore)
• Tuna (Yellowfin)

 

Moderate Mercury (6 servings or less per month)

• Bass (Striped, Black)
• Carp
• Cod (Alaskan)
• Croaker (White Pacific)
• Halibut (Atlantic)
• Halibut (Pacific)
• Jacksmelt (Silverside)
• Lobster
• Mahi Mahi
• Monkfish*
• Perch (Freshwater)
• Sablefish
• Skate*
• Snapper*
• Tuna (Canned Chunk Light)
• Tuna (Skipjack)*
• Weakfish (Sea Trout)

* Fish in trouble because of low numbers and environmentally destructive fishing methods.

** Try and stay away from farmed fish. They are typically fed an unnatural diet which produces an inferior health damaging product. Stick to wild and do your research before you buy. A great online resource is

Source: National Resources Defense Council

Stick to the lowest mercury list and you will be just fine. The fish on this list are a great addition to any diet. Woman who are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant and children should decrease portion size or limit their intake.  This is advice from the FDA not me.

My advice: Pregnant women should stick to a high quality krill oil and then you don’t have to worry about contamination. Krill are the lowest on the food chain and also tested to make sure they are contaminant free. Plus, krill are so abundant in the ocean we don’t need to worry about overharvesting. Take Krill Oil and consider yourself a genuine, hemp wearing tree hugger, only if you want to of course.

Also….

  • If you are still skeptical and don’t want to take your chances with fish MAKE SURE you are consuming a high quality Krill Oil.
  • If you don’t like fish or do not eat fish on a regular basis MAKE SURE you are taking a high quality Krill Oil.

Learn more about Krill Oil HERE.

Editor’s Note (aka Trevor): Krill is a supplement I recommend to every single person I come in contact with. If you are at ALL serious about your health and longevity start taking Krill Oil. YES, IT IS THAT IMPORTANT.

 

Sweet Tools:

Mercury Calculator — find out if you are consuming too much mercury

Buy Wild & Fresh Healthy Seafood Online

 

The Secret to Longevity

Since it is indeed Recovery Week I find it only fitting to include a quick article about recovery and why it is so important I dedicate an entire week to it.

I am just like most of you. I want to go go go and never let off the gas pedal. This works great for awhile but just like any Ferrari if you don’t take time to change the oil, rotate the tires, or tune up the engine you are just one drag race away from a blown tire or engine. The non-stop attitude although awesome in the short-term is not a long-term approach for longevity. The go go goer will typically end up in one of two ways.

The Injury

The first is injuries.

Most of us don’t take breaks until our knees start hurting or our shoulder feels like someone took a sledgehammer to it. We then proceed to take off as little time as possible, to heal up just enough to get back to doing what we were doing before we got injured. We then repeat the cycle beating our body down more and more each time.

Finally, our body says it has had enough and forces us to take time off. During this time we become deconditioned and many times disinterested in exercise again. Now, it’s a struggle to even get ourselves in a routine again.

The Burnout

The flipside is we simply burn ourselves out. I most commonly see this with runners or the chronic cardio crowd. You can only take so much mind numbing repetitive motion before you want to run right off a cliff.

You start dreading your workouts and in turn the workouts suck because you are not motivated. Progress stalls and disinterest gets greater. Most then simply give up and opt for nothing. Now, after a few months or years we are back to where we started.

So how do trainers, coaches, and elite athletes eliminate these problems from happening?

We incorporate scheduled off–weeks or deload weeks to allow the body to recover and mind to rejuvenate.

The Science

Here is a quick science lesson for you. The body doesn’t get stronger while you work out. It is actually quite the opposite. The workout is only the stimulus; you actually “injure” the muscle during every workout. It is during the recovery period, the repair process, that you get stronger.

Those of us, myself included, that think breaks are for wussies keep tearing our body down day after day and never give it time to recover. Our body is a very smart system. If you won’t give it a rest, it will find a way to rest somehow which usually manifests itself through the two ways we talked about earlier, injury or burnout.

I have had some of my best weeks of workouts AFTER a good week of recovery and have many times been much stronger from NOT lifting for a whole week.

What to do?

The recovery week doesn’t mean sit on your bum all day, eat potato chips (don’t worry they are trans fat free) and watch reruns of The Wonder Years. We still need to be active and moving, but without the I need to “workout” mindset. Just let it happen.

Here are a few quick tips on what you can do during your off-weeks to ensure proper recovery and progress for years.

1. Emphasize Recovery Activities

This means lots of foam rolling, flexibility, and mobility folks. Also, probably a massage and some hot baths as well. Get your husband or wife to warm up a hot tub for you and make sure he/she lights a few candles too. Then, here comes the hard part — relax. Repeat, 3-4 times for the week!

2. Do Something Different.

We do lots of strength training and movement exercises in class. Spend 30 minutes and focus on your joint mobility, especially the hips for those of you who sit a lot. As we age and stop moving through full ranges of motion we lose this mobility. This then leads to joint problems, increases the risk of falling, and the overall “its hard to sit down and stand up” syndrome (not quite a scientific term yet).

Go rollerblading, ice skating hiking, explore the woods behind your house or some other activity you don’t normally do. Learn something new.

3. Play!

This is something we do not do enough. To me it seems as people get older they forget how to genuinely and spontaneously play without form. No rules or guidelines, just play. Society conditions us to be very rigid and responsible and don’t forget to follow the rules. Keep that shirt tucked in and stand up straight. Sometimes we need to just have an impromptu game of tag or touch football. How about hide and go seek, cops and robbers, or backyard wrestling. The beauty is not in the game played but in the spontaneity of free form creativity.

Start a wrestling match with your kids, get the dog going, or just run around the house screaming. Don’t think just go.

Remember, we need to take breaks every so often. Fitness for life is not a sprint but a marathon filled with many sprints and breaks. Having scheduled breaks allows you to recharge your mind and body. Sometimes, its even great to just take a week off and focus nothing. Maybe sleep a little more or spend that hour planning out your meals for the week.

No workout program is perfect and as we age we need more breaks. Last I checked, you and I are not 15 anymore.

For me, this really hit home when after a weekend basketball tournament we played 6 games in 2 days. I was exhausted and each game became increasingly hard to warm-up for. Then, the ah ha moment hit when I tried to get out of my car after the 3-hour drive home. To say the least, I was prepared to die in that car before having to move my legs to get out. 10 years ago I did this EVERY weekend and then played more when I got home.

I guess the moral of the story is, the older you get the more recovery you need. This doesn’t mean you don’t work hard, but it does mean you need to take time to get stronger.

-Trevor

Lose Belly Fat Yesterday

Question:  How do I get rid of belly fat or more specifically what abdominal exercises should I do to rid myself of this flabby mid-section?

Ah, the belly fat question.  This is going to be a fun one.

Ab exercises will not specifically decrease the fat in your abdomen.  If you want to stop reading you can but I guarantee you will learn some more if you read on.

In the fitness world we call this idea spot reduction, taking bodyfat away from a specific area of the body.  Unfortunately, we have yet to figure out how to do it with any type of consistency and the person who figures it out is going to be a multi-billionaire.  Cross your fingers for me please.

Don’t write me off too fast, we CAN get rid of it but it takes some specific strategies.  Today I am going to teach you a few strategies I have learned along the way that could assist you in your quest for that flat stomach.

But, before you get the secret tips we need to learn a few things so don’t skip right to the end.  The following info is very important for you to understand how to lose that middle.

Our body is an extremely complex system thus many different factors contribute to how quickly we lose fat.  I am not saying this to complicate things but to help you realize that lasting fat loss is a lifestyle change not a fad ultra-low calorie grapefruit diet.

Diet, exercise, hormones, sleep quality, stress, hydration status, genetics, and a whole host of other things I can’t think of off the top of my head all contribute to the rate at which someone loses weight.

I know that might seem like a lot to think  about so I broke it down even more into one key principle that must be present for fat loss to occur.

Calories expended must be greater than calories consumed.

Everyone knows how calories are consumed.  Yes, you are correct, through your mouth.  Unless of course you are IV fed, although awesome, its pretty rare so I am assuming you are a mouth feeder.

Instead of teaching you how to put food in your mouth lets take a quick look at the ways we expend calories throughout the day.

1)    Metabolism (Resting Metabolic Rate) 60-70% of total 

The calories you burn just to keep yourself alive.  Think heart beating, breathing, cells regenerating etc…

2)    Activity Induced 20-30% of total 

These are the calories you burn through exercise (think boot camp) but also through daily activity such as housework, mowing the lawn, sprinting from your car to make it to work on time.

3)    Dietary Induced (Thermic Effect of Feeding) 10% of total 

This is the energy it takes to digest food.  In case you are wondering it takes almost twice the energy to metabolize protein than fats and carbs.  Hmm, another reason to eat more protein.

So now we know how we expend energy, lets put it all together to help us lose weight.

Lets say your maintenance, not gaining or losing, calorie needs are 2000 calories.

In order to lose weight you have to burn more than 2000 calories or take in less than 2000 calories or a combination of both to be in a caloric deficient state, ie: weight loss.

What most people will do is simply cut calories big time and the weight will start to drop.  Well, unfortunately our body recognizes this and slows its metabolism to match our energy intake.   The body’s main goal is survival and it could care less about your weight loss goals.  Through this method people typically deprive their body of some much needed nutrients because they are not eating enough food and also sending their hormones for a ride because they stop eating fat.

A more effective way to create a deficit is to increase our daily expenditure through one of the three methods above while simultaneously making BETTER food choices.

Looking at the percentages it becomes obvious that the most effective process to focus on would be metabolism.  Now, all of sudden we are burning more fat while we work, eat, sleep etc… Just the way we want it.

How do we increase our metabolism?

1.    Build more muscle!  Ever wonder why it’s easy for muscle bound people to stay skinny?  Their metabolism is like a Ferrari because of the muscle they carry around.  Muscle is expensive (lots of calories burned) to maintain.

2.    Interval Style Training.   This type of training creates an “afterburn” effect where you burn massive amounts of calories in the 24-48 hrs postworkout as your body is trying to repair itself.  (This is the exact principle Functional Fitness Boot Camp is based upon).

Remember though, it is almost impossible (I say almost because I have seen a few people, elite college athletes exercising 15 plus hours/week do it.) to out train a bad diet.   You, my reader cannot, I’m sorry.  You have a life.

Don’t believe me?  Check out this example for a second.

One cookie is 200 calories.  You need to walk (3-4 mph) for 60 minutes to burn that off.  60 minutes of walking for a freakin’ cookie that took 30 seconds to consume, now that is crazy.

Case and Point:  Diet is King.

Before I bore you anymore I will get back to the whole reason for writing this blog.:  ridding ourselves of belly fat.

To decrease abdominal fat you don’t need the latest and greatest ab exercises  (ie: that stupid cruncher on TV infomercials) nor do you need hours and hours of crunches that will wreck your neck and back.

As far as I know, and I read A LOT, there is no specific way to target abdominal fat (outside of hormone manipulation but that is out of the scope of this article).   We target total body fat by changing our food choices, doing demanding workouts, and building muscle and then let our body work its magic.  It will get to the stomach region at some point, but for some people it takes longer than others.

Permanent fat loss is a simple process that requires lots of hard work and a long-term approach.  I’m sorry but there are no quick fixes.

I hate to burst your bubble but that is the way it is and someone needed to tell it to you straight.  If anything changes and fat loss becomes super super easy and everybody is doing it, you will a) notice at Walmart or b) if you still have not noticed I will tell you.

So after this ramble lets put it all together and add in a couple extras for good measure.

Quick Review:

Diet is the #1 way to get rid of abdominal fat.  Oh, it’s the #2 way as well.

This does not mean dieting or restricting our intake.  It means changing our food selection and eating foods with higher nutrient density.  Simply eating more nutrient dense foods will normalize hormones; cause you to consume less, thus putting you in a caloric deficit.  Combine this with the right exercise and you have yourself the recipe for success.

Recipe:  The fastest way to lose belly fat

  •  Increase protein intake (your body expends about twice as many calories metabolizing protein than carbs or fat)
  • Reduce and eliminate REFINED carbohydrates in your diet
  • Eat until you are 80% full
  • Combine diet with strength training and interval training (what we do it boot camp) at least four days week.

Also just for good measure here are a few hormone tricks to help specifically with belly fat which has been shown to correlate with high cortisol levels and very stressful life.

1.    Frequent protein meals (this is the easiest snack ever)
2.    Adequate “quality” sleep (7-8 hours)
3.    Stress Reduction Strategies (meditation, exercise etc…)
4.    Reduce carbohydrate intake (eliminate REFINED carbs)
5.    Eat majority of carbs around workout window (before, and 1-2 hours after)

 

That is all folks.  Fat Loss = the right principles + a lot of hard consistent work over the long term.  Easy formula, hard to implement.

Get after it

-tw

The Truth About Sugar

Is sugar considered a poison?

Is all the added sugar in your diet hammering your physique and health, ABSOLUTELY.  Simply eliminating added sugars will put you on the fast track to improved health.  Most people look at sugar as this wonderful sweet substance that makes everything bland taste amazing (can someone say flour) .  I am here to give you an alternative way of looking at sugar, to quote Dr Lustig “poison!”

Dr. Lustig in the following video will explain in a very entertaining and intriguing way how sugar functions and affects our body once we ingest it.  You will definitely be surprised at the answer and probably never look at the substance the same again.

For the good of your health take an hour and sit down with the family and watch this talk.  It will change your viewpoints and probably your physique forever.

Without further ado, SUGAR – THE BITTER TRUTH

Does this mean we need to eliminate sugar completely and never consume the crap, OF COURSE NOT.  You guys should know I don’t ask you to give up those modern foods 100% of the time.  It all comes down to the 90% rule.  You can eat “forbidden” foods, during the 10%.

Personally, I don’t believe consuming sugar in moderation is healthy.  Moderation tends to get blown out of proportion and this is one thing I think we should limit as much as possible.  Save sugar for special occasions, holidays, and times with friends.  NOT for every time you walk past the candy dish.

Now, utilize the knowledge you just learned, pass this along, and help make America healthier.

-Trevor

Got Soreness?

My butt hurts!

It hurts to sit on the toilet!

I can’t get out of bed or walk down the stairs!

Oh, do I love a new round of exercises and a new workout routine.  Everyone realizes that yes they do have muscles and boy do they hurt right now.

Since, soreness has been a hot topic lately, I felt this was an appropriate time to address this subject. With a new round of workouts usually comes a new transition period for the body.

First, what causes soreness?

Well any number of things can cause soreness but the most applicable to my readers are these three culprits

1. New exercise program
2. Routine Change
3. Increase in duration or intensity

Soreness is most likely due to the microscopic tearing that happens after an intense workout.  Basically during a workout, and especially a new workout, we break down the muscle so that it can heal and grow back stronger.  This breaking down of the muscle causes inflammation to occur which presses on pain receptors in the muscle telling our brain to stop moving those legs because they freakin’ hurt.

Without the inflammation process though we would not be able to heal properly, so it is very important.  One thing we can do is speed the process up and get the inflammation out as fast as possible bringing in new blood and nutrients to the muscle tissue.  This will reduce soreness and get us walking normal and feeling better much faster.

 

How to Speed up the Process

MAKE IT STOP!  Well, there is no real way to make it stop except taking it a bit easier.  My best advice is to embrace the soreness and the healing process that is now occurring in your body.  The cells in your body are quickly repairing themselves to be stronger so they don’t have to go through this trauma again.  (Well, until I switch it up on them next month 😛 ).

We do have the ability to speed things up though.  Some of the following techniques come from personal experience while others I just found in my research of this topic.

1.  Foam Roll after Exercise

I have found foam rolling and light stretching helps me recover much more quickly.  I don’t think there is any research to back me up but years and years of playing competitive sports have said stretch after you get done and if I get some foam rolling in I feel even better.

2.  Active Recovery

No strenuous exercise here, simply get the muscles moving and pumping blood again.  This can be a walk through the park, your personal improvement routine (recommended), a series of low-intensity bodyweight exercises that puts your joints through a full range of motion and even some gentle stretching.  Really, all we are doing here is getting the blood flowing again so we can shuttle new nutrients to the damaged sites facilitating the repair process.  This technique mixed with foam rolling has been the most effective for me.

3.  Hot Bath w/ Epson Salt

The premise here is the heat helps to bring new blood to the muscles while also relaxing the body.  Although, you should use ice the first 48 hours after an injury, I find a hot bath relaxes my mind and body more.  Placebo effect maybe, but I couldn’t care less either way if it works.

To kick it up a bit notch add EPSOM Salts to your bath.  According to the Epsom Salt Industry website, Epsom Salts are made of magnesium sulfate which when added to the bath are absorbed by your skin.  Upon absorption, the Epsom salt draws toxins from the body, sedates the nervous system, relaxes the muscles and most important to our cause reduces swelling.  It’s the swelling that makes muscles hurt, so the faster we reduce that swelling the sooner they will feel better.

4.  Contrast Bath/Showers

I used this technique extensively in college and during heavy training periods as a professional.  To be honest, I felt great afterwards but I never felt like my legs could perform optimally.  This technique also takes some serious cahones to do.

For this technique you alternate between periods of freezing cold water and hot water.  The typical protocol is 40 s to 1 min COLD and then 2-3 minutes of HOT.  Repeat this process 3-5 x or whatever you can handle.  You can either use two different bath tubs or use a shower head and just turn it from cold to hot. I do recommend using this technique at least once to know what it feels like.  Also, its helps burn fat by activating brown fat located mainly in your upper back but that is a topic for another day.

The premise behind this is the icing helps to stop the swelling and causes the muscle to contract squeezing the blood out of it and then the hot relaxes the muscle bringing in new blood and nutrients.

5.  Simply Icing

Everyone knows this technique.  Just ice the really sore muscle for 20 minutes or so.  The cold helps to reduce the swelling and numbs the pain receptors so the perception of pain decreases.

6.  Nutrition

I find it rather fitting that I will get to mention Essential Fatty Acids (Krill Oil, Fish Oil, Cod Liver Oil) again because they keep popping up in this newsletter.  They have strong anti-inflammatory effects and have been shown to reduce arthritic pain as much as NSAID’s (ie: ibuprofen).

Eating adequate complete proteins to provide building blocks for the new muscle and eating a diet high in vegetables and fruit will also help keep inflammation at bay and reduce healing time.  Add in some tea and plenty of clean water and you will be golden.

Try out one or two of these techniques the next time you can’t get off the toilet properly from too many squats.  I look forward to hearing which ones worked for you.

-TW