Thursday, December 15, 2016

Why Your Family Doctor Isn’t a Great Choice for Nutrition Advice

I am (happily) married to a family physician. There is a reason I do all the cooking.

If you’re remotely skeptical, you know Dr. Oz is not a reasonable source of nutrition advice. But what about your family doctor? Are they well-informed about healthy eating and how it relates to things like weight loss, disease prevention and treatment, and sports performance? Probably not.

“I knew very little about nutrition when I graduated from med school,” said Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, an obesity researcher and family physician in Ottawa. “Neither med school nor my residency prepared me for nutrition in general or for weight management.”

Dr. Freedhoff explained that they did “touch” on nutrition, but there is no nutrition exam. “Theoretically, they could get every nutrition question wrong on every exam they wrote the entirety of their career and still graduate as a physician.” Re-read that previous sentence and let it sink in.


But aren’t we supposed to trust doctors as the ultimate authorities on all things health?

Per the Center for Disease Control, there were almost a billion physician office visits by Americans in 2012, an average of three visits per person. The most common reason for these visits is coughing. However, knee and back pain, type 2 diabetes and hypertension – all of which can be related to nutritional choices / obesity – were among the most popular reasons for visits.

While the family physician is a great resource for many things, one important consideration in this regard is focus. And that’s because nutrition is simply not made a priority in medical education. They are experts it treating the diseases of poor nutrition, but not in preventing them.

“Residents of today are not well educated to have an understanding of what to do to manage weight,” Dr. Freedhoff said. The problem is that there is so much studying required to become a physician, they’re going to focus on what’s required to pass. If medical schools don’t make it a priority, then students won’t bother to learn it. “It’s human nature,” Freedhoff said.

Weight management doesn’t get much attention either.

“It’s ‘eat less, move more’ messaging,” Freedhoff said. While weight loss is about consuming fewer calories and adding in additional physical activity, sustainable eating strategies that lead to losing weight and keeping it off cannot be boiled down to a sound bite.

I asked Dr. Freedhoff about physicians’ knowledge of sports nutrition and his response was: “Nobody cares. No one was testing me. We didn’t even feel the need to go to the nutrition lectures.” The typical family physicians understanding ends with knowing that calories are what rule. “It’s very rudimentary,” he said.

Alas, seeing those words “MD” make many believe they know all when it comes to nutrition and weight loss. Case in point, the popularity of books written by physicians. Dr. William Davis wrote about the alleged Wheat Belly and Dr. David Perlmutter warned of developing a so-called Grain Brain. Also, that Dr. Oz guy. It’s often science fiction, and not the good kind with light sabers and warp drives.

Slapping an MD on the cover of a diet book gives it instant credibility, even though credibility is not always warranted.

That doesn’t mean all family physicians are clueless about nutrition and weight loss; there are those that have gone beyond their traditional education to become experts in these fields. One such is Dr. Spencer Nadolsky, a Maryland based family physician who referred to putting an “MD” on the cover of a diet book as “a marketing tool.” He explained that “People trust doctors. They’re an authority figure.”

Dr. Nadolsky also repeated much of what Dr. Freedhoff said in terms of how medical education is lacking in regards to nutrition and weight management.

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What Do Doctors Learn About Nutrition In Med School?

“We received about two weeks of basic nutrition course which was an hour a day at most,” Dr. Nadolsky said. “It was very short. I’ve talked to other physicians and it is my understanding that this lack of nutritional education is still standard practice at other medical schools.” He explained that they are tested on recognizing vitamin deficiencies, but “If you didn’t know anything about nutrition you can still be a doctor.”


Dr. Nadolsky, who went to medical school and did his family medicine residency in Virginia, decided to go above and beyond, however. “In each one of our classes we’re all taught that diet and exercise are first line treatments for hypertension, diabetes and dislipidema, but we’re not taught how to get into specific recommendations,” he said. And so, he took it upon himself to learn.

“A lot of it is self-study,” Nadolsky explained. “After residency I started going to obesity conferences. There is a board specialty for obesity medicine now.” But he had to pursue it independently.

Nadolsky is the author of the The Fat Loss Prescription and has a physique that could easily grace the cover of a fitness magazine (and his shirtless torso has appeared in Men’s Health when I interviewed him for a piece about six-pack abs). But he is far from the norm when it comes to family physicians. He took a special interest in nutrition and obesity medicine to better help his patients.

Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, who authored the bestselling book The Diet Fix, also took the initiative to become knowledgeable in obesity treatment. “I didn’t like not knowing what to tell them,” Freedhoff said. “It was such an important thing. Patients kept coming to me and asking how to lose weight.” Dr. Freedhoff was prescribing medications for conditions related to obesity and knew lifestyle changes would do a better job than the meds would, so he sought out continuing medical education in obesity treatment and prevention. He ended up becoming the third Canadian to be certified by the American Board of Obesity Medicine.

In 2014 the CDC listed five things that cause two-thirds of U.S. deaths. Three of them – heart disease, cancer and stroke – have a high correlation to diet and body weight.

Why Isn’t It a Bigger Priority For Doctors?

Unfortunately, it is uncommon for family physicians to seek out specialized education such as Freedhoff and Nadolsky did to ensure their patients eat properly and manage their weight. But this problem goes beyond the knowledge that the average family physician lacks in terms of nutrition and weight management, and into how appointments are scheduled and family docs are paid.

“The volume of patients is very high,” Freedhoff said. “Counseling patients on lifestyle change cannot effectively be done in a short period. Fifteen minutes every three months won’t get them very far.”

No knowledge, and no time. That’s the reality of seeking nutrition, weight management and lifestyle advice from your family physician. But what should you do instead?

“That’s why we have registered dietitians to refer out to,” Dr. Nadolsky said.

“To become an RD,” explained Colleen Gerg, a registered dietitian in Pennsylvania, “requires anywhere from four to six years of education in all aspects of nutrition, all science-based. There is also a rigorous internship in both food service and clinical nutrition.” She explained that most RDs go on to earn a master’s degree in a nutrition science related field.

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There is an adage that bears repeating so that the buyer can beware, however. It is “All registered dietitians are nutritionists, but not all nutritionists are registered dietitians.” In some places the term “nutritionist” is protected, and in others, not. I saw meme on Facebook that said, “How to become a nutritionist: Call yourself a nutritionist.”

Gerg, who agreed that doctors have neither the time nor the expertise to provide nutrition advice, cautioned against hiring people presenting themselves as nutrition experts who are not registered dietitians. “There are unfortunately many self-taught / misinformed / anecdotal ‘experts’ touting the latest trends versus what’s based on science,” she said.

One designation to avoid is known as “Holistic Nutritionist.”

Beware the word “holistic,” as it has been co-opted by the quack side. It is usually obtained in less than a year, online, with no clinical experience requirement, and they push things like organic, cleansing, and a metric shit-ton of supplements that they’ll happily sell you for three easy payments of way too much money.

Conversely, “The Commission on Dietetic Registration has strict requirement for maintaining RD status,” Colleen Gerg said. “Seventy-five Continuing Education Units are required per 5 year period.” What’s more: “The CEUs must purposefully further one’s education according to their specific area of expertise.”

And it’s not just that registered dietitians know nutrition better than most in general. They are most likely to specialize.

“After school is when many RDs choose a specific field, then furthering their education mainly through grad school followed by attending conferences, getting certifications in that specific area and honing their skill set through work,” said Marie Spano, a registered dietitian and the sports nutritionist for the Atlanta Hawks. “Dietitians focus on specific areas of nutrition so clients are getting expert advice for their needs: cardiovascular disease, sports nutrition, renal disease, diabetes and more.”

The important takeaway message is that family physicians are better equipped to deal with your medical issues once you already have them, but not well-versed in how to prevent them in the first place. Especially since so many such issues are lifestyle-related to begin with.

Who Do I Trust?


A registered dietitian, overall, is going to be the best bet for nutrition advice, although they’re not perfect either. Like the medical field has Dr. Oz, there are RDs who have gone to the dark side to profit from food fear mongering and jumping off the deep end into a pool full of goji berries and kale juice. There is also the reality that their associations are not at all above reproach.

“Dietitians of Canada is sponsored by the food industry,” said Emma Train, a registered dietitian in Calgary. “In the U.S. their association is called the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), and it is equally influenced / sponsored by the food industry.” Until recently, AND was sponsored by Coke, and the association has done things such as put its “seal of approval” on products such as Kraft Cheese Slices.

It’s worth noting that the RDs I know aren’t pleased about the funding shenanigans of their associations.

There are, of course, other options. But you may wish to investigate thoroughly before hiring the online seller of meal plans who did a physique competition once and now calls themselves “coach.” If they’re selling Shakeology, run.

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And bodybuilders may know how to achieve great physiques, but at what cost to health and sanity? Their genetics, endless training and even pharmaceutical assistance doesn’t prevent them from accepting as dogma taking every supplement they saw advertised on some website with “testosterone” in the name, or even buying human breast milk online because it allegedly gets them jacked.

My friend Jennifer Sygo is a registered dietitian in Toronto who specializes in sports nutrition, and her motto is “The science of nutrition is complex. Eating shouldn’t be.” It’s sage advice.

How, what, and when you eat is an individual thing. It will depend on your age, goals, culture, personal preferences, health, finances, and numerous other inputs, including if you are prone to disordered eating habits.

Regardless of where you get nutrition advice, you’ll need to invest some time and effort into personalizing it to your own tastes. And if you do it well, you may find you’ll require far fewer visits to the doctor’s office.


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from Articles & Interviews – IIFYM

Monday, November 21, 2016

High-Fiber Diet: Why It’s Vital To Incorporate


Those who use a flexible approach to dieting such as IIFYM track protein, carbohydrates and fat daily. With IIYFM, no food is off limits so long as daily macro numbers are being hit consistently; however, it is typically recommended that a variety of foods be consumed each day to ensure adequate vitamin, mineral and fiber intakes.

Most individuals have a pretty good grasp on what IIFYM, macronutrients, vitamins and minerals are, but may not know as much about fiber. The purpose of this article is to discuss what dietary fiber is, why we need it, where we can get it from and how to incorporate it into an IIFYM dietary approach.

What is Fiber?

The Institute of Medicine defines dietary fiber as the “nondigestible carbohydrates and lignin that are intrinsic and intact in plants.” They further define functional fiber as “isolated, nondigestible carbohydrates that have beneficial physiological effects in humans.” Total fiber is defined as the combination of dietary and functional fibers [1]. However, it should be noted that there is much debate over the exact definition of fiber.

For the purposes of this discussion, you can think of fiber as food matter that passes through the stomach and small intestine without digestion by our digestive enzymes. This food matter enters the large intestine where it comes into contact with bacteria that colonize both the walls and lumen of the large intestine.

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These bacteria contain enzymes that are able to ferment some of the food matter that our human enzymes are unable to digest, producing a number of compounds including short-chain fatty acids (acetate, propionate and butyrate). Short-chain fatty acids can be absorbed and used for a number of purposes in the human body [2, 3]

Acetate: Absorbed in the large intestine, passes through the liver and can be used as an energy source throughout the body.

Propionate: Absorbed in the large intestine and is used as a fuel source in the liver. It may also contribute to a reduction in cholesterol through inhibition of HMG-CoA Reductase, the rate-limiting enzyme in cholesterol synthesis.

Butyrate: Absorbed by the cells lining the colon and is used as a preferred energy source. It may also reduce colon cancer risk by promoting normal cell growth.


high-fiber iifym

© 2014 Macmillan Publishers Limited, part of Springer Nature.


Types of Fiber

Fiber sources are typically classified based on their solubility in water [3].

Soluble Fiber: These include compounds such as gums, beta-glucans, pectins, and some hemicelluloses. Due to their solubility in water, they form viscous solutions and are also highly fermentable by bacteria in the lower GI tract.

It’s recommended that individuals consume a level of fiber daily that meets or exceeds the 14g of fiber per 1000 Calorie minimum set by the Institute of Medicine.

Insoluble Fiber: These include compounds such as cellulose, lignin, and some hemicelluloses. They are insoluble in water, nonviscous and poorly fermentable, primarily contributing to stool bulk.

Health Benefits of Fiber

Although a human can live without consuming fiber, there are a number of potential health benefits to consuming a diet high in fiber [3, 4]:

Increased Satiety: High-fiber diets have been found to increase satiety. This is thought to be due to the viscosity of soluble fiber. By forming a viscous gel in the stomach, gastric emptying is slowed and ultimately results in an increased feeling of fullness. This may also contribute to a reduced caloric intake and help prevent weight gain.

Reduced Cardiovascular Disease Risk: Diets high in fiber have been found to be associated with reduced blood cholesterol levels. The reduction in cholesterol is thought to be due to multiple mechanisms. First, the viscosity of soluble fiber can prevent cholesterol absorption in the intestine. In addition, the short-chain fatty acid propionate has been showed to inhibit cholesterol synthesis in the liver.

breastfeeding calories

Improved Blood Glucose Control: A meal high in fiber can slow the rise in blood glucose as the meal is digested and absorbed. This is thought to be due to the effect of fiber on reducing gastric emptying and also slowing nutrient absorption in the small intestine.

Reduced Colon Cancer Risk: Both soluble and insoluble fiber may play a role in a reduction of colon cancer risk. Soluble fiber can be fermented into short chain fatty acids, including butyrate, which may help to promote normal growth and development of cells lining the large intestine.

In addition, fermentation of soluble fiber decreases the pH in the large intestine which helps to promote the growth of “beneficial” bacteria which can out-compete other bacteria and result in a healthier gut microbiome. On the other hand, insoluble fiber can increase stool bulk and dilute substances that may be potentially detrimental to cells lining the intestine.

Increased Regularity: Diets high in fiber, especially insoluble fiber, can increase stool bulk and improve regularity.


high-fiber foods


High-Fiber Foods

A number of foods are high in fiber [5]. Below are examples of a number of high-fiber foods (all values listed for 100g raw food):

Foods Calories Carbohydrates (g) Fiber (g)
Artichokes 47 10.5 5.4
Broccoli 34 6.6 2.6
Brussel Sprouts 43 9.0 3.8
Cauliflower 25 5.0 2.0
Corn 365 74.3 7.3
Lettuce 15 2.9 1.3
Peas 82 14.5 5.7
Potatoes 77 17.5 2.1
Squash 18 3.8 1.2
Sweet Potato 86 20.1 3.0
Apple 52 13.8 2.4
Blackberries 43 9.6 5.3
Blueberries 57 14.5 2.4
Orange 47 11.8 2.4
Pear 57 15.2 3.1
Raspberries 52 11.9 6.5
Bran Cereal 393 80.4 16.1
Brown Rice 367 76.3 3.6
Oatmeal 375 67.5 10.0
Wheat Bread 267 44.4 6.7
Nuts and Seeds
Almonds 579 21.6 12.5
Flax Seed 534 28.9 27.3
Peanut 567 16 8.5
Peanut Butter 589 21.6 8.0
Sunflower Seeds 584 20.0 8.6
Black Beans 342 62.4 15.5
Navy Beans 337 60.8 15.3
Pinto Beans 347 62.6 15.5
White Beans 333 60.3 15.2

In addition to the aforementioned foods, many other foods are fortified with fiber. Examples of fiber-fortified foods include high-fiber tortillas, some protein and/or granola bars (e.g. Quest Bar) and some cereals (e.g. Fiber One).

How Much Fiber Should I Eat?

The Institute of Medicine (the group that establishes the DRI’s) recommended an adequate intake of fiber, which is 14g fiber per 1000 Calories consumed [3]. Based upon average daily caloric intake, this works out to be a minimum intake of around 25g daily for women and 38g daily for men. However, it is important for each individual to base their daily fiber minimum upon their own daily caloric requirements.

Average fiber intake in the United States is around 15g daily [6]. Clearly, the average American is well below the recommended daily fiber intake.

To avoid confusion, it’s ideal to count fiber along with other carbohydrates consumed and aim for a consistently high-fiber intake daily.

Although no upper limit for fiber consumption has been set, it should be noted that extremely high fiber intakes are likely not optimal for health. Most individuals will experience GI distress as daily fiber intake exceeds their level of tolerance. This may also result in suboptimal nutrient digestion and absorption.

Therefore, it is recommended that individuals consume a level of fiber daily that meets or exceeds the 14g fiber per 1000 Calorie minimum set by the Institute of Medicine, but at the same time is below the amount that results in adverse GI symptoms.

Individuals with extremely high caloric requirements (e.g. 4000+ Calories daily) may not be able to tolerate the 14g/1000kcal minimum without GI symptoms. These individuals instead should aim for a high-fiber diet that is below the threshold at which symptoms appear.


high-fiber iifym


How to Incorporate Fiber into IIFYM

Now that we have discussed some of the basics of fiber, it is important to also discuss how to fit fiber into an IIFYM approach in order to make progress towards your goals and also receive the number of health benefits of a high-fiber diet.

Some individuals who follow IIFYM don’t count fiber towards their daily calorie or macro totals because fiber cannot be digested by human enzymes. However, these individuals may not be aware that many types of fiber are fermentable by bacteria in the digestive tract.Which helps produce a number of products such as short-chain fatty acids which can be absorbed by the human body and used for energy (as previously discussed).

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Although some of the fiber consumed in the diet can be fermented (primarily soluble fiber), not all fiber consumed is fermented. As a result, the best estimate for the caloric composition of fiber is 1.5 – 2.5 Calories per gram depending upon the composition of the fiber source. This is less than carbohydrates which contain 4 Calories per gram. However, to avoid confusion it’s best to count fiber along with other carbohydrates consumed and aim for a consistently high-fiber intake daily.

Daily Fiber Minumum

To ensure an individual is progressing towards their goals with IIFYM and also consuming adequate fiber daily it is recommended that they include a daily fiber minimum. The macronutrient plans provided through include a daily fiber minimum to ensure that fiber intake is adequate as macronutrient needs are met.

An individual should exceed their daily fiber minimum while also hitting their macros by consuming a variety of food from all food groups. Having a fiber minimum will ensure adequate consumption and ensure an individual eats fruits, vegetables, and whole grains daily in order to hit their fiber minimum (however, those experienced with IIFYM are likely doing this since they eat a variety of foods to hit their numbers daily).

Take Home Points:

– Fiber primarily refers to carbohydrates consumed in the diet that cannot be digested by human enzymes. However, many types of fiber can be fermented by bacteria in the colon. Therefore, fiber does have a caloric value and should be counted towards an individual’s daily totals. The easiest way to do this is count fiber towards your carbohydrate total for the day.

– There are a number of health benefits of a high-fiber diet including; increased satiety, reduced cardiovascular disease risk, improved blood glucose control, reduced colon cancer risk and improved regularity.

– Healthy individuals should aim for a fiber intake of at least 14g per 1000 Calories consumed daily. However, excessive fiber should be avoided if it causes an individual GI distress.

– To ensure adequate fiber intake while following an IIFYM approach individuals are encouraged to aim for a fiber minimum each day, while also hitting their macro numbers through consumption of a variety of foods.


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from Articles & Interviews – IIFYM

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Your Complete Guide To Mastering Your Menstrual Cycle


If you’re like most women and tend to dread that week before your period hits, you aren’t alone. Hormones are running wild and it may start to feeling as though nothing you do is helping alleviate the symptoms. Cramps set in, fatigue rages on, and the only action you want to take is staying curled up in your bed.

When it comes to nutrition and workout programming, men and women are generally quite the same. Both genders require a certain level of protein each day to optimize their program, both genders should be doing a few key lifts in their program to make maximum progress, and both genders need to be choosing from a similar group of healthy foods.

With this said, there is one place where the two genders differ heavily: hormones. Your hormonal profile is very different from that of your boyfriend or husband at just about every stage of the month, most so in that premenstrual period.

Learning how to use these hormone changes to your advantage, however – how to structure your nutrition and fitness plan to accommodate this is what will help you get through the month feeling and looking your best.

Let’s give you a brief primer on every stage of your cycle along with what you need to be doing through each phase.

The Follicular Phase

Your cycle begins with the follicular phase, which is the phase that comes right after your body stops bleeding from menstruation. Chances are, this phase is not the phase you are most concerned about. Bloating is gone, your energy levels are back up, and you once again are feeling notably great about how you look and feel. Hooray! Your period is over.

There are a few points to keep in mind both in the gym and the kitchen, though. First, because you tend to have the best pain tolerance in this phase, now is the time to blow up those PRs.

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If you’ve been dying to do some heavy squats and see what you are capable of, this is the time you are most likely to perform your best. Plan your workouts accordingly. Especially push yourself during this time as your body can handle it.

On the nutrition front, your body will be more sensitive to insulin at this point, so don’t fear those carbs! Load your IIFYM plan with healthy sources of carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes, brown rice, oatmeal, beans, along with fruits and vegetables.

When we plan our IIFYM diets for our female clients, we always ensure they are stocked up on the great carb energy during this time. It’s also an excellent way to kick-start the metabolic rate and ensure optimal fat burning takes place during the rest of the month.





Once the follicular phase is past, it’s time to move into the ovulatory phase. This phase, as you may have guessed is when ovulation takes place and lasts just a day or so.

In this phase you’re also likely to feel exceptionally strong, so keep those heavy lifts coming. Be careful though because you may be at a slightly increased risk of injury during this period, so make sure to use excellent form and that you have proper footwear on.

Consider adding another 100-200 calories to your day, getting those calories from a healthy mix of nutrients.

In the kitchen, you might find that you’re feeling slightly hungrier at this point as your metabolism is increasing, so feed your body accordingly. If using an IIFYM approach, consider adding another 100-200 calories to your day, getting those calories from a healthy mix of nutrients. Your insulin sensitivity isn’t quite as high at this point as it was during the follicular phase, so you’ll want to avoid overdoing it on the carb front.

In fact, one of our favorite foods to recommend during this time when we design IIFYM meal plans for our clients is a slice or thin crust pizza using a lean protein source like chicken. Pizza, when you choose properly, is actually a great blend of proteins, carbs, and fats, so it fits your IIFYM macros quite well during ovulation.

The Luteal Phase

Ovulation is over and now you are moving into the phase that most women know all too well: the luteal phase, otherwise known as PMS.

Some women may not experience the dreaded symptoms until about a week into the luteal phase and then only experience symptoms for about 5-7 days before menstruation starts. In which case, others may be less fortunate and notice symptoms coming on much earlier, lasting for nearly the full 14 days before their period hits.

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What’s happening during this phase? (like you need to be told!)

• Your body temperature is increasing
• You’ll feel fatigue setting in
• Your body will start retaining water to a larger degree
• You may find your muscles and joints ache more than normal
• Your focus and concentration may be down
• Cravings may begin to set in
• Hunger will be rearing its ugly head

All in all, you won’t be feeling quite like yourself and you definitely won’t feel like hitting the gym for a workout.

Not to worry, though, there are ways to work around this, especially when using an IIFYM plan.




Your Workouts

First, realize that because your body temperature is higher, you’ll be experiencing fatigue and lower muscular endurance. This isn’t the time to do a high rep intense weight lifting session. Your body is just not prepared for that right now.

You can still reap benefits from backing away at this point. Why not take the time to learn a new exercise or two? Work on using light weight (or no weight at all) and perfecting your form. This way, once the two weeks are up, your form will be perfect and you’ll be ready to start increasing the weight on that exercise as you move back into the follicular phase. Use this time to learn the move and it’ll work to your benefit.

Time away from the intense sessions will not only give your body a better chance to recover but also help you avoid overuse injuries as well.

Likewise, you might also use this time to work on some yoga-based training. Yoga is excellent at this stage as it’ll help lessen the discomfort you feel due to PMS due to it being lower intensity so it’ll give your body a bit of a break. Just avoid hot yoga, whatever you do. Since your body temperature is already raised, chances are, hot yoga is going to feel uncomfortable.

Taking time off from the intense sessions will not only give your body a better chance to recover but also help you avoid overuse injuries as well. All in all, this can be great and should be seen as a benefit, not a drawback. If you structure your workouts properly during this time, focusing on these lower intensity activities, there is no reason to feel guilty for not hitting the gym and maintaining your status quo. Build this natural shift into your program and it’ll be a new part of your routine.

Your Nutrition

Ice cream? Chicken wings? Donuts? The women we work with all report these are the top foods crossing their mind at this point as they move further into the luteal phase and cravings start to set in. Most women will experience at least a couple cravings during their cycle and usually it’s not for the healthiest of foods. The good news is, IIFYM allows you to deal with these.

A few items that you should keep in mind

First, know that your metabolic rate is increasing, therefore (lucky you!) you do have a bit more calorie wiggle room to accommodate food cravings. We find that with the women we work with on IIFYM plans, they almost always do better during the PMS period by adding 200-300 calories to their diet plan. By adding this in, you prevent overeating when you toss your entire diet out the window. Sometimes a little damage control by adding a few more calories keeps everything under control.

Since we use the IIFYM approach with our clients, we generally build in a bit of freedom and flexibility to use some of these calories on a treat per day that they crave. Note this doesn’t mean you should be eating 1000 calories worth of ice cream. It means allowing yourself to indulge in a small bowl that’s about 250 calories worth. Portion control is key here. While IIFYM does allow you to eat foods you desire, healthy foods should still be prioritized.

breastfeeding calories

By removing those foods you crave from the ‘off limits’ list and doing away with the guilt you associate with eating them (by including them in your plan!), you can gain control over your food intake during this time.

It’s also good to note that your brain chemistry may be slightly different during this phase as well. You may not be making as much serotonin in the brain naturally, which is a neurotransmitter that puts you in a ‘feel good state’ more or less. Basically, serotonin is what boosts your mood, calms your mind, and helps you enjoy yourself. You make less of this during the PMS period, so is it any wonder you’re moody and don’t feel like doing much?

You can help counteract this however by eating foods that help to boost serotonin naturally in the body. Foods rich in tryptophan will do the trick. Try working turkey, skim milk, soybeans, and pumpkin seeds into an IIFYM plan. We find that the women we work with on IIFYM who include these as a regular part of their menu experience a boost in their overall mood state during this time.




Time to Shift Your Macro Focus

Finally, keep in mind that during the next couple weeks ahead, your insulin sensitivity won’t quite be what it was beforehand. Meaning, it’s time to back off those super high carb foods for the most part. Restructure your IIFYM plan accordingly.

Now is the time in the month to focus on healthier sources of fats. Crave nut butter? Indulge, guilt free! Have a need for cheese? You can have a slice and just work it into your IIFYM macros. Healthy fats are what your metabolism will best utilize during this point and will help you avoid the risk of actually gaining body fat during this time.

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When we create IIFYM meal plans for our women clients, we tend to shift the macro breakdown recommendations from one that’s higher in carbs, moderate in protein, and low to moderate in fat during the first phase of the menstrual cycle to one that’s moderate in protein, high in fat, and low in carbs during the second phase of the menstrual cycle. This tends to help everything run very smoothly.

The Importance Of Meal Prepping

One thing that you want to heavily focus during this point of time, especially on an IIFYM approach, is getting your food prepared and ready for you ahead of time. During the PMS period, as you likely know, cooking may be the last action you feel up to doing.

You’re exhausted and only want to lay on the couch. If food isn’t readily available, chances are high, you’ll be calling for take-out.

There is no need to make any irrational decisions during this time, slashing your calories or making huge adjustments to your macros.

Take some time during the follicular phase when you are feeling your best to prepare as much of your meals in advance as you can. Remember you can pre-grill all the protein sources you need and simply wrap them in plastic wrap and place in the freezer to be used at a later time when you need them. Have plenty of options on hand and you can easily work them into any IIFYM plan.

Likewise, you can even prepare whole dishes – soups, stews, and casseroles and put those in freezer safe containers, making for an incredibly easy weeknight dinner.

What About the Simple Options

Also, consider relying on easy to prepare foods that you can whip up in a hurry for meals and snacks. Canned tuna and salmon, canned beans, fresh fruits, bagged salads, oatmeal, Greek yogurt, and raw vegetables with hummus are all great options that require virtually no prep work at all and will help you make healthier choices when you’re too tired to cook.

Each can easily be worked into any IIFYM plan. Our female IIFYM clients are well trained in how to meal prep properly, so they hardly ever have a difficult time sticking with their meal plan.

Yet, if you live with another person, be it your significant other, family member, or roommate, now might be the time to ask for help from them. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you’re feeling too exhausted to cook.




Emotional Eating

During the premenstrual period, there’s a good chance that at some point or another, you’re going to be dealing with some emotional eating. Even our most dedicated IIFYM clients have moments where their emotions get the best of them and they dive head-first into that pint of their favorite ice cream. We understand!

The best way to deal with this? Forgiveness. That’s right – just forgive yourself. Don’t dwell on it or get hung up thinking you’re a failure. The only issue that would make you a failure is if you let that case of emotional eating carry on for the next month because you see no point in continuing to diet.

It’s best to have a short memory and move on. Remember that the sooner you get back on your IIFYM diet, the less of an impact that incident is going to have on your progress moving forward.And beyond that, if you’re using one of our IIFYM plans, the good news is that you can simply track what you eat and usually work it into your macros for the day, and if not for the day, for the week. This will help prevent any unwanted weight gain because of it.

Weight Changes

Finally, the last item I want to touch upon during this time is the weight changes that you may be experiencing on the scale. First, if you can, I would recommend that you put off weighing yourself until you are a few days back into your follicular phase once again. Almost all women will notice the scale go up by a few pounds during the coming week or two ahead as the body begins to retain water due to hormone fluctuations.

Often, this water can look like body fat as it sits right under the skin and may make it seem like all your muscle definition has vanished right before your eyes.

Try to relax if you see this happening because in another week or two, this water will leave and you’ll be back to how you were looking before. There is no need to make any irrational decisions during this time, slashing your calories or making huge adjustments to your macros. Just remind yourself that you have false information at this point and as such, it wouldn’t make sense to make adjustments at this time.

Find out your ideal starting macro intake and a proven adjustment system with a Custom Macro Blueprint

Be patient and things will return to normal.

If you want to go that extra mile and help deal with some of that water retention, a few tips you can use include:

• Making sure you are drinking at least 8-10 glasses of water per day (which will help minimize the water retention)
• Trying to get some light exercise in, even if you don’t feel up to it – again, yoga can help with this
• Focusing on getting a great night’s sleep every night
• Avoiding foods high in salt, which will only make water retention worse
• Consuming plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables (which are rich in potassium and will help you flush out the water)
• Adding asparagus or celery to your diet, both of which are diuretics

Experiment with a few of these and you should be able to find one or two techniques that do the trick for you.





Finally, the last phase of your cycle is the menstrual phase. This phase marks the end and is where bleeding takes place. Typically lasting five to seven days in most women, you’ll likely notice that many of your PMS symptoms begin to subside as your period gets underway.

Some women may find their symptoms get worse the first day or two their period hits as cramps and fatigue are at their highest point. Yet, as the period wraps up and comes to an end, the severity of their side effects begins to lessen.Any water retention you had should start to clear at this point, making you feel more like yourself and making it more comfortable to exercise.

Along with that, your body temperature will be returning to a more natural state, so you won’t feel as though you’re overheating every time you step into the gym. This can also help to make adding intense activity back in more bearable and worth putting back into your program.

You may still not feel quite ready to go for that PR yet (hold off until closer to ovulation as noted earlier!), but start getting back into your normal strength training and cardio program.

Nutrition Approach at this Stage

On the nutrition side, take note that your metabolic rate may be starting to slow slightly, as your period comes to a close, adjust your IIFYM calorie intake and macros accordingly. When we create our IIFYM plans, we usually encourage waiting until about halfway through the menstruation phase and then cut back by about a hundred calories per day until our clients are back at their starting intake. This eases your body into it and ensures that hunger is kept under control.

Overeating can be deterred, find out macro numbers that best fit you with a Custom Macro Blueprint

You can slowly begin adding more carbs back into your IIFYM plan as well as insulin sensitivity begins to increase. Once again, be sure to be adding healthy carbs as often as possible. This will best help fuel your activity and keep your body responding well.

Most of all, know that another month is coming to an end and use this time to set some clear goals for what you hope to achieve next month.


While dealing with your menstrual cycle may feel inconvenient, the great news is that when you approach it correctly, it can be more bearable and easier to deal with.

Through proper nutrition and exercise strategies, you can optimize the progress your body makes in the gym and toward any weight loss goals.


The post Your Complete Guide To Mastering Your Menstrual Cycle appeared first on IIFYM.

from Articles & Interviews – IIFYM

Monday, November 14, 2016

Tracking Macros vs. Holiday Meals – How to Survive the Onslaught of Massive Meals


The holidays can be an overwhelming and intimidating time for anyone that is trying to hit their macros. There are so many calorie dense foods around, sugary sweets, carb loaded and buttery deliciousness. Not only are many of our favorite holiday dishes calorie dense, we tend to have lots of options and heaping portions available to us as well.

This year, don’t be afraid of the sweet potato casserole and don’t run away from the pumpkin pie. There are many ways in which you can navigate through the holidays without going horribly overboard on your macros or even hitting them right on the money. I plan on teaching you how to not only survive the holidays with your body composition and diet goals intact but also how to enjoy the time with your family and still make your macro aims work.

Remember the most important part of the holidays

The holidays are a great opportunity to spend time with the people that you care about. The last thing you need is one more variable adding extra stress to the mix. It can become easy to alienate family and friends or to unintentionally guilt them if you make too big of a scene. Letting people know you have goals and need to stay within certain parameters to meet them may help your loved ones to understand why you may choose to eat less, or not partake in certain dishes.

IIFYM is all about enjoying all the different aspects of life while keeping them in moderation to promote good health. The holidays are no different and moderation can be a big key to making it through the holidays with your macros intact. Going overboard doesn’t have to happen and here are some tips on how to enjoy everything the holidays can offer.




Set yourself up for success

Mentally preparing for the festivities is great, but physically preparing for the festivities may be a better option. Here are a couple tips to help set yourself up mentally and physically so that you can successfully adhere to your macronutrient goals.

1. Take some time beforehand to get an idea of what the macros will entail with your holiday meals – This will give you an idea of how to address your meals and how to set up macros while allowing yourself enough wiggle room to stay on target. Go into your tracking app and look at your family’s typical holiday dishes, that way you have a better starting point of how much of your daily macros that you will need to set aside to stay on point.

My preferred method for tracking alcohol is to use the overall caloric value of the beverage and then divide by either 4 to take it from carbs, or 9 to subtract it from fats.

2. Know where you stand – Not everyone can expect to be maintaining on 400+ carbs and 100+ fats, recognize where you stand metabolically and plan accordingly. Don’t allow yourself the opportunity to end up too low on your macros that all hope becomes lost.

3. Decrease your macro numbers for the days surrounding your holiday meals – Decreasing your overall calorie intake for some of the surrounding days gives you more of a cushion on the actual holiday. For example, taking 10g of carbs out of each other day during the week gives you an extra 60g of carbs to eat on the day of.

breastfeeding calories

4. Stick to more “Bro” foods in your meals – Vegetables are a great way in which to eat a larger volume of food without killing your calorie and macronutrient numbers. This also helps to avoid having a light or empty plate that may garner comments from friends and family. Having lots of voluminous food sources during the holidays can also help you hit your fiber goals as well as getting in important micronutrients.

5. You may have to skimp on your breakfast or dinner – This will give you more calories to spend on your larger meal/s, strive to not overdo it too much or you will end up hungry later. Remember that your macro numbers are for the whole day, while it’s not necessarily optimal, you can most certainly take macros away from other meals so you can better fit the larger meals during the holidays.




Ok, so you’ve prepared beforehand, now what?

Having a plan of action beforehand is great but life doesn’t always go as planned. Things happen and situations change so you may have to adapt a bit when it comes to your holiday meals. Stay relaxed and don’t freak out, there are still plenty of other ways to stick to your numbers. Here are some “day of” pieces of advice to help you stay on track.

Pay attention to your alcohol intake

Alcohol can be a huge roadblock in terms of staying on track with your macros. Remember the actual alcohol compound garners 7 calories per gram and that is normally what accounts for the difference in calories on labeling (i.e. 120 calorie beer with only 4g of carbs). If you are drinking distilled spirits, you will need to account for differentiating alcohol content in those as well and it will depend on the proof of the beverage.

Find out how many macros will best suit you while enjoying the holidays and losing body fat, have one of our coaches build you  a Custom Macro Blueprint

Make sure you pay attention because drinking is an easy way to overconsume on your macros. My preferred method for tracking alcohol is to use the overall caloric value of the beverage and then divide by either 4 to take it from carbs, or 9 to take it from fats. You can also use a mixture of the two, and subtract those numbers from your fat and carbohydrate intake. This way you can alleviate any concerns with over consumption while still relaxing and enjoying an adult beverage.

If your macros are low perhaps you may want to refrain from drinking or at least keep it to a minimum. That philosophy may not work for everyone, but remember that you have goals to hit and that 7 calories per gram can add up quickly.




“HIIT” the weights

When you perform resistance training, your caloric expenditure is increased. Therefore, training day macro recommendations are typically higher than non-training days. If you can make time to hit the weights, then do it. You will give yourself that much more cushion to work with in terms of staying within your macronutrient goals for the day. If you’re worried about it, try to keep the intensity up and keep the pace going, of course, monitor yourself to make sure you are staying within safe boundaries and preventing injury.

This is something we refer to as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption or EPOC.

High-Intensity Interval Training is another option you can utilize to help mitigate your calorie intake as well. As a coach, if I have a client who does HIIT cardio on a certain day, with or without weight training, they still get to eat their training day macros for the day. The great part about HIIT cardio is that due to the intensity of the exercise, your caloric expenditure afterward is increased. HIIT is just another instrument in the toolbox to help set you up for success.

Portion Control

Portion control is always easier said than done. Take a couple bites, when it stops being world changing, stop eating… yeah because that is a foolproof plan (insert sarcasm here because I certainly can’t make this work). When you’re setting up your plate, remember to hit the veggies and proteins to help fill you up and to fully load your plate.

You may be leaving macros on the table, find out your ideal set of numbers with a Custom Macro Blueprint

Try to keep the calorie dense foods in check by not giving yourself a lot of room for them on the plate, especially if your macros are getting scarce. You don’t have to have one piece of every pie, and if you do, cut it yourself so “one piece” doesn’t end up being a quarter of the pie. Make sure you know how much you have left on your numbers and decide beforehand whether to allow yourself to have seconds.




Over-estimate your plate

Just because it’s the holiday doesn’t mean it’s time to stop tracking, if anything, the abundance of food and depending on your goals, they may make tracking even more important. Let’s be real here, bringing your food scale to the family festivities probably isn’t going to go over well with everyone. Yet, if your loved ones are cool with it, that’s a huge plus but here’s an idea if it may be a taboo. Our goal for everyone to be comfortable and enjoy the day but if a scale is frowned upon, it makes it a little more difficult. No big deal, take a deep breath and relax, there is a solution.

Over-estimate what you put on your plate, just assume you’re having more than you think.

Most families have traditional meals or staple holiday meals (turkey, ham, stuffing, cranberry sauce etc.). Since we should have at least an idea, we can guesstimate our portions to a degree. My advice is to plan for what you know will be there beforehand so you at least have a starting point. After that over-estimate what you put on your plate, just assume you’re having more than you think. It’s easy to get carried away while you’re enjoying your time with family and friends, so being exact on your portions may not be your greatest concern at that moment.

Doing this can help alleviate some of your concerns about hitting your macros. There are a lot of uncontrollable variables concerning holiday meals, especially if you aren’t the one preparing the food. If we overestimate our intake a bit, we don’t have to worry if there was more butter than we had thought, or if we got a larger scoop of ice cream than intended. This is just one more way to give yourself some wiggle room and stay on track.


Don’t intentionally go over on macros, but if you do, keep it manageable

As I said earlier, it’s not the worst situation ever to have to reallocate macros throughout the week. If you find that you have gone over on your intake, don’t beat yourself up you can lower your macro goals for the next couple of days to minimize any overall excessive overeating for the week. It can be easy to get into the “screw it” mindset and simply go all out.

Let one of our coaches provide you with accurate macro numbers for carb-cycling by building your Custom Macro Blueprint

Remember, it is just one day and there’s always a method to do some “damage control” if you went over on your numbers. There are always ways to get back on track, consistency is king when talking about diet goals. Don’t allow yourself to let one poor meal turn into a bad day and then a bad day into a bad week and so on.

IIFYM is so much more than just how you eat

Don’t forget, IIFYM principles apply to your life also. Life is this crazy thing and you should make the best out of it while you can. Do your best to stay on track with your goals but remember that the holidays have a very special importance of their own.

Enjoy your time with the people you love, share old memories and make new ones. The holidays are a beautiful and wonderful thing, do your best to set yourself up for success, but also remember that tomorrow is always a new day. If you miss the mark you have a couple ways to help mitigate the overconsumption, so don’t fret. Set yourself up as best as you can, but even more importantly have a truly happy holiday.

The post Tracking Macros vs. Holiday Meals – How to Survive the Onslaught of Massive Meals appeared first on IIFYM.

from Articles & Interviews – IIFYM

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Creatine for Women: What’s The Most Effective Type?


Many have asked the question, “is creatine for women?” The answer is an emphatical, YES! For years women have pushed it to the side and considered it only being for men. Yet, creatine for women can be notably beneficial. Follow along with this IIFYM insider scoop to find out why you should add it to your supplement regimen.

*please not that IIFYM and the author do not recommend taking any supplements without first consulting with your doctor to ensure there is no interactions with any health conditions you may have or with any medications that you may be taking*

What Is It?

Creatine is an amino acid that is produced mainly by the liver. While it only produces 1-2 grams per day, the body has the ability to store more but more times than not if you exercise, it’s utilizing the creatine stored and needs to be replenished daily. Creatine is stored in our skeletal muscles and helps enhance our performance.

What You’re Missing

There are many products on the market these days that are complete junk. That being said, creatine is one of the most studied supplements available today. You can call it the holy grail of supplements. What’s the good news about creatine for women? IT WORKS! Creatine for women is extremely beneficial in helping them reach their health and fitness goals. But you don’t have to take IIFYM word for it—try it for yourself!

While creatine can be found in some products we eat (such as fish and meat), in order to get a proper dosage, you would end up needing to eat a large amount of fish or meat and quite frankly, most people wouldn’t be able to complete such a task. Creatine for women will allow you to do more work in the gym.

You’ll be able to push harder, squeeze out a couple more reps, and see your endurance improve.

It should be noted, that in some cases, creatine can make you retain a little bit of water, but in all honestly that’s nothing to worry about—in fact it can enhance the look of your muscles artificially. Many think, “creatine for women? I thought that was only for guys.” Nope. In fact, supplementing with creatine for women can have major benefits.

IIFYM doesn’t push supplements in their programs, but it’s hard to not want to supplement with a product that has so much research and benefits behind it. Regardless, if you wanted to use one of the IIFYM programs found on the IIFYM website, you could always add creatine into the mix.




The Benefits Of Creatine For Women

It’s important to note that despite what you hear, supplementing with creatine for women will not make a female look like a man. Women simply do not have enough natural testosterone in their body and for that reason, you have no cause to worry.

Reduce muscle soreness – no one enjoys the next 1-2 days after a grueling workout. Because creatine for women is used in the body the same way as in men, the ladies will enjoy the benefits of reduced muscle soreness as well.

breastfeeding calories

Improve recovery – when supplementing with creatine, the amino acid replenishes what is lost in the skeletal muscle and is then stored for your next bout of intense exercise (whether cardio or weight training). Having an improvement in recovery means you can train more often and complete more reps/sets during your workout.

More energy during workouts – this is one of the most amazing benefits of creatine for women. Many women enjoy HIIT style workouts (as do we at IIFYM) to keep the heart rate elevated to burn more calories per workout. By throwing in creatine for women, they reap the benefits of producing more energy and having a reduction in fatigue during each workout which will keep you lasting longer than if you weren’t supplementing with creatine at all.

And The Ultimate Benefit

Improve athletic performance – another benefit of creatine for women would be an improvement in their athletic performance. This can be extremely beneficial for athletes (we will touch on this more towards the end of this article). While IIFYM does not recommend supplements for those under the age of 18, IIFYM does work with athletes who have added creatine to their regimen with great results.

Something noteworthy I want to add is that due to creatine giving you the ability to push harder in the gym, lift more weight, and have more energy during your workout allowing you to train longer, you may put on more lean muscle mass than without the use of creatine. Oh no! But, IIFYM, I don’t want to get bulky! You won’t. Stop worrying.

The advantage of having more lean muscle mass is that you will naturally burn more calories at rest which could equate to you staying leaner without truly having to put in more work to keep the pounds off. The more muscle you have, the more calories you’ll burn! See, it’s all good




What Is The Best Type Of Creatine For Women?

I will probably get some haters for my answer but it’s simple—creatine monohydrate. This is a great form of creatine for women. It’s inexpensive, it’s the most researched, and if you purchase an unflavored version you can add it to just about anything. Most people will use this form simply based on the price, but in the long run, they are still probably better off using monohydrate when compared to other varieties.

The monohydrate version is greatly bioavailable and should definitely be the first type of creatine you try.

Some individuals have found that creatine monohydrate doesn’t agree with their stomach. If you find that to be the case, there are several other options available such as creatine citrate, creatine pyruvate, creatine HCl, and creatine ethyl ester (CEE) that might work better if you’re having gastrointestinal issues.

Other individuals are unfortunately non-responders—meaning creatine monohydrate does nothing for them. If that’s the case, I would recommend trying one of the other forms mentioned and seeing if you get better results.

But IIFYM is sticking to our guns that the best type of creatine for women is good old, tried and true, extremely beneficial, creatine monohydrate.

How Much Should You Take?

When figuring out what the best dosage of creatine for women is, try not to overcomplicate things. 5 grams of creatine per day is the sweet spot. Some women have gotten away with dropping that down to 3 grams per day and still seeing good results from the supplement. If you want, start with 3 grams and see if you get anything from it. Worst case scenario you end up needing to bump it up to 5 grams.

Find out the best dieting approach while using creatine, have one of our coaches build your Custom Macro Blueprint

It should be noted that the myth that you need to cycle and/or load creatine has been debunked if you read that years ago. It’s personal preference if you choose to do one, both, or none. You will see faster results, however, if you do a loading phase initially to saturate your muscles. In order to do a loading phase of creatine for women, take a dose of 20 grams per day (you can split it up into 4 doses if you wish) for one week. After a week of loading, you can drop the dose down to the maintenance of 5 grams per day. If you decide not to do the loading phase it will take around one month until your muscles are fully saturated.




When Should You Take It?

There are so many different articles out there saying when the optimal time to take creatine is, but to be honest, here at IIFYM we agree that it can be taken anytime.

You can take it pre-workout, intra-workout, post-workout—it’s up to you so long as you’re supplementing with it.

Some people put it in their pre-workout and drink it 30-minutes before a workout. Some individuals will mix it with their flavored BCAAs and sip it throughout their workout. While others will add it to their post-workout protein shake. Some even do a combination of all of the above.

What Collegiate Athletes Need To know

Something that athletes who compete in the college ranks need to know is that creatine is considered an impermissible product under the NCAA regulations. What this means is that the school cannot purchase or provide creatine to you. However, this does not mean you can’t go purchase creatine on your own.

Using creatine will not make you test positive on drug tests so there is no need to worry if you are asked to give a random test. Creatine for women in athletics can be highly beneficial to your overall performance, while still following the rules and regulations set by NCAA officials.

To optimize your performance while doing a body recomposition, have one of our coaches build your Custom Macro Blueprint

Hopefully, this article shed some light on exactly how creatine for women is beneficial. At IIFYM, we strive to bring you the highest quality content available. If you live the IIFYM lifestyle or are just getting started with your own IIFYM program, feel free to use our website to aid in helping you reach your goals.

If you find yourself not getting the results you need or don’t know where to start, check out the IIFYM programs on the site. IIFYM also has an amazing cookbook available. Here at IIFYM, we strive to give you all of the info you need to help make IIFYM work for you and your lifestyle.


The post Creatine for Women: What’s The Most Effective Type? appeared first on IIFYM.

from Articles & Interviews – IIFYM

Monday, November 7, 2016

Pre-Workout Supplements: 6 Side Effects and How to Avoid Them


*Before getting started, IIFYM would like to point out that pre-workout supplements are not for everyone and can have serious side effects to your overall health if not used as directed. IIFYM recommends that you consult with your doctor before using any pre-workout supplements. Also, IIFYM does not support the use of pre-workout supplements to anyone under the age of 18.

The World of Pre-Workout Supplements!

We live in a world where we expect to feel something when we use pre-workout supplements. If you don’t feel some sort of energy, tingly sensation, or mental focus, then we consider it a terrible product. But what many of us find out is that these pre-workout supplements also have some drawbacks—specifically, side effects.

At IIFYM, we want you to understand not only your nutrition but how things work and potential consequences (especially if abused). Pre-workout supplements are no exception. Some of us swear by pre-workout supplements and can’t work out without them. Then on the flipside, we have people who never use pre-workout supplements and they have amazing workouts. The choice is ultimately yours in the direction you care to go, IIFYM family.

On the IIFYM website, we really don’t dabble into pre-workout supplements. In fact, if you did a search, there’s less than a handful that we have mentioned on the site. So, in an effort to bring you information on topics you care about, let’s dig into the topic of some potential side effects and how to avoid them when it comes to pre-workout supplements.

1) Insomnia

Have you ever looked at the label of your pre-workout supplements? You should. What you find on the back might give you a good indication if the product is for you or not—especially if you use your pre-workout supplements for a night-time training session and they contain stimulants.

In general, pre-workout supplements are slammed with caffeine. I’m not talking about a couple cups of coffee worth, I mean anywhere from 200-400mg of caffeine per serving.

IIFYM blueprint

Sure, the caffeine in the pre-workout supplements will help give you energy throughout your workout due to it activating epinephrine and norepinephrine in the body, but if taken at night, it will also cause you to lay in bed staring at your ceiling.

So how can this be combated if you plan on getting a good night’s sleep? The half-life (how long it lasts) of caffeine is anywhere from three to five hours. With that being said, if you plan on hopping into bed around 11pm, you shouldn’t take your pre-workout supplements after 6pm or they might affect your sleep.

The Counter Approach

The good news is, everyone metabolizes caffeine at different rates, so in this instance, you might be able to get away with using your pre-workout supplements as late as 8pm. However, if you metabolize it extremely slowly, you might still be feeling the effects of the stimulant from a lunchtime workout. You could also lower the dose/serving size of your pre-workout supplements so the effects aren’t as drastic as a full serving, which could allow it to exit your system faster.

Don’t forget about post workout nutrition after your workout. If you would like information on how to set that up for maximal results, IIFYM has some great programs to get you on track to making progress through proper nutrition. Simply click on the programs on the IIFYM site.


pre-workout supplements stomach issues


2) Diarrhea

Ah yes, the runs. Something we at IIFYM would hate to see any of you have. Yet, it happens with certain pre-workout supplements. This can happen for a number of reasons, but most people will find the issue arising from two things in particular.

The first one is some specific ingredients used in the products that can have a laxative effect with sensitive systems that sends you to the toilet fairly quickly after slamming down the pre-workout supplements. These ingredients include high dosages of the following: sodium bicarbonate, magnesium, taurine, arginine, Yohimbe, creatine, and caffeine. But more times than not, it comes down to how you use the product.

A problem in the supplement industry is that sometimes you have people creating pre-workout supplements without truly knowing how they work in the body and how they are absorbed. For instance, and this is the second issue we were talking about above, how much water you use to mix up your favorite pre-workout supplements.

The Reasoning For Adding More Water

Many call for you to mix your powder with around 8 ounces of water and more times than not, this isn’t enough. This can cause a paste to form in your gut.

What then happens is your body will pull water out of your cells to break down the paste and due to osmosis, that water ends up passing through the intestinal wall and when too much water enters, it causes the runs.

A simple fix to the above would be to use more water the next time you use your pre-workout supplements. If you pick up something new and find following the directions on the label had you running to the toilet, next time add more water.

IIFYM also recommends that you drink water during your workout as well. If you drink water throughout the day and consistently, you might not even show any signs of gastrointestinal issues when following the directions. It’s truly a case by case and person by person basis.

3) Dehydration

It goes without saying that the above (diarrhea) goes hand in hand with dehydration. Certain ingredients in pre-workout supplements can pull water and excrete it causing dehydration. Some ingredients are put in to do this on purpose (for instance if it has a blend to help with weight loss or included as a diuretic) while others, when consumed in high doses, can cause dehydration.

IIFYM always recommends consuming water throughout the day, even when you aren’t thirsty. If you find after taking any pre-workout supplements that you are urinating more than normal, be sure to replenish what is lost by grabbing some water.

When exercising, not only do you sweat and lose water, but the water being shuttled to your muscles, especially if creatine is present in the pre-workout supplements, it’s pulling water from other areas of the body to flood those working muscles. This can cause dehydration depending on the severity. Again, be sure to drink plenty of water to prevent this side effect.


pre-workout supplements headache


4) Headaches

If you’re following along you can see how some of the side effects mentioned in this IIFYM article involving pre-workout supplements are tied together. The side effect of a headache is no different. When your body becomes dehydrated such as in the example above, it can cause a headache. Your brain is surrounded by a sack full of fluid. When dehydration occurs, that fluid surrounding the brain is decreased which can cause the brain to bump into the skull. This in itself can cause a headache.

When vasodilation occurs, the blood vessels throughout your body expand, including the vessels in your head. This expansion can cause headaches.

Some pre-workout supplements have ingredients that help promote vasodilation (the pump we strive for). Many of these ingredients are forms of arginine, citrulline malate, or beta-alanine.

In order to minimize the effects, if you are getting headaches, you can either stay away from pre workouts that include vasodilators if you’re consistently getting a headache, or lower the dosage/serving size you are using to see if that changes anything. It’s also advantageous to consume water both before and after taking any pre-workout supplements.

5) High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is something we can have even if we aren’t using any form of pre-workout supplements. At IIFYM we try to help you lead a healthy lifestyle to minimize the negative effects poor exercise and nutrition habits can have on the body.

For that reason, we have several IIFYM programs to suit your individual needs. Such as the Custom Macro Blueprint to help those dial in their macro numbers

Another thing that some people might not realize is that the simple act of high-intensity, short duration exercises like what takes place when you are weight training or doing HIIT, can increase your blood pressure. Now, the levels can go back to normal, but during that timeframe even without the use of pre-workout supplements, your blood pressure can become elevated. If your doctor told you that you have high blood pressure, you should stay away from pre-workout supplements that have stimulants altogether.

Finding Another Avenue

All stimulants increase your blood pressure. That’s the nature of the ingredient (such as caffeine). This can be problematic if you already have an underlying high blood pressure issue that you might not be aware of. Again, for that reason, IIFYM recommends consulting with your doctor before starting an exercise program or using pre-workout supplements.

If you have an underlying health issue such as high blood pressure, one way to not exacerbate the issue would be to find pre-workout supplements that don’t have stimulants or that are very mildly dosed. There are plenty of pre-workout supplements out there which aren’t stimulant heavy to choose from.

IIFYM does not have a personal favorite that we stand behind, so you may need to do some trial and error to see what works for you. If a brand has samples of their pre-workout supplements that would be a great place to start to see how your body reacts to a specific product before opening your wallet.


pre-wrkout supplements tingle


6) Tingly or Prickly Sensations

A common side effect of many pre-workout supplements is a tingly or prickly sensation throughout your body. Everyone is different and it depends on your sensitivity to certain ingredients found in the pre-workout supplements. While a “side effect” it really isn’t anything to be worried about. If the pre-workout supplements contain ingredients such as niacin, beta-alanine, or vitamin B3, you’re more than likely going to get this sensation.

Have one of our coaches build your Custom Macro Blueprint, which will help you see and feel the difference!

Many pre-workout supplements include niacin in a higher dose just for that very reason. They want you to feel something after taking their pre-workout supplements. It comes back to people equate something working if they can feel them. High dosages of niacin can also cause a flushing effect on the skin where it can become red, blotchy, and even itchy as if you have hives (but not as severe).

Preventing the Side Effect

The tingly and prickly sensations you get from some pre-workout supplements is harmless and nothing to be concerned about. Eventually, what you are feeling will subside and you’ll go back to feeling normal. The sensation is simply due to a reaction within the nervous system.

If you aren’t interested in this particular side effect, it would be recommended that you stay away from pre-workout supplements that contain these ingredients. You can also isolate certain ingredients to stay away from as well. If you don’t like the flush of niacin, then find a product that doesn’t contain niacin. Or pay close attention to the dosages for the above-mentioned ingredients and find a product with lower doses or simply take less of the product per workout and see how your body reacts.

If you have questions regarding IIFYM please feel free to click on the IIFYM FAQ tab on the website. Also, if you are looking for some great IIFYM guides, IIFYM recipes, or even IIFYM meal plans, check out the IIFYM programs available on the website.


The post Pre-Workout Supplements: 6 Side Effects and How to Avoid Them appeared first on IIFYM.

from Articles & Interviews – IIFYM

Friday, November 4, 2016

Lowest Calorie Alcohol: How Much Can You Drink Before It Affects Your Health?


Here at IIFYM, we prefer to believe we know how to turn up. Ok I need, to be honest, I had to look up exactly what that meant in the Urban dictionary—that shows my age, I’m actually typing this on my rocking chair. But regardless of your age, we all want to let loose every now and then to have a good time. Some may say including alcohol in the mix can bring out the best in people. The great news is, with the IIFYM lifestyle you can let loose and enjoy yourself on occasion. Finding the lowest calorie alcohol, however, would still be your best bet. So, let’s uncover some options you may have when you want to head out to a party or event.

If you want to know the correct macros so you can best fit alcohol in, have one of our coaches help you build a Custom Macro Blueprint

IIFYM does not include alcohol consumption in any of their programs, or even recommend a preferred lowest calorie alcohol source, yet you have the ability to work around that through manipulating your macronutrients for a given day should you decide to have a drink.

Lowest Calorie Alcohol Choices

At IIFYM, we want to give you the best experiences possible with your life and allow you to have fun. Therefore, the last task you want to deal with when you go out to a bar is to ask what the lowest calorie alcohol is to the bartender. You’re going to get an uncomfortable look and it’s going to buzzkill your experience. So, let’s generalize a little here and put stuff into perspective when you are working with your IIFYM lifestyle and finding you the lowest calorie alcohol when you’re out.

A 3.3 ounce Manhattan will get you 153 calories and 3.6g of carbohydrates and if you wanted something a little lower you can pick the Martini which at 2.2 ounces will give you 135 calories and 0.2g of carbohydrates.

In 5 ounces of red or white wine, you are looking at around 100 calories and 2g of carbohydrates. 1.5 ounces of scotch, whiskey, rum or vodka has around 104 calories and 0g of carbohydrates. 12 ounces of a light beer will land you 108 calories and 6g of carbohydrates while 12 ounces of a draft beer will yield 144 calories and 13.2g of carbohydrates.

Maybe you want to live it up a little with a cocktail, yet try and maintain the lowest calorie alcohol you can find? You can also have mixed drinks such as a diet soda (like Diet Coke or Coke Zero) with your rum or whiskey and not change the calories or carbohydrates listed above. Now that you have the list of lowest calorie alcohol, pick and choose wisely and drink responsibly.

Health Consequences with Drinking Alcohol




I think we all know the consequences of drinking too much alcohol you’re going to possibly get sick and start vomiting. Also, depending on the quantity you can get alcohol poisoning and need to get your stomach pumped in the hospital. Let’s not forget the consequences of drinking and driving. Not a good plan my fellow IIFYM friends. Please be responsible and have a designated driver or a way home that does not involve you getting behind the wheel. But let’s dig a little deeper into the health issues that can arise from bingeing on your favorite lowest calorie alcohol choices.

Find out more about your macro intake and how you can consume alcohol with your IIFYM lifestyle with a Custom Macro Blueprint

When we drink it’s normally in a social setting, right? You’re out with friends or family and you don’t count how many drinks you have. For that reason, it’s extremely wise even when following IIFYM to choose the lowest calorie alcohol so you aren’t consuming an entire day’s worth of calories in one night out. Whether you have a drink that is the highest or lowest calorie alcohol, you’re still taking in 7 calories per gram. Ultimately, what you’re consuming are empty calories and essentially a beverage with no nutritional value.

The Unfortunate Downside

Having a few drinks even when it’s the lowest calorie alcohol can still promote weight gain. All those empty calories add up and if you’re consuming these drinks on a regular basis throughout the week rather than during one night out, those calories will add up quickly. IIFYM does not recommend filling your daily carbohydrates through the consumption of alcohol. This isn’t the true reason behind the IIFYM nutrition plan and flexibility.

The immune system weakens which opens the door for illness and diseases, including certain types of cancer (mouth, throat, liver, esophagus, and breast).

Think about what is normally out at parties where alcohol is served… chips, pretzels, and other unhealthy snacks. Alcohol also has the tendency to make people reach for fatty and salty foods—generally snack foods. Even the low carbohydrate and lower calorie alcohol have this effect.

Sure, with IIFYM, you can indulge in these types of foods to some degree, but again, if the habit repeats itself multiple times during the week, those added calories can cause havoc on your waistline.

How Much Can You Drink Before It Affects Your Health?




One notion that everyone should know up front is that when you drink—even just one serving of your favorite lowest calorie alcohol—your body makes metabolizing that alcohol its first priority above everything else. Through the process of getting rid of alcohol from your blood, the liver needs to detoxify it. With just a single drink, you are already putting some stress on your body.

When you think about what takes place over the course of a night of drinking, your brain goes through some changes where it disrupts communication pathways and your behaviors and cognition may be impaired. Drinking too much of your favorite lowest calorie alcohol source can even damage your heart. Issues such as high blood pressure, stroke, and even arrhythmias are possible.

IIFYM blueprint

Please know that the IIFYM crew does not condone the abuse of alcohol and does not want you to damage your body. When looking at the long-term effects that drinking causes on the body we need to look at the liver, pancreas, and the immune system. When alcohol is abused, no matter if it’s the lowest calorie alcohol sources or a high-calorie source, you put your liver in danger of cirrhosis, fibrosis, and steatosis.

What Else It Affects

The pancreas can also become inflamed causing pancreatitis due to the toxic substances the pancreas produces when alcohol is present in the body. Your immune system also takes a toll when you abuse alcohol.

As you can see from the above, while drinking in moderation can have some health benefits, the long-term effects definitely have some negative consequences. Even with as little as one drink from your lowest calorie alcohol source can start the downward spiral if you don’t keep yourself in check.

If you are trying to figure out if IIFYM is for you, check out the many articles and FAQ page available on the website. IIFYM also has several amazing programs available to help you reach your health and fitness goals. IIFYM is a lifestyle, not a fad. Check out the site to learn more!




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