If you’re not already a fan of MFF on FB… you’re missing out! Every month or two, I’m gonna open up my bulging brain and let you poke around for answers to any and all burning fitness questions. Like us on Facebook and keep your eyes peeled, and I look forward to providing you some guidance on the path to optimal health and hotness!
Richard Dery: What is the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for sodium intake when working out? I have seen conflicting info on the Internet.
MF: While there’s a lot of viewpoints out there, the generally accepted RDA is 2300 mg, with 1500 mg being the ceiling for folks with blood pressure issues.
Eric M Ruiz: What about “powering through” when you’re sick vs. taking a break completely… And when is it okay to start working out again if rest is the answer?
MF: As a rule of thumb, I recommend giving the body a break when you’re sick. When the body is trying to devote its energies to healing, it’s best to let it do just that. High intensity workouts also depress the immune system, which is not the best when your body is recovering.
Now there COULD be a place for training as you start to feel better. This is where you have to play a round of “Ninja Know Thyself”; while there’s no exact algorithm, once you’re on the path to recovery, a low intensity workout can help stimulate the immune system.
Keep word is LOW intensity. A lot of folks have a hard time not going crazy, and if that’s the case, it’s better to wait until you’re fully recovered.
Charlie Owens: What about working the core? Can you do these exercises every day or is there a way to split core workouts?
MF: Once again, there a lot of different viewpoints here. At MFF, we tend to train the core every workout (3-5 times per week for most folks), but we also focus on core exercises based on resisting movement. In other words, if we’re training the core directly, we’ll use moves like plank variations and generally steer clear of traditional ab training like crunches and sit-ups. More info about that here!
It’s also worth noting that free weight exercises done properly almost always have a core component. So when you’re doing technically proficient squats, lunges, push-ups, deadlifts, etc., you’re also getting a core training effect!
Jacqueline Baligian: I am confused about what I should eat before & after taking class. Protein, carbs?
MF: This depends to some extent on goals, but we do have some general guidelines. We generally like folks to train with some food in their system (unless we’re using sexy nutritional Intermittent Fasting strategies), but generally we want protein before, and carbs and protein after. If someone’s looking for muscle gain, we’ll often recommend carbs and protein before AND after.
Evens Joseph: I keep reading about HIIT workouts. What’s the deal?
MF: HIIT is an acronym for something called High Intensity Interval Training. HIIT is essentially an interval-style training modality that alternates shorter periods of balls to the walls with longer periods of recovery from slapping your balls against said wall.
Although there are many variants, a classic interval would 30 seconds of “FUUUUUCK!” followed by 90 seconds of “holy fuck that was intense…” Practically speaking, one example would be hill sprints followed by a light jog or power walk.
HIIT trains a different energy system than traditional steady state cardio (keeping a consistent moderate intensity level) and has been shown to be way more effective for fat loss, for both absolute fat loss and time efficiency.
Stella Ferezy Kaufman: Out-train your diet? Still not a thing??
MF: Due to the pesky laws of science, it’s STILL not effective to try to out-train your diet. That said, I’ll be the first to let folks know if the universe somehow starts operating under different laws and humans are suddenly able to offset epic ice cream consumption by training their asses off! In the meantime, we’ll still need to be mindful of nutrition if we want optimal health and hotness, alas…
Mara Litzer Ruttger: Nutrition is my biggest obstacle. I know what I should/shouldn’t eat, but just can’t resist temptations!! Help!!!!
MF: Another very common concern! When the issue is execution as opposed to knowledge, the psychological elements become the most important focus. While fully addressing this is beyond the scope of a quick Q and A, this often boils down to finding the deep motivation to choose what we want MOST over what we want NOW.
At MFF, we call this the “WHY.” Getting crystal clear about WHY it is that someone wants to achieve their fitness goal is usually the first crucial step to developing the will power to adapt the necessary behavior!
After that, it’s key to set yourself up for success. Getting buy-in from friends and family and finding social support and accountability is an important but underappreciated part of the process!
Leslie Henstock: I have two. 1) Fruit. I like fruit. But it puts me over that carb number so fast! And yet I feel like I’m only eating fruit! Not the french fries I want! So I guess I wonder about the good carb vs. bad carb thing. 2) For somebody with a CRAZY, all-over-the-place schedule (hint…her name starts with an L and ends with an eslie.) is Intermittent Fasting (IF) really possible? If some days I’m out and going at 8am and others I’m not even awake until 11am, I wonder if IF is realistic for me to try. Thoughts?
MF: 1) Yep, fruit’s delicious! That said, like all foods, fruit does have calories. While I will be hard pressed to tell anyone to cut back on their fruit intake, I have on occasion seen folks go so completely overboard with fruit that they hinder their physique goals.
While I don’t necessarily believe in “good carbs” or “bad carbs,” some carbs are more or less helpful from a health and hotness perspective. For example, highly processed carbs are generally not gonna be your friend for either goal. And while I will generally categorize most unprocessed whole food sources like fruit as “better” carbs, you still have to be mindful of total caloric intake if you’re looking to lose body fat.
2) Intermittent fasting is indeed an option, even if your schedule is nuts. If you’re looking at Brad Pilon/Eat Stop Eat once or twice a week 24 hour fasts, obviously it’s no problem at all.
If you’re looking at daily fast variants like Martin Berkhan/Lean Gains, 8 hours of eating/16 hours of fasting, it can still be doable, but may cause you a bit of grief as your body won’t ever get into a rhythm if you’re changing your eating window every single day. When you do the same window every day, your body adjusts after a few days and you usually won’t be hungry until it’s “time” to eat. When you vary every day, it never quite gets its bearings and you may find your tummy growling.
It’s also worth noting that while IF is AWESOME for a lot of folks, we’ve found many women anecdotally seem to have a harder time with the daily variations, presumably due to the stress it can place on the system. As always, your best bet is to try shit out and see what works!
Erin Sjostrom: What are your thoughts on monitoring your alkaline levels? I saw a presentation on a Low Alkaline diet once and it sounded SO amazing to me (like… the cure to cancer AND obesity amazing)… but that could have just been because the people were amazing salespeople and they wanted me to buy their algae pills. Is it a real thing or just a fad?
MF: To be entirely honest, I don’t know a lot about this, but my bullshit detector starts going off the charts when someone is looking to sell a single product and claiming that it cures cancer and obesity. So while I’m opening to hearing more about it, and while I fully concede it’s reasonable that alkaline levels will affect health, my instinct is its importance is being overstated.
As is a common topic of conversation at MFF, humans are often understandably desperate for a reductionist ANSWER. While our hearts crave the comfort of a magic bullet, we live in a multi-factorial world with many shades of grey. As a general rule of thumb, when someone is a zealot for the ANSWER, I’m automatically skeptical. Particularly when they make a profit of selling the ANSWER. 🙂
Thanks for the great questions guys! Look out for more opportunities to pick my brain every month or two!!