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Fueling for Your Workouts

With Cliff Edberg, RD, Master Trainer

Cliff Edberg
Season 3, Episode 14 | June 29, 2021

Fueling for workouts can be tricky: How we do it depends on a lot of individual factors, and it can take time to learn what does or does not work for us. Cliff Edberg, RD, Master Trainer at Life Time, breaks down what we need to know about pre- and post-workout nutrition, and offers general guidelines we can start with to then hone in on what’s best for us.

Cliff Edberg is a Master Trainer, Registered Dietitian, and the director of strategic growth initiatives for Life Time Training. Through his work, he’s helped thousands of members reach their goals of living a healthy, happy life.

“Having a set workout with a start and stop, that’s easy. With pre- and post-workout nutrition, you have to consider things like timing, food selection, type of workout, and your metabolism, lifestyle, preferences, and goals,” says Edberg. “All those come together to make it really challenging. There’s no one simple answer. There are guidelines, then you hone in on what works for you.

These are the general guidelines and some example food choices Edberg would suggest for two of the most popular goals we see: weight loss and performance. Take a look, then listen to the full episode for more insight and advice from Edberg around this complex topic.

For Weight-Loss Goals

Macro Breakdown Carbs: Low

Protein: Moderate-to-high

Fat: Moderate-to-low

Pre-Workout 2–3 hours: Bun-less burger with tomato, lettuce, and avocado

60–90 minutes: Greek yogurt with berries

20–30 minutes: High-quality protein shake

Post-Workout 30–45 minutes: High-quality protein shake

For Performance Goals

Macro Breakdown Carbs: Moderate-to-high

Protein: Moderate

Fat: Low

Pre-Workout 2–3 hours: Chicken breast, broccoli, and brown rice

60–90 minutes: Greek yogurt parfait with berries and oats

20–30 minutes: High-quality protein shake

Post-Workout 30–45 minutes: High-quality protein shake

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Transcript: Fueling for Your Workouts

Season 14, Episode 14  | June 29, 2021

Jamie Martin

Welcome to Life Time Talks, the healthy-living podcast that’s aimed at helping you achieve your health, fitness, and life goals. I’m Jamie Martin, editor-in-chief of Experience Life, Life Time’s whole-life health and fitness magazine.

David Freeman

And I’m David Freeman, the national digital performer brand leader for Life Time. We’re all in different places when it comes to our health and fitness, but no matter what we are working toward, there are some essential things we can do to keep moving in the direction of a healthy, purpose-driven life.

Jamie Martin

In each episode, we break down the various elements of healthy living, including fitness and nutrition, mindset and community, health issues, and more. We’ll also share real inspiring stories of transformation.

David Freeman

And we’ll also be talking to experts from Life Time and beyond, who’ll share their insights and knowledge, so you’ll have the tools and information you need to take charge of your next steps. Here we go.

[MUSIC]

Jamie Martin
Hi, everyone. I’m Jamie Martin.

David Freeman
And I’m David Freeman.

Jamie Martin
This episode of Life Time Talks is all about pre- and post-workout nutrition, why it matters, how it supports our body, and why it’s part of a much larger strategy that can support our fitness efforts. Our guest today is Cliff Edberg. He is a Master Trainer, Registered Dietitian, and the director of strategic growth initiatives for Life Time Training.

As a trainer and dietitian at Life Time, he has helped thousands of members reach their goals of living a healthy, happy life, and that success and passion has led to the opportunity to create new, innovative ways in which all Life Time trainers can further support their clients. This ranges from nationally educating all Life Time trainers on exercise, nutrition, lifestyle, and human metabolism, to creating new avenues to support clients through programs like virtual training, and Cliff is a wealth of knowledge. He gave us so much information in this episode. David, what were some of your highlights from Cliff?

David Freeman
There were a lot. There were a lot, and the ones that stood out to me the most is what people talk about the most when we think of our macros, when we talk about proteins, carbs, and fats, but he talked about the functionality of each one of them and the purpose that they serve and how they can benefit you. Another part that stood out to me is how carbs can be your friend. So, you definitely, all the listeners who are in, right now, you want to listen to this episode because he clearly defines a lot, and he informs you with the information, he empowers you with the knowledge for you to make a choice, and that’s one thing that stood out to me.

Jamie Martin
One of my takeaways was similar to yours, the conversation we had around carbs and how they’re not our enemies, necessarily. It really comes down to your individual tolerance for carbs and paying attention to how you feel what they do, and also depending on your goal, how you time your carb intake. So, they’re not our enemy. They are our friend. There are opportunities to work with them to your health benefit, and one of the other things for me, in this episode, and you know, David, you heard me say that, is like I have a lot of opportunities around optimizing my nutrition, especially in support of my fitness efforts, and so, for me, it was just a really good reminder to really think about how I fuel for my workouts, how I fuel afterwards to really make my efforts worthwhile.

You know I put in all this work. Let’s do this. Like, how do we fuel to really make the most of all those things that we’ve done? So, this was full of a lot of really good reminders. There was a lot here. There’s a lot of stuff here that I feel like we could go into much deeper depth on. So, this is kind of a primer. I feel like on pre and post-workout nutrition, we’re going to have to come back and have some deeper conversations, but that’s where it was for me. So, I don’t know, any other final thoughts before we dive in and let just people hear what Cliff has to say?

David Freeman
No. Close your eyes, everybody. Close your eyes. I want you guys to hear me loud and clear here, Alright? I want you to be able to digest the pre and post-workout nutrition by Cliff Edberg in this episode. Let’s go.

[MUSIC]

David Freeman

Life Time Talks. How you doing, brother?

Cliff Edberg
I’m great. Thanks for having me.

Jamie Martin
Alright. So, Cliff, we’re glad you’re here. Before we dive into the topic at hand today, we’re talking pre- and post-workout nutrition, tell us a little bit about how you have come to be in the role you’re in, why you’re passionate about health and fitness and nutrition?

Cliff Edberg
Oh wow. That goes way back. Going after my why.

Jamie Martin
I am.

Cliff Edberg

If I were to summarize it real quick, give you the cliff notes, if you will, I was morbidly obese as a kid, and through a lot of really impactful people in my life, they got me connected with exercise and nutrition. I was able to change how I looked, how I felt, how people looked at me and treated me, which led me down a path of chasing after a degree in exercise science, a degree in dietetics, and those two credentials led me to Life Time as a frontline personal trainer and dietician at the corporate office…or across from the corporate office in Chanhassen, Minnesota, and then, as I continued to work with people, being able to both empathize and sympathize with their situation, whether they’re seeking health and wellness, weight loss, performance, a physique they’ve always desired about, I was able to do enough things correctly where I’ve continued to be given opportunities to impact more people, which ultimately led to working with our trainers and educating them around some of the things that I’m passionate about in how to inspire and motivate their customers, their members, their clients, and ultimately led me here.

Jamie Martin
That’s awesome.

David Freeman
Wow, one, after knowing you now for…it has to be, now, almost 10-plus years, now, remember our first introduction, this was back in 2000 . . . I want to say 11, and I don’t know if it was a boot camp or something. I just remember I was working out in the gym, and I pretty much, I do remember throwing up. I don’t know if you remember that, but nonetheless, thank you for sharing that story because I never knew that, and that kind of allows us to kind of segue into the focus of the day as far as going back to me first time meeting you, and then I remember the workout. The pre- and post-workout is something that is a key element, and a lot of us start to plan our workouts from start to finish, when we look at acute variables, the sets, the reps, so on and so forth, but we don’t intentionally think of how to fuel our bodies before we start to exert these high efforts. So, why pre and post-workout nutrition is important, and why so many of us tend to give it less attention, why do you think that is, with your background?

Cliff Edberg
That is a lot to unpack in one singular question. I feel like that could be the entire half hour to 45 minutes, right there.

David Freeman
Yeah.

Cliff Edberg
One, I think it’s challenging, right? Having a set workout that’s a start and stop, 45 minutes to 60 minutes that is easy to find through a local professional, through the internet, versus taking the time and consideration around your own lifestyle, your own timing, your own wake window, food selection, the amount of time you’re giving before your workout, the type of workout, evaluating your current metabolism and how foods might affect you differently, what your goal might be, and all those things come together make it really challenging to have a full thought, especially if you don’t have the knowledge or know where to seek the knowledge to get the answer that’s right for you, and ultimately, I would say, too, is it’s an experiment, just like with exercise, right, David? Like, we know that we have people that thrive with heavy weights. We know that we have people thrive with volume, and then there’s preference within that, too, right? I could give you the perfect pre and post, but if you don’t like the food, or the timing doesn’t work with your lifestyle, it’s just not going to work.

So, there’s, for sure, an art and a science, and there’s no one simple answer for somebody. There’s guidelines, and then you just kind of hone in on what works for you. So, I think therein lies the challenges. A workout’s a workout, and you know what you like, and you like to sweat, and you like to feel sore, and you can see some success, but it’s harder to understand did that pre/post workout scheme that I did today do what I was looking for, because it’s not just a moment. It’s just not a workout. It’s a culmination of weeks and months of effort that will go that is or is not working for me. So, I feel like I didn’t answer the question at all.

David Freeman
You did. You did.

Cliff Edberg
But it could maybe put some perspective why this is worth the conversation we’re having today.

Jamie Martin
Absolutely. I think it’s one of those things…it’s something I, personally, really struggle with. I know the basics of healthy eating, right, and I’ve been working out for a really long time, but I’m not always really great about fueling before my workout. Case in point, this morning, I got up, and I dove into a workout. I didn’t eat anything beforehand, know that there’s opportunities there, didn’t really fuel after, like I should have. So, I think this is a thing that’s like what do I do, what’s good for me, what are the whole foods, what are the supplements, all these things? We’re going to get to all of that, but let’s start, first, by really breaking down like the pre-workout nutrition aspect of all of this, you know, what’s happening in our bodies, both physically and mentally, when we head into a workout, with being optimally fueled? And again, for some people, you might not eat a lot or take something versus when we don’t do those things. So, let’s talk specifically pre-workout nutrition first and foremost.

Cliff Edberg
So, I would say, I think the question was what does it look like or what does it feel like to be properly nourished going into a workout?

Jamie Martin
Yes.

Cliff Edberg
So, I would say that’s, it’s twofold. I would say it’s properly nourished and properly hydrated. That’s another consideration that most people don’t take into consideration when they’re planning, because even if you look at some of the research, I would argue it could be as impactful if not more impactful. If you look at being dehydrated going into a workout, you’re going to suppress hormone production, especially anabolic hormones. You’re going to increase your cortisol production. You’re going to decrease your overall performance. So, I would say, first, we need to make sure that you have a strategy for hydration throughout the day, and that’s just not consuming liquid. That is absorbing liquid. Often, I see people just slamming water to say that they got their gallon in, but there’s only a rate in which your body can digest and absorb food and hydration. So, it’s really a strategy throughout the entire day to be properly hydrated. If you’re properly hydrated, and then it looks at the nutrition.

So, really, it’s having the fuel on-hand to perform at the level that you need to perform, given the bout of exercise and your goal. So, again, I might say this to a point of frustration, but it really depends on the person’s goal and where they’re starting at, right? If I have a weight-loss goal, and I’m somebody that might be insulin-resistant or having a really difficult time losing weight versus a elite athlete that needs to perform in the top 1 percent of these workouts on a continual basis to be elite, those are also wildly different, but ultimately, I would say is letting your body partition the fuel that you need either to perform at a high level or for your body to leverage the fuel that you’re hoping to actually get rid of, meaning I need to be able to get access to fatty acids inside of my adipose tissue to lose body fat. So, ultimate nutrition really comes out in the fact that does it help me reach my goal? Am I here to perform and get stronger and faster and jump higher, or is my goal here to release fatty acids into the bloodstream, use those for fuel, and ultimately, over a long period of time, shrink those adipose tissues, lose body fat, and seek health?

Jamie Martin
So, let’s dive into that a little bit. So, we know that about a third of Life Time members, when they join, one of their goals is tied to weight loss. So, let’s use that as an example, and again, we know every individual is different. Our genetics are different. Our preferences are different. Timing matters. In a general sense, like, in that case, where somebody’s really focused on weight loss, what are some general thoughts or guidelines around pre-workout nutrition?

Cliff Edberg
So, and I would say it’s more — I think you said a third.

Jamie Martin
Yeah.

Cliff Edberg
I don’t know if I’ve met somebody that hasn’t wanted to lose a few pounds after working at Life Time for 12 years and working with thousands of folks. So, I think everybody’s looking to seek that, but again, it’s threading the needle between performance and weight loss, but if it’s strictly weight loss, we know, and I’m speaking in generalities. Again, you already spoke to genetics. You spoke to impact of our metabolism or how hormones might partition fuel, but if I, again, generalities, which you’re forcing me to do, which I don’t like to do.

But generalities, I would say that most people, going into that workout to release the fatty acids that they’re looking to do would thrive on a less carb, moderate-to-high protein fuel strategy going into the workout with moderate fat, moderate-to-low fat, to make sure that we’re not exceeding calorie intake, which we’ll just be using throughout the day and throughout the workout, and making sure, with the tendency for those that have struggled with weight loss tend to have more difficulty managing carbohydrate levels and blood sugar levels, and we know that the impact of insulin on your body’s ability to partition fat versus use carbohydrates as fuel. So, if I were to give guidance to somebody going into that workout, again, there’s timing. How long have you been awake? And I’m guessing we’re going to get into that soon, would be a less carbohydrate, moderate-fat meal with moderate-to-high protein intake.

Jamie Martin
Got it. Yeah, and again, generalities here, folks. We’re not saying like this is the for sure thing you should do, but just kind of some overall thinking to get the conversation going there.

David Freeman
Yeah, getting the juices flowing, and then, I’m going to say what Cliff said already, there’s a variety of different things. So, when we look at this cocktail that we’re putting together, and one thing that Cliff said was workout, right? That’s one piece, and then you have programs, right? So, a workout is just that. It’s a workout, but the program is thinking with the end in mind and where we’re trying to go. You have what we will call process goals, right, and then you have your objective, your end goal. People focus so much on that end goal, and I know we were just talking about pre-workout nutrition.

So, when we said generality as far as around how we’re responding here, what Cliff and Jamie are speaking to is, is a relative response because everybody is going to respond differently based off of what their needs are. So, now, when we dive into post-workout, this is a huge piece here because, a lot of times, people think the gains and all that is happening within the actual workout. I just got this pump going. I see my biceps bulging. You know they see it, right there, they feel it, right there, but it’s now the post-workout that is so key to rebuild those muscles that we just broke down. So, what happens when we do, or don’t, optimize making what we do post-workout a priority?

Cliff Edberg
Yeah. That’s a great question, and again, it goes beyond just that. That meal is critical. Don’t get me wrong, but the rest of the day, your sleep, your stress management, all those things play a critical role in recovery from a workout, but again, going back to the question at hand, I just had a workout, and again, I’m either going to be seeking weight loss, I’m seeking performance, I’m seeking adding muscle mass. All are going to be slightly different. So, let’s unpack each one.

So, if I’m going back to the first question around maybe I’m someone who’s seeking weight loss, and I’ve struggled for a while, we know that a workout induces appetite, which is a good thing. It’s a challenging thing at the same time. So, post-workout, I have released enzymes into my body that have helped partition fatty acids for fuel, and if we don’t make the right decision, we can shut down a heightened fat-burning state. So, if somebody’s struggling with weight loss, and maybe they display insulin resistance, not diagnosing anybody, but saying they have a hard time managing blood sugar and using fatty acids for fuel on a regular basis, what I actually will tend to do is extend the time in which they eat and push it out.

So, if we look at that post-workout window, you often hear that first 45 minutes is critical, which it is, but it depends on what your goal is. If you’re somebody that is seeking weight loss, I will challenge you to push that out, managing, being the critical component that you can continue to feel well, don’t have nausea, don’t have low blood sugar, but the longer you push that window out, you start to slip into a deeper fat-burning state, and that’s where, when we look to replenish protein and those amino acids to recover from the workout and repair, again, it goes to the same concept. What is going to help you burn fat in a workout is going to be the one that’s going to help you perpetuate that.

So, post-workout, you’re probably going to continue that lower carbohydrate, moderate protein, moderate fat intake, though I would recommend, at that point, that we would do something that is more quickly digested. We might’ve pushed that window out, the 30 to 45 minutes, intentionally now, but if we were to go into a full chicken salad with a high-fiber, high-protein, moderate-fat intake, that’s going to take a long time to digest and absorb, and now your window of nutrition into your cells for recovery might be 3 or 4 hours. So, that’s why I’ll lean on a high-quality protein powder, whether it’s a vegan or a whey, but I’d push the window out.

Now, if I’m seeking performance, it’s the opposite, and what I think some people overlook is how your body actually triggers a response to exercise. You’re intentionally inducing a cortisol response. You’re intentionally inducing inflammation, and those things, when we have the conversation, usually are no-nos, right? They’re not bad. They’re actually remarkably good for you, and why you have those responses is because it triggers adaptation, but for an elite athlete or somebody that’s seeking performance or muscle mass, we want to expose the body to as much inflammation as cortisol, as counterintuitive as that might seem, in that bout of exercise, but what you want to do is you want to shut it off.

You don’t want to prolong it. That’s where we’ll start to introduce a concept I like to use where I like you to get nutrition while you’re still sweating, and again, the more elite, the more important that becomes. If I’m working with a David Freeman, and he’s getting ready for a competitive functional event, if he’s going to be getting ready for a track event, if he’s getting ready for those high-performance events, I would work with him to have something on deck where before he even hits the showers, he’s starting to quell the inflammation, he’s starting to turn down the cortisol response, and that’s where I’ll go to a moderate-to-high carbohydrate, moderate-protein, very low-fat, post-nutrition shake.

I want it in his system, digesting, by the time he even hits the showers so that we can start to quell and replenish. The longer that we leave muscles depleted of glycogen, the longer we starve them of amino acids, the more we continue to perpetuate the exposure to cortisol and inflammation. So, I want to expose it during the workout. I want to shut it off as soon as I possibly can. Now, granted, again, the elite athlete or somebody that’s seeking muscle mass most likely has a higher tolerance to carbohydrate. They carry less body fat. They are more metabolically dynamic, meaning I can undulate between fat metabolism, carbohydrate metabolism much more simply.

So, again, it depends on the goal of the individual and the genetics and the bout of exercise, but if I were to look at two spectrums, if you’re seeking weight loss and you can manage to push your window out slightly, I would go quick-digesting protein, but I’d push the window out, 30, 45 minutes, and then I would eat something, again, based on how you should probably spend most of your day, that lower carbohydrate, not saying low, not saying very low, but a lower carbohydrate, and it depends on the individual, and if I’m seeking performance or muscle mass, I try to get nutrition in quickly, and that ratio will vary.

I’ve worked with some people that might be a 1 1 ratio, meaning you might get 40 grams of carbohydrate to 40 grams of protein, and I’ve gone as high as 100 grams of carbohydrate if I’m working with somebody that is doing some extreme, intense workout. They’re burning a lot of fuel on deck, and their metabolism will handle it to 30 to 40 to 50 grams of protein.

Jamie Martin

Wow. OK. So, as someone who’s been in the health and fitness space for a long time, as well, I am failing in this regard, just so you know. I mean my goal is always like maintain and build muscle. Like, that’s one of my primary goals. I want to be able to do and move and lift and do whatever I want. I’m terrible at fueling, and what you just said there, the whole like, you know, fuel while you’re still sweating, that’s like changing everything for me from here on out. Like, I need to start doing that. So, I hope even just like these little tidbits and tips are helpful for folks because even for me, knowing this but still not always following through on it, that’s the hard part, and part of it’s like, well, what do I take? So, you’re saying do this before I get in the shower. If I want to have…we have supplement options to do this, Cliff, what about whole foods? Are there any things that you kind of suggest as good options for people?

Cliff Edberg
There are, though I would say, again, if we’re trying, if I’m speaking to the athlete, it’s hard to get something that can get into your system, break down, be digested, and most importantly, absorbed in the window of time that becomes, I would say, an advantage, beyond something like a protein powder, but again, if you think about, if that’s not an option, which I understand it’s not for everybody, we need to think about taking in protein types that are much easier to digest.

So, having a steak post-workout, I think we’re all smirking right now, like how awful that experience could be, is going to be remarkably challenging to break down, though breaking down animal tissue…that was probably off-putting for some people in the audience, the way I phrased that, but it takes a lot of effort, right? It takes a lot of enzymes. It takes a lot of stomach acid to break that down, and essentially, what we said is we want to try to get the nutrition in, not just ingested but absorbed, and the digestion period for a chicken breast, a piece of steak, turkey, whatever it may be, is hours. It’s not minutes. So, though I think you could absolutely do it, is it going to be as efficient? Unfortunately, it’s not.

Jamie Martin
And there are a lot of different types of protein out there. So, I think that quality and all that matters, too, and I think we can get into some of the other ways to optimize there, but when we think of…we’ve kind of talked about the macros within all of this already. Any other kind of dos or don’ts in terms of things to avoid? Like you said, a steak might not be the right thing, but what other things might be hard for people to digest like right, either right before a workout, will kind of slow them down, or after?

Cliff Edberg

So, if you look at how your body digests and absorbs fuel, if you’re looking . . . it depends on, again, the window of time. If I have 3 hours before a workout or I have 30 minutes, I’m going to make a drastically different recommendation how you should spend your time eating, though I also think that most people don’t eat correctly. They don’t set themselves up for digestion, very well, whatsoever, but the things that take a long time to digest are, I think, you and the audience can probably kind of wrap your head around, right? It’s something that’s super complex.

So, it’s going to be meats. It’s going to be fiber. Fiber takes a long time to digest. That’s why it’s so impactful in weight loss. It’s satiating. You’re talking about fat. Fat takes a long time to digest, and that’s why it makes you feel so full and satiated. So, those things aren’t bad, but when we’re talking about having fuel on-deck to perform well, we want to be mindful of, I would say, of those three components, right there.

David Freeman
Awesome. Cliff, so, the piece that stood out to me, and I mean there was a lot, but the one that I definitely want us to debunk, if you will, is the carb piece that you just said. So, when we talk about how there are certain exercises that can influence our pre- and post-workout, you kind of said if you’ve got a weight-loss goal, it’s going to probably be X, if you have a performance goal, it’s going to probably be Y, but when we come back to the debunking, if you will, carbs. We look at this, or society has probably pushed this out as being something that’s negative or something that’s not good for you, but in reality, what I just heard from you, it is a fuel source that is probably easily broken down while working out, when you’re doing higher intensities, it’s the preferred energy source by the body, but also, if you’re doing these higher intense workouts, and you’re very active, carbs serve as a positive, right, rather than a negative? So, can you talk a little bit about carbs and debunking carbs being a bad thing?

Cliff Edberg
Yeah. I run into that a lot, especially as a dietitian. I’ve run into fats bad to carbs bad, and it really depends on the year, it feels like. So, if we look at it, and you said it well, it’s a fuel source. Where it becomes challenging is your inability to use it as a fuel source, which we know some people struggle. So, just the quick mechanics behind it is to digest and absorb carbohydrates, you need a hormone called insulin. That works as a lock and key mechanism at the cellular level. So, if I eat carbohydrates, my blood sugar starts to rise. That’s not good, but you have a defense mechanism with your pancreas called insulin.

So, what that does is your body sends out what I call some keys, right? So, it sends out some keys. It sends out some insulin. That goes to the muscle, and it opens the door. Carbohydrate goes into the muscle, and we have no issues. The complexity comes when you don’t handle it well. That’s because you’re malnourished, meaning you have some nutrient deficiencies, you’re overly stressed, you don’t sleep well, you’re very inactive, what happens is I eat carbohydrates, my body sends out the keys, except now, instead of any key opening any door, I need a very specific key to a very specific door. So, if it didn’t open the door, what do I need to do? I need to send out some more keys, and if I can’t bring the blood sugar down, I have to store it as body fat.

So, again, carbohydrates are inherently not bad. They’re excellent, and if you look at ancestral diets and go back hundreds and thousands of years, there were people that would thrive on a 90-percent carbohydrate diet because it was plentiful, and they were very active. If you look at people that were closer to the poles, had . . . obviously, blueberries don’t grow to ice cubes. They didn’t have access to it. They weren’t as mobile. Their body heights were different. They handle things differently. Their genetics were wired differently and had a very low carbohydrate diet, and fat was very good. You switch those two folks, they’re not going to thrive very well, right? Their genetics have changed.

Now, granted, we’ve navigated to a more similar diet, but again, the capacity to digest and absorb carbs, we all have. It’s dependent on the amounts and our capacity to do so. So, carbs, again, to reiterate that, are wildly beneficial for those that can handle and metabolize them well, and for those that don’t, you can unlock the opportunity to do so. We just need to manage some things, right? We need to replenish your nutrition. We need to get you some sleep. We need to get you active. We need to get you hydrated. We need to get you to probably put on some muscle mass to have more place to put carbohydrate, because, again, your body only has a limited storage capacity. You only can store so much carbohydrate on the human body. You, unfortunately, have the unlimited capacity to store body fat. So, it’s managing that balance.

Jamie Martin
And while we’re on the topic of carbs, I do think it’s important to touch a little bit on the quality of the carbs that you’re having, because, I mean, we’re living in a processed food world, unfortunately, and that’s the easy source for many people. Can you speak to that, a little bit, about the quality of carbs?

Cliff Edberg
Yes. I think if we were to boil it down, as your body breaks it down and digests it, if I were to break it all down to glucose, glucose is glucose. The benefit of the whole food is that it comes with other things. It comes with vitamins and minerals that complement the digestion and the absorption, and most importantly, a whole natural food from a carbohydrate source comes with fiber, which we just talked about is an absolute must-have with the overall healthy diet and weight management and specifically weight loss.

So, again, for those people that are very efficient, and you know these people in your life that can get away with anything and not put on body fat because they’re gifted in carbohydrate metabolism, and you can see them eat pizza, you can see them eat ice cream, and you get a lot of frustration, but again, that’s how they’re wired because they have a gift for metabolizing carbohydrates. For those of us that aren’t, just like me, especially through the predisposition I was of being really heavy as a kid, I put on and created more adipose sites than the average human, which means I have the propensity to gain body fat easier than the average person, which makes me have to be very conscientious about my nutrition, but that’s what’s empowering about learning about your own metabolism, and you’re running your own experiment.

I know what I have to do, and some people will kind of poke fun and tease me, which I’ll welcome, that I have to be more particular, right, but that’s because I have had an experience that puts me in that situation. Not everybody’s created equal when it comes to carbohydrate metabolism, and understanding what you should do and what you need to do and taking ownership of that is so liberating for people. It’s just taking the effort and learning and experimenting and not looking at what someone else can eat compared to what you should be eating.

The only other one I would say that might be a little bit different is the consumption of fructose. That one isn’t necessarily a carbohydrate for a carbohydrate because that must be metabolized in the liver, and you can’t store it in the muscles until you’ve gone through some metabolic processes. So, the consumption of fructose, high-fructose corn syrup is probably something that’s probably in the back of your mind right now. Again, fructose isn’t inherently bad. It comes in fruit, and it’s healthy. The problem is that getting it from raspberries or from a processed drink is 10fold, 20fold, 30fold the capacity of what the human body was ever meant to digest in any one bout, which means I have to push it into the liver, I have to turn it into fatty acids, and that’s where you hear things around developing a fatty liver and all the metabolic inefficiencies that comes from high fructose intake.

That’s one I would, for sure, be mindful of, and again, going back to those that are seeking weight loss and are having a hard time or might be having an excess amount of body fat, fructose is that much more challenging for you to handle, which should be mostly avoided, and that’s where I’ll work with them to do a 3 to 4 to 1 ratio of vegetables to fruit, not to say that fruit’s bad, and it doesn’t have to be portioned like this into your future, but we do have to get through some stuff together. We have to open up your capacity to digest the food that you’re taking in well and use it for fuel versus storing it as body fat, and that’s going to be a journey that we’ll do together, and that’s just the reality of the situation we’re in.

David Freeman
Hey, Cliff. So, that, in itself, holds so much power, and the one thing that you said, I’m going to come back to it, you said the how, right? I talk about our coaches, and you’re aware of this, too, with all the different fitness professionals that we have within Life Time, and regardless if you’re with Life Time or not, if you’re a fitness professional, you have so many more touches with these individuals that are coming to you for weight loss or performance gains, whatever it may be. The one thing that you just said, I’m going to go back to the insulin piece that you talked about as far as the key opening the doors.

Let’s talk about how to learn your metabolism. Is there a test? Because a lot of people are just running the gamut, right? They’re running around in that hamster wheel, and they’re coming back and forth with their coach, and they’re not able to lose weight or whatever the goal may be, and I know it’s a lot of variables there. But I want to go back to what you said. You’re aware because you know how your body works. Is there a test somebody can do, maybe within their annual, request it, to see exactly how their body is responding to carbs?

Cliff Edberg
Yeah. There are some really fantastic ways to assess your metabolism, and I would say the simplest way, again, would be you can do it through an annual, you can do it more often, would just be fasting blood sugar. At a rested state, before eating, in the morning, what is my blood sugar at, and if that is starting to creep up beyond 85, 90, 95, you know, at rest, when your body should be burning fat as fuel, your body is asking to burn more carbohydrates, which inherently means you’re going to have a more challenging time using fat as fuel.

So, right then, but again, you can look at, there’s a test called glycomark. You can look at your HbA1c to look at how your body’s been metabolizing carbohydrates over the last call it three months. There are 24-hour glucometers, so you can look at how your body’s actually looking at fuel, and so, it depends on the level in which you want to dive into the understanding, but a very simple one, and they’re not hard to come by at a Walgreens or CVS to just actually go and test your own blood sugar in the morning, and there’s a lot of great resources out there to understand how your blood sugar should be managed in the morning, but again, if you’re coming in between 80 and 90 in the morning, you’re probably in a really good spot.

If you start seeing yourself creeping up, and again, I’m not diagnosing. I’m a licensed dietician but probably not in the state you’re listening, so, again, not medical advice here but just a recommendation to go seek some medical advice with a professional, especially if you feel like you might be mismanaged in blood sugar. Another, it’s a real simple one, is do you have energy ups and downs? If you have lulls throughout your day, mid-morning, afternoon, crave carbs in the evening, you most likely, again, not diagnosing, have a blood sugar issue, and again, that isn’t inherently dangerous, but it might mean that your body might over-secrete insulin, which pulls your blood sugar down, which induces cravings, and then you play this vicious cycle of chasing normal blood sugar, where you get brain fog because you had too much. Then you get cravings because you’re too low, and you can never find homeostasis.

Jamie Martin
We are really just scratching the surface on all of this in this episode. I mean this is a complex topic. There’s a lot happening. Each of us . . . and I think this goes back to health as a whole, right? Like, there are a lot of recommendations about what we do in our day-to-day lives, but I’m me, you’re you, David, you’re yourself. Cliff, we’re all individuals here, and what works for Cliff is maybe not going to work for David or work for me, and so, really, it is, it’s about finding support, finding resources, education, and I think also, and Cliff, you can speak to this, there is a level of like listening to your body and being aware of your body and what’s going on with it. So, how do you help your clients or anyone you’re working with kind of notice when these things are happening? What do you tell them to look for when it comes to, you know, if they’re not getting enough pre and post-workout nutrition, if they’re not fueling their body even just throughout the day? What are some things that they should be watching for in addition to those ups and downs, potentially?

Cliff Edberg
Yeah. I think the easiest one is that you should have no problem going 5, 6, 7 hours without food, without . . . I’m not saying you won’t be hungry. You shouldn’t be irritable. You shouldn’t be tired. You shouldn’t be fatigued. If that’s you, that means that your body’s most likely mismanaging its homeostasis. It’s mismanaging . . . and again, you’re going to be hungry, for sure, especially if you’re someone that eats in regular window intervals. So, right then, that’s when you start the experiment, and we start to figure out where does your lull come from, and we reverse-engineer it. So, again, most people have that mid-afternoon, 3 to 4 o’clock lull in the day. Okay, that means that at some point, your blood sugar dropped. What caused the drop?

Was it a lack of fuel? And that means we’re not good at releasing fatty acids into the tissue or into the bloodstream to use as fuel, or did you eat something that compromised it, and you had a swing, meaning I had a higher carbohydrate meal than my body could use as fuel or store as glycogen, and now my blood sugar’s low, and now I’m seeking more carbohydrates to recover? And we just reverse-engineer, and we just make changes, right? So, if it was a pasta, chicken and pasta, is it a chicken salad next time? And okay, maybe that’s not enough fuel, maybe you’re used to eating more, you’re hungry, but how do you feel? Do you feel more consistent? Do you feel more clearheaded? We’re on the right path. So, it’s all about…you call me a detective, right? So, we see a problem. We ask a lot of questions. We run the experiment, and then we find the solution that works for the individual.

David Freeman
Alright. So, Cliff, when we think of macros and we look at protein, carbs, and fats, can you make it as simple as possible for people, no pun intended here, to be able to digest, so they know exactly how to be empowered with that information? So, let us know about the macros.

Cliff Edberg
Yeah, you can’t make that simple. It’s just it’s too complex, but if I were to break it down, like, simple as I can make it, think about your protein, think about your muscles. I’m breaking them down. I need to either build them back the same, stronger or bigger. So, that has to be a component. Carbohydrate and fat, keep it real simple, those are my fuel sources. Now, fat, you can break down into the different fatty acids, and they’re a part in heart health and brain health. So, those play a critical role there. So, I would say that your protein’s going to help you rebuild the muscles. Your fatty acids are going to help with tissue health, brain health, heart health, be a fuel source, and carbohydrate is mostly just a fuel source.

David Freeman
There you have it. There you have it. Alright.

Cliff Edberg
One caveat there.

David Freeman
Yeah?

Cliff Edberg
You forgot a macro, which is alcohol, that most people forget. I’m not saying it’s incorporated into this, but in all reality, quick story, my wife, a few years ago, who was getting ready for a competition, we went out with some friends, and she decided to have a drink, have some food. She ate her chicken breast. She ate her vegetables. I think she had two drinks. Don’t tell anybody, and then she put her food into her food tracker, and I noticed she hadn’t put the alcohol in as her calories, and at that moment, she had no idea that alcohol came with calories, and more calories per gram than carb or protein.

So, when she listens to this, she’ll be super mad that I just told that story, but it plays a critical role. Now, if you talk about pre and post-workout nutrition, the easiest way to screw it up is through alcohol. I’m not saying alcohol’s bad, and I partake myself, but that is going to be a challenge, for sure, but when I talk with macros, I always try to throw that fourth one because it paints a picture of how fast that can just add up in calories but not to mention its effect on sleep and hydration and hormones and cortisol and inflammation.

Jamie Martin
Oh man, and let’s talk about it. We know, like, over the last year, alcohol use was up for a lot of people in the time of the pandemic and all of that, too. So, just being aware of that consumption, and to your point, Cliff, tracking it, that awareness factor is important. So, Alright, I know we’re running out of time here. So, we got to get to the two-minute drill, and then, Cliff, we’ll let you wrap things up.

Jamie Martin

So, David, over to you.

David Freeman
Yeah. I like that. Yeah. I felt like you should’ve had a DARE shirt on when you said that, Cliff. Remember DARE?

Cliff Edberg
Yeah, I do.

David Freeman
Alright. Here we go. This is a two-minute drill, 10 hot-seat questions for Mr. Cliff. This is straight off the script, he does not know what’s coming at him, and ideally, you have to be able to answer all these questions, these 10 questions, in less than 2 minutes. Are you ready?

Cliff Edberg
Can I come back if I need to skip one?

David Freeman
You can.

Jamie Martin
It’s like Family Feud. If there’s extra time.

David Freeman
There you go. There you go.

Cliff Edberg
Alright.

David Freeman
Alright. Jamie has the timer. We are getting started in 3, 2, 1. Cliff, first question. Favorite cheat meal?

Cliff Edberg
Oh, already? Pizza.

David Freeman
Pizza. OK. Alright. Pet peeve?

Cliff Edberg
Oh, lacks effort.

David Freeman
OK. I love it. Love it. Alright. Cold or hot weather?

Cliff Edberg
Oh my gosh, probably cold.

David Freeman
Yeah. Makes sense. You’re in Minnesota. I got you. Alright. Place you want to travel to?

Cliff Edberg
Greece.

David Freeman
Nice. If you had a superpower, what would it be and why?

Cliff Edberg
I would probably say superhuman strength because, as a little kid, I used to run around in a tank top, flexing, and pretending to pick up everything. So, I think I’ve just been in pursuit my entire life.

Jamie Martin
Love it.

David Freeman
Awesome. Got to get an image for the show notes for that one.

Cliff Edberg
I have one, too. I have one.

David Freeman
Perfect. Send that over, please. Alright. Favorite lift?

Cliff Edberg

God, that’s changed over the years, used to be a squat because I was really good at it, but I would say probably a chest-supported incline row.

David Freeman
Nice, the details. The details. I like it. You know what’s following up right after the favorite? Least favorite lift?

Cliff Edberg
Bench press.

David Freeman
Oh, wow. OK. Alright. What is the must-have supplement, regardless of how amazing your nutrition is?

Cliff Edberg
Vitamin D.

David Freeman
Nice. Alright. Favorite thing, so far, about being a father?

Cliff Edberg
The smile.

David Freeman
Alright. Last but not least, what do you want to leave this world with as it relates to your legacy?

Cliff Edberg
That I helped.

David Freeman
There it is. Awesome stuff. Jamie, what you got?

Jamie Martin
Well, Cliff, unless you have anything else to add, any final thoughts?

Cliff Edberg
I feel like I have to revisit just to tackle all the tangents we went on and into the detail, but other than that, it’s been great. You guys are amazing at this, and I was glad to be a part of it.

Jamie Martin
Awesome. So, where can people follow you? Do you have Instagram, any social places they can check you out? You’re not a social guy? He’s shaking his head no, folks.

Cliff Edberg
I’m not a social guy. No. Honestly, I’m not. So, I guess I’ll just be aloof.

Jamie Martin
Well, you do have some content, I will say, over at ExperienceLife.LifeTime.Life. You’ve written some pieces there if people want to follow you there, and we’ll make sure to include in the show notes anything you’ve done there, as well. So, Alright. That’s it, folks. Thank you, Cliff, for being here, and thanks, folks, for listening.

Cliff Edberg
Thank you.

[MUSIC]

David Freeman

Thanks for joining us for this episode. As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts on our conversation today, and how you approach this aspect of healthy living in your own life. What works for you? Where do you run into challenges? Where do you need help?

Jamie Martin

And if you have topics for future episodes, you can share those with us, too. Email us at lttalks@lt.life, or reach out to us on Instagram, @lifetime.life@jamiemartinel, or @freezy30, and use the hashtag #LifeTimeTalks. You can also learn more about the podcast at el.lifetime.life/podcasts.

David Freeman

And if you’re enjoying Life Time Talks, please subscribe on Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts. Feel free to write a review, and also let others know about it, too. Take a screenshot of the episode, and share it on social, share it with your friends, family, work buddies, life coach, you get the gist.

Jamie Martin

Thanks for listening. We’ll talk to you next time on Life Time Talks. Life Time Talks is a production of Life Time, healthy way of life. It’s produced by Molly Schelper, with audio engineering by Peter Perkins, and sound consulting by Coy Larson. A big thank-you to the team who pulls together each episode, and everyone who provided feedback.

We’d Love to Hear From You

Have thoughts you’d like to share or topic ideas for future episodes? Email us at lttalks@lt.life.

The information in this podcast is intended to provide broad understanding and knowledge of healthcare topics. This information is for educational purposes only and should not be considered complete and should not be used in place of advice from your physician or healthcare provider. We recommend you consult your physician or healthcare professional before beginning or altering your personal exercise, diet or supplementation program.

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