Garlic Chili-Maple Roasted Butternut Squash & Brussels Sprouts

Thanksgiving is a week away and we are already getting hungry for those quintessential Turkey Day recipes! We made this roasted squash and veggie side dish for our Friendsgiving meal on Sunday and to say it was a fan favorite would be a serious understatement. Swap out the traditional sweet-as-dessert yams for this better-for-you (and tastier!) recipe from Ambitious Kitchen.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Total time: 40 minutes


  • 1 pound of brussels sprouts, halved, stems and yellow outer leaves removed
  • 4 cups cubed butternut squash (about 12 ounces)
  • ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili powder (regular chili powder will work just fine)
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1/4 cup gorgonzola crumbles
  • OPTIONAL: 1/4 cup chopped pecans



  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Add butternut squash and brussels sprouts to a large bowl.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, maple syrup, garlic, chili powder and cinnamon. Pour over squash and sprouts and toss to evenly distribute. Pour on a baking sheet and spread out evenly.
  3. Roast in oven for 25-30 minutes or until squash is fork tender and sprouts are slightly crispy and caramelized.
  4. Remove from oven, cool for a few minutes then immediately transfer to a large bowl.
  5. Top with pomegranate seeds, gorgonzola crumbles and pecans, if desired. Serve immediately.


Image & recipe source: Ambitious Kitchen (


Scare Away Your Sugar Cravings with Banana Ghost Pops!

The endless offerings of Halloween junk food can make it challenging to stick to any healthy eating program. Thankfully, there are fun ways to scare away your sugar cravings! Our new favorite Halloween treat? Banana ghost pops!


  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 6 raisins
  • 12 mini chocolate chips
  • 3 bananas
  • 1.5 cups of sugar-free orange juice (you can drink it after you dunk the bananas!)
  • 6 popsicle sticks

Yield: 6 pops

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 4 hours (freezing)

Turn a banana into a frightful ghost! Cut the banana in half widthwise and insert a popsicle stick into the flat end. Freeze for a few hours, then dip in orange juice, followed by shredded coconut. Be sure to grab the dried shredded coconut. We found that moist coconut flakes did not stick to the banana well. Place two chocolate chips for eyes and a plump raisin for the mouth.


Image Source: POPSUGAR Studios

Recipe: Nugget Market

21 Questions with BSF’s Newest Trainer, Eddy Bayardelle!

To help BSF’s clients get to know Eddy better, we played 21 questions with him. Find out what he thinks about when planning a group fitness class, his (surprising) post workout fuel, and much more here!

1. How did you first hear about BSF?
Through Fran (Fontan), my former colleague at Equinox.
2. What made you want to work here?
Initially, it was the gym’s aesthetics. Where else in New York City can you find 60 feet of AstroTurf?! Then I had a conversation with Kelvin and I could tell he was a really smart dude. Our philosophies on fitness are very similar and I loved the family atmosphere BSF has.
3. Where can we find you in between training clients?
Working out, Bed Bath & Beyond or Whole Foods, probably at the almond butter grinder.
4. What will we find in your gym bag?
Lots of Gatorade mix, Whey protein, 2 changes of clothes and Fig Newtons.
5. What do you do when you’re feeling unmotivated to workout?
Flip through Dwayne Johnson’s (@therock) Instagram.
6. When you are planning out a class, what do you think about?
How can I make everyone’s ass look better?
7. What is your favorite exercise to do?
8. What is your favorite exercise to teach?
Kettlebell swings. Because I get to use words like “junk.” If I tell people to keep the kettlebell close to their junk, everyone knows where to keep it!
9. What will we never find you working out without?
A caffeinated beverage.
10. What do you do to relax?
Netflix and chill.
11. What do you tell clients who are intimidated by working with a personal trainer?
It’s like renting a best friend for an hour! The personal trainer is there to keep you safe and teach you exercises you would never do on your own. Some people will walk by a kettlebell rack and never touch it because they don’t know what to do with it! I can help you do all that and more.
12. Who is your “fitspiration”?
Bo Jackson.
13. Favorite cheat meal?
I don’t think you have enough room on this page for all of that but Bareburger is a good start.
14. Pre workout fuel?
Gatorade and Whey protein.
15. Post workout fuel?
Fig Newtons!
16. Personal theme song?
“Black Skin Head” by Kanye West.
17. What did you want to be when you were growing up?
Over 5’6” because that’s how tall my father is.
18. Are you a Giants/Yankees or Jets/Mets guy?
This isn’t even a relevant question. There is no other option besides Giants and Yankees.
19. What celebrity would you love to train and why?
Bill Murray. Because it’s Bill Murray, why else?
20. What is your favorite song to workout to?
“Blood on the Leaves” by Kanye West. That song comes on and I can do anything!
21. What is the best advice you ever received?
Work smarter, not harder.


Credit orginal article

With our intense focus on macronutrients, dieting and processed food consumption over the past 30 years, body fat levels have also increased. In other words, more information, more dieting, more junk food has given us more fat.

What is fat loss?

We store fat in adipose tissue in our bodies — mostly under the skin (subcutaneous) or in the body cavity (visceral), with a small amount in our muscles (intramuscular). Body fat is an energy storage depot.

When the substances providing energy become sparse in your bloodstream, the body detects this and calls on fat reserves for backup.

Fat storage and energy

Fats are stored as triglycerides in fat cells and are released via the activity of an enzyme known as hormone-sensitive lipase (HSL). This allows fatty acids to enter the blood, where they circulate bound to a protein called albumin and enter muscles to be “burned.” “Burning” of fat is also known as beta-oxidation.

Tissues can break down fatty acids by way of this beta-oxidation. The process of beta-oxidation ultimately produces ATP, which is the energy source for cells. This takes place in the mitochondria. Fatty acids enter the mitochondria via carnitine.

When high amounts of fatty acids are being broken down and flood the mitochondria (as in starvation), there may be no immediate need for them. In this case, they form energy-rich fragments known as ketones. This is important, as fat cannot be converted into glucose, but it can provide fuel for the muscle and brain in the form of these ketones.

ATP produced from the breakdown of fat is used for metabolic processes in the body including breathing, body temperature regulation, digestion, and excretion. At rest and very low intensity exercise, we get approximately 70% of the ATP produced from fats.

Why is fat loss so important?

We need to lose fat…

As a group, people in most industrialized societies are likely to be over-fat.



This isn’t just a cosmetic problem. Excess body fat can negatively affect nearly every facet of life, including:

  • decreased mobility
  • poorer emotional health and self-esteem
  • increased risk of organ failure
  • poorer circulatory health
  • increased risk of heart disease
  • increased risk of stress fractures
  • increased risk of strokes
  • increased risk of cancers
  • decreased sexual and reproductive health

Fat cells can act as endocrine factories and produce hormones that influence numerous processes in the body — most of which lead to more fat accumulation.

Beyond the health of it all, carrying a lower body fat is often considered more attractive and desirable as the underlying musculature is revealed.

Further, carrying a lower body fat is advantageous for many sport competitors (barring sumo wrestlers, linemen, etc) as extra fat weight adds drag and additional resistance that must be overcome.

Bottom line: Carrying a lot of excessive body fat makes health, body composition, and athletic performance worse.

…but it’s hard.

But here’s the problem — collectively, we’re not very good at losing fat either.

Even modern advancements in obesity treatment (e.g., bariatric surgery, medication, etc) have a success rate of less than 10% for permanent weight reduction/management.

About 95% of those who are overweight go on repeated diets, only to gain most or all of the weight back within one year. Nearly 70% of the United States is overweight or obese. The percentage of 12 to 17 year olds who are overweight has doubled since 1980.

We need a better solution. Knowing how fat loss works may be helpful.

What you should know

Fat cells are a major storage site for body fat, and are in a continuous state of turnover. Fat metabolism is regulated independently by nutritional, metabolic, and hormonal factors; the net effect determines levels of circulating fatty acids and the extent of body fat.

Fat loss and hormones

Fatty acid release and use requires lower insulin levels and an increase of the hormones glucagon, cortisol, epinephrine, and growth hormone. These “anti-insulin” hormones activate HSL. The other major hormone that influences fat metabolism is thyroxine (thyroid hormone).

After a large feeding, glycogen is synthesized until stores are replenished. If high blood sugar persists, glucose is converted to fatty acids. Amino acids can also be converted to fatty acids. The enzyme necessary for cells to accept triglycerides is lipoprotein lipase.

In the un-fed state, insulin concentrations fall, and the anti-insulin hormones increase. This accelerates fat use.

Fat loss and caloric deficit

When we decrease our caloric intake significantly, the body preserves fat stores very efficiently. Since insulin is low, thyroid hormone production is decreased. With this, resting metabolism is lowered. This can take place within 24 hours of starting an extreme diet.

The body’s response to calorie deprivation makes rebound weight gain all but definite once the diet is discarded. Muscle is usually lost, so the body usually becomes fatter.

Fats are more than just a fuel source during rest and lower intensity exercise. Fats restore phosphagens that have been exhausted during high intensity exercise. After intense exercise sessions, oxygen uptake is increased, which allows restoration to pre-exercise conditions (the “afterburn” effect).


Fat loss is a complex problem

With our focus on specific nutrients, intense nutrition counseling, dieting and processed food consumption over the past 30 years, body fat levels have also increased. In other words, more information, more dieting, more junk food has given us more fat.

While some of this may seem counter-intuitive, it illustrates the importance of body awareness (hunger/satiety cues), avoidance of processed foods, regular physical activity and influential food advertising.

Summary and recommendations

To maintain a low body fat and/or lower body fat:

  • Exercise at least 5 hours per week
  • Eat whole/unprocessed foods at regular intervals, while being aware of physical hunger/fullness cues
  • Sleep 7-9 hours per night
  • Don’t engage in extreme diets
  • Stay consistent with your habits
  • Incorporate non-exercise physical activity
  • Ignore food advertising

For extra credit

Aspartame was approved for use in 1981, and while this non-caloric sweetener was hypothesized to help control body weight, since 1980, levels of body fat have increased.

Factors associated with lower levels of body fat include:

  • nuts
  • green tea
  • low energy-density foods
  • dietary protein
  • avoiding refined carbohydrates
  • adequate hydration
  • dietary fiber
  • fruits and vegetables
  • regular exercise
  • adequate sleep
  • a supportive social network

While cortisol can break down muscle tissue, it can also break down body fat.

If you increase physical activity and nutritious food intake, metabolism will increase.

Blaming weight gain on calories is like blaming wars on guns. The diet is not the cause of excessive body fat levels. Rather, it’s the entire lifestyle.

Severe calorie deprivation inhibits the production of serotonin, a brain chemical needed to control appetite and maintain harmony with food.

Further reading

CLA & Bodyfat

Good body fat?

Gaining body fat with exercise

4 reasons you’re not losing fat

Sex differences in fat loss

Abdominal fat and your fate


Click here to view the information sources referenced in this article.


Potenza MV & Mechanick JI. The metabolic syndrome: definition, global impact, and pathophysiology. Nutr Clin Pract 2009;24:560-577.

Borer KT. Exercise Endocrinology. Human Kinetics. Champaign, IL. 2003.

Mahan LK & Escott-Stump S. Eds. Krause’s Food, Nutrition, & Diet Therapy. 11th ed. Saunders Publishing, Philadelphia, PA. 2004.

Murray RK, Granner DK, Mayes PA, Rodwell VW, eds. Harper’s Illustrated Biochemistry. 26th ed. McGraw Hill. 2003.

Barnard ND, et al. Nutrition Guide for Clinicians. 1st ed. PCRM. 2007.

Howley ET & Franks BD, eds. Health Fitness Instructor’s Handbook, 4th ed. Human Kinetics. Champaign, IL. 2003.

Bullo M, et al. Inflammation, obesity and comorbidities: the role of diet. Public Health Nutr 2007;10:1164-1172.

Garcia OP, et al. Impact of micronutrient deficiencies on obesity. Nutr Rev 2009;67:559-572.

Anderson AS & Caswell S. Obesity management – an opportunity for cancer prevention. Surgeon 2009;7:282-285.

Dennis EA, et al. Beverage consumption and adults weight management: A review. Eat Behav 2009;10:237-246.

Learn more

To learn more about making important improvements to your nutrition and exercise program, check out the following 5-day video courses.

They’re probably better than 90% of the seminars we’ve ever attended on the subjects of exercise and nutrition (and probably better than a few we’ve given ourselves, too).

The best part? They’re totally free.

To check out the free courses, just click one of the links below.

Coach Lauren Gets DVRT-Certified, Working Towards Precision Nutrition Certification

Congratulations are in order! Last month, Coach Lauren completed courses 1 & 2 of the rigorous DVRT (Dynamic Variable Resistance Training) Certification. She passed the written portions for each course, as well as the tough physical exam that required her to clean and press a 40lb-sandbag 40 times in 10 minutes. Wow, totally impressive!

Coach Lauren will also soon add another specialty to her expansive trove of health and wellness knowledge: nutrition! This month kicked off a four-month course in Precision Nutrition. Precision Nutrition education teaches both the science of nutrition and the practice of coaching. According to the website, Precision Nutrition provides “A comprehensive nutrition education and certification program designed specifically for use in a personal training/strength coaching environment.”

Coach Lauren looks forward to sharing all that she learns with clients and coworkers!