What I learned in PT school {Part III}

by Kim on December 3, 2013

As much as I’ve loved learning about personal training through NASM, I can’t WAIT to be done studying.

Two weeks from now, I’ll either be totally elated and having a textbook bonfire in my backyard (just kidding) or super sad and embarrassed, and having a textbook bonfire in my backyard (no promises).

Speaking of being embarrassed, I can’t believe how long it’s taken me to get the next installment of What I Learned to you! I know you’ve been on the edge of your seat for so, soooo long. (Slash haven’t thought about it for a split second, more likely…)

But it’s finally here!

What I Learned in PT School

As promised (a gazillion posts ago), I’m going to devote this one to unloading all the interesting tidbits in the NASM Nutrition chapter.

And if you missed the previous installments of the What I Learned series, check em out!

Part I

Part II


Fat has more than double the calories of carbs or protein.

1 g of carbohydrates = 4 calories

1 g protein = 4 calories

1 g of fat = 9 calories

OMG. Does this mean we should all boycott fat?? Of course not. Here are a couple reasons (other than “it tends to taste amazing”):

Fats are the most concentrated source of energy in the diet.

Your body needs fat to digest and use nutrients, especially fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. This is why it’s a good idea to take your multivitamin with a meal containing fat—or, at least, to pop a few almonds or something when you take it.

Fat helps with satiety in two ways: by slowing the stomach’s secretion of hydrochloric acid, thereby prolonging the digestive process and creating a longer-lasting sensation of fullness, and by initiating the release of the hormone CCK—the body’s satiety signal.

Fats are involved in cell function, hormone regulation, nutrient excretion, organ protection, body temperature regulation, and a bunch of other basic bodily functions.

…That said, I mean, you don’t need to be drinking butter with a straw either. Watch out for these facts:

–It is metabolically inexpensive to convert dietary fat to body-fat stores. Your body only needs 3% of the calories in fat to put toward the actual process of converting that fat to stored body fat, whereas it takes 23% of the calories in carbs to convert carbs to body fat.

A high-fat diet results in lower glycogen synthesis (the process that brings down blood sugar levels), resulting in higher blood sugar levels. Aka: a no-no.

Now, on to Papa Protein.


I talked a lot about protein and complete/incomplete sources of it here, so I won’t rehash all of that again, even though it’s wildly interesting.

The other thing that’s huge for NASM is: how much protein does the body really need?

General protein recommendations:

Sedentary adults 0.4/lb
Strength athletes 0.5-0.8 g/lb
Endurance athletes 0.5-0.6 g/lb

In other words: about half your weight in grams, give or take.

(For reference, 3 ounces of chicken breast has about 26g protein.)

Consuming protein above requirements will not reveal previously untapped muscle-building capacity. People think that because physique competitors use high-protein diets, that’s the way to get cut. But physique competitors aren’t really on high-protein diets as much as they’re on only-protein diets, since protein requirements cannot be lowered (the body absolutely needs them to function) but fat and carb amounts can.

Physique competitors lose weight because their total caloric intake is extremely low, and they gain muscle because they’re working out–that’s it. Regardless, that way of eating is totally unhealthy and impossible to maintain long-term.

–Consuming higher quality proteins could lead to needing less protein overall.


High-carbohydrate diets increase the use of carbs as fuel, whereas high-fat diets increase the use of fat as fuel. In other words, whatever you use to fuel your body, that’s what your body’s going to learn to rely on and want more of. Choose wisely!

As duration of exercise increases, so does reliance on fat as a fuel source. Fitness pros like to argue about whether it’s better to fuel with the short, powerful bursts that come from carbs (the go-to in our society) or the low, steady burn that comes from fat.

Ben Greenfield is one expert who’s known for fueling with mostly fat, but he had to specifically train his body to do it. Although some studies show an increase in performance associated with the consumption of a high-fat diet, these improvements are seen in exercise performed at a relatively low intensity.

The limiting factor for exercise performance is carbohydrate availability. The phrase “fat burns in a carbohydrate flame” means that max fat utilization can’t happen without sufficient carbs. When endurance athletes “hit the wall,” it’s because they’re lacking carbs, even though they have sufficient oxygen being delivered to their muscles and an abundance of potential energy from fat stores.

The body’s goal is to satisfy energy needs with carbohydrates and fat, saving protein for tissue repair and growth. This is why carbs are often referred to as protein sparing.

–NASM recommends consuming some carbohydrates within 30 minutes of completing exercise to maximize glycogen replenishment. Delaying carb intake by even 2 hours can decrease total muscle glyocogen synthesis (repair) by 66%!

There’s no need to reduce carbs to lose fat. Weight loss or gain is primarily related to total caloric intake, not the macronutrient profile of the diet. Low-carb fad diets tend to give good results in a short period because for every gram of glucose taken out of the body, it brings with it 2.7g of water. (Aka water weight.)


The body cannot adapt to dehydration. It impairs every physiologic function (there’s a long list of nasty symptoms in the book).

Water intake requirements: sedentary men and women need 3 L (13 cups) and 2.2 L (9 cups) per day, respectively. To lose weight, people should drink an additional 8 ounces of water for every 25 pounds they carry above their ideal weight.

–After exercise, we need 16-24 ounces of fluid for every pound of body weight lost (just weigh yourself before and after to see how much water weight you’ve lost).

Water should be cold for faster gastric emptying.

–Other water fact: protein requires approximately 7 times the water for metabolism than carbs or fat. (One of the main concerns of high-protein diets is dehydration.)

Phew! That’s a lotta random info.

Did you learn anything new?

Hope you’re having a great week!


{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Jessica @ Prayers and Apples December 5, 2013 at 8:48 pm

Life’s been crazy, but just thought of you and your test and stopped by to see how things are going!! Girl after reading this post… you are SO GOOD TO GO!! :) I *know* you’re gonna pass, you’re so super prepared!! :) Good luck!! :) :)
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Kim December 6, 2013 at 10:05 am

Thank you so much for the encouragement Jessica!! :)


Alex @ Alex Runs For Food December 4, 2013 at 11:25 pm

I’m in nursing school and trying to lose weight and get healthy so I love learning all this stuff!!!!
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Kim December 6, 2013 at 10:05 am

I do too! I worry that it’s a little too nerdy and specific for the blog, but I just find it so interesting I can’t help myself. :)


Lisa @ Lisa Living Well December 4, 2013 at 9:55 pm

Thanks for your blog comment the other day–it’s been a crazy busy week for me, but I will write you sometime over the weekend with tips! I think you’re going to do great!
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Kim December 6, 2013 at 10:07 am

Thanks Lisa! No need to spend a lot of time on tips–there are a lot of really detailed tip blog posts I’ve seen around the web–but if there are a handful of things that stood out to you, I’d love to hear them!

Thanks for stopping by! :)


Ali December 4, 2013 at 9:48 am

I love studying health information. My family thinks I’m bizarre, but it’s all so interesting to me. I took the ACE PT certification in 2006 and I actually liked studying for it, but I was relieved when it was over too. Good luck!
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Kim December 6, 2013 at 10:08 am

Thanks Ali!


Amanda @ Diary of a Semi-Health Nut December 3, 2013 at 6:51 pm

PS How do you get your shareaholics buttons to show up on the top of your post as well as the bottom??
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Kim December 4, 2013 at 8:15 am

The setting is in the Available Apps section under Shareaholic in your dashboard. There are check boxes in the Share section for “above” and “below.” Let me know if you have trouble finding it! :)


Amanda @ Diary of a Semi-Health Nut December 4, 2013 at 11:31 am

haha I realized this after I commented. For some reason I thought it was an either/or checkbox. Thanks!
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Amanda @ Diary of a Semi-Health Nut December 3, 2013 at 6:49 pm

Gah this reminds me I need to get on my studying ASAP! I have this week off and am planning on going through a few chapters to get caught up. Love learning about all of these details though! Thanks for sharing! :)
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Kim December 4, 2013 at 8:15 am

Oh, so nice to have a week off! Enjoy!! :)


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