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Melissa McCourey RSP Nutrition Interview EP#119

Today’s guest, Melissa McCoury is a NASM certified trainer, figure and bikini competitor and all-around expert on anything pertaining to performance nutrition. She answers some questions about intermittent fasting and how to use a cyclical ketogenic approach to accelerate your results. Follow @fitfirstlady_rsp on Instagram now for a daily dose of inspiration!

We’re partnering with RSP Nutrition to give away 2 bottles of Quadralean and 2 bottles of RSP L-Carnitine to 4 lucky winners. Winner will be announced next Friday 8/4 on the podcast and on my Instagram account. Melissa and I will judge the best answer to the question “What else could RSP stand for?” Be creative, be funny but keep it clean. (😊 Remember the game you used to play with letters on license plates while traveling on the highway?) Most creative answers win!


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Training for Maximum Fat Burning

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When people ask “What’s the best type of exercise to burn fat, weight training or cardio?” my standard response is “Both!” You see, different types of activity rely on different energy “pathways” and so they affect our metabolism differently.

Moderate-intensity activity such as walking, hiking, cycling, etc utilizes a mix of glycogen (stored carbohydrate) and fat to fuel performance. If you are following a lower-carbohydrate eating plan the muscles will burn fat more readily once the glycogen stores have been depleted. (This is why I recommend doing weight training first before a cardio session.)

Higher-intensity activity like running or higher-repetition weight training uses more glycogen (carbohydrate) for fuel but it also pushes the body to make more adaptations resulting in a higher level of fitness along with  increased cardiovascular capacity, improved ability to utilize oxygen, improved blood pressure, reduced insulin levels, and more.

The best mix I’ve discovered when it comes to cardiovascular exercise is something called H.I.I.T or High-Intensity-Interval-Training.

It sounds complicated but it’s really not! It simply involves alternating bursts of higher effort with lower-intensity or recovery periods.

My standard pattern is 5 rounds of 5 minute cycles going from lower to higher intensity effort on an elliptical machine. I increase the resistance level each minute. On every 5th minute I try to push my heart rate to about 75%-80% of my max.

Another secret to maximizing fat burning during exercise is to keep the intensity to a level that allows you to breathe through your nose. Once you reach a level that requires you to breathe through your mouth you have crossed from aerobic (with oxygen) to anaerobic (without oxygen) and are more likely to require glucose from stored carbohydrates or worse, force your body to break down your hard earned muscle tissue and turn it into glucose!

The majority of effort needed to transform your physique  and improve your health can come from dietary changes and a few key supplements. It’s not necessary to go so hard in the gym that you don’t enjoy your workouts. Put these tips into practice and take your workout to a whole new level!


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Weight Training 101

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Most people think weight training is only useful if you’re trying to “get big” or “bulk up”. The idea that weight training can also be helpful for getting lean and improving general health is one that is still catching on.

Here are the facts: Your body composition (the amount of lean tissue you have relative to your overall body weight) is the main determining factor in how you look and even in the level of health and fitness you are able to attain. Muscle tissue is highly active metabolically speaking. It requires more energy to maintain and thus creates an increase in your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate). That’s the rate at which your body burns calories, even at rest.

Fat (or adipose tissue)  on the other hand, is basically an inert substance. Think of it as a storage reservoir of energy. Your body won’t tap into that stored energy unless it becomes necessary. While you can create a calorie deficit by eating less and moving around more (ie. cardio) weight training is a much more efficient method since the activity itself uses more energy and the resulting increase in muscle tissue creates an even greater demand for energy.

So, now that you know why building muscle is important, it’s time to learn exactly how to do it. The basic premise behind progressive resistance training is very simple:

“In order to increase the size and strength of your muscles, you must continually apply resistance against a demand that exceeds your current limitations.”

You probably know that training your entire body is better than just training isolated body parts. You probably know that it’s important to give equal attention to pushing and pulling movements to ensure balanced development. You probably know that you should train your upper and lower body. There is no shortage of online workouts and thousands of books have been written on the subject.  What you may not know is that in order to improve, you must continually strive to exceed your current level of development.

In the gym, this means continually adding more weights, completing more repetitions, or both.

I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much physiology but there are two main types of muscle fibers:

  • Type I Muscle Fiber. Also known as slow twitch fibers, type I muscle fibers use oxygen more efficiently and can be used over longer periods of time ( think endurance). These are our smaller, least powerful muscle fibers that have little potential for hypertrophy.
  • Type II Muscle Fiber. This is the fast twitch type of muscle fiber that can burn energy quickly for short bursts of strength. These are our larger, more powerful muscle fibers that have a great potential for hypertrophy or growth.                                   (Source: International Sports Sciences Association )

So, the muscles that have the greatest potential for increase are composed of fibers that respond to heavier weights and a relatively lower number of repetitions (4-8). “Feeling the burn” by pushing for more and more repetitions is fine to warm up, to thoroughly tax a muscle or to induce a “pump” but it’s not optimal for increasing size or strength.

I created an outline of the exact workout technique I use. It’s called “pyramiding”. Basically, it involves starting with a lighter weight at higher repetitions (13-16) and adding weight on each set while reducing the number of repetitions on each successive set. If you would like to check it out, just contact me here and I’ll send you a copy.


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How to Speed Up Your Metabolism

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We usually think of weight loss as the product of a “diet” (overly restrictive guidelines that keep us feeling deprived of our favorite foods until we give up and go back to what we were doing before).

The key to lifelong success is to fill up on real food (things like fiber rich vegetables, lean protein and healthy fats) and take a detour to those things you “just can’t live without” at least once or twice a week. (That’s right! It’s o.k. to swerve every week as long as you get right back on track the next day.)

My nutrition method is very simple. It relies on feeding your body consistently. You see, when you give your body the nutrients it actually needs from whole food sources like lean protein and vegetables, all those “cravings” you were having instantly and miraculously disappear.

Success on this program does require that you eliminate or restrict certain refined and processed “foods” like chips, cookies, crackers, sodas and candy temporarily to break the addictive patterns. Once your blood sugar is stabilized you can have your favorites every single week and still lose weight!

Combine those tips with a safe, effective workout program that includes strength training and cardiovascular exercise and you have a plan that will get results!

To find out more click here to pick up a free copy of my ebook Finding a Better Balance that details the steps I used to lose 70 lbs and keep it off!


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Reducing Stress for Weight Loss

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Many experts are now predicting that this generation of Americans may actually have a shorter life span than the previous one! For the first time in history, our very survival as a species is being threatened by an attacker of our own creation.

Everyone knows that stress kills. In the proper context however, stress also ensures that we take action and adapt. In our modern hectic lives, rather than saber-toothed tigers and woolly mammoths, we are assaulted on a daily basis by commutes and desk jobs.

This combination of inactivity and the increasing amount of processed foods we consume is killing us. The body can’t make a distinction between these perceived threats and the real thing, so it triggers the adrenal glands to produce a flood of stress hormones and sends us into fight or flight mode, a state in which we prepare to face an attacker or run away.

Not only do the excess calories from processed foods contribute an an ever-expanding waistline, many of these foods also contain artificial colors, flavors and preservatives that we are not equipped to deal with, so the body just simply stores them as excess adipose tissue (a.k.a FAT!)

Intense physical activity is the way our bodies are designed to naturally burn off excess stress hormones and other nasty toxins in the bloodstream. These hormones, like adrenaline, epinephrine and cortisol are there to give us a burst of energy when we need it most. Here are three keys to “maximize your exercise” and survive in the modern world. (In order to F.I.T. daily activity into your daily life just remember this simple acronym:)

Frequency: The first consideration is training often enough. I say treat it like brushing your teeth and make it a daily habit. At a minimum you should strive for about 2-3 hours of focused activity per week.

Intensity: Any effort is better than none, but as you progress you should strive for higher and higher levels of intensity. Aim for 60%-80% of your maximum heart rate (220-your age).

Teamwork: In times past, we had to band together in tribes in order to survive. Find a group or individual to partner up with and push each other towards staying consistent with good health habits.

Do you have a tip or technique that helps you exercise more consistently? I’d love to hear about it! Please comment below


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How to Break a Weight Loss Plateau

 

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I’ve been doing some research lately on a phenomenon known as Metabolic Adaptation. Basically, it’s what happens over time when your body catches up to a lower calorie intake or increase in calorie burn due to increased activity. In a nutshell, your metabolism adapts to the new level and you may no longer lose weight as easily or even begin to gain weight although you are still eating less and exercising more.

I experienced this personally a little over a year ago and my initial reaction, like that of many people, was to eat less and train harder.  The key to resetting the metabolism however, is a little more counter-intuitive than that.

A basic principle of biology is at work here. Known as homeostasis, it’s the concept that all organisms (including us) strive to maintain internal conditions. An area of the brain known as the hypothalamus regulates everything from body temperature to appetite control and resting energy expenditure. In order to override this survival mechanism and continue progressing, you must do the one thing every athlete fears, eat more and train less…

You will definitely want to increase calories slowly to stimulate the metabolism, especially if you’ve been in a caloric deficit for a long time. Here are some rut busting techniques you can use:

Carb-cycling- Alternating days of lower and higher carbohydrate intake dictated by your training schedule can effectively reset production of hormones, such as grehlin and leptin,  that play a major role in appetite and thermogenesis.

Cheat to Win – The classic “cheat day” can play a major role in convincing your body that starvation is not imminent and that it’s ok to release stored body fat for energy.

Train Slow and Low – Reducing overall training volume (especially cardiovascular intensity) can be helpful during periods of metabolic rest. The technical term for this is periodization.

For a more scholarly look at this topic I invite you to read this article from the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. As always, I welcome your questions or comments below.

I created an outline of the exact meal plan I used to maintain a weight loss of over 60 lbs. If you would like to check it out, just visit the free downloads page and click on the Nutrition, Training and Supplementation Guide.

To order a free customized body composition analysis and nutrition report that will show you how many calories you burn each day and exactly how to eat and train to maximize your metabolism,  contact me here!


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Best Supplements for Burning Fat and Building Muscle

 

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Provided your training and nutrition are in check, supplements can help you gain an advantage and take your physique to the next level. Here’s a quick list of the ones I take and recommend. I wish to stress that nutritional supplements are not a replacement for a workout program or attention to detail with diet, they merely complement these components of an overall program.

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Protein:  (Post-training / Daily)  

  • Involved in every physiological process in the body.
  • Provides raw material for muscle growth and aids in recovery following intense training.
  • Helps with a feeling of fullness
  •  Requires more energy to process than carbohydrates or fat.
  •  Consuming six meals of whole food per day can get expensive, time-consuming or impractical.
  • Provides an alternative to sweets or processed junk foods  300

 Energy & Metabolism multivitamin/vitapak with fish oil: (Pre-training / Daily)       

  • Provides all essential micronutrients to protect against cell damage and aid in repair and recovery.
  • Contains key ingredients to speed up metabolism and increase calorie burning while decreasing appetite.
  • Fish oil helps reduce inflammation, ease joint pain and improve circulation.

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Creatine / Creatine Nitrate NO3 (Pre-Training / Daily)

  • Creatine enhances muscle strength and improves recovery time between sets.
  • Nitric Oxide acts as a vasodilator, relaxing blood vessel walls creating better blood flow and circulation.

 

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Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s) Pre or Post-Training

  • Triggers muscle protein synthesis in response to training.
  • Provides electrolytes which are depleted during intense workouts.
  • Aids in recovery.
  • Can prevent muscle tissue breakdown during training if consumed before a workout.  

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L-Glutamine  

  • Most Abundant Amino acid in the body
  • Prevents muscle tissue breakdown and muscle-wasting (especially at night).
  • Rebuilds muscle tissue and aids in immune function.

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Testosterone Booster (Men)

  • Increases muscle building environment in the body.
  • Provides strength, energy, and mood support.
  • Key hormone involved in fat loss and muscle gain.
  • Added benefit of increasing sex drive

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Probiotic

  • Prevents bloating, cramping and gas.
  • Breaks down food and improves absorption of nutrients.
  • Plays a key role in immune function.

   This list is by no means exhaustive and I don’t want to give the impression that I take every single one of these products each day. Every individual is different and needs to take the time to research the ingredients to develop a program that works for him or her. If you need some solid recommendations on nutrition, training, mindset or supplementation, don’t hesitate to email me or comment below: