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Health and Fitness Tips

A Conversation on Nutrition with Personal Trainer Rick Gusler

For more than a decade, I have been writing about my cooking and eating habits. I used to get asked about exercises more often than not. Now it's questions like, "Did you ever cheat, or have you always eaten perfectly?" Well, sure I've cheated. How would I know what good eating is if I'd never eaten badly?

I had a healthy start, though. Growing up, we never had cookies in the house, we never snacked on chips or sugary cereals, and soda wasn't allowed past the front door. My parents introduced tons of healthy foods into my life. I never knew our family was different until I saw the cookie jar on the counter one day at my grade-school friend Joe's house. "You mean you can take a cookie whenever you want?" And yes, I headed for the cookie jar every time I went to Joe's. My parents' strict approach to food meant I could afford - and savor – such a treat.

Over the years, I have written down some of my favorite questions on my nutritional habits from clients, friends, and people who walk-up to me and just ask me questions. Below are several questions and my answers – take them as tips for good nutrition.

Question: Don't you get the munchies? What do you eat?

Answer: Of course I do. The key is simplicity. You just want to grab something. Here's the healthy way.

Frozen yogurt. No, no the stuff that looks like ice cream. I buy containers of low-fat yogurt (caramel flavor) and through six at a time in the freezer. When I want one, I take the lid off and pop the yogurt in the microwave for 30 seconds. Enjoy. It's as good as ice cream but better for you.

Cottage cheese and jam. My favorite midnight snack is a small bowl of cottage cheese with some whole-fruit jam mixed in. The protein in the cheese helps keep you anabolic through the night, the glutamine aides in muscle recovery, and the tryptophan will help you get a goods night's rest. And the jam just helps it go down easy.

Question: Don't you crave burgers?

Answer: I don't eat much red meat, but I do make burgers once in a while. I buy organic lean ground beef, with no hormones or antibiotics, and make very thin patties. I wrap them separately and store them in the freezer. After thawing in the fridge, they cook in minutes.

Question: Anything weird in your fridge?

Answer: Not weird, but maybe unexpected. For instance, I'll bake, grill, or poach boneless chicken breasts six or eight at a time. Then I'll store them in the fridge separately, in resealable bags. That way, they're always there to cut up into salads, onto pasta, or in a sandwich. Sometimes I'll just grab one and eat it in the car.

Question: What are your key kitchen tools?

Answer: An espresso grinder for my flaxseeds. Flaxseeds are an excellent source of fiber, and they're rich in omega-3 fatty acids. You can buy preground flaxseeds at a decent price, but in the long run, it's much cheaper to grind your own. I grind a week's worth at a time and store them in the fridge.

A bamboo steamer for steamed vegetables, chicken, and fish. I've used it for twenty years. I put chicken, or fish on the bottom level, then longer-cooking vegetables on the next level, and the quickest – cooking vegetables on top. All you do is place the steamer over a pot of boiling water and sprinkle in some salt-free lemon pepper. This way you have a complete meal in minutes.

A blender for mixing smoothies. It is great for mixing a whey-protein shake.

Question: Do you take any supplements? Which ones and when?

Answer: I take a multivitamin, whey protein, and glutamine every day.

Question: Are some brands of whey protein better than others? Do you have any tricks to make shakes taste better?

Answer: My favorite is American Whey, Double Chocolate flavor. I buy 25 pounds at a time. Mixed with water this stuff gets so thick you can't drink it through a straw. Here is one of my favorite recipes.

A Great Tasting Healthy Chocolate Shake

½ cup soy milk
1 frozen banana
1 tsp maple syrup
Pinch of nutmeg
1 serving chocolate whey protein
¼ cup fat-free milk

Question: Do you drink? What do you have?

Answer: I don't drink. However I know that most of my clients and friends do. So I recommend a glass of red wine. Too much alcohol can deplete your body's calcium, as well as potassium and magnesium – all – important nutrients for building muscle and staying lean.

Question: What do you do when you are on the go and/or traveling?

Answer: I always carry enough protein bars, a couple a pieces of fruit, and water. This way you are ready for hunger and not tempted to eat poorly. Travel delays, long lines at the car wash, or going out to a movie, are all great places to have a health snack until you can sit down to a proper meal.

Good nutrition, like anything, just take a little thought and prep time. Enjoy eating, but eat smart!

Rick Gusler is a certified personal trainer and diet nutritionist who serves his clients through Gusler Body Sculpting Fitness Center in central Denver. To schedule a free consultation, or to learn more about the Gusler method of body sculpting, spin yoga, or Rick's Boot Camp, please contact him at 303.860.7131 or online at

Gusler Body Sculpting Fitness Center, LLC
459 Acoma Street · Denver, Colorado 80204 · 303-860-7131
Hours: Monday-Friday: 6am-8pm · Saturday: Closed · Sunday: Closed