Happy Halloween from Springville Health and Fitness!!


Just a little Halloween fun!!

Have a Happy, Healthy and Safe Halloween!!!
Your friends at Springville Health and Fitness.

The Macronutrients – Part I


by Michael Rorick CPT, CFNS © 2014

Hi All! It’s been quite a bit of time since I’ve last checked in!! Boy! These summers can fly right on by!! In this month’s blog, I’d like to start a series about the macronutrients. It’s amazing how many differing opinions we can find out there on things like protein, high fat, low fat, trans fats, high carb, low carb, paleo & vegan diets, starchy foods, lean meats… the list goes on and on as well as some of the myths surrounding them. So, let’s talk about what macronutrients actually are, how they are processed in our bodies and why we need them. We’ll then try to dispel some of the myths around them. Let’s start by discussing the “EVIL CARBS”!! Just in time for Halloween!! How’s that for pre-framing the conversation??? 🙂

 Before I totally dive in, let me start first by saying there are 6 macronutrients that we are concerned with health and nutrition. Those are:

  1. Carbohydrates
  2. Protein
  3. Fat
  4. Vitamins
  5. Minerals
  6. Water

 Each one of these are considered essential to good health and should be an important part of our diets. It’s interesting to consider how at times certain words or phrases become part of our vocabulary and they are so common that we rarely reflect on what they actually mean. i.e. The term “essential” in nutrition means that the body does not produce it on its own and therefore it must be ingested and provided for the body. Non-essential means that the body produces the nutrient. Minerals are the simplest form of the macronutrients because they are a chemical element. Iron (Fe) as an example whether cooked or not will remain iron. After it enters our cells and leaves our body through bleeding or excretion iron will always remain iron. Water is essential and is a combination of oxygen and hydrogen (H2O). Both minerals and water are considered to be inorganic because they lack carbon. The remaining macronutrients on top of the oxygen and hydrogen content add Carbon and are considered to be organic in composition. Carbon is an element found in all living things. Think of this the next time you hear the words Carbon-ated or Hydrogen-ated.

 So let’s start our journey with carbs. Carbs, short for Carbohydrate (carbon & hydrogen) is one of the most misunderstood of the macronutrients. While they are viewed at in many circles as Evil, they are essential. They provide an immediate source of energy to our bodies by producing heat. That energy is measured in calories (kcal) and carbohydrates produce approximately 4 kcal/gram consumed. They are the primary source of energy for us and are necessary for muscle movement and proper organ function. Carbohydrates also aid in the assimilation and digestion of the other macronutrients. As a carbohydrate breaks down through digestion, it is converted into a simple sugar called glucose. This sugar enters our blood stream where insulin puts it into our cells and our liver as a thick concentrated form called glycogen. The glycogen is quickly converted to energy from the muscle tissue during exercise or movement with short bursts of energy like weight lifting or sprinting. The liver then releases more glycogen into the blood stream as needed. Once the storage of the muscles and liver are filled, the excess glucose in the blood stream is stored in fat cells throughout the body to be used at a later date. Since our body requires carbs for proper organ function, we need approximately 100 grams of carbohydrate a day just so our brain thinks correctly. In our cell tissue the glycogen is stored with water and maintains an approximate 2.7:1 ratio where the water is 2.7X more than the glycogen. In carb deficient diets as the cells lose glycogen, that ratio remains consistent and our body loses weight through water loss. This should never be confused with fat loss. After a period of time (usually 4 days) the body goes into a state of ketosis. This is where the cells begin assimilating ketones (incomplete fat metabolism) into the cells for energy. The complications can be severe when going off these types of diets and carbohydrates should be weaned back in to prevent muscle and heart damage.

Carbohydrates come in many different varieties. They are saccharides, which means they contain sugar. The more simple the sugar, the quicker they are broken down (digested) and absorbed into the blood stream. Carbohydrates have the fast gastric emptying time (leave the stomach) of the macro nutrients and will pass the stomach in an hour or less.

* Sidebar: Always eat carbs with a lean protein to slow up digestion and to avoid spiking blood sugar levels. This will help keeping the insulin from sticking it on our sides in fat cells.

 Here are the different types of Carbohydrate:

 Monosaccharides – “Single” sugar molecule or Simple Sugar




Disaccharides – “Two” sugar atom molecule




 Polysaccharides – “Many” long chain sugar molecules or Complex Carbs




 The longer the chain or more complex the molecule is, the longer the digestive process. Refined sugars tend to be simple sugars and thus are quick to be absorbed into the blood stream causing insulin spikes. Over eating these refined sugars are the leading cause of obesity and over indulgence can lead to type II diabetes as well as a host of other disease. Vegetables are carbohydrates as well. It would much healthier eating some broccoli over a can of soda any day!!! Resistant starches are carbohydrates which turn into a un-digestible fiber after they are heated and cooled. This fiber passes through our system and provides a host of benefits.

 Good carbs include things like whole grains, oatmeals, green vegetables, fruits. Bad carbs or ones to limit or remove from your diet include refined grains, soda and sugary drinks, candies, cookies, pasturized juices, sugary cereals or products where the sugar content exceeds 20% of the total carbohydrate listed. If the iingredients end in –ose (like in glucose), it’s a sugar.

So in closing, as part of a healthy diet, carbohydrates are essential to the body. And as with any well balanced diet, quantity and source of food play a huge role in not only getting the results you’re looking for but also in helping us create a state of health. Check out my blog “The Golden Rules of Meal Planning” for more information on creating a diet that is specific for you. I have another blog coming up shortly on the power of proteins!! Stay tuned…

About the Author:

Michael Rorick is a Certified Personal Trainer at Springville Health and Fitness Center, Springville NY. He is also a Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist with a Certification in Weight Management as well. His company, Alive Without Limits was founded through his passion for helping others to reach their potentials in all areas of life. At 51 years of age, he is an avid bodybuilder, musician, audio engineer, forensic audio expert, professor at SUNY at Fredonia, life coach, author and father.


What’s the Skinny on BMI?

ScaleWhat’s the Skinny on BMI?

by Michael Rorick CPT, CFNS © 2014

It started off as a nice day; going to my primary physician for my semi-annual annual physical. I was feeling good because at 50 yrs. old, I’d been able to avoid medications of all kinds; I was bouncing back from a damaging auto accident, and (knock on wood) had been able to eliminate the genetic equation from my medical reports. They did the typical measurements; weight, height, blood pressure, etc. It was a good exam. There were no prescriptions to get, no new rules to follow; just a pat on the back and a password to the new “patient portal”. It sounded so “official”. I thought to myself in my best Darth Vader voice… I must venture home and explore this “portal”. It must contain secrets!! 🙂 So the next day I logged into the portal and saw my physical report. It had my name, age: 50, Height: 70.5” (5’10.5”), Weight: 227Lbs. and then BMI 32.1 (Obese). So I said, “Golly!!!”, in slightly different language and could not understand what in the world they were talking about. For those of you who don’t know me, I’m now on the backstretch of 51 and weigh 220lbs with an athletic build at 10.5% body fat and a BMI of 31.1. So, nearly 2 years ago at 227lbs., I was around 16-18% body fat. I wasn’t terribly in shape or out of it. And, I just couldn’t see how I could be listed as obese. So, I started doing some research. Here is what I found.

BMI stands for body mass index and it is a reference chart that assess how much an individual’s body weight departs from the norm. This chart was developed by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a way to determine a person’s health related risk to disease. The calculation is simply done by dividing a person’s weight (Kg) by their height (meters)2. Then the result is compared against the following chart where 18.5 to 25 is considered a normal BMI and healthy weight. Below 18.5 you’re under weight and above 25 you are over weight.

BMI copy

BMI Prime is a modification to BMI where it takes the person’s BMI and compares it as ratio to the upper “normal weight” limit (25). So my 32.1 BMI /divided by 25 = 1.284 which meant I was 28.4% above the maximum normal weight. My options then became clear. Either lose 44+ lbs or to somehow grow to 6’ 7”. Regardless, neither option would really work for me.

Why was I so concerned? Well, at that particular time I was shopping for life insurance and some companies review your medical records and your reports. Some healthcare insurances also calculate your premiums based on your level of obesity. However, even if insurance companies are not given access to that information, all you have to do is calculate the BMI using the height and weight formula. The visual perception of a 50 year old obese man was not the image I wanted superimposed on me and I didn’t want to be lumped into a category that didn’t accurately reflect my level of health and fitness. Remember, I wasn’t considered to be overweight. I was considered obese. Putting all that aside, it became apparent that BMI is a flawed concept and many factors are not taken into account when using it as a measure of healthy weight. First of all BMI does not take frame size into consideration. The larger your frame is, the greater the weight and higher deviation from the norm. Secondly, lean muscle has higher density than fat and therefore lb. for lb. takes up much less space. BMI is particularly inaccurate for people with athletic builds. The higher lean muscle tends to put them in an overweight category. This inaccuracy affects the results for small framed individuals as well. A person with a very small frame can actually carry a great deal of extra weight (fat) and fall into the normal category. What about the differences in makeup between men and women? BMI does not take any of this into consideration.

 So why do they use BMI? Quite frankly, the only reason that I have found, is that it is easy. It’s a quick way to generate a number and calculate statistics. Can it be improved upon? Absolutely! Just adding a tape measure around someone’s waist would go a long way in determining an individual’s state of healthy weight. At least then you can track a change in inches. If I were to lose some body fat and gain lean muscle, my BMI will continue to rise. So let’s not even focus on BMI as a measure of health or fitness. It’s unfortunate to have it as a system and it really won’t help guide us on our journey towards health.

What is a better way? I never thought you’d ask! 🙂 When I’m training someone or helping them with their nutrition, one of the first things I do is calculate their body fat % (BF%) by doing a 3 or 5 point skinfold measurement with calipers. Now, I must admit that skinfold measurements have an accuracy of (+/-) 3-5%. They however, are a little more practical and cost effective than spending $200-$300 on a DEXA body scan. What the BF% measurement does, is allow me to measure the subcutaneous levels of body fat. This along with your total body weight this allows me calculate muscle or more accurately, lean body mass. This now becomes a system to track weight management and we can see actually where our bodies are gaining / losing lean mass or fat. By the way, our goal (90% of the time) is to maintain or grow lean mass while we drop BF%. I say 90% because typically, long distance runners, tri-athletes, etc. do not want to gain a lot of muscle mass.

 The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has defined obesity as a body fat percentage over 25% in men and 32% in women. Healthy BF percentages are 10-15% for men and 15-20% for women. Bodybuilders and fitness models will carry less body fat to show muscle definition. Below is pictorial of various body percentages in men and women (courtesy of builtlean.com). While the accuracy of it is a little in question, the visuals show us a ballpark guide to body composition.


So, in closing, let’s not focus on our weight. It’s just a number. If we drink a pint of water, we’ll be a pound heavier but no fatter. Let’s not get caught up in BMI or any other system that lumps all people together as a number as well. If it doesn’t take our individual body composition into consideration, it’s not that useful to us. Let’s instead, place our focus on measuring body fat%. It’s a much more accurate way in calculating healthy weight and it offers a better means of tracking our progress and the response of our body to exercise and healthy eating. Doesn’t this just seem to make more sense?

So, stop into the gym and say, “hello!” I usually have my calipers with me. If our paths don’t cross, feel free to leave a message for me at the main desk. In the meantime… Honor yourself. Have gratitude for who you are and for who you’re destined to become. Love your life and live it without limits!! Take care!


About the Author:

Michael Rorick is a Certified Personal Trainer at Springville Health and Fitness Center, Springville NY. He is also a Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist with a Certification in Weight Management as well. His company, Alive Without Limits was founded through his passion for helping others to reach their potentials in all areas of life. At 51 years of age, he is an avid bodybuilder, musician, audio engineer, forensic audio expert, professor at SUNY at Fredonia, life coach, business coach and father.


The Soy / Whey Testosterone Connection

This morning my attention was captured by an article in Muscle Magazine. The article reported the results of a study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition in the comparison of Soy Protein, Whey Protein and Carbohydrate when used in resistance training and the responses of testosterone, sex hormone binding globulin, estradiol and cortisol levels in men. Some of the points in the article indicated that soy protein significantly lowers testosterone levels and that it also possibly blunts the anabolic response post workout.

I wanted to learn more, so I did another search on this. The next article I read was posted by Muscle & Body Magazine. It said, a new study indicates that soy protein works for bodybuilders and it does not appear to hinder anabolic signaling post exercise by means of eliciting increases in estradiol concentrations (does not produce estrogen).

So, I started laughing and decided to go right to the source for the information. Here’s what I found. William J. Kraemer conducted this study with 10 healthy men in their early 20’s. The test split them into three groups where they were given every morning 20 grams of either whey, soy or carbohydrate and then proceeded to do the same workout based on 6 sets of 10 reps of that subject’s 1 rep max (1RM). The test ran for 2 weeks followed by a 2 week “washout” period to make sure the ingredients were out of their system. Then, ingredients were switched up and administered for another 2 weeks followed by another 2 week washout and then a final 2 weeks of the third ingredient. Blood samples were taken and biochemically analyzed at specific points in time. These would be done: Pre workout, Mid workout, Immediately Post workout, then again 5, 15, 30 and 60 minutes post. The results concentrated on levels of Testosterone, Estradiol, Sex Hormone Binding Globulin and Cortisol. The most remarkable results in the test were in testosterone and cortisol levels. The following graphs indicate that Soy Protein may contribute to a significant decrease in testosterone levels post workout and Whey Protein may contribute to a significant decrease in Cortisol levels post workout. The change in Sex Hormone Binding Globulin and Estradiol in this test were negligible and thus unremarkable.

Cortisol graph

testosterone graph

So… What the heck does all this mean to us??? Well, higher testosterone levels would promote more muscle growth and cortisol (the stress hormone) is a hormone directly associated with gluconeogenesis. Gluconeogenesis is the new creation of glucose for energy. This is typically done where cortisol catabolizes or breaks down muscle tissue for energy. This is also known as wasting. To continue to build lean muscle mass, keeping testosterone levels up and cortisol levels down would be considered a good thing. So, in a nutshell… Whey protein still has my vote. The study indicates that whey has a very significant contribution in lowering cortisol levels.

Now, to be totally unbiased with this test, the truth is, there were only 10 test subjects of a certain age. They were only administered 20 grams of the test ingredient per day. The experiment ran for only 10 weeks (6 weeks with 4 weeks of rest) and no women were included in this study. So in all fairness, this was a good start but more variables need to be included for accuracy with different age groups and genders. So in the meantime, my motto is: When in doubt, leave it out! I hope this helps demystify some of the controversy surrounding these proteins and I’ll certainly keep you posted as more information becomes available.

Until we meet again… Love your life and live it without limits!

About the Author:

Michael Rorick is a Certified Personal Trainer at Springville Health and Fitness Center, Springville NY. He is also a Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist with a Certification in Weight Management as well. His company, Alive Without Limits was founded through his passion for helping others to reach their potentials in all areas of life. At 51 years of age, he is an avid bodybuilder, musician, audio engineer, forensic audio expert, professor at SUNY at Fredonia, life coach and father.

Great Gains and… Uhhh Gummi Bears

GummisGreat Gains and… Uhhh Gummi Bears???

            By Michael Rorick CPT, CFNS ©2014

Did I just say that? Okay, okay… I must confess. I have a sweet tooth. However, they say (and I don’t know who they are) that timing is everything. Here’s a case where the timing works out perfectly to my benefit. What I’m talking about is my post workout shake. Before going into details, let’s just consider for a moment why we have a post workout shake in the first place. It’s so we can immediately cheat after a good workout and not feel guilty. Right??? 🙂 In actuality, it’s to replenish and repair muscle tissue after an exhausting workout. Here’s how it works.

With resistance training, glycogen is taken from our muscles through a process called glycolysis and converted into either pyruvate or lactate (depending on the oxygen available) to then be converted into adenosine tri-phosphate (ATP) for energy. As we continue to exercise and deplete the glycogen, fatigue sets in and eventually muscle failure. As we fatigue and rest between sets our body releases insulin blocking hormones such as: human growth hormone, epinephrine, norepinephrine, glucagon, and cortisol. Their main job is to block insulin from storing glucose as well as breaking down muscle tissue to convert into energy. So, here is where our shake comes in and timing becomes crucial. As we finish our last set, we still have all these hormones floating around blocking insulin. If we drink our shake immediately, the insulin blocking hormones will inhibit insulin from doing its job, which is taking glucose and amino acids (protein) from the blood stream and putting into muscle tissue and the liver. If we wait 20 minutes however, the body stops secreting these hormones and they dissipate. This is now a perfect time to load our body up again with glucose and protein and is where the replenishing and repair takes place. So, 20 min. post workout, taking 60 – 70 grams of high GI carbohydrate (sugar), glucose levels spike in the blood stream and insulin is released where it sticks the glucose right back into our muscles for later use. During this anabolic window, the sugar is not stuck on our sides as fat because the body needs to refill the glycogen storage in the muscles immediately. The insulin will also pack everything else needed into the muscle cells, like: Protein, branched chain amino acids, creatine, etc. If you wait much longer than 30 minutes to drink your shake, this window of opportunity begins to close and you will not receive full benefit from it. So… 20-30 min. is optimum.

Here is the recipe for the post workout shake that I drink. I change it from time to time but this has been effective for me.

  1. First, I eat 2 packets of Gummi Bears – 30gr Carbs fast release (sugar)
  2. 250mg Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA – capsule) – aids insulin release
  3. 2500mg Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA – capsule) a host of benefits, including: aids insulin, fat loss, anti-inflammatory, etc.
  4. THE DRINK – 1 ½ cups almond milk
  5. 10 frozen strawberries – carbs
  6. 1 banana – carbs
  7.  20 grams hydrolyzed Whey Protein – muscle growth and repair
  8. 20 grams Casein Protein – muscle growth and repair
  9. 10 grams Creatine – cell volumization (store more glycogen in the cells)

10. 5 grams Glutamine – Amino acid for recovery

11. 15-20 grams Branched Chain Amino Acids – Recovery

12. 1000mg Vitamin C (1 pk EmergenC) Antioxidant for free radicals released during exercise.

Stick it all in a blender and Enjoy!!! Keep in mind, this shake is to be used after a workout where muscles are fatigued to or near to exhaustion. Drinking this as a regular drink throughout the day will get you fat by spiking glucose levels when your body doesn’t need it!! So if you have a sweet tooth, use this window of time post workout and fuel up muscle cells by grabbing some Gummis, A Pixie Stick or a high GI (glycemic index) candy (no nuts or fillers please). To avoid a crash from the high carbs, eat your post workout meal somewhere around 30-45 min. after your shake.

Until we meet again… Love your life and live it without limits!

About the Author:

Michael Rorick is a Certified Personal Trainer at Springville Health and Fitness Center, Springville NY. He is also a Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist with a Certification in Weight Management as well. His company, Alive Without Limits was founded through his passion for helping others to reach their potentials in all areas of life. At 51 years of age, he is an avid bodybuilder, musician, audio engineer, forensic audio expert, professor at SUNY at Fredonia, life coach and father

No Whey? No Way!

Protein copyNo Whey? No Way!

By Michael Rorick CPT, CFNS ©2014

One of the most common questions I get from people at the gym is: “What kind of protein should I get?” The answer is… It really depends on what you’d like to do with it. Let me explain. There are many different types of proteins. In order to understand them, we must also understand how our body digests them. First of all… consider your intestinal tract as kind of a screen (like a screen window). Small particles that fit through the “screen” are absorbed quickly and larger molecules that don’t fit require more time to be broken down. There are differing qualities of protein as well. Two made from milk are casein and whey. When making cheese, the casein is converted into curds and the whey is the left over liquid. So, now we know what Little Miss Muffet was eating in her nursery rhyme. She was probably a tough little kid with all that protein! Okay… back to the info. The lowest quality and most inexpensive form of protein is Calcium Caseinate. Its larger molecules take longer to breakdown and also happen to move through our digestive tract slowly. Even though it is inexpensive, the benefit of this protein is in the way its slow digestion helps keep elevated amino acids in the bloodstream for an extended period of time. Elevated amino acids have been shown to help reduce muscle breakdown (catabolism). It also helps your body in repairing muscle tissue. This slow release protein is ideal for meal replacement and due to its slow transit time, it has a longer satiety or feeling of fullness compared to faster release proteins.

 The next step up the food chain is Whey Protein Concentrate. As stated earlier it comes from the left over liquid when making cheese. In order to separate the protein from the liquid, a filtration process must be utilized. Processes include, reverse osmosis, nanofiltration, ultrafiltration and microfiltration methods. The deal is with these varying types of filtration… the actual protein yield can range from 20% to 80%. This means scoop for scoop, different brands will deliver varying amounts of actual protein. Some of the remaining ingredients include fat and lactose (sugar). The easiest way to tell the quality of your protein is to compare the serving size grams with the total protein per serving. i.e. if the serving size is 43 gr. and the total protein per serving is 30 gr. the formula is this. 30 ÷ 43 = .697 or 70%. Higher quality product will deliver at least 80% protein content. A great indicator of low protein content is in gas a bloating after taking it. This is usually due to the increased amounts of fat and lactose, but can also be due to poor absorption. The 1st 6 feet of your intestinal tract is where we absorb the protein and if the protein molecules don’t fit through the “screen” by the end of that 6 feet, then it tends to ferment in the remainder of our intestinal tract causing additional gas and bloating.

Whey Protein Isolates are the next in line for protein quality. Here, whey protein concentrates are further purified leaving or “isolating” the highly soluble whey protein. This process also leaves less than 1% of the lactose and less than 2% of the fat found in whey concentrates. The microfiltration process delivers one of the highest quality proteins because it utilizes low temperature and low pressure. This slower process produces a lower yield of product and thus is reflected in a higher price. Manufacturers that utilize high temperature dryers will yield lower quality product due to that fact that heat denatures protein.

 Hydrolyzed Whey further breaks down whey isolates by using water (hydro) to break long protein chains into smaller peptides. These small particles offer very fast absorption into the bloodstream. The fast absorption makes this protein ideal for repairing muscle tissue post workout and should be included in your post workout shake. In order to be deemed hydrolyzed, the product may contain no more than 1/10th of 1% hyrolyzation. Due to the process and the yield, hydrolyzed whey is the most expensive of proteins.

 Soy Protein is made from legumes and carries some benefits not provided by casein or whey. Soy may protect against cardiovascular disease and also prevent or relieve post menopausal symptoms in women. It tends to be an inexpensive protein.

 Soy Protein Isolates are high in branched chain amino acids, glutamine and arginine. Since it’s low in the essential amino acid methionine, it may need to be combined with other protein sources. Many manufacturers use this as part of their protein blend to compliment whey and casein.

 Soy contains phytoestrogens. It is not advisable to take more than 60 gr. of soy protein per day. This is especially true for children. Since it’s an estrogen mimicking product, usage may lead to hormonal imbalances and early development in girls as well as gynocomastia (man boobs) in boys. Estrogen is known to deposit fat in the breast and hip area of both men and women. Another challenge with soy is that its free form branched chain amino acids tend to bind with non solvent / non free form aminos. As the soy protein enters the cells lining the intestinal wall (called enterocytes), the non solvent amino acids bound to the soy tend to get ripped into the cells with it. This can actually cause tearing in the intestinal wall, commonly known as Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). This further compromises gut health and suppresses the immune system.

 So here’s my recommendation. Hydrolyzed whey gets a double thumbs up as a pre and post workout supplement. Its fast digestion time makes it ideal for getting right to work on muscle tissue. Mixing hydrolyzed whey with some casein and/or whey isolates will spread out the absorption of amino acids over time. I do this on and off as part of my post work shake. Casein protein is my go to protein for in between meals / meal replacement and pre bedtime supplementation. Make certain to check the quality of the product as explained earlier and remember that too much of a good thing is not a good thing. I avoid all soy product as much as possible and don’t feel the benefits out weigh the risks. With women, this important as well. Women require testosterone for muscle tone and growth. Our food supply has set up conditions of low T in both men and women in which soy doesn’t quite help in the solution.

As usual… always check with your doctor before adding any supplements to your diet or undertaking a new exercise routine. Safe is always better than sorry!! Keep me posted if there are any other topics you’d like me to cover.

Until we meet again… Love your life and live it without limits!

 About the Author:

Michael Rorick is a Certified Personal Trainer at Springville Health and Fitness Center, Springville NY. He is also a Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist with a Certification in Weight Management as well. His company, Alive Without Limits was founded through his passion for helping others to reach their potentials in all areas of life. At 51 years of age, he is an avid bodybuilder, musician, audio engineer, forensic audio expert, professor at SUNY at Fredonia, life coach and father.

The Four Golden Rules of Meal Planning – Part II

Food Bible

The Four Golden Rules of Meal Planning

Part II

By Michael Rorick CPT, CFNS ©2014

We left off in Part I of this weblog talking about taking control of our blood sugar levels.  Rule #1 is to eat every 3-4 hrs and in Rule #2, we said eating a good quality protein whenever we eat a carbohydrate would slow up the release of glucose from the carbohydrate into our blood stream. Selecting a good quality carb (Low G.I.) is also key in this process. By not following these 1st  two simple rules, we invite in the process of gluconeogenesis. It’s a fancy word that means “the new formation of glucose”. It’s sounds friendly until observe the pathway in which the glucose is formed. Very simply… we don’t eat regularly and the body goes into starvation mode. Needing to survive, it slows down metabolism and instead of consuming the fat cells, it continues to save them and catabolizes muscle tissue for energy. That is correct. You begin to digest your muscles for fuel. This continues to slow down metabolism and the cycle continues. So… eat regularly and keep fueling that furnace. Well… won’t we just get fatter if we eat all the time? Well, that depends. If we more than we can process or too much of a good thing, our body will store the excess in fat cells. (Or bad things too – Stay tuned. I’ll tell you later how to get fat drinking diet soda) So, with all the food choices available, how do we know what would be best to purchase? This leads us to Rule #3


Rule #3 – The 20% rule. Since all carbohydrates break down differently in the body and refined sugar is definitely not your friend, one of the best ways to determine whether a food is a good choice is to adopt the 20% rule. This is where we make certain that the total sugar in a product does not exceed 20% of the total carbohydrate. This is actually pretty easy to do without carrying a calculator around with you every time you go food shopping. Here’s how it works. I just picked up a can of baked beans. The nutritional facts on the side of the can says that it has a total carbohydrate of 28 grams. To find 20%, I simply calculate 10% first. This is easy because you just add a decimal point. So, 10% of 28 grams is 2.8 grams. Then to find 20% you just double that number. So, 2.8 + 2.8 = 5.6 grams. If the total sugar in this product is 5.6 or less it’s a good choice. This can has 11 grams of sugar (nearly 40%). This is not a good choice, so I’m leaving it on the shelf. I also have a box of brown rice. It is 34 grams of total carbohydrate and 0 grams of sugar. This is a much better choice. The orange juice I have is 29 grams of total carbohydrate and 28 grams of sugar (nearly 100%). Contrary to popular belief, fruit juices are pretty much fruit flavored sugar water. They are all pasteurized, which means they are heated to a high temperature to cook off bacteria. This unfortunately cooks off all of the vitamins as well, which just leaves flavor and sugar. The fructose (sugar) in them does not get absorbed into the muscle tissue like other forms of sugar. And, believe it or not, fruit juices and high fructose corn syrup are the number one causes of childhood obesity. Sometimes the foods we are led to believe are good for us, don’t quite hold up their end of the bargain. So how much is enough? On to rule #4.


Rule #4 Learn what exchanges are and how to use them. The next time you go to the supermarket, grab three different brands of bread and check out the nutritional information. All three will say, Serving Size 1 slice. As we read a little further, we see that Brand A has a Total Carbohydrate of 15 grams. Brand B’s total carbohydrate is 22 grams and Brand C has a total of 31 grams. So, it becomes clear that all serving sizes are not created equal. So how can we compare apples and apples? To do just that, the American Dietetic Association (ADA) came up with a system called exchanges. Exchanges simply indicate an amount of a macronutrient which would significantly increase blood sugar levels. For example, 15gr. of carbohydrate is 1 exchange. 7 gr. of protein and 5 gr. of fat also equal 1 exchange. So right about now you’re saying, “Great Mike!! Now how do I use this?” Well… the first thing that comes to mind is awareness. By starting to compare foods, we can deduct that 1 english muffin is 31 grams of carbohydrate or 2 carb exchanges and ½ cup of oatmeal is 28 grams of carbohydrate or roughly 2 carb exchanges. This way you can start making meal choices based on the amount of nutrients found in them. Well, now you’re asking, “How much should I eat?” For most of us, our plan should have the right amount of nutrients to stimulate lean muscle growth and drop our body fat percentage. Every lb. of muscle gained burns an additional 50 kcal per hour!

Let me give you a generalization of some intake levels, but keep in mind that every ”body” is different. With that said, if you exercise at least three times per week, eat 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight per day, 1.5 grams of carbs per pound of body weight per day and 1 gram of healthy fats per 4 pounds of body weight per day. For example for a 130 lb woman, it calculates to: 130 grams of protein per day 195 grams of carbs per day 32 grams of fat per day. That is roughly 1,600 calories per day to maintain your current weight. 3500 calories is equivalent to approx. 1 lb. Therefore eating 500 additional calories a day should have you gaining 1 lb. a week and reducing your intake 500 calories a day should have you losing the same amount. This is a generalized statement and should not be written in stone. What I don’t like about making a general claim like this, is that there are so many other variables that need to be taken into consideration when determining an individual’s dietary needs.

So consider the following variables.: Age, gender, total weight, lean muscle mass, body fat percentage (BF%), type of exercise, amount of exercise, intensity of exercise, metabolism, goals, specificity, sleep time etc.. When designing a meal plan for my clients, all of these variables are taken into consideration. Based on their goals an exact number of exchanges are spread across 5 to 6 daily meals. After they are on the plan for a couple of weeks, we evaluate how their body is responding by using the following four basic principles.

1. Lean muscle Increases or stays the same & BF% decreases – plan is perfect.

2. Lean Muscle Increases & BF% Increases – Too many calories.

3. Lean Muscle Decreases & BF% Decreases – Not enough Protein

Here’s the kicker

4. Lean Muscle Decreases & BF% Increases – Not Enough Calories!!


So, as you develop your own meal program, remember garbage in garbage out. Eat quality meals and treat yourself with the respect you deserve. Eat every 3-4 hours. Cut back on the refined sugars and use the 20% rule. Always eat a quality protein with a carbohydrate to slow the release of glucose into the blood. And, learn exchanges so you can begin comparing the nutritional quality of different foods.


OH!!! Before I forget… How do you get fat from drinking diet soda? Easy!! Remember, whatever the body can’t process… it stores in our fat cells for later use. So, with diet sodas, it’s the artificial sweeteners that reek havoc on our systems. Aspartame in our body breaks down to formaldehyde. Formaldehyde breaks down further into formic acid (the same acid found in the venom of fire ants). Our body cannot process the formic acid and needs to remove it quickly from the blood stream. Where does it put the formic acid? Right on your sides, in fat cells. Drink purified water J


On one final note: Health is a journey. As science and technology continues to expand so does the understanding of the intricacies of our own bodies. Before starting any exercise plan, diet or change in activity, talk to your doctor. It’s their job to screen you to make sure you’re able to utilize this or any other program. Then… the rest is up to you to follow through and create the life and body that you’ve imagined. My commitment to me is to learn health and live it passionately; being the best I can be at this or any age. My commitment to you is share what I know and help you find your stride along the way. Look for my upcoming articles on fad diets and some cutting edge medical information on digestion and food assimilation. It may be a game changer for all of us.

Until we meet again… Love your life and live it without limits!



About the Author:

Michael Rorick is a Certified Personal Trainer at Springville Health and Fitness Center, Springville NY. He is also a Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist with a Certification in Weight Management as well. His company, Alive Without Limits was founded through his passion for helping others to reach their potentials in all areas of life. At 51 years of age, he is an avid bodybuilder, musician, audio engineer, forensic audio expert, professor at SUNY at Fredonia, life coach and father.

The Four Golden Rules of Meal Planning – Part I

Food Bible

The Four Golden Rules of Meal Planning

Part I

By Michael Rorick CPT, CFNS ©2014

What to eat? What to eat? How has life become so busy? Sometimes it seems like it’s difficult to just stop and catch your breath. In the midst of the seemingly endless schedules and todo’s we need to take some time to take care of ourselves. The easiest thing to do, is to head up to the local fast food joint and order anything quick off the menu, but that certainly has nothing to do with healthy living and if you have any fitness goals whatsoever, you’re just setting yourself up for failure by doing that. So how can we handle our eating dilemmas in the short periods of time that we have while maintaining or creating a healthy lifestyle? Well, the first thing we need to do is actually realign our thoughts about food and eating. Food is fuel. Food supplies our bodies with energy to live and nutrients to maintain or grow. Consider this; an average 30 yr. old male, who is 5’10” and 180 lbs, with a body fat percentage of 16% has a Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) of approx. 1900 kcal per day. This BMR would be the minimal amount of daily calories needed to sustain life processes such as heartbeat, respiration, growing hair and nails, etc. Anything below that amount would start depleting fat storage and catabolizing lean muscle mass for energy. Anything above that would be stored in fat cells for later use. Let me say that this example is a gross generalization and not all calories are created equal. We’ll discuss this in future posts.  So my point is, that even with a fairly good exercise routine, the majority of our fuel goes towards sustaining life. Quality fuel will add to quality results in health. Well… we’ve heard it all. There’s nothing good for us anymore. Every fad diet has us cutting carbs, cutting fat, cutting proteins. It’s an endless cycle of misinformation. What if I told you that not only are all of them good for you, but also necessary for proper body function? It’s merely in the timing and portion of these macronutrients that creates the results we get. So, let’s discuss four simple rules in eating and planning meals.

Rule #1 Eat every 3 to 4 hours whether you’re hungry or not.  As we eat, our digestive process breaks down food into small components and liquefies it into a substance called chime. Chime leaves our stomach and passes into our intestines for final breakdown, absorption or removal from the body as waste. As some of our food is broken down into glucose (sugar) it enters our blood stream as fuel. The glucose begins to thicken our blood and receptors tell our pancreas to secrete insulin. The insulin attaches itself to the glucose and stores it in cells in muscle tissue or the liver as glycogen. Glycogen is a very thick compact form of glucose and is used as the primary component to creating energy. As the energy stores fill up, excess glucose in the blood stream is removed and stored in fat cells. As an analogy, imagine fueling up your car to drive to work and then putting a whole bunch of sugar in the gas tank. Within minutes, the sugar clogs up the gas filter and lines and the car is sitting on the roadside waiting for a tow. According to MedicineNet.com the average American consumes 156 lbs. of sugar each year. That’s 31.5 5lb bags a year for each of us. Sugar is found in nearly everything these days. So… all sugar is bad. Right? Well… actually, no. Sugar or glucose is necessary for quick energy, organ function and proper brain function. Carbohydrates (which breaks down into sugar/glucose) are quite good for us when we find them in vegetables, some fruit and complex forms, which contain fiber. So how can we utilize this information?

Let’s consider a few things. The average glucose level in normal blood is between 80 and 120 mg/dl. Falling below 80 makes us feel hungry. Spiking the level above 120 triggers insulin to remove the excess glucose from the blood stream. So here’s how the vicious cycle works. We go to work and don’t eat all day. Blood sugar drops and we’re starving!! We get home and down a few pieces of pizza which spikes our blood sugar. Insulin packs our muscles and liver with glycogen (concentrated glucose) and whatever else is left over and can’t be processed is stuck on our sides as fat. Our blood sugar drops dramatically and we fall asleep. We then wake up hungry and the process starts all over again. How can we use this to our advantage? Well, our body physiology is predictable and trackable. There is something called gastric emptying time which is the time it takes for food to leave our stomachs. Carbohydrates take 1-2 hours to leave. Proteins take 2-3 hours and fats take 3-5 hours to leave our stomachs. By eating every 3-4 hours, our body goes into a state of thermogenic burning. This means our body continues to burn kcal in the process of digestion and increases metabolism. This must be employed along with Rule #2.

Rule #2 When eating, always combine a quality protein with a carbohydrate. There is something called the Glycemic Index (G.I.) which is simply a listing of foods and how quickly they break down as glucose into the blood stream. Foods with a high G.I. (candy, soda, fruit juice) break down very quickly and flood the blood stream with sugar. Foods with a low G.I. like carrots, broccoli and chicken breakdown much slower. Since the gastric emptying time of protein is slower than that of carbohydrate, by combining them in our meals we effectively lower the G.I. of our carbs and glucose is released slower into the bloodstream. So what does this effectively do? Well… by eating every 3 to 4 hours and slowing down the release of glucose into the bloodstream by adding lean protein, we lessen the chances of spiking our blood sugar level. This means that the glucose is absorbed slowly with less insulin being released and there is less excess glucose to be stored as fat. Smart huh? Not taking control of our blood sugar levels can lead to obesity, insulin insensitivity and potentially Type 2 diabetes.

So to effectively start using these strategies we need to plan ahead and start compiling the proper portions. We’ll continue these thoughts and more in Part II.


Class Schedule

2013 Group Fitness Schedule
Time Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
5:30 AM Cycling– Dan
9:00 AM Yoga– Cyndi Senior Class– Kim Senior Class– Laurel Senior Class– Kim Senior Class– Laurel Zumba– Erin
10:00 AM Zumba-Jen
11:00 AM
4:00 PM Cycling– Erin Zumba Gold– Annie
4:30 PM .
5:00 PM
5:30 PM .
6:00 PM Zumba– Danielle Power & Strength– Laurel Zumba– Danielle Power & Strength– Laurel
7:15 PM Cardio Kick– Erin
8:00 PM Metabolic Fire– Dan