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What to eat before, during, and after your workout [Infographic]

One of the great mysteries of the world, finally solved!

Dean Carlson, Pn2


A very common question I hear regards what to eat around workout times. When, what type of food, and how much. If you know anything about me by now, it's that my answer is going to be; "It depends".

Personally I train in the morning, and the only thing I have before I train is a cup of coffee. On strength training days, I consume BCAA's, and recently have played around with adding Creatine to that mix as well. Then I eat a regular meal when I get home. The cool infographic below, produced by our friends at Precision Nutrition, outlines that strategy. I use it for two reasons:

1. It applies to my body type and goals. I have a slow metabolism, am sensitive to carbs, and am trying to keep my body fat down while getting stronger.

2. It works for me. It's not just a matter of someone telling me to do it, it's experimenting and seeing what happens. I have tried to higher carb workout shakes and post-training regimen, and I just gain body fat when I used that method. 

The take home? Do what works for you. Determining that may take a little trial and error, but I assure you it's worth it. Your results and recovery will show you the way!

You can get a fully printable version of this infographic by clicking here, and you can get a more thorough explanation of the infographic and see the latest research in the PN article: Workout Nutrition Explained: What to eat before, during, and after exercise.

Need More Help?

Our passion is helping cut through the confusion surrounding your diet and exercise, and coaching you up so you can learn to live lean and healthy for the rest of your life. We offer as little or as much coaching as you need. Check out some ways to get started here.

You are busy and missed a workout. Do This. [Infographic]

Two things, don't sweat it, and don't make it a habit. Just do this.

Dean Carlson, Pn2


It can happen to any of us. You haven't missed a day in the gym for weeks, and then BAM! You get sick, or have a week of late meeting, or life "just happens". Sound anything like your life? Don't despair - you can still keep things moving in the right direction by taking just 10 minutes to focus on yourself.

It's inevitable. One of my best clients, the superstar who does "everything right" - never misses training, is on point with their eating, gets enough sleep - "that guy or girl", gets derailed by the holidays, or vacation, or a stressful time at work.

Falls right off the wagon, and stays there for months, or worse.

Doing all the "right things" does great things for you, physiologically and psychologically. When you are taking care of yourself and exercising regularly your heart and lungs function better, your move better, heck you even think better - TRUE STORY.

But the opposite is true when you stop exercising regularly. Those benefits start to fade away, and it happens quicker than we would like.

The good news is it doesn't have to take a ton of time to maintain the gains you have, at least over the short term. The workout below isn't going to turn you into Buff Buffington, but it will keep you moving and even more importantly, in the habit of moving when life gets in the way.

Download the infographic for your printer or tablet, and keep it handy when your regular workout just isn't going to happen. 

To make sure you have your "stay in shape" plan handy next time you need it, download the infographic and print a copy or save it to your tablet.

Want to learn more?

Most people know that regular movement, eating well, sleep, and learning to manage stress are important for not only looking better, but for health. But for applying that knowledge we can sometimes use a little help.

We specialize in giving that help to our clients - who have busy, stress-filled lives, and need help making it easier to fit "one more thing" (even though it might be the most important thing) into their life.

If that's you, let us know, and we'll see how we can help you too.

Good stress vs. bad stress [Infographic]

Stress is Stress is Stress. Job, family pressures, traffic, how you train, how you eat - it all adds up. Here's how to find the "sweet spot" to help push your progress forward. 

complied by Dean Carlson, Pn2


It's something we face every day, and usually we think of stress as a "bad thing". 

Too much stress is, but not enough stress is just as bad when it comes to making your best progress.

For those of you who train using a system like BioForce HRV, you have a great tool to dial in just the right amount of stress to reach your potential, without burning out.

This infographic from our friends at PN explains the crucial factors in balance allostatic load, and some concrete steps to get it right. 

You can also read this article on Heart Rate Variability and how you can further dial it all in.

Don't forget you can also download the infographic for printing, and share it with your frazzled friends! 🙂

Stress is no joke, and taking positive steps to focus stress to our favor is a big part of not only our fitness, but our happiness in general. 

For those of us who tend to the "anxious, obsessive, aggravated side of the spectrum, putting these action steps into practice could be just what we need. Put some of that new found knowledge into action, today!

5 Ways To Control Your Appetite So You Can Drop The Weight You Want

Losing weight (body fat) ultimately comes down to one thing. You need to eat fewer calories than you burn. It's science (physics), and you just can't get around it, no matter how much we would all like to.

Exercise alone (or maybe at all) isn't going to cut it. Exercise burns at best a few hundred calories an hour, and that is very dependent on your physiology. You can't out-exercise overeating. I know, I've tried.

On the flip side, you might be surprised how easily you can cut a thousand calories out of your eating a day with just a few small changes to your diet. 

And it doesn't mean you have to starve yourself, or never eat the foods you enjoy. Here are 5 ways you can control your appetite, make smart food choices, and eat fewer calories.

1) Count calories for two weeks

It's about awareness. We are really good at telling ourselves we aren't eating too much, but we are rarely willing to back up that claim. The simplest way to create awareness is to do the work of tracking your calories, and the good news is you don't have to do it forever. The good news is once you create awareness and start making better food choices, you probably won't have to. 

I suggest buckling down and tracking everything you eat for two weeks using an app like MyFitnessPal or FatSecret. Be honest, and track everything, food and drink. You are going to have to weigh and measure the food, which takes a little getting used to. The other thing that tracking helps me do? Simplify. It's a lot easier to enter 6oz of steak or chicken into a calorie tracker than a complicated recipe.

If this sounds like too much of a hassle, we can "goldilocks" this habit and make it easier. Simply carry a little notebook and write down every food you eat and every thing you drink. For some of us, this creates all the awareness we need. If your log has primarily eggs, lots of veggies, chicken and fish, you know you are on the right track. If it is mostly bagels, cereal, and pasta washed down with coke or a latte, you know that too. Just the habit of writing it down can help us make better choices. Ask yourself the question: Would I show this list to my coach or nutritionist? 🙂

2) Create a crowd

I don't like crowds. But when it comes to controlling our appetites, crowds are our friend. Huh?

You have probably heard that "a calorie is a calorie", and in terms of energy content that is true. But when it comes to a foods ability to help you feel full, that's baloney. You know it to be true - 100 calories of broccoli (over 3 cups!) fills you up way more than that 100 calorie pack of cookies or crackers, or even 100 calories of a better choice, like almonds are walnuts.

The broccoli creates a crowd in your stomach; more volume of food means less room for other food. It's magical! Use your MyFitnessPal app or a tool like the SELF Nutrition Database to get an idea of the nutritional content of the foods you love. I'll bet you'll find that you already make some good choices - eat more of those!

Once you figured out those "fuller foods", a good strategy is to eat those first. Filling up on veggies, lean meats and healthy fats creates that "crowd control" we are looking for, and you will automatically eat less.

3) Exercise for your health, not to burn calories

While it might seem that exercising more is just going to make you hungrier to compensate, that is not necessarily the case. This article explores many of those factors, and many studies show the opposite to be true. Learning to refuel your body appropriately after exercise is crucial; you don't want to train and then not eat for hours and hours.

Mindset is key here. Viewing food as a reward for exercise is counterproductive. I have done it, and it's just plain a bad strategy. Exercise for the health benefits, not so you can have another donut. 

4) Hack your food prep 

Even those of us who enjoy cooking don't always make/find/have the time to spend in the kitchen. If you do, that is awesome - so enjoy!

The good news for the rest of us is we don't have to. Getting in the habit of cooking in bulk, twice a week, is a tremendous help. It's just as easy to grill or roast 5 or 6 chicken breasts as it is two. Roasting veggies and Chicken-in-a-Crockpot are two of my "go-to's" when time is tight. 

Another favorite "hack" of mine is to spice it up! There is a whole wide world of flavors open for those brave souls who use more than just salt and pepper. Coriander, Cardamom, Cloves, Cumin. And those are just some of the "C's". Be bold and experiment, it's a lot of fun.

5) Go to bed

When I don't get enough sleep I find it much harder to control my appetite, and I found out at least one reason. Turns out when you don't get enough sleep your body produces endocannabinoids  - you literally can get the munchies.

But even when your appetite doesn't increase, your willpower and decision-making abilities are affected by lack of sleep. Less sleep = more bad food choices. For me that tends to lead to overeating. I can turn a handful of nuts into half a pound of nuts pretty fast. 

Human beings need 7-9 hours of sleep a night to perform at their best, physically, mentally, and emotionally. I have seen people exercise religiously and make positive changes to their nutrition and still have trouble dropping the weight. Sleep made the difference.

Less Calories = Less Fat

Fat Loss is simple - you just have to eat fewer calories than you burn. But that doesn't mean it's easy, far from it. The good news is that you don't have to follow a specific diet plan or food restrictions to lose weight. There is no one-size-fits all, but you do have to put in the work to discover what works best for you.

If you are having trouble nailing down your diet and you want to make real progress this year, use these 5 tips to help you get dialed in. And as always, we are here to help.

- DC

Phyto-what-are-we-talking-about? [Infographic]

Mom was right about eating your fruits and vegetables. Here's Why.

by Dean Carlson, Pn2


You have probably heard "eat the colors of the rainbow", and no I am NOT talking about candy. But it's a true story, the colors tell the tale of the power packed punch hidden inside all the goodness, as the colors hold the key to the "phytonutrients" or plant nutrients, that help us fight disease and stay healthy.

Learn what phytonutrients are all about, what they do, and why you need more purples, blues, yellows, oranges, reds, greens and even whites.

Download this free Infographic and print it out for reference. You might even send a copy to mom in a thank-you card!

Pretty co​ol, huh?

Not only are all these colors good for you, they taste really good too, and help you get the fiber your body needs. 

Don't forget to download your copy to print out and hang by the fridge. There are a few dozen different ideas and tips for getting more of these into your diet, and you'll want it handy for easy reference.

3 steps to fix a broken diet [Infographic]

​Here's ​​​​​how to get your eating back on track.

​by Dean Carlson, Pn2


​It's just about the beginning of a New Year, or at least it is when I am writing this.

But no matter what the calendar says, sometimes we get off track and just aren't making it happen.

​Our friends at Precision Nutrition created this very helpful infographic, which shares the 3 main strategies we use to help clients fix a "broken diet", as well as some troubleshooting techniques for when the eating plan you are on "just stops working".

These are powerful and purposeful strategies to help you improve your eating, at the beginning of a brand new year or anytime!

Click here for a fully printable version of this infographic.

​So what did we learn?

​If you just aren't making progress, and you aren't sure what's wrong, remember these important things to try:

  • First, remove "red flags" and nutritional deficiencies.
  • Control your calorie intake without counting calories.
  • Consider your body type and daily activity level.
  • ​Monitor your progress carefully, and adjust how much you are eating as needed.
  • Be consistent with these steps and think long-term first, before looking for new strategies.

​That last point cannot be overstated. Consistency over days, weeks and months is almost always the real problem with our eating, whether we are a beginner trying to get started, or you are experienced but spinning your wheels. There is a solution, but we need to stick with it for long enough to figure out if what we are doing is effective. A few days or even weeks isn't going to cut it.

Don't forget to download your printable copy of this infographic, and please share with your friends and family!

Is it a good idea to exercise when sick? [Infographic]

​Good idea?  Bad idea? Can exercise actually help boost our immune system, even when we are sick?

​by Dean Carlson, Pn2


​It's not an uncommon question:

"Should I exercise when I am sick?"

Well, as with many things, it depends.

​If you are laid out in bed with the flu, the answer is obvious. But what about certain stages of a cold? While we don't want to share that joy with others, can getting some movement in be helpful?

Our friend at Precision Nutrition produced this excellent guide for sorting it all out.​

Print out this infographic for some very specific guidelines on exercise, and how it affects your immune system before, during, and after an illness.

​Reading that infographic makes me feel better already!

Want to share these tips with your friends, family and co-workers (especially the washing your hands part)? Click here for a fully printable version of this infographic.

​Here's to staying healthy!


What should I eat when I am sick? [Infographic]


​Are there foods that help me fight bugs faster, or help me from getting sick at all? Let's find out!

​by ​Dean Carlson, Pn2


​It's true. What you eat can have a direct impact on how quickly you recover from a cold, flu or other yucky thing that can bring us down and make us feel like doing, well, nothing!

It all has to do with your gut health. What happens in your digestive tract plays a huge role in how well you can fight off germs, or whether you come down with something at all.

​This infographic has some great tips for boosting your immune system, as well as helping you feel better faster.

​The take home? Take care of your gut, and it will take care of you! 🙂

You wouldn't want to keep this great info to yourself, especially when the men you know get sick (yes, we are babies). Download a printable copy of this infographic to share, it's the nice thing to do!

Calories count, but counting calories? Part 2 [Infographic]

Part ​2: Calories ​Out

Compiled by Dean Carlson, Pn2. Infographic created by John Berardi Ph.D. and Helen Kollias Ph.D.


​In Part 1, we talked about how "calorie math" doesn't always add up. This article looks at why accurate counting can be so complicated, and gives 4 reasons why daily activity tracking and trying to count the calories we burn on a daily basis isn't as straightforward as it seems.


​It's a question I get asked a lot by clients in our gyms. "How many calories does an average workout burn?" 

​The reason for the query is they want to plug my answer into fitness tracker software, in order to calculate how many calories they are burning daily, and thus how many calories they should be eating.

If it were only that easy. There are SO many factors that go into determining energy expenditure accurately, and unless you are measuring factors such as carbon dioxide output for the duration of training, you just aren't going to get a reliable number.

​ In my experience, most of the clients that try to track calories eventually get tired of doing so, or frustrated because it's not "working".

​Fortunately you don't HAVE to measure calories in and out all the time, if at all. The infographic below tells you ​some of the challenges with counting calories, as well as an alternative method to energy balance that you carry with you all the time. Simple!

Download your own printer and tablet version friendly copy of the infographic to pass around or keep for reference.

​Ever wonder why you track so carefully but you STILL can't lose weight? No matter how good fitness trackers are, they can't compete with reality. The most important measurement is the outcome you are getting from your current plan. If the results you are getting are moving you in the direction of your goals, stick with it. If not, it's time to do something different.

​Want more nutrition know-how?

​As I am sure I don't have to remind you, nailing our nutrition down is not as easy as "experts on the interweb" want you to think.

At The Grateful Plate, we work closely with our coaching c​lients to help them understand what is holding them back, and guiding them to building great eating skills and the habits to get lean, once and for all. When you are ready to take the next step, please reach out and let's talk.

Calories count, but counting calories? Part 1 [Infographic]

Part 1: Calories In

Compiled by Dean Carlson, Pn2. Infographic created by John Berardi Ph.D. and Helen Kollias Ph.D.


Most of us go down the "calorie counting" path at least once in our efforts to lose weight. After all, everybody knows "calories in - calories out" is the key to weight loss success, right? But is it that simple? This article and accompanying infographic outlines 5 reasons why all those food calculators may not be as helpful as we thought.


Actually the principle of energy balance does work:

Take in more calories/energy than you burn, you gain weight. Take in fewer calories/energy than you expend and you will lost weight.

It's not the principle that is flawed, it's the counting that is so hard to actually do correctly and accurately enough to make it worth while. 

There are so many factors working against you, on both ends of the energy equation - in and out.  Part 1 highlights the problems with "calories in".

Download your own printer friendly copy of the infographic right here.

25% Margin of Error?

That would make a very significant difference when trying to figure out while all those calories counting apps aren't really helping, wouldn't it?

Now I am not saying you have to never track your calories, but here are my recommendations if you do.

Understand the limitations of the methodology. If you are not seeing the results you expect, take another look at the infographic for potential reasons why. The important thing is results, not the actual number of calories the tracker says you are eating. If you are working on losing body fat, and it ain't happening, it doesn't matter how many calories the tracker says you are eating, you need to eat less.

There are times that I track calories, usually as a "sanity check". In other words I am not seeing the results I want, and when I track for a couple weeks it is easy to see why. I am usually eating a lot more food or a lot more times than I think I am. But even I don't want to reduce the enjoyment of eating to a math problem all the time. That's just no fun!

There is a better way, and it doesn't involve calculators and fitness apps. It's portable, reusable, and effective. It's the Calorie Control Cheat Sheet.

Stayed tuned for Part 2: Calories Out, coming up in a couple weeks!

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