Welcome back, LIFTnation!! With the treacherous holidays at our back and a promising 2017 on the horizon, I find myself full of resolve and inspiration. For me, the brink of a New Year always seems to lend a sense of recommitment and focus of both body and mind, as all things begin anew. If you’re anything like me, your mental dialogue over the past few weeks may have sounded something like this: “To hell with my diet! What’s the use in even trying to watch what I eat during the holidays anyway!?” If that sounds familiar, then I can also assume that you are sitting there reading this article feeling bloated and blah. Worry not, my friends, for I assure you that there is a solution to your Holiday woes. With a little old-fashioned volition and a concerted plan, together we can work towards making your body the best it has ever been. I say we start TODAY by putting the past behind us and buckling down like never before. WHO’S WITH ME!!? By the powers vested in me, I hereby declare:

LET US BEGIN WITH A CLEAN SLATE AND MOVE FORWARD!!!

At LIFT, our goal is to lead and inspire you to become the best version of you. In order to accomplish this, you have to consistently work hard in the gym, but more importantly, you must be vigilant and steadfast with your nutrition and education thereof. This is a lifelong journey with many ups and downs, but if you stay the course you will ultimately arrive at your destination. I know that everyone wants instant results, but we must think of this as a marathon rather than a sprint.

Remember, working out is only 20% of the equation, whereas your nutrition is 80%

To quickly rehash, my previous posts were comprised of a 3-Part comprehensive series on the Thermic Effect of Food. Over the course of this series we broke down each of the 3 individual Macronutrients, and we learned about their respective roles in relation to our metabolism. To do this we first established what these macronutrients are and then we examined each of their unique metabolic properties. If you haven’t yet read that series, and all of this sounds foreign, then I strongly encourage you to back up and perform your due diligence, as this blog is linear in it’s progression with each post building upon the former. If you HAVE read the previous posts, then I commend you on your commitment to learning, and this article will make perfect sense.

So, without further adieu, let’s pick back up and get to work!!!

While I do believe we thoroughly covered our bases regarding Proteins, Fats, and Carbs, I can’t help but feel as though we are still missing an integral piece of the nutritional puzzle. Currently in the fitness world the term “Macros” has become a huge buzzword, and I do believe this has plenty of merit. Admittedly, before “Tracking your Macros” became common practice, following a realistic nutrition plan has always felt somewhat convoluted. Most common laypeople seemingly become overwhelmed with all of the different metrics such as counting calories, manipulating carbs, moderating fat, adhering to the food pyramid, etc. Therefore, with the advent of Macronutrient ideology, I can definitely say that I have seen an overall improvement in the general public’s fundamental understanding of weight-loss. However, if we only focus on the 3 macronutrients we exhibit a negligence to one of this Earth’s most effective fat-loss tools. Therefore, I would now like to spend some time on what I call:

“THE 4TH MACRONUTRIENT” 

Believe it or not, vegetables don’t actually fall into the modern fitness-nutrition schematic of tracking macros. Therefore, it’s no wonder that most folks don’t get anywhere near the amount of vegetable intake that they should. Yet, as we all know, Veggies tout myriad health benefits and should absolutely have a substantial presence in our daily intake.

In terms of weight-loss vegetables are a highly effective tool, as they are naturally constituted of fiber and water, both of which lead to a feeling of satiety. When Veggies are consumed, this magical combination of fiber and water forms a viscous, gel-like substance which moves very slowly through the small intestine and sends a long-lasting signal to the brain that we are full. Additionally, if we combine our vegetables with any lean source of protein, we can actually create an even longer-lasting sensation of satiety, as we have now added the dense, heavy protein molecules to the mix. So, the idea here is to always try and include at least one protein with one vegetable at every meal, as this will insure against a dietary slip.

Okay, Okay, so we all already knew that vegetables are important for our health and that they can aid with decreasing bodyfat. But, did you know that when it comes to weight-loss some veggies reign supreme? Yes, that’s right…some veggies can help you trim down by naturally revving your metabolism, turning off belly-fat genes, and frying fat cells. Sound too good to be true!? Well, if you want to learn which of these produce-aisle picks give you the greatest metabolic effects, then continue reading. Following is a list of:

  ——————THE 5 FAT-BLASTING VEGETABLES EVERYONE SHOULD EAT————–

 1. PEPPERS

You may have heard that Hot, Spicy peppers have a fat-Scorching effect, but did you know that mild peppers actually share the same quality? Thanks to a metabolism-boosting compound, dihydrocapsiate, and their high Vitamin C content, sweet red and green peppers can help you lose fat. A cup of these bell-shaped veggies serves up to 3 times the daily recommendation for Vitamin C, a nutrient that has been extensively proven to counteract stress hormones such as cortisol that trigger fat storage around the midsection. So remember, eat bell-shaped produce for an hourglass-shaped physique!

2. BROCCOLI

In addition to warding off prostate, lung, breast and skin cancers, this flowery little gem can help you whittle your middle. Broccoli contains an incredible phytonutrient called sulforaphane that increases testosterone production and fights bodyfat storage. The only downside? For those of us with sensitive stomachs, too much of this powerful veggie can creative gassiness and bloating, so I have found an every-other-day approach to best for my needs. Personally, one of my all-time favorite dinners is stir-fry beef and broccoli with snow peas and shredded carrots. Quick, easy, and delicious!

3. PICKLES

Pickles are a food that have recently grown on me, as I honestly wasn’t aware how useful they actually are for fighting fat. For starters, they are very low in calories and yet quite high in fiber. In fact, one large pickle has just 15 calories and 2 grams of fiber, so even if I snack on 4 or 5 pickles it’s really of no consequence to my waistline. In addition, the fiber will typically hold off any midday or after dinner hunger pangs that may arise. ( not to mention, sometimes I just crave that good ol’ crunchy and salty combo that would typically lead me to a potato chip ) However, what most people don’t know is that eating acidic foods, such as those with vinegar, have been proven to increase the rate at which the body burns off carbs! Now let’s think about that…the sooner your body burns through it’s carbohydrate stores, also know as glycogen stores, the sooner it can begin to burn stores of bodyfat. In other words, unless you have run through all of the carbs in your system, you ain’t losing no fat! So keep in mind: a spoonful of vinegar helps the belly go down 🙂

4. ONIONS

Onions are rich in Quercetin, a flavonoid that increases blood flow and activates a protein in the body that helps regulate glucose levels. So what does that mean? It means that you will have an increased rate of lipolysis ( burning/excretion of fat cells ) along with a decrease in the development of new fat cells. In addition, onions are the king of all veggies when it comes to cardiovascular health, as they help lower cholesterol and fight the hardening of arteries, both of which will promote healthy blood-pressure levels. Combine all of these benefits with the fact that onions are super low in calories and that they can be added to practically any dish, and you can quickly see why onions are a winner.

5. SPINACH

It may look unassuming, but Popeye’s favorite vegetable can actually help take your calorie burning potential to the next level. How? Just one cup of the steamed version has as much protein as half a hard-boiled egg, which means more muscle recovery and growth. And remember: the more muscle mass you pack onto your frame the more calories your body burns at rest, it’s all about the almighty RMR, people!! What’s more, this leafy green is chock full of THYKALOIDS, a compound that’s been shown to significantly reduce cravings and promote weight-loss. Personally, I love raw spinach and it is a year-round staple in my diet. My favorite is a spinach blueberry protein smoothie for an afternoon snack, otherwise a nice blackened chicken spinach salad with raspberry vinaigrette is often a choice for dinner.

Well LIFT family, that is just about gonna do it for this time. I hope you have learned a thing or two ( or 5) about our faithful allies the Vegetables. Remember, as a rule of green thumb, always try and have a minimum of 1 veggie with each meal, and at least 2 different veggies with dinner. Doing this will help boost your metabolism, provide a host of health benefits, and keep you feeling fuller longer.

Yours in health,

Derek