Why a Calorie Isn’t Just a Calorie

We used to believe that calories were all created equal. It sounded like common sense, seeing as one dietary calorie contains 4,284 Joules of energy. This naturally led us to believe that if you consume 2,000 calories a day and burn 2,000 calories a day, homeostasis on your body will be the result. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case—100 calories of gummy bears act very differently when consumed than 100 calories of asparagus—and adopting the blind calorie-counting method of eating is at least part of the reason we see more obesity as a society in recent decades. Here are a few examples that highlight HOW all calories aren’t created equal:


Fructose versus Glucose

Fructose and glucose are two simple sugars in many foods, and one gram of each gives you the same number of calories; however, your body metabolizes them very differently. Fructose is predominantly only be metabolized in the liver, where as glucose gets metabolized by all the tissues in the body. On top of this, fructose leads to higher levels of the hormone Ghrelin (known as the hunger hormone). So, consuming more fructose means you’ll probably feel more hunger than satiation. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15181085).  In case that’s not enough reason to steer clear of fructose—and, of course, high-fructose corn syrup—it has also been shown to lead to insulin resistance and an increase in fat around your mid-section. But wait, isn’t there fructose in fruit? There is, but fruit are also rich in fiber and water, which prevents much of the negative damage. The long and the short of it is fructose calories do more hormonal and metabolic damage on your health than glucose.



Protein’s Metabolic Advantage

 Different foods go through different metabolic pathways in your body, some of which are more effective than others. For example, protein has four calories per gram, but much of these calories are lost as heat when your body metabolizes them (what is known as the thermic effect). In other words, it requires much more energy to metabolize protein than it does to metabolize fat and carbs.

 Thermic Effect Percentages:

• Protein: 25-30%

• Carbs: 6-8 %

• Fat: 2-3 %

 Based on the above percentages, this means if you consume 100 calories of protein, you end up with only 75 calories in your body, because of the 25% thermic effect (meaning 25% of protein’s calories get lost as heat). On the other hand, if you eat 100 grams of carbs, your body will still end up with 94 calories, because you only lose around 6 calories as heat due to the thermic effect. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11838888). It’s no surprise then that various studies have shown that a higher protein diet boosts your metabolism as compared to a lower protein diet.



Protein and Portion Control

 On top of its metabolic effect, protein also has a special appetite-killing power, so to speak. Protein calories are the most effective at making you feel full. You have probably noticed this. You can eat waffle after waffle loaded with berries, but you’re likely not going to eat three steaks for dinner. This study (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16002798) showed that people who eat more protein (30 percent of their diet was protein) ate 441 fewer calories per day and lost 11 lb. on average in 12 weeks. This essentially comes down to the satiety index. I already pointed out how your body feels like a bottomless pit when you’re throwing back waffles, or ice cream, but you’ll have a hard time getting the same amount of calories of milk, eggs or meat into your system.



Glycemic Index

 The glycemic index basically has to do with measuring how fast foods raise your blood sugar. As expected, highly refined carbohydrates spike your blood sugar faster than protein and healthy fats, for example. Blood sugar spikes lead to blood sugar crashes, which lead to cravings for more high-carb foods. In short, eating more foods higher on the glycemic index means you’re putting yourself more at risk of both gaining weight and getting Type 2 diabetes.


 If you want more nutrition advice, come talk to us.








Pass the Salt Please!

Study says you can stop feeling guilty when you ask your neighbour to “Pass the salt, please!” Fat used to be sinful, and now it’s not. Sugar was never great, but now we know how awful it is for us. And then there’s salt. Salt has always been moderately evil—it has been thought to cause high-blood pressure and heart problems—to the point that some health professionals say 0 grams of salt a day for many people is best. Especially for old people, they say. If you have ever visited a grandparent in assisted living and joined them for lunch, you probably ate a whole lot of bland, tasteless, saltless food.


The WHO (World Health Organization)’s generic recommendation is to consume than 2 grams of salt a day to ensure you stay free from high blood pressure and strokes. To put that into context, 100 grams of bacon has around 1,7 grams of sodium, so if you ate bacon for breakfast that’s pretty much your salt for the day according to the WHO. Don’t even think about sprinkling any additional salt on your eggs or avocado! Good new for salt lovers is this could all be poor advice, says a new study, which involved more then 90,000 people in more than 18 countries, published in the Lancet Medical Journal. The study says no country has ever reduced their sodium intake to those low levels, nor should they try. Link to the study: (https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(18)31376-X/fulltext).


The Canadian researchers discovered salt’s alleged harmful effects were only relevant in countries, such as China, where they use a ton of salty substances, like soy sauce, very liberally, and where people tend to consume more than 12 g of salt a day. Not only that, they discovered that incredibly low levels of salt in a person’s diet led to more heart attacks and death than moderate levels of sodium. Their conclusion: Low levels are bad (i.e. 0-5 grams) and high level are bad (above 12.5 g), but somewhere in the middle can actually play a role in improving cardiovascular health, as the body needs sodium—an essential nutrient. The average intake in the UK is believed to be around 8 grams, possible right where it should be, according to this research.

Why Your Body Needs Salt

  • Sodium is needed for our muscles to contract, for regulating fluid balance, for regulating blood pressure, and for our nervous system to properly transmit signals.
  • Sodium also helps you absorb chloride, amino acids, glucose and water in your intestines.


Despite these new findings, the study has already been stirring up big criticism from the anti-sodium camp, and has even sparked a movement among other scientists to prove them wrong. One of their biggest challenges is that the Lancet study didn’t properly measure how much sodium was in people’s urine, as this needs to be done over a 24-hour period of time, they argue. You can read more about the criticism to this study here: (https://www.heart.org/en/news/2018/07/17/experts-criticize-new-study-about-salt-consumption) Another aspect of the study to consider is potassium intake. The research found that cardiovascular problems decreased when people were also eating higher levels of potassium—which is found in plenty in many vegetables, fruits, as well as nuts. So perhaps it’s less about sodium intake and more about potassium intake? Something to consider for future research.


Why is Potassium Important?

  • Potassium regulates fluid balance, muscle contractions and plays a role in your nervous system. A high-potassium diet is believed to reduce blood pressure and water retention, as well as it helps stave off cardiovascular troubles, osteoporosis and kidney stones.
  • low potassium is associated with high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, arthritis, digestive problems and infertility
  • Check out more about potassium and if you’re getting enough of it here: https://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/potassium-sources-and-benefits#1    



One more final thought about salt to take with a grain of salt (Because it’s coming from my common sense, not a doctor): If you sweat a lot, especially in the summer, you probably can handle more salt than otherwise. So the next time you want to ask for salt but feel like you might offend the cook as the implication might be the food is bland, don’t hold back. You need sodium as much as any other mineral in your body and if you’re craving salty foods, there might be a reason for it.

Hand Protection 101

Our Guide to Treating and Protecting Your Hands


If you have spent any time on the barbell, swinging KBs around, or doing pull-ups or toes-to-bar, you have probably experienced a blister or a rip. (If you’re still a rip virgin, chances are you won’t be for long, so you too, can listen up). It generally starts with an uncomfortable feeling somewhere on your hand or finger as you feel your skin shift and loosen up. Generally, it’s enough to signal you to hop off the bar and tape up, or stop the movement altogether for the day. However, sometimes it’s too late. The skin has already ripped off, or a water or blood blister, has already formed. What do you do next? Should you pop the blister? Should you cut any dangling skin? Keep it moist? Dry it out? Let’s address these one by one.




The old-school gymnastics coach advice is to grab a needle and thread and poke a hole on one side of your blister, and then string the thread through and out the other side of the blister. Gymnasts far and wide have been known to go to bed with thread hanging out on both sides of their blister. What this does is help dry the rip out—via the small air hole made from the needle—all the while keeping the skin covering and protecting the rip. Sounds kind of gross but it does work and some people like this method. It is certainly better than popping the blood blister and force ripping the skin off, leaving your hand stingy and vulnerable for the next 24 hours.

However, if you’re going to avoid any hand movements for a couple days, then it’s often best just to leave the blister be. That skin will rip off at some point, but if it has a couple days to sit and heal, by the time the skin rips off, it will be a lot dryer and much less painful than a newly-formed open rip in the middle of your hand.




If you have ripped, but the skin is still sitting nice and flat over the rip, then it’s probably best to leave the skin as is. But if the skin is dangling, and especially if you’re planning on continuing to work with your hands that day or the following day, then definitely grab some scissors or cuticle cutters and cut off the loose skin. If you don’t, the skin is likely to keep pulling back further and further, making your rip longer and deeper and more painful.

When you do cut the skin off, it’s best to grab some fine grain sandpaper or a pumice stone and gently smooth the callus out around the edge of the rip when the skin is soft – like just out of the shower. Again, this will prevent the skin from pulling back further and aggravating the rip even more.




 The million dollar question! This one is a bit like Goldilocks: You want to aim for not too moist, not too dry, but just right. If you keep lathering polysporin on your rips, or Aloe, or some other product, sometimes it can backfire and slow healing because it keeps the wound too moist, which makes it even more tender. However, if you don’t do anything and let it dry out, then sometimes it gets so dry it cracks and forms an even deeper, more painful rip. The best approach is to put some sort of disinfecting ointment on the right away and cover it up with a band-aid, but then pull the band-aid off and let your hands air out when you sleep. You’ll find they’ll feel significantly better in the morning when they’re not kept covered and moist overnight. If the rip looks too dry in the morning, put some more product on it. If not, leave it be.

Here are some options for what to put on your rips to speed healing and stop them from getting too dry:


  • Polysporin or Neosporin


  • Aloe


  • Climb On

We are big fans of this stuff! It was introduced to us back in 2010 ish and we have been loving it ever since. We carry it at the gym so don’t hesitate to ask us about it. We have commonly called it “magic in a bottle.” It is what rock climbers use when they rip their fingers climbing and it heals the rip really fast so you’re able to get back on the barbell or pull up rig a lot quicker than if you left the rip alone.



Though ripping your hands is sometimes inevitable, like with any ailment, prevention is the best medicine. And there are three steps that can be taken to avoid ripping in the first place:


1. Keep Calluses Thin and Pliable

One of the most common places for calluses to become thick and stiff is right at the base of your fingers where they meet your palm. It’s worth spending a few minutes each day checking out what your calluses are doing and filing them down to thin them out, again either with fine grain sandpaper file (we carry these in our pro shop) or a pumice stone.


  1. The Goldilocks Rule

Same goes for the moisture level of your skin. If your hands are super dry, it’s worth applying a moisturizer before going to bed. Dry skin can lead to cracks, which turn into rips.


  1. Grips or Tape

If you’re going to be doing 100 pull-ups, it’s best to throw on some grips or tape you’re hands as a prevention measure. The Natural Grip makes some great ones. We sell them at the gym so you can take a look at them in our pro shop. There are a bunch of different kinds of gymnastics grips – but it really depends on you, the athlete, as to how they feel on your hand. Go with something you’re comfortable with.