Today’s blog is written by Daniel Cavarretta from  – Nutrition myths debunked!

Why is it that so many myths creep into our lives? There are popular fables, legends, and superstitions that get passed down from one generation to the next. As a child you may believe some of these myths until you reach adolescence and are able to rationalize some of the illogical concepts.

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One tale I was always told as a child was that milk will make you grow stronger. As a short stature and fragile child I would go through periods where I would guzzle milk by the gallon. I could just picture myself as a six foot tall rugged man thanks to all of the milk that I drank as a kid.

But to this day I remain short in stature.

Milk didn’t help me achieve anything extraordinary. My father told me that milk makes you grow stronger and I inherently believed him. He was a man who was much wiser than I was giving me no reason to question his judgement. I didn’t take the time to do my own research and form my own opinion.

It is through experiences like these that massive fitness myths sweep the nation. When a fit friend tells you something about working out you automatically believe it to be true. Since this person is in better shape than you are, they must be correct. Many of the myths that get spread are about the time in which you eat your food. These myths consist of eating small frequent meals, intermittent fasting, and not eating late at night.


My answer to all of the nutrient timing theories are that they cannot offset the energy balance equation. If you eat more calories than you burn you will gain weight. If you eat less calories than you burn you will lose weight (Schoeller, 2009).

Small Frequent Meals

I am sure you have heard it before. “You must eat six small meals a day in order to keep your metabolism performing at an optimum rate. This is the only way you will ever be able to lose weight.” I know I have heard this numerous times; from buddies at the gym to health professionals in the field.

At first I naturally believed this theory. I was young and trying to soak up as much knowledge as possible. However, as I grew older I became more skeptical. I realized that not everything I heard from my teachers and parents was exactly true. I started doing my own research and forming my own opinions.

When it came to researching how frequently a person should eat to optimize weight loss I found little data to back up what I have been hearing my whole life. At first I was frustrated and confused. Why would health professionals who have an extensive educational background in this field tell me something that was wrong?



Research shows there is not a relationship between how frequently a person eats and their body composition #broscience

I decided to do some more digging and find out why these health professionals would lie to me.

I found that since the 1960s, the theory of eating small frequent meals has been popular. People believed that there was a relationship between how frequently a person ate and their body mass. Despite having reasonable evidence discussing the unimportance of meal frequency, the theory remains strong today (Bellisle et al., 2007). People are convinced that grazing throughout the day keeps the metabolism performing at an optimal level. When the body goes through periods of fasting, the metabolism declines, which is not efficient for burning fat (Fábry et al., 1964).

These misconceptions stem from poorly conducted studies. In 1964 a commonly referenced study was published showing that eating infrequently has negative effects on body composition. This study, among others, showed that participants who ate four to eight meals daily lost more weight than the participants who ate two meals daily. Looking back at these studies, it is easy to find the common flaws that they contain. The studies did not have proper control of the participant’s diets. The participants were free to live their daily lives as long as they met with the doctors and discussed the experiment (Bellisle et al., 2007). One of the hardest components of a fitness study is having proper adherence to the program. It should not be taken for granted that the participants will comply with their diet or training. In fact, it has been proven that overweight people tend to underreport what they are consuming (Prentice et al., 1986). Not knowing how much food each participant consumed is one way the studies were flawed.

Far more superior studies have surfaced that contradict the findings found in these past studies.  A twenty-four hour energy expenditure experiment that was conducted over the course of four weeks found no difference in the thermogenic effect of eating frequent meals or eating infrequent meals. The thermogenic effect of food is how much energy, or Calories, are used to digest food (Verboeket-van de Venne & Westerterp, 1963). This is due to the fact that although ingesting frequent meals keeps the metabolism going at a steady rate, ingesting large amounts of food spikes the metabolism. The net result is that the metabolism will burn the same amount of Calories no matter how the food is spaced out (Cameron et al., 2009).

This gave me closure as I realized that the nutritionists did not lie to me. They studied research from a different time period that drew different conclusions. Research is always improving and I have no doubt in my mind that some of the things I believe today will change in the years to come.



I know I will get some things wrong about general fitness. Research keeps evolving #wisdom #imnotperfect

Even though eating frequent meals throughout the day is not a magical solution to weight loss, it is applicable to many people. If you are a person who struggles feeling full, than ingesting frequent meals may aid in weight loss. By feeling full throughout the day, you may avoid binging at times when you are hungry. Another type of person who may benefit from this is someone eating a large amount of food in a day. If you eat 3000 kilocalories a day, consuming three 1000 kilocalorie meals may leave you feeling bloated. You may do better spacing out your meals in six 500 kilocalorie increments.

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Intermittent Fasting

On the opposite side of the spectrum is the theory of intermittent fasting. Instead of spacing out meals at regular time intervals, intermittent fasting recommends eating in one small feeding window. The most common protocol is fasting for sixteen hours and eating for eight hours in a given day.

This theory was not so fast to fool me. I didn’t hear about it until later in my life when I had already started to challenge how not everything you hear is true. Plus, I already understood the energy balance equation and knew that nutrient timing wasn’t super important. Still I was curious why it was getting so much attention.



Don’t be so fast to be swept up with the zealots. Do the research! #science


What I found surprised me. I was able to trace intermittent fasting back to the early 1900s when multiple studies found that periods of fasting in animals produced a greater growth rate than constantly fed animals (Morgulis, 1913). Later on, in the 1970s more studies were conducted to show that fasting may prolong a person’s lifespan (Kendrick, 1973). More recent studies conducted try to examine whether intermittent fasting can positively affect cancer or diabetes patients (Thomas et al., 2010). So, while there is a great deal of research for the potential medical use of intermittent fasting, the use of intermittent fasting for weight loss has stemmed from little research.

In fact, there have been multiple studies to show that there is no relation between fat loss and intermittent fasting. In 2015 a research experiment was conducted to investigate the body compositional effects of intermittent fasting. This was an eight week study where the first group performed resistance training and was allowed to eat at any time throughout the day. The second group also performed resistance training but was only allowed to eat during one four hour period within the day. At the end of the study, no significant reduction in body fat was found in either group (Tinsley et al., 2015).

Even though intermittent fasting may not be the golden ticket for weight loss, it may benefit a few groups of people. If you have no appetite in the morning and feel sick when you force yourself to eat, you may benefit from skipping breakfast altogether. Likewise, if you are cutting Calories but are use to eating big meals, intermittent fasting may benefit you. Instead of reducing the portions of your meals, you can skip one meal and eat two large meals. Just remember to make sure that your caloric intake still reaches your target number.

There is also the need for additional studies to be conducted on the effects of intermittent fasting on the different diseases discussed prior. For example, it has been shown that intermittent fasting can improve insulin sensitivity, but it does not affect fasting glucose levels. For this reason, intermittent fasting may benefit patients with diabetes. More research is needed to discover the effects intermittent fasting has on human life span, human growth hormone, and decreasing the risk of developing cancer (Varady & Hellerstein, 2007).

Don’t Eat At Night

“You can’t eat after 8:00pm! Your body is about to go to sleep and therefore will store all the food you eat as fat!” This is a theory that I have always heard but did not put too much thought into. I loved eating food at night. It was a great time to snack on some pretzels or treat myself to ice cream. Plus I was a scrawny kid trying to gain weight and wasn’t too concerned with putting on a little fat.

As I grew older I realized that not everyone had this relaxed attitude about nighttime eating. They were told that it was bad to eat after 8:00pm and therefore stopped eating after 8:00pm at night.

Again, I grew older and began to challenge the theories that I was taught. When observing the literature on this topic I found a commonly referenced research project that took place at New York Hospital. This study investigating the eating patterns of emotionally disturbed obese patients. This was an excellent study that I enjoyed reading, but has been unfortunately misinterpreted by many. The participants being studied all suffered from some sort of emotional difficulty. Many of the patients had developed an unhealthy relationship with food due to their anxiety. They would go through long periods of fasting during the day and then start to binge at night. One of the participants being studied reported that she would awake feeling anxious and hungry; “At such times she would eat a pint of ice cream, drink a bottle of Pepsi Cola and, temporarily sated, fall asleep for another hour before the cycle was repeated” (Stunkard et al., 1955). In a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Chunky Monkey ice cream there is 1,160 kilocalories (Sugar, 2010). If the participant were to do this every day in one week, she would consume an additional 8,120 kilocalories over the course of the week. It is not that eating late at night caused this participant to gain weight; it is the fact that she developed a binge-starve eating disorder that caused her to consume a caloric surplus.

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To this day, more articles continue to come out concluding that nighttime eating is linked to obesity. While it is a valid argument that nighttime eating and nocturnal eating are characteristics common in the obese population, the conclusions that people draw from these studies are incorrect (Cerú-Björk et al., 2001). A recent literature review at Florida State University demonstrated the flaws in many of these studies and also noted studies that showed body compositional benefits to nighttime eating (Kinsey & Ormsbee, 2015). In reality, eating before bedtime relates back to our lovely energy balance equation. If a late night meal helps you meet your caloric needs for the day, you’re not going to gain any excess fat.



Stop starving yourself just because the clock says its 8:01 P.M.!


In defense of not eating late at night, I will say that nighttime is when you are tired and your willpower is at a low point. It is much easier and more rewarding to whip out a bowl of ice cream than it is to cook a nutritious snack. Also, many people choose to watch television as a way to unwind at night before bedtime. It has been shown that people who eat in front of the television tend to eat less mindfully which causes them to eat larger portions, typically higher in sugar and fat (Robinson et al., 2013).

Numerous theories have spread throughout the fitness industry and will continue to spread throughout the fitness industry. Many of these secrets and tricks are going to relate to the time in which you eat your foods. While there are things that do make a difference in a general fitness program, nutrient timing will be at the bottom of your list, while the energy balance equation will be at the top of your list. It should be noted that some of the strategies presented in the diets will benefit some people. Playing around and experimenting to some degree is not a bad idea. Who knows, one of these strategies may benefit you.

Just know that at then of the day you are not at any advantage compared to other nutrient timing strategies. Just like how genetics are the only thing that would have helped me grow taller, the energy balance equation is the only thing that will help you gain or lose weight. The ultimate goal is to find what works for you and what you can consistently do.



Bellisle, F., Mcdevitt, R., & Prentice, A. (2007). Meal frequency and energy balance. British Journal of Nutrition, 77, S57-S70. doi:10.1079/BJN19970104

Cameron, J., Cyr, M., & Doucet, É. (2009). Increased meal frequency does not promote greater weight loss in subjects who were prescribed an 8-week equi-energetic energy-restricted diet. British Journal of Nutrition, 103(8), 1098-1010. doi:10.1017/S0007114509992984

Cerú-Björk, C., Andersson, I., & Rössner, S. (2001). Night eating and nocturnal eating—two different or similar syndromes among obese patients?International Journal of Obesity, 25(3), 365-372.

Fábry, P., Hejl, Z., Fodor, J., Braun, T., & Zvolánková, K. (1964). The Frequency Of Meals Its Relation To Overweight, Hypercholesterolæmia, And Decreased Glucose-Tolerance. The Lancet, 283(7334), 614-615.

Kendrick, D. C. (1973). The effects of infantile stimulation and intermittent fasting and feeding on life span in the black-hooded rat. Developmental Psychobiology, 6(3), 225-234. doi:10.1002/dev.420060307

Kinsey, A., & Ormsbee, M. (2015). The Health Impact of Nighttime Eating: Old and New Perspectives. Nutrients, 7(4), 2648-2662. doi:10.3390/nu7042648

Morgulis, S. (1913). The Influence of Protracted and Intermittent Fasting Upon Growth. The American Naturalist, 47(560), 477-487. Retrieved October 21, 2015, from

Prentice, A. M., Black, A. E., Coward, W. A., Davies, H. L., Goldberg, G. R., Murgatroyd, P. R., … Whitehead, R. G. (1986). High levels of energy expenditure in obese women. British Medical Journal, 292(6526), 983–987.

Robinson, E., Aveyard, P., Daley, A., Jolly, K., Lewis, A., Lycett, D., & Higgs, S. (2013). Eating attentively: a systematic review and meta-analysis of the effect of food intake memory and awareness on eating. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 97(4), 728–742.

Schoeller, D. (2009). The energy balance equation: Looking back and looking forward are two very different views. Nutrition Reviews, 67(5), 249-254.

Stunkard, A., Grace, W., & Wolff, H. (1955). The Night-eating Syndrome – A pattern of Food Intake among Certain Obese Patients. American Journal of Medicine, 19(1), 78-86. doi:10.1016/0002-9343(55)90276-X

Sugar, Jenny. “Calories in Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream.” Pop Sugar. Insanely Addictive, 8 Apr. 2013. Web. 03 Nov. 2015.

Tinsley, G. M., Butler, N. K., Forsse, J. S., Bane, A. A., Morgan, G. B., Hwang, P. S., …La Bounty, P. M. (2015). Intermittent fasting combined with resistance training: effects on body composition, muscular performance, and dietary intake. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 12(Suppl 1), P38.

Thomas II, J. A., Antonelli, J. A., Lloyd, J. C., Masko, E. M., Poulton, S. H., Phillips, T.E., & … Freedland, S. J. (2010). Effect of intermittent fasting on prostate cancer tumor growth in a mouse model. Prostate Cancer & Prostatic Diseases, 13(4), 350-355. doi:10.1038/pcan.2010.24

Varady, K., & Hellerstein, M. (2007). Alternate Day Fasting: Effects on Body Weight and Chronic Disease Risk in Humans and Animals. American Society for Clinical Nutrition, 86(1), 7-13.

Verboeket-van de Venne, W., & Westerterp, K. (1993). Frequency of feeding, weight reduction and energy metabolism. International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders, 17(1), 31-36.


Wine and Your Waistline: How Alcohol Affects Your Health, Hormones, and Fat Loss

My new clients will often be surprised to hear pub night is a weekly ritual for me!
While i am fully aware that cutting out alcohol would be the quickest way for me to drop some fat – i very much enjoy and value my Friday night -let’s ring in the weekend glass of bubbles!
This means in a fat loss phase i’ll reduce it to 1-2 x a week and make some sacrifices to be able to fit it into my week.
I’ll slightly reduce my calories 1-2 days a week to have a bit of a ‘budget’ and will add a cardio session to have some lee-way. 
This was an informed decision: please read this very informative article from Dr Brooke Kalanick from Girls Gone Strong so you can make your personal decision!

For many of us, alcohol goes hand in hand with fun and relaxation. It is called “happy” hour, after all.


So it’s no wonder why many women want to know how much booze they can get away with drinking and still achieve their health, fitness, and fat-loss goals. As a wine lover myself, I really, really want to tell you that this article will end with the kind of advice I’dlike to hear: “Go ahead! Drink as much wine as you want and enjoy effortless weight loss!” Unfortunately, it’s just not that simple. And as fun and delicious as a glass of wine can be, it may not support your current goals. I’m sorry. Really, I am.

The Chemistry Of Cocktails

Work with a Girls Gone Strong coach!LEARN MORE HERE!It’s likely that you’ve heard from a fitness expert or read in a magazine that alcohol turns instantly to fat. That’s not exactly true, but it’s become a go-to sound byte.

Here’s what really happens: Once alcohol (a.k.a. ethanol) passes your lips and gets absorbed into your system, your body converts it to acetaldehyde, then to acetate, and finally to acetyl-coA.

So, luckily, your body doesn’t convert ethanol or its metabolites directly into fat. In fact, your body can use both acetate and acetyl-coA as fuel. However, as far as fuel sources go, they are both pretty inefficient. That means that it takes more calories to convert them into energy than it does to convert glucose, AKA sugar, into energy.

Well, that sounds good, right? You would think. However, since your body doesn’t like inefficiencies, it doesn’t like to burn acetate or acetyl-coA for fuel. But because our bodies can’t store the metabolites, we still have to burn them off. ASAP. So, while your body’s cells work on burning through that acetate and acetyl-coA build up first, other fuel sources, like sugar and fat, just hang around.

In other words, when we drink, fat and sugar burning come to a halt.

So while that glass of chardonnay won’t pass your lips and make itself at home on your hips, when we drink (i.e. when there is acetate and acetyl-coA around), your metabolism as a whole is in fat-storing mode.

alcohol-cant-sleep-450x338At the same time, after you drink, your liver and muscles don’t do a great job of storing sugar as glycogen for later. This is evident when, after a few glasses of wine, you fall asleep and find yourself wide awake around 3am with low blood sugar. Fitful sleep or outright waking up during the night is typically the result of low blood sugar. While this can happen to anyone after drinking, it’s going to be worse if you already deal with low blood sugar issues, in particular waking unable to go back to sleep, waking anxious, waking hungry, etc.

And of course, blood sugar swings beget more blood sugar swings. That’ll be especially true for you if you already have insulin or cortisol issues. As these two hormones battle it out, you’ll feel the effects in terms of sleep issues, cravings, and irregular appetite.

In short, alcohol primes you for storing fat and then makes a mess of your blood sugar and energy levels, which can easily increase appetite and cravings, resulting in eating more and setting fat storing further in motion.

Beyond Blood Sugar: Alcohol’s Other Effects on Cravings and Appetite

Beyond blood sugar fluctuations when you drink, changes in brain chemistry can also drive you to eat more.

The feel-good neurotransmitter dopamine immediately increases when you drink alcohol. Unfortunately, dopamine fires up the reward-seeking pathways in your brain, making you want more alcohol along with those fatty, starchy foods so often on the menu right next to the wine. Again, this effect is usually more pronounced in those of us who already run low on dopamine. Symptoms of low dopamine levels include a short fuse for stress (i.e. “snapping”), depression that comes and goes, disorganized attention, lack of focus, and low libido.

Alcohol also affects levels of the stress-related hormones adrenaline and cortisol. First, when we drink, the booze quickly ramps up our levels of the fight-or-flight hormone adrenaline, which causes our bodies to release sugar into our bloodstream. And, when we don’t use that influx of energy to say, outrun a lion, that glucose can easily be stored as fat. Then, in time, the alcohol also raises our levels the stress hormone cortisol, which can further increase appetite and cravings for those fatty, carby, high calorie foods.
alcohol-cocktails-327x300When you hit up happy hour before a meal, it can have a direct effect on your appetite. This seems to be worse with a cocktail or mixed drink compared to wine. My best advice here is to not drink too much before dinner or you’re likely to eat more when mealtime comes around.

What’s more, if you’re drinking booze at night, it’s important to remember that alcohol lowers your body’s levels of the sleepy-time hormone melatonin. This hormonal drop in conjunction with the low blood sugar levels we already talked about make troubled sleep almost inevitable. As we all know, lack of sleep will do nothing favorable for hormone balance, weight loss, and next-day cravings and energy.

Alcohol and Your Health

By wreaking havoc on our hormones, alcohol does much more than spike our hunger. Blood sugar swings can create chronically high cortisol levels, increase inflammation, and surges in insulin can worsen estrogen dominance.

What’s more, when we gals drink, our growth hormone levels drop. This isn’t great for achieving or maintaining a lean body composition and doesn’t help with signs of aging much, either. Women can also see a rise in testosterone related to alcohol intake. And while testosterone is largely considered a “lean hormone” like growth hormone, in women it can worsen insulin resistance, hinder ovulation, make us break out, lead to facial hair growth, and increase our risk of both diabetes and cardiovascular disease. And as you may have guessed, if you lean toward any of those things already (hello, PCOS!) then these effects can be even worse.

If you’re trying to build or keep your lean mass strong, alcohol isn’t doing you any favors.

alcohol-lean-mass-strength-alli-squat-450x338Finally, when it comes to preserving lean mass and recovering from workouts, a couple of important events are affected by alcohol consumption: There is a decrease in glycogen synthesis (you’ll have less in the tank for your next workout after you drink), your muscles don’t rehydrate as well, and cytokine signals that trigger post-workout muscle repair are altered, and not for the better.

I think most of us can report that our workouts after a night of drinking are not as good—and research backs that up. No surprise there, right?

Drink the Right Way

So while there isn’t clear-cut research proclaiming that if you drink exactly three glasses of cabernet per night you will miss out on specifically losing two pounds, here’s what you can do to make sure alcohol doesn’t interfere with your goals, ranging from strength gains to fat-loss:

1. Don’t overdo it.

Research does show that most of the downsides we’ve talked about happen after we’ve had 0.5g/kg of alcohol (that’s not very much). So the number of glass you down certainly does count. Not overdoing it does count.

2. Reach for protein.

Since you’re likely to store fat and sugar rather than burn it after drinking, eat protein and veggies instead of a meal or snack that’s high in carbs or fat alongside your drinks.

3.Remember, every woman is different.

Always take your individual chemistry into account. For example, even though it gets the research thumbs up, red wine contains histamine. If you’re already dealing with a heavy allergy burden or are under some stress (histamine raises cortisol and bogs down your liver), red wine is gonna be tougher on you.

4. Consider Vitamin B.

If you’re taking estrogen medications or have a hormone-secreting IUD like Mirena, have a low B vitamin intake, or have a methylation defect like many women with the MTHFR gene mutation, you will likely have greater issues with alcohol. If any of these apply to you be sure you take at least a B complex containing only the natural form of folic acid and consider 200mg of B6 daily.

5. Know your hormones.

If you have PCOS, are on the other side of menopause, or have estrogen dominance issues like fibroids, then you’ll likely have worse estrogenic effects and more difficulty losing weight when you drink. Similarly, if you’re hypothyroid, remember that thyroid hormones are crucial keeping your liver humming along and efficiently processing that acetate and acetyl-CoA.

6. Support Glutathione.

Glutathione is a very important antioxidant that exists in every cell in your body and can neutralize free radicals before they build up and cause damage. If you have autoimmunity like Hashimoto’s, in addition to an increased inflammatory burden, you are compromised in your levels and function of glutathione, which is an important part of alcohol metabolism. This is why many women with Hashimoto’s find their alcohol tolerance to be really unpredictable. One night they are fine with a couple drinks, and another night they have one glass of wine and wake up feeling like a wreck. Glutathione can be supported by taking a nutrient called NAC (n-acetyl-cysteine), but with Hashimoto’s, often other support for the entire glutathione process is necessary, not only for being able to tolerate alcohol, but for calming the immune over-activity as a whole. Compromised glutathione is also why many women with Hashimoto’s struggle with workout recovery. Couple this with the effects of alcohol on recovery, and it’s that much harder for you ladies.

7. Reduce inflammation.

Anything that decreases inflammation and oxidative stress will be helpful, like turmeric and resveratrol. The classic herb silymarin (also know as milk thistle) is known to specifically be protective to oxidative stress on liver cells.

8. Keep your goals in mind.

It can seem particularly unfair when we see that our fittest faves are able to drink more than us while maintaining their lean physiques. Keep in mind (and I believe they would all back me up on this) that they didn’t lose weight while drinking, but they’ve been able to maintain or not gain while gradually incorporating wine into their lives.

A sane, sustainable, and efficient approach

The Modern Woman’s Guide to Strength Training will help you achieve maximum results, whether you’re new to strength training, or a veteran in the weight room.


Check out what three of our wine-loving fit friends have to say about incorporating alcohol into their healthy lifestyle:

Jen Comas

If I could have one nutritional freebie—something that wouldn’t negatively affect my physique—it would be wine.  

Not ice cream, or cookies, or chips, but one or two glasses of wine every night. Unfortunately, I discovered a long time ago that my body simply will not drop body fat if I consistently have alcohol. As a matter of fact, I learned through trial and a whole lot of error that anything more than two cocktails per week will bring my fat loss efforts to a screeching halt, regardless of how tightly dialed in I am with my nutrition and training. Wah-wahhh.

Upon realizing this, I completely recalibrated my nightly wind-down routine. One or two glasses of wine is how I relaxed! I knew that if I wanted to reach my goals, I was going to have to find other ways to unwind instead of sipping vino. I started to beef up my book collection, and I bought magazines about motorcycles and business. I bought aromatherapy bath salts, and I would lounge in the tub and read. I got different kinds of tea to try since I was used to sipping on something at nighttime. While I missed drinking my nightly wine, I had to make a choice, and at the time, my fat loss goals were more important than my mindlessly drinking wine while I watched reruns of Grey’s Anatomy.

Unfortunately, alcohol can be a big barrier for fat loss, and this is something that I see many clients struggle with, time and time again. They feel like they deserve a glass or two of wine because they’ve had a hard day or week, as a way to unwind, or as a reward because they’ve been eating well and exercising.

I understand that having a couple of cocktails can be part of a social event, and once in awhile, that is to be expected! But I’m seeing a rising trend in the number of women drinking wine almost every night!

I have found that the threshold for most women to lose body fat and still imbibe seems to be no more than two standard-serving sizes of alcohol per week (that’s two four- to five-ounce servings). Anything more than that for most women is much more conducive to maintaining your current body composition. There will always be exceptions to this rule, but you are probably not the exception; you are most likely the rule.

If you’re having a hard time losing body fat, and you’re eating well, moving a lot, and getting plenty of sleep, I encourage you to temporarily remove alcohol completely for two to three weeks—don’t change anything else—and see what you notice. I’m willing to bet that you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Jill Coleman

In terms of health, yes, polyphenols and all that, but honestly, calling alcohol a “health food” is, to me, a reach.

I think you can think of alcohol in three ways:

  1. Physique implications
  2. Health implications
  3. Quality of Life (QOL) or what I call #SatisfactionFactor implications

I mainly use it in the third way. I think we can all agree that no particular way of eating will be sustainable if there is not some level of enjoyment and even automation. For me, a glass of wine is actually an adherence tool. I know that sounds counterintuitive, but it’s what I consider a “preemptive cheat” food that I use as nutritional relief during the week so that I don’t go off the rails with eating at night or on the weekend. I use wine, among other foods that are not traditionally seen as “clean” to take the edge off and “preempt” overindulging on other foods, such as bacon, cheese, chocolate or healthier baked goods. The idea is that you never reach the point of deprivation, so the chance of overindulgence is limited.

alcohol-jill-327x341In terms of physique implications, wine is amaintenance tool. I think it’s a mistake to think that drinking wine can help you lose weight at the physiological level. If it helps with weight loss, it’s probably due more to the preventative effect (above) than anything else. But this always comes back to the individual knowing herself. For a lot of people, drinking leads to compensatory eating and lowered inhibitions (duh) with food, so for someone like that, alcohol is more likely to take them further away from their physique goals. If you are the type of person who can have a single drink, or even two, and feel satisfied and satiated, then itmight work as a maintenance tool.

In terms of health, yes, polyphenols and all that, but honestly, calling alcohol a “health food” is, to me, a reach. As a health and fitness professional, touting alcohol as a healthy choice is irresponsible in my opinion. There are plenty of other foods that are a million times healthier. Doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its place for enjoyment and satisfaction (which is how I use it, and I love it)…but let’s be real!

Neghar Fonooni

Today, I don’t stress out about drinking a few glasses of wine, but I’ve learned that wine, for me, is a ritual.

I post a lot about wine on my social media channels, the reason being I absolutely love it. But the truth is, there are periods of time in my life when I don’t drink at all, and others when I drink a glass of wine every night. I used to be extremely strict when it came to my wine consumption (cheat days only!), but I realized that by placing that restriction on something I loved so much, I was actually giving it a lot of power.

alcohol-Neg-327x341Today, I don’t stress out about drinking a few glasses of wine, but I’ve learned that wine, for me, is a ritual. I drink when I’m doing really involved writing (a la Hemingway) or when I’m with my wine-loving friends. I use the first bite/sip rule in order to truly enjoy every drop, and I stop drinking when it’s not adding to my ritual. If I have a glass of wine at dinner, I’ll sometimes avoid excess edible carbs—not to mention I lift four to five times per week and engage in some sort of physical movement every day, so my activity levels are pretty high.

If I ever feel like I want to change my physique, I know that reducing my wine consumption will help. The thing is, I’m totally in love with my body. As is. If that ever changes, or if I notice my wine rituals are messing with my performance, I’ll adjust. But I have no attachment to any of it—no shame or stress around it—so I’m really just going with the flow.

What’s Next?

As you can see, there are things you can do to mitigate the negative implications alcohol can have on your health and physique, so that you can still enjoy it responsibly while getting the results you want. Helping women get results in a sane and sustainable way while still enjoying their lives is something we are really passionate about, which is exactly why we created…

The Modern Woman’s Guide to Strength Training

Designed by women, for women who want to get strong and lean, and feel amazing.

When you’re crazy-busy and everyone wants some of your time, figuring out your training and nutrition often gets pushed aside. Even if you can find the time, wading through all the marketing BS can feel like a full-time job.

At Girls Gone Strong, we want you to feel confident knowing that what you’re doing to look good, feel good, and feel healthy and strong are not only based on tested, reliable, and safe information from trustworthy sources, but that it is also effective and efficient.

That’s why we developed our flagship training system, The Modern Woman’s Guide To Strength Training. We’ve cut through all that noise and the BS with a sane, sustainable, and efficient approach that will help you achieve maximum results, whether you’re brand new to strength training, or a veteran in the weight room.

With four different 16-week programs—that’s 64 weeks of training—you get over a year’s worth of workouts, including progressions to ensure that you continue making progress. You’ll also get a training manual, exercise glossary, progress tracker, a bonus conditioning manual, plus a video library with over 70 high-definition videos breaking down each exercise, step by step.

We believe fitness should enhance your life instead of become your life. If you exercise in a way that you actually enjoy, staying fit and strong won’t ever feel like a drag. You’ll look forward to it for years to come.

If you want an entire training system that will help you look and feel your best, The Modern Woman’s Guide to Strength Training is for you!

Related Research

Raben, et al. Meals with similar energy densities but rich in protein, fat, carbohydrate or alcohol have different effects on energy expenditure and substrate metabolism but not on appetite and energy intake. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. January 2003;77(1):91-100.

YeomansMR. Short term effects of alcohol on appetite in humans. Effects of context and restrained eating. Appetite. December 2010;55(3):565-573.

Kokavec, A., Lindner, A., Ryan, J.E., & Crowe, S.F. (2009). Ingesting alcohol prior to food can alter the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. Pharmacology, Biochemistry & Behavior, 93, 170-176.

Heikkonen, et al. The combined effect of alcohol and physical exercise on serum testosterone, leutininzing hormone and cortisol in males. Alcoholism, Clinical and Experimental Research. June 1996;20(4):711-716.

About The Author: Dr. Brooke Kalanick

Dr. Brooke Kalanick is a Girls Gone Strong Advisory Board Member. She earned her Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University. Known as “The Hormone Whisperer,” Brooke’s balanced approach to health, using both conventional and alternative therapies, allows her to successfully treat patients with Hashimoto’s Hypothyroidism and PCOS as well as other female hormone imbalances. Learn more about Dr. Brooke on her websiteand connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

What is Caffeine, and is it Good or Bad For Health?

Let’s learn a little bit more about my beloved coffee: the good, the bad… everything you need to know!
Thank you Authority Nutrition for another great article!

By Alina Petre, MS, RD | May, 2016
Each day, billions of people rely on caffeine for a wake-up boost.

In fact, this natural stimulant is one of the most commonly used ingredients in the world (1).

Caffeine is often talked about for its negative effects on sleep and anxiety.

However, studies also report that it has various health benefits.

This article examines the latest research on caffeine and your health.

What is Caffeine?

Caffeine is a natural stimulant most commonly found in tea, coffee and cacao plants.

It works by stimulating the brain and central nervous system, helping you to stay alert and preventing the onset of tiredness.

Historians track the first brewed tea to as far back as 2737 BC (1).

Coffee was reportedly discovered many years later by an Ethiopian shepherd who noticed the extra energy it gave his goats.

Caffeinated soft drinks hit the market in the late 1800s and energy drinks soon followed.

Nowadays, 80% of the world’s population consumes a caffeinated product each day, and this number goes up to 90% for adults in North America (1).

Bottom Line: Caffeine is a natural stimulant consumed worldwide. Most people get it from coffee, tea, soft drinks, energy drinks or chocolate.

How Does it Work?

Once consumed, caffeine is quickly absorbed from the gut into the bloodstream.

From there, it travels to the liver and is broken down into compounds that can affect the function of various organs.

That being said, caffeine’s main effect is on the brain.

It functions by blocking the effects of adenosine, which is a neurotransmitter that relaxes the brain and makes you feel tired (2).

Normally, adenosine levels build up over the day, making you increasingly more tired and causing you to want to go to sleep.

Caffeine helps you stay awake by connecting to adenosine receptors in the brain without activating them. This blocks the effects of adenosine, leading to reduced tiredness (3).

It may also increase blood adrenaline levels and increase brain activity of the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine (3).

This combination further stimulates the brain and promotes a state of arousal, alertness and focus. Because it affects your brain, caffeine is often referred to as a psychoactive drug.

Additionally, caffeine tends to exert its effects quickly.

For instance, the amount found in one cup of coffee can take as little as 20 minutes to reach the bloodstream and about one hour to reach full effectiveness (1).

Bottom Line: Caffeine’s main effect is on the brain. It stimulates the brain by blocking the effects of the neurotransmitter adenosine.

Which Foods and Beverages Contain Caffeine?

Caffeine is naturally found in the seeds, nuts or leaves of certain plants.

These natural sources are then harvested and processed to produce caffeinated foods and beverages.

Here are the amounts of caffeine expected per 8 oz (240 ml) of some popular beverages (1, 4):

Espresso: 240–720 mg.
Coffee: 102–200 mg.
Yerba mate: 65–130 mg.
Energy drinks: 50–160 mg.
Brewed tea: 40–120 mg.
Soft drinks: 20–40 mg.
Decaffeinated coffee: 3–12 mg.
Cocoa beverage: 2–7 mg.
Chocolate milk: 2–7 mg.

Some foods also contain caffeine. For instance, 1 oz (28 grams) of milk chocolate contains 1–15 mg, whereas 1 oz of dark chocolate has 5–35 mg (4).

You can also find caffeine in some prescription or over-the-counter drugs like cold, allergy and pain medications. It is also a common ingredient in fat loss supplements.

Bottom Line: Caffeine is most commonly found in coffee, tea, soft drinks, chocolate and energy drinks.

Caffeine May Improve Mood and Brain Function

Caffeine has the ability to block the brain signaling molecule adenosine.

This causes an increase other signaling molecules, such as dopamine and norepinephrine (5, 6).

This change in brain messaging is thought to benefit your mood and brain function.

One review reports that after participants ingested 37.5–450 mg of caffeine, they had improved alertness, short-term recall and reaction time (1).

In addition, a recent study linked drinking two to three cups of caffeinated coffee per day to a 45% lower risk of suicide (7).

Another study reported a 13% lower risk of depression in caffeine consumers (8).

When it comes to mood, more caffeine is not necessarily better. Indeed, a study found that a second cup of coffee produced no further benefits unless it was consumed at least 8 hours after the first cup (9).

Drinking between three and five cups of coffee per day may also reduce the risk of brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s by 28–60% (10, 11, 12, 13).
Bottom Line: Caffeine may improve mood, decrease the likelihood of depression, stimulate brain function and protect against Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
It May Boost Metabolism and Speed Up Weight Loss

Because of its ability to stimulate the central nervous system, caffeine may increase metabolism by up to 11% and fat burning by up to 13% (14, 15, 16)

Practically speaking, consuming 300 mg of caffeine per day may allow you to burn an extra 79 calories per day (17).

This amount may seem small, but it is similar to the calorie excess responsible for the average yearly weight gain of 2.2 lbs (1kg) in Americans (18).

However, a 12-year study on caffeine and weight gain notes that the participants who drank the most coffee were, on average, only 0.8–1.1 lbs (0.4–0.5 kg) lighter at the end of the study period (19).

Bottom Line: Caffeine may boost metabolism and promote fat loss, but these effects are likely to remain small over the long term.

Caffeine May Enhance Exercise Performance

When it comes to exercise, caffeine may increase the use of fat as fuel.

This is beneficial because it can help the glucose stored in muscles last longer, potentially delaying the time it takes your muscles to reach exhaustion (20, 21).

Caffeine may also improve muscle contractions and increase tolerance to fatigue (1).

Researchers observed that doses of 2.3 mg/lb (5 mg/kg) of body weight improved endurance performance by up to 5%, when consumed one hour before exercise (22).

Interestingly, recent research notes that doses as low as 1.4 mg/lb (3 mg/kg) of body weight may be sufficient to reap the benefits (23).

What’s more, studies report similar benefits in team sports, high-intensity workouts and resistance exercises (23, 24).

Finally, it may also be able to reduce perceived exertion during exercise by up to 5.6%, which can make workouts feel easier (25)

Bottom Line: Small amounts consumed about an hour before exercise are likely to improve exercise performance.

Protection Against Heart Disease and Type 2 Diabetes

Heart and Blood Pressure Measurement

Despite what you may have heard, caffeine does not raise the risk of heart disease (26, 27, 28).

In fact, recent evidence shows a 16–18% lower risk of heart disease in men and women who drink between one and four cups of coffee each day (29).

Other studies show that drinking 2-4 cups of coffee or green tea per day is linked to a 14–20% lower risk of stroke (30, 31).

One thing to keep in mind is that caffeine may slightly raise blood pressure in some people. However, this effect is generally small (3–4 mmHg) and tends to fade for most individuals when they consume coffee regularly (32, 33, 34, 35).

It may also protect against diabetes. A recent review notes that those who drink the most coffee have up to a 29% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Similarly, those who consume the most caffeine have up to a 30% lower risk (36).

The authors observed that the risk drops by 12–14% for every 200 mg of caffeine consumed (36).

Interestingly, consuming decaffeinated coffee was also linked to a 21% lower risk of diabetes. This indicates that other beneficial compounds in coffee can also protect against type 2 diabetes (36).

Bottom Line: Caffeinated beverages like coffee and tea may reduce the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, although this may depend on the individual.
Other Health Benefits

Caffeine consumption is linked to several other health benefits:

Protects the liver: Coffee may reduce the risk of liver damage (cirrhosis) by as much as 84%. It may slow disease progression, improve treatment response and lower the risk of premature death (37, 38).

Promotes longevity: Drinking coffee may decrease the risk of premature death by as much as 30%, especially for women and diabetics (39, 40).

Decreases cancer risk: 2–4 cups of coffee per day may reduce liver cancer risk by up to 64% and colorectal cancer risk by up to 38% (41, 42, 43, 44, 45).

Protects skin: Consuming 4 or more cups of caffeinated coffee per day may lower the risk of skin cancer by 20% (46, 47).

Reduces MS risk: Coffee drinkers may have up to a 30% lower risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS). However, not all studies agree (48, 49).

Prevents gout: Regularly drinking four cups of coffee per day may reduce the risk of developing gout by 40% in men and 57% in women (50, 51).

Supports gut health: Consuming 3 cups of coffee a day for as few as 3 weeks may increase the amount and activity of beneficial gut bacteria (52).

Keep in mind that coffee also contains other substances that improve health. Some of the benefits listed above may be caused by substances other than caffeine.

Bottom Line: Drinking coffee may promote a healthy liver, skin and digestive tract. It may also prolong life and help prevent several diseases.

Safety and Side Effects

Caffeine consumption is generally considered safe.

However, it’s good to keep in mind that caffeine is addictive and some people’s genes make them more sensitive to it (1, 53).

Some side effects linked to excess intake include anxiety, restlessness, tremors, irregular heartbeat and trouble sleeping (54).

Too much caffeine may also promote headaches, migraines and high blood pressure in some individuals (55, 56).

In addition, caffeine can easily cross the placenta, which can increase the risk of miscarriage or low birth weight. Pregnant women should limit their intake (55, 57, 58).

Finally, it’s worth noting that caffeine can interact with some medications.

Individuals taking the muscle relaxant Zanaflex or the antidepressant Luvox should avoid caffeine because these drugs can increase its effects (59).

Bottom Line: Caffeine can have negative side effects in some people, including anxiety, restlessness and trouble sleeping.

Recommended Dosages

Both the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) consider a daily intake of 400 mg of caffeine as safe. This amounts to 2–4 cups of coffee per day (60, 61).

That being said, it’s worth noting that fatal overdoses have been reported with single doses of 500 mg caffeine.

Therefore, it’s recommended to limit the amount of caffeine you consume at one time to 200 mg per dose (60, 62, 63).

Finally, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, pregnant women should limit their daily intake to 200 mg (64).

Bottom Line: A caffeine intake of 200 mg per dose, and up to 400 mg per day, is generally considered safe. However, pregnant women should limit their daily intake to 200 mg or less.

Take Home Message

Caffeine is not as unhealthy as it was once believed to be.

In fact, evidence shows that it may be just the opposite.

Therefore, it’s safe to consider your daily cup of coffee or tea as an enjoyable way to promote good health.

Please have a look at Authority Nutrition for many more excellent, science based articles!

“Let Me Lose 10lbs First…” Why This Train of Thought Doesn’t Work

Today’s post is from – please visit them for some very insightful articles that go far beyond ‘just fitness’.

“Let Me Lose 10lbs First…”

Have you heard yourself saying this?

If you’re a trainer, have you heard a client say this?

This leads me into a recent conversation I had with a new member. Everything looked like it was going in the right direction towards getting this client on board with working towards their goal, but we hit a little roadblock.

They want to get started on their own, with the little bit of knowledge I just provided them with. Will this person be successful? From personal experience, this person is successful 15-25% of the time. I don’t blame them for taking this path to be honest, it’s not easy to admit that you need help or that you can’t do something on your own.

“We all know what to do”, is a false statement I often hear with new potential clients who really don’t know what needs to be done in order to reach their goal.

Even if you do know what to do, it is often the lack of action that creates the problems at hand. Not following through with what needs to be done in this example is a contributing factor on why the individual is in the position they are in.

So we currently are dealing with two groups of people:

Those without the knowledge looking towards reaching their goal.
Those with the knowledge, but lacking action towards their goals.
Unfortunately these two groups make up a vast majority of the population. These are the folks that need help reaching their goals because a very small percentage successfully meet the outcome they envisioned.

So let’s break down each group: their reasoning, the possible outcomes, and how to create a positive atmosphere for success.

Group #1: Those Without the Knowledge Looking To Lose Weight

Reasoning and How to Deal with It:

With this group, I typically hear people saying something to the extent of, I’ll workout on my own and drop a few pounds to get the hang of things and then come see you. I want to make the most out of my sessions with you.

While I love that they want to make the most of their sessions, the problem here is that when a lot of these individuals have it in their mind that they want to lose 10, 15, 20 pounds, they never reach that number in a timely manner. From there it leads to being discouraged and giving up, so I never actually meet up with these individuals. Well, that sucks, they had the best intentions but fell short.

The problem here is that the best intentions don’t mean anything if the proper actions are not put into place.

With all the conflicting information out there, it is hard to tell what actually works and what doesn’t work. This is the most important aspect that needs to be known – what you are doing, is it an effective strategy to reach your goal?

If we are dealing with putting our retirement plan together we don’t do it ourselves do we? No, we hire an accountant.

If we have to have our car engine fixed, we don’t try to do it ourselves do we? No, we hire a mechanic.

So why is it that when it comes to health and fitness, people are so quick to not seek out the professional opinions of people whose sole purpose is to help you reach your goal?

If being successful was purely just about finding the right exercise and nutrition program that works for you; we wouldn’t have the issue with obesity that we currently have here in the United States, and even expanding further into many other first world countries.

While finding an exercise and nutrition program are the heart and sole of successful weight loss, it is the mental side of things where problems typically arise. Adherence to whatever program you are participating in is key. This is where having accountability to another person can be very beneficial to see progress. Lets face it life happens and things can easily distract you from your goal, especially if stress enters the equation.


Too many people enter a diet looking at which supplements to take, organic vs. non-organic, and when to eat but tend to overlook the more important aspects of diet success – calorie balance and percentages of macro-nutrients.

Focus on eating healthy, get to the gym and workout. These two major keys to success are full of many smaller components. This is where seeking the advice from a professional can be beneficial.

If you’re reading this and looking to make changes, but haven’t had luck on your own, seek the advice of a professional.
If you’re a trainer, leverage the fact that you are the professional. You’re good at what you do, so educate your client about the fact that getting into shape is a little more than “just eating right and exercising more.”

Group #2: Those With the Knowledge, but Lacking Action

While I briefly touched upon this group within the contexts of Group #1, it’s important that we mention this lack of taking action on it’s own. I’ve met plenty of people who have all the education needed to be successful. They have a good amount of knowledge with both, nutrition and training. Are their methods the best possible methods out there which will yield the quickest results? Maybe not, but their information will in fact yield results.

So why do these people never reach their goals?

Could it be paralysis by analysis? I believe for some people this is definitely the case. Some people get in their own way of their goals because they are always searching for the “best program”. The issue here is that you’ll never be satisfied and always feel you could find something better. Some action is better than no action. If this is you, start a program, change what works and get rid of what doesn’t.

If the above doesn’t apply to you, what is preventing you from being successful?

I get that life is busy and it’s easy to toss to the side “optional” aspects which are going to be difficult. Changing your nutrition and/or exercise habits isn’t easy, hell changing any habit isn’t easy. Your body doesn’t enjoy having to change. Any amount of distraction can easily push aside what needs to be done.

This group needs to get out of their own way. Stick to a program and change will occur.

Behavioral changes is the key to success for this group. It’s easy to have the knowledge but applying the knowledge into a structured manner that allows you to be successful is the sweet spot.

This is where you need to ask yourself what behavioral changes do I need to work on in order to actually reach my goal?

It may take a bit of searching and not be apparent at first but if you have the knowledge but not getting any progress, your problem doesn’t lie with finding the next best program. You need to address the lifestyle/behavioral changes or else you’ll continue to hop from program-to-program with no real results coming from any of them.

It’s not the program that is the problem, but rather other issues within yourself.

Get Results. Seek Help. Join Lean, Strong & Confident: A Healthier You.