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Macronutrients: What, Why, and How?

Macronutrients are the latest craze in the fitness industry. Maybe you’ve been in the gym and have overheard a trainer talking to a client about ‘macros?’ You may have wondered: “What are those?” “Is this for me? “How do I get started?” Well, it’s much simpler than you might think. You’ll only need a food scale and some patience!

So, WHAT Actually Are Macronutrients?

It is widely known that people count calories to lose or gain weight. While that is a very valid tool in reaching health and wellness goals, tracking macronutrients can provide you with much more insight. Macronutrients, or macros for short, are everything we consume on a large scale when it comes to nutrition. This includes: carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Understanding the macros your food consists of can help you pinpoint specific nutrients you may be consuming too much or too little. This can then aide you in setting and achieving your nutrition goals.

As a general rule of thumb:

  • Carbohydrates provide 4 calories per gram
  • Protein provides 4 calories per gram
  • Fat provides 9 calories per gram

WHY is it Important to Track My Macronutrients?

Everyone is different, and therefore, has different nutritional needs. By calculating your macros, you can see firsthand if you are eating a balanced diet for YOU personally. Tracking your macros, instead of calories, can also help ensure that you continue to eat correctly while achieving your goal of losing, maintaining, or gaining weight.

For example, 100 calories of an avocado (fat) are different from 100 calories of a delicious Krispy Kreme doughnut (carbohydrates). While both have the same number of calories, the 100 calories in an avocado are primarily fat, while the doughnut is made up of mostly carbohydrates. The avocado may also fulfill your entire daily requirement of fat, but the doughnut most likely will not. The avocado provides a much more dynamic amount of vitamins, minerals, and quality calories that your body will use, too, compared to the doughnut. However, when you’re looking at only the calories, they are equal!

Real Life: Calculating Macronutrients

Grab your food scale, and let’s take a look at Quaker oatmeal for a real life example! If you ate one cup of oatmeal and wanted to calculate your macros for that meal, you would first need to determine how many servings you ate. If the serving size is a half-cup, measured dry (40g), you would simply multiply every number on that label by two. So for eating one cup of oatmeal, your macros would be: 54g carbs, 10g protein, and 6g fat for the meal. Now do this for EACH of your meals (or every time you eat) throughout the day. At the end of the day, add up all your macronutrients to visually see your total for the day.

Quaker Oats Macronutrients Calculation ExamplQuaker Oats Nutrition Facts Macronutrients Calculation Example

Macros into Calories

You could also easily take this a step further to determine your overall calories for the day. For reference, scroll back up to the calories per gram of carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Multiply each macronutrient total by the number of calories in each unit. That’s it! You now have your total macronutrients for the day, as well as your total calories.

So, if all you ate in a day was oatmeal (side note — we’re not suggesting this!), your total macronutrients for the day, as we calculated above, would be: 54g carbs, 10g protein, and 6g fat. To turn those into calories, take each macronutrient, multiply it by the relevant amount of calories per gram, and add up your totals:

  • Carbohydrates: 54g x 4 cal = 216 calories
  • Protein: 10g x 4 cal = 40 calories
  • Fat: 6g x 9 cal = 54 calories
  • 216 + 40 + 54 = 310 Total Calories

It’s that simple! To help speed up determining your macros in the future, write your meals down on a piece of paper or keep a “food log” for quick reference. Now, next time you eat oatmeal you won’t have to add up your macros!

HOW Do I Determine My Macros?

Your optimal macronutrient intake depends on several different factors including: gender, age, current weight, activity level, lifestyle, diet plan and goals. The college recruit who is trying to add lean muscle, while dropping weight, will be eating according to a different nutritional plan than a retiree now focusing on longevity.

So, where do you start??  Just buy a food scale (Amazon, Target, Walmart) and START! Food scales are relatively inexpensive and are well worth the investment. Before immediately changing your normal routine, eat your regular meals for 1-2 weeks while tracking your numbers. At first, this may seem like a lot of work: writing down meals, calculating numbers, and tracking EVERYTHING. However, the benefits are absolutely superior! Tracking your macros reveals so much. Are you eating too many or too few carbs, protein, or fat? Are your numbers fairly consistent or all over the place? Do you find yourself eating too much in the evenings or eating extremely unhealthy on the weekends? With a little dedication, you’ll be reading labels, learning which foods are high or low in your specific macro areas, and seeing results in no time!

Finally, it is essential to establish some baseline numbers that align with your lifestyle and goals. A good starting point is: 50% carbohydrates, 20% protein, and 30% fat. Do some research online; there are several “macro” calculators that can assist with establishing baseline numbers. MyPlate and MyFitnessPal are also two very useful apps to help track your macros. MyFitnessPal offers a large database of food and lists out the calories, carbs, fats, and proteins to save you calculation time, as well. Search for the food, brand, or restaurant on this page.

Let’s Get Started!

Tracking your macronutrients is important, whether you are on a specific diet or just want to eat well for your overall health. It teaches you if you’re eating too much or too little for your body and how to properly read nutrition labels. Educating yourself on WHAT you are putting into your body is a huge part of maintaining overall wellness. Once you’ve established how much you should eat, counting your macros might be exactly what you need to see the results you want. If you have further questions about macros or exercising, please reach out to us to set up a FREE consultation with one of our Wellness Coordinators!

Schedule an appointment at one of our 12 locations throughout the Greenville, Anderson, Spartanburg, Belton, Boiling Springs, Fort Mill, Powdersville, Seneca and Simpsonville, SC areas.

8 Sneaky Reasons Your Back Hurts

Did you know that about 80% of people will suffer from back pain? Sometimes, it’s obvious when you injure your back – whether you’re involved in an accident or simply feel something go wrong when lifting heavy objects. Back pain can sneak up on you through seemingly harmless motions. We’re diving into 8 sneaky reasons your back is hurting:

More Money, More Problems

Especially prevalent with men, storing a wallet in your back pocket is second nature. However, when seated, it causes your hips to be slightly angled and can throw your back’s position off—leading to pain.

Working (Too) Hard

Think of where your phone, printer, stapler, etc. sit on your desk at work. Is there something you grab for often that is ever so slightly out of reach? The repetitious leaning movement can misalign your back and move muscles improperly. Make sure your desk essentials are conveniently placed.

Country Roads

Often long drives are met with an inevitable groan. You spend most of the drive twisting and turning trying to get comfortable. The answer is in your seat position! Make sure your driver’s seat is angled so that it keeps your back upright and your hips at a 90-degree angle. Also, make sure to get out of your car every two or so hours to stretch and get your blood flowing.

Keeping You On Your Toes

While you may stretch your back in the morning or your hamstrings before a run, how often do you think about the flexibility in your big toe? Understandably, not very often. Experiencing decreased flexibility in your big toe and/or ankles can throw off your normal walking pattern. If your feet and ankles are stiff, then there may be too much movement or unbalanced movement in the lumbar spine.

Hips Don’t Lie

We know about Leg Day and Back Day at the gym, but what about Hip Day? A weakness of your hips can lead to straining low back muscles to compensate. Strengthen those hips by throwing a few sets of clam shells or leg lifts into your next leg day regimen.

Sleeping Soundly

While you’re tossing and turning at night, certain positions put the hips and/or low back in a bad position for hours at a time. The best positions for sleeping are on your back or side, making sure your pillows are properly set up to keep your neck neutral all night.

Fresh Kicks

Shoes with proper arch support, rigidity, and the proper size help keep a normal walking pattern that can take the pressure off of your low back. Next time you’re shopping, make sure to check out this post by The Fitness Tribe ranking some of the best shoes for avoiding back pain or go to your local running store to get properly sized!

Labor Pains

Mothers who deliver by C-section see increased side effects post-birth, as they are also recovering from major surgery. C-sections are performed by cutting through muscle groups that important in spinal stabilization. If that muscle is never retrained, the spine is often unstable which can move vertebrae and muscles out of place.

Back pain can be debilitating and make you feel that you’re on the sidelines of your own life. Hopefully, these tips and tricks help get you back on your feet. If you’d like more insight or help with your back pain, give one of our skilled physical therapists a call and get scheduled today!

Wallet in back pocket can lead to misalignment your back!

Ergonomics 101

Everyday Ergonomics

You might be asking yourself what exactly IS ergonomics? Luckily, the word is much less intimidating than it looks. Ergonomics is the science of safely and efficiently doing activities at work or at home. Although Occupational Therapists most often deal with work environments, the tasks and activities that you perform outside of the office are just as important. For instance, do you have problems doing gardening or yard work? What about shoulder, back, or neck pain after working on the computer or your iPad? Do you feel exhausted after trying to cook a meal? Our Occupational Therapists are trained in making ergonomic assessments and adjustments to reduce pain, maximize effectiveness, and help you get back to your daily activities.

Tackling Your Tasks  

Occupational Therapists combine their ergonomic-specific training with a foundation of the body’s anatomy and a passion for improving your performance. For example, many people lean too far forward while working on the computer or a craft, like sewing. Maintaining a straight, upright sitting posture is important for comfort, stamina, and your long-term health. We might suggest equipment like an ergonomic keyboard or a magnifying lamp to help make these tasks easier. Developing the small muscles in your hand, also known as intrinsic muscle strength, will help with your skills and comfort while performing small and detailed tasks.

From the Cubicle to the Kitchen

Our OTs will evaluate your individual case including complaints of pain or injury, difficulty performing certain tasks, and how you function in your environment. The evaluation will include every area that can affect task performance. For instance, many problems with hand pain and weakness can be traced to the shoulder or neck. Like a building with an unstable foundation, poor shoulder function can lead to problems further down the arm. The therapist will ask you to perform the activity that troubles you. If you can bring in tools you use frequently or any kind of examples, it will make our suggestions even better!

Examples of areas we can help with include:

  •         Gardening
  •         Woodshops
  •         Arts and crafts spaces
  •         Home
  •         Kitchen
  •         Garage
  •         Office space
  •         Assembly lines
  •         Retail counters

Basically, our Occupational Therapists can help with any task that you are having trouble completing. We can analyze and develop a custom treatment plan, including ergonomic suggestions that you can start using right away! Also, we will send you home with exercises tailored to your specific situation and needs. These home exercise programs, or HEPs, are key to your progress.

Our Occupational Therapists are skilled in recommending a variety of adjustments to how you work and play to reduce pain, maximize efficiency, and give you more time and energy to do what is important. If you’re interested in learning more or are ready to start your treatments, give us a call today to get set up with one of our skilled Occupational Therapists!

Knees Over Toes… Myth or Truth?

knees over toes

The age old expression: Knees Over Toes

Have you ever been told not to let your your knees go over your toes? Whether it was in the gym or during other daily activities, most of us have heard the age old expression. We would like to take a more in-depth look into this saying and what it means on a functional level. Is it a myth… or does “knees over toes” have some truth to it?

Functionality: Can Your Knees Go Over Your Toes?

We have all heard the trainer in the gym or the sports coach tell someone not to let their knees go over their toes. While that may have once been a good cue, the phrase has been repeated so many times over the years it may now mean more than it was originally intended. The statement originated from a 1978 study at Duke University. The study provided us with some very important information at the time, but it only looked at one piece of the puzzle. A more recent, 2003 Memphis University study, took their research a little deeper and provided us with more up-to-date information on the topic.

So, can your knees go over your toes? As much as we would like definitive yes or no answer, the truth is: it depends. It depends on both your structure and the movement itself. Your structure plays the most important role in answering this question.

Structure

Everyone’s body is different. Something that may work for one person, may not be appropriate for another. Femur length, foot length, and torso length all determine the appropriate amount of forward translation demanded of the knee. Someone with longer femurs and shorter feet may naturally track over the toes. A shorter tibia/fibula length relative to femur length may naturally facilitate an anterior knee translation (see video from Stone Athletic Medicine). Torso length also plays a role in how the lower extremities flex through movement. Check out this picture shared by Zach Long, DPT SCS Cert.CMFA, for a visual representation. As the referenced study above by Fry, Smith, and Schilling reported in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, when blocking the knees, we reduce torque by 22% at the knee joint but increase torque at the hips by 1,070%, regardless of structure.

Movement

In a gym setting, different types of activities and movements may or may not result in your knees travelling over the toes. Different bar placement, or load placement, will facilitate different hip and knee joint angles. For instance, a low barbell back squat places the barbell lower on the back and pushes the hips back further. This will make the movement more hip dominant. However, if we place the load in front of the body, like in a barbell front squat, we create a more quadricep dominant movement. The knees will move more forward, out over the toes, and the chest will be more upright. Read this article from Squat University to delve deeper into the bio-mechanics of different squats.

Knees Over Toes: In Real Life

Let’s look at a few movements we do on a regular basis. These may not be considered ‘daily activities,’ but our bodies typically do these movements with no issue.

Ascending and Descending

Our bodies are designed to navigate various different types of terrain. One typical type of terrain we regularly navigate are hills. The world around us varies in height and distance. While walking up, and most certainly down hills, our knees naturally translate over our toes to support our body weight. Another great example of this are stairs. Depending upon stair height and stride distance, we may or may not track over our toes while ascending stairs; however, have you ever tried to go down stairs without your knee going over our toes? It’s nearly impossible unless you set your hips back drastically or pistol squat every step of the way. Go ahead; give it a try!

Bicycle

Another fun activity we often do is bicycle. This may not be a daily activity, but it is most certainly one many of us participate in on a regular basis. We do this at the gym, with our children, and sometimes as our primary means of transportation. It is important to make sure our seat height is set properly, but no matter the positioning, knees typically go over the toes while in the pushing phase of cycling. There is nothing inherently wrong with any of this because our bodies are made to move this way!

Resiliency

Resiliency is the name of the game. Our bodies are resilient and are not as fragile as we may sometimes be told. We are made to move about our space functionally, in multiple planes, with no issues. Sometimes our knees need to go over our toes, and sometimes they don’t. Take charge, and keep moving! Motion is lotion and makes for great longevity in life!

 

If you want to prevent injury, come visit one of our Wellness Coordinators for a professional opinion on your squat form. We would love to chat with you! Or, are you experiencing pain when squatting? Schedule an appointment with one of our Physical Therapists to resolve any issues before they become worse!

Living Life Up to Par: Physical Therapy to Prevent Pain and Injury

Feel ‘up to par’: Physical Therapy prevents pain and injury!

While physical therapy is commonly thought to address existing pain or the onset of an injury, it just may be the best kept secret to preventing pain or injury. We’re here to let this secret out, just in time for you to enjoy much-anticipated summertime activities!

Injury Prevention

 

Whether you’re an avid athlete or a weekend warrior, knowing the right way to go through the motions of your preferred activity can play a big role in injury prevention. Same concept as knowing proper lifting mechanics so as not to injury your back, a physical therapist who understands your activity of choice can assess injury risk factors and make corrections as necessary. For example…

  • Do you experience soreness in your back or shoulders after a round of golf?
  • Are your muscles tight after pulling weeds in your garden?
  • Does it take some time to recover following a run around the neighborhood?

Perhaps this is your body’s way of sending you a message. While you may experience muscle pain or soreness following activity after you’ve been dormant for a time period, you should not be experiencing it following activities that you perform on a regular basis. Reviewing your activity with a physical therapist will help them determine potential movement-related risk factors, which in turn can curb potential injury. Moreover, a physical therapist will make corrections to your movements which will help lessen risk factors later on down the road. This can include, but does not limit to…

 

Performance Improvement

 

Not only is physical therapy beneficial for injury prevention, but it’s also helpful for “healthy” individuals as well! Particularly targeted toward the athletic community looking to improve performance in a sport or activity, physical therapy can target strength, agility, flexibility, and coordination.

 

At Elite, you not only have access to excellent clinical care from our therapy staff, but our Fitness and Wellness program is also available for individual and group personal training.

 

Interested in how physical therapy can help you with your goals? Call any of our 9 locations to speak with a physical therapist—no strings attached! Should you be in need of physical therapy, we can accommodate you within 24-48 hours, no referral needed.