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Archive for September, 2011

Fall Activities in Tucson

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Well, the temperatures are starting to fall again here in Tucson. It is becoming bearable to get out and run in the mornings again. It is so nice to see the runners and bikers out enjoying the beautiful weather and scenery here in Tucson. As we head into the more temperate weather, there are lots of great races (both bike and foot), beautiful hikes on the many trails in the Catalinas, Sabino Canyon and many other areas. We have the American Cancer Society Making Strides Walk coming up on October 30th. Come on out with your friends and trainers at Personal Training Institute and join in the walk. If you are unable to join us in the Cancer walk, take a moment to go to the PTI Tucson Team Site and make a contribution. Really! Anything will help!


Get ready for all those fall events here in Tucson and come on down to Personal Training Institute and meet your new personal trainer and personal nutritionist. You will not believe all that you can achieve!


See ya soon!

Why Women Should Strength Train

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While on a weight lifting program, the right hormones (testosterone) are necessary in order to bulk up. Women’s testosterone levels are much lower than men’s, so in most cases, they are not capable of building large muscles. In fact, since muscle takes up less room than fat, women tend to lose inches when they strength train. So in addition to the physical benefits (increased metabolism, decreased risk of osteoporosis, increased strength), strength training will help you slim down too! Women, in fact, are more likely to tone up from strength training rather than bulk up. Research shows that women can add up to 30% lean muscle and end up looking thinner, feeling stronger and being firmer.

Our society and pop culture seem to associate weight training with oversized muscles, but that’s just one avenue, which is extremely difficult for most people (including men) to achieve.

Women with an intense fear of becoming large (likely due to these images and myths) as a result of weight training are at a disadvantage when it comes to their health. The problem most women run into isn’t building too much muscle, but not building enough. This sets them up for increased risk of osteoporosis later in life, as well as a reduction in muscle mass of about 2-5% per year, which has an adverse affect on metabolism (and can result in weight gain).

Written by Nicole Nichols, B.S. & Certified Fitness Instructor

Congratulations on Continued Success Cal!

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Here is a note we received from a recent client. Cal came down to us from Colorado with this intention of losing some weight and getting in better condition. He was on oxygen all the time up in Colorado. He came down to Tucson and spent two months training with us at PTI and made big strides! Here is what Cal had to say about his experience:


On May first my Dr. here in Colorado weighed me at 231 and told me if I wanted to get off oxygen I had to loose 30 pounds and get in better condition.
I started eating less and riding my bicycle 30 minutes a day. I lost some weight but was not in any better physical condition.
On July fifth I showed up at PTI weighing 212 pounds. Craig set up up my training routine. We worked on my weight loss and conditioning.
On Sept. fourth I came back to Colorado weighing 200 pounds with much more muscle and a lot better condition.
I went to my Dr. and she took me off the oxygen and cut my Metoprolol from 150 mc a day to 50 mc a day and my diabetic medication Metformin  from 2000 mc to 1000 mc a day
I want to thank the whole crew at PTI. I could have never done this without you. I have continued my training routine you made me and weighed in at 189 this morning.
Thank You.

Best Energy Bars

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After publishing my last post on the 5 Energy Bars to Avoid, I quickly received a great question: What are the best energy bars. Here is a list of the ones that I like the best, but this list is by no means comprehensive. In general, the criteria that I look for in an Energy Bar are as follows: at least 3g of fiber and protein, low in saturated fat (<3g), moderate amount of sugar (<18g but less is always better), no trans fats or hydrogenated oils, I try to avoid HFCS and I look for bars with ingredients that are mostly whole foods. Now, finding something that hits all of these goals every time is not easy. Some of my favorite bars:

  1. Luna Bars
  2. Lara Bars – love the Pecan Pie
  3. Zing Bars – harder to find but whole food ingredients and yummy!
  4. PowerBar Pria Complete Nutrition
  5. Clif Mojo fruit nut crunch
  6. Solo Bar
  7. Balance Gold Bar
  8. PowerBar Nut Naturals
  9. ProBar Fruition Strawberry (pre-workout) – a little high in sugar but I am OK with that right before a workout.
I am sure there are many other good choices as well, just make sure to read your labels. Diabetics need to be extra careful on the sugar content. Keep in mind these are energy bars that we are talking about, not protein bars or meal replacement bars. Those are a completely different discussion. Energy bars are snacks for before activity!

5 Energy Bars to Avoid

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Energy bars are certainly handy portable quick snacks to take when on the go. As with everything in life, some are better than others and some should just be avoided! Here are the top 5 that I would avoid:

  1. PowerBar Protein Plus – Chocolate Brownie: This bar is for serious weight trainers; packing a hefty 360 calories, 11 grams of fat and almost as much sugar as a can of soda!
  2. Quaker Oatmeal to Go: This is about as far from oatmeal that you can get. Oatmeal gets its power from its fiber and protein. This bar get its power from Sugar and High Fructose Corn Syrup which happen to be the first two ingredients after oats.
  3. Nature Valley Sweet & Salty Nut Granola Bar, Peanut: Get ready for your sugar high and crash. This bar has virtually no servings of vitamins or minerals and 170 calories, mostly from the 11g of Sugar.
  4. Kudos Chocolate Chip Granola Bar: This chocolate dipped bar has only 120 calories but you will be quickly grabbing another one as it contains only a mere 1 g each of protein and fiber so it won’t keep you full very long.
  5. Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain Yogurt Bar, Strawberry Yogurt: At only 130 calories and 3.5g of fat, this might seem like a good choice at first glance but when you look at the ingredient list, it looks like a chemistry experiment. The gooey center is mostly High Fructose Corn Syrup, some fruit puree and Red Dye #40.
Just remember to read your labels carefully and make the best choices you can. The fewer ingredients the better and especially look for those you can pronounce!

The hCG Diet – Fantastic or Fad?

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The hCG Diet – Fantastic or Fad That Needs to Go Away?

Dominique Adair, MS, RD

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Key Points

  • The classic program involves daily injections of Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG) in addition to a very low calorie eating program.
  • Advocates claim that even without substantiating science, the diet seems to work and is therefore beneficial for weight loss.
  • Critics claim that the lack of evidence, the dangerously hypocaloric diet, the risk of dangerous side effects, and the lack of behavior change for maintainable weight-loss make the hCG diet nothing more than another fad.


While promises of painless and rapid weight-loss are hardly new, one of the latest players on the competitive diet scene is the hCG diet. This regimen was originally popularized in the 1950’s by A. T. W. Simeons, a doctor in Rome, who said he had used it on more than 500 patients, and published a paper about it in The Lancet, the British medical journal, in 1954 (1). It combines daily injections with a hypocaloric diet, and patients are often enticed by promises that they can lose about a pound a day without feeling hungry.Perhaps even more seductive, patients are often told that the hormone will prompt their bodies to carry away and metabolize fat that has been stored where they least want it — in their upper arms, bellies, and thighs. Advocates claim that even though it may be “unscientific,” if the diet motivates people it is worth considering. Critics claim that the diet is not evidence-based and carries a significant risk of side effects.

The Program

The hCG diet includes shots of Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG) and a daily Calorie allowance of 500 kcal/d. HCG is a hormone that is secreted by the trophoblastic cells of the placenta during pregnancy. This is the hormone detected in urine pregnancy tests and it helps support the normal development of an egg in a woman’s ovaries and also will stimulate the release of an egg during ovulation. The hCG hormone was first discovered by scientists in 1927 and has been used for different treatment modalities over the years. The injectable, prescription form of hCG is approved as a treatment for infertility, and it is legal for doctors to prescribe it “off-label” for weight loss. Additionally, hCG is being sold in other forms (nasal mist, drops, pellets, creams, sprays, and other supplements).

Research and Public Health Recommendations

There have been a number of studies investigating the efficacy of weight-loss programs supplemented with hCG, and most show that hCG is no better than a placebo in achieving weight loss or reducing hunger. A meta-analysis was conducted and published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology to assess if there is scientific ground for the use of hCG as adjunctive therapy in the treatment of obesity. The study concluded that there is no scientific evidence that hCG is effective in the treatment of obesity. The diet does not bring about weight loss or fat redistribution, nor does it reduce hunger or induce a feeling of well-being (2).

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has stated that hCG is of no benefit in the treatment of obesity. In response to inquiries stirred up by the diet’s recent popularity, the FDA warned in January 2011 that “homeopathic” forms of hCG, like lozenges and sprays, sold over the Internet and in some health food stores, are fraudulent and illegal if they claim weight-loss powers (3).

The Popularity

Despite the lack of research supporting the physiological basis for hCG and weight loss, this form of therapy has achieved a resurgence in popularity. At print, a web search for “hCG diet” resulted in close to 9,000,000 links. Celebrities, socialites, and everyday folk all seem to be interested in this doctor mediated approach to weight loss. Some weight-loss specialists propose that, unlike other popular diet supplements and fad diets, hCG, has acquired an aura of respectability because the injections are available only by prescription. This medical mystique helps to substantiate the treatment in the minds of many consumers.


Most health professionals agree that the calorie intake (500 Kcal) is far too low to provide adequate nutrition. Men and women should take in 2,500 and 2,000 kcal/d to maintain their weight and most experts recommend that weight-loss programs do not drop below 1,200 kcal to protect against malnutrition. Additionally, scientific studies have shown that hCG does nothing to enhance weight loss or improve perceived hunger/satiety. There are also a few reports of adverse effects — at least from the hCG injections — including blood clots, headaches, restlessness, depression, and dizziness. Finally, wellness practitioners agree that the diet does nothing to change the habits that lead to weight gain, and there’s no evidence that it results in sustainable, long-term weight loss. Lastly, many professionals believe that the use of hCG as a diet tool manipulates people by giving them the sense that they’re receiving something that’s powerful, potent, and effective, when in fact they’re receiving something that’s nothing more than a placebo with a very strict diet.

Learn More About The Author


(1) Simeons, AT. The action of chorionic gonadotrophin in the obese. Lancet. 1954 Nov 6;267(6845):946-7
(2) Lijesen GK, Theeuwen I, Assendelft WJ, Van Der Wal G. The effect of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in the treatment of obesity by means of the Simeons therapy: a criteria-based meta-analysis. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 1995 Sep;40(3):237-43.
(3) As reported in USA Today, 1.23.11, “hCG weight-loss products are fraudulent, FDA says” by Nanci Hellmich, web accessed on 4.1.11 (

QuickTip: Breakfast

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So here is what I find to be the most interesting fact about breakfast: If you skip breakfast you are 4.5 times more likely to be OBESE! That is one of the top indicators for adult obesity. So if you don’t have time to eat breakfast, make sure you make lots of time for either working out or doctors visits. Personally I would prefer a good breakfast. So what is a good breakfast? Here are the keys to making a good breakfast:

  1. It should be your largest meal of the day. This only makes sense. You have not eaten anything for 8-10 hours and have a full days work ahead of you. You need to fill up the tank and get you body out of fat storage mode!
  2. Roughly half of your breakfast should be protein. Protein helps keep you full. Good lean protein is you best choice. (egg, egg white, skim milk, canadian bacon, turkey, protein powder if you have too) Make sure it also includes some good fiber (real oatmeal, whole grain bread, whole grain cereals, fruit)
  3. You should eat it shortly after rising. Just because you are eating breakfast foods, it doesn’t count as breakfast if you are eating it at 11am and you got up at 7am. Breakfast should be eaten within an hour of rising; sooner if possible.
  4. In a hurry: While toasting a whole grain english muffin, scramble an egg in a small dish and microwave for 1 minute. Make a sandwich of the egg, some low fat cheese and a slice or two of canadian bacon. Grab a piece of fruit and head out the door. You can do that faster than you can pick up fast food and it is a near perfect breakfast!
Breakfast: just do it!