Weight Loss and Nutrition Hacks

Drink Water

waterDrink water and hydrate! I’m not the first or last person to tell you to drink lots of water – 64 ounces minimum per day. However, you’d be surprised by the number of people who drink 64 ounces of liquid per day and think they’re hydrated when, in actuality, they’re dehydrated. Coffee, soda and beer are all beverages, but none of them gives you the hydration you need throughout the day. They don’t help you pass toxins out of your system and they certainly don’t hydrate your muscles, tissue and joints. Sports beverages may sound like a great idea, especially if you watch their commercials, but most of us truly don’t work up enough of a sweat to actually need 32 ounces of “Whateverade.” So go ahead, drink your water. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon, lime or orange to it if you want some flavor. Do yourself and your body a favor and drink up…water, that is.  I tell my clients to start with 100 oz per day.

Lift Weights

jason triceps pushdownLift! Weights, that is. You know I’m passionate about weight lifting and all of the benefits that go along with it. Many of you know me as champion bodybuilder, Mr. America, and you know I practice what I preach. I’m in the gym 5 days a week with my clients as well as for my personal workout. I train my clients in a similar way to my own training – by focusing on certain core muscle groups for each workout. I’m not a fan of trying to work all muscle groups in one workout. You can’t focus properly on each targeted group if you try to work them all. Plan your workouts by week – you can alternate upper body and lower body workouts and give yourself, and your muscles at least one day of rest per every two days of workout.


exerciseSweat! You know you feel better when you work up a sweat. Ever wonder why? Sweat helps your body release toxins in many ways. Your pores open up to release dirt and oils from your skin, but sweating goes further than that. It can help rid your body of sodium, cholesterol, alcohol and other hard to digest substances. It can also help prevent colds, flus and other airborne illnesses. Sweat contains a natural anti-microbial which fights germs and other pathogens. Sweating also helps loosen up muscles and soothe aches and pains. Make a plan to work up a sweat at least 4 times a week. I’ll bet you’ll feel great inside and out.

Note: Some new clients come to me and say they don’t sweat. That ain’t good. They are either not drinking enough water (see above) or just not working hard enough.


stretchingStretch! Have you noticed a pattern yet? You work out, you feel great, but a day or two later your muscles are sore and you feel cranky. Everyone tells you to stretch, of course, but where do you begin? Taking 10 – 15 minutes before and after a workout to stretch the major and minor muscle groups may seem like a lot of extra time to add, but the benefits to your body far outweigh any inconvenience to your day. You’ll see increased flexibility and less soreness right away. Stretching also provides long-term benefits to muscles and joints and helps relieve back, neck and leg pain. I always encourage my clients to stretch before, during and after their workout.

No Fat Vs No Carb Diets

Most adults today can remember the low-carb dieting frenzy of the 2000s that had people with college degrees – some of them in the medical field! – thinking that potatoes or oatmeal was bad for you while bacon and eggs were a good choice for a weight loss breakfast.  Looking back, it seems inconceivable that so many people were so willfully misinformed about both weight loss and nutrition as to think they were doing themselves a favor by eating a bacon double cheeseburger without the bun. Fortunately, the Atkins (now it’s called Keto) diet has fallen by the wayside due to extremely low energy and muscle loss (when you followed it correctly) or lack of results (for those who did not follow it correctly).  If you want to have a shapely and good looking body, your need to train and control your eating.  The Atkins / Keto style approach only works for obese, sedentary people.  Active people loose too much muscle (plus energy, mental clarity, bone density) on these no-carb diet schemes.

You do need to know more than which foods are high in calories or fat…

weight loss and nutritionThe over-40 crowd will also remember the low-fat, high-carb fad dieting craze of the 1990s, when everything that happened to be low in fat was suddenly good for you. You might have even had some acquaintances who snacked on huge spoonfuls of grape jelly because, hey – it’s fat-free!

While relatively low-fat and medium-carb are good rules of thumb for anyone trying to lose weight, they don’t really get into specifics about nutrition. And what you don’t know about nutrition can and will stop you from meeting your weight-loss goals.

Weight loss and nutrition go hand-in-hand for much the same reason that excess weight and poor nutrition tend to plague the same people.   We live in a society where most people are overweight and undernourished at the same time, and processed junk foods and convenience foods are largely to blame. Read the nutrition label on any pre-packaged dinner with “roni” or “helper” in the name, and you will find that they are high in carbs, perhaps protein and fat, and very little in the way of vitamins and minerals. In time, people who substitute processed foods for whole foods become what they eat. If you show us someone who’s overweight, we’ll show you a person with a chronic nutrient deficiency.

…but you do need to limit your fat intake.

In his book Eat to Live, Dr. Joel Fuhrman describes just how much easier it is to pack on fat than it is to lose it. For every 100 fat calories consumed, only three are burned in the process of depositing the other 97 calories right on top of the fat stores you already had. Doctors can even biopsy your fatty tissue and tell exactly where it came from! Sure, we all like a piece of fried chicken, rustic Italian bread soaked in olive oil and a helping of guacamole and chips once in a while, but if you have a weight loss goal, you need to think long and hard about whether you like those things enough to actually wear them day in and day out.  Yes, you do need fat in your diet, but only the right kinds and in the right amounts.


How To Make A Healthier Dinner

Fit woman cooking in kitchen

Having a variety of food on your dinner plate does not always mean you’re getting a healthier dinner. There are many factors that determine whether or not a dinner is considered healthy, such as the amount of calories and the quality of the food itself. For those of you looking to lose weight or to be healthier in general, follow the 5 tips below so you can make a truly healthy dinner every night.

5 Healthier Dinner Tips

healthy meal
No time to cook? Order meals online by clicking this photo…

Tip #1: Make sure you purchase high quality food. Get organic or natural whenever possible. This means you should avoid any processed foods such as beans in a can or Ramen. Those foods are packed with sodium and other unhealthy ingredients that will only cause you to gain weight. You should choose foods that are organic and fresh. Avoid any foods that have tons of ingredients, most of the time these foods are filled with chemicals you’ve never even heard of.

Tip #2: Prepare food the healthy way. The method you choose to make food determines how many calories and nutrients you get from that dish. Fried, sautéed, and battered foods should all be avoided on a daily basis. Those methods add fat to foods and provide no nutritional value at all. The four methods used to prepare healthy dinners are to grill, broil, bake, or steam the food.

Tip #3: Choose fiber-packed foods. Getting the right amount of fiber helps maintain your body’s digestion system. This makes sure foods are broken down and used rather than letting it sit and stay inside of your body. Foods that are high in fiber include salad, legumes, fruits, and seasonal vegetables.

Tip #4: Choose protein-packed foods. To get or stay fit, you need to get the right amount of healthy calories a day. Most of these calories should come from foods that are high in protein such as chicken, fish, red meat, beans, turkey, and eggs.

Tip #5: Avoid refined foods that have high starch content. Refined starches are hard to break down, which means it will be stored in your body for a long time thus creating fat. Foods you should avoid are crackers, bread, cereal, pasta and white rice. If you want to carb up after training white rice or pasta is sometimes ok.

5 Tips to a Healthier Salad

oiled bikini girl salad

There is a right and wrong way to make a salad. Most people think that a salad only diet will quickly help them lose weight, but if you don’t make it right then your salad dish can contain more calories than the meals your were originally eating. Of course, salad is a much better alternative than most dinners, yet they need to be prepared with the right ingredients. Below are five tips for ingredients you should add to your next salad dish.

Build A Better Salad

Tip #1: Vegetables
Lettuce is the base of any salad, though you’ll need a lot more than that. There are tons of options to choose from such as mushrooms, broccoli, carrots, cabbage, spinach, onions, peas, and any other vegetable you wish to add. Vegetables all taste well together; furthermore more vegetables mean more vitamins and antioxidants for your body. With a vegetable salad with all of those added ingredients, you’ll get more minerals in that one dish than more people get in a week, but it doesn’t stop there.

Tip #2: Fruit
Fruit is not the most common ingredient you see in salads, except for tomatoes. You can add raisins, apples, tangerines, and cranberries for even more health benefits as well as making the salad a bit more on the sweeter side.

Tip #3: Dressings
Most people slather tons of dressing on their salads, which is a vital mistake for those trying to lose weight. Dressings are packed with calories, so you shouldn’t add so much onto your dish. Even better is use none. Alongside calories comes a large amount of cholesterol as well which can increase the risk of heart attack. It’s fine to put a little bit, but less is better. The healthy alternative would be to use a little bit of olive oil with balsamic vinegar.  I use vinegar alone.

salmon mealTip #4: Meat
This is the main filler of the salad. In most cases, people get hungry again after eating a salad. Fruits and vegetables are digested quickly, so you will feel hungry in no time without something more to fill you up. Chicken, eggs, and fish are the best protein-packed foods you can add to your salad. They’re what transforms a salad from an appetizer to a main dish.

Tip #5: Add Calories
Although this article mentioned laying off the dressing, you will need to add healthy calories to your salad as well. There are several options you can choose from like blue cheese, garbanzo beans, avocado, and nuts. This will assure that you will reach your optimal calorie count for the day.

Eating a well-prepared salad will help you lose weight, though it must be accompanied with regular exercise. Setting up and maintaining a physical fitness plan  is mandatory for those seriously thinking about transforming their bodies into ones they’ve always wanted. Call or send an email today so we can get started with creating a specialized exercise plan just for you.


Is Organic Food Better for Weight Loss?

organic food farmers market santa monica
Santa Monica farmers market for organic food

More and more foods these days are laden with pesticides, herbicides and GMOs, and my clients have been asking if all those chemicals affect their weight gain. I believe that to lose weight in the most healthy way and maintain a lean body, you have to not only cut out all the processed foods, but also focus on eating more and more organic fruits, veggies and meats. Doctors have been citing studies that show organic foods are more nutrient dense because they were grown in healthy soil.  Your body can react to pesticides with a small to large allergic reaction causing water retention and bloating.

Organic Food for Weight Loss

It is interesting that foods grown below ground or that have peels are not always safe from pesticides. To help you choose wholesome foods, I have compared a variety of sources and here is my list.

Organic Required

The Dirty Dozen. These fruits and veggies are so bad for you if grown conventionally, so buy them organic only or not at all.

The worst offenders are:

  • peaches,
  • apples,
  • bell peppers,
  • celery,
  • nectarines,
  • strawberries,
  • cherries,
  • grapes,
  • kale,
  • lettuce,
  • carrots
  • and pears.

Organic Optional

The Clean Bunch. These have the least amount of pesticides so you are okay if organic is not available.

  • Onions,
  • avocados,
  • pineapples,
  • mangos,
  • asparagus,
  • peas,
  • kiwi,
  • cabbage,
  • eggplant,
  • papaya,
  • watermelon,
  • broccoli,
  • tomatoes
  • and sweet potatoes are all on the clean list.

It’s important to know that most corn and soy products are to be avoided. Corn products are sugar. Soy is known to increase estrogen, the dominant female hormone which among other things, promote fat gain and inhibits fat loss. Both corn and soy foods are also made from genetically modified seed which accentuates their negative effects, thus helping the body holding onto those extra pounds.

Washing and peeling helps with some products. Rinsing can reduce pesticides but does not eliminate them entirely. Peeling helps but valuable nutrients are lost when the skin is discarded. The best approach is to eat a varied diet and to buy organic when possible.


How Sleep Can Help You Lose Weight

So you are finally working out regularly, you are eating right but are you getting enough sleep? If you thought that groggy mornings and cranky days are the only side effects of not getting enough ZZZs, think twice. New research shows that missing out on sleep can also lead to weight gain.

Why You Need Enough Sleep

arnold nappingsleepEveryone needs it. In this day and age it’s difficult to unplug from the rest of the world. TV, tablets, phones, work stress, life stress. It all compounds to interrupt a good night’s sleep. Most of us get by on less than 7 hours per night, but we really need to give our bodies 8 hours whenever possible. I recommend my clients turn off all electronic devices an hour before bed. Grab a good book and get into bed. Having trouble falling asleep? There are a number of natural remedies to try before ever thinking of a sleeping pill. Warm milk really does help. A warm bath an hour before bed is also a good remedy. L-tryptophan and ZMA are two supplements I recommend to clients, too. But the best way to fall asleep and stay asleep is to clear your mind of the day’s stresses and relax.

Researchers from Columbia University found that people who slept less than seven hours per day have a harder time losing weight and are on average heavier than those who got at least eight and a half hours of sleep per night. Another study echoed the results of the Columbia study that eating less and moving more is not enough for healthy weight loss, you have to also sleep more.

Sleep Weight Loss Benefits

What all this means is that getting the right amount of sleep is as important as sweating at the gym. But why? Why can’t we just get results cutting down calories and working out with a trainer. Here’s what adequate rest does:

Stops Late Night Snacking.

The longer you stay up, the more likely you are to feel the need to snack and that can cause a pound or two of weight gain per week, according to researchers. Studies show that those who stay up at night, eat as much as 550 calories from 11pm.

Boosts Fat Loss.

Eating the right amount of food and not getting enough sleep will stop you from losing body fat. A University of Chicago study concluded that even people who lose the same amount of pounds, those who slept more lose more body fat than those who sleep less.

Helps You Burn Calories.

A study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that sleeping more helps you burn more calories even when you are not moving. You also lose 20 percent more calories after a meal than those sleep-deprived people.

Helps You Shop for Healthy Food.

We all know not go to grocery shopping when we are hungry, but did you know that shopping while tired makes you buy more calories in food than those who are well-rested. One study found that sleep-deprived people bought almost 1,300 calories more than those who had enough rest.

Affects Your Genetic Weight.

A University of Washington study proved that the more you sleep the less important genetic play a role in how much you weigh. What this means is the excuse that you are “large boned” doesn’t work anymore and if you eat right, exercise and get enough sleep, you will be lean and have the body you always dreamed about.

Jason Kozma and his team at High Performance Personal Training is committed to helping people to further their understanding of nutrition in order to meet their weight loss goals. With our nutritional programs and guidance, we will help you to lose weight, improve your health and reduce your risk for preventable diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and cancer. If you are ready to learn more about weight loss and nutrition to suit a healthy, active lifestyle, contact us today.

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