The Powerlifting Episode w/Kelli Michelle

As always, please like, subscribe, leave a rating and review for the Bodkast on itunes here. Enjoy! Thanks for listening.

We dive deep into many different aspects of powerlifting such as current trends in strength sports, macro tracking for powerlifters, and suggestions on how to make weight effectively, among many other topics! I think you’ll enjoy this episode whether or not you’re a powerlifter as we go over a lot of interesting and informative things. I hope you enjoy!

Show notes:
0:00 Introduction
1:39 Why should people do powerlifting?
5:45 Defining what the Wilks Score is
6:27 Shoutout to Bret Contreras!
6:40 Kelli’s start in coaching powerlifters
9:25 The impact of levers on certain lifts
10:20 The stigma surrounding strength sports for women is fading
12:00 The psychological pros & cons of powerlifting
14:20 The community aspect of strength sports
15:10 Nutrition specifics for powerlifters
18:00 Carb back-loading as a strategy to optimize energy for training
20:00 Does it matter if someone uses carbs or fat as a fuel source?
22:00 Should powerlifters track macros?
23:40 Accounting for the menstrual cycle with athletes
25:50 The effect of sodium on making weight for a competition
27:40 Water intake for making weight
29:35 Fiber intake for making weight and its effect on bloating
32:00 There are many factors that can affect weight gain/loss
39:51 Kelli’s excessive program as a beginner (don’t do this)
42:20 Kelli’s diet transition from aesthetics to strength sports
45:20 How can someone identify a good coach to work with?
49:50 The growing trend of women adopting strength sports
53:20 Helping clients understand the value of tracking
59:00 Should general population clients track macros?

5 Ways To Fight Hunger Cravings

Why the hell can we not stay full during the day? I talk to and overhear a lot of conversations that involve being hungry from busy students or professionals who are at work many hours of the day. What can they do to ensure they stay away from the vending machines at work or on campus or the shitty dining hall/cafeteria food? There’s a few things you can start doing to stave off those hunger cravings.

1: Plan Your Food, Foo

I can’t stress enough how valuable it is to plan your meals ahead of time. Bodybuilders and gym bros/bras have it right with bringing tupperwares of food with them. Now, it isn’t necessary to bring 50 meals with you for an afternoon of work. One large meal should be fine. Take some time either the night before or a few days before to prepare food for the next day or upcoming week.

When you’re prepping, make sure you’re aware of the shelf-life of the food you’re preparing. Chicken is only good for a few days (I never personally go past 3 days) after cooking. Rice and beans last a bit longer, so those are good options.  This link shows a great chart for a wide assortment of foods in terms of their storage life fresh, frozen, cooked, etc. Refer to that link if you’re unsure!

2: A Balanced Meal is King

Having a good mix of protein, carbs, and fat in your meal(s) will provide the best bang for your buck. You get a whole mix of nutrients and can fight off cravings by planning smart! For example, having a carb source that is high in fiber (vegetables, legumes, whole grain bread, etc.) with plant protein or lean meat topped off with a quality fat like avocado (which also has fiber) or canola/olive oil will put you in a great position in terms of feeling full for a long time and getting a lot of nutrients in a short time.

Having a balanced meal also just looks better and tastes better from an aesthetics and palatability standpoint. Having different colors, textures, and tastes in the meal elevates the taste, which is so important. Try it for yourself, and you’ll see even just preparing the food gets you excited to eat it.

3: Fiber, dammit!

I will talk about fiber until the day I die. This is such an important nutrient not only for general health (it helps to lower the risk for heart disease, diabetes, and cancer¹), but it also helps to keep you full and satisfied! If you want to learn more about the intricacies of fiber and why it helps you stay full, read my original post about fiber here.

Fiber is a pretty simply nutrient you can start including in your diet right now. If you’re prepping your food already, you can often exchange the carb sources in the meal for a whole grain or higher fiber option. For example, if you made a sandwich, shoot for the 100% whole grain bread. There’s a difference between 100% whole grain and 12-grain products. 12-grain products are often a hybrid between white bread and whole grain. If whole grain, wheat, etc. is available, go for that for fullness. If not, 12-grain isn’t a bad option.

Fiber is also found in fruits and veggies (why do you think we’re always encouraging you to eat them??). In the position stand by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, they have a great chart outlining a whole bunch of common foods that contain fiber. It’s too long for me to embed here, otherwise I would. Check it out for yourself.

If you’re going out with friends or colleagues, look for options with whole grain bread, fruit, or a side of veggies to increase the fiber and satiety you get from that meal. You can also typically find fiber in protein bars like Quest bars or Complete Cookies. It’s very easy now to get fiber in your diet!

4: Protein!!!!

Protein isn’t just for people who go to the gym or the bro who downs a gallon of protein shake. Protein is known as the most satiating macronutrient compared with carbs and fat². Having high protein meals will absolutely help with feelings of fullness and feeling and staying full between meals. You can even double dip and eat foods that are high in protein AND fiber! Then you’re really winning! For example, legumes (beans, lentils, peas, soybeans, etc.) are high in fiber and contain a good amount of protein as well.

Adding protein to your meals (while minimizing the amount of fat that comes from the protein) will keep cravings at bay all day (See what I did there?).

5: Don’t Be Afraid of a Big Meal

Just because a meal is large and may contain a lot of calories (yes, “healthy” food can have a lot of calories) does not mean in any way, shape or form, that is going to make you fat or that it’s “unhealthy”. As a species, we require calories to survive and thrive. Unfortunately, we can’t always eat whenever we freely want to. This should not deter you from eating a bird’s portion when you do get the chance to eat because you’r afraid of gaining weight. If you haven’t eaten all day, chances are you can have a hefty meal and be fine.

Plus, if you’re following these guidelines when having that one meal (balanced, has fiber and protein, etc.), then you may not even eat it all because it will fill you up before you’re finished! My own meals fill up a medium-sized tupperware up to the lid, but I’m okay with it because I know to reach my goals that I need to eat! Food is your friend, let it help you!

What have you done to fight cravings throughout the day? Share below and help someone else! Thanks for reading!


¹Dahl, W., & Stewart, M. (2015). Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Health Implications of Dietary Fiber. 115(11), 1861.

²Gerstein, Woodward-Lopez, Evans, Kelsey, & Drewnowski. (2004). Clarifying concepts about macronutrients’ effects on satiation and satiety. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 104(7), 1151-1153.

Bro Science: 1 Science: 0.5 (The Mind Muscle Connection)

It’s been a long thought among the bodybuilding community that, in order to maximize GAINZZZZ (aka hypertrophy), you need to establish a “mind-muscle connection”. What that means is the person who is performing the exercise is actively “thinking” about contracting the muscle as opposed to simply going through the motions. Now, in 2018, there is empirical evidence to support this idea.

The concept has long been touted by bodybuilders such as Kai Greene and Arnold Schwarzenegger (pictured here) that it’s essential to eek out those small, fine details of building muscle. Interestingly, last year at the International Society of Sports Nutrition Conference that was held in Phoenix, Arizona was the first time I heard about this study. Brad Schoenfeld, the lead researcher and OG of muscle science, talked for a short time about the findings of the study; however, since research takes a long time to publish, it was only recently made publicly available. So here we are! Let’s see what the study said!

To begin, let’s talk about where this idea fits in the scope of science. The broader term for this concept of mind-muscle connection is known as “Attentional Focus”¹. This is simply what floats through people’s minds while performing a task. It’s broken down further into an External and Internal focus¹. In a hypertrophy and bodybuilding context, an internal focus is what we consider the mind-muscle connection. It’s thinking about squeezing the working muscle and contracting it as hard as you can to “maximize gainz”. An external focus, the way I see it, is more motivational/supportive in that either yourself or someone else is keeping you focused on the outcome of the exercise¹. In this study, external focus was enforced by a trainer instructing the lifter to “Get the weight up!”, so you can see that it’s more focused on finishing the lift and completing the exercise as opposed to the muscle contraction¹.

“Okay, but how did they do it?”

Great question! The researchers took 30 males who were untrained (meaning they don’t normally exercise) and put them through 3 day/week training sessions for 8 weeks straight of barbell bicep curls and leg extensions (these exercises are easy to measure and isolate the muscles being studied)¹. As mentioned earlier, both internal and external groups were given different cues by the trainers depending on which group they were in (“squeeze the muscle!”) vs. (“get the weight up you weenie!”[no participants were called weenies during this study])¹.

Biceps and quadriceps muscles were tested to by an ultrasound machine for muscle thickness (MT)¹. MT is an indicator of muscle growth.

Side note: Could you imagine only doing curls and leg extensions 3 times a week for 8 weeks straight? I personally would get so bored! Applause to these guys who did it, because that sounds boring to me.

“So they made them do this boring routine..what happened?”

What happened next may shock you! (Are you tired of those headlines like I am?)

After the trial, the participants saw some interesting results. In the biceps, the internal focus group saw greater increases in hypertrophy over the external focus group¹ via increased MT. The study also found what was called a large effect size favoring the internal group for the biceps muscles¹. A large effect size basically reinforces that the cause of the increase in hypertrophy is actually because of the internal focus rather than something else.

The quadriceps muscles observed did not differ greatly in hypertrophy between both groups¹.

“But WTF does any of this mean?”

It means that the bodybuilders were right! However, this is only one study that has tested the mind-muscle connection theory in this manner with the machines and methods that they did. Nevertheless, this is exciting to see that the concept of actively thinking about contracting and “squeezing” your muscles may have some validity to it! Next time you’re in the gym doing some curls, benching, or leg curls, stop listening to your music and have that voice in your head (I know I’m not the only one) tell you to SQUEEZE!!! Try it for yourself! You may get more gainzzz that way.

A word of warning though: from my own experiences playing with this, I have had to use a lighter weight because the concentration does make the exercise feel harder, so you may want to try with a lighter weight than you normally do.

As for why there were no differences in the groups for the quadriceps muscles, the researchers offered a potential explanation for this phenomenon: Lower-limb muscles are not used for small, meticulous, and fine movements like muscles in the upper limbs are (think careful movements with your fingers and how precise you can be with the muscles and actions of them)¹.

We don’t have that precise control over our leg muscles like we do the muscles in our upper-limbs, so it may be more difficult to actually “squeeze” the muscles harder than you already do. Not to say that it’s impossible! Another reason might be because the subjects were untrained and had not a lot of experience exercising and learning how to “squeeze” the muscles like an experienced bodybuilder may have¹. I believe we would see a different picture if bodybuilders could be tested.


  • The mind-muscle connection has long been a theory among bodybuilders about thinking about the muscle you’re training to make it work harder and therefore, get more gainzzz.
  • This study supports the idea for upper-limb muscles only because that was the only area where internal focus (aka mind-muscle connection) appeared to make a difference.
  • Lower-limb hypertrophy may be greater if an internal focus is taken if the subjects are trained, but this study can’t say that. More research must be conducted first.
  • Consider trying it for yourself!

As always, thanks for reading!


¹Differential effects of attentional focus strategies during long-term resistance training

Flexing muscle with blue background graphic Created by Dooder –


Dr. Magee On GMOs, Vaccines, Genetics, and So Much More!

This episode, we talk with Dr. Mitch Magee at ASU. We break down what exactly are GMOs, are they safe, and some other things surrounding GMOs that you may not have thought about. Also, we dive into the Autism-vaccine controversy and (completely) destroy the myths around it. We also talk about the gut microbiome and so much more! There’s a lot of informaiton tucked into this episode, so please enjoy!

How Are Nutrition and Politics Similar?

Hi everyone. This is a speech I performed at my local Toastmaster’s club. I talk about the parallels between nutrition and politics, specifically how we discuss them. I offer solutions at the end to mitigate the frustration and divide we see in these two areas. It’s not a perfect speech, and I will be refining it over time, but I think it has some useful information, so I hope you enjoy!

Low Fat, Low Carb-Either Still Works: Media Misses The Mark Again

Hey everyone, Michael here. This is the first article on the blog from my friend Dr. Chris Berger. He’s an exercise physiologist and university professor, so he has a lot of good information to share. I hope you enjoy!

Admit it – You’ve had it with the latest studies telling you what to do.  I know I have.  As a doctor of my profession, high-quality data are the lifeblood of what I do.  I carefully structure my research and the classes that I teach on the basis of the best science out there.  But even us PhDs have to roll our eyes occasionally at what gets published and, more importantly, how the media run with it.

Consider, for example, the attention a new study got from the New York Times.  On Tuesday the 20th of February, the Times published a piece titled, “The Key to Weight Loss Is Diet Quality, Not Quantity, a New Study Finds”.  Alright.  Let’s break this down shall we?  First, “weight loss” has no key.  Weight is the product of mass times gravity so, I suppose, you could go into orbit and be happy with your weight absent gravity but… I have some bad news for you – you’d still be FAT!  Next, the notion that something as complicated as body composition (and our very personal concepts of what is ideal) does not have a “key”.  Why do we keep thinking that celebrities have a “secret” or that there is some trick to having a healthy body composition?  Any rational expert in the health sciences will tell you that body composition is dynamic and that obesity is multifactorial.  We owe our percent body fat to a lot of things.  Have we engineered physical activity out of our lives? (Yes)  Are we readily exposed to high-calorie palatable foods?  (Yes)  Have we cut the hell out of PE in schools?  (Ask your kid about that one or…do you not want to interrupt his video game?)  My point is that when you see news of a study that concludes that it’s this – this one thing here everybody – that is making us fat, you need to be critical of the work.

Not surprisingly, this study cited by the Times was praised by an MD – a cardiologist to be exact.  Now don’t get me wrong, I respect physicians.  I just wish that they would respect me.  I have something they don’t have – a thorough understanding of how physical activity impacts body structure and function and the research skills to find out more.  And without them, one draws bone-headed conclusions.  Don’t believe me?  Repeating:  The Times published a piece titled, “The Key to Weight Loss Is Diet Quality, Not Quantity, a New Study Finds”.  Yet what the study ACTUALLY concluded was the following (and I’m copying this verbatim):

In this 12-month weight loss diet study, there was no significant difference in weight change between a healthy low-fat diet vs a healthy low-carbohydrate diet, and neither genotype pattern nor baseline insulin secretion was associated with the dietary effects on weight loss. In the context of these 2 common weight loss diet approaches, neither of the 2 hypothesized predisposing factors was helpful in identifying which diet was better for whom.

But do you even need a PhD or an MD to translate this for you?  THEY FOUND NO DIFFERENCE.

Americans are fat for a lot of reasons but I’d like it to be the case that when we make personal efforts to improve our health, we do so with good information.  We rely on the news media to so inform us.  Instead, what we often have is a rush to headlines and an “endorsement” by somebody who seems credible.  Clickbait.  Bear this in mind for the next time you hear the “breaking news” on something in the health sciences.  Educate yourself on how to read and be critical of studies using the attached guide from the International Food Information Council Foundation and be careful not to jump to conclusions.  There is a lot to know in the health sciences and it’s not likely that one research paper will tell you it all.

Christopher Berger, PhD, ACSM EP-C, CSCS


Gardner CD et al.  Effect of Low-Fat vs Low-Carbohydrate Diet on 12-Month Weight Loss in Overweight Adults and the Association With Genotype Pattern or Insulin Secretion: The DIETFITS Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA. 2018 Feb 20;319(7):667-679.

KMF: Making Macros Fit Your Life

Don’t forget to check out the podcast on itunes!

Check out for her coaching and nutrition programs!

This episode of the Agora Bodkast was produced in collaboration with Kelli Michelle (KMF) and some of her clients. We dive into each of their own personal stories to learn about how they make tracking macros and goal-oriented nutrition part of their everyday lives despite being business owners, executives, night-shift workers, and overall busy people. After listening to this, you can’t say you don’t have time anymore for this stuff! Enjoy, show notes coming soon.

Show Notes:

Fresh vs. Frozen (vs. Canned) Produce, Who Wins? Part 3: Canned


To finish up this monster of a blog post all about The Produce Wars. Which is better, and which is worse?? (SPOILER ALERT) Well, hopefully, by now you’ve seen that each type has its pros and cons, and that not one is better than the other, because each has its own way of processing, storage, cooking method, etc. that will help it retain nutrients or lose some in these processes. With that being said, let’s finish up by discussing canned produce and its trade-offs. We’ll wrap up with some application of where and how you can use this information.

Let’s go

Canned Produce


Here’s where canned produce can fall short pretty dramatically in terms of nutrient availability. For many canned products, they undergo “Thermal Processing” which simply means heating something to kill bacteria and other microorganisms. As we learned earlier, water-soluble vitamins such as C & B are very sensitive to heat, and are lost in this process.

For example, carrots and broccoli saw losses greater than 80% just from the canning process alone1. Interestingly, however, corn and beets saw very small changes when canned1, perhaps because they’re tougher on the exterior?

The B-vitamins appear to be all over the board in terms of how much of the nutrients are lost. Thiamin (B1) saw 25%-66% losses in spinach, while the same study saw no changes in the Thiamin content of tomatoes2. Honestly, the story seems pretty similar across the other B-vitamins. There was so much variability, that I’m not going to waste your time going into the details behind it all. You can read the review itself if you’re curious1. My takeaway for the B-vitmins since they’re so variable is to try to derive them from non-canned sources if you can since the losses appeared to be higher than the retention for most of the studies1. There’s a helpful chart that you can refer to that pretty much spells it out for you!

When turning to the fat-soluble vitamins, there is a different story. Vitamin A actually saw some increases in its concentration after the canning process! One study found increases ranging from 7%-50% in green beans, sweet potatoes, spinach, and collard greens3. But the picture isn’t perfect. In that same study, peaches showed a 50% drop along with a 13% decrease for vitamin A in tomatoes. Upon further reading of this review, one can see that the research about canning and vitamin A content is actually pretty fuzzy, consisting of studies on both sides4. My opinion on this would be to acquire your vitamin A from a variety of canned products if they’re your only option.

Not much research has been conducted on vitamin E and canned foods because the foods with the highest concentration of the vitamin are not typically canned or fruits/veggies; however, some studies have shown large increases after processing in tomatoes5. It appears as though heat, similar with vitamin A, activates the vitamin within the food and allows it to be extracted/consumed in a greater amount than in the raw form. This only occurs up to a certain extent. After being converted to tomato paste, some losses of vitamin E occurred5. Interestingly, the USDA reports that canned products, when compared with their fresh or frozen alternative, have higher amounts of vitamin E4.

Here is where things get kinda interesting.  The amount of minerals in canned products can actually get increased during the canning process5. When canning, water is often added to preserve the food longer or create a syrup base to the food. Depending on the geographical processing location, the water may actually add minerals such as potassium and calcium5. With this, however, comes the enormous increase in sodium. That is my one caveat if you’re going to get canned, search for low sodium or salt-free options when available and financially feasible.

For fiber, the rule stays the same: physical preparation/removal is going to lower the fiber content. In foods such as tomatoes and asparagus, the researchers saw a 27% drop in fiber content; however, other foods, even after physical prep, did not see changes, largely due to the outer or thicker layers remaining intact2.


Moving on to storage of canned products, we start again with ascorbic acid (vitamin C). Pretty simple here, and, as you can imagine, not much losses are incurred after storing canned foods for a long time (18 months in these studies). Losses for vitamin C were no more than 15% for a variety of veggies1.

For the B-vitamins, there actually appears to be variety in losses depending on the food. Thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin, which are all B-vitamins, saw significant losses after 8 months in canned tomatoes6, but saw no changes in fiddlehead greens7. I had to google what fiddlehead greens are. I’m not sure we have those in the US or Arizona at least lol.

There were not a whole lot of studies that observed the effect of canned storage on vitamin A, but the few that did showed little to no change in the amount of the vitamin over time when in storage4.

One funny thing that happens with canned foods is that, depending on the material of the can, the food will experience increases or decreases in the amount of iron or copper. Steel-plated tin cans have been shown to increase the amount of iron in a food8. Other than that, other minerals are not really affected during storage8.

There wasn’t much to be said about fiber in canned foods, but the summary is that some foods like fiddlehead greens may experience a decrease as much as 25% if canned and stored for 10 months4.


Since canned products are often already cooked, there are few additional losses from cooking for vitamin C, assuming that little if any water is added and the food is cooked only to get heated1.

Many of the studies that considered B-vitamin retention consistently showed that, while frozen and canned products may contain the same amounts of B-vitamins (even though they were low), both forms still have lower amounts than fresh counterparts1.

Vitamin A studies showed that cooked fresh carrots and other veggies had higher amounts than frozen and canned options, but all forms were still good sources of vitamin A1.

Unfortunately, there was not much to report about vitamin E except data from the USDA which showed that canned products compared to fresh and frozen had significantly lower amounts of the vitamin1.

The effects on mineral losses in canned goods was focused primarily on sodium losses. A 1975 study showed that if you rinse the canned food in water before cooking, you can reduce a significant amount of the sodium content by 23-45%9.

There were no mentions of fiber losses from canned products, but I imagine that it would be similar to cooking fresh or frozen foods since the main thing that affects fiber content is physical processing.


This is going to be a bit longer than my normal takeaway, as I’m going to wrap up this entire series, but I hope you have learned something from this small series of posts. The primary idea I wanted to communicate to you was that fruits, veggies, and other produce goods come in different shapes, sizes, and forms. Each form has its own pros and cons, and each contains more or less of certain nutrients than the other. Mainly, this set of posts was to relieve stress that some people feel when getting hung up about buying the fresh or frozen option. Either one is fine. The fact that you’re eating veggies is great, and be happy about that. With that, a quick summary of each option’s yays and nays:

Fresh produce often showed higher amounts of the nutrients, but would degrade significantly faster. Unless you’re going through your produce drawer every three days, I’d advise mixing it up a bit. Fresh produce can also cost more than the frozen or canned, which can be a barrier for many people. No one shouldn’t feel bad about buying cost-appropriate options, as they can contain similar or even more of certain nutrients.

Frozen and canned goods possess a lot of benefits just like fresh foods do. Obviously, they last longer and retain their nutrients for a longer period of time. Also, many food companies are now making strides in nutrient-dense frozen meals that taste freaking awesome! If you’re busy and on-the-go, frozen meals can be an awesome option for you.

Canned goods are great in that they are often enhanced with delicious flavors that would be a pain in the ass to make your own. Or, they are already cooked, and all you have to do is heat them up and you have food! My advice with canned foods is drain the sodium before cooking by rinsing it for a few seconds.

I also think it’s important to note that there were some limitations in the review and research I used, so these data are not going to 100% accurate and correct all the time 24/7. The studies varied greatly on how they measured losses and retention-mostly on a dry weight vs. wet weight basis-and the years that they were published. As time goes on, research methods improve and may even invalidate some older studies, so these papers are not without their faults, but they still provide some valuable information about how you can make smarter decisions about what you eat!

In conclusion, fresh, frozen, and canned foods are all great and can be part of a healthy diet. Learn to experiment with all the options an variety you’re given, and you’ll come across some pretty cool stuff! Let me know some canned or frozen recipes or foods you found that changed your life! Thanks for reading!


1Rickman, J., Barrett, D., & Bruhn, C. (2007). Nutritional comparison of fresh, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables. Part 1. Vitamins C and B and phenolic compounds. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, 87(6), 930-944.

22Martin-Belloso O and Llanos-Barriobero EProximate composition, minerals and vitamins in selected canned vegetablesEur Food Res Technol 212182187(2001).

33Lessin WJCatigani GL and Schwartz SJQuantification of cistrans isomers of provitamin A carotenoids in fresh and processed fruits and vegetablesJ Agric Food Chem 4537283732 (1997).

4Rickman, J., Bruhn, C., & Barrett, D. (2007). Nutritional comparison of fresh, frozen, and canned fruits and vegetables II. Vitamin A and carotenoids, vitamin E, minerals and fiber. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, 87(7), 1185-1196.

5Abushita AADaood HGand Biacs PAChange in carotenoids and antioxidant vitamins in tomato as a function of varietal and technological factorsJ Agric Food Chem4820752081 (2000).

6Saccani GTrifiró ACortesi AGherardi SZanotti Aand Montanari AEffects of production technology and storage conditions on the content of water-soluble vitamins in tomato pureesInd Conserve 76107118 (2001).

7Bushway AASerreze DVMcGann DFTrue RHWork TM and Bushway RJEffect of processing method and storage time on the nutrient composition of fiddlehead greensJ Food Sci 5014911492, 1516 (1985).

8Elkins ERNutrient content of raw and canned green beans, peaches, and sweet potatoesFood Technol 336670 (1979).

9Sinar LJ and Mason MSodium in four canned vegetablesJ Am Diet Assoc66155157 (1975).

Fresh vs. Frozen (vs. Canned) Produce, Who Wins? Part 2: Frozen

Welcome back! We’re continuing our discussion on whether you should eat fresh, frozen, or canned fruits/veggies. So far, we’ve seen the pros and cons of fresh produce: High in nutrient density, but loses its nutrients quickly if stored for a few days! How can we combat that?? Hmmm…..??? Got it! Freeze the colorful bastards! Yes! I’m saying freeze your produce or buy frozen if you know you store food for a while. Also, you may get more nutrients from doing this. Let’s look at what the data says about frozen produce in comparison to other methods!

Frozen Produce


Last post, I did not include processing as a means of loss because fresh fruits/veggies don’t really experience much processing that could affect nutrient availability. Time was a primary factor in losses from fresh produce. I include it here because the freezing process can have an effect on the nutrients in food.

Processing for produce involves cooking the food then quickly freezing it. This is typically accomplished through blanching. This process involves boiling the food for a very short period of time, enough to cook it. Then, the food is thrown in cold water or an ice bath to freeze! This process can yield some losses in nutrients.

For example, one study found a 63% loss of Vitamin C in green peas just from freezing the food1. Numerous studies were compared to examine the loss of Vitamin C during the blanching and freezing process. Across the board, there was a lot of variance (From 17%-63% losses). Alternatively, while broccoli and spinach showed the greatest losses, asparagus appeared to be the hardiest vegetable, as Vitamin C was shown to retain 90% of its concentration after freezing2. Most of the vegetables reviewed saw fewer losses of ascorbic acid to freezing than canning, with some veggies losing as much as 90% of their Vitamin C just from the canning process2.

Losses of B-vitamins are similar to Vitamin C in that they vary greatly between studies, but the percentages were, on average, lower in terms of percent lost to freezing. Freezing was similarly a more efficient process than canning to preserve B-vitamins2.

For the fat-soluble Vitamin A (specifically beta-carotene), their does not appear to be a major change in loss between canning and freezing; they both appear to lose about the same amount2. Vitamin A was shown, as seen through multiple studies, to have losses ranging from 5%-48%2. The authors of the review made an interesting point that the typical American’s main source of Vitamin A is through lycopene in tomatoes, and these are not normally frozen2, so this may not be a super important point if most of our intake is from tomatoes anyway!

Not much is mentioned of Vitamin E, but it appears that canning may produce a slightly greater amount of the vitamin than fresh and frozen counterparts2.

In terms of minerals, fresh, frozen, and canned veggies all were neck-and-neck. One food would have more calcium when canned, then the next would have more calcium when fresh, and so on and so on. Just from my judgement, with the exception of sodium, it seemed as though fresh and frozen produce showed, on average, higher amounts of the minerals when compared to canned counterparts3.

For fiber and processing, the only time fiber was lost was when some of the fibrous portions of the food were physically removed. There appears to be nothing about canning or freezing the affects fiber if the food is left intact2.


As one can imagine, frozen produce does much better than fresh in terms of nutrient retention during storage. Regarding Vitamin C, after one year of storage, one study saw an average decrease of 20%-50% for food such as broccoli and spinach4 whereas fresh foods can see those losses or greater in as little as 24 hours5!

Unfortunately, the data is pretty inconclusive about B-vitamin losses, so I’m not going to include it here.

In regards to Vitamin A, some studies say a small increase in Vitamin A concentration after storage6 while others saw no change or decreases after storage for a period of time7.

Data from the USDA suggest that some foods like tomatoes and sweet potatoes contain higher levels of Vitamin E when canned compared to their fresh and frozen equivalents; however, spinach and asparagus showed higher levels when fresh or frozen8. Basically, the results are inconclusive, there is no clear winner for this category.

As mentioned in the last post, fiber and minerals are much hardier components of food than the other vitamins, so losses from them are very minimal, including when they are frozen for months on end8.


Home-cooking foods can have a significant effect on nutrient losses. Generally, when heat is applied, some losses will occur, especially in the water-soluble vitamins.

When compared with canned and fresh produce, frozen held its own with fresh foods for Vitamin C retention-throughout processing, storage, and canning-being very similar in nutrient quality compared across a range of foods. Canned produce fell short, withstanding significant losses throughout the processing, storage and cooking steps2.

For the B-vitamins, it has been seen that Thiamin, a vitamin important for cell metabolism and growth9, can witness small or significant losses during the cooking process (11%-66% loss of nutrient)10. From other studies, they showed that canned and frozen produce fell equally short to fresh foods after cooking for the B-vitamins11,12.

Vitamin A one again saw increases in availability after cooking. Some of the foods saw even greater percent changes when frozen than when cooked. For example, one study saw only a 5% increase in Vitamin A for carrots when fresh compared to a 21% increase when frozen13

Vitamin E in frozen foods was not really mentioned, so I will skip this portion.

When looking at the minerals sodium, calcium, and potassium, some interesting results were noticed. Across the board, concentrations of potassium and calcium were similar after cooking for fresh, frozen, and canned foods when testing green beans and peas12. One can assume that canned foods will have a higher amount of sodium due to processing12. What this tells us is that generally, produce will have similar amounts of the beneficial minerals. If you’re watching sodium, opt for either non-canned options or those that are sodium-free/no salt added. One caveat, this study only looked at those two vegetables. The results may be different when looking at fruits and vegetables. My personal opinion is that it may not be too different simply because minerals are more resistant to heat and cooking than the vitamins.

In reference to the last post, fiber isn’t really lost from the cooking process unless you physically remove the tough, fibrous, parts of food. Researchers went to the grocery store and purchased some food off the shelf to observe its fiber content and compare fresh, frozen, and canned foods. What they found was that cooked frozen and cooked canned green beans and peas had 25%-35% greater amounts of fiber than the cooked fresh counterpart12.

Keep in mind, this is one grocery trip they took. Fiber content may vary between batches, but it is an interesting point because I think that most people would think that the fresh food will always have more nutrients, which, as we just saw, is not always the case.

Phew, this was a longer post than most of the others. My b. But there was a lot to cover! I will be going over specifically canned produce next week, so look forward to that! Here are my takeaways!


  • Frozen foods last significantly longer than fresh foods. If you plan on having food for a long time or like to stockpile for nuclear war for some weird reason, go frozen.
    • In many cases, frozen foods have similar nutrient amounts to fresh.
  • In addition, frozen foods take a long time on average to lose a lot of their nutrients, so store those babies for a while, you’ll be good!
  • Frozen foods (including meals) are a quick and easy way to make a meal, since the prep work is usually done.
  • Try limiting the time you heat/cook any kind of produce. The longer it stays in hear or water, the greater chance you will lose nutrients
    • On the other hand, don’t drive yourself nuts and only eat raw foods, that’s not the way either. If you can limit water and heat use and still get the same product, great. If not, no biggie, enjoy your damn food.


I hope you found this article useful. Let me know how use frozen foods in your meals/meal planning, I’m always looking for ideas!


1Fellers CR and Stepat WEffect of shipping, freezing and canning on the ascorbic acid (vitamin C) content of peasProc Am Soc Hort Sci 32627633(1935).

2Rickman, J., Barrett, D., & Bruhn, C. (2007). Nutritional comparison of fresh, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables. Part 1. Vitamins C and B and phenolic compounds. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, 87(6), 930-944.

3Makhlouf JZee JTremblay NBelanger AMichaud MH and Gosselin ASome nutritional characteristics of beans, sweet corn and peas (raw, canned and frozen) produced in the province of QuebecFood Res Int 28253259 (1995)

4Hunter KJ and Fletcher JMThe antioxidant activity and composition of fresh, frozen, jarred and canned vegetablesInnov Food Sci Emerg Technol 3399406(2002).

5Favell DJA comparison of the vitamin C content of fresh and frozen vegetablesFood Chem 625964 (1998).

6Salunkhe DKBolin HR and Reddy NRChemical composition and nutritional quality, in Storage, Processing, and Nutritional Quality of Fruits and Vegetables. Vol. 2: Processed Fruits and Vegetables. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, pp. 115145 (1991).

7Elkins ERNutrient content of raw and canned green beans, peaches, and sweet potatoesFood Technol 336670 (1979).

8Rickman, J., Bruhn, C., & Barrett, D. (2007). Nutritional comparison of fresh, frozen, and canned fruits and vegetables II. Vitamin A and carotenoids, vitamin E, minerals and fiber. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, 87(7), 1185-1196.

9Thiamin Fact Sheet From NIH

10Rumm-Kreuter D and Demmel IComparison of vitamin losses in vegetables due to various cooking methodsJ Nutr Sci Vitaminol 36S7S15(1990).

11Lisiewska ZKorus A and Kmiecik WChanges in the level of vitamin C, beta-carotene, thiamine, and riboflavin during preservation of immature grass pea (Lathyrus sativus L.) seedsEur Food Res Technol 215216220(2002).

12Wills RBEvans TJLim JSScriven FM and Greenfield HComposition of Australian foods. 25. Peas and beansFood Technol Aust 36512514 (1984).

13Howard LAWong ADPerry AK and Klein BPβ-Carotene and ascorbic acid retention in fresh and processed vegetablesJ Food Sci 64929936(1999).

Exercise Program Design for the New Year

Welcome back for another great episode of the Agora Bodkast! If you’re not already subscribed to us, go to itunes here and give us a rating, review, and subscribe! We actually recorded this one over the summer but we kept having on awesome guests, and so we wanted to push their episodes ahead of this one. Here, we talk about how to design your own exercise program specific to your goals. We do have a bit of a powerlifting/bodybuilding focus, but take what we talk about here, and you can apply it to your own style of training. That I can assure you! Show notes below, enjoy!

0:00 Introduction
2:11 Different types of programming
3:38 Distinction between strength and power
4:40 Progressing with linear periodization
6:30 Defining undulating periodization
12:00 Structuring an undulating program
13:15 Estimating your one rep max if unable to test official 1RM
14:50 Why you don’t lose training adaptations with undulating periodization
16:30 Designing programs to avoid over-training/injuries
18:30 Setting proper goals to design an effective program
22:40 Deciding on type of program and exercise selection
25:50 Applying progressive overload to your program
31:05 The “optimal” rep ranges for strength & hypertrophy
35:45 J’s 5 ways to gains!
37:40 Tips for beginners in the gym
43:55 Instas and thanks for watching!