Josh Bowen: Are Carbs the Enemy?

The barbell version of the Russian Twist
Aspire Fitness is proud to present a 24 Hour workout-a-thon called Sweat4Surgeries on January 29-30 with all proceeds going to Surgery on Sunday. I will be training for 24 straight hours with no stopping. Join us!

Are Carbs the Enemy?

To over simplify the destruction of the American diet by saying any one thing is the culprit, is in fact a problem. No one “thing” is the problem and the reason so many are overweight and out of shape. Yes, our nutrition is an issue, but quantifying it by labeling carbs or fats as the sole issue is a gross generalization. Carbs are no the enemy and in many cases can be very helpful for muscle growth, energy levels and nutrients we need. The type of carbohydrates matters more than anything. Lets discuss.

What is a carbohydrate?

Carbs are organic molecules classified according to their structure, simple and complex. A simple carb are smaller, more easily processed molecules known as mono and disaccharides since they contain one sugar molecule or two molecules linked together. Complex carbs are polysaccharides since they contain more than two sugar molecules linked together. Example of a simple carbohydrate would be processed sugar, example of a complex carbohydrate would be legumes, vegetables, anything high in fiber.

Everything is digested as a simple carb no matter what it is. It is just that “healthier” carbs are digested slower than sugar. This digestion can be dependent on several things however:

1. Enzyme action in the gut or mouth
2. Fiber and fat slow digestion so coupling foods can decrease the digestion rate
3. Our perception of the sweetness of the food

The digestion rate is important because the cause of Type II diabetes is due to a constant uptake of insulin due to high blood sugar. The receptors get tired of receiving insulin and quit working, driving your blood sugar up and causing diabetes. This is why it is important to have at least 35 grams of fiber in your diet to help slow the insulin rate. The best fiber will come from vegetables. For more on your digestion and how it works click this link

What is up with low carb diets?

Low carb diets became popular via the Atkins and Paleo diet. For the most part, one would eat high protein and fat and very low carbs, carbs only coming from vegetables. Will this work? Short term yes but nutrients will always out trump calories or source of calories. If you are some one who works out regularly, going low carb for a long period of time may hurt you rather than help you.

What is wrong with restricting carbs long term?
(from John Berardi at Precision Nutrition)

1. sluggish metabolism: when carb intake is low T3 cannot be converted to T4 through your liver thus slowing your thyroid function, stalling your metabolism
2. lower levels of muscle/strength building hormones: Cortisol goes up and testosterone will go down
3. higher levels of stress hormones: Cortisol, that bastard stress hormone is increased when carb intake is low
4. weight loss will stall: refer to #1. If your thyroid sucks so will your weight loss

We needs carbs

Carbohydrate intake is dependent on: your activity level, carb source, goals, and genetics. The more active you are the more carbohydrates you need. If you goal is to build muscle and thus lose fat, low carbohydrate intake is not going to get it done. The type of carb source (more on that in a minute) matters as well. Your genetics will always override everything, some people tolerate more carbs than others.

Portion Sizes

Here is a great illustration of portion sizes to keep everything in check and it is extremely easy to apply to you:

For Women

For Men

Use this as your guide to have a healthy portion of of all the macronutrients without having to count calories.

A few people do best with low carb diets

1. People with neurological disorders; epilepsy, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s
2. Very sedentary people. The less active you are the less you need carbohydrates

Use this as your guide to eat carbs

Any time meal

Post workout meal

To summarize the carb myth, it is important to realize what you are putting into your body and WHEN you are taking it in. Anything can be done in the short term and reveal results, however long term is much more important and these are tried and true strategies.

Josh Bowen: What Does Your Poop Say About You?

As part of my 30 day squat challenge, I am trying a few different ways to squat. Check this out.
On Thanksgiving morning, Aspire Fitness will be hosting their 2nd annual Turkey Burn workout from 8-9am at Aspire Fitness, 130 W Tiverton Way Suite 125. This workout will get your metabolism cranking before you head to the Thanksgiving table. The entry fee is $10 and will be donated, 100%, to Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep and organization that does photography for families who have lost their children at birth. The money will be donated in the name of Joseph Webb DeMoss. Hope to see you there!

Are you full of s**t?

I hope not because that would be unfortunate. But as odd of a topic as your own poop may be, its very important to your health. What you put in your body reflects what you put out. If you eat sh*t you will feel like sh*t. As I dive deeper into my own health and trying to find clues as to why things are the way that they are, I have been reading more on the gastrointestinal tract and how it is the key to our longevity. If you GI tract isn’t healthy, you aren’t healthy. That health is dependent on your eating habits more so than anything. Unless acted upon by disease (which could be nutrition related and often times is) the foods we eat can either make us stronger or be slowly killing us. Your poop and pee will tell a lot about us and unfortunately we are too embarrassed to talk about it.

But being the brash person I am and someone who wants to educate the masses, I want to talk about things poop related. Looking in the toilet after you take a “William Shatner” may give you heads up on your health or lack there of. So lets begin.

A famous quote by a guy I have never heard of states, “everyone poops.” And he would be correct. The equation is simple; you eat and then you shit. Easy enough right? Well not so fast.

How is food digested?

For a short and concise step by step on how your food gets to your colon check out this link

The 4 S’s

Once your food is eaten it has to travel 30 feet of the intestinal tract to get to the point of excretion. From there, once you hit the “john” you can base your findings on the four S’s” size, shape, smell, and shade. These four will tell you more about your health and are more consistent than nearly any thing outside of a blood test. Your poop tells you how healthy you are.


When evaluating the situation, check out the color/shade to find out an underlying issue.

Brown- normal
Red- lower GI bleeding, beets
Green- undigested bile, Crohn’s disease, Antibiotics, green leafy veggies
Yellow- gallbladder problems, parasite
White- antacids, liver disease, pancreatic disorder
Black- upper GI bleeding, iron supplements, meat, Pepto (learned that the hard way, no pun intended)


Little lumps- it is staying in the intestines too long, so water is being reabsorbed. A lack of dietary fiber.
Too liquid- it is moving through the intestines too quickly so water is not being reabsorbed due to an increase in fiber, a cleanse or infection.
Pencil thin- a mass in the colon could be restricting the stool. Could be an indicator for colon cancer or polyps.
Floats and stinks- body is not absorbing fats. Could be the result of a malabsorption condition, weight loss drugs or Olestra.
Hard and dry- it is staying in your intestines too long, so water is being reabsorbed. Could be due to dehydration, constipation or medications
Non-existent- a sign of disease is not going at all. Your body will become toxic because it cannot excrete it’s waste. Drinking water and increasing your plant fiber will help in making you become regular.A few facts

1. During the course of a lifetime a person will do #2 to account for 9,000 lbs.
2. A healthy turd should look like a torpedo
3. Artificial sweeteners are not recognized by the human body and thus not absorbed, so they pull water into the intestines leading to loose stool
4. Poop is made up of 75% water and the rest a combo of fiber, dead and live bacteria, and mucus
5. Normal is relative: different cultures go more or less depending on location. South Asians go three times more often than British people due to the higher fiber count. Once a day is common for Americans
6. Diarrhea is your stool on speed. It should take 24 to 72 hours for your food to become fully digested and to move on to be excreted. Diarrhea passes all those steps.
7. Poop should sink. Floating stool is cause for concern and meaning you are not absorbing the fat content of your diet.

I realize this may have been uncomfortable to read but it is also a very important topic. Your poo could give you clues as to how healthy or unhealthy you are. Pay attention to signs. I leave you with this funny..

Josh Bowen: The Cholesterol Myth

joshHere are a few statistics for you to wrap your head around:
1. Heart Disease is the #1 killer of all Americans 35 and older 2. 2700 people die daily from heart disease, thats almost 1 million a year 3. in 2010 it cost Americans $108.9 billion in services, medication and lost wages 4. 1 in every 6 adults has high cholesterol as defined as higher than 240 mg/dl total cholesterol  5. From 2002 to 2012 the percentage of people using statin drugs (cholesterol meds) is up from 20 to 28%. 6. Heart disease continues to climb every year even though statin medication has climbed as well 7. CEO of Pfizer (the company that makes Lipitor) makes $87,500 per day or $21 million per year. He needs you to take your medication.
Cholesterol is a funny thing to me. All of our panic and focus to put people on (potentially) harmful drugs came from research done 50 years ago. One study essentiality spurred  the increase of statin drugs being prescribed to millions of Americans each year. Is it necessary? Does cholesterol cause heart disease? What causes high cholesterol? All very good questions.
What is cholesterol? 
It is a waxy, fat like substance found in all cells of the body. It helps make many hormones, Vitamin D and and substances that help digest food. There is HDL and LDL cholesterol. HDL is looked at as good cholesterol because it carries part of cholesterol to your liver and your liver disposes of it. LDL is looked at as bad cholesterol because it supposedly builds up in your arteries. This is the reason doctors focus on increasing HDL and lowering LDL.
What causes high cholesterol?
Years ago it was thought that fatty foods clogged your arteries and would give you a heart attack. This is the reason for the 1980’s “low fat” craze. This low fat obsession also led to a dramatic increase in obesity and heart attacks and strokes. Go figure. Now we know that it isn’t necessarily the high fat content of your diet that causes high cholesterol but rather the amount of processed sugar that is driving the numbers up. Eggs and meat are not contributing to the problem as much as donuts and cake. Period.
How Dangerous are Stain Drugs?
Here are a few:
1. Statin drugs interfere with the production of CoQ 10 which supports the bodies immune system, maintains normal blood pressure, boosts cardiac and skeletal muscle health 2. Inhibits Omega 3 fatty acids from the metabolism of Omega 6 fatty acids. Causing increased inflammation and increasing insulin resistance leading to diabetes 3. Negates the bodies ability to make cholesterol, which is essential for brain health 4. Causes excessive muscle damage and soreness 5. Studies have shown that statin use increasings calorie consumption by 9% 6. Speeds aging and lowers sex drive 7. Causes liver damage
Is it worth it? In my opinion, no.
Does Cholesterol Cause Heart Disease?
(excerpt from “The People’s Chemist”)

Searching for a correlation between cholesterol levels and atherosclerosis is as simple as looking at the arteries of dead people.  This search began in the early 1960s.   In 1961, researchers Mathur and colleagues studied the levels of cholesterol and the degree of atherosclerosis seen at autopsy within the arteries of 20 deceased patients as well as 200 more cases selected from medical libraries. All cholesterol levels were taken within 16 hours of death. No correlation could be observed between these patients’ blood cholesterol levels and the amount or severity of “atherosclerotic plaque” within the arteries.  Cholesterol levels, whether high or low, had no impact on the growth of atherosclerotic plaque – the major cause of heart disease. In 1962, The American Heart Journal published the research of Dr. Marek and colleagues who also searched for a correlation between cholesterol levels and atherosclerosis. Among 106 cases studied, the level of cholesterol did not affect atherosclerotic changes in plaque.  His results matched others that were conducted by the same methods, in the same laboratory, and in the same populations.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that at autopsy, postmortem patients who died suddenly showed no correlation between total cholesterol levels and atherosclerosis. Researchers Jose Mendez, Ph.D., and co-workers point out that their findings agree with previous studies. Notably, they cited researchers Lande and Sperry, who as early as 1936 also failed to find a correlation between cholesterol levels and atherosclerotic plaque. These studies shake the foundation of the current medical model for treating or preventing heart disease.
Let’s go ahead and hammer the nail into the cholesterol myth coffin. If it is true that the risk of heart disease rises as blood cholesterol rises, then we should see elevated total cholesterol among those who die early from heart attack. This, too, has not been the case. Specifically, half of all heart attacks and strokes occur in persons without elevated levels of cholesterol.
Let’s cover the coffin with a layer of cement. If cholesterol caused atherosclerosis; then we would find atherosclerosis throughout the estimated 100,000 miles of adult blood vessels (arteries, veins and capillaries) within the body through which cholesterol travels. Yet 90% of the time when atherosclerosis is found in the coronary arteries the rest of the arteries remain unharmed by cholesterol.

Josh Bowen: Breakfast of Champions

joshBreakfast. The most skipped meal of the main three we typically eat. Why? Well, most people will give you the greatest excuse of all time “not enough time.” I will tackle this “time” issue in a moment but would also like to offer this piece of information:

In a recent study by the American Diabetes Association of 5,000 men and women found the following of people who eat breakfast consistently;

34% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes
43% less likely to become obese
40% less likely to develop fat around the midsection

Now I realize this breakfast “debate” could go on forever but when you look at the root of the word, it literally says break the fast. Therefore, I am behind the breakfast concept and really believe this is all about behavior rather than just eating. If you eat first thing in the morning, you are less likely to be starving by the time lunch rolls around and less likely to gorge yourself on whatever is in front of you. Eating breakfast also allows you to get the required macro (protein, fat, carbs) and micro (vitamins and minerals) nutrients your body needs for daily performance and body fat decrease. Basically, it is a requirement of life!

So I have you bought in one breakfast, now lets talk about the objections to eating breakfast.

I don’t have time

Make time. Period. You make time for other activities, you can make time for this. Some of you are rolling your eyes but this is important. Waking up 30 minutes early is not going to kill you. Diabetes, obesity and fat around your stomach will.

I don’t know what to eat for breakfast

This is a fair objection. So lets dissect it and help you out.

So you are a busy mom or dad and you have to get the kids dressed and out the door as quickly as possible. Or you are a stressed out college kid who needs to get to class but wants to sleep an extra 15 minutes because you were up studying last night. Or you are a hard working personal trainer who needs to get to the gym before 5:30 am to meet his first client on the day and needs to get a lot of food in quickly. Did that cover everyone? Good. Here are few ideas for breakfast that do not take a long time and still satisfy the objection of good sources of protein, carbs and fats.


Always a good option for breakfast, whether whole egg or just egg whites, they do not take much time at all and are pack with protein and micro nutrients to help start your day. If you are in a hurry get the liquid egg whites and zap it in the microwave or add them to your smoothie.


I use the brand “Love Grown Foods” oat clusters that are GMO, gluten and everything else free. It literally tastes like cereal and can be used as such by adding a little almond milk. Quick, easy and a great source of carbs. My preference if you are going to eat cereal. You could always sprinkle some protein powder on top as well.


Many of my clients love smoothies for breakfast. They are easy to make and you can get really creative with them. Here is a great illustration on how to make a smoothie:



Quest Bars

Everyone knows I have a love for Quest bars and while I don’t always recommend eating them for breakfast, if you are in a hurry a bar plus a handful of almonds would do the trick. Stop with the Power Bars, Coby.

Protein Shake

To go along with the smoothie idea, having a simple protein shake mixed with almonds and oats, would be a great substitute for the old school eggs and oatmeal.


I mentioned these already but almonds and nuts are packed with great nutrients and more importantly fat that your body needs for high performance. If it were a matter of nothing or nuts, go with nuts or you’ll go nuts.

Side Note: McDonalds Egg White Delight does not count as breakfast.

I realize we are all in a hurry. I realize that we can all make a zillion excuses. And I realize not everyone will read this email and put anything into practice. BUT I hope you see the value of breakfast and some of these options will help you get something in your system before you go to work or school.

Josh Bowen: Nutrition Overhaul without Counting Calories

joshLet’s be real here, we all hate talking about what we eat. We either don’t want to talk about it because our nutrition sucks and we know it sucks OR we don’t want to talk about it because we don’t want to change it. We like our eating habits, regardless if they are benefiting us or hindering us. When I ask a blanket statement of, “How is your nutrition,” you get a ton of different answers, mainly ones that want to deflect the question all together. From there, the general public focuses and obsesses over the amount of calories something has. This week we heard a story of a client not wanting to put brown mustard on a turkey sandwich because they didn’t want to go over their calories for the day. It can get a little absurd.  This is not our faults, we are taught in the media that eating less will make you skinny, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

JB- “Do you believe in counting calories?” The answer is simply no! A calorie is not a calorie. They are not all created equal. 200 calories from McDonald’s and 200 calories from fresh vegetables are two totally different things. I also don’t believe in consuming less and less calories (below 1200 for women and 1800 for men) as this practice destroys our metabolism.  But what I do believe in is using your portion sizes to guide your nutritional choices. This guide could help you tremendously as you look to overhaul your nutritional plan and get healthier and fitter.

For men:
With each meal have the following:
1-2 Palms of Protein
1-2 Fists of Vegetables
1-2 Cupped Handfuls of Carb Dense foods
1-2 Thumbs of Fat Dense Foods

For women:
1 Palm of Protein
1 Fist of Vegetables
1 Cupped Handful of Carb Dense Foods
1 Thumb of Fat Dense Foods


*Preferably Organic
Ground turkey
Fish (cod, orange roughy, salmon the best)

*Preferably Organic
Green beans
Romaine Lettuce

Carb Dense Foods
White rice
Sweet potato
White potato

Fat Dense Foods
Nuts and Cashews
Olive Oil

For more foods check out The Best Damn Grocery Store List…Ever

We all know that counting calories long term is futile, annoying and just not sustainable. Being able to manage your portion sizes just by using your hand, can be a great alternative. It could possibly be more effective as well. In closing, remember to just keep it simple.

Josh Bowen: Never Give Up

joshI write a lot. I write more than I read. I write on real life happenings, mostly on fitness, nutrition and motivation. My world inspires my writings. This entry is no different. You may like this entry, you may not but it applies to us all. Each day we are presented with a choice to keep going on some things or to quit and give up. This is a blog inspired by someone going through an unimaginable amount of pain and sorrow, to the degree most will never know. The pain is lots but her spirit will never be broken. #teamawesome

We all are under the understanding that life is not fair, it can be cruel and unjust at times and if you are not careful it can beat you to the ground, if you let it. Some things don’t make sense. Bad things happen to good people. The universe sometimes is not in our corner. This week these known facts became even more apparent to me. Sometimes this world just plain sucks. We all know it and sometimes it gets to us, even when situations have nothing to do with us. When we see people around us hurting, it puts life into perspective. It becomes a learning lesson. How many times can you get knocked down and still get back up. This is the true measure of strength.

Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to it. That reaction is crucial. The severity of your situation can cause you to become jaded, frustrated, angry and the worse thing…quit. We often dwell more on our failures than our successes. We often feel like the universe is telling us no, when in fact it may be telling us “not yet.” Perception is everything, how you look at your situation through your own eyes is how you ultimately react to it. Its a choice, either quit or keep going.

Don’t let the world shake you to your knees. Get back up and come back for more. As the old adage says, “get knock down seven times, get up eight.” Here are some great reasons to never, never, never give up:

You are Alive and You Can

As long as their air in your lungs and gumption in your heart, anything and every is possible. No matter how many times you have failed, you are alive and can do it again.

Believe in Your Dreams

Your dreams are you dreams, if you give up on them you give up on yourself. Keep going forward.

No Regrets

People usually only regret things they didn’t do rather than things they did do. Go do stuff and have no regrets.

It Will Change for the Better

“For every dark night, there is a bright day after that. So keep your head up, chest out an handle it”
-Tupac Shakur

You Deserve Happiness and Success

Our birth rites are freedom, liberty and pursuit of happiness. We deserve that. YOU deserve that. Keep plugging away until you find that.

Tipping Point

Everyone who has ever achieved massive success will tell you that they were on the brink of quitting when they finally broke through. When you feel like it can’t get any worse, keep going forward. On the other side of hell is success.

As the great Jim Valvano said at the ESPYs years ago when he was fighting cancer, “Never give up, never give up.” Never, ever give up on your dreams. Keep inspiring.

Josh Bowen: Sleep – the Ultimate Fat Killer

joshOn the paradigm of “fat less” principles we often focus on nutrition and exercise as the most important. However, we often forget about the recovering aspect, more specifically sleep and its important on muscle growth, fat loss and overall health. In fact, 30% of Americans sleep less than the recommended amount (7-9 hours). Pair that statistic with the obesity rate of 35.7% and you have something worth looking at.

A study done by Brigham Young University found a trend between amount of hours slept and body fat percentages with females. The study found that having too little sleep, 6.5 hours on average per night and having inconsistent sleep/wake times contributed to higher body fat percentages than those you slept 8 hours per night on average and had consistent wake/sleep times. Conclusion of the study, which you can read here found that quality sleep and consistency of sleep contributed to lower body fat percentages in women. I imagine the same would be for men.

So why does sleep matter when it comes to our body fat percentages? Here is how:

Growth Hormone

Sleep is important because of the recovery aspect of it. When you work all day and workout 2-6 days per week you must have sound nutrition and sleep to repair the damage done. If not, your body fights you by breaking down and becoming injured. While you sleep your body releases growth hormone from the pituitary gland to help repair you muscles so they grow and it also helps in breaking down fat stores and releasing them into your system to be metabolized. Essentially growth hormone reduces your body fat percentage by growing your muscles and breaking down your body fat. If you didn’t sleep adequately, this process would be interrupted and could actually back fire on you.


I have talked about cortisol many times, as it does the exact opposite of what testosterone and growth hormone do. It stores body fat because the body becomes overstressed (increased training, life stress, lack of rest) and increases your body fat percentage. If you don’t sleep this guy kicks in, instead of growth hormone and your body fat percentage goes up and you wake up tired and groggy.

Cumulative Effect

Our lives are busy and it is not feasible to get the required amount of sleep EVERY night. However, as with most things, it is a cumulative effect over several weeks, months, years that has the most effect on our bodies. By trying to be consistent every night and getting adequate rest and sleep we can see a dramatic difference in our bodies. This is a must!

What can I do if I didn’t get enough sleep?

Naps are great for getting in extra sleep you may have missed. Even if it is a short 20 minute nap on the couch at your lunch break, anything to increase the amount of rest you get is important to your physical goals.

This topic deserves multiple entries as I believe it is that important. Even thought I do not have statistical data to prove my claim, I would say the best results I get with clients are due to them being able to control stressors of life and getting adequate rest. I would also like to add reducing the amount of alcohol in the diet does impact sleep patterns and helps reduce body fat. Moral of the story is sleep lots and drink alcohol sparingly if at all.

Josh Bowen: Stop Comparing Yourself

joshJudging by the title, you may not think this will not be a fitness or nutrition related post. I, however, believe fitness is 100% tied to our self esteem and how we feel about ourselves rather than actually picking up weights or doing cardio. We exercise to feel better about ourselves and ultimately give ourselves more self esteem and confidence. Why do you think so many people take gym selfies? Let’s be honest, its not a workout if you don’t record it right? I’m being sarcastic…obviously.

BUT…I am serious about fitness tying into our psyche. As our bodies improve our self esteem should improve as well, right? If you only compared yourself to yourself you would find  that you would be happier with your results and feel the momentum swing of results (no matter how big or small). The unfortunate part, as a general rule, we don’t compare ourselves to ourselves, we compare ourselves to society norms (whatever that is) and/or other people. This is a recipe for disaster not only in our results but also how we perceive our results. I truly believe this derails people from achieving their personal Mount Everest.

So many times, as a trainer, I am inundated with this:

“I want Jennifer Lopez’s butt”

“I want the Rock’s shoulders”

“How come my arms don’t look like some of your other clients”

I am just as guilty. I fully admit it. I often have to stop myself from looking at the Rock or some other athlete and thinking, “Damn I’m working hard but these guys are bigger and leaner than I am.” This thinking is futile. This thinking is a waste of time. This thinking will derail you off YOUR goals.

I feel bad for women in this scenario because of all the media messages and marketing that is thrown their way. The magazine stand with the perfect model on it can get in your head and think you are less than what your are. The Victoria’s Secret fashion show with the twigs walking around with no muscle puts a stigma in people’s head, that this is how you are suppose to look. It’s all bulls**t. YOU and you alone define what you want to look like, not society, not Vogue magazine, not Sports Illustrated and sure as not Hollywood.

So what do we do to stop this wasteful process? I have a few ideas;

Compare Yourself to Yourself

We are all born unique and different from everyone else. Therefore we should celebrate our individuality and not worry about what any one else is doing or looks like. Your journey is your journey, not the person next to you. Not what you see on television It is personal to you. It is futile for me to compare myself to the Rock. He has different genetics, different circumstances, different behavior patterns. We are no the same. We may train the same, but we are not the same. The same goes for you. Be different. Be you.

Skews your Judgement

The quest for the perfect body can often lead to extreme measures. Supplements, weight loss diets, extreme fitness routines, everything underneath the sun to be “perfect.” Well there is no such thing. This attempt can skew your judgement and start trying and doing things you often wouldn’t. Put the diet pills down, they are only hurting you. Eat real food and pick up heavy things, it works.

Psychologically Damaging

How we feel about ourselves is all we have. Our confidence in ourselves and our bodies is vitally important. When we follow the status quo we lose our identity and thus lose our precious form of self. Believe in yourself. Get 1% better everyday and let that carry you to your goals.

I realize this piece is all over the board and may not be for everyone. I also realize that most of us can be more happier with ourselves if we just stop comparing ourselves to others. Take this article to heart and maybe share with others.

Josh Bowen: What is Causing Your Headaches?

joshHope everyone had a great weekend and is ready to attack Monday like nobody’s business. The year is flying by and the holidays will be here before you know. The time to be consistent and focused is important. What you do now, will effect what you do later.

We have all had headaches at some point or another in our lives. Some literal and some figuratively (haha). But what is a headache? And more importantly, what causes a headache?

A headache is not actually a pain within the brain, or the brain does not have pain sensors. The pain is caused by a disturbance to pain sensitive tissues around the brain. Nine areas around the head and neck have these pain sensors (cranium, muscles around the neck, eyes, ears etc.). There are also 200 different classifications for headaches but they fall into one of two categories; primary vs. secondary.

Primary headaches are benign, reoccurring headaches not caused by disease or structural problems. Secondary headaches are caused by underlying disease such as; colds, ear infections, tumors etc.).

The causes of headaches is not 100% known but there are some research studies to suggest that your nutrition has a vital role in: determining how often you get headaches, how severe the pain is and how long they last. Here are 4 common nutritional deficiencies that may be causing your headaches:

Magnesium and Folate

If you do not get the recommended 320 to 420 mg of magnesium per day, it could lead to migraine like symptoms. Magnesium helps the release of several neurotransmitters (ACH, dopamine) that are vital to movement and stress reduction. You can boost magnesium in your diet by eating more green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds. Although it is rare, a deficiency in folate can lead to headaches as well. Unless pregnant or nursing, you should be getting 400 micrograms per day. Sources of folate are eggs, nuts, beans, and seafood.

Going Low Carb

We could argue at length about carbohydrates but going to too low carb for too long can lead to headaches. 20-50 grams of carbohydrates per day is considered “low carb” and can significantly increase the likelihood of getting headaches because the brain is not getting its preferred fuel source, glucose.

Vitamin A and Zinc Toxicity

Too much of any thing is a bad thing. Especially Vitamin A and Zinc. Vitamin A a fat soluble vitamin that if taken above the recommended levels can cause health concerns. 10,000 IUs per day is above the recommended dosages for Vitamin A, this can lead to headaches. Too much Zinc, 40 mg per day can also lead to headaches. Usually this is from over dosing on supplementation rather than from food sources.

Food Allergies

Being allergic to something can cause mild to severe headaches. Wheat, dairy, nuts, eggs etc. can cause severe headaches if eaten by someone with an allergy. Proper allergy testing would be recommended if headaches are a constant to see what you were allergic too and possibly taking it out of your diet.



Becoming dehydrated can lead to severe headaches in people. It  is a way of your body telling you to drink water. Making sure you are getting over 100 ounces of water per day will keep you from being dehydrated especially in the hot sun.

Headaches are your body’s way of telling you that something isn’t right. Look to your nutrition for the clues.

Josh Bowen: Metabolism

joshOur topic for this week: metabolism. And more importantly how do we increase it. But first we must cover what metabolism actually is. Scientifically, metabolism is the amount of calories you burn everyday without doing anything. This is referred to as resting metabolic rate or basal metabolic rate (BMR). So essentially, it is the amount of calories you would burn while laying in bed for 24 hours. It is impacted heavily on the following: the size of the individual, the amount of muscle on the individual, hormonal factors such as T3 and T4 conversion and amount of testosterone and growth hormone release, also environmental factors such as sleep, foods we eat and alcohol we drink. Some of these you can control (amount of toxins you put in your body and sleep you get) and some you cannot (hormone factors).  So how do I increase my metabolism?  Eat more When someone wants to lose weight, the first thing you try to do is cut their calories. Unfortunately,this can back fire and crush your metabolism. For women, eating less than 1200 calories a day will kill your metabolism. It will put your body into a state of shock and at some point, everything you eat will be converted to storage because your body thinks it is starving. I’d say 1800-2000 calories for men is a baseline. If you are eating smart and eating the right whole foods, this will increase your metabolism and have a dramatic effect on your body fat.  Drink Water Researches have found that drinking water (at least 64 ounces a day) can help boost the metabolism to burn at least 50 more calories a day. That is 5lbs per year. I advise everyone to drink as much water as they can, at least 100 ounces per day, everyday.  Eat Breakfast Women who skip breakfast are 4 1/2 times more likely to be obese. That in itself is a reason to eat breakfast, everyday.  Eat Fiber Research has shown that eating at least 25 grams of fiber a day can increase the metabolic rate as much as 30%. Pick foods that are green vegetables like broccoli and kale over whole grain and wheat. Quest bars also have a ton of fiber in them.  Eat Organic Food

Canadian researchers report that dieters with the most organochlorines (pollutants from pesticides, which are stored in fat cells) experience a greater than normal dip in metabolism as they lose weight, perhaps because the toxins interfere with the energy-burning process. Other research hints that pesticides can trigger weight gain. Always choose organic when buying peaches, apples, bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, lettuce, imported grapes, and pears; non-organic versions tend to have the highest levels of pesticides. * From Prevention Magazine

Eat Protein in Every Meal Protein increases metabolism because it takes longer to digest (in most cases). Researchers have found that eating protein can increase post meal calorie burn by 35%.  Lift Heavy Things Best way to boost your metabolism is picking up heavy sh*t. Men and women should both be doing more lifting and spending less time on cardio machines. Muscle is more metabolically active than fat, so therefore the more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism is. You don’t build muscle tissue from the elliptical. Lift heavy things.

Bonus! Cut out the alcohol Alcohol KILLS your metabolism! When you drink you burn less fat and more slowly than normal, not matter how hard you workout or focus on weight loss. You can’t train hard and drink and expect to lose weight, your body won’t let it happen. Drinking the equivalent to two martinis you can decrease your metabolism by 73%. Something to think about here.

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