Buffalo Chicken Salad [Recipe]

My obsession with Buffalo Chicken Salads started as an obsession with Buffalo Chicken Wraps [go figure]. After eating a Zesto’s Buffalo Chicken Wrap at least 2x per week for a couple of months, I finally re-created it myself [and it just wasn’t as good]. Then, one day I realized that I had eaten this Zesto’s Buffalo Chicken Wrap 3x in one week, so I challenged myself not to have one for a month [to find out if you are truly addicted to something, you challenge yourself to go without it for a period of time, right?]. Well, I have been successful [my challenge ends on July 8th and I will be going straight to Zesto’s]. HOWEVER, instead of packing my lunch as I normally would, I found myself going to a deli and buying a Buffalo Chicken Salad every day for lunch. So, now I’m pretty certain it’s just an obsession with hot sauce. But, anyway, today I re-created the Buffalo Chicken Salad [and loved it], so I am sharing with all of you!





Buffalo Chicken Salad [Recipe]
a recreation of a take-out buffalo chicken salad that I can now make at home
Servings Prep Time
1 5 minutes
Cook Time
25 minutes
Servings Prep Time
1 5 minutes
Cook Time
25 minutes
Buffalo Chicken Salad [Recipe]
a recreation of a take-out buffalo chicken salad that I can now make at home
Servings Prep Time
1 5 minutes
Cook Time
25 minutes
Servings Prep Time
1 5 minutes
Cook Time
25 minutes
  1. Season and Bake Chicken Breasts in the oven at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes.
  2. While your chicken is cooking, shred 112g chicken breast and soak in a separate bowl with desired amount of Frank's Hot Sauce.
  3. Combine all ingredients into a medium to large serving dish or bowl.
  4. Add desired amount of dressing (optional).
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Dieting and Metabolic Damage – an easy to understand explanation

OK. So, this post is going to be a little follow-up to yesterdays discussion about fixing your metabolism in order to lose body fat.


It’s almost summer. The time when seemingly everyone is on a diet. Whether you have a scheduled vacation, work event, social gathering, whatever it may be, you are trying to slim down super fast so that you can look your best [for about a day or a week at most]. We’ve all done it: ‘the 21-day fix,’ ‘the whole 30,’ ‘mediterranean diet,’ ‘cabbage-soup diet,’ ‘no carb,’ ‘low carb,’ ‘special k diet,’ ‘atkins diet,’ diet pills, laxatives, etc. [you get the gist]. How many of these diets have you stuck with for longer than 6-months at a time? These are all short-term ‘quick-fix’ diets and they are causing more harm than good.


Chances are, you have a REALLY SLOW METABOLISM. And the reason you have a really slow metabolism is because every single diet that you have gone on has slowed your metabolism down even more, causing your body to function on less and less calories over-time.

Here is a scenario:

Lets say you have been maintaining your current weight on about 1500 calories per day. Your friend invites you to go to the beach in 2-weeks. So, for the next 2 weeks you drop your calories down to about 1000 calories per day. You lose weight fast, your clothes start to feel looser, you are riding the high horse, and even adding extra cardio sessions to your daily routine to speed up the process. You are feeling on top of the world and 100% ready to put on that bikini and strut your stuff during beach weekend.

But, what is going on inside your body? Well, you have now taught your body to function on less energy [calories = energy]. During the past 2-weeks, your body has been scrounging around looking for energy to keep itself functioning properly. When it started to realize that it wasn’t being fed the energy it needed to survive, it started pulling energy from other sources of the body – other sources that have vital functions elsewhere. For example, carbohydrates are the bodies primary energy source. But without adequate amounts of carbohydrates in the body, energy can and will be pulled from fat stores. Fat is a secondary energy source and is good for brain function. Do you see where I am going here? Without adequate energy coming into the body, the body must pull from other sources inside the body to meet its needs. When this happens, other areas of the body suffer. Same thing with protein. Protein is meant to be muscle-building, not energy yielding. The body does not want to use protein for energy, but in emergency situations [ex. ketosis], it will. Protein is also good for muscle recovery and repair. With a lack of protein in the body, you aren’t able to recover fully from your excessive amounts of cardio and the physical demand placed on the body.

Back to our scenario:

So, you are functioning on 1000 calories per day for 2 weeks. Your clothes are looser and you look great in your bikini with your new bikini bod. Then, beach weekend rolls around and what happens? All of the sudden you are eating again. It’s as if a tidal wave just swarmed through your body. It has no idea what just hit it! Energy/Calorie overload. The body is all out of whack and has no idea what to do with all of this extra energy. It begins storing the energy inside the body left and right. What happened was, you trained your body to function pretty well on 1000 calories per day, which ultimately means that over the course of the past 2-weeks you have slowed your metabolism down drastically. So, now your body cannot handle any more than 1000 calories per day at maximum. Beach weekend comes and goes and now you are back at home, pants unzipped with a tub of ice cream on your lap all depressed because you just gained all the weight back that you had lost…and then some.

This is a never-ending cycle for most people. Cut weight, gain it all back, cut weight again for another ‘event,’ gain even more back, etc. etc.



Re-read the scenario above. Educate yourself on what is actually happening inside your body when you do this. You are DAMAGING YOUR METABOLISM. You are training your metabolism to progressively slow down and at some point certain vital organs are just going to give-up.


Have you ever dieted down so much or yo-yo dieted for so long that, as a female, you lost your menstrual cycle? This is a very common side effect of metabolic damage.

I’ll provide an example of metabolic damage that I saw in one of my male clients:

So, here we have a 5’6″ male in his late 20s. Job activity is pretty sedentary, but he works-out on a regular basis. Could use a little more exercise in his weekly routine, but he isn’t completely sedentary. He weighs about 240 lbs. Weight has crept up over the course of a few months and he can’t seem to level out. He seeks out advice from me. I ask him to log his food for about a week so I can get an idea of how many calories he is currently taking in on a daily basis. Now, for a guy his size and height, he should be able to maintain his weight on about 2000 calories per day at the VERY LEAST. You could understand my shock when I find out he is currently MAINTAINING his weight of 240 pounds at just 1300 calories per day!!! <–talk about a severe case of metabolic damage.

^So, how do we FIX METABOLIC DAMAGE? Well, it certainly takes much longer than it took to cause the damage, but it isn’t impossible. The timeline to fix this damage in a severe case like the one above could be anywhere from 6 months to 3 years.

[Note to all who read this: don’t allow yourself to get to this point. Take care of your body, fuel it properly, and you won’t ever have to worry].

With a controlled macronutrient intake, beginning at 1300 calories and slowly increasing calories over the course of an undetermined timeframe, we can restore the gentleman’s metabolism and allow it to begin functioning on higher amounts of calories to the point where this guy can, one day, maintain his weight of 240 pounds on 3000+ calories.


If you are concerned or just want to run your scenario by me, please reach out via email at jenna.m.carelli@gmail.com. It is certainly better to be safe than sorry.

♥Jenna Carelli



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Do you want to lose body fat? FIX YOUR METABOLISM.


I’m really starting to enjoy reading articles and posts written by people who are BLUNT and TO THE POINT. It seems to catch the attention of others much quicker, which is what we need at this point. I am seeing way too many clients with damaged metabolism’s and it takes much much longer to restore your metabolic rate than it did to kill it.



Had to share this post by Joe Donnelly:

Do you ever wonder why the majority of competitors/ fitness models gain so much weight in the few days after a show? Women often 20-25 pounds? Or maybe you dieted hard for a vacation/wedding etc and right after you immediately gained the weight back and it then took months to then lose it again??

I am going to try to break this down as simple as possible as it pertains to EVERYONE.

Your metabolic rate (metabolism) is the single and only factor that determines fat loss. Not caloric deficit, not doing endless hours of cardio. Without metabolism you are dead in the water. You could eat no carbs/fats, finish each day in a 500 calorie deficit, doing 2 hours of cardio, but with no metabolic or low metabolic rate you cannot and will not lose body fat.

Now lets examine why and how metabolic rate becomes damaged. Things that damage metabolic rate:

1) Doing constant steady state/low intensity cardio (spin class, walking on treadmill, stair master, elliptical, etc etc) You lose the fat burning component of steady state cardio very quickly. I will never understand why competitors do 2 cardio sessions per day when they are not getting a fat burning effect, but rather just eating up muscle and reducing metabolism.

2) Restricting calories too much. More specifically not having enough fats and good carbs in your diet.

3) Not understanding the math behind what you are doing. If you are eating 1200 calories per day and burning 500-1000 in your workouts you are damaging your metabolic rate.

4) Finishing everyday at caloric deficit will damage metabolic rate. this is why carb cycling has become so popular. It allows for support of metabolic rate thus preventing the damage.

Things that build metabolic rate:

1) Lifting weights, building muscle. High intensity lifting. Women i cannot stress this enough. You need to lift hard, heavy and often. You don’t get bulky from lifting weights, you get bulky from the cupcakes you eat. Adding muscle adds to metabolic rate, more specifically the more muscle you have the more calories your body burns

2) HIIT cardio. High intensity interval training. This is the only type of cardio the body does no adapt to. It supports metabolic rate as well as has the fat burning component.

3) Getting enough quality calories. You need to eat to lose fat. You need to eat to build muscle. You starve yourself, you starve your fat loss ability.

The majority of competitors and so-called professional coaches are fools. Their science is wrong. They prescribe you these low-calorie diets with endless amounts of cardio and the minute your show ends you gain back tons of weight, they then tell you it’s because you binged too much. Wrong wrong wrong. Complete bullshit. What really happened was that during your dieting process you constantly chipped away at your metabolism. So for example lets say a healthy adult female burns 1500 calories per day without any exercise. Most competitors by the time of their show have damaged their metabolic rate so much that their BMR may be as low as 2-300 calories per day. So the minute the show is over and you eat a few normal meals, while not doing the double cardio sessions your body immediately gains body fat and fast. A normal healthy person would have their metabolism to keep them in check.

Here is a perfect example. Most of you know my GF is 2-time World Bikini Champion Chady Dunmore. Shes well-known for being lean and photo shoot ready year round. How? Does she do cardio everyday? Is her diet super strict? Nope. She simply does not follow the bullshit above. She goes by truth not myth. She eats a well-balanced diet of around 2000 calories per day. She lifts hard and heavy 4-5 days per week with almost no cardio. Last year when she competed in the world championships she did nothing more to her weekly routine mentioned above than simply add 1-2 intense HIIT sessions per week and stop cheat meals 3 weeks out. She stepped on stage at a ripped 132. Flash forward 4 weeks after her show. She had many many cheat meals. We spent a week in Mexico for her bday eating whatever we wanted, consuming a few tropical alcoholic beverages, doing zero cardio and got in a few lifting sessions. She came back from Mexico at around 135 and id suspect the 3 pounds she gained was nothing more than some water retention from the salty foods and glycogen in her muscles from excessive yummy carbs. Why did she not rebound like so many?? HER HIGH METABOLISM KEPT THE WEIGHT GAIN AT BAY!!!

Hope this helped and opened some eyes.


Layne Norton’s website will always be a very useful resource:

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This weekend, I had the pleasure of attending one of Nicole Capurso’s Flexible Dieting Workshops at Crossfit 215 in Philadelphia, PA. Besides her athleticism, beauty, and knowledge, Nicole is probably most widely known for her incredible Abs


There they are.

I’m not here to explain to you how Nicole got her Abs to look like that, because she does a pretty awesome job at explaining it herself in the article she wrote called ‘How Donuts Gave me Abs & an 80kg Snatch.’ 

But, did she really start looking like that simply by consuming Donuts?

Nope. But, you betcha there was a box of Federal Donuts at the workshop and I can confirm that she does, in fact, eat donuts.

I think it’s pretty evident that she has worked her ass off to look the way she does. Do I think genetics play a role in her lean(ness)? Yea, probably. But, we all have abs. It’s just that most of us have an extra layer (or two) of fat on top of our abs which makes them less prominent. But, all it takes is a little dedication and a whole lot of love for your body & you, too, could see these pretty little muscles come out to play!

The reasons that I attended the workshop are:

1) Because, Nicole Capurso;

2) Because I have been actively following a Flexible Dieting lifestyle now for over 2 years and it has changed my life; and

3) Because, I’m not perfect & even though I have hosted Flexible Dieting seminars of my own and have helped over 50+ clients transform their body composition, there is ALWAYS room for improvement and education is never-ending.

I’m posting this to my page to hopefully catch your eye. I want you to take the time to read Nicole’s article. I also want you to know that she is the real deal – the girl knows what she is talking about and she is down to earth. Lastly, I want to be an outlet for you to ask questions. I can help guide you towards your goals, no matter what they may be.

Email me at jenna.m.carelli@gmail.com – I respond within 24 hours!


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Flexible Dieting and Foods that are Truly High in Protein – Bret Contreras



Below is a great article written by Bret Contreras called Flexible Dieting and Foods that are Truly High in Protein. I’ll also link it here in case anyone would like to view his site and read the commentary.


Seventeen years ago, I had an undergrad professor who constantly extolled the virtues of adequate protein intake for “brain-based learning” – a popular educational paradigm at that time. In order to help her students get their protein requirements in, she would pass out Keebler cheese and peanut butter sandwich crackers to each of her students every single class to support brain function, learning, and retention.

I can recall sitting there being like, “WTF?!” I would glance around the room at all of the students, waiting for one…just one of them to read the nutritional label and discover that these snacks weren’t in fact packed with protein. But it never happened; everyone just naively accepted that they were helping their brains function better due to delicious protein filled treats.


For twenty years as a personal trainer, this phenomenon has been bothering me. I can’t tell you how many times I overhear my clients saying something like, “Quinoa is a great source of protein.” Or, “I had some peanut butter because I needed to get some protein in me.” Or, “Almonds are packed with protein.” Or, “I made sure to have a Yoplait yogurt for breakfast since it’s important to have protein in the morning.” If you’re a personal trainer, I’m sure you can relate. And in case you’re wondering why it’s bothersome, it’s because none of these food sources are in fact high in protein.

Check out the nutritional info pertaining to the cheese and peanut butter crackers. You’ll notice that they contain 250 calories, 13 grams of fat, 30 grams of carbs, and 6 grams of protein. Less than 10% of the calories come from protein (46% is fat and 46% is carb). The mere fact that the food has the words “cheese” and “peanuts” in the title fools ignorant people who are unskilled in the art of reading nutritional labels into thinking that the snacks are high in protein when in actuality they are not.

Hypothetical Scenarios

I’m a big fan of flexible dieting (I created a flexible diet guideline for my 2 x 4: Maximum Strength product) – with this system you can work whatever foods you want into your nutrition as long as it fits your macros. You want some Keebler cheese and peanut butter sandwich crackers? Have at it, just make sure you nail your numbers for the day. You have taste buds that don’t enjoy sweets? I hate you, you lucky son of a bitch, but in this case you wouldn’t use up any of your macros with sweets, you simply work the foods that you prefer into your day.

One problem is, many individuals don’t have as much wiggle room as they think they do with their diets. They realize this as soon as they start tracking and stop guessing with regards to their food intake. After finally downloading an app and actually tracking their macros, many of my clients realize that they’re taking in way more calories than they think or they have a few days per week where they go way over what they claim, which sabotages their progress.


Ideally we could all have sky high metabolisms, all men could wolf down 5,000+ calories per day and all women could scarf down 3,000+ calories per day and not gain any weight. But the reality is that many of us are pretty sedentary and only exercise when we hit the gym several days per week for around an hour, and we can’t handle that many calories (maybe we could when we were younger, but not anymore). This is especially true when people get down to the weight they prefer, they find that they can’t eat as much as their brain would like. Bottom line, we all have to exhibit some discipline and monitor our eating habits.

Let’s say you’re a 200 pound male who maintains an ideal physique by consuming 3,000 calories and 200 grams of protein per day. And let’s go back to the example of the Keebler cheese and peanut butter sandwich crackers. If you ate 12 of these crackers, you’d get 3,000 calories – your entire daily allotment, but only 72 grams of protein, thereby falling fall short of your protein goals. You’d also get 360 grams of carbs and 117 grams of fat per day, which is too much for a 3,000 calorie diet that contains optimal levels of protein. Obviously you can see that this snack isn’t really high in protein, and you’re going to need foods that are truly high in protein in order to hit your targets.

I have a 5’4″ female client right now that maintains her ideal current weight of 120 lbs by consuming 1,500 calories per day. She doesn’t do cardio and sticks to weights 3 times per week. I have her aiming for 120 grams of protein per day, 155 grams of carbs per day, and 45 grams of fat per day. She prefers to eat 4 meals per day, therefore she needs to average 30 grams of protein per meal. Getting this 30 grams of protein 4 times per day isn’t easy for many women, at least at first.

In my experience, many women will assume that they’re getting sufficient protein intake because they eat two eggs in the morning (12 grams of protein) and a piece of chicken at night (30 grams of protein). Assuming they get 12 more grams of protein from a can of Greek yogurt and 20 more grams from veggies and other things, this comes to 74 grams of protein per day.

Many men do the same thing, so it’s not just women. In fact, many of my guy friends who don’t lift take in tons of protein but they do so through such fatty meats that they go way over on calories, and their physiques suffer greatly as a result.

Check out the chart I made below.


You will clearly see which common foods are indeed high in protein, which foods are moderate in protein, and which foods are low in protein.

Sure, having things like lentils, refried beans, tofu, and even various veggies not included in the chart such as spinach are useful in helping people hit their protein requirements. However, an entire can of spinach only yields 14 grams of protein, so you’re not going to meet your protein requirements for the day with spinach and other veggies alone. The increased popularity of Greek yogurt over the past decade is great since it is in fact a high protein snack. But at the end of the day, you’re going to need to eat some meat or guzzle down a protein shake here and there. Yes, I realize that there are plenty of vegans out there who have incredible physiques, and many even figure out ways to get adequate protein intake. But the majority of people are not vegan, so for those who are trying to improve their physique, most meals should be centered around a portion of meat (or a shake, which I’ll explain below).

I don’t usually track my macros. Most of the time I just make sure I get my protein each day, and get on the scale in the morning and at night. I then modify my diet accordingly so I stay roughly the same weight. However, I have tracked my macros before and it worked beautifully, plus I have my clients track their macros.

Here’s a strategy I employed when I did track macros (keep in mind that this isn’t necessary – you can fit your macros any way you prefer) that helped keep me on track. Last year, I was consuming around 230 grams of protein, 230 grams of carbs, and 120 grams of fat each day, for around 2,900 calories. I was leaning out at the time and dropping weight. I have an affinity for fatty foods, hence the lower carbs and higher fats. I have most of my clients stick to higher percentages of carbs and lesser percentages of fat. Anyway, I liked to eat 6 times per day. If I divided my daily macros by 6, I needed around 40 grams of protein per meal, 40 grams of carbs per meal, and 20 grams of fat per meal. Getting 35-40 grams of protein per meal 6 times per day isn’t easy for me. It is for people that love to cook and prepare their meals ahead of time, but that’s not me.


This is why I’m such a fan of whey protein shakes. I put two scoops in milk and it yields over 50 grams of protein. If I did this twice per day, this equated to over 100 grams of protein, which went a long way in helping me get to the 230 grams I desired. If you don’t like the taste of shakes, then you definitely don’t need to drink them. But in my situation, whey protein shakes helped me fit my macros.

This is especially important considering that I, like most people, tend to crave fatty and sugary foods. I could enjoy daily servings of my macadamia nuts, my almonds, my cashews, my sunflower seeds, my yogurts, my orange juice, my dried cherries, my Craisins, and my dark chocolate (I wish I liked my veggies but I don’t), because two of my meals per day were mostly protein (2 scoops of whey in skim milk).












Now let’s incorporate this into my averaging scheme. With 2 of my 6 daily meals consisting of the shakes, this left 4 meals per day and took off 110 grams of protein from my total (and also 20 grams of carbs). Now my macros were at 120 grams of protein, 210 grams of carbs, and 120 grams of fat for the rest of the day, which is much more enticing. I should mention that I had a few fish oil caps per day so this took off around 6 grams of fat from the total. Focusing on protein, if I ate 4 cans of Greek yogurt, this took off 40 grams from the total, which left me with 70 grams. If I consumed 2 pieces of meat, or 2 cans of tuna, or 1 piece of meat and 6 eggs, I met my target protein goal for the day (I just needed to make sure I hit the carb and fat targets).

You definitely don’t need to copy my system, the point of flexible dieting is to figure out your own that suits you best. Work the foods you enjoy into the mix, consume the ideal number of meals you prefer, but just make sure you hit your macros consistently. You’ll likely find that the protein target is the hardest to achieve, as carbs and fats are more fun to eat. This practice leads to an incredible physique over time as long as you know how to train properly and manipulate your macros according to your goals.


To conclude this article, please focus on the larger picture. Absorb what’s useful to you and disregard what isn’t – no need to nitpick my info to death, unless you feel I’m highly off base of course. We can all dig up different articles showing different numbers for protein requirements. We can all dig up nutritional labels of brands that differ from the data I showed in my chart. We can argue about clean eating versus IIFYM to death. This article isn’t written for vegans, so if you’re vegan please don’t take it personal. My goals in writing this article was to show people how much protein they’re actually getting from various foods and to provide people with some example scenarios, which is beneficial from a knowledge standpoint. Scientia potentia est (knowledge is power) my friends!











-Read more articles from Bret Contreras here.

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Spartan Race MEMORIAL DAY PROMO – Discount Code goes live TOMORROW, 5/20!


You heard it on Crazy Healthy Fit first 😉

I have just been informed that Spartan Race is releasing a limited discount code, MEMORIAL, that will give up to $40 off of race registration. This discount code, MEMORIAL, goes live this Wednesday, 5/20!

OFFER ENDS 5/27, so lock in your spot in the race ASAP!

…and, there’s more: ALL CURRENT NUTRITION CLIENTS (AS OF 5/27) WILL BE IN THE RUNNING FOR A FREE RACE CODE – YES, that means you could participate in ANY spartan race for free! –> Sign up for your nutrition package today!! *the winner will be contacted via email on Wednesday, May 27th.





**Continental US Only, excludes Hawaii. Cannot be retroactively applied or combined with any other offers including GovX. Not valid for Elite, Kid’s Race, or Spectator tickets. Expires 05/29/15 11:59 pm ET.

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The Lost Art of Self-Monitoring – Mike Samuels – Dr. Layne Norton

The below article, written by Mike Samuels – an English personal trainer, nutrition coach, and writer – focuses on the importance of self-monitoring as an important tool to successfully reaching your health and fitness goals. This article was written as a guest post on Dr. Layne Norton’s website. Dr. Norton or ‘BioLayne’ is a very well renowned advocate of flexible dieting, but you don’t have to term yourself an ‘IIFYM’er’ or ‘Flexible Dieter’ to learn the art of self-monitoring. So, give this article a good read and post your comments below!


Guest Blog by Mike Samuels: The Lost Art of Self-Monitoring

Posted In: Nutrition

The following is a guest post from Mike Samuels of Healthy Living Heavy Lifting

“You just gotta eat clean bro.”

“Counting calories doesn’t work – it’s all about what you eat.”

“I don’t track my intake, but I KNOW I don’t over-eat.”

These are pretty commonly heard throughout the fitness industry; People thinking you just need to eat healthily to get in shape.

You get folks who disregard calorie counting and thermodynamics, convinced that just eating from a set list of foods will make them lean.

Likewise, you have others (more the general public) who are so sure that they eat well, and don’t over-consume calories, that they’re convinced their lack of fat loss is due to their slow metabolism, their genetics, or some form of minutia, such as eating at the wrong times, eating carbs, consuming grains or drinking alcohol.

Slow Metabolism Meme

Both these groups have something seriously wrong with their approach –

They are not monitoring or tracking anything.

Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail

To get anywhere close to the physique most of us desire takes a fairly high degree of self-monitoring and tracking.  The obese guy or girl who’s carrying an extra 50 to 100 pounds – they can absolutely make some pretty incredible progress simply by cleaning up their diet, and getting rid of some junk.  I’d even go as far to say that an off-season, slightly out-of-shape bodybuilder could make decent progress into the start of a contest prep by making small cuts to their weekly junk food intake, taking some carbs out of a meal here and there, or dropping out liquid calories for instance. But everyone else – a more rigorous and consistent form of monitoring is vital.

Why You Suck at Guessing Your Food

Any seasoned IIFYM-er, or long-term flexible dieter gets pretty damn good at guesstimating serving sizes, and it’s perfectly okay to go out to eat, have a meal at a friend’s house, or grab some food on the go, and make a rough guess of the macros from time to time. Generally though, people are terrible at gauging exactly how much food they’re eating. One study, published in the “New England Journal of Medicine” (1) is, in my opinion, the don of all fat loss studies, and is one that I show to all my clients to combat the look of indignation when I ask if there’s any possibility they might not be tracking their food intake that accurately.

In the study, Lichtman and colleagues asked participants about their dietary habits and estimated intakes via a food recall analysis, then actually monitored participants’ food intake and exercise levels.  What they found was quite shocking.  Participants under-reported their calorie intake by an average of 47% and over-reported their exercise by an average of 51%.  What does this mean?  Well, if someone thought they were eating 2,000 calories per day, and burning 500 through exercise, then going by these numbers, they’d actually be eating 2,940 calories, and burning only 330.  That’s a discrepancy of 1,270 per day.  8,890 calories per week.  Or, to put it another way, if you thought you were eating at maintenance, that extra 8,890 calories extra in a week would be enough for over 2 ½ pounds of fat gain.

Anyone think they might now start actually tracking their intake properly!?


The Evidence Increases

A more recent study from the “Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics” concluded that completing food journals was associated with a greater percentage weight loss, (2) while a 2012 meta analysis from the “Journal of the American Dietetic Association” noted that “a significant association between self-monitoring and weight loss was consistently found”. (3) But Mike – Most of these guys were obese. Of course they were bad at estimating.  I hear you.  And I’ll admit – if you’re in good shape already, you probably have a pretty solid handle on your nutrition, regardless of whether or not you monitor it.  So here’s what might make the difference – quantitative versus qualitative data.  Macronutrient-based diets are quantitative – you have a set amount or number of each macronutrient to hit. You can’t screw up or go “off-plan” if you’re hitting your numbers.  And this makes it very, very easy to implement adjustments when you hit a plateau.

Qualitative diets however (i.e. clean eating, low-carb, etc.) rely on some sort of magic code as to what foods you can and can’t eat.  Without tracking your intake, what you’re eating is anyone’s guess. You might be hitting a macro nutrient intake that’s favourable to reducing your body fat, you might not be. Who knows?

I’ll use myself as a case study.  I did Paleo for about 9 months. http://www.healthylivingheavylifting.com/how-clean-eating-made-me-fat-but-ice-cream-and-subway-got-me-lean/

I ate clean, and I mean CLEAN.  But when I hit a wall with weight loss, I didn’t know what to do.  I was convinced I wasn’t eating too many calories – my protein was high, my carbs were low and unprocessed, and all the fats I was getting were from healthy sources. I was at a loss.  Turns out, once I’d seen the light, and starting self-monitoring and tracking, my clean diet had been coming in at around 3,000 calories per day.

I see the same with many of my clients too.  Folk come to me eating low-carb, and can’t believe they’re not losing fat, even when they’re keeping their carbs below 30 to 50 grams per day.  The truth of the matter is – calories.  Eating a high-calorie diet while eating “clean” is incredibly easy.

4 oz nuts = 650 calories
1 tablespoon olive/ coconut oil = 120 calories
8 oz sweet potato = 204 calories
6 oz wild salmon = 241 calories
6 oz grass-fed beef = 324 calories

“Clean” foods? – Yes.HEALTHY FATS  Calorie-dense? You betcha!  Low-carb folk and clean eaters are often shocked that their fat intake racks up at well over 100 grams per day, and protein can be as high as 1.5 to 2 grams per pound, both of which raises calorie intake through the roof.

Breaking the Plateaus

Referring back to that inevitable fat loss plateau, what do you do?  If you’re a tracker, you simply manipulate your calories to reinstate your deficit.  As you diet, it’s almost certain that you’ll have to lower your calories over time, due to a drop in bodyweight, and potentially in thermogenesis.  This is no biggie for the tracking flexible dieter – you just knock off a few calories from your daily intake. Slashing 50 to 100 calories through a combination of carbs and fats should be ample to get you over that hump. A non-tracker though? Do you eat cleaner?  Do Paleo guys and girls just paleo harder?  And what about those low-carb folk? Do they look in vain for foods that have negative carbs?paleoyoda1

All you can do in this situation is find some way to lower your calorie intake, which usually results in completely getting rid of a food, such as taking all the oats out of your morning meal, switching from beef to chicken or white fish, or taking out starches and replacing them with green vegetables.  This might work, but again, it’s guesswork, and leaves you in the cycle of restrictive dieting.

Removing Food Restrictions

Without getting into the whole debate of IIFYM vs. clean eating, tracking and monitoring does give you license to actually eat whatever you like, provided it’s in a sensible quantity, and fits in with your nutrition plan as a whole.  By not restricting certain types of food, you massively reduce urges to binge, and create a much more sustainable, sociable, practical – and even enjoyable – diet.

The Guessing Game

Think you can get by with guessing serving sizes?  Think again.  According to research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the environment we’re in, along with our emotions, can greatly affect what we determine to be a “serving” of food. Psychological cues also tend to override all else when it comes to being sensible with your portion sizes. (4)  While there’s no need to track and weigh every single last gram of everything you eat (unless you’re contest prepping,) there is certainly a lot of merit in breaking out your weighing scale, especially in a fat loss phase, and tracking every meal where possible.

Coming Over to the Tracking Side

Fortunately, in today’s modern world of super-speed Internet, and technology on the go, tracking and monitoring your intake has never been easier.  You’d have to have been living under a rock for the last couple of years if you’re in the fitness industry and haven’t heard of MyFitnessPal – http://www.myfitnesspal.com/  That, along with apps such as My Macros+ http://www.getmymacros.com/ are fantastic, easily-accessible ways to get started with the monitoring process.myfitnesspal1

In fact, a study from a 2014 edition of the “Journal of Nutrition and Education Behavior” even found that subjects who used smartphone apps to track their food had better dietary success rates and higher adherence than those using paper and pen. (5)

The Wrap Up: No Excuses

One of the big reasons I hear from people who refuse to track food is that it takes too much time.  This comes down to two things –

1. Realising that it’s actually extremely quick and easy to track and monitor.
2. Weighing up how important your goals are to you.

If you manage to find the time to play Angry Birds, spend hours debating squat biomechanics on Facebook, or update your Twitter feed every 20 minutes with how “hardcore” your workouts are, you have time to track. End of story.  Your physique and your sanity will thank you for it.



1. http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM199212313272701
2. http://www.andjrnl.org/article/S2212-2672(12)00634-X/abstract
3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3268700/
4. http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/nutrition/pdf/portion_size_research.pdf
5. http://www.jneb.org/article/S1499-4046(14)00469-2/abstract

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Sugar – The Sweet Truth – Bret Contreras

Surprise, surprise. The answer to the question ‘Is Sugar bad for you?’ is IT DEPENDS…You have to look at the overall diet, not just sugar.

Many clients come to me seeking yes or no answers to their questions, but nutritional science isn’t that simple. I will never give you a list of foods to eat and a list of foods to avoid, because that’s just not realistic nor sustainable or healthy for anyone.

Great article from guest writer, Menno Henselmans, on Bret Contreras’ site.


*I have posted the article below, but would suggest following this link to Bret’s website to read the comments/answers if you still have questions. Feel free to share your thoughts on here as well!

Sugar – The Sweet Truth [written by Menno Henselmans]

There are only 2 things that every nutritionist in the world seems to agree on (and we know everyone is a nutritionist these days). Vegetables are good and sugar is bad.

But things aren’t so black and white if we let the light of science shine on sugar. Will sugar make you fat? It depends on your diet.

Specifically, sugar’s effect on your body composition depends on if your diet has a predefined set of macros that you stick to every day or if you just eat until you’re full.

All-you-can-eat sugar

If you eat until you’re full (ad libitum, as researchers call it), and you start adding sugar to your coffee, your oatmeal and your protein shakes, you are most likely going to gain weight (or lose less weight, if you’re in an energy deficit).

The reason is simple. Sugar scores very low on the satiety index. This means it doesn’t fill you up much relative to how much energy you consume. So if you add sugar to a meal, you won’t eat much less of it. In fact, you may eat more of it because it’s tastier (higher palatability, as labcoats say). Adding sugar to your meals will thus generally increase your energy intake.

And since your body follows the laws of physics, specifically the laws of thermodynamics, what happens to your weight depends on your body’s energy balance. You gain weight in an energy surplus, because energy will be stored. You lose weight in an energy deficit, because your body will have to oxidize AKA burn bodily tissue to get enough energy.


Sugar tracking

Ok, so far so obvious. But what we really want to know is this. Is table sugar AKA sucrose (50% glucose, 50% fructose) more fattening than starches like rice or oatmeal when you consume the same amount of calories?

Many studies have compared groups eating a diet with the same macronutrient composition (% protein, % fat, % carbs) that differed only in which carb sources were consumed. The groups eating lots of sugar lose just as much fat without losing more muscle mass than the groups consuming little or no sugar [2-3]. In studies where complex carbs like whole-wheat bread are replaced with sugar but the total caloric intake is kept constant, no body composition changes take place [4].

So as long as you track your macros, having sugar in your diet is in itself not bad for your physique. And it gets even better.

Not so simple

A 6 month study of 390 participants found that this is true for all simple carbs, like fructose (fruit sugar) and lactose (milk sugar): whether you consume simple or complex carbs does not affect your body composition [1]. Or, for that matter, your blood lipids, an important marker of your cardiovascular (heart) health.

While it is easy to classify simple carbs as bad and complex carbs as good, the distinction between simple and complex carbs is in fact completely arbitrary. It is merely a medical tradition that we call carbohydrates with 3 or more sugars ‘complex carbs’ and we call carbohydrates with 1 or 2 sugars ‘simple carbs’.

What about blood sugar?

It is a myth that sugar causes a massive blood sugar spike followed by a complete crash. The effect on a food’s blood sugar is measured by the glycaemic index (GI). Sugar, due to its 50% fructose content, has a GI of ~68, which is a ‘medium’ effect on blood sugar. Sugar even has a lower GI than whole-wheat bread, which has a GI of ~71 [7]. The same applies to the insulin index [6].

What about health?

There are many cultures in tropical climates thriving on diets of up to 90% carbohydrates [8-10]. And we’re not talking oatmeal and broccoli here. These cultures rely on sugary fruits. In fact, honey is the favorite food of the Hadza from Tanzania [9].

Evolution has made sure our bodies can deal with sugar, because it is found in many of the world’s most nutritious foods: fruits. Fruit is in fact one of the foods humans have consumed for the longest period of our genetic existence. It has been a staple in our diet ever since we were still monkeys living in the jungle [5, 11]. And glucose is literally in our blood.


Sugar isn’t bad. Nor is it good. Sugar has empty calories. It doesn’t satiate. But if your overall diet is very nutritious, you are healthy and physically active and you are tracking your macros, sugar won’t make your abs fade into a mountain of lard. You don’t have to live on rice and broccoli. And unless you have a food intolerance, you certainly shouldn’t avoid fruit or dairy because they contain sugar. That’s exactly the kind of broscience that drives bodybuilders into following obsessive and monotone diets that aren’t healthy in psychological or nutritional terms.

Interested in more articles like this and advancing your fitness education? Have a look at the Bayesian PT certification program, an evidence based course about the science of physique training.

About the Author


Online physique coach, fitness model and scientific author, Menno Henselmans helps serious trainees attain their ideal physique using his Bayesian Bodybuilding methods. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter and check out his website for more free articles.


  1. Randomized controlled trial of changes in dietary carbohydrate/fat ratio and simple vs complex carbohydrates on body weight and blood lipids: the CARMEN study. The Carbohydrate Ratio Management in European National diets. Saris WH, Astrup A, Prentice AM, Zunft HJ, Formiguera X, Verboeket-van de Venne WP, Raben A, Poppitt SD, Seppelt B, Johnston S, Vasilaras TH, Keogh GF. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2000 Oct;24(10):1310-8.
  2. Weight loss in overweight subjects following low-sucrose or sucrose-containing diets. West JA, de Looy AE. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2001 Aug;25(8):1122-8.
  3. Metabolic and behavioral effects of a high-sucrose diet during weight loss. Surwit RS, Feinglos MN, McCaskill CC, Clay SL, Babyak MA, Brownlow BS, Plaisted CS, Lin PH. Am J Clin Nutr. 1997 Apr;65(4):908-15.
  4. Extended use of foods modified in fat and sugar content: nutritional implications in a free-living female population. Gatenby SJ, Aaron JI, Jack VA, Mela DJ. Am J Clin Nutr. 1997 Jun;65(6):1867-73.
  5. The biology of the colonizing ape. Wells JC, Stock JT. Am J Phys Anthropol. 2007;Suppl 45:191-222.
  6. Effect of glucose, sucrose and fructose on plasma glucose and insulin responses in normal humans: comparison with white bread. Lee, B. M. ; Wolever, T. M. S. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Dec, 1998, Vol.52(12), p.924(5)
  7. Atkinson, F. S., Foster-Powell, K., & Brand-Miller, J. C. (2008). International tables of glycemic index and glycemic load values: 2008. Diabetes Care, 31(12), 2281-2283.
  8. Lindeberg, S. (2009). Food and western disease: health and nutrition from an evolutionary perspective. John Wiley & Sons.
  9. Tubers as fallback foods and their impact on Hadza hunter-gatherers. Marlowe FW, Berbesque JC. Am J Phys Anthropol. 2009 Dec;140(4):751-8.
  10. Hypertension, the Kuna, and the epidemiology of flavanols. McCullough ML, Chevaux K, Jackson L, Preston M, Martinez G, Schmitz HH, Coletti C, Campos H, Hollenberg NK. J Cardiovasc Pharmacol. 2006;47 Suppl 2:S103-9; discussion 119-21.
  11. The Story of the Human Body: Evolution, Health, and Disease. Lieberman, D. 2014.
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Questions, Answered. (2)

Questions, Answered. (2)

You can view my first Question & Answer here. Today, I’ll be answering 5 more questions. Feel free to email me at jenna.m.carelli@gmail.com or use the blog contact form to have your questions answered!



Question #6: Is it true that a high protein diet causes kidney stones? I went to a urologist recently and was told to stick to a low protein diet. I was very surprised to hear this, I’ve never heard of this before.

A: I am not a doctor or a registered dietitian, so I cannot give medical advice with regard to prevention or treatment of kidney stones. However, I generally start my clients off at 2x their bodyweight in kilograms. 

A kidney stone is a hard mass that forms from crystals in the urine. In most people, natural chemicals in the urine stop stones from forming. I found a few scholarly articles online that discussed the effects that protein have on risk of kidney stones. In 2002, researchers from the University of Chicago found that ‘diets heavy on foods that are high in protein and low in carbohydrates can increase the risk of kidney stones and reduce the body’s ability to absorb calcium after just six weeks.’ More specifically, they found that ‘six weeks on a low carbohydrate, high protein diet increased the acid load to the kidneys, raising the risk of kidney stones.’ Researchers from the University of Chicago and the National Kidney Foundation both mention that reducing the amount of animal protein in the diet may help.  ‘Animal protein has been shown to boost urinary excretion of oxalate, a compound that combines with calcium and other compounds to form kidney stones.’ Sources of animal protein include beef, chicken, pork, fish and eggs. Again, I am not licensed to give medical advice, so please listen to your doctor’s advice because they know best!

Question #7: Caffeine… For energy and uses in fitness.

A: It helps me! I take 100mg caffeine in the morning before my workout. An article from the American Physiological Society discusses a study that has proven that ‘caffeine combined with carbohydrates following exercise can help refuel the muscle faster.’ ‘Glycogen, the muscle’s primary fuel source during exercise, is replenished more rapidly when athletes ingest both carbohydrate and caffeine following exhaustive exercise. Athletes who ingested caffeine with carbohydrate had 66% more glycogen in their muscles four hours after finishing intense, glycogen-depleting exercise, compared to when they consumed carbohydrate alone, according to the study.’ 

The researchers found the following:

  • one hour after exercise, muscle glycogen levels had replenished to the same extent whether or not the athlete had the drink containing carbohydrate and caffeine or carbohydrate only
  • four hours after exercise, the drink containing caffeine resulted in 66% higher glycogen levels compared to the carbohydrate-only drink
  • throughout the four-hour recovery period, the caffeinated drink resulted in higher levels of blood glucose and plasma insulin
  • several signaling proteins believed to play a role in glucose transport into the muscle were elevated to a greater extent after the athletes ingested the carbohydrate-plus-caffeine drink, compared to the carbohydrate-only drink

It is important to note, though, that we all have a gene in our livers that makes a specific enzyme necessary to break down caffeine. However, due to individual differences (genetic polymorphisms), some of us have the enzyme that breaks down caffeine quickly while others have the enzyme that breaks down caffeine slowly. Those with the FAST enzyme see an improvement in health when they drink 1-3 cups coffee per day. This is because caffeine is processed and removed from the body quickly while the antioxidants found in coffee can stick around and can help protect against free radicals. Those with the SLOW enzyme are more likely to experience health problems with the same 1-3 cups coffee per day. This is because caffeine, when allowed to stick around in the body for longer periods of time, can become unhealthy.

Question #8: What do we do about the constant barrage of posts and info about all the things we should NEVER eat or drink? I try to eat everything in moderation, and walk or bike ride every day. Knock on wood, at age 50, I am healthy, happy and energetic. But those posts are a downer

A: Ignore them! Don’t let others persuade what makes you feel good! Unless, of course, if you have doctor’s orders. Life is all about balance. Get rid of the negativity in your life. You said it yourself, you are happy, healthy, and energetic. Which tells me that you must be doing a-okay!

Question #9: What are your tactics for staying motivated when it seems like you can’t escape crap! I live with roommates, and we share kitchen space – I try to eat clean and don’t buy things that will tempt me, while their idea of groceries is processed everything so there is a constant supply of cookies, crackers, candy, chips and sugary cereals everywhere … Willpower is only so strong and lately I’m struggling "</p

A: Find something that helps you to relax, whether it be yoga, meditation, reading a book, working out, taking a long walk to reflect, or going out to a restaurant for a meal. There has to be something that really takes your mind off of the stress of life and makes you feel good. Find a good balance. No food should be off-limits. If you want a cookie, eat a cookie. Obviously, moderation is important here but studies have shown that if you tell yourself you cannot have something, chances are you will want that particular food SOOO much more. 


  • http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1169452/
  • https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/diet
  • http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080701083456.htm
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How To: Bake a Spaghetti Squash Whole

I’ve been baking my spaghetti squash for years by slicing prior to cooking and it has become a battle between myself and the knife, and the knife usually wins. I almost always hand the knife off to my husband to cut, because I’m scared of taking off a finger in the process.

I have NO idea why I waited so long to bake the spaghetti squash whole and slice after its cooked, when the membrane is soft and very easy to cut.

How To Bake a Spaghetti Squash Whole

IMG_2577 IMG_2587

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