Healthy Substitutes for Guilty Pleasure Foods

Adhering to a strict diet is tough, and many people do not realize how difficult it is to stay the course until they have already committed to it. The benefits of a healthy diet are well documented, but there are always cravings that pop up. By making health-conscious substitutes, it is still possible to enjoy your guilty pleasure foods without neglecting your diet.

Black Beans for Flour in Baking

Most people could benefit from consuming less flour in their diets. If you have any type of gluten insensitivity or are following the Paleo diet like myself, then flour is not an option in your diet. Luckily, black beans make a great flour substitute for baking. Swap out a cup of all-purpose flour for a cup of washed and pureed black beans the next time you are craving brownies. Aside from eliminating the flower, you also add extra grams of protein to the mix.

Spaghetti Squash for Noodles in Pasta

There are plenty of pasta substitutes on shelves in the grocery store, but the best one I’ve found so far is a baked spaghetti squash. Cut the squash in half and spread a layer of oil on the open halves along with some salt and pepper for taste. Lay them open-half up in a baking pan with some water and cover the pan with foil. Bake at 400 degrees for 40-50 minutes or until the inside of the squash is easily removed with a fork.

Coconut Oil for Coffee Creamer

Most coffee creamers are packed with sugar and dairy, both of which can be detrimental to your health. Add a tablespoon of coconut oil to your coffee in the morning and blend it to get a smooth, velvety consistency. Research has also shown that MCTs in the coconut oil help provide longer lasting energy that creamer cannot match.

Avocado for Butter

Someone somewhere had the idea to swap a 1:1 ratio of avocado for butter in baking, and that person should receive a medal. While butter is not awful, it cannot compare to the nutritional benefits of an avocado. Next time you are craving chocolate chip cookies, try swapping out the butter for avocado, and I bet you won’t even taste the difference.

Sticking to a nutritional plan should not make you miserable, and you should be enjoying the foods you are eating. By making these healthy substitutions, you can stay the course and enjoy every meal.

The Many Uses of Coconut Oil

Coconut oil has been gaining popularity in the health and wellness world over the past decade due to its seemingly unlimited uses. Originally marketed as a cooking oil, coconut oil has since grown into a universal product that you’ll find in the cupboard of most health-conscious people. While it is still a popular cooking oil, it is also used for much more around the house.

Beauty and Health Uses

Skin Moisturizer

Coconut oil has been proven to be as effective as many store-bought moisturizers without any of the added chemicals or dyes.

Lip Balm

While coconut oil is a great skin moisturizer, it is also an effective lip balm. A thin layer can protect your lips from the cold and wind all winter long.

Oil Pulling

Swishing or “pulling” coconut oil in your mouth has been shown to improve teeth and gum health, eliminate bad breath, stop tooth decay, and kill unwanted bacteria.

Toothpaste

Mix coconut oil with baking soda and a drop of peppermint oil to create a gentle toothpaste that will leave your breath fresh all day.

Deodorant

The natural antibacterial properties of coconut oil make it great at fighting body odor. If you don’t like the consistency of an oil as a deodorant, combine it with a little baking soda to thicken it.

Shaving Cream

For many men, including myself, shaving causes a number of problems including razor burn and the occasional ingrown hair. Try a layer of coconut oil after a hot shower as your shaving cream to eliminate those issues.

Shampoo and Conditioner

Coconut oil is a great substitute for an all-in-one shampoo and conditioner. It also works wonders on dandruff!

Cooking Uses

Toast Topper

Instead of spreading butter on the top of your toast, reach for the coconut oil. The consistency and flavor will have you wondering why you never tried it before.

Coffee Creamer

Throw a tablespoon of coconut oil in your coffee in the morning and blend it to create a velvety morning drink that will pack a punch.

Popcorn Dressing

Toss your freshly-popped popcorn in a bowl with coconut oil and a pinch of sea salt for a healthier alternative and a new taste.

Energy Drink

Most sports drinks are jam packed with sugar and unwanted additives. Add coconut oil and some fruit to a glass of water to create a delicious pre-workout drink.

Around the House

Gum Removal

There are plenty of guides online on how to remove gum from the couch or from your hair, and coconut oil is up there as one of the most effective. The oils will break down the gum and make it easier to remove.

Shine Your Shoes

Shoe shining kits can be expensive, and you may only use them once or twice before they sit in your closet collecting dust. Apply a thin layer of coconut oil to your shoes to get them shining while protecting them at the same time.

Slow Dust Accumulation

Speaking of collecting dust, it seems as though dusting is a chore that you could do daily and the dust keeps coming back. Spread some coconut oil on anything made of wood or plastic that collects a lot of dust and let it dry.

The versatility of coconut oil is impressive, and people are finding new uses for it every day. Make sure you find a spot for it in your pantry, in your medicine cabinet, in your broom closet, or all three today.

Total Caloric Expenditure: Part 3-Activity Expenditure

From my previous posts, we have learned the calculation for daily total caloric expenditure. Let’s review:

Total Caloric Expenditure = Resting Metabolic Rate, (RMR), + Thermal Effect of Food + Activity Expenditure.

We learned how to correctly calculate our Resting Metabolic Rate for our current body weight. We could have taken that formula a step further by first calculating our Lean Body Mass, or our body’s lean weight which is comprised of the combined weight of our bones, muscles, organs, and water mass, but we can save that for a future post as it is not entirely necessary to get you started.

We have also learned that our bodies use energy to digest and process the food we eat. Energy, in the form of calories, and how to calculate that.

So now let’s move on and discuss the third and final value of our equation, Activity Expenditure. According to the National Federation of Professional Trainers, (NFPT), the average adult burns approximately 500 calories per day performing normal daily activities. If you consider yourself a little more or less active than most you may consider adding or subtracting 100 calories from the 500 calories per day average.

Going back again to our example 34-year-old female from previous posts, we have determined her Resting Metabolic Rate to be 1,380 calories, her Thermal Effect of Food to be 230 calories, and her average daily Activity Expenditure to be 500 calories.

1,380-Resting Metabolic Rate + 230 Thermal Effect of Food + 500 Activity Expenditure = 2,110 total required caloric intake to maintain her current 142 pounds.

Note per this example, to maintain her current weight of 142 pounds she should be taking in 2,110 calories per day but we see she is actually consuming 2,300 calories per day or an excess of 190 calories per day. Knowing that one pound of fat “weighs” 3,500 calories we can determine with a great degree of certainty, our 34 year old female will gain one pound in just under three weeks! How do we know that? Well let’s do the math”

Current daily caloric intake (2,300) – current daily caloric expenditure (2,100)=daily caloric surplus (190)

3,500 calories per pound divided by her daily caloric surplus of 190 calories per day equals 18.42 days! In theory every 18.42 days our 34 year old female will gain one pound of unwanted weight!

What does she need to do to stop this weight gain? Diet….right? Well, not necessarily. Why give up something she may enjoy. The thought of dieting, or restricting caloric intake, carries a negative connotation. So, rather than restrict 500 calories per day let’s burn 500 calories per day! Go for a walk! Your kids and dog will love you! If our example 34-year-old female walked 1 hour each day at a brisk pace, she will burn approximately 450 calories she currently does not burn. So instead of having a surplus of 190 calories, she will now have a calorie deficit of approximately 260 calories per day! (450 calories burned walking less 190 daily caloric surplus equals 260). Knowing a pound of fat weighs 3,500 calories, she will lose one pound of fat every two weeks! (3,500/260=13.46).

You say you don’t have time to walk, how far do you walk to your local coffee barista? 1 mile each way and you are half way done. There is no better time to appreciate the benefits of light exercise as immediately following meal time. After every meal, our bodies either store or use the most recent calories consumed so no better time to put those calories to good use as just after taking them in! Remember to walk slightly faster than your comfortable pace to achieve good results. On those rainy days, pull out and dust off that old exercise equipment you bought a few years ago and rarely used.

Now that you understand your Caloric Expenditure you are finally armed with the basic knowledge to start becoming a healthier you!

And remember, “I you want it, you’ve gotta go get it!”

Total Caloric Expenditure: Part 2-The Thermal Effect of Food

Mark Dziuban - Thermal

In part one of this series, we learned how to calculate your Resting Metabolic Rate, or RMR, which is how many calories your body burns to provide for all it’s necessary bodily functions. You now know how many calories your body requires before you do anything more than lay in bed all day.

Now that we understand and have calculated your resting metabolic rate, we have a little more work to do. Before we do that, let’s look at the equation for Total Caloric Expenditure.

Total Caloric Expenditure = RMR + Thermal Effect of Food + Activity Expenditure

The Thermal Effect of Food is the total number of calories required to digest your food. Yes, your body burns calories when processing, or digesting the food you eat. Your body burns calories absorbing and distributing those nutrients throughout your body. No, you cannot eat more food to burn more calories and lose weight. While that would be a fun way to lose weight, the fact is our bodies burn far fewer calories digesting the food we eat than the total number of calories contained in that food. We are going to use a very simple method to determine your Thermal Effect of Food. Remember that this figure varies depending on the types of food ingested. Simply calculate 10% of your daily caloric intake. The answer is the approximate number of calories required to digest and process our food. So, using our example 34-year-old female from our previous post, let’s say she consumes 2,300 calories per day. So, multiplying 2,300 calories by 10% or, 2,300 x .10 we determine her Thermal Effect of Food to be 230 calories. Her RMR we previously calculated to be 1,378.13 or let’s around up to 1,380 for easier math. Her Thermal Effect of Food is 230 so we know she currently burns 1,610 calories per day, 1,380 + 230 = 1,610.

We are well on our way to having a good idea how many calories we burn in a single day.

Before we move on any further, let’s talk about the three categories of metabolism. There are the Ectomorph, Mesomorph, and the Endomorph. Do you have a friend or family member who seemingly can eat anything at any time and never gain a single pound of weight? That lucky person is an Ectomorph, or is better identified as having a very high metabolism. A Mesomorph is one who has a normal metabolism and an Endomorph has a difficult time losing weight. You’ll need to determine which category you fit in to you will need to be honest with yourself. So, when calculating your Total Caloric Expenditure, or TCE, add 500 calories if you are an Ectomorph. If you are a Mesomorph, do nothing and for an Endomorph you will need to deduct 200 calories once you determine your daily caloric intake.

For sake of our example, let’s assume our 34-year-old female is a mesomorph and requires no change once we determine our new daily caloric intake requirements.

In part three of this series, we will talk a little bit about lean body mass, (LBM), and try to help you determine your activity expenditure.

As a side note: For those of you who are considering weight loss supplements: There are many weight loss supplements available in the store or online which have key ingredients that are not scientifically studied. Check on the internet to find if your “miracle product” references any scientific studies on humans-you may be surprised.

Until next time, always remember, “If you want it, you’ve got to go get it.”

Excess Carbs, not Fat, Make you Fat

Mark Dziuban - Fat and Carbs

One of the most common misconceptions among Americans is that eating dietary fat will result in bodily fat gain. Fat is nothing more than a fuel source for our bodies, along with carbohydrates (sugar), and protein, although protein is not a primary fuel source.

The main culprit in fat gain has almost nothing to do with fat and almost everything to do with sugar. Any carbohydrate you eat will inevitably break down into glucose (sugar) and get absorbed into your bloodstream. When blood glucose levels rise, insulin is released from the pancreas to bind with the glucose and deliver it to the cells as fuel. This glucose is either used immediately as fuel, or it is converted to glycogen and stored in our muscles and liver to be used as fuel later. That glycogen storage system is the basis behind endurance athletes carb loading before races or long training sessions. Fat accumulation starts occurring when the body takes in more sugar than it can store, and it begins converting it to fatty acids for storage.

The human body has a finite amount of fat cells, and those cells will grow and shrink depending on the amount of fatty acids in the cell. Once inside a fat cell, three of those fatty acids will bind to an alcohol called glycol to form one triglyceride. While fatty acids flow freely in and out of fat cells, triglycerides are bound to the fat cell where they were formed until they are broken down. The accumulation of these triglycerides in fat cells is what translates into excess stored body fat.

Lipolysis is the breakdown of fats that involves the hydrolysis of triglycerides back into glycerol and three fatty acids. Lipolysis is induced in the body by a number of hormones including glucagon, epinephrine, norepinephrine, ghrelin, testosterone, growth hormone, and cortisol. When the body is fasted, there is an increase in lipolysis-inducing hormones, most notably norepinephrine, that jumpstarts lipolysis. The most common time for triglycerides to break down is actually while we sleep, which is one of the reasons so many different diets require you to not eat so many hours before bed. Another way to increase these hormones is through exercise. By exercising, you increase testosterone and cortisol levels therefore stimulating lipolysis and “burning fat” as most people will call it.

Education is the first line of defense to combat obesity.  The cycle of carbohydrate consumption leading to fat storage is something that millions of Americans struggle with. Understanding how that cycle works and taking the steps to correct your diet will have your burning fat in no time.

The Health Benefits of Bone Broth

Mark Dziuban - Bone Broth

Bone broth has been a widespread remedy for sickness for years, but before it was a remedy, it was a staple of our ancestors’ diets. Since no part of the animal could be wasted, our ancestors would boil down anything that could not be directly consumed (bones, ligaments, etc.) into a broth that was much easier to digest. Research is now showing that bone broth has multiple health benefits, and it could make its way back into our diets as more than just a cold remedy.

Joint Health

The natural aging process of humans results in wear and tear on our joints. This wear and tear is more evident in athletes as they often put more stress on their joints. This wear and tear causes cartilage to break down and degrade. Bone broth is quite possibly the best resource of natural collagen in the world. The simmering of bone broth causes the collagen from the bone to bind to the broth and become easily absorbed into the body where it can repair and restore damaged collagen. Bone broth also contains high concentrations of gelatin, which is the body’s natural lubricant allowing bones to glide and pivot freely without friction. Researchers at Penn State University ran a 24-week study on athletes who consumed bone broth regularly, and the majority of those athletes saw significant improvements in bone and joint comfort resulting in greater athletic performance.

Gut Health

The same gelatin that helps lubricate your joints has also been found to be beneficial to gut health while having a positive effect on wheat and dairy food allergies. These allergies are usually associated with intestinal inflammation that causes the symptoms associated with allergies like Celiacs Disease and Lactose Intolerance. The gelatin combats these allergies by restoring the gut lining, helping with the growth of probiotics, and most importantly regulating and supporting healthy inflammation levels.

Skin Health

Collagen is the main building block of the compounds that are responsible for a youthful, radiant skin. Studies have shown that the presence of high quality collagen, like that found in bone broth, reduces the sign of wrinkles, decreases swelling, and maintains the elasticity of skin. When women between 35 and 55 years old supplemented with 2.5-5 grams of collagen, they found an increase in elasticity and moisture along with a decrease in transepidermal water loss and skin roughness.

Immune Health

Bone broth has been found to be the best natural remedy for Leaky Gut Syndrome. Leaky Gut is caused by undigested food particles seeping through tiny openings in the weakest parts of the intestinal lining. The particles make their way from the intestines into the bloodstream causing the immune system to overreact in two ways: inflammation and the release of large amounts of antibodies into the bloodstream. These antibodies end up attacking healthy tissue, which in turn wreaks havoc on the immune system. The collagen, gelatin, and amino acids in bone broth strengthen the intestinal lining, which can ultimately cure Leaky Gut Syndrome.

Along with the above mentioned benefits, bone broth also contains many key micronutrients giving it the title “nature’s multivitamin.” Add bone broth to your diet once a week to capitalize on all of these great health benefits.

Total Caloric Expenditure: Part 1-Know your Number

Mark Dziuban - Calories 1

January 1st has come and gone and once again your New Year’s resolution is not off to a great start.  In fact, you have not seen any weight loss results and the hope of becoming a slimmer, healthier you might have to wait once again until next year.

This is a story to which we can all relate.  While our desire to exercise, and lose weight are born of good intent, our knowledge of how to do so may be somewhat lacking.  To succeed, you are going not have to arm yourself with general knowledge and facts so you can become the healthier, leaner you that you have always dreamt of becoming.

To sustain itself, our bodies are constantly working.  Even while we are doing nothing our bodies are busy repairing and rebuilding.  Our hearts are pumping blood, blood is flowing.  We are breathing, twitching, digesting and thinking.  In other words, if you were to lie around all day and do nothing physical, your resting metabolic rate, or RMR, in calories, would provide for all of your necessary body functions.

If you were going to cut calories from your diet, we first need to determine how many calories your body requires to sustain itself.  Once you have solved your RMR value, you can plug that number into the equation for Total Caloric Expenditure.  But before we can determine that value, we need to determine your RMR.  

So, let’s do a little work.  The most common method for calculating your RMR is by using the “Mifflin Formula”.  There are many online websites available to calculate this for you but let’s run through the formula manually to provide a thorough knowledge of how to determine your RMR.

For Men:  RMR = (10 X weight in kilograms) + (6.25 x height in centimeters) – (5 X age) + 5

For Women:  RMR = (10 X weight in kilograms) + (6.25 x height in centimeters) – (5 X age) – 161

For our example let’s use a 34-year-old female, 5’7” tall and weighs 155 pounds.  Now before we begin you can see we will need to convert pounds into kilograms and inches into centimeters.

To convert pounds into kilograms, simply divide your weight by 2.2. Using our example: 155/2.2=70.45.

To convert height into centimeters, we know a person 5’7” tall in 67 inches.  Take 67 divided by 0.3937.  67/.3937 = 170.18.

Ok now we have values for height and weight which we can easily work with in the following formula for women:  (10 x 70.45) + (6.25 X 170.18) – (5 x 34) -161 or 704.5+ 1063.63 = 1768.13 – 170 = 1598.13 – 161 = 1437.13

So for our example, our 34-year old female requires 1,437 calories before she does a single thing other than lie in one place all day.

Now we are beginning to arm ourselves with information, which when used alongside calculating our total calorie expenditure, will provide us with the necessary information to make an educated decision regarding our weight loss plan.

Watch for my next blog when I discuss how to calculate your total caloric expenditure and always remember, “If you want it, you’ve got to go get it.”  

5 Groundbreaking Fitness Gadgets Expected in 2017

Mark Dziuban Groundbreaking Gadgets Header

With millions of American’s making a conscious effort to improve their health, the demand for a way to track their gains is sky high. 2016 was a breakout year for fitness tech and the wearable industry. It seemed like the amount of people monitoring steps, logging runs or rides, and using calorie counters increased by the day. Industry leaders like FitBit, Apple, and Samsung made great strides to improve the user’s experience with their gadgets and apps, and it looks like 2017 will feature more innovation and smarter fitness gadgets.

Naked 3D

Naked is the world’s first 3D body scanner, and it can be used in the comfort of your bedroom. Set to ship in late 2017, Naked uses 3D depth sensors built into a mirror along with a spinning platform to scan your body and send the rendering to your iOS or Android device via bluetooth or Wi-Fi. Naked’s platform doubles as a scale that charges wirelessly for a cord-free experience. Visualizing your progress, monitoring your body fat percentage, and watching a timelapse of your results are some of the features of the Naked 3D.

Thin Ice

Thin Ice is a wearable weight-loss vest that literally freezes fat from your body. The vest works by activating certain parts of the body through a synced mobile app. The vest is powered by a small lithium ion battery that rests in a pocket along the arch of the back for maximum comfort. Thin Ice has been proven to freeze off an extra 500-1000 calories per day. A 2017 release is expected, but a date has not yet been announced.

Vessyl

Vessyl may be the most ambitious piece of fitness technology of 2017. The container automatically knows what you are drinking, and tracks everything you drink from it. By connecting Vessyl to your iOS or Android device, you can automatically add your drinks to the rest of your daily food log so you don’t miss a single calorie. Vessyl will retail for $199, and it is currently in development. The creators hope to have a release in the last quarter of 2017.

Here One

A list of fitness gadgets wouldn’t be complete without the latest and greatest headphones to hit the market, and Here One may be the best pair you’ll find. Access to Siri or Google Voice, selective noise cancellation, real world sound control, and speech amplification are just a few features of the Here One headphones. They can be preordered now for $299 and are expected to ship in March of 2017.

LEVL

Did you ever wonder if all the workout out you are doing is actually burning fat? If you’re not on a treadmill that tells you you’re in “fat burning” stage or near a heart rate monitor, you may have no idea how your workout is going. LEVL monitors the acetone in your breath to monitor when you are burning fat during a workout. You can preorder a LEVL and expect to see it sometime in the spring of 2017.

Since most Americans are growing more concerned about their health and wellness, it is safe to say that the fitness gadget industry is here to say. Keep an eye out for more companies pushing the limits of technology as they try to create the most user-friendly gadgets for fitness enthusiasts across the world.

 

Make a Lifestyle Change, Not a Resolution

Mark Dziuban Make a Lifestyle Change Header

If you have been to a commercial gym in the past week (Gold’s Gym, Planet Fitness, YMCA) then you probably noticed that it is pretty full. January is by far the busiest month at most gyms and health clubs. We’ve all heard it from someone before, “My New Year’s resolution is to get in shape and lose weight.” The time between Thanksgiving and the winter holidays is when most people are visiting with family, eating until they are about to explode, and drinking more than they normally would. So on January 2nd when you walk into the gym it almost feels like walking through a college frat party. The biggest problem with resolutions is that they end when the calendar year does. So instead of making a resolution this year, I encourage everyone make a lifestyle change that will continue and evolve with you.

Nutrition

The most important part to hitting any fitness goal is eating a healthy, well-balanced diet. The problem is that most fad diets have an end date. I’ve witnessed many people complete Whole 30 with astonishing results, but as soon as the 30 days are up they are right back to their old diet. As soon as you “go on a diet” you imply that your diet will eventually end. Instead, just change what you eat. Fruits, vegetables, lean meats, whole grains (no, carbs are not the devil), and healthy fats are the basis of any great nutrition plan. My general rule of thumb is if something comes shrinkwrapped or prepackaged then it shouldn’t go in your mouth. While preparing all of your own food is more time consuming, it also teaches you how to be creative in the kitchen.

Exercise

While dialing in your nutrition takes a lot of effort, it is not the only piece of the puzzle. Incorporating some type of exercise into your daily routine will drastically improve your physical and mental well being. Exercise does not need to mean going to a gym and running on a treadmill. Americans are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits of exercise, which means there is something out there for anyone. Yoga, kickboxing, spin classes, mountain biking, hiking, kayaking, and swimming are just a few of the ways you could exercise without ever stepping on a treadmill.

Enjoyment

In the beginning, nobody wants to wake up on a Saturday morning to go on a run, or spend their Sunday afternoon preparing their meals for the week. The quicker you can find enjoyment in your routine, the easier it will become in the long run. Try out a few different approaches to exercise to see what you enjoy and what you can’t wait to be done doing. My wife and I love being outdoors, so we gravitated towards cycling and mountain biking. When I get on a bike, I never have the feeling of not wanting to ride. The most important part is holding yourself accountable once you do find what you enjoy so you can continue improving.

Getting in shape and losing weight isn’t easy. If it was, everyone would do it. You need to be strong willed and be able to motivate yourself under the worst circumstances. However, once you start seeing the results of your hard work, you will wonder why you didn’t start earlier.

Finding the Right Mountain Bike

Mountain Biking Handlebars

Breaking into the world of mountain biking can be a daunting task for someone who wants to buy their first bike. There are a few factors you should consider before you go out and buy a bike at your local department store. Do you want to go fully rigid, hardtail, or full suspension? Do you want clipless pedals or flats? How many gears do I want? By answering these questions, you’ll be able to choose the perfect bike.

Riding Style

The first thing you should research before buying a mountain bike is the terrain where you will be riding. Will you be shredding flowy downhill sections with moderate climbs peppered in, or will you be powering through rock gardens on mostly flat terrain? It could also be a mix of both. If you are going to be riding primarily flowy single tracks with a lot of climbing involved, you will want to go with a rigid or hardtail bike to maximize your climbs. With a full suspension bike, you’ll be losing ground each time you pedal and compress your rear shock, which will make your climbs much more labor intensive. If you plan on riding in rocky terrain, a full suspension bike is going to be your best friend. New suspension technology makes riding a mountain bike feel like you are driving a luxury car.

Pedals

One of the biggest learning curves I experienced when I got serious about mountain biking was learning how to unclip from my pedals. The pros to clipless pedals heavily outweigh the cons.  You can feel a dramatic difference in climbs by being able to pull and push with each pedal stroke, essentially doubling your output while you climb. You also have much more control over your bike since you are clipped in and attached to the pedals. Being clipped in is a double-edged sword, and results in the only downside to clipless pedals. If you are not familiar with unclipping, you will easily topple over whenever you go to put your foot down without properly rotating out of the clips. Once you are over the learning curve, you will never go back to flats.

Gear Ratio

There are a few different options when it comes to the gears on your mountain bike. It seems like most major bike manufacturers are producing one-by mountain bikes in 2017. The mentality behind this transition comes from the idea that most people don’t use all the gears on a 27-speed bike. By eliminating the extra chainrings, bike companies are also able to make bikes lighter. My advice to beginners is to always have more gears. When you’re out on the trail, you may need that extra low gear to get back to your car. As you gain experience, you may find that you no longer need the added weight and opt to convert to a one-by. If you are really feeling adventurous, you could convert your bike to a single-speed, but at that point, I feel like riding is more of a chore than something you are enjoying.

Mountain biking is a great way to spend time outdoors while still getting an intense workout in. The mountain biking community is an accepting and fun crowd that is always up for the next adventure. Do yourself a favor and find your nearest mountain biking club so you’ll never have to ride alone.