The Whole Truth on Whole Grain

Image result for enriched grains

Who’s been told that instead of eating white bread, whole grain bread is the way to go? I know i have. Commercials, magazines & even fitness experts push whole grains on us if we’re trying to make a healthier choice. Why though? And if whole grains are so healthy for you, why are so many other people giving them up? Let’s break it down.

First, what the heck is a grain?

  • The seed of a plant in the grass family
  • Store most of their energy to grow as carbohydrate
  • Made up of 3 major parts (Endosperm, Bran & Germ)

There are 2 categories of grains:

  1. Refined grains (white bread, white flour, white rice)
    • When grains are refined, the bran and the germ are removed. The bran and the germ are where vitamins and minerals, including fiber, are located. Water is taken out and replaced with salt, sugar and fat.
    • Easily absorbed, so sugar is released quickly into the bloodstream (carbs get broken down into sugar)
  2. Whole grains (wheat, brown rice, barley, oats, millet)
    • Contain all parts of the seed (endosperm, bran & germ)
    • Contain fiber (because the bran hasn’t been removed)
      • Because of this fiber, the grain is broken down in the body at a slower rate and releases sugar slowly into the bloodstream

So, according to the information above, it looks as though the media and fitness professionals are right… right? Whole grains contain more nutrients and don’t spike your blood sugar quickly! Well, this is where it gets tricky.

Why are whole grains still not that great for you?

  • Whole grains contain a compound located in the bran, called phytate. These phytates like to take all the  minerals (calcium, iron,zinc, magnesium) that the whole grains contain. How rude!
  • When the phytates take these minerals, a complex is created that our body can’t absorb. So basically, we’re not really getting all of that fiber and all those wonderful nutrients we claim to be from eating whole grains. 

So, where can you get fiber, vitamins, minerals and carbs? Vegetables & fruits. Image result for vegetables and fruit

P.S. This post mentions nothing of gluten, aka the silent killer, which is present in both types of grain. Stay tuned!

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How To Start Squatting

Starting my fitness journey a few years back, I remember that learning how to squat was the most important thing to me. It’s all over social media. Fit chicks with the perfect butts, squatting heavy weight, making it look like the easiest thing in the world to do. Well, it wasn’t.

I was introduced to weight lifting when I was playing soccer in college.  I remember very clearly the feeling of struggling with just trying to hold the bar on my back, let alone squatting it. I couldn’t understand how a soccer player with massive legs couldn’t even squat 45 pounds (the weight of the bar). I had no idea, that first, I was lacking the shoulder mobility to hold the bar properly, which was causing my major discomfort. I had no knowledge of form either. All I knew was that my teammates were putting weight on the bar and there I was wanting to cry just from holding it. Clearly, life was rough.

Until I started actually becoming interested in weight lifting and doing my own research, I had no idea there were ways to work up to doing a back squat.

Below is a video on different exercises you can try if you’re just beginning to experiment with squatting, then worked up to a back squat. The most important thing is to start off slow & practice your form. Get your body familiar with the movement.

Tips for squat beginners:

  1. Start with your feet about hip width apart, slightly pointed outwards.
  2. Go down into your squat as if your about to sit in a chair.
  3. Make sure your knees are not coming over your toes.
  4. Chest up, with your head in a neutral position. Keep your chin tucked.
  5. Keep your spine in a neutral position, meaning don’t round your back or arch your spine.
  6. Make sure your heels are planted into the floor, pushing through them the entire time.
  7. Keep your knees from caving in. A trainer once told me to pretend as if I’m shredding a piece of paper in half with my feet.
  8. Keep your core tight & really drive up with your legs when coming back to the starting position.

Killer Arm Workout

I don’t know about you, but I get bored of doing the same exercises over and over, week after week. Our bodies do too. Lucky for me, I have a boyfriend who is a personal trainer and is always down to do the most ridiculous exercises to get a good pump 😀 Now my job is to share those exercises with you!

Lately I’ve really been trying to sweat as much as I can during my workouts to avoid hopping on the treadmill or stairmaster, which means for me, I can’t just stand there and curl a barbell. I’ll barely break a sweat that way. Circuit training has been my go to recently so that I’m constantly moving, keeping me sweating and from getting bored.

The video below is my not so basic recent arm workout 🙂

  • The first couple of exercises shown with the heavy bag were completely knew to me. And whoa. Heavy bags=instant pump. In the first exercise, I’m carrying the bag in a way to work my arms, my grip & my core. Walking while squatted down low is pretty much destroying my glutes. I love exercises that work multiple muscles at once!
  • The second exercise shows Todd pulling the bag up to his shoulders, squatting down with it then slamming it to the floor. Arms, shoulders, core, glutes, quads, back…they’re all worked here. Pretty much every reason to try this.
  • The next exercise puts a little spin on your standard dumbbell curl. Squatting the entire time activated my glutes as well as my core in order to keep me balanced and in good form.
  • The third exercise with the bag is just a basic carry, but with your arms flexed the entire time, the bag will feel double the weight, I promise. This is where that instant pump came from that I was talking about 🙂
  • The triangle pushups you see me doing are meant to focus on the triceps the most. These can be challenging for a beginner because your hands are somewhat awkwardly placed, being super close to together and facing inward. But a little practice goes a long way! There was once a time when I wasn’t able to do these.
  • The last exercise is another tricep killer. Keep your hands close together, press up & feel the burn!

You can exhaust your muscles & drench yourself in sweat in under 30 minutes. Give this workout a try & let me know how it goes!