Vegan vs. Plant-based: Which One is for You?

As pro-vegan documentaries continue to permeate your Netflix cue at an ever-rapid pace, this article might be more important than ever (but still less important than it will be by the time I’m done writing this post).

When we built the Josh Mavilia Fitness Pyramid of Nutritional Illustriousness, one of the foundational elements that we included was “plant-based.”

Along with drinking water and stocking your refrigerator and cabinets with minimally-processed food items, we felt that eating mostly plants was an important component of a well-rounded nutritional approach.

Plant-based dieting doesn’t mean you avoid eating animals. It doesn’t mean that you avoid eating animal products like cheese or eggs. It doesn’t mean that you need to buy veggie burgers and other frozen plant-based American foods (like fake meat). Being plant-based simply means that you majority of your food intake comes from plants and plant-based foods.

This is different from being vegan.

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“Tom Brady Doesn’t Eat Tomatoes”: A Book Review

I was skeptical at first. I downloaded the book at 6:15 in the morning in the middle of a group session so that we could have a team discussion about the contents.

We’d heard all the speculation:

“Tom Brady doesn’t eat tomatoes.”

“Tom Brady’s kids only eat sushi.”

“Tom Brady only works on his flexibility with bands.”

Announcers, radio talk show hosts, the internet – everyone was trying to make heads or tails of Tom Brady’s training regimen before this book came out. And when the rumors are basically being crowd-sourced by a gaggle of non-fitness professionals, things start to sound a little bit weird.

So, thank God this book came out. Although Tom might be a partial frontman for what seems to be, at times, Alex’s thoughts, the book is great.

I love it.

At least that’s what I thought at first.

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What You Need to Do to Fix Butt-wink in Your Squat

It’s called butt-wink.

In hindsight, I think we probably could have come up with a better name than “butt-wink,” but I digress.

Butt-wink (a.k.a. butt-tuck a.k.a. posterior tilt a.k.a. pelvic tilt) occurs near the bottom of a squat where the pelvic tilts itself posteriorly to create space and achieve greater depth. It’s a frequent occurrence in gyms all over the country and there have been countless articles devoted to the source of butt-winking and what you can do about it.

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Calorie Burning Is NEAT

First off, let’s get some definitions out there so that this article makes a little more sense.

NEAT stands for non-exercise-activity thermogenesis. Simply put, NEAT is all of the energy that you spend doing things like surfing Facebook, standing in line at Dunkin Donuts, walking the dog, and staring at eclipses. You know, normal every day stuff.

NEAT is one of four major components to your total caloric burn for the day.

Your basal metabolic rate (BMR) is actually the biggest component. BMR accounts for all of the energy that your body needs to simply keep itself alive and running smoothly throughout the day. This supports normal brain function, cellular maintenance, and minutia like making sure your heart is beating & your lungs are inhaling oxygen.

The other two components are your exercise thermogenesis and the thermic effect of food (a.k.a. digestion). Together, these round out the four major contributors to calorie needs throughout the day.

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Myth Busting: Intermittent Fasting

As with many diet fads, intermittent fasting (IF) comes and goes. It picks up steam within certain communities and then gradually falls off as another fad comes along and presents itself as the better alternative.

I’ve seen a lot of information about intermittent fasting around the internet lately, so I figured I’d take a second to debunk some popular myths regarding this dietary strategy.

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What The Health Indeed

If you’ve been on the internet for even three seconds lately, especially on Facebook, then you’ve probably seen videos and commentary from a documentary entitled What The Health. From the doc’s website,

What the Health is the groundbreaking follow-up film from the creators of the award-winning documentary Cowspiracy. The film exposes the collusion and corruption in government and big business that is costing us trillions of healthcare dollars, and keeping us sick.

What The Health is a surprising, and at times hilarious, investigative documentary that will be an eye-opener for everyone concerned about our nation’s health and how big business influences it.

Actually, a pretty good description. It doesn’t claim itself to be vegan, vegetarian, or cow-hugging. And it was created by the same people that created the documentary Cowspiracy, a film that investigates the effects of animal agriculture on our environment’s health.

What The Health takes a different approach, mostly concerned with animal and animal product consumption by humans as a chief influencer of our health and our nation’s biggest health concerns.

After a brief Google search, I was unable to find any film reviews by any of my impartial fitness colleagues, so I took some notes and want to share what I found.

For the record, I am in strong agreement that animal agriculture is affecting our environmental health in a similar fashion to other industries like transportation. But What The Health is about human health, so let’s go. (And also for the record, this review will contain not only evaluations of facts, but also critique of the way in which those facts were presented. Presentation is, of course, the key to getting into the mind of the viewer and it’s important to present facts with integrity.)

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Why I Named The Gym After Myself

The most interesting phenomenon (in my opinion) in the training world is the desire of most young trainers to work with professional athletes.

Around the time that Crossfit exploded and planted itself in every town in North America (sometimes multiple times), personal training and performance training centers starting popping up all across the United States. I guess I probably notice it more because I live in such a densely-populated area – the South Shore of Massachusetts is literally freckled with people and businesses.

These training centers all came with the same common theme: nobody was naming the business after themselves. Instead, the business name frequently center around words like performance, power, premier, advantage, optimal, and ultimate.

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The Value Of Stretching

When many people think of “tightness” within a muscle, they might imagine a muscle that is physically short and unable to elongate itself to the proper length. Thus, we stretch that muscle in hopes of making some sort of mechanical alteration.

But think of it this way for a minute: instead of using the word tight or tightness, use the word tension. The feeling of tension within a muscle, similar to the sensation of pain, has a large neurological component.

It’s also important to remember that tension can arise in muscles for a number of reasons. There are psychosocial factors to tension and “tightness” within a muscle. For instance, prior injury can induce tension in a muscle or nearby muscle group in order to protect again future injury. As an example, someone with a history of back injury might feel tension throughout the lower back as a protective mechanism. As another example, someone performing an exercise or activity that previously induced pain into a certain area might feel pain or tension even without any structural harm being done.

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How Do I Optimize My Workouts For Fat Loss?

You Should Read This If You:

  • Are interested in losing fat
  • Want to optimize your workouts
  • Are interested in being healthier or “just feeling better”
  • Enjoy comparing apples and oranges

It’s no secret that “fat loss” is probably one of the top three most common goals of the non-competitive gym-goer. But don’t read that as a criticism of the 99% of people that never play a sport past their senior year of high school.

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Eat Like An Adult

A few years ago, I came up with the acronym DEER. I even wrote a short pdf about it. It stands for “Drink more water, eat more protein, eat more vegetables, and replace crap.” See, when I’m coaching nutrition, I generally start by asking somebody to drink more water. It’s fairly simple and a relatively “win-able” task that helps set somebody up on the right path.

Protein always came next. Protein assists in recovery from workouts, requires more energy to digest, and usually keeps us satiated longer. The third thing was always vegetables. Vegetables are usually the hardest thing to add to a diet. Our Western diet doesn’t include many vegetables (save for the lettuce, tomato, and red onion on our cheeseburgers) and it can be tough to find a “spot” for them in our meals and snacks. So this is where people usually get hung up.

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