Tag Archives: exercise

Move More, Eat MORE

7 Oct

By Tim Skwiat, MEd, CSCS, Pn2

When it comes to fat loss, it’s quite common to hear the adage, “Move more, eat less,” which stems from the fundamental principle of physiology, nutrition, and metabolism that states:

In order to lose weight, one must consume fewer calories than s/he burns—on a regular basis, consistently over time.1

Simply put, this is saying that a calorie deficit is necessary (over time) for meaningful fat loss. As simple and straightforward as that is, it’s neither easy nor particularly useful. Just ask anyone who’s attempted to lose weight through a reduced-calorie diet (i.e., eat less). For the overwhelming majority of folks, it’s not sustainable. In fact, researchers estimate that fewer than 25% of folks who lose weight are successfully able to keep it off for at least a year.2

While human physiology complies with the first law of thermodynamics, the “move more, eat less” axiom takes into consideration only a narrow aspect of the weight management equation. That is, there’s more to the story than the “numbers game” (i.e., counting calories) including a variety of environmental and behavioral factors.3

In other words choice to eat food can be sparked by metabolic need, hedonic drive (i.e., the “food reward system”), or a combination of the two. In today’s world, we no longer eat only when we’re “metabolically hungry.” Instead, we are driven to eat even when we’re not truly hungry and despite having vast energy reserves (i.e., body fat).

More and more, obesity researchers are investigating the impact of hedonic drive and other factors, which involves cognitive, reward, and emotional aspects, and may include choosing to eat based on food environment, food addiction, stress relief, boredom, and mood elevation.4

For example, think about a time when you ate (or drank) something because you felt that you “deserved” it, whether that was after a tough workout or a stressful day at the office. You weren’t necessarily hungry, but you made up your mind that you “earned” that reward. Another example of hedonic eating is susceptibility to food environment cues. Think back to a time when you ate something “because it was there.” Ever happen to you?

All of that is meant to create awareness that the “Move more, eat less” approach to fat loss, while “accurate,” may not be all that utilitarian or encompassing. In other words, from a well-educated fitness professional, it’s not very articulate or useful advice. However, there is truth to it, but does it tell the whole story?

Move More, Eat More

It’s no secret that most people could stand to move more. Generally speaking, research suggests that lack of physical activity is a significant determinant of the overall rise in obesity amongst adults and adolescents.5,6 Not surprisingly, people who are “normal weight” typically engage in more moderate and vigorous physical activity compared to overweight and obese folks.7

With little to debate about the energy expenditure portion of the equation, what about eating more? That seems to violate the law of thermodynamics and the age-old proverb about eating less, right?

Yes and no. Again, there’s no discounting the energy balance equation; the current body of scientific research suggests that this is necessary to lose fat. However, eating fewer calories (which can be viewed as “eating less”) doesn’t necessarily have to mean eating less food. In fact, studies show that it’s possible to eat significantly more food and lose substantially more fat.

That is, you don’t necessarily need to rely on the “numbers game” to achieve and maintain your ideal body composition. You see, research suggests that people may not limit what they consume based on calories alone. Specifically, feeling full (i.e., satiety) is a major reason that people stop eating. In other words, rather than the calorie content of food, the volume (i.e., weight, amount) of food that is consumed at a meal is what makes people feel full and stop eating.8

In fact, research strongly suggests that how much you eat daily is regulated by the weight of the food rather than by a certain number of calories. Researchers from Penn State have posited that “energy density is a key determinant of energy intake in that cognitive, behavioral, and sensory cues related to the volume or weight of food consumed can interact with or override physiological cues associated with food intake.”9

Energy density is defined as the relationship of calories to the weight of food (i.e., calories per gram). Foods like oils, bacon, butter, cookies, crackers, junk food, fast food, etc., are generally considered “high-energy-dense” foods (i.e., 4 – 9 calories per gram by weight); on the contrary, nearly all fresh vegetables (and fruits) are considered “low-energy-dense” foods (i.e., 0.0 – 1.5 calories per gram, by weight), as they tend to have a high water content and be a very good source of fiber, two important factors reducing energy density. Fiber itself has a relatively low-energy density, providing only about 1.5 – 2.5 calories per gram.

Along those lines, researchers have found that when folks consume low-energy-dense foods, they feel satisfied earlier and those feelings of fullness persist for relatively longer periods of time—despite reductions in calorie intake. In other words, diets rich in low-energy-dense foods like fruits and vegetables allow folks to eat more total food, which leads to greater feelings of satiety, all while reducing calorie intake.10 By definition, that’s eating more (overall food) and less (calories). Bingo!

In one study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers from the University of Alabama allowed participants to eat as much food as they wanted (think all-you-can-eat buffet) over the course of 5 days, and their menu options alternated from low-energy-dense to high-energy-dense foods. On the low-energy-density diet, the folks ate only about HALF of the calories (1570) that they consumed before feeling full compared with the high-energy-density diet (3000 calories).11 Satiety (i.e., fullness and satisfaction) and food acceptance ratings were not different across days, meaning that they didn’t stop eating because they didn’t like the food.

In another study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers from the CDC found that men and women (over 7,000 of them) who consumed a diet rich in low-energy-dense foods consumed between 275 – 425 fewer calories per day than did those folks who opted for more high-energy-dense foods; not only that, the men and women eating more low-energy-dense foods consumed upwards of 14 MORE ounces of food per day (that’s almost a pound).10 Not surprisingly, the folks who ate more low-energy-dense foods like vegetables had healthier body weights (i.e., lowest prevalence of obesity).

A number of other studies have confirmed these findings: Diets rich in low-energy-dense foods like vegetables, fruits, broth-based soups, high-fiber foods, foods with high water content, etc., promote satiety (i.e., feelings of fullness and satisfaction), reduce hunger, and decrease overall calorie intake.

What’s more, long-term studies have shown that low-energy-dense diets also promote weight loss. In fact, studies lasting longer than 6 months demonstrate that folks who eat more low-energy-dense foods experience THREE TIMES greater weight loss than people who simply opt to reduce calories.12

In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers from Penn State University found that overweight women who focused on increasing their intake of low-energy-dense foods (i.e., fruits and vegetables) lost nearly 25% more weight over the course of one year compared to women who were instructed to follow a reduced-calorie diet alone. The women who focused on eating more fruits and vegetables ended up consuming MORE food (despite consuming fewer calories) and experienced greater satiety. The researchers concluded, “Reducing dietary energy density, particularly by increasing fruit and vegetable intakes, is an effective strategy for managing body weight while controlling hunger.”13

With all of that in mind, it should be a bit more clear how you can eat less and more at the same time to support your body composition goals by centering much of your food intake around low-energy-dense foods. This is not only an effective strategy for improving appetite control and reducing caloric intake. You see, what these low-energy-dense foods lack in calories more than make up for in their nutrient density, as they are packed with fiber, essential micronutrients, and important phytochemicals that act as potent antioxidants.

Examples of low-energy-dense foods:

  • Nearly all fresh vegetables and fruits
  • Colorful, starchy vegetables and fruits (e.g., bananas, potatoes, squash, yams)
  • Broth-based soups
  • Beans and lentils
  • Dairy (e.g., Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, milk)
  • Minimally-processed whole grains (e.g., quinoa, maize, amaranth, oats, rice, barley, sprouted grains, spelt, etc.)

Another Hunger Buster

Speaking of satiety, the discussion would not be complete without mentioning dietary protein, which is a nutrition all-star for a number of reasons, including its impact on appetite control.

In general, protein-rich foods result in a greater sense of satisfaction than fat- or carbohydrate-rich foods, and when you eat protein-dense meals, they tend to decrease calorie intake in subsequent feedings. In other words, protein-rich foods and protein-dense meals help you feel fuller, longer.14

Not only that, dietary protein exerts a significantly higher “thermic effect” than fats or carbohydrates, and high-protein meals are associated with increased thermogenesis. Simply put, a higher protein intake increases energy expenditure and boosts the metabolism.15

Even more, high-protein diets help build and maintain lean body mass and preserve metabolic rate, both of which are frequently compromised when dieting for fat loss.16 High-protein diets also tend to lead to significantly greater fat loss, and as a result, markedly better improvements in body composition.

As a matter of fact, when researchers from the University of Illinois compared the effects a high-protein diet to a standard reduced-calorie diet, they found that those folks who consumed more protein experienced a 62% greater ratio of fat loss—even though both groups consumed the same number of calories. 17

The researchers concluded, “This study demonstrates that increasing the proportion of protein to carbohydrate in the diet of adult women has positive effects on body composition, blood lipids, glucose homeostasis and satiety during weight loss.”

Despite the benefits on body composition, metabolism, and appetite, most folks don’t consume enough protein, and eating lean protein at each meal—a key habit of highly effective nutrition plans—along with low-energy dense foods can be tricky. That’s why a high-quality protein supplement tends to be foundational for optimizing overall health, body composition, and performance.

Because protein supplements are typically mixed with water or low-calorie liquid (e.g., unsweetened almond milk), they are inherently low-energy-dense options. For instance, the protein supplement recommended above mixed with 8 ounces of unsweetened almond milk has an energy density of about 0.6 calories per gram.

What’s also neat about a protein supplement is that it provides an opportunity to “sneak” in more low-energy-dense vegetables and fruits. For instance, you can add a couple of handfuls of spinach and some berries to make a great-tasting, nutrient-dense, low-energy dense protein smoothie.

As mentioned above, certain forms (e.g., cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, milk) of dairy are low-energy-dense and protein-dense, and a number of studies have demonstrated that dairy consumption may contribute to increases in lean body mass along with losses in body fat (i.e., improved body composition).18–22

Some folks do take issue with dairy, and in many cases, mild discomfort (whether real or perceived) can be alleviated by gradually increasing consumption and/or through use of digestive enzyme supplementation. While most digestive enzyme supplements in this category tend to only supply the lactase enzyme—which is necessary for the proper breakdown of the sugar lactose found in milk—it’s a better idea to consider a full-spectrum product that also includes proteolytic enzymes to help with the digestion of the proteins (e.g., whey, casein) found in milk, as they may also contribute to digestive discomfort.

Note: The majority of lean protein sources (e.g., beef, poultry, seafood, eggs, wild game, etc.) classify as “medium-energy-dense” foods, but they are still exceptional food choices and provide extraordinary nutrient density. As cited above, there are numerous advantages behind consuming protein-rich foods and a high-protein diet beyond the energy density discussion.

Move More, Eat More 2.0

Another interesting application of the “Move more, eat more” concept is what Dr. John Berardi has long advocated and described as G-Flux.23 The concept behind G-Flux, or energy flux, is that there is a multitude of benefits associated with a concomitant increase in both energy expenditure and calorie intake, including:

  • Improvements in body composition
  • Increased metabolic rate
  • Better recovery from and adaptations to exercise
  • Improved health
  • Greater nutrient density and improved micronutrient delivery

In general, when one increases activity (e.g., exercise), s/he burns a certain number of calories. Likewise, any time that you eat, your body expends energy (i.e., thermic effect of feeding) to digest, absorb, and assimilate the nutrients contained in food. With that in mind, there should be a predictable increase in energy expenditure when folks increase both physical activity and food intake.

What’s particularly interesting is that research suggests that these “high energy flux” states result in an unexpected and significant increase in the number of calories burned. In other words, when folks simultaneously increase physical activity and food intake, they tend to show significant increases in resting metabolic rate and burn even more calories than would be expected.24,25 Pretty nifty trick, and even more evidence of the “Move more, eat more” slogan.

What’s also interesting to note is that many folks tend to subconsciously increase non-exercise activity levels when they consume more calories. In other words, researchers have found that some people innately burn off more energy—through fidgeting, maintaining posture, daily activities—in response to overeating in order to preserve leanness and avoid gaining body fat.26 Thus, eating more can actually facilitate moving more, which enhances energy flux and body composition.

Take-Home Points

  • When it comes to fat loss, “Move more, eat less” makes sense, and it’s based on fundamental principles of human physiology. Although many researchers argue that there are other factors in play, an imbalance of calories consumed versus energy expended best describes how body weight changes.27 With that said, this common axiom is overly simplistic, and it doesn’t take into account other important factors (e.g., environment, hedonic compensation) that may influence food intake and eating behaviors.
  • “Move more, eat more” means that you can actually eat a substantially larger volume of food (i.e., low-energy-dense foods), which leads to greater satiety, fewer calories consumed, and greater overall nutrient intake.
  • Especially when starting a fat loss program, begin with the highest possible calorie intake. This leaves the most room for progression along the way. Dramatic reductions in food intake result in significant decreases in energy expenditure (e.g., reduced thermic effect of feeding, decreased cost of physical activity, reduced resting metabolic rate, and metabolic adaptations).28,29
  • Try not to get too caught up in the “numbers game.” While calories in versus calories out may be a rational scientific explanation, it’s virtually impossible to estimate the number of calories that you expend during activity or over the course of the day. Calorie counting can be a futile process, as labels and reporting may lead to estimates with a 30% margin of error. What’s more, without sophisticated equipment, it’s not feasible to accurately assess the number of calories absorbed.
  • When you’re encroaching on a plateau, experiment with the G-Flux concept—simultaneously increase physical activity and food intake. Done progressively, in most cases, folks tend to see rapid improvements in body composition and performance. In the worst cases, they remain at the plateau, and even then, they tend to add some muscle.
  • When you’ve reached your ideal body composition, consider the G-Flux approach as well to help facilitate a higher calorie intake. Once you’re able to maintain a stable weight at the higher energy intake, gradually decrease physical activity.


  1. Hall KD, Heymsfield SB, Kemnitz JW, Klein S, Schoeller DA, Speakman JR. Energy balance and its components: implications for body weight regulation. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012;95(4):989-994. doi:10.3945/ajcn.112.036350.
  2. Wing RR, Hill JO. Successful weight loss maintenance. Annu Rev Nutr. 2001;21:323-341. doi:10.1146/annurev.nutr.21.1.323.
  3. Greenway FL. Physiological adaptations to weight loss and factors favouring weight regain. Int J Obes. 2015;39(8):1188-1196. doi:10.1038/ijo.2015.59.
  4. Berthoud H-R. Metabolic and hedonic drives in the neural control of appetite: who is the boss? Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2011;21(6):888-896. doi:10.1016/j.conb.2011.09.004.
  5. Martínez-González MA, Martínez JA, Hu FB, Gibney MJ, Kearney J. Physical inactivity, sedentary lifestyle and obesity in the European Union. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord J Int Assoc Study Obes. 1999;23(11):1192-1201.
  6. Pietiläinen KH, Kaprio J, Borg P, et al. Physical inactivity and obesity: a vicious circle. Obes Silver Spring Md. 2008;16(2):409-414. doi:10.1038/oby.2007.72.
  7. Spees CK, Scott JM, Taylor CA. Differences in amounts and types of physical activity by obesity status in US adults. Am J Health Behav. 2012;36(1):56-65.
  8. Holt SH, Miller JC, Petocz P, Farmakalidis E. A satiety index of common foods. Eur J Clin Nutr. 1995;49(9):675-690.
  9. Rolls BJ, Bell EA. Intake of fat and carbohydrate: role of energy density. Eur J Clin Nutr. 1999;53 Suppl 1:S166-S173.
  10. Ledikwe JH, Blanck HM, Kettel Khan L, et al. Dietary energy density is associated with energy intake and weight status in US adults. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006;83(6):1362-1368.
  11. Duncan KH, Bacon JA, Weinsier RL. The effects of high and low energy density diets on satiety, energy intake, and eating time of obese and nonobese subjects. Am J Clin Nutr. 1983;37(5):763-767.
  12. Yao M, Roberts SB. Dietary energy density and weight regulation. Nutr Rev. 2001;59(8 Pt 1):247-258.
  13. Ello-Martin JA, Roe LS, Ledikwe JH, Beach AM, Rolls BJ. Dietary energy density in the treatment of obesity: a year-long trial comparing 2 weight-loss diets. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007;85(6):1465-1477.
  14. Paddon-Jones D, Westman E, Mattes RD, Wolfe RR, Astrup A, Westerterp-Plantenga M. Protein, weight management, and satiety. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008;87(5):1558S – 1561S.
  15. Halton TL, Hu FB. The effects of high protein diets on thermogenesis, satiety and weight loss: a critical review. J Am Coll Nutr. 2004;23(5):373-385.
  16. Soenen S, Martens EAP, Hochstenbach-Waelen A, Lemmens SGT, Westerterp-Plantenga MS. Normal protein intake is required for body weight loss and weight maintenance, and elevated protein intake for additional preservation of resting energy expenditure and fat free mass. J Nutr. 2013;143(5):591-596. doi:10.3945/jn.112.167593.
  17. Layman DK, Boileau RA, Erickson DJ, et al. A reduced ratio of dietary carbohydrate to protein improves body composition and blood lipid profiles during weight loss in adult women. J Nutr. 2003;133(2):411-417.
  18. Josse AR, Atkinson SA, Tarnopolsky MA, Phillips SM. Increased Consumption of Dairy Foods and Protein during Diet- and Exercise-Induced Weight Loss Promotes Fat Mass Loss and Lean Mass Gain in Overweight and Obese Premenopausal Women. J Nutr. 2011;141(9):1626-1634. doi:10.3945/jn.111.141028.
  19. Zemel MB, Richards J, Mathis S, Milstead A, Gebhardt L, Silva E. Dairy augmentation of total and central fat loss in obese subjects. Int J Obes 2005. 2005;29(4):391-397. doi:10.1038/sj.ijo.0802880.
  20. Wilkinson SB, Tarnopolsky MA, Macdonald MJ, Macdonald JR, Armstrong D, Phillips SM. Consumption of fluid skim milk promotes greater muscle protein accretion after resistance exercise than does consumption of an isonitrogenous and isoenergetic soy-protein beverage. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007;85(4):1031-1040.
  21. Hartman JW, Tang JE, Wilkinson SB, et al. Consumption of fat-free fluid milk after resistance exercise promotes greater lean mass accretion than does consumption of soy or carbohydrate in young, novice, male weightlifters. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007;86(2):373-381.
  22. Josse AR, Tang JE, Tarnopolsky MA, Phillips SM. Body composition and strength changes in women with milk and resistance exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2010;42(6):1122-1130. doi:10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181c854f6.
  23. Andrews R. All About G-Flux. Precis Nutr. http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-g-flux.
  24. Bullough RC, Gillette CA, Harris MA, Melby CL. Interaction of acute changes in exercise energy expenditure and energy intake on resting metabolic rate. Am J Clin Nutr. 1995;61(3):473-481.
  25. Goran MI, Calles-Escandon J, Poehlman ET, O’Connell M, Danforth E. Effects of increased energy intake and/or physical activity on energy expenditure in young healthy men. J Appl Physiol Bethesda Md 1985. 1994;77(1):366-372.
  26. Levine JA. Role of Nonexercise Activity Thermogenesis in Resistance to Fat Gain in Humans. Science. 1999;283(5399):212-214. doi:10.1126/science.283.5399.212.
  27. McAllister EJ, Dhurandhar NV, Keith SW, et al. Ten Putative Contributors to the Obesity Epidemic. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2009;49(10):868-913. doi:10.1080/10408390903372599.
  28. Saltzman E, Roberts SB. The role of energy expenditure in energy regulation: findings from a decade of research. Nutr Rev. 1995;53(8):209-220.
  29. Trexler ET, Smith-Ryan AE, Norton LE. Metabolic adaptation to weight loss: implications for the athlete. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2014;11(1):7. doi:10.1186/1550-2783-11-7.

Exercise DOES Work

6 Dec

Exercise DOES Work: Combat Holiday Overeating with Intense Exercise

by Tim Skwiat, MEd, CSCS, Pn1

We are now deep in the heart of the holiday season. You likely feel like you’re running around like a chicken with its head cut off. As a matter of fact, you may be so stretched for time that your workouts have taken a backseat. Being strapped for time can also mean compromising your nutrition. What’s more, we all know that this time of year is the epitome of holiday parties, which means overeating less than optimal food choices.

That’s right, the holiday season is the hallmark of moving less and eating more, which can be a catastrophe for your body composition, health, and vitality. Chronic overeating, also known as a caloric surplus or a positive energy balance, can have major repercussions. While most of us think about the obvious weight gain, there are other factors to consider: overall health, cellular fitness, blood pressure, cholesterol, insulin resistance, risk for certain types of cancer, and many more.

While there many ways to avert these potential pitfalls and avoid becoming subject to this self-fulfilling prophesy, you may not have to become a recluse and steer clear of all the wonderful holiday goodies. New, appropriately-timed research suggests that keeping up with your daily workouts counteracts the negative metabolic effects of short-term overfeeding.

Researchers from the University of Bath in England recruited 26 healthy young men between the ages of 18 and 32. The lads were separated into two groups, one of which was an exercise group that performed 45 minutes of treadmill running at a moderate intensity (e.g., 70% VO2max) daily. The other group did no exercise.

Both groups were charged with the responsibility of significantly overeating. The non-exercise group was instructed to consume 50% more calories than their habitual intake. In order to ensure a consistent energy surplus (not to be canceled out by exercise energy expenditure), the exercise group consumed nearly 75% more calories than normal. Now that’s some serious overeating, and this went on for a full seven days!

In addition to the overeating, the researchers had both groups significantly reduce physical activity. Both groups were instructed to wear pedometers as a gauge of their activity, and the scientists had all participants reduce their steps from 10,000 daily (pre-study) to less than 4,000 per day (during the study). Besides running on the treadmill, the exercise group was forced to be just as lazy as the non-exercise group.

The duration of this experiment was one week. Both prior to commencing the study and after the 7-day period, the researchers collected various health measurements, including fasting blood sugar and insulin and biopsies of fat cells.

The results, in just one short week, were staggering. The non-exercising group displayed worrisome changes in fasting blood sugar and insulin levels. What’s more, their fat cells demonstrated health-derailing changes in the expression of key genes, which were a sign of much-maligned changes in metabolic functioning.

The exercise group, on the other hand, was not similar afflicted. As a matter of fact, the scientists concluded, “Vigorous-intensity exercise counteracted most of the effects from short-term overfeeding and under-activity at the whole-body level and in adipose tissue, even in the face of a standardised energy surplus.” The effect was so profound, that the authors of this study titled it “Exercise counteracts the effects of short-term overfeeding and reduced physical activity independent of energy imbalance in healthy young men.”

What does all of this mean for you? Simply put, you can offset the cascade of negative health effects that accompany overeating and less than stellar nutrition habits during the holiday season by making time for a vigorous daily workout.

As mentioned at the onset of this article, time is precious. What’s more, 45 minutes on the treadmill does not sound at all enticing, and you may not have that much time to spare. On top of that, it’s plausible that exercising at an even higher intensity and including some resistance training can provide further metabolic benefits. Heck, you may even be able to add some lean muscle mass if you play your cards right.

The solution: Barbell complexes. These efficient but nasty combinations pack as much bang for your buck as pretty much any routine you’ll find. What they lack in time and equipment, they more than make up for in intensity and metabolic demand.

The name of the game with complexes is to choose a series of exercises that can all be completed with the same barbell (or set of dumbbells). You take minimal rest between exercises and a short rest between sets, or rounds.

One of the more frequently asked questions when implementing complexes is the amount of weight to use. Generally speaking, the load is going to be pretty conservative. As a matter of fact, you might find that the barbell by itself provides enough of a metabolic stimulus. Muscular failure is not necessarily the goal, although you may base the weight on your weakest movement in one of the complexes. However, if you’re not questioning why you’re doing these halfway through—or earlier—then you’re probably not going heavy enough.

Each of these complexes will take only about 15 – 20 minutes to complete, and very little equipment will be needed. [Note: Please do a proper, thorough warm-up prior to commencing one of these routines.] You’ll simply choose one of these complexes and utilize the following guidelines for sets, reps, and rest:

• Beginner: 4 sets of 5 reps each exercise; rest for 90 seconds between sets.
• Intermediate: 5 sets of 5 reps each; rest for 75 seconds between sets.
• Advanced: 5 sets of 6 reps each; rest for 60 seconds between sets.
• Sadistic: 6 sets of 6 reps each; rest for 45 seconds between sets.

Generally speaking, each complex will contain some combination of the following:

• Explosive movement
• Lower body movement
• Upper body movement (push)
• Lower body movement
• Upper body movement (push)
• Miscellaneous

Without further ado, let’s get to the chaos!

Complex A:

• Hang Clean + Front Squat + Overhead Press
• Reverse Lunges
• Bent-over Barbell Row (overhand grip)
• Jump squats (no barbell)

Complex B:

• Hang Snatch
• Romanian Deadlifts
• Push Press
• Back Squat
• Upright Row
• Bar Rollouts

Complex C:

• Split Jerk
• Deadlifts
• Back Squat
• Lateral Lunges
• Bent-over Barbell Row (underhand grip)
• Lunge Jumps (no barbell)

Complex D:

• Squat Jumps (with barbell)
• Front Squat + Overhead Press
• Step Ups
• High Pull
• Burpees

You’ll simply choose one of the previous complexes and the appropriate set, rep, and rest guidelines shared above. You can incorporate these complexes as a workout themselves when you’re strapped for time. You can use them as a form of metabolic conditioning separate from your strength training workouts. Or, if you’re especially sadistic, you can use them at the start of your regular workout. You’ll just want to complete them when you’re fresh.

Just remember, these are not for the faint of heart. They are very challenging, albeit incredibly time-efficient. Not only will they offset any holiday overfeeding, you’ll actually find yourself in significantly better metabolic condition, and you may even drop some fat while you’re at it!


Walhin, JP et al. Exercise counteracts the effects of short-term overfeeding and reduced physical activity independent of energy imbalance in healthy young men. J Physiol. 2013 Nov 25. [Epub ahead of print]. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24167223

Exercise ALONE Doesn’t Work

19 Jun

Exercise ALONE Doesn’t Work
By Tim Skwiat, MEd., CSCS, Pn1

As a personal trainer, you are emblazoned with the opportunity to help people improve their health and fitness, overcome aches and pains, improve their performance, and much, much more. With this opportunity comes great responsibility. You see, you are not just a trainer, you are a coach, and you are charged with the opportunity and responsibility to get your clients from where they are to where they want to be.

The vast majority of your clients are coming to you to help them improve their body composition — to lose body fat, to add calorie-burning lean muscle mass, or some combination of the two. As a great trainer, you understand the importance of a progressive, personalized training program to help these folks achieve their goals.

However, I’m here to share some sobering research with you to highlight the fact that exercise, in the absence of nutritional intervention, is shamefully lacking when it comes to producing the desired fat loss that your clients seek.

When asked what the best exercise is for developing six-pack abs, renowned strength coach Mike Boyle will tell you, with a straight face and without hesitation, “Table push-aways.” The fact of the matter is that you can’t out-train a crappy diet.

As a matter of fact, a recent study demonstrated shockingly embarrassing results after 16 weeks of a solid training program. In the study, researchers assigned overweight folks to either a control group — where they didn’t exercise at all — or an exercise group.

The participants assigned to the exercise group trained for five total hours per week: three hours performing strength-training exercises with an Olympic weightlifting coach and two hours performing circuit training with a group exercise instructor. Throughout the course of the study, the scientists gathered data on body composition, as well as various other measures.

While the exercisers did get better results than the non-exercisers, the results were nothing short of embarrassing…

The control group gained 1 pound of lean mass, lost a ½ pound of body fat, and lost 0.5% body fat.

The exercise group gained 3 pounds of lean mass, lost 2 pounds of body fat, and lost 1.5% body fat.

While the control group sat on their rear ends, the exercise group trained intensely for 80 hours and lost only a few measly pounds to show for their effort! Ouch.


We could look at a couple other studies that show the same exact, pathetic results of exercise without nutritional intervention:

• In a study conducted at the University of Oklahoma, researchers again had the exercising group perform five hours of training each week and compared the results with a non-exercising control group. In this study, the exercisers performed three hours of aerobic exercise and two hours of resistance training. At the end of 10 weeks, the exercising group had dropped a measly 1 ½ pounds of fat.

• Researchers in Australia looked at the effects of an aerobic exercise program on the body composition of 58 obese men and women. The subjects exercised at 70% maximum heart rate five times per week (each session totaling 500 calories burned) for 12 weeks. At the end of the study, the subjects measured disappointing, “less-than-expected” average weight loss of less than 2 pounds.

• This seems so strong, in fact, that the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Position Stand, “Appropriate intervention strategies for weight loss and prevention of weight regain for adults”, states there is little evidence to suggest that exercise-alone is as effective as energy restriction for promoting weight loss.

While there are handfuls more to show, let’s offer some research that demonstrates the promising perspective of what happens when we add nutritional intervention to an exercise program:

• In a meta-analysis analyzing data from 25 years of research, scientists found that 15 weeks of combined dietary and exercise intervention produced a staggering 22-pound average weight loss that was also maintained by the subjects after one year.

• In a 9-month study at the University of Pennsylvania, researchers separated subjects into one of three groups: 1. diet (D) intervention; 2. exercise (E) intervention; or 3. diet + exercise (DE) intervention. You guessed it: the DE group demonstrated a significantly greater weight loss than either the D or E groups. Notably, the D group also lost significantly more weight than the E group.

• Researchers in Seattle performed a similar study to the one above but added a control (C) group and carried out the research for 12 months. In this study, the E group did lose slightly more weight than the C group, but the DE group blew those results out of the water: DE resulted in 3 ½ times greater weight loss than E alone.

The point of this is most certainly not to deter, frustrate, or upset you. You already know that a properly structured exercise program is part of the equation, and a significant one at that. The point, on the other hand, is to make it very clear that to optimize your clients’ efforts, their nutrition is going to play a huge role in their success — and yours. As your resource for honest nutrition and health information, it is a privilege to help you learn the tools of the trade that you can implement effectively and efficiently to best assist your clients. That will be the aim of this column moving forward, and I look forward to it!


Caudwell P et al. Exercise alone is not enough: weight loss also needs a healthy (Mediterranean) diet? Public Health Nutr. 2009 Sep;12(9A):1663-6.

Foster-Schubert KE et al. Effect of diet and exercise, alone or combined, on weight and body composition in overweight-to-obese postmenopausal women. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2012 Aug;20(8):1628-38.

Jakicic JM et al. American College of Sports Medicine position stand. Appropriate intervention strategies for weight loss and prevention of weight regain for adults. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2001 Dec;33(12):2145-56.

King NA et al. Beneficial effects of exercise: shifting the focus from body weight to other markers of health. Br J Sports Med. 2009 Dec;43(12):924-7.

Lockwood CM et al. Minimal nutrition intervention with high-protein/low-carbohydrate and low-fat, nutrient-dense food supplement improves body composition and exercise benefits in overweight adults: A randomized controlled trial. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2008; 5: 11.

Miller WC et al. A meta-analysis of the past 25 years of weight loss research using diet, exercise or diet plus exercise intervention. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 1997 Oct;21(10):941-7.

Volpe SL et al. Effect of diet and exercise on body composition, energy intake and leptin levels in overweight women and men. J Am Coll Nutr. 2008 Apr;27(2):195-208.

Health Care Reform

6 Nov

It’s an election year, and one of the hottest, most controversial political topics is always health care. Whether you support ObamaCare or would prefer to repeal and replace it, there always seems to be a massive discrepancy between the two major parties’ views on how to reform the health care system.

The fact of the matter is that health care is always going to a pressing political issue. The United States population will always need health care professionals to serve them and their needs. Rather than debate a dicey political topic, I wanted to take the “pressure” off the big wigs. I want to put the pressure on you.

The honest truth is that health care starts with you. I don’t know about you, but I’m not very comfortable leaving the fate of my health in someone else’s hands. And, I don’t necessarily mean that I want to be able to choose my own health care provider.

I’m saying that I want to take care of myself to the best of my abilities, and I want you to do the same for yourself. That’s not to say you’ll never have to visit a doctor — you will. Rather, I want to share with you some staggering statistics and information that illustrates just how much control you have over your own health. If you take care of your health, you don’t have to worry about who is determining your health care.

According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), chronic diseases are among the most common, costly, and preventable of all health problems in the US. As a matter of fact, chronic diseases account for an unbelievable 7 out of 10 deaths among Americans each year. Among the five most prevalent, preventable diseases are:

  • Heart Disease
  • Cancer
  • Stroke
  • Lunge Disease
  • Diabetes

Here are some mind-numbing facts about chronic disease:

  • More than 50% of deaths each year can be attributed to heart disease, cancer, and stroke.
  • In 2005, one out of every two adult Americans had at least one chronic illness.
  • It is estimated that one in every three adults is considered obese. If that doesn’t sicken you, how about this? Nearly one in every five youths between the ages of 6 and 19 is obese. These numbers are on the rise.
  • Nearly one-quarter of those people with chronic disease conditions have at least one daily activity limitation.
  • Arthritis, another chronic disease, is the most common cause of disability — nearly 19 million Americans report activity limitations as a result of arthritis.
  • Diabetes is a rampantly growing disease and is the leading cause of kidney failure, nontraumatic lower-extremity amputations, and blindness among adults aged 20 – 74.

Now that I’ve got your attention, how do we prevent these diseases? How do we institute health care systems in our own lives and those of our loved ones? The CDC has narrowed it down to FOUR modifiable risk factors that are single-handedly responsible for much of the illness, suffering, and early death related to chronic diseases.

  • Poor Nutrition. Where do we start with this one? We eat an embarrassingly low number of vegetables and fruits — less than 25% of adults eat 5 servings a day. Yet, we consume shocking amount of sugar — it’s estimated that the average America consumes 100 pounds of sugar per year. What!?! In 1822, the average American consumed the equivalent amount of sugar found in a can of soda over the course of 5 days — we eat that much in 7 hours.
  • Lack of Physical Activity. More than one-third of adults do not meet the minimum guidelines for aerobic physical activity based on the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. And that’s the bare minimum. Move it or lose it, people.
  • Tobacco Use. Approximately one in five Americans (over 43 million) smoke. Lung cancer is the leading cause of all cancers. One guess as what causes nearly every case: cigarette smoking. Beyond lung cancer, cigarette smoking also causes cancers of the larynx, mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney, pancreas, cervix, and stomach. Oh, that’s just for the smoker. We haven’t even gotten to how many lives have been taken by second-hand smoke.
  • Excessive Alcohol Consumption. This is the fourth-leading preventable cause of death in the US, behind the aforementioned factors. Excessive alcohol consumption contributes to over 54 diseases and injuries, including cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, colon, and breast, liver diseases, and other cardiovascular, neurological, psychiatric, and gastrointestinal health problems.

Now, that’s quite a pill to swallow. Ironically, you may not have to swallow a single pill to deal with any of these preventable chronic diseases if you take care of your own health. And, now that your eyes are opened, that’s what we’ll focus on in future articles.