Dec 032012

Does coffee help burn fat? Can skipping meals be the end of my diet? How come I have no abs? and How much water do I need? Another round of Ask Joe!

I read in a magazine that drinking coffee will help me lose weight. Is this true?

Coffee can certainly help you workout harder and give you more stamina at the gym. There is some evidence that the caffeine in coffee can help you burn fat but the research isn’t solid. Keep in mind, drinking sugary coffee drinks will not help you at all.

So drinking coffee before you workouts can help you workout harder and longer, but there is nothing the coffee does not directly help you lose weight.

Does skipping meals really slow down your metabolism?

No. Skipping meals will not slow down your metabolism at all. You could go days (even weeks) on a minimal amount of calories and your metabolism wouldn’t “slow down” one bit. So it’s not the end of the world if you miss a meal.

Now, skipping a meal or two might result in you feeling sluggish, but the sluggishness you feel isn’t your metabolism slowing down. This sluggishness can effect your mood and gym performance as well as make you more likely to binge on food.

I do ab exercises all the time at the gym, but I never see any definition. What am I doing wrong?

Your abs are there! Even a six pack, but your abs have both fat above them and below them, and unfortunately fat can accumulate in both areas. This can make the definition in your abs disappear.

The solution to your definition problem is mostly a disciplined diet, however, exercise does play a role. Now you can do all the ab exercises you want, your six pack will not magically appear. You should be doing intense full body workouts to get those abs to really show!

How much water should I be drinking everyday?

Your body is mostly water, and it is essential to get plenty of it! Everything from your joints, skin, digestion, to muscles, water is essential for a healthy body. For girls, 90 ounces and guys about 125 ounces of water per day is recommended.

It’s easy to drink more water when the temperature is warm or when your working out, but you’d be surprised how easily you can become dehydrated during the winter. The cold dry air makes it easy to forget to drink water. Also, if you are sick or running a fever, drinking more water is important. So drink up and keep hydrated and healthy!

Do you have an Ask Joe question?

Ask me over on our Facebook page!

Nov 192012

Here is another rapid fire edition of Ask Joe!

How often should I be strength training?
Only 2-3 days a week is just fine. Now that doesn’t mean you should only be exercising 2-3 per week. You should be exercising at least 30 minutes per day. It doesn’t mean you have to go to the gym everyday for 30 minutes, it just means you need to move for 30 minutes.

Do I need protein shakes after my workouts even if I’m trying to lose weight?
Sure, if you don’t mind them. Immediately after your workout your body goes into recovery mode. This is a great time to supply your body with some high quality protein to help those beat up muscles recover quicker. Quicker recovery equals faster muscle repair, which results in more fat burning muscle in your body. Most of these protein shakes contain a protein called whey (pronounced ‘way’). Whey protein is a very fast metabolizing protein. Your body is able to absorb and utilize this protein quicker than many other types of protein. This is great right after a workout!

Now if you don’t like the taste of these protein shakes, a simple higher protein meal will suffice. By the way, chocolate milk is a great recovery drink. It’s got the right combination of carbs and protein you need to recover.

What is the deal with intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting is a technique used to get you those last 10 – 15 pounds off. It’s a bit aggressive, but works quite well. I’m still experimenting with it myself, but so far I like the results!

It works like this: once or twice a week you fast (don’t eat) for a set period of time. For example, on Wednesday’s and Friday’s you would fast for 16 hours. I would have you stop eating at 4pm and resume at 8am the next day. During this fasting period, you can still drink water or tea.

I find intermittent fasting does a few things. First, it makes me much more carb sensitive, so it takes a lot less carbs for my body to feel energized. Second, it makes hunger pangs less annoying, so if I feel hungry when I shouldn’t be, it makes it easier to fight through. Third, it helps my self-control, if I can go 16 hours without food, it makes it easier to skip the junk food at other times.

Do you have an Ask Joe question? Let me know! You can email me joe [at], leave a comment below, or post it to our Facebook wall!

Nov 092012

Happy Friday everyone! Here is another edition of Ask Joe!

You mentioned on one of your posts that you like your clients to stop eating after 6:30. Why?

Your right! On my fat loss action grid I do have my clients stop eating after 6:30pm. I do this for a three reasons. First, a lot of calories later in the day isn’t what we want in a fat loss diet. We are trying get you to lose weight and it isn’t good when you are eating calories later where immediately afterwords you are going to be sedentary. Second, it gets you thinking about your meals. If you know you can’t eat after 6:30, I am hoping you will think ahead about your meals. This requires you to plan your meals ahead of time. Finally, it switches the focus to breakfast. If you aren’t eating from early evening to the next morning, you probably are going to be hungry for breakfast. If I can get you to eat a decent breakfast, you will less likely binge during the day.

What are some essential gear for working out at home?

Great question! You really don’t need anything, you can just use your body weight for a great workout. If you were to buy equipment I would say the essentials are an exercise ball and dumbbells.

When it comes to buying dumbbells, start with the lighter weight and buy the heavier ones as you get stronger. For women 15, 20, or 25 pound dumbbells should be good. For guys 30, 35, or 40 pound dumbbells should be okay. You can expect to pay a little more than a $1 per pound for the cheaper dumbbells. There are dumbbells that adjust to multiple weights, but they can be a little pricey, but are nice to have because they are contained all in one unit.

Exercise balls are cheap and provide lots of options for workouts. Exercise balls come in a few different sizes: 45cm, 55cm, and 65cm. There are smaller and bigger ones, but those aren’t very versatile. For most people a 55cm exercise ball is good. If you are a little shorter go for the smaller one and if you are tall go for the bigger one. Look for a ball that is either “anti-burst” or “burst resistant”, these balls won’t pop if they get a tear, they’ll just slowly deflate. Expect to pay around $10 – 30 for a good exercise ball.

Do you have a exercise or diet question for me? Send me a message to joe [at], post it on the joefitness Facebook wall, or leave a comment below!

Nov 052012

Here is another edition of Ask Joe!

I have a hard time working out in my heart rate monitors “fat burning zone”, is it really that important?

It is true your body uses fat as an energy source at a range of exercise intensities. For my fellow exercise nerds out there this maximal “fat burn zone” is usually between 60 – 80% of your max heart rate.

However, it’s been a bit twisted and skewed by the makers of exercise heart rate monitors and cardio machines to make you believe that this “fat burning zone” is more beneficial than it really is. The truth is you burn way more calories at a higher intensity. At the end of the day, the goal is to burn more calories which creates a calorie deficit. This calorie deficit will require your body to burn fat. Also, more and more evidence shows that high intensity intervals have a lasting fat loss effect on the body because of the recovery period after you workout. You don’t get that with lower intensity exercise.

The devils advocate: If you throw out the idea of fat loss, exercising in these heart rate zones is greatly beneficial for your body. So for the sake of your body, working out at these heart rate levels is great!

As scientific as all this sounds, it doesn’t escape the fact that you will get fat loss results with consistently working out and eating right. Nothing one period of exercising in a “fat loss zone” will produce. So instead of worrying about staying in a heart rate zone, just focus on getting a good quality workout.

Is skipping breakfast that bad for you?

No. It’s not the end of the world. Your metabolism will not magically shut down and make you fatter. However, it’s more of an energy and habitual thing. Most people have a peak energy demand in late-morning to mid-afternoon. It’s this time of day is what your breakfast fuels and thus making breakfast important. I have also found that those who skip breakfast tend to binge during the day.

If you find yourself not hungry in the morning, you might be eating to much before you go to bed. So try to lighten up the late night eating. Also, if you are way to busy to get in breakfast in the morning, either wake up earlier or prepare an easy to go breakfast the night before. There’s nothing wrong with grabbing a yogurt or a smoothie to go.

What kind of shoes do I need for the gym?

Everyone’s foot is a little different, so I encourage you to go to a shoe store and get fitted for a shoe for you. The last thing you want is to wear a shoe that doesn’t fit properly and can cause an injury.

If you are just generally working out, a cross-training shoe will be good. If you more of a runner, then you might want to lean towards running shoes. Minimalistic shoes are in right now. I own a pair and I love them. The only problem I have with them is that they offer zero cushioning and zero stability.

I heard great things about these local shoe stores:
-Beyond Running
-Fargo Running Company
-Tradehome Shoes (West Acres)

A good shoe is important to keep yourself injury free, so don’t be afraid to spend a little to get yourself a quality shoe. Not all shoes are created equal, so those great looking shoes you saw in the window just might not be the right shoe for you. So take some time picking your shoe, your feet will thank you!

Oct 262012

Here is the next round of rapid fire Ask Joe questions!

How do you feel about diet pills?
Not a fan. Let’s pretend these pills actually do what they say they do. Losing weight is a both a physical change as well as a psychological change. You need to learn to be lean. So what happens when you go off these pills? Have you learned new habits that keep you lean and healthy? Most likely not. My advice: do the hard work, it’s worth the journey.

Do I really need to eat five times a day to lose weight?
Short answer. No. The idea of eating five times a day goes back to the theory if you eat five small meals a day you will keep your metabolism flying along thus helping you shed pounds faster. Well sounds great in theory, but for my fellow food addicts out there, eating a tiny portion of a normal meal can lead to a disastrous over eating binge. I’m not convinced that constantly demanding your body to process food every two hours is good for weight loss. Than again neither is eating three huge meals a day. At the end of the day a fat loss comes down to discipline at the plate.

Do you have any suggestions for good workout headphones?
Finally a workout gear question! Both Sony and JVC make headphones that wrap around the back of the ear. I love those. They are about $10, they sound okay, and last for at least a few months. Using headphones at the gym is hard on those little buds (get it?), so I say stick the the cheaper easier to replace ones.

Headphone gym etiquette 101: Don’t have your headphones blasting so loud so everyone in the gym can hear. Don’t sing out loud, you don’t sound like Madonna, trust me. Finally, for all the guys out there wearing the DJ over-the-ear style headphones, from all of us in the gym, please stop.

Hey! Do you have an fitness question you would like me to answer? Post it on my Facebook page at!

Aug 312012

Happy Friday everyone! Here is another round of rapid fire ask joefitness questions!

“I have been eating a lot of Healthy Choices, but they have a lot of sodium. The American Heart Association recommends them. The prices are great! What is the solution to this?”

The sodium comes from the preservatives and flavor additives that you find in Healthy Choices and other “heat and eat” meals. This can easily be fixed by making your own ready-to-go meals. Now I know it might not be as convenient, however it is by far the healthiest way. As far as taste goes, it’s by far the best tasting way too!

My go to heat and eat meal is steamed broccoli, tuna, and shredded cheese. Put frozen broccoli in a tupperware container, along with a bit of water, heat in a microwave for 2 minutes, drain, and add the tuna and cheese! Viola! I have a quick healthy meal without the additives.

“I sometimes don’t have enough time to workout so my workouts get really short, how long does my workout need to be effective?”

First off, any workout is a better than no workout. You should be getting at least 30 minutes per day of moderate intensity exercise. On top of that you should be strength training at least 2 days per week. Workouts don’t need to be marathon sessions at the gym, as long as the workouts are intense enough 30 minutes is fine. Remember, no workout routine will be as effective if it isn’t accompanied by a healthy diet!

“Hey joe! I weigh myself everyday and it seems like the scale is never consistent. Is this normal? “

The scale doesn’t always give you a good picture of what your body is actually doing. The whole process of eating to exiting(you know what I mean) takes anywhere between 12 to 24 hours. This can lead to frustration on the scale. Instead, take the focus off of the scale and measure your weight loss progress by how your clothes fit, your energy levels, or before and after pictures.

If you have an fitness question you would like me to answer, leave a comment below or send me an email at joe [at]!

Aug 242012

Happy Friday! Here are some rapid fire Ask Joe Questions!

“Hey Joe! Why can’t I seem to lose the weight around my belly but everywhere else seems to get slimmer?”
You really can’t control where you lose weight from. The fat around your belly is surrounds your vital organs, so it’s likely that you will loose weight in your arms and legs before your mid-section. However, you still will lose inches around your waist. Just be patient and stay consistent!

“Is it okay to workout late at night?”
If you are a “night owl” and prefer to workout at night, sure! The one caveat is making sure you get enough sleep. Numerous studies are showing weight loss and sleep are related.

“I live out of town away from any gyms, what can I do to workout?”
Here’s what I would do: Try to get a group of you together and do an exercise DVD together. Make everyone in the group accountable to show up and track each others progress.

If you have any “Ask Joe questions” send them over to joe [at]!

Dec 062011

“Hey Joe, I love running on the treadmill, but I often get bored with the same routine and the programmed workouts on the treadmill don’t do it for me. What are some things I can do to change it up? ”

Treadmills are an awesome tool, especially in cold Fargo, but they aren’t just for running or walking for long periods of time. One of my favorite things to do on a treadmill is interval running. If you’re not a long distance runner this is the way to go. All you do is run for a period of time and then rest or walk for a period of time. The ideal thing to do is during your rest just jump on to the side rails and don’t adjust the speed. This way you don’t waste your time by having to mess with the settings or programs on the treadmill, just start it and set it at one speed.

Another thing you can do is add exercises between the running intervals. For example, you run for 60 seconds, jump off the treadmill and do 20 push-ups. Go back on to running on the treadmill. Repeat.

Just get creative, keep it intense, keep it fast and fun!

Note: Treadmills can be dangerous machines, be aware of your surroundings when you are getting on and off, watch out for clothing or equipment getting caught under the belt, and don’t leave a running treadmill unattended.

Here are two example workouts:

Set the treadmill at a comfortable running speed.
Ideally 5 – 6.5 mph.
Set the incline at 4.
Run for 30 seconds.
Jump off to the side rails for 15 seconds.
Do this for 20 rounds.
As it gets easier, increase the speed and incline.


Set the treadmill at a speed and incline that would be difficult to complete 120s of straight running.
Ideally at least 8 mph and 6 incline.
Run for 45s.
Rest for 15s.
Complete 20 rounds.
Too easy? Add 20 burpees every 3 intervals.

Nov 082011

‘Hey Joe,

What is better, working out in the morning or at night?


Short answer:
Do what works best for your schedule and is most likely to enable you to continue with your workouts.

Long answer:
I can’t say over the past 10 years that one group of clients has had more success over the other. However, if you are a night owl forcing yourself to workout in the early morning then I would say that you are less likely to hit your goals. Shoot for a workout time that works for your schedule and is close to your peak energy time (when you feel most energetic). I know not everyone’s schedule works out that way, so do the best you can to make it work.

Keep in mind that your workout schedule doesn’t have to line up with the days of the week. For example if you have a typical nine to five job and Mondays “drain” you more then other days, don’t workout on Mondays. Focus on the days you will get the most out of your workouts. Also, there is nothing wrong with being a weekend warrior. “You gotta do what you gotta do.”

As long as your diet is good and you are consistent with your workouts you will hit your goals!

Got an ‘Ask Joe’ question? Send them here:

Sep 062011

Q: I’ve been exercising and eating right for months and I just can’t get rid of my love handles. What exercises can I do to get rid of my love handles?

A: Unfortunately this is one of natures cruelties. We really have no control over where we lose our body fat. Do all the crunches you want, you wont have a six-pack without getting rid of the fat. Genetics play a role. For example, if you have a endomorph body, your…
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