Why you need to eat fat to lose fat…sounds crazy right?

Perhaps one of the most popular trends in the world of dieting and nutrition is the idea of “Fat Free.” It seems everything you can imagine comes in a “low fat” or “fat free” option. I am here to tell you that no fat may actually make you gain fat.

When we talk about “fat” in regards to nutrition, there are two different kinds we refer to, saturated and unsaturated fat. Saturated fats are solid at room temperature and generally come from animal sources, whereas unsaturated fats are usually liquid at room temperature and come primarily from plant sources. Dietary fat is responsible for many key functions in the body. The truth is, we couldn’t live without it. Some key functions include:

  • Providing energy throughout the day
  • Act as a catalyst to absorb fat soluble vitamins
  • Help maintain body temperature
  • Essential for hormone production
  • Provide structural components for brain cells and nerves.

Given all of these amazing and vital roles fat plays in the body, why would anyone recommend to limit it? Well, there are some very good reasons. One being, fat contains a lot of calories. Too many calories consumed can and will lead to weight gain. However, limiting fat doesn’t necessarily lead to weight loss. Here are a few ways eating fat can help you lose weight:

  • Eating foods higher in fat will help curb your cravings between meals. Since fats are harder to and take longer to digest, you will feel satisfied longer.
  • Eating fat will enhance your body’s ability to burn fat. Diets low in fat will decrease the body’s production of certain fat burning hormones, specifically adiponectin. Adiponectin is involved in regulating glucose levels as well as fat cell breakdown.
  • Diets higher in fat and lower in carbohydrate lead to lower releases of insulin. Lower insulin levels will allow your body to burn fat, and use it as a fuel source, rather than burning carbohydrates.

As always though, everything in moderation. Keep in mind that your daily fat calorie intake should only be about 15-30% of your total daily calories. Fat does contain calories, so be conscious of your portions, and keep losing fat!


Patrick Scott, M.S., C.S.C.S.

Sports and Fitness Director

Going Nuts for Nuts

Over the last several years, many people have heard that nuts are unhealthy, full of fat, and make people gain weight. Yes, they can be unhealthy. Yes, they are full of fat, and yes they can make people gain weight. However, when consumed in moderation, nuts are packed with health boosting nutrients that make them an essential piece to a well-balanced diet.

When looking at the health benefits of nuts, they are numerous and powerful. According to Mayo Clinic, nuts can have the following benefits:

  • Lowing LDL cholesterol
  • Lowering inflammation related to heart disease
  • Reduce your risk of developing blood clots
  • Improve the health of the lining in your arteries

What makes nuts so healthy? They are packed with unsaturated fatty acids, Omega-3 fatty acid, fiber, protein and Vitamin E, among other things. Unlike their saturated fatty acid brother, unsaturated fatty acids are liquid at room temperature, and can help to clean the arterial walls of plaque build-up. Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to have excellent anti-inflammatory and immune boosting properties. Diets high in fiber lead to a reduced risk of heart disease, lower cholesterol levels, and decreased risk of colon cancer.

Even with all of these health benefits, nuts are still treated as a food to avoid. That is because they are high in calories. Just one quarter cup of almonds contains 164 calories. But that same quarter cup also contains 6 grams of protein and 14 grams of heart healthy unsaturated fatty acids.

The key to keeping nuts in the eating plan is moderation. Limit consumption to one quarter cup (about one handful) per day. This will help keep hunger at bay during those long morning hours before lunch, and ensure the weight stays off. Happy snacking.


Patrick Scott, M.S., C.S.C.S.

Sports and Fitness Director




6 easy exercises for a strong core

Much of the buzz in fitness these days centers around your “core” and having a strong one. Many people I come across think “core strength” means just ab strength or having a 6 pack. But the truth of the matter is having a strong core is more than just abs or having a 6 pack. In fact, many people with the strongest core don’t have 6 packs.


When fitness professionals talk about core strength, it includes more than just your stomach muscles. It includes everything from your hips to your shoulder blades, and everything in between. This encompasses the front, back, and sides of your torso. You may hear some fitness experts refer to it as your “pillar.” So the next time you think of core strength, remember that a balanced routine should include exercises for your shoulder blades, lower back, obliques, stomach, and hips; much much more than just doing crunches.


  1. Plank: Perhaps the best core stability exercise, the plank. This exercise encompasses all the muscles of the front of your torso, shoulder stabilizers, and hip flexors. To set up, lay flat on your stomach with elbows bent underneath your shoulders and toes pulled up towards your shins as far as you can. Maintaining a neutral curve in your spine, push your hips up off of the ground, leaving your elbows down, and hold. Your body should maintain a straight line as your hips come up. Think of balancing a tennis ball between your shoulder blades. If this is too hard, leave your knees on the ground as you push up. The main focus for this exercise is to maintain a neutral spine and straight body lines. Hold this position for 30 seconds.

2. Side Plank: Similar to the plank, the side plank helps to build stability through the olbiques, hips, and shoulder. Start lying on your side, with the feet stacked on top of each other. Place your elbow underneath your shoulder with your hand flat on the ground in front of you. From here, raise your hips into the air, forming a straight line with your body and hold for 30 seconds each side.

3. Glute Bridge or Hip Bridge: This exercise focuses on the muscles of the posterior chain, or back. In this exercise, you will work the hamstrings, glutes, and some lower back. Start lying flat on your back, and place your feet flat on the ground with your heels as close to your butt as you can. From there, keeping a neutral curve in the spine, push your hips into the air by driving through your heels. The key to this exercise is to maintain a natural curve in the spine, and not push your stomach too far towards the ceiling, causing stress on your lower back. Hold the up position for 1 minute.

4. BirdDog: The goal for this exercise is to work the stabilizers of the stomach, obliques, hips, and shoulders. Starting on your hands and knees, line up your hands underneath your shoulders, and knees underneath your hips. Trying to think of that tennis ball balancing between your shoulder blades, extend one arm and the opposite leg as far as you can and pause. Return to start and repeat with the opposite side, always moving opposite arm and leg together. For example, your right arm and left leg would move, then repeat with your leg arm and right leg. Repeat the exercise for 15 repetitions each side

5. Russian Twist: This exercise is great for the obliques, lower back, and hip flexors. Start in a seated position, with your knees bent in front of you and heels on the ground. Staying as tall through the spine as possible, lean your torso back slightly. While maintaining a slight lean back, rotate the shoulders one way and then the other. Continue to rotate back and forth at a controlled pace for 15 reps each side, maintaining the lean back and straight spine the entire time.

6. Seated Leg Lift: This exercise targets the muscles of the hip and lower abs. It may look easy, but it is far from it if done correctly. Start in a seated position with your legs straight in front of you. Hands will be on the ground just outside your pockets, while sitting up as straight as possible. Leaving one leg down and both legs as straight as possible, lift the other leg as high as you can, maintaining an upright posture. Return the leg to the ground, and repeat with the other leg. Repeat this exercise 15 times with each leg.

These 6 exercises are sure to give you a strong core and better stability throughout the torso. Start to work them into your workout routine, performing them on every other day to allow yourself to recover. Feel free to adjust the repetitions as needed to make it harder or easier. Happy stabilizing!


Patrick Scott, MS, CSCS

Sports and Fitness Director

Conjugated Linoleic Acid…Wait, What?

In the world of weight loss, there are tons of supplements, diets, workout tools, and tricks to help you lose weight fast. Unfortunately for most of them, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. But one supplement that is becoming more and more popular in weight loss, specifically from your thoracic (stomach) region, is Conjugated Linoleic Acid, or CLA for short.

CLA is a collection of chemicals that can be in the fatty acid linoleic acid. The bulk of CLA’s in a human diet can be found in meat and dairy products, however plant sources are available as well. One of biggest sources of CLA’s is in supplement form, and this is where more and more people are turning to increase their intake. It is quick, easy, convenient, and virtually calorie free.

CLA plays a major role in lipid metabolism, which helps explain its potential beneficial effects on fat loss. Other benefits of CLA may include anticarcinogenic, improved insulin resistance, reduced blood glucose, and others (Lehnen, 2015). However, as stated, the benefit that most people want is the reduction of fat deposits around the mid section. This is why more and more people are turning to CLA’s to help aid their weight loss journey. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition performed a meta-analysis of 18 weight loss studies using CLA’s. Some studies were performed on rats and mice, while others were in humans. Because of this, there were some mixed results, however they concluded that a daily dose of 3.2 grams produced a modest loss in body fat in humans (Whigham, 2007).

As with all supplements and pills, there were some potential adverse effects reported as well. A second study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition cited several potential adverse effects. Many of these adverse affects were seen in rats, but they included increased probability of developing insulin resistance, increased levels of triglycerides and LDL cholesterol, and alterations in glucose metabolism (Lehnen, 2015). As with anything, always talk to your doctor before starting a supplement routine.

For someone looking to increase their intake of CLA’s there are several areas you can turn. Many supplements you find will have CLA’s derived from Safflower oil. Look to get 2000-3000 mg/day. Other natural sources include grass fed meats and poultry, dairy, butter and eggs. It is very important to ensure your meat is grass-fed to ensure the highest density of CLA’s.

So if you think CLA’s may beneficial for you, proceed with caution, and always talk to your doctor first. And remember, a supplement is just that. A supplement to an already healthy and well balanced diet and exercise plan.


Lehnen, T. E., da Silva, M. R., Camacho, A., Marcadenti, A., & Lehnen, A. M. (2015). A review on effects of conjugated linoleic fatty acid (CLA) upon body composition and energetic metabolism. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 12(1), 1.

Whigham, L. D., Watras, A. C., & Schoeller, D. A. (2007). Efficacy of conjugated linoleic acid for reducing fat mass: a meta-analysis in humans.The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 85(5), 1203-1211.


Over-training is real, and here’s how you avoid it.

Many people have probably heard the term “over-training” but don’t really know what it means or what it looks like. Over-training is typically defined as a state where a person is repeatedly stressed from exercise and the rest periods are not adequate to allow for full recovery. Basically, someone has been working out too hard for too long without the proper rest. Over-training can be a very serious problem, and should be identified as early as possible.

The most common symptom of over-training is fatigue. Overall, exhaustive fatigue. This may limit workouts, effect your work day, and alter your sleep patterns. Due to this, people may also become moody, easily irritated, depressed, lose their desire to workout, decreased appetite, and weight loss. People may also experience increased persistent muscle soreness, increased frequency of viral infections, and increased likelihood of injury. Other symptoms include increased cortisol (stress hormone) levels, decreased testosterone, and increased muscle breakdown.

The combination of all of these symptoms can lead to a significant downturn in a person’s quality of life. The good news is over-training is an easily corrected and avoided syndrome. The treatment for over-training is simple rest. However, the longer the over-training has been present, the longer rest period is needed. For some people, a week or two will be sufficient, for others, a month or more may be needed. During this recovery, it is important to try and identify the factors that led to over-training, or else it is extremely likely to happen again.

Unfortunately there is no one “test” that gives a specific diagnosis of over-training. However, there are some things to look for. If you are feeling fatigued all the time, or if your performance has been steadily decreasing of plateauing, it may be because of over-training. In some people, brittle fingernails and hair can be a sign as well. If you have a feeling of being “burnt out” or no desire to exercise (assuming that’s a change from the norm), you may be experiencing over-training syndrome. If you feel like you may be in a state of over-training, don’t be afraid to take some time off. The sooner you can identify over-training, the sooner you will be back to normal! The most important thing here is to make sure you are giving your body enough rest in your exercise routine so you never fall into the over-training cycle.

Rice, Mark (1998) Overtraining Syndrome.            http://www.rice.edu/~jenky/sports/overtraining.html


The health benefits of a high fiber diet

For many years, people have know that fiber is good for you and you should eat it. But what a lot of people didn’t know is just how good it is, and just how much you should consume. A diet high in both soluble and insoluble fiber has numerous health benefits.

By definition, soluble fiber is a type of fiber that attracts water and turns to a gel upon combination, which slows digestion. This type of fiber is commonly found in oat bran, barley, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, peas, and some fruits and veggies. The common fiber supplement Metamucil is also a soluble fiber.

Insoluble fiber is therefore just the opposite. This type of fiber is able to make it through the digestive tract relatively undigested. It adds bulk to the stool, and helps foods pass through more quickly. Insoluble fiber can be found in wheat bran, vegetables, and whole grains. Both types of fiber are important to maintain good health.

Diets high in fiber have been shown to help lower the risk of developing coronary heart disease as well as cardiovascular disease. This is due to fiber’s ability to significantly lower LDL cholesterol levels in the blood. High fiber diets have also been shown to lower the risk of developing diabetes.

Other benefits of a high fiber diet include better appetite control, improved body weight control, and improved regularity and laxation.

Some fibers can also be classified as a prebiotic. Prebiotic’s are a relatively new term in the health world. Many people have heard of probiotics, the bacteria that lives in your large and small intestines? Well prebiotics are the food for those probiotics. It is suggested that high prebiotic diets can reduce the duration and frequency of antibiotic associated diarrhea, reduce symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease, promote weight loss and prevent obesity, and enhance the bio availability and absorption of some vitamins and minerals.

The American Dietetic Association recommends that men between the ages of 18-50 consume 38 grams of fiber per every 1000 calories of food. For women, they recommend 25-26 grams per 1000 calories of food. Now that’s a lot of fiber….

Slavin, J. (2008) Position of the American Dietetic Association: Health Implications of Dietary Fiber. J Am Diet Assoc. 2008;108: 1716-1731.

Slavin, J. (2013). Fiber and prebiotics: mechanisms and health benefits.Nutrients, 5(4), 1417-1435.

Are multivitamins worth the chew?

It seems more and more these days, people are turning to multivitamins and multi-minerals to help them feel better, sleep better, have more energy….The list goes on and on. But are they really working? And is it worth shelling out your hard earned cash for them? Well that depends on who you ask.

In a recent WebMD article, author Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, LD, states that while a multivitamin can help to fill in the gaps, it is no supplement for what’s on your plate. “Vitamins and other dietary supplements are not intended to be food substitute. They cannot replace all of the nutrients and benefits of whole foods,” says Zelman. That is why they are referred to as a supplement. Multivitamins are intended to “supplement” what you are already doing. Taking a multivitamin/mineral cannot replace or be instead of healthy eating habits.

But Zelman also goes on to cite numerous studies that show the benefits of certain vitamins. One such study was performed by the National Institute of Health. It found that supplementing with Calcium and Vitamin D in postmenopausal women can help to reduce bone fractures. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines suggests people over 50 get a majority of their Vitamin B12 from synthetic sources.

So back to the original question, are they worth it or not? The short answer is maybe. For certain populations, such as postmenopausal women, or older individuals, supplementing with a specific vitamin or mineral can have benefits. But it should not replace or be instead of healthy eating. Supplements should always be in addition to what you are already doing. For the everyday average individual who does not fall into one of these special populations? Focus on the healthy eating first, and if your doctor suggests something, then try it.