Teriyaki Chicken Lettuce Wraps

1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon fish sauce
3 medium carrots, cut into chunks
1 small yellow onion, quartered
1 1/2 pounds Foster Farms Organic boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon cool water
1 head Boston lettuce, separated into leaves (or similar broad, tender lettuce)

In a small bowl or glass measuring cup, whisk together the soy sauce, honey, ginger, garlic powder, hot sauce and fish sauce. Set aside.

In a food processor, combine the carrots and onion. Pulse until finely chopped.

Add the chicken, then pulse several times to begin chopping the chicken. Add the sauce then continue pulsing just until the chicken is well chopped, but not ground. The pieces should be about 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch.

In a large skillet over medium-high, heat the oil.

Add the chicken and cook, stirring often and breaking up any clumps, until cooked through, about 8 minutes. In a small glass, stir together the cornstarch and water, then add to the skillet. Stir and cook for another 2 minutes.

Transfer the chicken to one side of a serving platter. Arrange the lettuce leaves on the other side.

Diners help themselves by spooning the chicken into individual leaves, using the leaves as they would a sandwich wrap.

Cook to a safe internal temperature of at least 165 degrees F. Always use a meat thermometer to determine the temperature. Do not rely solely on suggested cooking times. Cooking appliances vary in temperature, and cooking times are a guide only.

Sponsor recipe courtesy of Foster Farms®

8 Benefits of High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

And why it needs to be part of your regular workout routine


High-intensity interval training (HIIT) describes any workout that alternates between intense bursts of activity and fixed periods of less-intense activity or even complete rest. For example, a good starter workout is running as fast as you can for 1 minute and then walking for 2 minutes. Repeat that 3-minute interval five times for a 15-minute, fat-blasting workout. It sounds too simple to be effective, but science doesn’t stretch the truth. Read on for eight proven benefits of HIIT:

  1. Efficient

Super-efficient HIIT is the ideal workout for a busy schedule—whether you want to squeeze in a workout during your lunch break or to get in shape for a fast-approaching event. Research shows you can achieve more progress in a mere 15 minutes of interval training (done three times a week) than the girl jogging on the treadmill for an hour. And according to a 2011 study presented at the American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting, just 2 weeks of high-intensity intervals improves your aerobic capacity as much as 6 to 8 weeks of endurance training.

That’s not even the best part! Using the Tabata training method, you can complete an effective HIIT workout in just 4 minutes.

2. Burn More Fat

Not only do you burn more calories during a HIIT workout, but the effect of all that intense exertion kicks your body’s repair cycle into hyperdrive. That means you burn more fat and calories in the 24 hours after a HIIT workout than you do after, say, a steady-pace run.

3. Healthier Heart

Most people aren’t used to pushing into the anaerobic zone (that lovely place where you can’t breathe and you feel like your heart is trying to jump out of your chest). But in this case, extreme training produces extreme results. One 2006 study found that after 8 weeks of doing HIIT workouts, subjects could bicycle twice as long as they could before the study, while maintaining the same pace.

4. No Equipment Necessary

Running, biking, jump roping, and rowing all work great for HIIT, but you don’t need any equipment to get it done. High knees, fast feet, or anything plyometric like jumping lunges work just as well to get your heart rate up fast. In fact, some equipment like dumbbells can make HIIT less effective because you want the focus to be on pushing your heart to its max, not your biceps.

5. Lose Weight, Not Muscle

Anyone who has been on a diet knows that it’s hard to not lose muscle mass along with fat. While steady state cardio seems to encourage muscle loss, studies show that both weight training and HIIT workouts allow dieters to preserve their hard-earned muscles while ensuring most of the weight lost comes from fat stores. Win/win!

6. Increase Metabolism

In addition to increased fat burning and more muscle preserved, HIIT stimulates production of your human growth hormone (HGH) by up to 450 percent during the 24 hours after you finish your workout. This is great news since HGH is not only responsible for increased caloric burn but also slows down the aging process, making you younger both inside and out!

7. Do It Anywhere

You can do it in a boat, you can do it with a goat. You can do it here or there, you can do it anywhere! Dr. Seuss would have loved HIIT. Since it’s such a simple concept—go at maximum effort for a short period of time followed by a recovery period and repeat—you can adapt it to whatever time and space constraints you have.

8. Challenging

This is not a workout you can do while reading a magazine or chatting with your friend. Because it’s so short, you will be working hard the whole time. The trade-off is this format offers seasoned exercisers a new challenge and new exercisers a quick way to see results. You may be in pain, you may be sucking wind, but you definitely won’t be bored!

Calculating Your Macros

To setup your calorie intake and macro-nutrient guidelines for your Flexible Diet plan you need to first determine your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) to establish you estimated caloric baseline. Your TDEE will give you a good estimate of how many calories a day you must consume to achieve a neutral caloric balance, which will maintain your current weight and fuel your current lifestyle.  Also, download the MyFitnessPal app for iPhone or Android so you can track your macros.

The multiplier is a far simpler way to calculate your caloric baseline compared to other, more complex metabolic equations. You simply take your current weight in pounds and multiply it by your lifestyle multiplier.

Determining Your Lifestyle Multiplier

This is the part that most everyone overcomplicates. There is absolutely no need to have an anxiety attack over this part. I am going to lay it out for you as simply as possible. Your lifestyle multiplier is going to take into account your training, your job, and your overall level of activity. When you look at these numbers, be honest and realistic with yourself. Rather than choosing the best-case scenario, choose a number that will allow consistency. Accuracy in your choice will yield the best results. Before selecting your multiplier, you need to know that this number is not set in stone… it will change as your training does, it may change if you get a new job, it may change if you get injured, so on.

11: Appropriate for individuals who are virtually sedentary. You may be sedentary for a variety of reasons: a lack of interest or desire to work out, or maybe you’re recovering from surgery or a prolonged illness, or a sports-related injury. If you don’t partake in strenuous activity at all during the week, you will fall into this category. A lot of grad students tend to get stuck in this category (don’t worry, smarty pants. An advanced degree is worth the time).

12: Appropriate for individuals who train less than 5 hours a week. If you make it to the gym a few times a week and train no longer than an hour, you will most likely fall into this category. This multiplier is ideal is for the moderately active person.

13: Appropriate for individuals who train 5-10 hours a week. Most people will fall into this (or the previous) category. You go to the gym during the week for a little over an hour a day and remain relatively active on the weekends.

Calculating & Optimizing Your Macros

Second to calorie balance, macronutrients are the next important component for optimizing flexible dieting.  There is one more thing that I want to make very clear before we start calculating macros. The numbers you are about to come up with are simply an estimate, the purpose of which is to give you an approximate starting point. This will suffice to get you started, but you may find that you need to make some tweaks and adjustments to really dial this in.

First, convert your body weight from pounds to kilograms. This is very easy to do with the calculator on your smartphone.

Divide your body weight by 2.2 to get your weight in kilos: body weight in pounds ÷ 2.2 = body weight in kilograms

Protein is calculated first as it is the superior macronutrient. Protein supports muscle growth, thus is takes precedent. We want 2g of protein per kilogram of bodyweight. Take your weight in kilos and multiply it by 2 to determine how many grams of protein you should consume a day. Each gram of protein is going to be responsible for 4 calories of your total daily caloric intake.

body weight in kilograms x 2 = grams of protein per day grams of protein per day x 4 (cals/gram) = daily calories from protein

Fat is calculated second as it makes calculating your carbs easier by doing it in this order. This a major yet necessary change from the first book but it in no way indicates any form of “macro hierarchy”. Is is only for the sake of simplicity. Your body weight in kilos is roughly equal to the number of fat grams you should be consuming a day, so 1g per kilogram of bodyweight will do. Each gram of fat is going to be responsible for 9 calories of your total caloric intake.

body weight in kilograms = grams of fat per day grams of fat per day x 9 (cals/gram) = daily calories from fat

Carbs are calculated last because they are the trickiest to calculate, not, and most people’s initial estimate are too low. By forcing you to determine protein and fat first, you are left with x amount of calories to be met with carbs. (Don’t worry, this calculation isn’t set in stone, we will optimize and adjust in a few paragraphs). Each gram of carbohydrate is going to be responsible for 4 calories of your total caloric intake. This is where you have to do a bit more math than has been previously required.

total daily calories -(calories from fat + calories from protein) = calories from carbs calories from carbs ÷ 4(cals/gram) = grams of carbs per day

Now you have the three numbers that comprise your daily macro profile. There is no need to count calories. Understand that by hitting these numbers, you are hitting your calories. When you have these numbers calculated, I will go over your fitness goals to determine what your calorie deficit or surplus will be depending on whether your goal is to lose fat or gain muscle.

How Donuts Gave Me Abs

A couple of great posts by Nicole Capurso discussing the benefits of Flexible Dieting.  I’ll be introducing this program to our San Diego FitCamp community over the next week and I’d like to get everyone on-board to try this plan over the next few months.  Real easy to follow and NO FOOD RESTRICTIONS!

Download the articles here: Flexible Diet

The Elite San Diego Fitness Boot Camp since 2000.