Located in Sterling, VA (703) 421-1200

Three Pillars of Health: Weight Training, Intermittent Fasting, and Nutrition

Total Results is not simply an instructional exercise facility. Yes, exercise is critically important, and in order to achieve a top notch workout experience you need a clinically-controlled environment with proper temperature controls, specially engineered equipment, and a knowledgeable instructor to regulate safety and push you to the requisite level of effort. I see myself as a teacher, and that goes well beyond what happens during the 20 minutes of your workout. In my estimation, there are three pillars of health that will optimize your results. Those pillars are intermittent fasting, proper nutrition, and high-intensity weight training. I discuss these three concepts with clients on a regular basis.

Intermittent fasting involves waiting at least 12 hours between your last meal of one day and your first meal of the next day. That description is a bit simplistic, but it's not really that complicated to understand once you dive in a little deeper. Most recommendations call for fasting between 14 and 18 hours per day, but other sources have suggested fasting for 24 hours a couple of times per week. A 16 hour fast and 8 hour feeding window (time between your first and last meal of the day) is what I generally stick to, and it's not as difficult to follow as you might think. The benefits of fasting include hormone regulation, blood sugar control (avoiding spikes and crashes), lowering blood pressure, fat loss, reducing systemic inflammation, maintaining insulin sensitivity, and enhancing your body's ability to use body fat as a primary fuel source. There are a lot of different ways you can practice intermittent fasting; through experimentation you can find the strategy that best fits your lifestyle. It's a bit of a challenge at first, but after a few days or a week you find it's not that difficult, especially since you should be asleep through a large portion of the fasting period. If you eat a proper diet, fasting comes much easier, which smoothly brings me to the next pillar of health.

Nutrition is the means of giving your body the raw materials it needs to not only achieve and maintain homeostasis, but also make physical improvements. If you don't put the right fuel into your car, it won't go anywhere. You need all three macronutrients: protein, carbohydrates, and fat, although carbohydrates are the least important to consume. This is because the body can create glucose out of other substances through a process called gluconeogenesis. There are essential fatty acids, and essential amino acids, but no such thing as an essential carbohydrate. This is why ketogenic diets are quite successful. I'm not suggesting that you need to get on a ketogenic diet (although I wouldn't discourage you if you did), but I do recommend a single-ingredient, whole foods approach. Limit sugars and processed foods, and if you see ingredients on food packaging that you cannot pronounce, you don't need them. Try to get your carbohydrates largely through fruits and vegetables, but minimize the fruits with high glycemic indexes (like bananas). You need protein that comes from quality sources: chicken, fish, beef, eggs. Eat plenty of good saturated fat; this will come from the aforementioned protein sources, but also through butter, nuts, and some other dairy like full-fat yogurt. If there were a fourth pillar of health I would include supplementation with vitamins and minerals, but it makes sense to include that here. At minimum, take a vitamin D supplement, but also consider fish oil, magnesium, vitamin C, and zinc. These will help fill in any nutritional gaps you may have, and also enhance your immune system.

Weight training is the X factor. Total Results exercise is essential for building and maintaining lean muscle, improving bone mineral density, strengthening connective tissue, improving metabolic and cardiovascular conditioning, increasing your resistance to injury, and helping you to maintain your functional independence. That is a lot to accomplish in one or two 20-minute sessions per week! Our exercise protocol can also help with things you probably haven't even considered, like contributing to better sleep, stress management, and improved focus. Your skeletal muscle is the only type of muscle tissue over which you have volitional control, and it is the single most important contributing factor to your overall body shape and appearance. No other form of physical activity can do more for your body or your mind than strength training, and the Total Results exercise protocol is the safest of them all. Five to seven exercises encompassing the entire body, performed once or twice per week in proper form and with great effort, is all that you need. It's certainly not easy, but it is simple.

All three pillars of health must be practiced in order to optimize results. As I have said before, exercise is not a panacea. It is an extremely important component, but only one cog in the wheel. If you weight train without intermittent fasting or proper nutrition, you will get stronger but may carry excess body fat, have blood sugar fluctuations, unregulated hormone levels, and be deficient in several key vitamins and nutrients. Although intermittent fasting can make up for some holes in your diet, without weight training you won't speed up your metabolism, combat sarcopenia, or reverse osteoporosis. On top of that, consuming a traditional western diet with lots of sugars and processed foods will make it virtually impossible to get into ketosis or fast comfortably. Proper nutrition will not yield maximum results without the other two pillars.

You must incorporate all three health pillars in order to optimize not only your physical improvements, but your overall health. Combining all three is not as difficult as it seems, but it does require a true desire to change and a willingness to be honest with yourself in order to make lifestyle changes. If you create good habits that are simple, they will be easier to follow. Making an appointment at Total Results will not only instill a sense of accountability, it will help you get into a sustainable routine. Schedule a consultation and start practicing the three pillars of health today!

Posted January 26, 2024 by Matthew Romans