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Nutritional Tips for the Road

Stew Smith, CSCS

On average, most people can gain five or more pounds a year. That is why in five short years, people step on a scale and cannot believe they are nearly FIFTY pounds overweight. Weight has a way of sneaking up on you over time. You do not get overweight overnight and you do not lose the weight overnight either. Both take time, but fortunately losing weight can be faster if you follow a strict nutritional and exercise plan. Both take only minutes a day. You need to either stick to your food and exercise plan or start a plan now if you have not been active or concerned about your food intake in a long time.

Here are a few eating tips and some ideas on quick exercises routines to try when time is limited:

1) Lay off the fast food – Before you leave for a long day at work, try to eat before you leave and pack a lunch. Foods high in protein mixed with a natural carbohydrate are great energy meals. Try a lean turkey or chicken sandwich with vegetables like lettuce and tomato. Watch out for the mayo – too many calories and fat grams. Try mustard instead. Fruits are great quick snacks too. Try apples, oranges, bananas for natural sources of energy.

2) Wake up and burn some calories – As busy days pile up with more and more obligations, the scheduled 5:00pm workout can easily get bumped! Make thirty minutes of exercise fit into your mornings and do some type of workout.

- Try biking, walking, or running for 30 minutes

- Go to your gym for a quick circuit routine

- Try calisthenics like jumping jacks / pushups / crunch routine and jumping jacks / squats / lunges / crunches listed above

3) Don’t wait – Start NOW! – Why wait? When you can, you should try to eat at regularly scheduled times during the day. Healthy snacks and meals will carry you through your stressful days much better than skipping meals or binge eating. You will find that if you keep a good schedule, you will lose weight and inches. Add exercise to the plan and you will also get fit and feel better than you have in years. Try an eating schedule of the following recommended times:

i. 0630 – breakfast

ii. 0930 – morning snack

iii. 1230 – lunch

iv. 1530 – afternoon snack

v. 1830 – dinner

If your days are longer than 15-18 hours you should try another light snack of foods like yogurt, grapes, milk. Other snacks during the day can be salads, fruits, lean meats, small sandwiches, boiled eggs and others. See chart on next page for better ideas on what to eat during the day and before and after exercise sessions.

4) Walk more – When on patrol, try to walk around an area if possible when going about your normal day. Burning a few more calories by walking is one of the easiest ways to walk off that extra weight. Just twenty minutes of brisk walking can burn over 100-150 calories.

5) Keep working the abdominal region and lower back – Not with food but with exercises like crunches, sit-ups, and lower back exercises and stretches. When you do these exercises for just 5-10 minutes daily, it is easier to remember to watch your food intake and stop yourself from gorging.

Overall, it is important to keep up the habit of moving more and eating less. These tips can help you prevent unneeded weight gain and lose the extra weight you have.

Want to Lose Weight? Calories OUT Must Be Greater Than Calories IN

To lose weight, there are a few factors that you must consider for any weight loss program to be effective. If you remember the following formulas, you should be able to lose weight in a healthy manner and better yet, KEEP IT OFF!

Formula #1: Calories OUT > Calories IN = Weight Loss

This formula is as basic as weight loss gets. If you exercise more calories than you eat at the end of the day, you will lose weight. Creating a calorie deficiency at the end of a day does not mean you have to starve yourself. In fact, decreasing your calories too much can have an opposite effect on the body and cause what I refer to as CAMEL MODE. Plus, you will not have energy at the end of the day to exercise.

The human body is built for survival and when we receive too few calories and not enough water, you can actually shut down your metabolism to a point where you will not burn fat and store water. So, you will not lose weight, but you could gain weight by the increased water retention.

This is where Formula #2 comes into play: Water + Oxygen = Fat burning

Basically, the body needs water and increased oxygen to burn fat as an energy source. The water intake should be anywhere from ½ gallon for women and up to 1 gallon a day for men. This can be tough to do while on duty in a patrol car, so limit your intake during the day and catch up once off-duty.

As you add more water to your system, your body will be able to use the retained water for excretion, prompting almost immediate weight loss that is healthy. This is not the same as sitting in a sauna and sweating which actually DEHYDRATES you. Adding water will REHYDRATE you and enable the body to burn more fat as long as you increase your oxygen intake by doing some form of exercise. Walking, swimming, biking, jogging, even yard work, and calisthenics can help with working your cardio-vascular system.

Here are some sample calorie expenditures for a variety of activities for people who weigh 130 – 190 lbs. If you weigh more that 190 lbs you will actually burn slightly more calories than a lighter person.

Activity | 130 lbs | 190 lbs

Aerobics | 300 | 500 | calories per hour

Basketball game | 475 | 675

Pt – pushups etc | 480 | 690

Child care | 210 | 300

Gardening | 290 | 400

Jogging | 410 | 600

Pushing stroller | 150 | 210

Jumping jacks / rope | 450 | 650

Swimming | 550 | 890

Tennis | 400 | 600

Walking 4 mph | 230 | 350

These are but a few of the ways to burn calories and of course breathing, sitting, standing, doing anything burns calories -even sleeping! But as you can see, the above the activities that burn the most are rigorous or the ones that can be done for several hours for best results. Remember to do your weightlifting, sprinting or calisthenics first, then do your lower heart rate cardio to burn optimal amounts of fat.

One quick note on the other side of the caloric equation is CALORIES IN. If you take a look at the following eating plan, you will get an idea of how to eat to lose weight without starving yourself.

But it is never a good idea to limit your calories under 1800 calories per day or skip meals. In fact, you should consult a nutritionist or dietician for a plan if you plan to go under 1800 calories. The main reason is that you can lose weight but become unhealthy due to lack of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients from a lower calorie diet.

When the days are long and you just cannot eat well, a product I like to use is called ASAP – made by Never Quit Industries. It is a powdered meal replacement with good macro-nutrients in it. It reminds me of a advanced form of Instant Breakfast – Check it out at the link:

Remember the key to any weight control program is adding water to your diet and a fitness plan that will help you add oxygen and burn calories and fat for the caloric deficiency needed to lose weight. Feel free to email me at – I answer all my emails.

Want to improve your workouts? Visit Stew Smith’s FireLink Fitness Store for customized, downloadable ebooks written specifically for public safety officers.


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