Finding Fitness

La Jolla Sports Club’s nutrition expert offers advice about how to combine diet and lifestyle in order to look and feel your best

By Jill Marr

Carl Israelsson, La Jolla Sports Club’s nutrition expert and personal trainer, has a personal philosophy that the realization of any goal is possible when your body mechanics are optimized, your workouts are planned and progressive, and your diet and lifestyle are structured to maximize your time in the gym. As we head into summer, Carl has some good advice about how to make the most of your efforts.

Q: Diet and exercise are clearly both important. Do you feel that one is more crucial than the other?

A: Generally speaking, diet and exercise are equally important. Although there are definitely circumstances where exercise is a limiting factor, most people find more success by focusing on improving their diet.

This may be because almost everyone—even those who exercise regularly—is a beginner compared to his or her absolute genetic potential. When you are a beginner, almost any exercise regimen—even terribly designed strength and conditioning programs—will produce a certain desirable effect in the short term. The same is not true for nutrition; not everything works. This being the case, most people are far less likely to happen upon and implement effective eating habits to complement their goals than they are likely to perform physical activities of some benefit. As a result, many find that the bottleneck to their progress is nutrition.

Start with the highest priority alteration. Everyone has different limiting patterns and a nutrition coach can help order changes by what’s most important for you. Most people do well with introducing one or two changes each month. It may not seem dramatic, but developing compliance on just the highest priority change is far more effective than inconsistency with many different changes. Imagine how powerful the effect of consistency with ten accumulated important dietary changes could be. Good things will happen.


Carbohydrate intake requirements change in the same way. Almost any activity—particularly those that are anaerobic—use muscle and liver glycogen for energy production. Aside from the glucose-dependent functions that everyone has, a strategy to increase or decrease carbohydrate intake to match the requirement to replenish muscle and liver glycogen is often very effective particularly when complementing intake increases with the proper timing to maximize the replenishment of glycogen instead of feeding fat storage.

In the same way that nutrition needs differ for people with different goals, there are other practices that can be helpful for certain individuals. One such practice, cryotherapy, may provide a number of benefits. Cryotherapy is not new. It’s been around for ages in one form or another, such as frigid air exposure, cold-water immersion, or just applying ice to sore muscles. Chiltonic, a cryotherapy center in La Jolla Sports Club, provides cryotherapy benefits in a unique way. In a 3-minute session, the surface temperature of the skin drops significantly by way of nitrogen vapor. Studies suggest that cryotherapy may contribute to an anti-inflammatory response, decreased muscle soreness, improved post-exercise recovery, increased metabolic rate, mood lift, and improved sleep.

Q: What are the benefits of having a personal nutrition coach?

A: The most attractive benefit is actually getting the health, fitness and physique results you want. To make real changes, there are two critical strategic elements: you have to quantify where you are and you have to quantify where you want to go. This means measuring. A personal nutrition coach will begin by assessing your unique nutrition and lifestyle habits as well as clearly identifying where you stand now 

and your specific goal. Aside from the knowledge to design an effective nutrition strategy for your goal and the coaching skill to help you implement it successfully, a nutrition coach provides accountability.

Consistency with compliance to your nutrition program is critical. The best nutrition program in the world will not get you anywhere if you only comply two-thirds of the time. Frequently measuring progress using relevant metrics—such as body composition testing and visual assessments—is essential to guide necessary nutrition program modifications and is also a great way to reinforce compliance. Remember, weight scale numbers are practically useless if it is your only measuring tool.

Most importantly, if progress stalls, a nutrition coach will have the tools to adjust your nutrition program in a healthy and effective way to maintain an optimal rate of progress toward your goal. The key to making successful changes in your diet and lifestyle is to make only the type and degree of change that you can manage and maintain with 100 percent compliance. A systematic coaching program affords you this approach, and before you know it, you will exceed your own expectations. La Jolla Sports Club is launching a brand new nutrition coaching program that offers all of these benefits and much more.

[ Get Motivated, La Jolla Sports Club, 7825 Fay Avenue, La Jolla, 858.456.2595 ]