Unhealthy Fats

Saturated fat clogs up the arteries and can cause health problems such as cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure. Whole milk, red meat, french fries, cookies, fast food, and desserts are all high in saturated fats—as are cheese, pizza, and animal products, such as chicken dishes, sausage, hot dogs, bacon, and ribs. Other sources: lard, butter, and tropical oils like coconut and palm. Limit saturated fat intake to no more than 10 percent of your total calories (about 22 grams, based on a 2,000-calorie-per-day diet), or, to reduce risk of heart disease, try to limit it to 7 percent (about 15 grams, based on a 2,000-calorie-per-day diet).
Your intake should be lower if you are trying to tone up and/or lose weight or have a lower calorie diet.

Trans fat is, in my opinion, the least healthy of all because it hardens arteries, which impedes circulation. Most trans fats come from processed foods or any food that is mass-produced. Trans fat is popular in restaurants and processed food companies because it helps keep the food from spoiling. It is found in margarines, snack foods, and prepared desserts. It’s difficult to eliminate all trans fats because there are
some that are naturally occurring in meat and dairy foods. Obviously, trans fat in a glass of whole milk is a better choice than getting it from processed food, but either way the American Heart Association recommends limiting trans fat to no more than 1 percent of your total daily calories.  For most people,
this is less than 2 grams a day.

Cholesterol intake should be less than 300 milligrams a day—less than 200 milligrams a day if you’re at high risk of cardiovascular disease. Cholesterol is found in eggs and egg dishes, chicken dishes, beef dishes and hamburgers. Other sources: seafood, dairy products, lard, and butter

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Healthy Fats

Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats play a key role in absorbing vitamins such as A, D, E, and K. Those specific vitamins are considered fat soluble, which means the body cannot utilize them without dietary fat. While these fats are higher in calories per gram than other kinds of foods, they should be in your diet—but stay within your total fat allowance.

Monounsaturated fats decrease the risk for heart disease and improve levels of cholesterol. These types of fats are also good at stabilizing blood sugar levels when they are ingested with carbohydrates and protein. This can be beneficial for diabetics or people who are trying to lose body fat. Some foods high in monounsaturated fats are: peanut butter, olives, olive oil, avocados, poultry, and nuts.

Polyunsaturated fats can help lower your risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease by helping to improve blood cholesterol levels. Polyunsaturated fats are found in foods such as vegetable oils (flaxseed, safflower, corn, soy, cottonseed, and sunflower), peanut oil, poultry fish, flaxseed oil, seeds, and nuts—especially walnuts.

Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fatty, cold-water fish (such as salmon, mackerel and herring), ground flaxseed, flax oil, and walnuts. Omega-3 fat is one of the polyunsaturated fats that seem to help reduce the chances of developing coronary artery disease. No specific amount of omega-3 fats is recommended, but it goes without saying that you should try to get more of your total fat intake from healthy fats than from unhealthy fats.

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Fats are calorie dense and give you a sense of fullness or satiety. Fats are important for regulating the body’s natural hormone system. If your diet is too low in fat, you will not be able to utilize its benefit in changing your body’s composition. Like carbohydrates, fats have a bad reputation. It seems logical that if you eat fat you will get fat, but it’s not necessarily true. It depends how much and what kinds of fats you are eating.

There are differences in the fat from avocados, which is a healthy fat (monounsaturated), and the fats that come from a doughnut (saturated and trans fats). The fats that come from the two sources do two separate things. Monounsaturated fat adds value to your diet and actually helps with nutrition and loss of body fat. There are also good fats like polyunsaturated fats. On the other hand, saturated fat and trans fat add more body fat while clogging your arteries.

Total fat:

Limit total fat intake to 20 to 35 percent of your daily calories. Based on a diet of 2,000 calories per day, this amounts to about
44 to 78 grams of fat per day. But your caloric needs may differ.

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Simple vs. Complex Carbohydrates

Simple carbohydrates are burned quickly and spike your insulin and blood sugar levels, while complex carbohydrates burn more slowly, giving you lasting energy.

Simple carbohydrates are found in foods mostly made up of sugar. An example would be fruit juices (natural sugars) and
soft drinks (refined sugars). Simple carbohydrates can have their place in the diet, but they can increase body fat, decrease
long-term energy, and cause mood swings. Excess simple carbohydrates in the diet are linked with diabetes, high blood
pressure, heart disease, and obesity.

There are optimal times to consume simple sugars. Combined with a protein and eaten after your workout, a simple sugar can kick start your body’s recovery process. But overall, I would suggest you eat whole fruit after your workout or the healthiest option of carbohydrates you can find.

In fact, simple sugars in your diet should be replaced as often as possible by whole fruits (not juices), whole (brown)
grains, oats, vegetables, or water.

Simple sugars:

• Cakes/pastries
• Candy
• Cookies
• Doughnuts
• Soda
• Syrups
• White rice, white pasta
Refined sugars do not contain any nutrients or vitamins. They are
empty calories.

Complex carbohydrates should be the majority of your carbohydrate intake. They are a source of long-lasting energy and keep your blood sugar stable. Complex carbohydrates come from whole grains, and the pastas, rice, and breads that are made from them. Simply put, complex carbs tend to be brown foods while refined sugars tend to be white foods. Choose brown.

Complex Carbohydrates:

(One carbohydrate serving = 15 grams)

One serving of bread, rice, or cereal:
• 1/2 cup cooked oatmeal
• 1 slice of bread
• 1/2 small bagel
• 1/3 cup cooked pasta or rice
• 3 cups popped popcorn
• 3/4 cup unsweetened cereal
• 6 Saltine crackers

One serving of fruit:
• 15 small grapes
• 1 small (four-inch) banana
• 2 tablespoons raisins
• 3/4 cup berries
• 1 cup cantaloupe or other melon
• 1/2 cup fruit juice (fresh squeezed or store bought)
• 1 small apple

One serving of milk:
• 1 cup milk, nonfat or low-fat
• 1 cup plain yogurt, nonfat or low-fat

Note: Cheese, including cottage cheese, is counted as
a protein serving, not a carbohydrate; whereas milk is a
complex carbohydrate that also provides a good source of

One serving of dessert or sweets:
• 1/3 of a slice of apple pie (1 slice=1/6 of 8-inch pie)
• 1/2 cup ice cream
• 3 ounces soda pop (1/3 of small can)
• 5 vanilla wafers
• 1 tablespoon honey or sugar

One serving of starchy vegetables:
• 1/2 cup or 1 small ear of corn
• 1/2 cup cooked lentils or dried beans
• 1/2 cup green peas
• 3-inch potato

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Carbohydrates are sugars. They are your body’s main source of energy. Each gram of carbohydrate equals four calories. Carbohydrates come from breads, pastas, oats, grains, fruits, and vegetables.

Not all carbs are created equal. The carbs that you will want to base most of your diet on will be quality carbs such as whole
grains—like wheat and oats—and, of course, fruits and vegetables. Generally speaking, fruits are higher in carbohydrates than vegetables, as the fructose in them that makes them sweet is a sugar. Potatoes and corn, though, are very high in sugar.

Eat a steady flow of carbohydrates throughout the day, but frontload the larger portions of carbohydrates in the early part of
the day so that your body can utilize them instead of storing them. This is why it is good to eat fruit in the morning and vegetables in the evening.

Do NOT be afraid to eat carbohydrates! But you should track and measure the amount of carbs that your body needs based on
how energetic you feel. Pay attention to how sustained your energy levels are throughout the day. Do you feel like you can focus all day and that you have the energy to accomplish your necessary daily tasks? If not, look at how you are putting your meals together and make sure they are balanced.

People who are looking to lose weight and tone up should choose complex carbohydrates and decrease their intake by about
half. If you normally eat a cup of rice at a meal, replace it with a half-cup. If you need to make up calories, do so using protein and/or non-starchy (low-carb) vegetables.

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Protein Supplements

Protein supplements are usually found in powders and shakes. Check first with your doctor, but protein supplements can be used
if you need help getting your daily requirement of protein. As we said earlier, getting enough protein is necessary for building muscle, and muscle speeds metabolism. (This is how protein shakes can indirectly help you lose weight.)

If you struggle with cooking and have difficulty preparing meals in advance, it is better to have a protein shake than eat fast food or end up not eating at all. But it must be said, while protein shakes are great for supplementing the diet, there is nothing better for your body than natural whole foods. The body can utilize real food much better than a supplement. If you have an option, eat the real thing.

Two of the most commonly used protein shakes are whey protein and casein protein. The differences of the two are how fast the
body utilizes them and what they offer specifically towards your goals.
Whey protein is full of amino acids, which are important for building muscle and speeding recovery. It is absorbed quickly, which helps the body synthesize the protein well. Whey protein may also help boost the immune system in the body. The best time to take whey protein shakes is about an hour before and immediately after your workout.

Casein protein is a slower digesting protein. It keeps the body from going into a catabolic (muscle-wasting) state that otherwise occurs when you don’t eat for a sustained period of time, such as during sleeping. Thus, this is good to ingest in the evening.
Casein protein also provides some amino acids and is a great source of dairy calcium. The best way to use casein protein
is to combine it with your meals—especially with whole food proteins—and at dinner.

Note that whey and casein protein are both derived from milk. (In fact, 80 percent of the protein found in milk is casein protein and the remaining 20 percent is whey.) So if you are lactose intolerant, like I am, these probably aren’t good choices for you.

You can use soy protein or rice protein instead. That is what I like to use for my protein shakes. Another consideration is a beef protein powder that has recently come to the market. While these don’t work exactly as whey and casein do respectively, they are options for getting that protein boost.

Your local health food store will usually carry many different types of protein powders based on your needs. Ask for help if you
have digestive problems with certain types of protein shakes. And talk to your doctor about using them. The key factor in using such shakes is maintaining a regular workout program and a healthy diet.

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Protein-Rich Foods

In order to make the healthiest protein choices, look for the leanest cuts of meat. Red meats tend to be higher in saturated fat than white meats like fish and chicken. Fish is also higher in healthy fats.

Servings and Protein Content

• Chicken/turkey breast, 3.5 oz. serving = 30 g
• Chicken Thigh = 10 g
• Beef (most cuts) = 7 g per ounce
• Hamburger patty, 4 oz. = 28 g
• Egg = 6 g
• Fish fillets (most) = 6 g per ounce
• Tuna fish, 7 g per ounce


• Low-fat cheese stick = 6 g per ounce
• Cottage cheese, ½ cup = 15 g
• Milk (get lowest fat content you can handle), 1 cup = 8 g
• Soy Milk, 1 cup = 6-10 g
• Yogurt (reduced sugar), 1 cup = 8-12 g
• Beans, cooked (black, pinto, lentils, etc.) = 7-10 g per half cup
Nuts and Seeds:
• Peanut butter, 2 tablespoons = 8 g
• Almonds, ¼ cup = 8 g
• Peanuts, ¼ cup = 9 g
• Cashews, ¼ cup = 5 g
• Pecans, ¼ cup = 2.5 g
• Sunflower seeds, ¼ cup = 6 g
• Pumpkin seeds, ¼ cup = 8 g
• Flax seeds, ¼ cup = 8 g
• Whey Protein Powder, 1 scoop = 20-30 g
• Soy Protein Powder, 1 scoop = 20-30 g

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Protein is found in foods such as chicken, fish, lean beef, and egg whites. Each gram of protein equals four calories. For example, if you have twenty grams of protein you would consume eighty calories.

Protein is a useful source of energy. You should eat .8 to one gram of protein per pound of body weight per day. For example, if
you weigh 120 pounds you would eat between 96 and 120 grams of protein total per day. This food staple has multiple functions in the body that make it a necessity for healthy living.

If you are specifically looking to bulk up, or increase muscle mass, I would increase that amount. One to 1.5 grams of protein per
pound of body weight per day is ideal.

If you are specifically looking to tone up, try to get one gram of protein per pound of body weight each day and make sure it is lean protein (best: chicken, fish, turkey; avoid: red meat and pork).


• helps to build and repair muscles in your body. (When you exercise you cause minute tears in your muscles. Proteinhelps repair those tears. This is what makes you stronger.)

• stimulates your metabolism.

• repairs, builds, and maintains the body’s cells—including regenerating healthy hair, skin, bones, and fingernails.

• supports main organ function, such as regulating the digestive process.

• creates antibodies that help fight infections.

Complete proteins are proteins that provide the essential amino acids to help repair and build muscle fiber. Complete proteins are found in animal meat such as chicken, fish and beef.

Incomplete proteins come from plants and legumes such as beans, rice, tofu, and certain vegetables. These provide lower amounts of protein per gram and should be combined together in order to provide a meal higher in protein, such as rice and beans. Incomplete proteins are also higher in carbohydrate content than complete proteins.Vegetarian and vegan diets typically consist of these proteins.

Vegetarian/Vegan Options

Vegetarians and vegans can have a more difficult time obtaining the protein that they need because of the incomplete proteins that make up most of their diet. Drinking vegan-based protein shakes, increasing the number of meals per day, and combining a wider array of incomplete proteins in each meal can help.

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Water is an essential and often overlooked nutrient in our body. Almost two-thirds of our bodies are water. While much of nutrition discussions these days are focused on low-carb plans or protein intake and vitamins, we forget that the most important nutrient of all is water. Just increasing your water intake will allow your body to utilize your food and supplements more efficiently.

A lot of times when people think they are feeling hungry, what the body is really craving is water. Try drinking a glass or two of
water next time you think you are hungry and wait 15 to 20 minutes to see whether you feel satiated or not.

Most people don’t drink enough—and watch out, because sodas don’t count, they actually cause dehydration. When you do drink
enough water you will notice an increase in energy and focus.

Water is especially important when you are increasing energy output. In my experience, if you are even the slightest bit dehydrated during and after your workout, you will not recover as quickly. Water helps to stimulate your metabolism and aids in the removal of toxins in the body. You can absolutely trust your instincts as to how thirsty you are—don’t drink so much you feel sick. But the following guidelines are a great reference point and helpful if you are a beginner.

A full glass of water is eight ounces. Each day you should drink eight to 12 glasses (eight-ounce sized) of water—depending
on your build, workouts, and environment (such as heat, humidity, and/or altitude). As part of this daily total, I recommend:

• Drink two or three full glasses of water (total = 16 to 24 ounces) two to three hours before your exercise.
• Drink a half to a full glass of water (four to eight ounces) every 15 to 20 minutes during your workout to stay properly
hydrated. You may need more or less based on how warm the weather is and how much you weigh. But generally speaking, during a one-hour workout you should drink oneand- a-half to four glasses of water (12 to 32 ounces).
• Drink enough water after your workout that you feel satiated.

If, in spite of this, you are still feeling dehydrated, weigh yourself before and after you workout, and drink one-half to two-thirds of a glass (four to six ounces) of water following your workout per pound that you lost.

Water is the best way to get your body hydrated but if you end up losing a lot of salt during your workouts (and you can tell by an
intensely salty taste of your sweat or salt stains on your clothes) then you may need to drink a sports drink that has electrolytes. But be careful, stick to just one sports drink per day—especially if you are a beginner or trying to lose weight. Sip it during your work out and finish it immediately after you exercise.

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Mental Exercises for Dealing with Setbacks

Remember to give yourself some credit for the effort you are putting in. The effort is the success. If you put too much pressure on yourself to hit your goals you will probably end up unhappy. Always maintain the attitude that you can laugh at any situation and don’t take yourself too seriously. Be patient.
Another way to deal with a setback is to give yourself a mental break and focus more on other aspects of your life for a short
period of time. This does not mean to quit your workout program, but rather keep exercising and tweaking your workouts while simultaneously focusing more of your mental energy on your work or relationships.

Have multiple life goals outside of your fitness goals. This allows you to continue getting positive reinforcement from another
area of your life when your fitness is hitting a plateau.

Focus on the positives of what you are doing and the results that you have already achieved. In our quest to be successful it is easy to forget the success already obtained along the journey. Don’t discount it. It matters. Nothing is too small of a victory. Celebrate the fact that you are even striving toward a fitness goal. Celebrate that you are exercising regularly. Be proud when you eat one healthy meal in a day. These are different ways to keep a positive outlook on your journey and feel like you are progressing.

Read a book on having a positive attitude. These books can serve a great purpose and give you motivation when you are feeling down. A book is also a way to slow down a racing mind and to focus your energies on something other than your obstacles. Listen to motivational speeches in your car or on your mp3 player. Sometimes hearing positive reinforcement come from someone else—anyone else—can make a real difference.

Find a friend who will listen to your struggle. Sometimes all you need to do is express that bottled up disappointment in order to
start fresh again. This is a great way to also bond with a friend or a loved one who can support you on your journey. They may become the one to give you that push you need when you feel like giving up. And instead of going out for ice cream to talk about it, talk it over during a brisk walk. You’ll feel twice as good at the end.

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