By: Benjamin Cole
The human body is an extraordinary energy converting machine. Most things you eat are rapidly broken down by the stomach and intestines and transformed into usable energy to think, move, breathe, and live. How does it do this? By breaking down the macro and micronutrient content in your foods and chemically converting it into glycogen, a type of primary biological fuel the body uses to perform, or into other ready-made nutrients. Whatever else is stored in the fat cells of the body or bone marrow.
This week's Evolve Blog is a continuation from last week's part one of three on bodily energy dynamics and the metabolism. This week's article is intended to highlight the importance of macros and micros, what they are and where they're found, and to give you a framework for eating healthy.
To be clear, this isn't a diet plan for body types but general information for eating well. Let's dive in.
But First, BMR
Your body is burning energy right now and you don't even know it. Just reading this and interpreting what I'm writing to you takes energy, albeit subtle. On top of that, you're body is partitioning the food you ate this morning to execute on what it deems important; muscle repair, cell recycling, hair or nail growth. Every minute of the day the human body is functioning, formulating, and fortifying.
This is what's known as the basal metabolic rate, or BMR. Your BMR is dependent on multiple factors, chiefly your metabolism, which is determined by your age, sex, daily activity, substance use, and more.
BMR is your daily base energy requirement. It's the caloric requirement for your body to just live. If you were to not move a single muscle all day and lay in bed catatonically your body would still burn energy. It stores it in various places (as you know, not always aesthetically pleasing places) to be used when necessary. Your heart has to beat, blood has to pump, and brain needs to function every single day.
You Become What You Eat Regularly
Of course you've heard the phrase "you are what you eat." That's true, you are. But saying "you become what you eat regularly" might put it in a just different enough frame for you to really understand how important our food is. On a hot midsummer day an ice cream cone isn't going to make me fat; an ice cream cone everyday after dinner will. We become what our diet makes us over time.
Simply put, our body is composed/constituted of things. These things are innumerable, but consist of trillions of micro-organisms, enzymes, proteins, bacterial flora, and even fungus. The quality of these 'things' is dependent on the quality and diversity of the food you eat. Eat well and they'll live well, eat bad and they'll live poorly. Our body becomes what we eat regularly because that's how it creates itself.
The body will take the base ingredients of what it is provided through your diet and work magic to make it work for you, but that's not to say that working is the same as working well. There's a reason elite athletes are picky about their diets and where their food comes from. If you read Part 1: Metabolism, you'll recall the idea of race cars taking race fuel. Athletes are aware the higher quality the fuel they put into their body the higher the output they will get for their abilities. Poor fuel = poor performance.
This is an integral point: your body constitutes itself upon the building blocks its given; you can build the temple of your body and brain with quality, nutritient-dense foods (like with sturdy steel rafters) or with empty, nutrient-absent foods (like a straw mud hut). It's not a matter of shopping at Whole Foods versus your neighborhood grocery store, it's a matter of choosing living vegetables, fruit, and ethically sourced proteins instead of dry, dead, shelf-stable grains, wheat or corn products with little nutrients.
Macros & Micros: Definitively
If you've been in the field of fitness for any length of time you've heard someone say, "I'm watching/counting my macros" or "that doesn't fit my macros." Macronutrients make up all foods and include carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. All macros have calories, and calories are the body's fuel.
Macros are pretty easy to identify when you get the general idea. Rice is a carbohydrate, chicken is a protein. Eggs are a mix of fat and protein, milk is a mixture of carbs, fats, and protein. This isn't to say all macros are created equally, because they're not. You know the calories from the carbs, fats, and protein in an ice cream birthday cake is not the same as that chicken and rice meal. One is clean, one is 'dirty.'
The cake is mostly composed of simple carbohydrates, like sugar, that the body can use immediately and store somewhere in excess. If your chicken and rice meal is with brown rice, a complex carb, the body will generally slowly digest that and use it gradually. Simple carbs are quickly utilized, complex over time.
Micronutrients, on the other hand, don't provide much energy at all. Rather, they provide the lubrication and facilitation for the pathways the body uses to generate energy and perform its needed functions. You can get them through your diet or via supplementation.
Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals. Vitamin C and B vitamins, for example, play a critical role in countless bodily functions including nerve synapse health, immune regulation, and much more. Micros don't typically have calories, although you get micros from foods that are macros and have calories. A chicken breast is a protein-dominant 'macronutrient meal' that contains micronutrients vitamins B6 and B12, zinc, selenium, and magnesium to name a few. The cake, by comparison, will have the micronutrients of what it was made with, primarily from wheat, eggs and dairy.
Worth noting here is that if we are what we eat regularly then what we eat regularly is what it consumed regularly. Referring back to idea above that it's not so much where you shop, it's what you shop for. i.e., a pasture-raised chicken breast versus a generic, flash-frozen chicken breast is going to be 'made' out of different quality protein because the chickens were given different diets/lifestyles.
The density and quality of the micronutrients of the chicken breast is dependent on what it ate and how it lived; the quality of your body and life is dependent on how you live and what you eat (and what you eat ate! Plants eat too, so where your food is grown and what it consumed matters in the long run.)
Nutrient Density > Calorie Density
Just because something is calorically dense does not mean it is nutrient dense. Taking the cake example again, the cake is calorically and therefore energy dense; the combination of dairy and sugars make it energy dense. This is not to be confused with nutrient dense, which isn't always calorie dense.
A fillet of salmon is a great example of something that is both calorically and nutrient dense. A gram of fat is 9 calories, so an 8 oz salmon fillet would be roughly 400 calories. By comparison, an 8-ounce can of coke is approximately 140 calories, all from sugar. The salmon has omega fatty acids critical for brain and joint health on top of the protein; the can of coke is essentially empty, it's immediately used or stored.
If you're dieting, bulking, or maintaining, it's of critical importance you consider what you're eating and what you're eating ate. A person's 'dirty bulk' from a caloric overload of In n' Out to gain weight isn't going to be the same as the person eating just above maintenance calories with nutrient dense foods.
To recap, the body burns energy to live no matter what you do (BMR), you become what you eat on a regular basis, and all macros have micros and all macros have calories and micros are needed to properly use macros. You need to eat in a way that works for you.
Another way to think of 'right nutrition' is if you have to 'work off' what you ate is it really working for you? Conversely, when what you eat works for you you're working with your diet and not against it.
Holistic nutrition is taking into consideration all the factors outlined in Part 1: Metabolism and those outlined here to make good decisions about your diet. You consider what your needs are, which may look like less or more calories, and then decide on what foods to eat and where they come from.
Choose properly sourced nutrient-dense foods, those that have a lot of micronutrients like zinc, B vitamins and more, drink a lot of clean, mineralized water (with magnesium, potassium, and salts), and enjoy the meals that aren't necessarily the 'healthy option.'
(just don't make it your regular meal!)
This piece was intended to provide you a deeper look into the world of nutrition. Nutrition is certainly a science and this brief article is merely a glimpse. You must keep in mind that every single person on the planet is going to respond differently to foods and has a highly unique set of genetic and biological idiosyncrasies that make them, them. Hopefully this offered a general guideline and framework for you to navigate your nutritional needs and gave you that macro-micro x-ray vision to eat healthier.
Catch you on next week's blog on pre and probiotics!
By: Benjamin Cole
Perhaps the biggest phrase the fitness industry next to "what'd you hit yesterday?" is "form fits function." This phrase expands beyond fitness but finds a good home here in that our bodies fit the function we need them to, for better or worse. In this week's Evolve Blog, we're going to talk about ergonomics and morphology, the underlying sciences of the "form fits function" mantra in the fitness industry.
Ergonomics = Environment
The study of ergonomics is crafting our tools, equipment, and environment to better suit the human body and our productivity. Wikipedia states that ergonomics is a combination of numerous disciplines, ranging from engineering and biomechanics to psychology, physiology, and UX design.
Something that is 'ergonomic' is intended to fit your function. A quick Amazon search of 'ergonomics' will provide you with well over 100,000 different tools and equipment, from chairs and desks to mice, footrests, neck pillows, keyboards and more. If you want to work comfortably and productively, you have to do so in an environment that's conducive to those goals.
If you're writing your thesis or working from your computer there's a good chance you'd rather do that in a comfortable chair in an office with good wifi and a cup up a coffee (or two) versus a concrete floor with no support. In ergonomics, you are crafting your environment and equipment to suit your function, with you being the fit.
Morphology = Form of Organism
According to the Encyclopedia Brittanica, morphology is "the study of the size, shape, and structure of animals, plants, and microorganisms and of the relationships of their constituent parts." Said another way, morphology is the study of how an organism is structured in relation to what it needs to do by looking at what makes it up and how it "is."
If ergonomics is matching function to fit, morphology is analyzing fit to function. Quite simply, the human body's morphology has been designed over millennia by Mother Nature to be active, move often and stand more than sit. Modern society has forced us to sit down for our work, our commutes, our entertainment, and our gatherings. Some health experts are even saying sitting is the new smoking.
This recent Evolve Blog dives deep on that and spine health. Basically, our modern world and way of life is opposite to how Mother Nature designed us to function. Human Being's morphology indicates that we are meant to move, stand, and run regularly, not sit 10x more than any of those. A lot of us don't have a choice; our work demands of us that we "sit down and get to work."
How can we make the work fit our morphology? You might have seen the relatively recent craze for standing desks and even treadmill desks that are pushing the limit on how we work. This is a great example of abiding by our morphology by using ergonomics to match our function to our fit.
Mindful of Morphology
The point of this article in a large sense is to bring awareness to how the human body was designed by nature and how our modern work environment is at odds with that. Trainers and PTs all across the world deal with their client's postural distortions through corrective exercise and remediating their everyday positions that lead to their conditions. Upper and lower crossed syndrome and kyphosis and lordosis; all-too-common posture dysfunctions caused from excess sitting and poor posture.
So be mindful of your morphology. You don't have to buy a treadmill desk, but buying a more comfortable chair, walking every 45-60 minutes, and taking the stairs are all easy ways to be in accord with how the human body was designed to function. What is your function and how can you either improve your function to your fit or your fit to your function?
Form Fits Function
Now you likely have a good idea of what this phrase means. Your form, how you are, is the perfect fit to your function. If you have an arched back, forward shoulders and protruded cervical spine (forward head posture) there's a good chance you sit more than stand in a day and don't do any corrective exercise to combat this everyday positioning. Your form fits your daily function.
On the flip side of this, you can imagine how an athlete's program is designed. What function is the athletes body or mind needing to form to? What a defensive lineman needs is going to be vastly different from what the quarter back or wide receiver needs; their functions are different mentally and physically but their form fits their function individually. Trainers and PTs work to create the environment and fit for their clients function, be it reverse engineering how it's given them pain or how they can excel in game.
Deliberate Program Design
On a final note, trainers and PTs often look at what your day-to-day is like so they can combat what might be causing your pain or keeping you from your goals. In a way, we reverse engineer your lifestyle, showing you how your fit is matching your function, and we design programs that help you "fit better."
If there's ever a good reason to hire a PT, it's to have another set of eyes see what's your function, how you function, and how you can be more fit to lessen any pain or struggle you might have.
Ideally, this short piece gave you a new lens to view how you function, what "form fits function" means, and what trainers and PTs are doing when they ask you all these questions about how you do your life.
By: Mike Staszak PT
One aspect of starting a workout regimen that people dread is the soreness that comes with it. The day after a workout can be tough for even the most dedicated gym-goers. It is important to recognize the difference between soreness and a sports-related injury.
Soreness is very common and naturally occurring caused by muscles stretching and being stressed during a workout. Typically, you will notice the first signs of soreness either the night of or the morning after your workout. With soreness you may have tenderness and stiffness in the muscles that you used at the gym. To treat soreness light activity and stretching that keeps you moving but doesn’t cause extra stress to the impacted muscle groups is recommended. Normal activity should not be restricted from this type of soreness.
Unlike soreness, an injury will typically show itself as a sharp stabbing pain. If this occurs, it is time to see a Physical Therapist. Sometimes though, an injury is not as obvious and can disguise itself as common soreness. The difference between an injury and soreness is the length of recovery. Soreness should only last a few days and anything longer than that could potentially be a sign of underlying injury. If movement is hindered and and the soreness lasts longer than expected, it is time to make an appointment to let a professional determine what is causing your pain.
Physical therapy can help in both treating an injury and preventing injuries from occurring in the first place. Before you begin a workout regime consult a physical therapist to determine what your body can handle and to learn proper techniques when working out. If an injury occurs a physical therapist can create an individualized workout plan to get you back to full strength and back in the gym.
For more information about the differences between soreness and injury and how physical therapy can help with these problems call us at 541-505-8180. At Staszak Physical Therapy & Wellness Center, our professional staff want to help you reach your full potential. We will focus on you and your individual situation to create a plan that will help you achieve your goals.
About Mike Staszak
Michael Staszak has been an outpatient orthopedic physical therapist for the past 27 years. He is the owner of Staszak Physical Therapy & Wellness Center in Eugene. He and his staff believe that the more people understand how their bodies work and learn proper body mechanics, the less likely they are to become injured again. With this commitment to patient education, Michael provides wellness articles and presentations for businesses and community members.
Photos From Healthline, NBC News
Are you a creature of habit? If so, you're not alone. When it comes to exercise, many of us head for the same class at the gym, log the same workout on the elliptical, and run the same route every time we go out. While regular exercise is good for you, it’s also important to vary your fitness routine. Both your body and brain will reap benefits when you try new activities; it’s the key to stimulating different muscle groups and preventing boredom.
Here are a few benefits that come with mixing up your exercise routine.
Break Through Plateaus
When you do the same activity all the time, your body gets used to it and becomes very efficient. Eventually, that adaptation will mean you burn fewer calories even when you’re doing the same amount of exercise. If you challenge your body in a way that it’s not used to your body will have to work harder as it adjusts to the new activity, which means that you’ll burn more calories.
There’s a reason why you get hurt when you put your body through the same motions over and over again. This type of injury often occurs from doing lots of repetitive motions, such as running, hitting a tennis ball, kicking (in kickboxing or martial arts classes), etc. By mixing things up, you give those overused muscles, joints, and ligaments a chance to rest and recover before putting them into action again.
Build New Muscles
For most people, the best approach in exercise is to do a little of everything. This approach helps you to build a strong heart (for endurance), muscular legs, and a powerful upper body. You’ll look great and be physically ready to take on a variety of sports and activities.
If you find yourself literally counting down the seconds left in your elliptical workout or can hardly stand the sight of the same streets as you run down them, it’s time to switch up your routine. Keep your workouts from getting stale by constantly trying new things. At Evolve Fitness Studios we offer more than 80 classes each week so there are plenty to choose from so you can have a total change of pace.
Meet New Workout Partners
One of the best ways to stay engaged with exercise and committed to a regular schedule of activity is to find people you want to work out with. Join a running group, try a Pilates or Broga class with a friend, or bring a friend to join you for personal training as a duo.
Keep Your Brain Healthy
Exercise is essential for keeping your brain sharp and helping to prevent memory loss. Learning new skills also helps keep your neurons in better shape. When you learn a new exercise activity, it's a win-win for your body and your brain. The key is to choose activities that keep you engaged; don’t pick things that you can do like a braindead zombie. You don’t need to overexert yourself to reap the benefits of exercise for your brain and memory, but you should exercise regularly. Research shows that when you are active you have a lower risk for diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension, and stroke, all of which can affect memory.
Get Excited About Exercise, Again!
When you start feeling dread rather than enthusiasm for working out, it's time to switch things up. It might take a little sampling of different activities before you find the right mix that works for you, but stick with it and you'll find something you enjoy. Just make sure you include several different types of activities each week and swap out something new every once in a while to keep your routine fresh.
For many of us, the start of the year brings the desire to get back in shape, or take up a fitness routine for the first time. If that is true for you, watch this video for a little advice on how to have a successful start so your resolution doesn't fade away.
Like what you see? Give us a call today for a tour of Evolve Fitness Studios. You'll quickly see how we are different. 541-844-1295
We've all heard that water is good for us, and to be honest, most of us probably tune this out to some degree. But, as you are working on your overall health and fitness, drinking water is an essential component to reaching your goals. Here are just a few of the many reasons why water is vital for attaining good health.
1. Water lubricates the joints
In our bodies, cartilage, which is found in joints and the disks of the spine, contains approximately 80 percent water. If you don't drink enough water, this can lead to long-term dehydration that reduces the joints' shock-absorbing ability and increases the likelihood of joint pain.
2. Water delivers oxygen throughout the body
Oxygen is carried throughout the different parts of our body through our blood, which happens to be more than 90 percent water.
3. Water boosts skin health and beauty
When you don't drink enough water, your skin can become more vulnerable to skin disorders and premature wrinkling. Dehydration can make your skin look dull, whereas drinking plenty of water can help give your skin a glow.
4. Water cushions the brain, spinal cord, and other sensitive tissues
A lack of water can affect your brain structure and function. Water is also involved in the production of hormones and neurotransmitters, so when you suffer prolonged dehydration, you might begin to experience problems with thinking and reasoning.
5. Water regulates body temperature
Water that is stored in the middle layers of the skin comes to the skin's surface as sweat when the body heats up. As it evaporates, it cools the body. Some scientists have suggested that when there is too little water in the body, heat storage increases and you are less able to tolerate heat strain. Having a lot of water in your body may reduce physical strain if heat stress occurs during exercise.
6. The digestive system depends on water
For your bowel to work properly, it needs water. But, when you are dehydrated, you can experience digestive problems, constipation, and an overly acidic stomach. This increases the risk of heartburn and stomach ulcers.
7. Water helps maintain blood pressure
When we don't have enough water in our bodies, our blood can become thicker, increasing blood pressure.
8. Water makes minerals and nutrients accessible
Minerals and different nutrients often dissolve in water, which makes it possible for them to reach different parts of the body where they are needed.
9. Water boosts performance during exercise
If you've ever felt sluggish during a workout, it might be because you weren't getting enough water. Some scientists have proposed that consuming more water might enhance performance during strenuous activity. This is especially true for activities lasting longer than 30 minutes.
10. Water helps with weight loss
Water may help with weight loss if it is consumed instead of sweetened juices and sodas. "Preloading" with water before meals can also help prevent overeating by creating a sense of fullness.
So how much water is enough?
How much water we need to consume is influenced by a number of factors, even the climate. The amount of water needed each day varies from person to person, depending on how active they are, how much they sweat, and so on. While there is no fixed amount of water that must be consumed daily, there is general agreement on what a healthy fluid intake is.
According to the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, the average recommended daily intake of water from both food and drink is:
For men: Around 125 ounces
For women: Around 91 ounces
About 80 percent of this should come from drinks, including water, and the rest will be from food.
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