Sleep More & Stop Late Night Eating to Lose Fat

Here are few fat loss studies I found interesting this week. Check it out!

Want To Lose Weight? Sleep More!
When it comes to losing weight the two methods that come to mind are diet and exercise. Well there may be a third. More evidence is pointing to sleep deprivation as a supporting cause of obesity.

A recent article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal pointed out the link between sleep deprivation and obesity because simply if you are awake more hours you tend to eat more. Sleep or lack of sleep effects the release of appetite regulation hormones. A study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics points out that 35 percent of the American population is obese and more than 28 percent of them sleep less than 6 hours per night.

So if you want to lose more weight, make sure you are getting more quality sleep!

Late Night Eating = Weight Gain
Eat more at night? You might be storing it as fat. An article in the journal Nature Medicine indicated a study involving removing the gene in mice that controls the regulation the metabolic timing. By removing this gene, it disrupted the rhythm in which the mice ate. The mice ate outside of their normal eating time. The mice that had the gene removed became obese compared to the control group.

What does this mean? This may indicate that eating outside of your metabolic rhythm (at night) could result in weight gain. Late night eating has been linked to weight gain in several other studies, but the reason why hasn’t been firmly established. This study introduces the idea that weight gain from late night eating could be the body’s way of storing the excess calories when energy isn’t in high demand.

We’ve talked about before how I want my clients to stop eating after 6:30pm, this study just reinforces why.

There you have it! It might seem like these studies point out anything new about weight loss, but they do reinforce the healthy habits that are required to lose fat and keep it off! So go get some sleep!

How To Pick The Right Weight Loss Supplements

One of the most common questions I get is “What do I think about (insert brand) supplement?” From protein shakes to fat loss pills, there are a ton of supplements. So what is good and what isn’t? Let’s back-up a bit and talk about the core of the question.

No Oversight
One thing to remember with supplements is that there is very little oversight on the industry. It’s so big and massive that the FDA could never keep up with the never ending line of supplements. So the FDA uses a knee-jerk reaction method to control this massive industry. If they receive a complaint about a particular supplement, they will investigate it. This process can take months, if not years. To make it worse, there is a lot of politics behind this process.

There is a list of ingredients that are and are not allowed in supplements, as well as production standards that they are held to. These standards are very lose. As I said before this industry is MASSIVE. There is no way to control it head on. Quality has always been an issue with supplements.

Cost Benefit
Sure there are supplements that might actually do what they advertise, but at what cost. The one unforeseen cost is how long do you have to take a supplement to get and keep the desired result. I put fat burning pills in this category. So let’s say you take a fat loss supplement for three months that costs you $100 per month. What happens when you go off the pills, do you gain the weight back? Can you justify taking the pills for the rest of your life? A whole year? Probably not.

Fat Loss Pills
Most fat loss pills on the market are stimulants. They contain caffeine that is the equivalent of a couple cups of coffee. There is a lot of evidence that supports caffeine as thermogenic. Thermogenic is something that increases your metabolism and causes your body to burn more calories. This effect isn’t very efficient. Your body adapts to the caffeine and it requires more to get the same result. Taking more caffeine is not better. Nor is is good for you.

Don’t waist your money of fat loss pills. Drink a cup of coffee and you’ll get same result. Spend the money on something long term, like learning how to cook and exercise for a healthy lifestyle.

Muscle Gainers
Dudes get sucked into supplements just as bad as woman do. There are a lot of products out there that claim if you take them they will increase your testosterone, give you rock hard muscle, or make you look ripped. Don’t listen to the noise. I’m here to tell you the only way to do all that is eat a lot, eat clean, and work out hard. You aren’t going to get “ripped” without working your butt off in the gym.

The Marketing Monsters
The supplement industry is huge. I mean HUGE! Billions of dollars are spent every year. And the unbelievable thing is it’s growing. It’s growth and size makes it unbelievably competitive. Why does this matter to you? Well these supplement companies pay big, big money to make their product look like the best one ever.

“Contact your certified nutrition specialist to adjust your dose if you lose more than 10 pounds in two weeks!”

Sound familiar? You might of heard it on a radio ad. It’s brilliant and incredibly misleading. It gives you the idea that the supplement is so good that you might lose too much weight! Ridiculous. Like I said before the supplement industry will spend a lot of money of marketing their products. Flip through a fitness magazine, how many ads are for supplements? Probably most of them! How many of those ads have a model or person that makes you want to look like them? Probably quite a few. Supplement companies are excellent marketers because they have to be. The name of the game with supplements is those who market the best make the most money. Supplements marketers would make brilliant politicians. They know how to spin and make themselves look like the best option ever.

The Mark-up
One of the reasons why the supplement industry is so popular is because of the massive amount of money that can be made. Producing supplements costs very little. These same supplements are sold for much, much more than it cost to make them. Retailers are able to mark-up these supplements greatly and profit enormously.

“You can’t out supplement bad diet and exercise habits.”
What are the good supplements?
What is good and what isn’t? I tell my clients that there are three supplements that I agree with: multi-vitamins, omega-3/6s, and protein supplements. That’s it. The rest of the products are just a waste of time and money. You can’t “out supplement” bad diet and exercise habits. Supplements are just that, a supplement, an additive to your diet to fill in the gaps. Where are the diet gaps? The diet gaps are in protein, healthy fats, and vitamins and minerals.

At the end of the day, I can preach to you all I want to try to convince you that there is a lot of junk supplements out there. The problem is in just short period of time a supplement ad will probably make you think otherwise. I want you to be aware of this. Just remember the only way to get results is to eat right and do the hard work!

How To Pick The Right Workout

When it comes to workouts, I find many just over think it. There are thousands of variations of workouts and exercises that will work for anyone looking to just get in shape. Here are some tips to picking the right workout routine for you.

Keep it simple
First off, keep things simple. You don’t need a dozen different exercises jammed into a day’s workout routine. You can easily get a great workout with just a handful of exercises.

Keep It Short
Your workouts don’t need to be hours long. You can easily get a good workout in 30 minutes. I find those that workout for an hour or longer aren’t being very efficient with their time.

No Need To Get Specific
Unless you are training for a sport or you’re doing post-rehab work, the exercises you use do don’t need to be very specific. If you think you are going to go workout like a pre-season olympic diver, think again.

Lather, Rinse, Repeat
There is nothing wrong with doing the same workout routine over and over. Sometimes all you need to do to refresh a workout is just increase the resistance or swap out one of the exercises. Don’t scrap a workout just because you’ve done it a few times, just change it a bit and repeat.

Keep it fun
I hate workouts that don’t seem fun to me. Now I use the term “fun” lightly when it comes to exercise, but your workout routines shouldn’t bore you. Don’t be afraid to throw some “fun” exercises into your routine, even if they’re easy.

Location Doesn’t Matter
Gyms are great because they have everything you need to get in a great workout. However, gyms aren’t required. You can easily workout at home, in the garage, outside, at the running track, on the dike, or the basketball court. Location doesn’t matter.

No Equipment Needed
As I was saying above, gyms are great because they have all you need. But all the equipment isn’t needed. You already have everything you need, your body. Bodyweight workouts can be great and challenging!

Challenge Yourself
Workouts should be challenging. If you’re not struggling at least a little bit, your workout might be too easy. If your workouts aren’t challenging enough, they will not produce the results you are going after.

Magazine Workouts
Fitness magazines are notorious for publishing overly complicated workouts. Why? Because it sells. Fitness magazines sell on the idea that people want to do the latest workout from your favorite MMA fighter or actress that was that summer blockbuster. Most of these workouts I find are just too complicated or not very reasonable. Skip the magazine workouts and look elsewhere.

Get Help
Now if this is all still confusing, this is where personal trainers shine. Exercise selection can be intimidating and personal trainers are great at writing awesome workouts. Not only that, the can provide you with an accountability factor that you don’t have when you are working out on your own. So don’t be afraid to get some help!

Just Do It
You can spend a lot of time thinking about what you are going to do and trying the find a great workout, but the most important thing is just get moving! Experiment with different exercises. Don’t sweat the details and just try different workouts. I found this great quote yesterday:

“It’s easier to act yourself into a new way of thinking than it is to think yourself into a new way of acting.”

Need some workout ideas? Check out my post from the other day!
11 Fat Burning Equipment Free Workouts

11 Fat Burning Equipment-Free Workouts

I get a TON of requests for workout ideas. So I am going to start a theme of posts that include workouts for you! Today’s theme is short equipment free workouts. These are great when you are busy and can’t make it to the gym. Here are eleven 15 – 20 minute equipment-free workouts you can do at home.

Timed Set – Do as many reps of each exercise in the amount of time given. A timer app on your phone makes these easy to do!

Workout #1
Jog-in Place 1:30 Minute
Jump Squats 1:30 Minute
Push-ups 1:30 Minute
Sit-ups 1:30 Minute
Rest 1:30 Minute
Repeat each one doing 1 minute of each
Repeat each one doing 45 seconds of each
Repeat each one doing 30 seconds of each

Workout #2
Jumping Jacks 1:30 Minute
Alternating Side Lunges 1:30 Minute
V-Ups 1:30 Minute
Plank 1:30 Minute
Rest 1:30 Minute
Repeat each one doing 1 minute of each
Repeat each one doing 45 seconds of each
Repeat each one doing 30 seconds of each

Workout #3
Air Squats 1:30 Minute
Alternating Single Leg Deadlifts 1:30 Minute
Mountain Climbers 1:30 Minute
Russian Twists 1:30 Minute
Rest 1:30 Minute
Repeat each one doing 1 minute of each
Repeat each one doing 45 seconds of each
Repeat each one doing 30 seconds of each

Workout #4
Burpees 1:30 Minute
Sumo Jump Squats 1:30 Minute
Torso Twists 1:30 Minute
Bicycle Crunches 1:30 Minute
Rest 1:30 Minute
Repeat each one doing 1 minute of each
Repeat each one doing 45 seconds of each
Repeat each one doing 30 seconds of each

Set Rep Workouts – Complete the given amount of reps of each exercise.

Workout #5
Lunges x10 (each leg)
Reverse Crunches x20
Air Squat x30
Mountain Climbers x40
Jumping Jacks x50
Complete 5 Sets

Workout #6
Push-ups x10
Side Lunges x10 (each leg)
Single Leg Deadlifts x15 (each leg)
High Knees x40
Wall Jumps x50
Complete 5 Sets

Workout #7
Burpees x10
Torso Twists x20
V-Ups x30
Mountain Climbers x40
Russian Twists x50
Complete 5 Sets

AMRAP Workouts – For these workouts you give yourself a set amount of time and your job is to complete As Many Reps As Possible in the given time! These are great challenge that can leave you lots of room to improve!

Workout #8
High Knees x30
Push-ups x10
Air Squats x30
Burpees x10
Complete two 6 Minute sets with a 3 minute rest between the set.

Workout #9
Wall Jumps x40
Reverse Crunches x20
Jumping Jacks x40
V-Ups x20
Complete two 7 Minute Sets with 4 Minutes rest between each set.

Workout #10
Mountain Climbers x50
Push-ups x15
Full Sit-ups x20
Air Squats x50
Complete two 6 minute sets with 2 minutes rest between each set.

Workout #11 This is a harder one.
Explosive Push-ups x20 (Get both hands off the ground)
Jump Squats x20
Jumping Lunges x20
Butterfly Sit-ups x20
Complete one 12 minute set, two if you are brave.

Keep in mind these are workout ideas, so there is lots of room to experiment! I kept these workouts somewhat easy so you might need to modify to fit your level. You can swap exercises, increase and decrease the repetitions, or add and subtract the timed sets. Give it a try!

Holiday Fat Loss Action Plan – All You Need

Here we are almost in the middle of November already! A few weeks ago we talked about keeping you working on the rocking body before the holidays. As busy as the holidays are it’s important to have a plan and stick to it!

Well, how’s it going? Are you hitting your workout goals? If not, it’s not to late to get started. Look you can easily get distracted with all the holiday hustle and bustle, but that’s no excuse to no get your workout in!

Let’s talk about your exercise during the holidays. I know it might be your instinct that if you can’t do an hour or two of exercise it might not seem like it’s worth it. Well that’s just not the case. Just few minutes of exercise can make an impact on your goals.

It works like this. I always like to think exercise is a catalyst of healthy behavior. If you exercise, then exercise will lead to eating healthy, and so on. There is a caveat to this theory. Some lean on exercise as a crutch for unhealthy behaviors. They use exercise as an excuse for the unhealthy stuff they have done. Don’t be that person. Make exercise the excuse to eat healthy, not that other way around.

The problem with exercise is we often percieve exercise being a more is better thing. That’s just not the case. In fitness we have a minimum effective dose. The least amount of exercise that produces the most results. For most people I find the minimum effective dose for exercise is a lot less than they think it actually is. Producing solid weight loss results can be done easily with just 20 – 30 minutes of daily exercise. Seriously. That’s it. It doesn’t need to be overly complicated either. If you are finding it hard to make it to the gym, just workout in your living room. You don’t need any equipment, just some space and your body weight will do. By the way, if you do workout at home, turn the TV off, silent the phone, and turn the music on. The world will survive without you for 20 minutes.

Here is a simple 15-20 minute equipment free routine you can do at home:
-Jog in place for 1 minute
-Jumping Jacks for 1 minute
-Plank for 1 minute
-Push-ups x10
-Squats x20
-Crunches x20
Repeat 3 times, repeat 4 times if you’re feeling ambitious.

I know you can do this! Keeping up with your workout routine will keep you stress free, healthy, and looking great! Just remember a little bit of something can add up to a lot over time. So just keep moving!

Check out the rest of my Holiday Action Plan Series here:
Holiday Action Plan – Pep Talk
Holiday Action Plan – Diet Guide
Holiday Action Plan – Fat Loss Action Grid

Late Night Eating & Essential Home Workout Equipment – Ask Joe

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!

Keep Getting Fat Loss Results This Winter – Four Simple Tips

If you are like most, the time change and cold weather messes up your routine. It gets darker earlier, the days are shorter, your instinct is to go home and cozy up on the couch. The winter in the Upper Midwest tries it’s darnest to disrupt our daily routines. Just because the weather is changing doesn’t mean you give up on your workouts. Here are a few tips to get you past the winter blues and keep you rocking at the gym.

Workout in the morning
If you’re finding it hard getting to the gym in the evenings, go in the morning. This gives you no chance of missing your workouts in the evenings. Not a morning person? Give it some time. Being a “morning person” is no inherited trait. It’s a routine. A developed habit. It might seem miserable at first, but once you make it a habit, you start to crave the feeling of getting something done early in the day.

Go straight to the gym
The lazy trap in the evening is going straight home after work. Don’t even give yourself the chance to get comfortable at home. Just go straight to the gym.

Go even if you don’t feel like it
If you are feeling tried and you don’t think you can muster up the effort to make it to the gym, go anyways. Seriously. Just go. You might be surprised how your mood changes after moving for a few minutes.

Prepare, prepare, prepare
You should never miss a workout because you weren’t ready for it. Before you go to bed, pack your gym bag. Put the bag by the door. Prepare and portion your meals ahead of time. Schedule your workouts. Preparation is the golden rule of weight loss!

The winter doesn’t need to knock out your workout routine. It just takes a little adapting and you can keep rocking workouts and keep those results coming!

Feeling stuck? Checkout my holiday fat loss action plan series!
Holiday Fat Loss Action Plan – The Pep Talk
Holiday Fat Loss Action Plan – Your Diet Strategy
Holiday Fat Loss Action Plan – The Fat Loss Action Grid

Why Carb Cycling is Awesome For Fat Loss

Low carb diets are very effective and are a great alternative to using restrictive calorie diets. So why do they work? Here is a very simplified explanation of low carb diets.

Carbs, short for carbohydrates, are macronutrients that make up part of the food you eat. Our bodies use carbs as a source of energy. When you eat carbs your body absorbs it into your blood stream and increases your blood sugar (glucose). Because high blood sugar is toxic and dangerous, your body releases the hormone insulin. Insulin helps store this sugar into your muscles and fat stores, thus lowering your blood sugar. Insulin also prevents your body from using it’s fat stores as a source of energy. This is a problem with weight loss because if you constantly have high levels of blood sugar, your body needs to control it by releasing insulin. When there isn’t enough demand for the energy (sugar) you are eating, it needs to stored as fat.

With a low carb diet we lower the amount of carbs you eat so that your body will need to metabolize your fat stores and use them for energy. Using these fat stores results in weight loss. Also, by eating less carbs, your body releases less insulin and as a result less glucose (blood sugar) is stored as fat.

There is a problem though, your body is very efficient and really good at adapting. Being on a long term low carb diet can start to lose it’s effectiveness. Because you are eating less carbs, you are essentially robbing your body of energy. This can cause fatigue and make it difficult to exercise or even function normally.

Enter carb cycling. Carb cycling is simply cycling between a normal carb days and a low carb days. This allows your body to store a healthy amount of sugar (energy) on your normal carb days. On your low carb days, you body is uses it’s fat stores for energy. This cycling of carbs helps deter some of the unwanted side effects of low carb diets.

Low carb diets produce great weight loss results. It takes a little discipline, but the reward is great!

Want more info on carb cycling? Check out these posts:
Carb Cycling for Awesome Weight Loss Results
Carb Cycling Sample Menu

Votes Are In – Best Fat Loss Moves

The votes are in! Here are the best fat loss moves voted by me! Okay maybe it’s not very democratic, but seriously these are the best of the best. Check it out!

Best Butt Exercise – Single Leg, Single Arm Deadlift
They are a great way to target the hamstrings and the butt, with the added bonus of your obliques, lower back and calves. Plus it also works your balance!

At the gym these have the nickname “salsa deadlifts” because of the way we abbreviate it on our workout board (SL SA Deadlifts). Next time your at the gym, grab a dumbbell and try it out.

Tip: Don’t forget to use the hand that is opposite of the foot that is on the ground.

Best Fat Loss Diet – Carb Cycling
If there is one diet that has produced some amazing results for my clients it’s carb cycling. Your probably wondering what the heck is carb cycling? If you have ever done any kind of low carb diet you probably have already done carb cycling.

I’ve written a few posts on carb cycling. For more info check out these posts:
Carb Cycling for Awesome Weight Loss Results
Carb Cycling Sample Menu

Best Fat Loss Workout – High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
This workout technique hides under a bunch of different names from metabolic conditioning to circuit training. Our joefitness bootcamps are entirely designed around HIIT. The best part about HIIT is the amount of time it takes to complete a workout. It’s very short. As little of 20 minutes of a HIIT workout can be effective.

The reason why HIIT is so good is because of the effect it has on the body after the workout. Your body goes into a high state of EPOC (Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption) which is a fancy way of saying your body has to crank up your metabolism to recover from the workout. This results into some awesome fat loss results!

Best Fat Loss Blog Post – 25 Fat Loss Tips
This is by far one of my most popular posts on my blog. For good reason too, it is full of just simple and solid fitness tips that you need to follow!

Check it out: 25 Fat Loss Tips

Best Workout Resource – 4 Hour Body
I’ll admit it appears to be a hefty read, but the information in it is fantastic. Tim Ferris put together a gem of a healthy living book. From the self-experiments to his slow carb diet, there is plenty of information that anyone can take from this book.

Tim has another book coming out on November 20th called the 4 Hour Chef. Don’t let the title fool you, while the book is focused on becoming a fantastic Chef, he is also covering his way of learning to become awesome at anything in a short amount of time. I have it pre-ordered and I plan on doing a full review post when I get it!

Best Fat Loss Lunch – Salads
If you read my blog, this one might be no surprise to you. Salads are a great way to get some solid nutrition without the impact of calories. A few weeks ago I wrote a post on how you can spice up your salads with ingredients you probably didn’t think of.

Check it out: The Art of The Salad

There you have it, the best of the fat loss moves. Maybe I didn’t cover anything, but I really thing these are some of the best things in the weight loss world. I hope you have a great Election Day!

Fat Burning Zones, Skipping Breakfast, and Workout Shoes – Ask Joe

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 do 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!