Top Foods For Endurance Athletes


While training for the Navy SEAL Fitness challenge  back in May, I researched a few of the top foods to fuel endurance athletes. If you’re currently doing intense training, or just need a little extra to get you through your workouts, consider these power foods for endurance and high intensity training. I have kept all these in my food rotation:

1) Quinoa: (pronounced Keen-wah) It’s an ancient high-energy grain from South America. The Incas used it to increase the stamina of their warriors and allow them to run longer distances at high altitudes. Quinoa is a complete protein, meaning it has all 9 essential amino acids, making it a perfect meal for vegetarians concerned with their protein intake.

2) Kale: Kale contains high levels of vitamins A, B6, C and K, iron, calcium and loaded with antioxidants. It also has strong anti-inflammatory properties. Low-grade inflammation resulting from exercise-induced muscle damage is a daily nuisance for many endurance athletes.

3) Oatmeal: This is a great source of complex carbs. It’s easily digested, high in fiber, and is a low-glycemic index food which provides long-lasting energy. This is the ideal breakfast before an endurance event. I like adding cinnamon, walnuts or pecans, honey and raisins.

4) Green Tea: A University of Birmingham, England study suggested a strong possibility that green tea extract could delay fatigue during prolonged moderate-intensity efforts.

5) Cherries: Loaded with antioxidants, cherries have also been shown to enhance athletic performance. In a study conducted at the University of Vermont, competitive rowers who added cherry juice to their diets experienced significantly less muscle soreness and strength loss after taking a test designed to cause muscle damage than did a group of fellow rowers who received a placebo.

6) Bananas: Bananas are a perfect compliment to your bowl of pre-competition oatmeal. A banana delivers 2 important things for athletes: carbs and potassium. More than 30 g of carbs and about 400 mg of potassium. Athletes lose potassium through sweat during exercise

Until next time, stay healthy and stay active,

Jason M. Johnson, ACE-CPT

JMJ Fitness

Jason Johnson: Choose this, NOT that

In a nod to my favorite magazine (Men’s Health) Jason Johnson gives us 5 easy tips for healthier living.

Living a healthier nutritional lifestyle is all about making gradual changes to your diet and making the right choices.
Here are 5 quick and simple health tips you’ve heard before, but are worth reading again.

1. CHOOSE THIS: Turkey bacon or Canadian bacon
NOT THAT: bacon

2. CHOOSE THIS: Fish, turkey or chicken
NOT THAT: Red Meat

3. CHOOSE THIS: When preparing food, always opt for steamed, grilled, broiled or baked
NOT THAT: fried

4. CHOOSE THIS: Whole grain pasta and brown rice
NOT THAT: White or processed

5. CHOOSE THIS: Low-fat or non-fat salad dressings
NOT THAT: Creamy salad dressings

Until next time.
Stay healthy and stay active,
Jason M. Johnson, ACE-CPT
JMJ Fitness

10 Questions with JMJ Fitness Superstar client, Kristin

Hi everyone. I would like you all to meet one of my JMJ Fitness Superstar clients, Kristin! You may know her from the blog Because I Said So, or as a contributor to Dallas South.
She just completed an awesome personal fitness goal. I asked her 10 questions so you could get to know her and see why she is a superstar client!
1) JMJ: Kristin, you just completed a goal you set way back in February. Can you tell everyone what you just accomplished?
K: I finished my first 10k in 1:27:40:55 in Boulder, Colorado.
2) JMJ: Have you always been a runner? Do you have a running background?
K: I used to run every now and then but nothing like I have done recently.
3) JMJ: You also had a temporary injury set-back during your training. Can you tell us what happened and how it affected your training for the 10K?
K: Training was going really well then I started experiencing knee problems which felt as if my leg was going to give out. I consulted with an Orthopedic and he diagnosed me with having Patellar Tracking Disorder. For roughly 4 weeks I was limited to upper body weights only and no cardio.
4) JMJ: How did you feel immediately after the 10K? At some point, did you experience the “runner’s high”?
K: Tired! By mile four I don’t know if that was the runners high I was experiencing or gratitude that only two miles were left.
5) JMJ: We’ve been working together since February. Through your training and nutrition experience thus far, what are some of the changes you’ve noticed in your health and fitness levels?

K: I have a lot more energy and endurance. I actually look forward to most of my workouts and a good sweat. And of course noticing that I fit into smaller clothes.

6) JMJ: Have you set any other running goals or fitness goals? You know I’m all about clients setting goals!

K: I want to run a half-marathon before I turn 30 next year. There is the White Rock Lake race (this fall) or the Half-Marathon in Austin next year in February that I plan on checking off my must do before I turn 30 list.
7) JMJ: What has been the #1 thing or motivator that has helped you achieve
your fitness goals?
K: First it was weight loss then it gradual became the goal itself.
8) JMJ: What has been the toughest part about your new fitness lifestyle?
K: Sugar! I don’t mind the workouts but the limitations on my sugar consumption has been a hard transition. I do find when I load up on fruit I don’t have refined sugar cravings.
9) JMJ: Kristin, how would you complete this sentence. Even on my worst days, when I’m not motivated, I still __________as a part of my new fitness lifestyle.
K: I do as you always say, I put on my clothes and just see what happens
10) JMJ: How does it feel to say to yourself, “I ran a 10K!”????
K: I feel very proud of myself. My mom is too she called all of my aunts after wards.

JMJ: Awesome, awesome job Kristin! It’s definitely a great feeling to accomplish a personal goal and cross it off your list. And it’s amazing how you start looking for the next challenge or goal you can accomplish. It’s a great domino effect, the “fitness bug” is very contagious.

Until next time.
Stay healthy and stay active,
Jason M. Johnson, ACE-CPT
JMJ Fitness

Should I use exercise machines or free weights?


If you have the option, opt for free weights. The gold standard in strength & conditioning is to perform an exercise using free weights (dumbbells or a barbell). Why? You’ll burn more calories by engaging your stabilizer muscles. Translation-it’s more challenging. More challenge = more muscles being worked = more calories burned.

When you sit down in a machine, you are working through a fixed range of motion, you’re essentially allowing your nervous system to get lazy because it doesn’t have to recruit any stabilizer muscles during the move to ensure you move efficiently. For example, performing a seated machine shoulder press.

You are only engaging your shoulders (primary) and triceps (secondary). Instead-try performing a standing dumbbell shoulder press. You’re now recruiting more muscles. You are working your shoulders, triceps, your core is now involved, and your various stabilizers (in your hips, shoulder complex and lower leg) are being called on to control and balance your body while pressing the dumbbells overhead.

Take home message: more challenge = more muscles being worked = more calories burned = better results for you!

Jason Johnson: Chocolate is good for you!

Chocolate really is good for you. But not the kind of chocolate you have grown to love: Snickers, Twix, Kit Kats, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, etc.

Sure, they may taste great. But they aren’t so tasty to your physique. All are typically high in refined white sugar, milk fats and hydrogenated oils.

I’m talking about dark chocolate . It’s been in the news quite a bit lately. Research has shown that dark chocolate does in fact have impressive overall health properties including antioxidant properties. According to the Chocolate Manufacturers Association, dark chocolate contains about eight times the polyphenol antioxidants found in strawberries.

What specifically makes dark chocolate so good for you? The pure cocoa that comes from the bean of the cacao plant. Raw cacao is considered one of the world’s richest sources of antioxidant flavonoids, phytonutrients, and polyphenols.

Studies confirm that the dark chocolate products with the highest levels of antioxidants should contain at least 65-70% pure cocoa powder. Most dark chocolate products will tell you the % of cacao on label. In general, the higher the % of cacao, the more health benefits and better nutritional value. When it comes to dark chocolate, bitter is better.
Now on to the research. I ran across 2 studies showing that dark chocolate consumption can lower high blood pressure and can have a healthy impact on cholesterol levels.

The study on blood pressure was conducted in Germany at the University Hospital of Cologne. One of the lead researchers in the study, Dirk Taubert, M.D.Ph D, concluded that small amounts of dark chocolate “efficiently reduced blood pressure.”

The study included 44 adults, men and women aged 56-73. All 44 test subjects had mild hypertension and were not taking any blood pressure medication or supplements. They were given small 30-calorie doses of dark chocolate every day for 18 weeks. (By the way, a 30 calorie dose is about the size of one hershey’s kiss). All other lifestyle factors remained constant. They all kept their normal diet and fitness habits over the course of the 18 weeks.
The results?

All lowered their systolic blood pressure (the top number) by nearly 3 points and lowered their diastolic blood pressure (bottom number) by almost 2 points.

The study on cholesterol levels was published in the Southern Medical Journal. Researchers studied 28 individuals. The subjects ate 1 oz of dark chocolate every day for 7 days. The results: LDL (the bad cholesterol) dropped by 6%. HDL (the good cholesterol) increased by 9 %.

Take home message>>>>If you have the choice, choose dark chocolate over milk chocolate. And make sure it’s at least 65-70% cacao. Check the label. Of course, dark chocolate isn’t the magic bullet in defeating high blood pressure or high cholesterol. It’s not the only thing needed. A healthy lifestyle including a healthy diet, regular exercise, and losing weight all play an important role.

But the research confirms having a small amount of dark chocolate per day is beneficial and could be an easy addition to your daily diet. It’s chocolate! Just remember, it still contains a lot of calories and fat, so “moderation” is the key word here. Don’t go crazy and eat an entire bag. Limit yourself to small amounts of dark chocolate. Think of it as a treat for yourself. It tastes great, and it’s good for you.

Here’s a baking idea: when a recipe calls for chocolate, use dark chocolate or cocoa powder as a substitute.
Until next time.

Stay healthy and stay active,

Jason Johnson, ACE-CPT
JMJ Fitness

Jason Johnson : Keep it Simple

By Jason Johnson

Adkin’s Diet. The Mediterranean Diet. The Detox Diet. The Cabbage Soup Diet. Weight Watchers. Jenny Craig.
There are many diets out there that promise weight loss. And the truth of the matter is-they all will result in some initial weight loss. Any diet will work and should work, because the theory behind all diets is lower overall calories. You’re going to lose weight on a Cabbage Soup Diet because at the end of the day, you’re taking in less calories than you normally do. And they all have you cutting out the junk food. I’m a big believer in eating 5-6 times a day for weight management. I do it every day, it works for me. And I’ve had clients get great results eating 5-6 times per day.
Here’s the 64,000 dollar question: So what’s the best diet?
The one you’ll stick to.
A lot people have a hard time eating 5-6 times a day. Whatever the reason, they just can’t or won’t eat 5-6 small meals per day. A lot people have a hard time keeping up with the “points” on the Weight Watchers. Again, whatever the reason, they just can’t do it. So they look for the next diet to try. They over-think their diets. They over-complicate their food choices. They try to combine 2 or 3 diets into 1. A co-worker told them not to eat the yolk when they make eggs. Another friend recommended they cut out all fruits because they heard fruits are high in sugar. You saw an ad on Yahoo that said your favorite “thin” celebrity eats fast food twice a week, so you justify it’s ok for you. You saw a report that said not to eat golden delicious apples. Rachel Ray lost 18 lbs on this diet. You have good intentions, but all of this information leads to paralysis by analysis . Approximately 95% of all diets fail.
For most people, if they just keep it simple in terms of weight loss, the results will come. What do I mean by “keep it simple?” In no particular order:
1. Make better food choices. You pull into your favorite fast food stop. Be honest with yourself. You know a burger, fries, and large soda is a poor choice. If you’re serious about your weight loss, make a better food choice. Get the grilled chicken salad (no mayo), fruit bowl, and water. You know pigs in a blanket and a donut are a poor choice for breakfast. Make a better food choice. Opt for oatmeal. Or whole wheat toast w/peanut butter.
2. Cut back on the liquid calories. These really add up without you knowing it. If you drink 3 sodas per day. Cut back to 1 per day. Eventually cut them out altogether. You don’t need 4 cups of coffee per day. Or 3 cups of orange juice or lemonade per day. Cut back on the liquid calories.
3. Drink more water. You’re thinking: “But water is boring!”Add lemon. Or add 1/2 crystal light packet for flavor.
4. Eat a healthy breakfast every day. You gotta jumpstart your metabolism 1st thing in the morning by eating a healthy breakfast.
5. Cut back on sugary foods. Everyone knows that excess sugar is not good and leads to fat storage. Just cut back. If you have to eat the cheesecake, only eat 1/2 or just a few bites.
My motto is always “move more, eat less” and the weight loss will come. Incorporate these 5 rules into your lifestyle, and start exercising, the weight loss will come.
Until next time.
Stay healthy, and stay active,
Jason Johnson, ACE-CPT
JMJ Fitness

Change Your Workout Routine: Avoiding the Plateau

How to avoid the dreaded PLATEAU in your exercise routine

By Jason Johnson

We all have experienced a point in our exercise program in which we stop seeing results. You have worked out consistently for 8 weeks straight and kept your diet clean. You lost weight during this time, your clothes fit better and you’re getting compliments left and right.

But now-your results have stopped. The weight scale is not going down. What happened? You hit the dreaded point of everyone’s exercise program: THE PLATEAU.

It happens to everyone. The human body has an amazing way of adapting to the everyday stress we place upon our it. It’s called muscle memory. You have probably experienced this in your own routines when you perform a new exercise for the 1st time, it feels challenging, maybe a little awkward.

The next day you are sore. But the next time you do the same exercise, it’s a little easier. Still challenging, but it feels more natural. The next day, not quite as sore. And the next time you perform the same exercise for a 3rd time, you breeze right through it.

Then what? No soreness at all. This is due to muscle memory. It’s good news-bad news. Good news because this is how the human body should function.

Your body should be adapting to the movement, and it means your body is healthy and functioning properly. The bad news is-you are not going to burn as many calories during the exercise because your body (muscles, bones, joints and tendons) have now adapted to the stress of the movement, and thus your body will not work as hard during the exercise.

This translates into THE PLATEAU. You stop seeing results because your body has adapted.

The human body needs to be progressively challenged in order to see results. If you always do the same routine with the same amount of weight, same rep scheme-your progress will stall. I read a research study a while back that said after performing an exercise 13 times with the same weight and same reps, your body will PLATEAU.

What can you do to prevent this? Easy: change your routine. The fancy phrase we use in exercise science jargon is called periodization. I would recommend changing your routine every 3-4 weeks. You want to always keep your body guessing “what’s next?” so it never gets too comfortable. I do this all the time with my clients and my own routines. You can change the entire routine, or you can simply change a few variables such as reps, weight or the order of the exercises.

Here’s what you can do, starting today, this is the fun part:

-instead of doing 3 sets of 10, do 3 sets of 8 with heavier weight. For real shock to the system, try doing 5 sets of 5 with heavy weight.

-instead of doing 10 reps on all exercises in your routine, go lighter and do 15 reps
-instead of doing the exercise bike for your cardio, hop on the treadmill
-instead of always doing abs last in your routine, hit your abs in the beginning of your routine
-instead of always doing crunches on ab machine, do reverse crunches or hold the plank position for 1 minute
-instead of using the barbell, use dumbbells
-instead of using a barbell or dumbbell, use a resistance band or a kettlebell
-change the order of your exercises: instead of always doing flat bench press, lat pulldown, and dumbbell lateral raises. Start with dumbbell lateral raises, go to flat bench press and end with lat pulldowns.

-change the direction of your outdoor walking/running routine. If you always go the same route in your routine, go the opposite direction.

Try a few of these this week in your routine. I think you’ll like results, and I’ll leave you with this quote:

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
-Albert Einstein

Until next time…

Stay healthy,

Jason M. Johnson, CPT

JMJ Fitness

Your best $10 fitness investment


This $10 piece of exercise equipment will give you a better workout than a $2000 treadmill and won’t take up any space.

A jump rope! Jumping rope or skipping rope, as it’s sometimes referred to, is an excellent form of total body conditioning. I’m always a fan of getting the biggest bang for your buck in your workouts. Your goal should always be to work the most muscles and engage as many muscle fibers within the 1 exercise: enter the jump rope.

Buy Jump Rope, Look Like This

Jumping rope is a true form of TOTAL BODY conditioning. It works everything from your shoulders, chest, back, arms, abs, legs and all the way down to your calves and Achilles tendons. Ladies listen up: some suggest jumping rope is the best exercise to tone up your glutes. By working so many muscles within the 1 move, your heart rate and metabolism skyrockets and you burn more calories both during and after the exercise session. Again, this is our goal.

To get the most efficient workout. According to exercise research, a 10-minute jump rope session can be as effective as 30 minutes of jogging on a treadmill. According to the National Institutes of Health, you can burn between 750-1000 calories in 1 hour of jumping rope. Also, jumping rope is generally a safer form of cardio vs. running. With proper form, it’s much easier on your joints, specifically it’s much easier on your lower back and knees.

You probably haven’t jumped rope in a long time. Some probably haven’t done it since P.E classes in school. Some haven’t done it since they were a kid playing double dutch in the streets. Give it a try for your next form of exercise! It’s actually fun.

And brings out the kid in all of us. It might be a little frustrating at first, but with practice you’ll be able to skip without tripping up. In addition to burning a ton of calories, your overall balance and coordination will improve over time. If you’re the person constantly tripping over your own feet just walking to the mailbox, try jumping rope in your routine for about 3-4 weeks. You will notice better overall coordination.

Interesting, odd factoid: Jumping rope actually dates back to early human history. It has been said the ancient Egyptians used vines to jump over for various forms of exercise.

Let’s recap all of the benefits of jumping rope:

  • Spend $10 and get a better workout than a $2000 treadmill
  • Won’t take up any space. Where is your current treadmill. In your garage taking up space? In the guest bedroom being used a coat rack?
  • 10 min’s of jumping rope=30 min’s of jogging
  • Low impact. Is safer for your lower back, knees and ankles
  • Works your entire body: shoulders, chest, back, arms, abs, legs, glutes, calves and Achilles tendons. Skyrockets your heart rate and metabolism.
  • Great for improving your balance and coordination

So in the words of Kriss Kross you need to “Jump Jump” or as House of Pain said it, “Jump Around!” It’s great cardio!

Until next time.

Stay healthy and stay active,

Jason M. Johnson, ACE-CPT

JMJ Fitness

Jason Johnson: Should you buy organic produce?

A non-profit research organization called the Environmental Working Group studied which produce was the most likely to be contaminated by pesticides, and therefore best eaten organically grown, and which ones were the least likely to be contaminated, and therefore could safely be eaten conventionally grown.  Here is the list of the 10 most contaminated foods. You might want to consider going organic on the following:
  1. Peaches
  2. Apples
  3. Sweet Bell Peppers
  4. Celery
  5. Nectarines
  6. Strawberries
  7. Cherries
  8. Pears
  9. Imported Grapes
  10. Spinach
Peaches and apples appear to be the 2 biggest culprits. Approximately 96% of peaches tested positive for pesticides, along with approximately 91% of the apples testing positive for pesticides.
From the study, here is the list of the 10 least contaminated foods. These appear to be relatively safe purchasing conventionally grown (non-organic):
  1. Onions
  2. Avocados
  3. Sweet Corn
  4. Pineapples
  5. Mango
  6. Asparagus
  7. Broccoli
  8. Kiwi
  9. Bananas
  10. Cabbage

Until next time…Stay healthy.
Jason M. Johnson, ACE-CPT
JMJ Fitness

Week One Weight Loss Update From Kristin

Kristin, my co-host on the Shawn P. Williams Now Blog Talk show is sharing her weight loss journey with the Dallas South Family. She is working with Dallas South contributor and JMJ Fitness proprietor Jason Johnson on a 6-week program. Today, Kristin tells us about her first week following Jason’s prescribed eating and exercise routine.



Day One was terrible I swear I had several Loony Tunes moment. You know, the ones where the character visualizes the person talking to them turns into nice little plump drumsticks. However Day One was a success, even though there were many temptations.

Jason provided me with a list of short term and long term goals that I should keep handy and in a visible place. As the week progressed the eating routine became easy to adjust to. The weekend presented an entirely different kind of challenge.

Weekends are go-go time and it was much harder to stick to the eating schedule. Adjustments will have to be made for next weekend so that I find time to fit in all six meals.


The workout routines were fine though I thought they were a bit on the light side. Jason assures me the intensity will increase week by week.

I do have great news to report: I saved 50 Bucks this week alone by brown bagging snacks and lunch. As far as scale weight, I weighed early morning and according to the scale I lost the two pounds later that day the same scales said I had gained three pounds go figure.

I think for the first two weeks it’s going to be hard for me to have an accurate scale weight which can be discouraging. But I am going to drive through and keep at it. Week 1 down 5 more to go.