Jun 082012

Ever since Gatorade was invented in 1965, the rise of sports drinks has grown into a billion dollar industry. Gatorade is now PepsiCo’s 4th largest international brand. So it’s not surprising that these sports drinks are being consumed other then during sporting events.

Sports drinks are a solution of water, sugar, flavoring, and electrolytes mixed together to produce sweet tasting and refreshing product. They are commonly endorsed by big names like Micheal Jordan and are often targeted at young adults and children. Sports drink marketing is everywhere from large aisle displays at the grocery store to Super Bowl commercials. There are few professional sports that you don’t see a Gatorade cooler.

Feeling the pressure of calorie conscious consumers, PepsiCo introduced a few low sugar versions of their famous sports drink. The lower calorie versions have artifcial sweeteners to keep the sweet flavor without the added calories. However, they’re original high sugar drink is still a very popular seller.

Do we really need to being drinking sports drinks? I contacted a food and nutrition expert from my alma mater to get the skinny on sports drinks. Dr. Julie Garden-Robinson is an associate professor at North Dakota State University . Here’s what Dr. Julie said about sports drinks:

Joe: When should you drink sports drinks like Gatorade or Powerade?
Dr. Julie: If you are exercising at a high-intensity level for more than an hour, you might need a sports drink. However, for most people, water is the most important beverage for rehydrating before, during and after sports or recreational activities such as golfing, playing tennis, biking or gardening. As soon as you eat a nutritious snack or meal, you will make up for any nutrient losses.

According to some researchers, people who exercise less than an hour do not see an enhancement of their athletic performance as a result of drinking sports drinks. If you are an elite athlete exercising for more than an hour, then a sports drink may be needed on a regular basis. However, even elite athletes who are burning large amount of calories consider the nutrient density of the beverages they are consuming.

Bottom line: For most situations, bringing your water bottle instead of a sports drink bottle will work just fine. You will save money, too.

Joe: When shouldn’t you drink sports drinks?

Dr. Julie: If you are exercising less than an hour, you really do not need a sports drink. Some people sip sports drinks when they are not exercising, which simply adds calories to your diet and money out of your food budget.

Joe: What about electrolytes, are they important to keep replenished? If so, is there a way you can replenish electrolytes without all the sugar?

Dr. Julie: Some researchers call low-fat or fat-free milk the new sports drink. It provides protein for building muscle and minerals/electrolytes that active people may lose through perspiration. In some studies comparing milk to sports drinks for use in endurance and strength activities, milk has performed better.

Joe:What about kids, should they be drinking sports drinks?

Dr. Julie: Sports drinks often are marketed with “cool” names that appeal to kids, but children do not need to consume these as everyday beverages. Childhood obesity remains an issue of great concern nationwide, and many experts point to high-calorie beverages as contributing to the issue. Many sports drinks provide empty calories from the added sweeteners.

Sometimes children and adults may become confused by the nutrition information on the bottles of beverages, especially by the serving size. A large bottle might have two or three servings, and a child or teen might consume the entire bottle. The nutrition information listed on the Nutrition Facts label is based on one serving, not “one bottle.”

Consider the situation and intensity of the exercise. If children are very active playing sports on a hot day, then a reduced-calorie sports beverage might be useful, especially if it encourages the children to drink more liquid.

Joe: Is there a healthier alternative to sports drinks?

Dr. Julie: The most important beverages for growing children are water, low-fat or fat-free milk and 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice. Many children fall short of the recommendation for three cups of calcium-rich milk per day. In fact, just 36 percent of boys and 14 percent of girls get enough calcium.

Parents need to be aware that many fruit-flavored beverages on the market contain no fruit, so they should look for the “100 percent juice” designation. Some of the calorie-free flavored waters also appeal to children.

You also can “eat” your fluids by consuming lots of fruits and vegetables, too. Many children and adults do not meet today’s fruit and vegetable recommendation (4.5 cups daily, on average). Fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of water as well as nutrients. Be creative! Most kids like watermelon chunks or frozen grapes to cool down and rehydrate on a hot day.

Thank you Dr. Julie Garden-Robinson for the great interview!

Apr 262012

Ask joefitness: “What is an awesome 10 minute ab routine that I can do at home? PS Make it burn!”

Okay! Here you go!

Tomahawk Crunch
Laying on your back with your legs straight up in the air with our hands starting on the ground behind your head, move your arms to the right side of your legs lifting your shoulder blades off the ground, return back to the starting position and do the same for the left side. Repeat.
Make it really burn: Hold a light weight with your hands. Don’t cheat by swinging your arms!

Reverse Crunches
Laying on the ground with your legs straight up in the air and your arms to your sides, push your hips off the ground. Try not to swing your legs, keeping the whole motion under control.
Make it really burn: Hold your hands out in front of you instead of laying on the ground.

Butterfly Sit-up
Starting laying on your back with your heels together and your knees pointed away from your body, your hands resting on the ground behind your head, sit all the way up and touch your feet with both hands. Try not to swing your arms forward.
Make it really burn: Hold a light weight with your hands. Again, don’t cheat by swinging your arms!

Your workout
Complete each exercise for 45 seconds. Beginners drop it down to 30 seconds. Get as many reps as possible without cheating. Complete three rounds and it will burn!

Apr 252012

If there is one thing that you probably already know about eating healthy it’s that hunger pangs are evil. Here are eleven ways to help you fight off the cravings.

Stay hydrated – You would be surprised how often you are actually dehydrated versus being hungry. Drink some water before you decide to eat.

Eat low impact snacks – Have some low impact snacks like carrots or apples to help carry you to your next meal.

Stay focused on goals – Keeping a food journal might just keep you motivated enough to wait out until your next meal. Stay focused and see success!

Get rest – Being tired can lead to feeling hungry. Take a quick nap before you decide to dive into a meal.

Relax – Stress is also another trigger of hunger urges. Take a moment to relax and breathe.

Exercise – Instead of eating that next snack, go for a walk instead. A little sweat should save you until your next meal.

Get use to it – Tough love, I know. If you are new to a diet, the beginning can be a little rough, but I promise once you get further down the road, it won’t be so bad.

Eat slower – It takes awhile for your body to know that it’s full. Have you ever eaten so much and ten minutes later you feel terrible? Take your time eating and you will eat less.

Chew gum – Chewing gum can give you the sense that your eating without the calories. Minty gum seems to work better.

Get some caffeine – Caffeine can help suppress hunger urges. Make a cup of tea or coffee. Just don’t over do it. You shouldn’t consume any more than two strong cups of coffee a day.

Keep food away – Keep food out of your enviroment. Easy access to snacks will just lead to eating them.

Feeling hungry can be a put a big dent in your diet plans, but knowing how to fight off the hunger urges can be a critcal skill for seeing weight loss success!

Do you have a way you fight hunger urges? Tell me how in the comments below!

Apr 182012

Pinterest has become an awesome resource for everything from do-it-yourself projects to motivational quotes. Here are 10 awesome boards you should be following for some delicious healthy meals!

Number One
Fitsugar is an awesome resource for everything fitness. Their boards are no exception!

Number Two
If you’re familar with Real Simple magazine, their healthy eating board is a must follow!

Number Three
Shape Magazine has a ton of great pins to keep you healthy!

Number Four
We may not have a Whole Foods in Fargo, but that doesn’t mean we can use their fantastic ideas!

Number Five
Men’s Health has a great collection of healthy recipes that look different and delicious!

Number Six
FitFluential has a bunch of great meal ideas that you should try!

Number Seven
Booty Camp Fitness has a recipe board that you don’t want to miss!

Number Eight
‘How Does She?’ is great blog put together by a group of woman that want to eat great and be healthy! http://pinterest.com/howdoesshe/food-that-s-healthy/

Number Nine
If you know me, I love my smoothies, so why not follow this great smoothie board!

Number Ten
Of course I can’t do a Pinterest post without pluging my own joefitness pinterest board!

Now I know I haven’t covered nearly all the healthy eating boards, so your job is to post in the comments the boards that you think are awesome and we should follow!

Apr 172012

Ask joefitness: ‘Hey Joe, I find it hard to constantly keep track of my calories. Do I really need to track them to lose weight?’

To Count or Not To Count Calories - joefitnessCounting calories certainly can be tedious process, it also may not be as accurate as you think. The process of cooking food can change the amount of calories the food contains. Also, there has been evidence that cardio machines like treadmills and ellipticals inaccurately calculate calories burned. Furthermore, the idea of energy exchange isn’t all that accurate either. For example, if you ate a 500 calorie meal and you went to the gym and burned off 500 calories, it doesn’t mean you are a net zero for calories. Depending on the intensity of the exercise, your body needs to recover which can increase the amount of calories your body burns. Confusing? That’s not even the worst of it.

There’s a better way
It is very important to be aware of what you’re eating. This is why having a food journal in a weight loss plan is essential. However, I don’t find it critcially important to track calories. Instead on focusing on calories, focus on the quality of food. If your diet is rich with lean proteins, fruits, green leafy vegetables, and healthy oils, you will more than likely drop those unwanted pounds. If you want to take it a step further, managing your carb intake may be much easier than counting calories. For most people keeping your carb intake below 200 – 300 carbs per day is a good idea, as long as 2/3 of those carbs come from fruits and vegetables.

Diet plans don’t need to be complicated with math. Simply eliminating over-processed foods from your diet can lead to significant changes. Eat clean and look lean!

Apr 112012

Ask joefitness: “Hey Joe, I hear a lot about people going on a detox diets. What are they and should I do one? And will they help me lose weight?”

Detox diets typically are diets that are meant to “flush” all the bad stuff from your body. I’ve also heard them called cleanse diets, flush diets, body cleanse diet, etc.. Typically they come in the form of eating a lot of insoluble fiber, eating some form of laxative (natural or synthetic), or by way of fasting.

One thing I would be clear about is I would never buy a product that calls itself a detox diet. Save your money. Word of warning: If you do happen go on a detox diet, long term detoxing can lead to some major health issues. Constantly flushing out nutrients from your body is a bad thing.

I like the idea of a detox diet, but not for the purpose many of these diets promote. I like the idea because they act as a switching mechanism from a bad eating habit into a new eating habit. To put that in English, I like detox diets because they get people to stop eating crap and start eating healthy. I’m not into the whole grape juice cleanse, honey and tabsco cleanse or latest detox meme spreading over the internet, I think these things are just plain silly and a waste of time.

If I were to design you a detox diet, you would eat plenty of green leafy veggies and lots of fresh fruit. I’d cut out all the sugary drinks and overstimulated coffees. You’d have green tea at least twice a day and you’d be drinking plenty of water. I add some lean meat for your main meals and let you eat nuts for snacks. Kind of sounds like a healthy diet all around doesn’t it?

So when you are ready to start eating healthy and you want to detox, don’t drink the the internet diet koolade, just start eating healthy and make good diet decisions. The weight loss will come soon enough!

Do you have a weight loss question for joefitness? Post in the comments below or send us an email!

Apr 062012

I got this question from a friend the other day: ‘I have a holiday get-together this weekend and I know I won’t be eating very well. What can I do to help me not fall behind in my weight loss goals?’

First off, it’s great that you are being proactive with your diet! If you know you won’t have access to very healthy eats, I like to have my clients eat two low carb days right before a day that they know they won’t be eating well. The key is to get right back into healthy eating mode after the holiday is over.

Also, plan your cheat day around the holiday meal. If you are eating like a diet rockstar 6 out of 7 days, one day where you eat a little bad will not hinder your goals. It might actually help you lose more by replenishing your body with energy.

You are in control of your diet, your diet doesn’t control you! Just remember to enjoy celebrating, and if food happens to be the gathering point, a little cheating won’t hurt.

Apr 052012

Yesterday I posted an article on how to use a carb cycling diet to get amazing results. I received a few emails asking me to elaborate a little more on what a Normal Carb Day would be versus a Low Carb Day.

Here is an example of a 1500 calorie menu for a low carb day and a normal carb day.

Normal Carb Day – 1590 Calories (147 Carbs)
Breakfast – 385 Calories (61 Carbs)
Plain Greek Yogurt – 10oz
Strawberries – 1 Cup
Orange Juice – 12oz

Lunch – 449 Calories (36 Carbs)
Turkey Sandwich
Whole Wheat Bread – 2 Slices
Turkey Breast – 6oz
Tomato – 1oz
Romaine Lettuce – 6oz

Snack – 196 Calories (44 Carbs)
Fruit Salad
Orange – 1 Medium
Strawberries – 1 Medium
Grapes – 2 oz

Dinner – 560 Calories (6 Carbs)
Spinach Salad /w Chicken Breast
Spinach – 6oz
Chicken Breast – 6oz
vinaigrette – 3oz

Low Carb Day – 1513 Calories (18 Carbs)
Breakfast – 499 Calories (2 carbs)
Scrambled Eggs – 3 Eggs
Shredded Cheese – 1 oz
Bacon – 2 Slices

Lunch – 599 Calories (6 carbs)
Spinach – 6oz
Steak (cubed) – 6oz
Vinaigrette – 3oz

Snack – 169 Calories (3 Carbs)
Almonds – 1 oz

Dinner – 246 Calories (7 Carbs)
Chicken Breast – 4oz
Steamed Broccoli – 6oz

What about the High Carb Day?
The only difference from a normal carb day vs a high carb day is you get a cheat meal at the end of your high carb day. You can eat whatever meal you’ve been craving all week! (within reason of course)

As always, if you have any questions email me, post below, or find me on Facebook!

Mar 292012

Your environment is crucial to losing weight. So making your kitchen an effective weight loss zone is important. Having the right tools in the kitchen is very important to your fat loss success! Here are five tools that every weight loss kitchen should have!


Cooking healthy sometimes can be quite a process. Next time you cook that healthy meal, cook enough for a couple meals. Store the left-overs in your handy little containers.

Tip: When you store the left-overs, only store one serving in one container. This will help avoid the temptation of eating a couple meals worth of left overs.

Food Scale

A food scale will help you measure out your portions with ease. One of my favorite things to do is buy in bulk and measure out individual servings and put them in separate containers. I prefer a digital scale, but you don’t need to splurge on one either.

Tip: This might seem simple to most, but learn to use the tare feature. Tare means to zero out anything that is sitting on the scale. So if you want to measure liquid in a glass, set the glass on the scale, hit the tare button, and pour in the liquid to measure it.


I like my smoothies. Smoothies are a great way to get a ton of nutrition in a little single serving shake. Check out this post on my favorite smoothies.

Tip: You can spend a pretty penny on blenders, but you shouldn’t need to spend over $100 for one. Look for a blender with plenty of watts and a glass container. The life of your blender will depend on how well you clean and maintain it!

Cutting Board / Knife Set

A cutting board and a good knife is important for processing your meat, vegetables, and fruit. These are essential tools for buying in bulk and preparing meals.

Tip: The reason most people cut themselves with knives is because the knife is dull. Get a knife sharper or learn how to use a knife sharping steel.

Shaker Bottle

This one might not be in the kitchen, but a shaker bottle is essential tool for getting in those protein shakes during the day.

Tip: Put a scoop of your protein powder or meal replacement in the your shaker and bring it with you during the day. All you have to do is add water and you have an instant meal!

Having the right tools for success is critical. So get equipped and start losing!

Mar 282012

You’re on a diet and your being good by eating your salads. You need a little flavor for your salad so to stay true to your diet you pick out the “healthiest” low fat salad dressing you can find. There’s a problem, low fat salad dressings might not be as healthy as you think.

Low fat salad dressings eliminate the healthiest part of most dressings, the oil. Yes oil is fat, but fat isn’t necessarily bad for you! Fat actually helps your body absorb the very nutrients you are eating in your salad.

What about the calories?
If you are a calorie counter, yes oil based dressings typically do have more calories than their low fat counter parts. However, most low calorie diets exclude healthy oils and it’s essential that you incorporate healthy fats into your routine.

What brand should I buy?
The problem with most store bought salad dressings is many of them contain sugar. A handfull of them even contained high fructose corn syrup. You can’t forget the preservatives, extra sodium and other junk they need to put in to keep the shelf life. Look for the basic ingredients vinegar and oil. From there shouldn’t be much else other then herbs and spices. Post your favorite dressing in the comments!

What about creamy dressings?
Whole different story. If you do crave dressings like ranch or french, go for the low calorie version. I say avoid these or moderate highly!

Make Your Own Vinaigrette   Kitchen comfort zone warning

For a basic vinaigrette you just need to mix 1 part vinegar(or lemon juice) and 3 parts oil. Use a healthy oil like olive oil or canola oil. From there you can mix in any herbs, spices or salts you like. Just a simple search on Google brought up a bunch of recipes for healthy vinaigrette dressings!

Eat green and be lean!