How One Small Change this Year Could Have a Significant Impact on Your Overall Health

If you’re looking to make one change this year that in turn will have the biggest impact on your overall health, then start looking at the amount of added sugar you’re consuming. All the exercise that you’re doing is great but simply cutting back on your daily added sugar consumption, in conjunction with moving more, is the key to effectively changing your body composition and improving your overall health.


To help keep you motivated, take a waist and hip circumference measurement and look at what is known as the waist-to-hip ratio (WHR). Check this every 8-12 weeks and monitor changes. Research has demonstrated that there is a direct correlation with added sugar consumption, overall health and WHR.

“The WHO defines the ratios of >9.0 in men and >8.5 in women as one of the decisive benchmarks for metabolic syndrome. Welborn and Dahlia (2007) and Srikanthan, Seeman, and Karlamangla (2009) confirm, and cite several other investigations that show waist-to-hip ratio being the superior clinical measurement for predicting all cause and cardiovascular disease mortality.”  (Kravitz)

Look to put yourself (and family) on a sugar budget at the start of the new year. Its difficult to totally remove it from your diet but if you begin to monitor it on a daily basis, you’ll be amazed first, how prevalent it is and secondly, as you slowly begin to take it away you won’t crave it as much after a week or two.

Start by reading all food labels and cut back on the processed foods. You need to first get educated on where sugar “hides” and then start to cut back. Keep in mind there are more than 50 different names for sugar, avoid anything that ends in “ose” or contains high-fructose corn syrup etc. Choose better food options for you and your family and begin to replace the high sugar foods today. This is from a recent tweet of mine:

A simple concept that I follow for myself and my (male) clients is to consume no more than 150 calories a day from added sugar which equates to 38 grams (which is what you can start to keep track of or “budget” on a daily basis). Keep in mind that carbohydrates contain 4 calories/gram of energy (4/150 = 38 grams). Women on that same line should consume no more than 100 calories a day from added sugar which figures out to 25 grams a day (4/100 = 25 grams).

There are two types of sugars, natural sugar and added sugar. The conversation today is not about natural sugars (like fruit, milk, cheese, etc.) it’s about added sugar, which is everything you may have been eating that comes out of a package, box, carton or can.

If you need a little more convincing on the topic, take time to read Gary Taubes latest book, The Case Against Sugar, which I highly recommend.

Follow this one health tip and you will not only see noticeable changes – you’ll also avoid having a negative impact on your metabolism, the way all fad diets invariably do.


Welborn, T.A. and Dhaliwal, S.S. (2007). Preferred clinical measures of central obesity for predicting mortality. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 61, 1373-1379.

Srikanthan, P., Seeman, T.E., and Karlamangla, A.S. (2009). Waist-hip-ratio as a predictor of all-cause mortality in high-functioning older adults. Annals of Epidemiology, 19, 724-731.

Taubes, G., (2017) The Case Against Sugar, Random House.

10 Reasons Why You Should Do More Strength Training and Cardio

300px-Diagram_of_the_human_heart_(cropped)_svgI have been looking back on some of my recent strength training sessions as well as the interval training I have been doing on the cardio side. We have a tendency, with exercise, to judge if it’s working by what the bathroom scale currently reads. But that should not be the case; weight loss does not always depict the full story. With each bout of exercise, we are improving various physiological and psychological aspects of our body that are not visible to the naked eye. For example:

Strength Training:

  • Building muscle mass can increase metabolism by 15% – so if you’re looking to rev up that slow metabolism and become or stay functional as you age – you need to be strength training at least a few times each week.
  • Prevents Sarcopenia – which is the loss of muscle mass as you age – you can lose up to 10% or more of your muscle per decade after age 50.
  • Plays a role in disease prevention – like type 2 diabetes for example.
  • Improves the way your body moves resulting in better balance and less falls as you age (you can reduce your risk for falling by 40%).
  • Preserves the loss of muscle during weight loss (Donnelly et al., 2003)
  • Will offset bone loss as you age – women can expect to lose 1% of their bone mass after age 35 (and this increases following menopause) – see Strong Women, Strong Bones

Cardiovascular Exercise:

  • Aerobic exercise will improve your mood by decreasing stress and anxiety levels – read The Inner Runner by Jason Karp, Phd and Exercise for Mood and Anxiety by Michael Otto, Phd and Jasper Smits, PhD
  • Regular cardio exercise like jogging, hiking, jump roping etc will “load” your bones in your lower extremity and make them stronger.
  • Makes your heart stronger, lowers your resting heart rate and enables your body to deliver oxygen more efficiently to your working muscles.
  • The American College of Sports Medicine states that higher levels of cardiovascular fitness are associated with approximately a 50% reduction in disease risk.


Donnelly, J.E., Jakicic, J.M., Pronk, N., Smith, B.K., Kirk, E.P., Jacobsen, D.J., Washburn, R. “Is Resistance Training Effective for Weight Management?” Evidence-Based Preventive Medicine. 2003; 1(1): 21-29.

6 Minutes of High Intensity Training Elevates Metabolism for 36 Hours

The following study published in the Journal of Applied Research by Petrofsky and colleagues showed that only six minutes of high-intensity training (HIT) can elevate metabolism for up to 36 hours.

The exercise protocol, conducted by researchers from Azusa Pacific University in CA, consisted of a one-minute warm-up, four-minutes of high-intensity work followed by one-minute of recovery. All ten subjects followed an exercise video for six minutes. All subjects had a personal trainer present to ensure the protocol was followed especially during the four-minute HIT component. The HIT consisted of 8 intervals; each interval was 20 seconds of exercise followed by 10 seconds of recovery. The body weight exercises included squats, jumping in place, lunges, and split squats. The experiments were conducted over a 4 day period.


The top subject in the group burned 112 calories during the six minute protocol and 345 calories over the next 24 hours for a total of 457 calories. At three and six hours post exercise, oxygen consumption was still significantly elevated at 26% and 20% respectively compared to resting values. The study showed that the substrate used during exercise was mainly carbohydrate but following exercise, more fat was utilized. This study compared well with other studies that demonstrated excess post-oxygen consumption was significantly greater for 24 hours but extended out to 36 hours.


Petrofsky J et al. (2011). Post exercise Basil Metabolic Rate Following a 6 Minute High Intensity Interval Workout. The Journal of Applied Research 11(2):65-72.

A “Good Morning” Workout That’s Fast and Efficient

UnknownHave you ever wondered what’s the best time to workout, in the morning or afternoon? Well, you already know the answer – a time that is going to consistently work for you. The great thing about a morning workout, however, is that you get to jump start your metabolism. You also get to focus more on your upcoming day knowing you don’t have to think about how and when you’re going to exercise. Another great point is you start your day off more energized and with a better outlook than if you did not exercise. On the flip side, research has shown that your body performs at a higher level during mid-day and late afternoon compared to early mornings. One reason is because your body temperature is at its highest around 4-5 PM and as body core temperature increases, muscles work better.

Dr. David Hill has stated that strength output is 5% higher around mid-day and that anaerobic performance (think sprinting and explosive-type movements) improves by 5% in the late afternoon. Additional research has demonstrated that aerobic capacity is 4% higher in the afternoon as well.

If you choose to exercise in the morning, it’s important to give your body time to wake-up and “turn on” the nervous system and start activating your muscles slowly in order to prepare your body for upcoming activity.

The following is a fast and efficient exercise routine that should be used as a template and adjusted according to individual ability and goals. This should also be tried after your body is sweating from 10-15 minutes of movement prep, light jogging, rowing, biking, jumping rope etc.

  • Pull-up x 1-3 repetitions
  • T-Push-up x 1-3 reps.
  • Prone Plank (abs) x :30 seconds
  • DB Squat x 1-3 reps.
  • DB Hammer Curl/Squat to Press x 1-3 reps.

*DB = dumbbell

Repeat for 3 sets or circuits. You have the option of simply doing each exercise for only one repetition to get things started and apply that for all 3 sets if you choose. Then repeat the same group of exercises for another 3-5 repetitions for 3 additional sets. Finish with an easy 500 to 1000 meter row or something similar to cool down.

The by-product of this workout is an early boost in regard to your metabolism. To really take advantage of this, drink 16 ounces of water when you first wake up. Research shows this will speed up metabolism by 29% for the next few hours. Eat something light, perform the workout and follow up with a whey protein drink immediately post workout and you’re off to a good morning!


Hill, DW, Cureton, KJ, Collins MA, (1989). Circadian specificity in exercise training, Ergonomics 32(1):79-92.

3 Ways to Immediately Speed-Up Your Metabolism

Calorie Balance Image

Metabolism refers to the process of how your body converts what you eat and drink into chemical energy. It is basically the number of calories you burn each day. During this complex biochemical process, the calories in food and drink are combined with oxygen to release the energy your body needs to function. The number of calories that your body uses to carry out these basic functions is known as your basal metabolic rate. Human metabolism can either increase or decrease depending on a variety of factors such as the intensity of an exercise session, nutrition and among other things the aging process.

According to WebMD, “metabolism is the process of breaking down proteins, carbohydrates, and fats to yield the energy your body needs to maintain itself. The rate of your metabolism depends on the interaction between the number of calories you consume, the number of calories you burn while eating and exercising, and the calories you burn based on your individual genetic makeup.”

Here are three ways you can speed up your metabolism helping you burn more calories each day.

1. Water Thermogenesis: There are countless research studies that demonstrate drinking water increases metabolism. One research study showed drinking 500 ml of water (17 oz) increased metabolism by 30% within 10 minutes of drinking and had a maximum effect at 40 minutes. Try drinking a 17 oz. glass when you first wake up and again before each meal (Journal Clin Endocrinol Metab. (2003) 88(12):6015-9).

2. Thermic Effect of Food: It takes energy in the form of calories to break down the food you eat. The thermic effect of food accounts for about 10% of your total energy expenditure. Calories are needed for chewing, processing and metabolizing the food you consume each day. In terms of the percentage of calories needed to break down specific foods, fats use only 5%, carbohydrates 10-13% and protein requires 30%. This means if you eat a 100 calories of protein, your body uses 30 calories right off the top to metabolize it, leaving a net of 70 calories. Try to eat 20 grams of protein with each meal. (Metabolism. (1985) 34(3):285-93).

3. Thermic Effect of Activity: This is the area where you can really make an impact in terms of increasing the total calories expended on a daily basis. Look to burn more calories with everyday activities like standing, walking and stair-climbing. Do more of this and less sitting throughout the day. This is also called NEAT, non-exercise activity thermogenesis, the additional calories expended outside of exercise.

In addition, you also have thermic effect of exercise. This number is typically 25% of your daily total energy expenditure but be aware that it can range from 10-50%. Inactive individuals may expend only a few hundred calories from activity while endurance athletes can expend thousands of calories. It comes down to one word: intensity. When you exercise at a high intensity you will expend more total calories and a higher percentage of those calories will come from stored fat calories. With high intensity exercise (like HIIT and Tabata type workouts) you could potentially expend hundreds of additional calories post workout, known as after-burn or EPOC (excess-post oxygen consumption). Try adding 1-2 high intensity interval sessions to your weekly workout schedule. Remember to build up slowly. (Med Sci Sports Exerc. (1989) 21(5):515-25).