Josh Bowen: Failure Doesn’t Exist

joshFailure does not exist. The very nature that we can fail at anything is fallible. When you attempt something you may or may not achieve the outcome you were looking for but there is a learning experience that will carry you on for future attempts. It would be blasphemous to never give it another go. The concept of failure implies that one can something wrong that they never can attempt again, which is laughable. The sheer experience is success enough to us learning and growing, thus not failing.

As humans you crave the experience of everything. We want to feel it and be in the moment. But yet most of us are afraid of failing at something we really want or at least think we do. Why is this? What could possibly be the worst that could happen? If you don’t get the job you want, that is your dream job, does your career end? If you struggle starting your own business that you have wanted your entire life, does life end? Whats the worse that could happen when asking a girl you always wanted to out with on a date? These are the thoughts we have and are often talked out of by ourselves no less. We are afraid of failing, when failing does not really exist in the first place.

Failure, as it typically is perceived, is just an opportunity to grow through an experience of greater challenge or adversity. Failure is just an opportunity in disguise, a blessing that will shape us into who we will be. In every situation you have two choices; quit or keep moving. It is that simple. If you quit, you will regret the decision days, months, years from now. If you keep going, you may be surprised in the outcome. The destination you cherish may be one more attempt from happening but you will never know if you quit.

There are tons of examples of famous people who refused to give up and didn’t believe failure was possible or even an option. Here are a few:

Albert Einstein

Wasn’t able to speak until he was four and his teachers said he “wouldn’t amount too much.” He later became one of the greatest scientists the world has ever seen.

Michael Jordan

Was cut from his high school basketball team. He later went on to be the greatest basketball player ever to play.

Walt Disney

Was told he lacked creativity. His films are some of the most creative and loved in the history of movies.

Steve Jobs

Helped found Apple in his 20’s and by his 30’s the board of directors fired him. So Jobs founded another company, which was eventually purchased by Apple and was back working with the brand again.

Milton Hershey

Had three different candy companies before Hershey’s became a candy giant.

Arianna Huffington

Was rejected by 36 publishers. She created the Huffington Post.

What do all of these people have in common? The obvious is they wouldn’t take no for answer, they kept giving it their all and they didn’t believe failure existed. They learned. It made them who they are. The struggle made them appreciate their achievements. How much more are we capable of, if we just stop being afraid of something that doesn’t exist.

What would you do if failure didn’t exist?

Josh Bowen: Five Things Money Can’t Buy

joshWith everything going on around us, I have to stop and think about what really is important. What puts my soul on fire and makes me get out of the bed at 5 am? Helping people is the obvious answer, its what gives me the most return on anything I do. I do what I do simply because I love helping people get better.

But something else struck me over the last several days; the most important things to me are not things at all and money can’t buy them. This puts life in perspective for me.

When I visited Mrs. Carmany’s (my client) 2nd grade class on Thursday, I didn’t know what to expect. Would they receive me well? I honestly worried I would say something I shouldn’t and have to sit in time out.

But something really cool happened. When asked about my gym and the name of it, the kids wanted to know what Aspire meant. So I asked them a question about who their “hero” was. Without hesitation and with no time to think, a young boy raised his hand and said “you are my hero.”


That kid could of asked for anything and I would of given it to him, that meant so much. That is something money cannot buy, the love and admiration from a young soul whose innocence and heart was greatly appreciated. For a tough dude like myself (some of you are laughing, I see you) this softened me up. This also set my mind in motion, what other things around us do we have that money cannot buy?

So here goes…

  1. Freedom We all to often take our freedom for granted. We have the freedom to chose and freedom to be whatever we would like. If we want something we have freedom to go get it, no questions asked. Be thankful for this.
  2. Purpose Money cannot buy you purpose in life. You can bounce from job to job, relationship to relationship but unless you truly go after what you want most in life, your purpose will not be fulfilled. What moves you? What are you passion about? What would you do if you knew you wouldn’t fail? Go do that.
  3. Peace of Mind Like the Zac Brown Band sings, “there is no price on a peace of mind.” I really believe there is no price on a peace of mind. Being at peace with the way things are and not bothered by things out of your control is the ultimate form of freedom. We should all strive to be around people and things that give us a peace of mind and shy away from people and things that stress us and ridicule us.
  4. Great Friends There is nothing better than a person or persons that would drop anything to come to the aid of a friend. There isn’t a price to have someone who constantly strives to make you better and is there for you when you are down. Remember this; the definition of a great friend is someone who sticks around when you are at your lowest, trying to build you back up. Money cannot buy this.
  5. Love There are a thousand sappy love songs about love and how there is no price tag on it. I will save you the serenade but its factual. Money cannot buy love. Love has to be felt more so than shown. It comes in all forms and can come from anyone. Always tell your loved ones how you feel about, for you never know when it will be the last time.  Was this about fitness? No, I get it but this transcends my world. We are so bogged down thinking about what we DON’T have, we forget about what we DO have. If we could all go back to 2nd grade and have no worries and be innocent again, maybe the world would be a better place?

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: 4 Reasons Why Building Muscle Should be Your Top Priority

Summer has flown by and by the time we know it, it will be Christmas time again. I digress, however. Here is to a great week and continued great month of July.

Onto the topic at hands…muscle.

I posted the above picture this week on both my personal Facebook page and the Aspire page, to great feedback. It essentially shows six different bodies, who all weigh the exact same and are the same height. But how could that be? How could the same person weigh the same, be the same height and look completely different? Answer….MUSCLE. Muscle is the reason for the discrepancy in aesthetics. So muscle weighs more than fat? No. And every time someone says that it makes me cringe. One pound of fat and muscle weigh the same, as do one pound of rocks and feathers. Difference is, it takes more muscle and feathers to weigh a pound. Muscle takes up less space, therefore you can weigh the same and look dramatically different. You also carry less water when you have more muscle.

So does that mean the scale is lying to me? Probably. Your scale is not accounting for the amount of muscle you have on your body which can make the number on the scale irrelevant. In fact, just today I had a client text me that they had gained 12 pounds from when they started but dropped 9% bodyfat, making for a dramatic difference in physique. My question is always which would you rather have; less weight or better looking body? You know the answer to that.

So why is muscle so important and should be a top priority for everyone?

Muscle Fights Obesity

Less muscle equals more body fat. More body fat leads to insulin sensitivity. Insulin sensitivity leads to diabetes. Both are inflammatory. Both will cause you to eat your muscle tissue up. Muscle increases your insulin sensitivity, keeps your body fat low and helps fight off diseases.

Muscle Fights the Aging Process

After the age of 25, in untrained individuals, you can lose up to 10% of your muscle tissue every decade. This will help lead to obesity, diabetes, osteoporosis and many other diseases. Essentially without building muscle, you will end up fat and weak by the time you are 70-80 years old. Quality of life will be low and disease will be high. Correct that by adding quality muscle to your frame and keep doing it year after year.

Muscle Boosts Your Metabolism

The age old saying of “muscle burns 50 calories at rest for each pound versus fat.” is false. However, the more muscle you have on your body the more your body will need oxygen to recover from your workout, thus burning more body fat and upping your metabolism. This is called Excessive Post Oxygen Consumption or EPOC. This is the “after burn” after your workout that helps boosts your metabolism and decrease your body fat.

Side note: No one and I mean no one can survive, long term, on a diet of 1200 calories or less. Not a woman and not a man. It is a recipe for metabolic destruction and long term issues. DON’T do it! Eat to lose people, eat to lose.

Muscle Looks Good

Everyone wants to look good, period end of story. That is why we are here, to look good. Sure there are other reasons but ultimately we want to feel good and look good. Muscle looks good on everyone, literally everyone. No one has ever said that muscle looked bad on someone. Sure those freaky bodybuilders may have too much muscle but they look better than having too much body fat. Men, women whoever, all look great with muscle. Just how much is a personal decision. Muscle is sexy, period.

I joke all the time in the studio saying, “if you don’t have muscle, you don’t have sh*t.” It is a joke but there is a lot of truth in jest from time to time. Muscle is the driving force in our everyday lives from the time we get out of bed until the time we go to bed, muscle is involved. We must grow it an take care of it.

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.

Josh Bowen: How to Really Read a Food Label

joshA couple of years ago it became crystal clear to me. A concept that I had taken for granted for so many years as a trainer. It was not until I sat down at my parents’ dinner table, with the intention to discuss nutritional habits and my mother (who has been a nurse for like 90 years) drops a bomb on me. “I have no idea what the labels that are on the back of foods, no clue what it means.” WHAT! “You don’t know how to read a food label?” “You are a nurse!” Now before all the nurses out there decide to bomb my house, I am in no way saying that nurses lack knowledge in any way. What I am saying is, in general, most people do not know how to read food labels. Thus, not understanding what and how much of the foods we are eating. This is a big problem. But, this is a problem I intend to solve with today’s entry! Yes, JB to the rescue!

OK. Let’s start simple. Take a look at the food label above. We will start at the top; Serving size. This generally references how many servings are contained and what the size of each serving is. This is where some people go wrong because they will see the total calorie amount and tend to overeat because they consume too many servings. Regardless of what the food is, keep mindful of how much of it you are eating by keeping track of the serving size.

Now lets look at the calories per serving. So regardless of the serving size this will tell you how many calories per each serving. So if something is 100 calories per serving and you eat 2 servings, that’s 200 calories (and yes I am a University of Kentucky graduate.) To the right you will see calories from fat. To attain this number you take the total number of fat grams and multiply it by 9 (fat is 9 calories per gram). Now be careful here, fat is not the enemy. These food labels give you the impression that fat is the enemy, it is not. Avocados will have a lot of fat calories but they are good for you!

Now lets take a look a little lower. Fat is the red headed step child of the 3 macronutrients but I digress. The top line will show you the total fat grams and then its broken down into Saturated fat, Unsaturated Fat and Trans Fat. In some foods you will see unsaturated fat broken down into polyunsaturated and monounsaturated. Each will have the total number of grams and a percentage. That percentage is based on a 2,000 calorie diet. This may or may not apply to you. If you are eating less calories, the percentage would be less and vice versa.

Going on down the list you will see sodium, potassium (sometimes) and cholesterol. As I have said in past blogs, choosing foods with more potassium than sodium is always a great idea. This will help with the reduction of water retention.

Now onto carbohydrates. Pay close attention to this one because it can get confusing. Underneath carbohydrates is Dietary Fiber and Sugar. Dietary fiber blunts the effects of insulin so you want a decent amount of fiber in your foods. From time to time you will see the phrase “net carbs” this refers to taking the total amount of sugar and subtracting the total amount of fiber from it. Hence the term “net carbs.” Pay attention to something interesting, on every nutrient you will see a % daily value compared to a 2000 calorie diet, with the exception of sugar. There is no recommended daily consumption of sugar. This is because we shouldn’t be eating SUGAR!!!!

The last nutrient is protein. Again, the same drill for fat and carbs, total number of grams. As a review, fat is 9 calories per gram, protein and carbs are 4 calories per gram respectively.

Most foods will list Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Calcium and Iron. The percentages are based upon RDI (recommended daily intake) for these nutrients. The percentages are per serving how much of these nutrients you are getting based upon a 2000 calorie diet.

This is vital skill to learn and will keep you out of a calorie surplus because you understand how much per serving. Keep all of these in mind when you are choosing a food. Use these tips to help you decide on a food:

1. Pick foods that are low in sugar and high in fiber.
2. Pick foods that a nutrient dense and high in calcium.
3. Pick foods that have more potassium than sodium.
4. Typically, foods that do not have a food label (fresh vegetables and fruits) are better for you!


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