Newsletter Issue #004 - December 20, 2010
- 5 Habits to Kick
- Best and Worst Breakfasts
- Get Sponsored by Force Factor!
- Recipe: Low-fat Breakfast Burritos
Get fitness tips and exclusive deals.
5 HABITS TO KICK IN 2011
With January just around the corner, it's time to start making New Year's resolutions for 2011. You probably already have a couple of goals in mind to get started on. Want our advice? Here are a few of the worst habits to have when you're looking to build muscle and improve your body. Check out the list below when you're making your resolutions this year.
You're probably very well aware of all of the dangerous, well-documented health risks associated with smoking. Smokers looking to improve their bodies face additional challenges because of their addictions. Smoking lowers physical endurance, even in young people. Smoking also raises blood pressure and reduces the levels of oxygen in your blood, making it harder for your muscles to get the nutrients they need. As a result, muscles are less efficient and results are harder to achieve. Exercise goes a long way in improving your health, but smoking can counteract the hard work you're putting in.
Skimping on Sleep and Rest Days
Your body needs both exercise and sleep – skipping out on either one can negatively impact the other. Exercising has been shown to help people to sleep sounder and longer and wake up feeling more refreshed. Sleep also benefits your body by providing the critical rest time to restore, repair, and build muscles. The average person needs 7-9 hours of sleep consistently every, single day. If you've had a particularly rough workout, you may need more – your muscles will probably let you know. If you want to see optimal results make sure you're putting in the time working out and resting your muscles.
Commitment and dedication to consistent exercise are admirable; however, every body needs a break. In addition to the 60-90 sec rests between sets, your body needs to rest after you've left the weight room. After lifting, your body must rebuild and repair muscle fibers to recover from the stress you put on them. Common consensus is that 48 hours is appropriate rest time for each muscle group, but you should pay close attention to your own muscle soreness before heading back to the gym in order to avoid sidelining yourself with injury for a long time.
Alcohol and Soda Drinking
There's a reason it's called a beer belly. It's more difficult for your body to use the calories in alcohol as energy. As a result, they often turn to fat. Every gram of alcohol means 7 calories (compared with just 4 for every gram of protein). Consider that 2 beers a night can mean 2,000 more calories in your week. Alcohol can interfere with muscle-building hormones and lower testosterone levels. In moderation, alcohol can have some positive health benefits, but binge-drinking is never a good choice for your body or your appearance.
Sodas are often packed with sugar and can fool your body into thinking it doesn't need the nutrient-rich foods that you should be eating. The sugar in soda isn't a good fuel source for your body either as blood sugar spikes provide only short-term energy and cause a sugar (and, often, caffeine) crash later. Instead, make the switch to water. You probably know that you should be drinking 8-10 glasses every day anyway, especially if you're active. Start keeping track of the number of glasses you drink throughout the day to stay on track!
Starving Before and after Workouts
If you're looking to lose weight or lower your body fat percentage, exercise on an empty stomach is not the answer. You're body needs fuel before a workout in order to be able to perform its best. Eating immediately before can cause bloating or cramping, but a small, high-protein meal 1-2 hours pre-workout is a good idea. You also need to eat after your workouts to replace glycogen stores in order to rebuild preserve as much muscle mass as possible. A whey protein shake and a banana are easy, portable options. Keep a bottle of Force Factor whey protein in your car or your gym locker along with a shaker so you're prepared whenever exercise comes up.
Choosing Take-Out Often
Sure, it's quick and easy, but do you really know what exactly you're eating when you pull through the drive-through? The right diet can be half the battle in getting the results you're after. Cooking at home, or even microwaving pre-made meals, can help you to better control and understand the amount of nutrients you're getting in your diet. By choosing and preparing lean protein dishes yourself, you can avoid the excess fat and sugar that is often added to restaurant and take-away dishes (in the form of excessive butter and oil). As an added bonus, cooking at home can often save money as well.
WORST PRE-WORKOUT BREAKFASTS
You've heard it before: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Well, it's true, especially when you're trying to build muscle and get in better shape. We've rounded up a list of some of the worst breakfast choices for workout success and have some swaps for building a better breakfast.
The fuel you get at breakfast can make a huge difference for your energy level at the gym later on (no matter when you go). During sleep, our body is fasting so breakfast literally means "breaking the fast." Breakfast gives your body the fuel and the calories you'll burn during the day. You need nutrients in the morning to start up your metabolism and get your body back to building muscle. That's why many experts recommend you "eat breakfast like a king" and make dinner your smallest meal.
The building blocks of a great breakfast include protein, complex carbohydrates for energy, fiber to feel fuller for longer, and a small amount of (healthy) fat. While limiting carbohydrates throughout the day is a good idea in order to avoid having them stored, unused, as fat, the morning is the right time to ingest the carbs you need for energy. You should continue to avoid simple carbohydrates (like sugars) as they cause an insulin surge that can make you feel an energy crash later on. Instead, choose complex carbs (like cereals, pastas, and potatoes) in the morning as they're broken down slowly by the body and help keep your energy stable.
Worst Breakfast Choices and Healthier Swaps:
Blueberry Muffin (Healthy Swap: English Muffin with Jam and Blueberries)
Beware of muffins in the morning! They may sound healthy, especially in varieties like Pumpkin Spice or Apple Cinnamon, but don't be fooled. Muffins are packed with sugar and fat, even before you smear a little butter on. Just one average-sized blueberry muffin (sounds healthy right?) from Dunkin' Donuts has 480 calories, 15 grams of fat, and 81 grams of carbs! Choosing the low fat variety might seem to solve the problem, but the "reduced fat" or "low-fat" label can be deceptive. Dunkin's reduced fat blueberry muffin still has 430 calories, 9 grams of fat, and 80 grams of carbs. If you need to have a muffin in the morning, try the English variety instead. One whole wheat English muffin has about 120 calories and just 1 gram of fat. Choose a variety that's high in fiber as well to keep you feeling full through the morning. Plus, you'll be getting complex carbs (instead of the simple carbs of a muffin) for sustained energy. Sweeten it up with little fruit jam for extra flavor and a handful of fresh blueberries on the side - you'll still have a much healthier choice than the average muffin.
French Toast (Healthy Swap: Toast with Peanut Butter and Banana)
Some breakfasts should just be saved only for special occasions. French toast is one of them. Dipped in creamy batter, fried up in butter and oil, drenched with syrup, and topped with whipped cream, your average French toast meal is a bonanza of simple carbohydrates and fat. The "Original French Toast" at IHOP boasts 920 calories, 50 grams of fat, and trans fats. Waffle and pancake breakfasts can be just as bad at times. If you're after toast, try the traditional variety instead. Choose whole wheat toast for good complex carbs and higher fiber. For protein, try peanut butter. Each tablespoon has about 4 grams of protein and is a healthier source of fat than the average French toast batter. If you still need to sweeten it up, skip the syrup in favor of a little fruit jam on top or slice up a banana to go with it.
Fast Food Breakfast Sandwich (Healthy Swap: DIY Breakfast Sandwich)
It probably doesn't come as a surprise that fast food joints aren't the smartest choices for breakfast. However, if you're looking to get protein from meat in the morning you might be considering one of the sausage or bacon and egg sandwiches. Be wary though – stats for these sandwiches can vary widely. The sausage biscuit with egg at McDonald's packs 570 calories, 37 grams of fat, and over 1200mg of sodium. Instead, try building your own breakfast sandwich. To pack in extra protein, choose a turkey sausage patty over the typical beef and/or pork variety. Scramble up two egg whites for even more protein (add in 1 yolk if you find just whites too bland). Build it all up on a toasted English muffin instead of a biscuit or bagel. With this sandwich, you'll get the protein and complex carbohydrates you need to have energy and power in the gym later on in the day, while minimizing excess fat and calories.
Eggs Benedict (Healthy Swap: Vegetable Omelette)
For lots of guys, eggs are the go-to breakfast choice. This makes sense – eggs are high in protein (one whole egg has 7 grams) and are egg whites are very low in fat. Whether they're good for bodybuilding, however, depends how they're prepared. One whole egg scrambled has about 100 calories. One serving of eggs Benedict (with one egg) has over 400 calories, more than 70% of which come from fat. While eggs Benedict is almost never good choice for your body, eggs prepared in omelettes can go either way. Instead of loading it up with cheese, bacon, and ham (as at many chain restaurants), opt to cook your eggs yourself at home with red and green peppers, onions, and mushrooms. You can also save on fat by using more whites than yolks – try out different ratios to determine how few yolks you can use while still preserving taste. Cooking at home will also help you limit the amount of additional calories and fat from oil. When frying your own omelettes try using a fat-free non-stick spray or restrict the amount of oil you add to the pan as much as possible. With this preparation, you'll cut calories and fat, while still getting protein (from the eggs) and fiber and complex carbohydrates (from the vegetables). For more energy, enjoy two slices of whole wheat toast on the side.
Corned beef hash (Healthy Swap: Lean Turkey Sausage)
Your typical corned beef hash recipe contains beef, onions, and potatoes. Sounds like protein, fiber, and complex carbs, right? However, when prepared at most restaurants, the beef used is often contains tons of saturated fat and is cooked in even more butter and oil (easily soaked up by the potatoes). The tinned beef that is traditionally used in hash is also typically very high in sodium. IHOP's Corned Beef Hash & Eggs has 1110 calories, 61 grams of fat and 2970mg of sodium. If you really want meat in the morning, opt for lean, low-fat turkey sausage instead. If you're just after morning protein, you can get it from more breakfast-friendly foods like eggs, yogurt, cottage cheese, or a whey protein shake.
Breakfast Pastry (Healthy Swap: Oatmeal)
It's early morning and you've dashed out of the house without getting any breakfast. All of a sudden you smell a warm cinnamon bun as you stop for your morning coffee. Something warm and filling sounds perfect for breakfast. Breakfast pastries like Danishes, doughnuts, and cinnamon buns should all be grouped together in the "for special occasions only" category. The stats from just 1 classic cinnamon bun (from Cinnabon) illustrate why: 880 calories, 36 grams of fat, and 59 grams of sugar. If you can't resist a sweet pastry in the morning, choose a plain, glazed doughnut (not the cake-kind) or a small croissant instead. However, oatmeal is an even smarter choice when it comes to warm and filling breakfasts. Love cinnamon buns? Try cinnamon flavored instant oatmeal (just 200 calories and 3 grams of fat) instead. Even if you add in some brown sugar, dried fruit, or a sprinkle of nuts, it's still a better choice than your average breakfast pastry. Oatmeal is fiber rich and a complex carbohydrate, making it one of the most filling foods that will also provide you with the energy you need for the day's workouts (and everything else).
GET SPONSORED BY FORCE FACTOR IN 2011!
As a Force Factor sponsored athlete, you'll get:
- Force Factor absolutely free and delivered to your door, every month in 2011.
- Other Force Factor products (like Ramp Up, Body Rush, and Glutamine) and gear to review throughout the year
- The chance to try new Force Factor products before anyone else
- To see yourself, your story, and your progress on the Force Factor website
In return, all of us at Force Factor want to see and hear about your progress and how Force Factor products are working for you. We'll ask for photos, occasional new product reviews, and a written (at least 250 words) update every month in 2011. We'll track your story and your results closely on a Force Factor-sponsored website.
Who can apply?
You don't need to be a pro athlete to get sponsored by Force Factor! Men and women at all levels of training are welcome to apply. Play on a team? Love hitting the gym? Training for a marathon? Just looking to get into better shape in 2011? We want to hear your story - Tell us why you're the right choice for Team Force Factor.
Interested? Apply now!
To apply, send:
- A recent photo of yourself and
- A brief description of yourself, your workout routine, and why you're the best candidate for Team Force Factor!
Send all materials to firstname.lastname@example.org before December 31st, 2010. Good luck!
RECIPE: LOW-FAT BREAKFAST BURRITOS
Here at Force Factor we've been talking a lot about the best breakfasts for pre-workout and muscle building this week (see our article on the worst choices and their healthier swaps). Here's an easy and portable option for you to try this week that delivers the protein, complex carbohydrates, and fiber you need to feel full and have energy at the gym later on:
1 low-fat whole wheat tortilla
1 whole egg + 2 egg whites, mixed
2 tablespoons chopped onions
2 tablespoons chopped red bell pepper
1 teaspoon chopped green chile (optional)
1 tablespoon shredded non-fat cheese (e.g. sharp cheddar or Monterey Jack)
1 teaspoon chives, chopped
1 tablespoon chunky salsa
Salt and pepper, to taste
Spray a small frying pan with nonstick cooking spray. Saute the onions, bell peppers, and chile over medium-heat until the onions are translucent. Add in the egg mixture and scramble gently until just before it reaches desired doneness. Mix in cheese for the final seconds of cooking.
Microwave the tortilla between 2 sheets of paper towel for 10 seconds to soften it. Then, place the tortilla flat on a plate and add the scrambled eggs on top. Sprinkle the chives and the salsa over the egg, add salt and pepper to taste, and wrap up the tortilla.