Open Forum: Our Advisors Talk Nutrition and Fitness Pt. 1

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On February 15th, 2022 we hosted our first live webinar with trusted experts Dr. Gabrielle Lyon and celebrity trainer Don Saladino. Cronometer users were given the floor and asked all sorts of great questions covering everything from changing body composition to handling a caloric deficit and diving deep on protein intake. Tune in below or read on for some eye opening nutrition and fitness advice from the experts! 

If you still have questions that weren’t answered in this webinar reach out to us on Instagram or Facebook!

This webinar is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute the practice of medicine, nursing, or other professional health care services, including the giving of medical advice.  No clinician/patient relationship is formed.  The use of information from this webinar or materials linked from this content, is at the user’s own risk.  The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Users should not disregard or delay in obtaining medical advice for any medical condition and should seek the assistance of their health care professionals for any such conditions.  

Should I count collagen towards my protein target?

Dr. G: What a great question and I think there is a lot of confusion on this topic. Collagen is amazing for hair, skin and nails but I do not actually count collagen towards total protein goals. The reason is because it’s an incomplete protein. You should however count it towards your calories. 

Can we record the collagen protein as it's individual amino acid?

Dr. G: Something that we need to think about is that there’s 20 amino acids and each does something metabolically different in the body. Specifically talking about body composition and macro nutrient tracking, what we’re focusing on is the essential amino acids, there are 9 of them. Collagen is nearly devoid in those. Depending on your goals, a better way to think about collagen is in addition to an already optimized protein diet. 

How do I effectively lose body fat while keeping as much muscle as possible?

Don: Everyone is under the assumption that you need to be in this extreme deficit to lose body fat. I know a large level of success I’ve had with people dropping body fat has been by getting people to their Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) with a high level of food quality and consistency coupled with training, rest and hydration.

If you’re starting off tracking in Cronometer, already in a deficit and not changing your body composition, bringing you into more of a deficit can be harmful to your body, your energy level and your rest and recovery. Sometimes, when we start tracking and bringing up those calories slowly, we can get the weight to stay the same but we can see that change in body composition.

I believe that living in a deficit all year long can be dangerous to your metabolism, your rest/recovery and your energy.

Dr. G: Yes, Don made some great points here. When you think about body composition, you want to think about quality. Quality weight loss would be about maintaining skeletal muscle. Skeletal muscle is incredibly important, it’s essentially your body armour. It really directs how you utilize calories, which is where using Cronometer is so important, to track not only your macro nutrients but your micro nutrients. Being in a severe deficit or actually doing any kind of extreme dieting is very detrimental  not only physically, by creating stress and cortisol, but it also mentally because it sets you up for failure. Slow and steady wins and we need to have that paradigm shift from fat phobic to muscle centric.

How do I determine the best dose for MCT?

Dr. G: Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT) are very interesting and are burned similar to carbohydrates. We used this in my clinic when I was in my fellowship and the dose for brain function was 5-10 grams at a time. You can go 5-14 grams and I think it’s a fantastic supplement.

Don: I love it as well. The only negative effects I’ve heard is that people can sometimes get a little bit of a loose stomach from it. This would be one of my go to oils and my fat of choice. But again, I find it super important to track your macros in Cronometer and keep an eye on your fat levels. If you need a quick dose of 15 grams or so to meet your targets, MCT or olive oil is a great way to achieve that. 

What's the difference between time restricted feeding and intermittent fasting?

Dr. G: Number one, I think these are really good ways to think about calorie control. Time restricted eating is exactly that, it’s eating in a controlled 8 hour window and fasting the other 16. Intermittent fasting is arguably the same thing and can be used interchangeably. This is really good for people with digestive issues because it allows for bowel rest.

Don: The only problem I have with intermittent fasting (IF) is when people are using it to consistently rebound from a poor night of eating. The best way in my opinion to detox is through healthy, nutrient dense foods. You’re not counter balancing a poor diet by intermittent fasting. It is a tool that I like to use but especially for muscle building, it becomes very difficult to reach your TDEE in only 8 hours. IF can be super useful but definitely can make living in a surplus for muscle gain a little harder. 

Dr. G: Great point. It’s always a good idea to look at your targets. It’s not a one size fits all solution. If you’re trying to get 200 grams of protein a day, trying to do that in an 8 hour window might not be optimized for muscle building. 

I have 40+ pounds to lose and I keep hearing that it's bad to be in a deficit but if I'm not in a deficit, how will I continue to lose weight?

Don: Okay, given the numbers provided, she’s basically 1,400 calories off of her maintenance level. I would ask a couple of questions in this scenario: how is your sleep quality, how is your energy level, is your body composition changing? If not, and your sleep quality is suffering or your energy is off, these are great indicators that you’re under fuelled. It’s like trying to run a car with no gasoline. I would never tell someone to add 1,400 calories to their diet overnight, but what’s the rush? I would suggest adding a few hundred calories over time and see if anything improves. Your body runs most efficiently at that TDEE level so get to that point and then once your body is running efficiently, you can go into a deficit for a short amount of time. 

Dr. G: The relapse rate of weight gain, so the chances of losing weight and then going backwards is 90% and the people who maintain the change are consistent and are tracking. The body is incredibly smart and super efficient. If you lower your calories too low, your body will adjust to that and then you’ll be burning only 800 calories a day and you’re wondering why you can’t lose any more weight. It’s important to get a good baseline understanding of how many calories you need, assessing the inputs – getting exercise and eating foods that actually have an increased amount of energy required to burn them (thermic effect of food). The other component to weight loss is having the mindset to do it. It’s not about severe restriction, that creates all kinds of problems and all kinds of self-esteem issues.

Any tips for tracking? I do it sporadically and I find it annoying/exhausting.

Eliisa: Creating custom recipes with foods you eat often can make it really quick. We’re creatures of habit so if you did track for probably a month, you’ll get into the swing of things. You’d also find that you’re consuming a lot of the same foods. There’s a way you can filter your search results for the most recently used food entries. The multi-add function is super helpful as well. It gets easier the more you use it! Don’t forget the copy & paste feature as well. 

Don: Yes, I love the most recently used foods. There are certain foods that I’ll go back to almost every day. I love also paying attention to the micro nutrients to make sure you’re eating powerful nutrient dense foods. 

Dr. G: There’s always a little resistance to start tracking and getting into the groove of it. But if you’re prepared for that, it becomes very empowering. If health and wellness is truly what you’re looking for, we have to assess what we’re doing. From the macro and the micro level, it becomes essential to be able to see what you’re doing so that you can improve upon things. The more you do it, the easier it gets. The self-empowerment is truly where the magic happens. 

What else can I do other than exercise and eat healthy to get my cholesterol down?

Dr. G: Okay, first of all, let’s talk about cholesterol. There’s a lot of confusion out there. Typically dietary cholesterol that you eat, is not a measure of blood level cholesterol. So your body makes cholesterol and often there’s an inherent set point. If your cholesterol is actually too high, you will do a risk assessment with your physician. Tracking is really important to determine if this is genetic or a food consumption issue. Lifestyle is so important for this. 

Any hunger fighting tips?

Don: Yes. Very rarely have I seen people gain an excessive amount of body fat from eating a lot of good stuff. When we’re talking about hunger, we’re really discussing what’s happening in the evening when you come home from work and you’re stressed out and craving chips and ice cream. Nine out of ten times when I increase someone’s caloric intake during the day, very rarely will they be craving anything in the evening. If your meals are off and you’re going into the evening in a deficit, your chances of cravings increase. If you’re satiated, you’re eating nutrient dense foods, and maintaining your blood sugar levels, it makes things so much easier. 

Dr. G: Yes, blood sugar regulation is a huge part of it. The good news is that humans are predictable and you must prepare for your weaknesses. Plan to manage blood sugar and hit your protein goals. Protein is the most satiating macro nutrient. When you start with protein it sends signals to your brain and you’re less likely to overeat. 

I have no appetite and have a hard time getting enough calories in. Any tips?

Dr. G: She mentions keeping carbohydrates low, but what I would recommend is distributing those over your meals. My recommendation is 50 grams or less of carbs per meal.

Don: I love plant strong diets, meaning we get an array of veggies and a heavy amount of them. Body builders have a similar problem though and need to cut back on their veggie intake because they are so fibrous. They fill you up and keep you satiated. If you’re stuffing yourself on veggies and unable to get any starches, carbs or protein in because you’re so full, it might be time to play with different ratios. 

Dr. G: Try to pick nutrient dense foods like fats to increase the calories to where they need to be. I would also reduce the fibrous vegetables because it seems like it might be causing gut distress and stretch. 

How much protein do you need over the age of 60?

Dr. G: As you age, your efficiency of protein changes. You actually need more protein as you age because muscle becomes resistant in its efficiency of utilization of protein. A minimum amount is one gram per pound of body weight to protect aging muscle tissue. Try to get 30-50 grams of protein per meal. 

Don: Think of muscle as body armour. Muscle building as you age is extremely important. 

Does the protein source matter?

Dr. G: Yes, plant and animal protein are different. As I mentioned earlier, there are 20 different amino acids and there is a different ratio in plant vs. animal proteins. You can target the total protein in a plant based diet but you will likely get three times the amount in carbs. For example, you can get the same amount of protein and amino acid profile in 6 cups of quinoa or one chicken breast. If you want to choose plant based protein, this is where tracking is helpful in Cronometer to see where your carbohydrates are going. Supplementing with branch chain amino acids, like creatine, is totally acceptable. 

I'm hearing mixed opinions about being in a calorie deficit and the effect on hormones. What should we believe?

Dr. G: Great question. Let’s expand on this. Being in a calorie deficit, we have to define – are we starting with being overweight and trying to get to a more comfortable weight or are we talking about being in a calorie deficit because we are in starvation mode. If you are in starvation mode, your hormones will decrease nearly across the board. Likely your period will stop, your thyroid will also decrease. But if we’re talking about a calorie deficit to lose weight, there is a calculated and safe way to do so. 

Is there a way to lose the belly on your lower abdomen?

Don: I don’t believe in spot reduction. The more muscle you have on your body, the more your body becomes a fat burning furnace. I would work on building and developing muscles in that abdominal wall and then through nutrition training, work on getting the skin thinner. 

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon

Dr. Lyon has a doctorate in osteopathic medicine and is board-certified in family medicine. She has studied vitamin and mineral metabolism, chronic disease prevention and management and the physiological effects of diet composition.

She also completed a research/clinical fellowship in Nutritional Science and Geriatrics at Washington University in St. Louis.

She now runs her practice and helps motivated people of any age reach their ideal weight and fullest health potential with the principles of muscle-centric-medicine®.

You can find more details on her website, youtube channel or Instagram.

Don Saladino

Don Saladino is a coach and fitness entrepreneur and has been training actors, athletes and musicians for over 20 years. He has owned and operated several brick and mortar gyms and has expanded to a global online fitness business, coaching over a million clients worldwide.

He has developed a reputation for training some of the biggest names in Hollywood for the big screen. Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Jake Gyllenhaal, John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Liev Schreiber, Sebastian Stan, Anne Hathaway, Zachary Levi, Hugh Jackman, & David Harbour are among his roster of clients.

You can find more details on his website, youtube channel or Instagram.

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