Some Vital Number To Track For Good Health

When it comes to health, we often think if there’s no indication of high blood pressure or high blood sugar, then we must be pretty healthy. But, we need to take some other numbers into account for an overall picture of our health. You can have normal blood pressure and low blood sugar. Or you can have high cholesterol and it hasn’t led to high blood pressure, yet.

Knowing all of your numbers can give you and your doctor a better picture of your overall health. What numbers should you know?

Cholesterol – Cholesterol is a fatty substance in your blood that your body needs to function properly. Don’t let the word fatty scare you too much. We do need healthy fats. However, bad fats and bad cholesterol can cause a heap of problems.

When it comes to cholesterol, there are two kinds, HDL and LDL. HDL is a high level density cholesterol. This is your good cholesterol, so you want that number higher than your LDL, which is the bad stuff, or low density cholesterol.

The overall number for the two combined should be below 180 mg/dl. mg stands for milligram, which is one thousandth of a gram. The dl part of the number is a deciliter or one-tenth of a liter. In that ratio, the amount of cholesterol in your blood should be very small.

BMI – Body Mass Index measures your body weight in regards to your height. You want your total BMI to be below 25. If the number is over 25, it indicates you are overweight. A reading over 30 indicates you are obese.

The normal range is between 18.5 to 24.9. These numbers indicate you’re at a healthy weight range. If the number is below 18.5 it indicates you are underweight.

If you don’t know your BMI index, here is a nifty calculator to give you an idea:

However, you may want to check with your doctor if your results fall into the overweight or obese measurements. Being overweight can lead to other problems.

Blood Sugar – The goal for your blood sugar level is below 130 mg/dl. Normal is considered to be between 70 and 130. The best way to test your blood sugar levels are first thing in the morning after an overnight fast. If you make an appointment to have these numbers checked by your doctor, they will try to schedule you as early as possible with the instructions  not to eat or drink anything after midnight.

Blood Pressure – Your blood pressure should be 120/80. That’s read and stated as one-twenty over eighty.

Blood pressure is measured with two numbers, systolic and diastolic. Systolic is the measure of force your heart is using when pumping blood out to your body. Diastolic is the measure of the heart resting between beats.

When reading your blood pressure numbers, the top number is the systolic measurement. Anything over 120 for the top number means your heart is working too hard, especially if you are sitting or lying down. This number will rise if you’ve been active, but it should return to normal relatively fast after you’ve stopped moving around.

If the bottom number, or the diastolic reading is over 80, this means your heart isn’t getting the rest it needs between beats.

When you get a yearly checkup, if your doctor is not measuring the numbers above, be sure to request that all of them are checked. To measure cholesterol and blood sugar levels, a simple blood test is all that’s needed to get both numbers checked at once.


Why You Crave Junk Food

muscle,building,crave,muscle,buildingIn your quest for the perfect body (or at least the most fit and muscular physique you can manage) you’re confronted with a variety of obstacles. Diet is of course, one of them. Why is it so hard to stay on a muscle building diet? Why is it so easy to cheat?

In addition to the reasoning that a diet must be a lifestyle change, and not a temporary change to the way you’re eating, there’s another important factor that’s often disregarded.

That factor is taste.

Most people have a hard time staying on diets because quite honestly, the food just doesn’t taste as good. This is why most Americans eat too much junk food. IT TASTES GOOD. Seems pretty obvious, doesn’t it. Our bodies crave that experience of eating that juicy hamburger and feeling of satisfaction afterwards.It stands to reason therefore, if we could get our diets to just taste better, we may be able to stick with them. This is what the cooking course, “Anabolic Cooking” is all about. There are a lot of recipes included and the best thing is THEY TASTE GREAT. That in itself will help you stay on your muscle building diet and get closer to the results you desire.

Find out more about that course by going to the recipes and meal plans page HERE.

Apart from written recipes, there are many things you can do with food to make them taste better – and they all don’t have to do with adding fat.

Here are some suggestions:

1. USE SPICES: Many people often neglect spices – even salt a pepper, which should be used on most food. That’s a mistake. Spices can turn bland food into a great tasting dish. The key is knowing which spices to combine with which foods to give the best taste. Here are some suggestions:Italian Spices – Garlic, Oregeno, Basil, Pepper – combine with any meat, chicken, pork, beef, and fish.Mexican Spices – Cumin, Red Pepper Flakes, can be combined with cloves and cinnamon for a great taste – use for chicken, beef or fish tacos, burritos or fajitasGrilling Spices – any number of spice blends on the market make for excellent tasting grilled food. You can even use them other food, such as vegetables and eggs. I’ve used McCormick’s “Montreal Steak” seasoning on many vegetable dishes, eggs, and even potatoes. Great!Use Your Creativity- experiment and think outside the box.

2. USE JUICES: To prevent food from becoming dry, especially lean meats, add juices or any other ingredient that has a high liquid content. Lime juice goes well with many dishes, as does a small amount of lemon juice. How about adding fresh chopped tomatoes (including their juices) to dishes? Use olive oil to saute, a healthy oil that adds flavor and juiciness to food. How about wine vinegar? Another flavor enhancer.As you can see, there are thousands of foods and combinations out there to add to your muscle building diet. You should educate yourself, think outside the box, and experiment with new and unique combinations.

Doing this will elevate your muscle building diet to new levels and you just might enjoy it and stay on it.

Your Best Muscle Building Diet – Make Progress By Measuring Muscle And Fat

muscle,building,progress,measuring,muscle,muscle,buildingIf you’ve read anything at all about nutrition and building and the perfect muscle building diet, you know you should be paying attention to what you’re eating. Putting on extra pounds is good if those pounds are muscle mass. However, if the weight is more fat than muscle, this is probably not the result you desire.

Have you ever looked around the gym and noticed weight lifters looking more “bulky” rather than “muscular”?

How do you know if you’re added weight is muscle or fat? How do you monitor your fat versus non-fat weight so you don’t fall into the same trap? There is a simple way to tell.

See my posting on Achieving The Right Balance for more info on what you should be eating and when.

First you’ll need to know your percentage of body fat. There are many methods to measure this important figure, but for the purposes of this site, the best one is by far using calipers to do the measuring. Since your a weight lifter, you’re probably going to a gym where you can have a professional perform this test. Doing it at home is also a possibility and there are calipers you can purchase, such as AccuMeasure MyoTape MT05 and AM-3000 Fitness 3000 Personal Body Fat Tester Kit that will a fairly good job.

However, for the most accurate results, measurements should be taken at several different sites on your body, over the course of time. This is best performed each time by the same qualified person.There are other methods as well, such as the “U.S.Navy Method” where you use a tape measure to determine the size of different parts of your body and plug the figures into a formula. Or expensive tests done at doctors or fitness offices using elaborate machines. Some are more reliable than others. Some are more expensive.Once you know your percentage of body fat, you’ll want to calculate how much of your total weight is fat, versus non-fat (lean muscle, organ tissues, water, etc.)

Simply take your total weight and multiply it by your percentage. This is your total fat weight.

Then take your total weight, subtract your body fat weight, and the result is your non-fat weight.

EXAMPLE:  Body weight = 200 lbs   Percentage of body fat = 15%   Total fat-weight = 200 x .15 = 30lbs.Total non-fat weight = 200 – 30 = 170 lbs.

Now that you know your fat versus non-fat weight, it’s important to keep track of the numbers over time, as you train. By doing this you’ll get a good idea of your progress. As you put on weight (and you should if you’re goal is building muscle mass), doing these calculations will give you an idea if your weight gain is more muscle or fat. Once you know this, you’ll be able to adjust your diet accordingly.

For instance, using the above example, if your weight increased to 230 lbs, your fat-weight is still 30 lbs, and your non-fat weight is 200lbs. you’ve just increased your muscle weight by 30 lbs. and added 0 fat. On the other hand, if your fat-weight is now 35 lbs. and your non-fat weight is 195 lbs. you’ve added 25 lbs of muscle mass and 5 lbs. of fat.

This is a great way to keep track of your progress.

Protein Sources – Ideas For Cooking Tasty Chicken Breasts

We all know that if you’re weight training, getting ample protein in your diet is extremely important.   In addition, the source of this important nutrient is equally vital.  See this post for more information.

One excellent protein source is chicken, specifically, chicken breasts.  Although other chicken parts contain protein, they are also higher in fat.  Consequently, most weight lifters will stick to eating the breasts only, especially for dinners after a work-out.If you’re like most people, you can only eat so much chicken before it starts tasting the same and becomes boring.

It’s so important that you NOT let that happen. Doing so could possibly lead to you eating other, less healthy foods.Here are some of my ideas for cooking tasty chicken breasts.   Many of these ideas are not recipes.

 Simply take your chicken, add spices, flavoring and healthy sauces for a tasty meal.  For more great ideas, get Dave Ruel’s Anabolic Cooking Cookbook or check out the videos at the right.

Hints For Chicken Breasts – Buying, Storing, and Easy Preparing

1.Storage:  Buy boneless, skinless breasts in large packs and store them in your freezer.  You can usually find them on sale in large packs every few weeks in your local supermarket.  You can wrap each breast in freezer paper and store in plastic freezer bags.  This way, you’ll only thaw the amount you need at the time.  They’ll last for quite a while, longer than you’ll need to keep them there.

2.Prepare Ahead:  Any even quicker idea is to boil some breasts, cut them into bite sized chunks, and freeze in plastic freezer bags.  Again, only thaw what you need for each dinner.  An alternative to boiling is to cut them in bite sized pieces and saute in a little olive oil, which is a great healthy oil.  (Don’t use other vegetable oils.  Stay healthy and use olive oil only.)

3.Thawing:  Any frozen chicken can be easily thawed in the microwave on “defrost” setting for approx. 3-5 minutes, depending on the size of the breasts and the power of your microwave.  They’ll be ready to cook in no time.4.Bone-In Breasts:  For even more price savings, you can buy split chicken breasts, with the bone in.  However, de-boning can be challenging for many people.  If you’re one of them, don’t spend the extra time.  The price savings may not be worth it, especially if you purchase them on sale as noted in #1 above.Ideas For Cooking Tasty Chicken BreastsAlthough you can use recipes for great tasting meals, I’m here to say you don’t have to.  Here are some ideas that will hopefully spark your creativity.  The key is, think ethnic, themes, pairings, etc. when planning your chicken meal.

IDEA #1:  ASIAN Stir fry over medium high heat bite sized chicken pieces in a small amount of sesame oil for a few minutes.  Add a bag of frozen stir fry veggies, terriaki sauce, pepper, ginger and garlic.  Serve over brown rice.Alternatives:  Use any combination of the following:  other asian spices, water chestnuts, chopped onions, celery, low sodium terriaki sauce.  Think “Chinese Restaurant” and add ingredients to suit your taste.

IDEA #2:  KEBOBS In Italian vinagrette dressing, marinate bite sized raw chicken breast pieces, peppers, onions, and tomatoes.  Place on skewers and grill for 10 minutes or so, until chicken is cooked.  Serve with brown rice.Alternatives:  Use other salad dressings for marinade.  However, make sure they’re not high in fat.  Use low fat or clear dressings – not creamy.

IDEA #3:  BARBECUE Season whole chicken breasts with salt pepper and any other seasoning you prefer.  Grill for 10-15 minutes until done, basting with barbecue sauce during the last 5 minutes (this prevents the sauce from burning,)Alternatives:  Mix cooked bite sized chicken pieces with seasoning and bottled barbecue sauce and saute on the stove along with onions and peppers.  Serve as a sandwich or eat with a fork.  My favorite seasoning for barbecued chicken is BY FAR Montreal Steak Seasoning from McCormick.  I use it all the time.  It’s great any grilled foods, chicken, steak, pork, and more.

IDEA #4:  PASTA Cook whole wheat or other healthy pasta according to package directions.  Mix in bite sized cooked chicken pieces, oregeno, garlic powder, salt and pepper and canned stewed or diced tomatoes.  Heat through.Alternatives:  Instead of canned tomotoes, use sundried and add olive oil and red wine vinegar – 2 parts olive oil to 1 part vinegar.  Sprinkle with a small amount of grated Romano cheese.

IDEA #5:  MEXICAN Mix bite sized cooked pieces with prepackaged Mexican seasonings or add your own such as cumin or fajita mix, black beans, corn, cilantro and salsa.  Serve in tortilla wraps or eat with a fork.Alternatives:  Beans are an additional source of protein.  Use several types or use refried beans in this dish as well.I hope I’ve given you ideas for cooking tasty chicken breasts.

It’s no secret that out of all protein sources, chicken is one of the most popular.  Don’t keep making boring dinners.

What Does Low Carb Mean?

One of the hottest trends for losing weight is currently the Low Carb Diet. For anyone looking for a new diet this is good news or is it? This new trend just adds more confusion into the entire weight loss jungle, and leaves you wondering which diet you should use. After all no-one wants to waste time with a diet plan that won’t’ produce results.

Let’s look at the Low Carb Diet and see if it a good choice for you or not. One of the main principles of eating low carb is that you increase your protein intake. If you overeat protein you may end up with additional health issues. So while it is fine to increase your protein, don’t go overboard with it.

A low carb diet involves eating quantities of natural foods that are low in natural carbohydrates and contain no or very little sugar. The types of foods you can expect to eat include:

* Fresh fruit with low natural sugars
* Veggies especially dark, leafy green ones
* Lean meats
* Good quality fats and dairy

There are many diet plans available, the Aitkens one is a good example of this, and this plan suggest you increase your protein along with high quality fats. What this means is that you won’t be eating foods such as potatoes, cakes, muffins, breads and pasta. In essence this means that you don’t want to eat any type of packaged or processed foods.

What you will be eating is lots of fresh natural foods. This is also the bases of the Paleo Diet, where you basically go back to your roots and eat foods that you can grow, gather or hunt for. 

When it comes to eating low carb they are varying degrees that you can aim for. To start with you will see results just by cutting out processed and packaged foods. These contains lots of chemicals, preservatives, sugar and other unreadable ingredients.

By going back to nature you will be detoxing your body and this will help remove large quantities of toxins, excess waste and help reduce your fat stores.

Some dedicated low carbers go as low as only eating 20 grams of carbohydrates each time. While you can do the same, sticking with a sensible eating plan is going to produce results. Especially if you add in an after dinner walk, or swimming once or twice a week. 

It is important to choose an eating plan that will fit into your life. Do you want to go out to dinner with your family and not eat anything? Or would you rather eat smaller portions of a healthier choice?
One of the best ways to start using a low carb diet is to keep a food diary and see how many high carbohydrate foods you do eat. This includes reading food labels and seeing how many carbs are in your favorite dressings and sauces! You may just be surprised.
You still want to include quality carbs each day as these help supply your body with fuel and energy. So instead of looking for a drastically reduced low carb plan, start off by cutting back and see how that goes first.


Let’s Have a look At The Leading Diet Plans That Are The Most Efficient

wpid-81306eac-fac6-40eb-982a-d603515444fa.jpgAsk any dieter and they will all tell you the same thing. Picking the best diet plan can be as challenging as sticking with one. There are thousands of diets and they all contradict each other, so how do you know which one is ideal? To assist you choose the ideal diet, we’ll be taking a look at some well known diet plan plans and some of their benefits and drawbacks.[Continue Reading…]

The Role of Protein in Fitness and Weight Loss

The correct amount of protein – and also the correct kind of protein – is the most effective calorie burning factor affecting your metabolic rate. Increasing your metabolic rate, and keeping it elevated over a longer period of time is the key to healthy, quick and effective weight loss and enhanced fitness. So, given that its so important,  let’s first address the two kinds of protein and discover why most people don’t even know that there is a difference.[Continue Reading…]