As a trainer and nutritionist, I get asked a lot of questions. I noticed a trend in the last few years and the same questions keep coming up. I’ve decided to address these questions in a blog post because chances are, you too are curious about at least one of them.
Q: DO CARBOHYDRATES MAKE YOU FAT?
Carbs are not the enemy. Despite what you hear about low carb diets and how the weight just “falls off” of people when they do “low carb” diets, carbs are NOT bad for you nor do they make you fat. All macronutrients, which consists of protein, carbohydrates, and fats are important and essential for our bodies to run at its most optimal level. Carbohydrates alone do not make you fat. People often overeat a lot of carbs because it is the most easily and widely consumed macronutrient. Making sure you are consuming the right carbohydrates is important. These carbs usually consist of beans, fruits, whole grains, and vegetables. Staying away from processed and refined carbs with little fiber is key. When you hear about people going on low carb diets and losing a lot of weight, it is usually due to one reason- they are eating fewer calories in general. That decrease in caloric consumption can be cut from any macro- carbs are the one macro that most people tend to overeat the most. Carbohydrates are your body's main source of energy and typically is used first when you are doing any kind of exercise. Carbs also help fuel your brain, kidneys, heart, muscles and central nervous system. This explains why when people go on low carb diets, they often feel crappy. Bottom line- we need to stop demonizing carbs as the “bad macro” and understand that for our bodies to run at its most optimal level of performance, all macros are necessary. When it comes to weight loss, being a caloric deficit is key. Where that deficit is coming from is completely up to you.
Q: CAN YOU HELP ME BUILD A BUTT LIKE KIM K?
Build a butt? Yes. Build a Kim K type of a butt? Meh, the short and most honest answer is no. Why? Well for one, that thing ain’t real. BUT, doing certain exercises to help accentuate and build muscle specifically in the glutes and hamstrings may definitely help in giving you a more defined behind.
I have a number of go-to exercises that I do to help strengthen, build and work the posterior chain, but one of my go-to's?
The Hip Thrust
Q: WHAT ARE THE BEST EXERCISES I CAN DO TO BUILD STRONG, TONED LEGS?
The Squat, for sure. The squat works over 80% of our lower body muscles in our body so you are certainly getting the most bang for your buck when it comes to this movement. Luckily there are a number of variations you can do to reap mucho benefits of the squat. HERE I break down my top five favorite squat variations- all have their own benefit and all are fantastic for building sexy long and lean legs.
Dumbbell goblet squat
Barbell box squat
Barbell front squat
Barbell back squat
Doing a single leg squat variation is important because it allows you to work on your asymmetries you have in your body while allowing you to become stronger so when you go back to squatting with a DB or BB, you will be able to use more weight. Making sure you are constantly challenging yourself week to week is important to prevent your body from adapting and you from plateauing.
Q: WHAT ARE THE BEST EXERCISES TO GET TONED ARMS?
OK, first of all, let’s set the record straight. I understand what women are asking when they ask for “toned arms.” As a female, I understand that not many of us want huge muscles. So we use the word “toned” to describe the aesthetic look we are going for. Here’s the reality of the situation- there is no such thing as being able to just “tone”. As women, the amount of testosterone we have running through our veins is very little. For women to build muscle takes a lot of time, work, and energy. I’m talking years and years of progressive overload and training. Not important considering most women are simply looking for a sexy sleek toned upper body. So, with that said, my go-to movements for a sexy “toned” upper body?
I know you weren’t expecting that. Here’s why these movements work best: The push-up and pull-up have the benefit of working for more than one muscle group at once and yes, these exercises are difficult for a reason- they require your entire body to work concisely at once! If you can’t perform one or both of these movements, don’t worry. There are regressions for both of them in order to make you a pull-up and push-up master. Try THESE variations of a pull-up if you can’t perform the movement just yet.
And for the pushup, try THESE variations if you are struggling with a full push up on the ground. Again, all these have their own benefits and wherever your starting point it should be challenging but doable for you. As you become stronger and as they become easier, try the next level variation until you are able to get ten straight reps in of each movement.
Q: DO I NEED TO COUNT MACROS IN ORDER TO LOSE WEIGHT?
Counting macros is considered one of the best ways to lose weight because of its accuracy that is required. When you count macros, there are no guessing games. You know how many carbs, fats, and proteins you have for the entire day and you can, therefore, plan your day according to that allowance. There are no guessing games because it is all written down for you. We know that in order to lose weight, one needs to be in a caloric deficit from what their daily maintenance level is. So counting leaves no room for errors. But what if you don’t want to count macros? Can you still lose weight? Yes. As long as you somehow get yourself to a lower caloric intake from what your body requires to maintain, it can be done. I always suggest my clients count macros at least for four weeks because it serves as a learning tool for people as well. If someone does not want to count macros, what I often suggest is focusing on habits and adjusting everyday habits. For example, if your breakfast every day consists of a muffin or bagel, we would focus on adjusting that habit and changing that morning meal to something with more protein and better macros. Another habit someone can focus on is eliminating soft drinks or sugar in their coffee. All these small habits will lead to a lower intake of calories on a day to day basis and hopefully wind up with the individual dropping some body fat. Is it as accurate as tracking? No. But the results are possible if the person is consistent and honest,
Q: HOW DO I GET A 6-PACK?
This is a question I get asked a lot from men and women and they are often seeking some quick fix or magic pill. Let me clarify one thing- unless you are going under the knife, there are no quick fixes in order to see your abs pop. There is no such thing as a skinny tea, waist trainer, or fat burning pill that can substitute all the hard work that is required to get your body fat low enough in order for your abdominals to “pop.” In order to get a 6-pack, a few things need to happen:
You need to be in a caloric deficit
You need to eat enough protein
You need to do specific core exercises that hit the entire core.
You need to be strength training at least 4x a week
Not everyone is genetically predisposed to seeing their abdominals as other people. Some people genetically will have a more difficult time seeing their abs than others- even if they drop body fat and are lean as hell. Keep in mind that abs are made in the kitchen so if you want to get that 6-pack, 90% of the work is going to come from focusing on your diet and depending on how much body fat you need to lose, most of the time it will require you to drop calories below your maintenance level.