Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Holidays and Alcohol: How To Watch Your Figure

I feel that it’s necessary to take a seasonal approach for this second installment of The Wonders of Alcohol. Large populations of people put emphasis on watching food calories but forget that many of our calories consumed throughout the day come from beverages.

While you spend the holidays hopping from party to party full of finger foods, awkward conversations and spiked eggnog there are a few things you should keep in mind. If you are constantly concerned about keeping your figure and don’t want to sacrifice all of that hard work in the gym on one weekend, then listen up. There are a few secrets that can help you maintain that sexy body while still enjoying yourself.

First of all, it is important to stay hydrated throughout a night of drinking. Alcohol is a diuretic which increases glucose levels in the blood thus causing frequent urination (which is why you’re constantly taking trips to the bathroom). With all of this fluid flushing out of your body, which may include healthy nutrients, it is crucial to drink one to two glasses of water between alcoholic drinks. This won’t make you lose your buzz if that’s what you’re concerned about, it will keep you hydrated and in better control of your body.

If you’re a beer drinker you may want to consider light beer as an alternative. Light beer typically contains 50 fewer calories than a comparable fuller beer (and when you’re downing 5 to 6 beers in a night, these calories add up).

Champagne is easy on the waistline as well, only weighing in at 20 calories per ounce. Although laced with a good deal of sugar, champagne isn’t as detrimental as some may think. A beverage that you should drink in moderation is dessert wine. Packing double the calorie count of a glass of red wine at around 270 calories for every 6 ounces, dessert wine should be enjoyed and put aside.

It is also important to be aware of what you are mixing your alcohol with. Alternatives such as low-sugar juices and diet soda can make a beneficial difference. A general rule of thumb is that the creamier the drink, the higher amount of saturated fats you will be consuming. This rule isolates Eggnog as one of the least healthy beverages for your holiday season. So it may be best to enjoy this drink in moderation.

Whatever your plans are this holiday season please remember to be responsible. I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a sober driver or the number to a taxi service. Most of our phones have applications or internet service that can help with this. Just head over to to find the number to a taxi service near you. Believe me; the cost of the cab is much less than the consequences of drinking and driving. So be safe and enjoy the holidays.

As always, feel free to post any additional calorie saving techniques in the comment section.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Bulk like a Bear for Winter....Not Exactly.

As many people know, bears will gain as much weight as possible in order to hibernate for the winter. Most of the weight gained being fat, to be stored for food to be cannibalized during the long winter hibernation. When the winter is over and they come out of their dens, they are lean and wiry, hungry for their first meal.

In the realm of fitness, and much more narrowly in the area of bodybuilding theory and practice, those who would like to increase in lean muscle mass tend to “bulk” during the winter months. This means packing on the mass in order to shred as much fatty tissue as possible before the summertime. This practice is an emulation of professional bodybuilders who will pack on the pounds during an off season and then cut down prior to competition in order to have more muscle density, definition and size.

Here we have a proper bulk cycle.

However, the two processes are not to be confused. You do would not want to bulk like a bear. “Bulking” in terms of packing on body mass does not mean you gain lots of fat and then lose it later. The term bulking refers to packing on as much lean body mass as possible within a certain time frame while keeping the gains of fatty tissue down to a minimum. In other words you are not going to go out and have fast food for every meal and say you’re bulking. In gym culture this may be a pet peeve of the advanced and older lifters when new lifters start off, because of the prominence of “street knowledge” sometimes more commonly referred to as “bro-science” that is very hard to dispel and replace with solid backed information.

Once the bulking cycle is over, the person would then shift their workout program to higher repetition exercises with shorter rests in between sets. Focus is kept on burning as much fat accumulation while keeping the lean muscle gains from bulking.
A proper bulk would consist of working out as intensely as possible within a short amount of time, keeping rest times high enough to completely recover in order to hit the lift heavy for another set again. Once the workout is complete the rest of the day is focused on eating about every 3-4 hours with calorie dense healthy foods.

Now let’s not get the term “intensely” mixed up either. When working out intensely to stimulate as much growth as possible while bulking, you want to recruit as many motor units as possible by lifting very heavy and for low end reps. The common program being 5X5, five sets, five reps, with 2-5 minutes rest in between. When you lift this way you need to be lifting the most amount of weight you can handle for the 5 reps. Lifting without a spotter is not ideal as you would not be able to finish your repetitions with the amount of weight. You would also benefit from splitting your workouts as much as possible into days for certain body parts with no more than 5 exercises per body part. This way you can hit each muscle group hard and give it a whole week to recover, and grow from the stimulus received. Cardio is still essential only in moderation. No more than 3 time a week.

So this winter if you wanna pack on the mass remember these rules.

1. Eat clean calorie dense food, i.e. peanut butter, juices from concentrate, breads, pastas, grains etc.

2. Make sure you eat enough. Growth is done after your workout, eat plenty of clean foods and you wont have to worry about the fat packing on.

3. Don’t skip out on cardio, unless you have a super fast metabolism that necessitates maximum caloric allocation.

4. Don’t cut out your carbohydrates. They are the major energy source for what you’ll be doing in the gym. They wont make you big, but they will allow for the proper building of muscle by making sure it isn’t cannibalized.

-Turo Gamez