Friday, August 31, 2012

he importance of probiotics after antibiotics

 Most of us have taken antibiotics to get rid of a nasty cold that turned into a secondary bacterial infection, or as a preventative measure after a surgery or some other injury. We take these powerful drugs because we are told by our healthcare professionals that we must. After all, who would want to risk a serious bacterial infection when it could be easily avoided? Antibiotics are great at what they do; they kill bacteria. Unfortunately, they are unable to discriminate between good bacteria and bad bacteria.

What your doctor hasn't been telling you

There are over 100 trillion good bacteria in our bodies that play a vital role in our overall health and well-being, particularly to immune function and digestion. Many of these bacteria are destroyed by antibiotic treatments and therefore must be quickly replenished. The best way to do this is by consuming probiotics, which contain live bacteria that will repopulate the gut.

You will rarely come across a traditional doctor that even mentions this practice when prescribing antibiotics; however, if you neglect the good bacteria after a course of antibiotics, you are risking reinfection, as your immune system will be compromised. The best practice is to begin taking probiotics while taking antibiotics; however, you should wait at least a few hours after your dose of antibiotics to take a dose of probiotics.

Probiotic foods and supplements

Probiotics exist in various food products like yogurt and are found in particularly high concentrations in kefir. If you have access to raw (unpasteurized) milk, you can make your own kefir at home with some kefir grains, which will yield an enormous amount of probiotics. For most people who don't have access to raw milk, store bought (pasteurized) kefir and yogurt still contain a fair amount of probiotics.

There are also many probiotic supplements on the market now; however be sure to buy a reputable brand. Some of these supplements are worthless as they contain no live bacteria. Be sure to check the label for the number of live cultures as well as how many of those cultures will still be alive when the product reaches its expiration date. If the supplement does not contain this information, don't purchase it.

Natural antibiotics

There may be times when taking antibiotics is necessary; however, the majority of the time they are used without sufficient cause and end up doing much more damage than good. Most bacterial infections can be healed naturally. So the next time you get a chest cold, instead of running to the doctor and asking for a Z-pak, which most doctors will prescribe without hesitation, first attempt curing your infection with these powerful, natural probiotics that also promote overall health and well being:

- Manuka honey (UMF 15+ or higher)
- Garlic
- Andrographis (particularly useful for upper respiratory infections)
- Goldenseal
- Echinacea
- Colloidal silver

You don't have to worry about natural antibiotics killing the good bacteria in your gut as they, unlike prescription antibiotics, are able to target only the bad bacteria. You can use these natural remedies any time you get sick, as a preventive measure, without any worry of negative side-effects.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Exercise-Related Cardiac Arrest Less Likely to Kill You

by  Joshua Wortman

Researchers from the Netherlands just presented research proving there is less of a chance of dying from sudden cardiac arrest if it is exercise-related. This research was presented at the European Society for Cardiology 2012 Congress in Munich, Germany and was led by Dr. Arend Mosterd and his team from the Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam.

heart attack, cardiac arrest, exercise and cardiac arrest, running heart attackResearch was gathered from a database known as ARREST (short for the Amsterdam Resuscitation Study) to find out how common exercise-related cardiac arrests were in a certain geographic area from 2006 to 2009. This database covers a population of about 2.4 million people in the metro area of Amsterdam.1

The research team found 145 of a total of 2,517 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests (OHCAs) were exercise-related. Of those OHCAs that were exercise-related, 49 had been cycling, 22 playing tennis, 16 were at the gym, and 13 were swimming. Out of all the cases, most involved males (only 10 females). 65 of the 145 cases survived the event.2

The research indicated that people who experienced an exercise-related OHCA were found to have a 45% chance of survival, compared to only 15% for those people with a non-exercise-related OHCA. Research also discovered that 99.3% of the exercise-related OHCAs happened in public places, compared to 24.3% of non-exercise related ones. Consequently, the people who experienced an exercise-related OHCA were much more likely to be helped by someone. 86.2% of the exercise-related cases received CPR from a bystander, compared to only 64.4% of non-sports related cases. Additionally, 35% of the sport-related cases received shocks from an automated defibrillator, compared to 22.2% in non-sports related cases.3

Dr. Mosterd stated, "Persons suffering an exercise related OHCA are three times more likely to survive the event than persons whose arrest is not exercise related. None of the survivors of exercise related OHCA suffered serious neurologic damage, which was not the case for those surviving a non-exercise related OHCA."4

The researchers added that exercise-related OHCAs occur in higher numbers of younger people than non-exercise related ones. Dr. Mosterd added, "The remarkably good survival of victims of exercise related out-of-hospital cardiac arrest can partially be ascribed to the fact that they are younger and more likely to suffer the arrest in a public location, leading to bystander cardiopulmonary resuscitation, often with the use of an automated external defibrillator. Taking these factors into account exercise per se also contributes to a better outcome."5

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Antioxidants And Pesky Free Radicals

      We have all heard about free radicals and antioxidants.  Understanding the mechanisms of both within our bodies is an important factor when we are deciding the foods to make as staples of our diets.  All diseases increase free radicals.  So this means if we up the vitamin c supplementation then we will live forever?  Not so fast.

     Studies have shown that when an antioxidant is administered alone it does not protect against DNA damage caused by free radicals.  One such study was published in the British Journal of Nutrition.  This study gave one group of participants orange juice and another group a sugar drink with vitamin c added.  The study concluded by saying that there were no observable changes in the sugar drink with added vitamin c, but the orange juice showed protection against DNA damage and they believe the phytochemicals of foods are the reason (Guarnieri, 2007).

      Phytochemicals are what separates fruits and vegetables from grains. According to the previous study this means all the fortified bread products are not protecting us from free radical damage.  Grains that are poorly digested will actually increase free radical damage due to their ability to cross the gut lining and cause an inflammation response.  This increased oxidative stress can actually increase our risk for disease.  Taking a multivitamin is not the answer to long term health either.  A supplemental antioxidant is in and out of the system within an hour.  When our genes turn on our adaptive stress response, it can actually stay on for days.  Exercise is a good example of this.  We cause oxidative damage while exercising that turns on our adaptive stress response.  We build more muscle tissue and mitochondria to adapt to that new stressor.  This all takes time.

     Phytochemicals are what plants utilize to protect themselves.  There is always an adaptive war going on between species.  Plants develop these for protection and our bodies then will be forced to adapt to counteract them and so on.  These phytochemicals in plants will turn on our adaptive stress response.  These phytochemicals actually cause oxidative stress and our system has to respond.  Acetylcarnitine communicates with our cells and turns on our vitagenes.  Vitagenes in studies have been shown to have strong protective qualities including the ability to kill off cancer cells and to prevent neurodegeneration (Calabrese, 2009).

      The generals behind this cell communication are called transcription proteins.  Transcription proteins come in all kinds of shapes and sizes so that they fit directly with specific nutrients and hormones.  Once the protein combines with the nutrient or hormone it can enter the cell and alter the cell’s DNA.  In terms of our adaptive stress response Nuclear Factor Kappa Beta (NF-KB) and NRF2 are the important ones.
     Natural antioxidants from plant matter tend to down regulate NF-KB2 and free radicals increase it.  An increase in NF-KB is strongly associated with cancer growth.  NRF2 on the other hand has been associated with protection from cancer and other stress related diseases (Bellezza, 2010).  NRF2 looks for free radicals and upon their discovery turns on the antioxidant enzymes.
Our lifestyle choices are what turn these transcription proteins on and off.  Choosing a diet rich in phytochemicals can help increase our protective NRF2 transcription proteins and protect us from the stress related diseases that plague us as a country.  Eating fortified foods and taking a multivitamin will not have the same health benefits as eating foods where these nutrients are found naturally.  Some food choices that have been shown to increase NRF2 are broccoli, cauliflower, onions, garlic, green tea, and coffee.  Melatonin, ALA, CoQ10 also elicits a response from NRF2.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Nutrition for Healthy Skin

The consumption of certain vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial compounds in the diet is one of the most effective ways to treat skin conditions and improve the look and feel of one’s skin. There are several nutrients that are known to play a role in the proper growth and immunity of the skin, and many people have found that their skin health has dramatically improved after making purposeful changes to their daily diet. For example,

Vitamin A


Vitamin C

Read More

Monday, August 27, 2012

Eat A High-Protein Breakfast for Optimal Body Composition

Eat a high-protein breakfast such as the Poliquin Meat and Nut Breakfast for optimal body composition. A fascinating new study shows that one reason eating protein for breakfast supports body composition is the role that vitamin D and calcium play in fat burning, thermogenesis, and overall food intake.

The study found that if you eat a high-protein breakfast with a nice dose of vitamin D and calcium, your body will burn more total energy processing the meal. Plus, more of the energy that is burned for fuel will be fat.

A group of subjects ate a breakfast that contained low calcium and vitamin D or high calcium and vitamin D, but was matched for macronutrient and total energy content. Then researchers measured the rate that the body burned fat and carbohydrates for energy as well as the thermic effect of food. They also recorded the amount and type of food the participants ate at lunch and dinner.

Results showed that after eating breakfast containing high calcium and vitamin D, participants had a significantly higher thermic effect of food and burned more fat for fuel than the group that ate the low calcium and vitamin D breakfast. In addition, the high calcium/vitamin D group ate fewer calories than the low calcium/vitamin D group in the next 24 hours, primarily due to a significantly lower carbohydrate intake (participants were allowed to eat as much and whatever they wanted at lunch and dinner and food intake was recorded).

Researchers suggest that in addition to elevated metabolism, and greater fat oxidation, hunger was suppressed by the greater vitamin D and calcium in the breakfast. The high calcium-vitamin D group ate about 320 calories less than the low calcium-vitamin D group over lunch and dinner combined.

The take away from this study is that you should eat breakfast daily with a high-protein content that includes protein sources  that are naturally high in vitamin D and calcium. Simply eating more protein increases the amount of calories required to breakdown the meal—protein has the highest thermic effect, followed by carbs, and then fats. Protein also supports tissue and muscle rebuilding, and the majority of protein sources are naturally high in calcium. However, meat, fish, and dairy are the only foods that provide vitamin D.

All these factors combined indicate that protein from meat or fish will provide the best breakfast for body composition since meat and fish contain a better amino acid profile than plant-based proteins such as beans and seeds. A breakfast including meat will also support neurotransmitter production so that you will feel energized throughout the day. To read more about my suggestion for the very BEST breakfast, check out the link to the article on the Poliquin Meat and Nut Breakfast at the bottom of this article.

Be aware that you will likely want to supplement with vitamin D as well because studies show that it is very difficult to fulfill your vitamin D needs from your diet alone. Of course, the body makes vitamin D in response to the sun, so if you get daily sun exposure, your levels may be adequate (in the 40 ng/ml range), but it is wise to get tested because this nutrient is SO essential for body comp and health.

In terms of calcium, men rarely need supplemental calcium if they eat adequate protein, and studies have linked supplemental calcium intake in men with heart attacks. Women may want to supplement with calcium, however, if you get adequate protein and vitamin D, this is probably not necessary. A recent large-scale study in the British Medical Journal showed that in women, 700 to 800 milligrams of calcium day is sufficient for bone health. Be aware that intakes of 1,000 milligrams of calcium have been associated with increased risk of heart disease in women.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

8 Ingredients You Never Want to See on Your Nutrition Label


This preservative is used to prevent rancidity in foods that contain oils. Unfortunately, BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) has been shown to cause cancer in rats, mice, and hamsters. The reason the FDA hasn’t banned it is largely technical—the cancers all occurred in the rodents’ forestomachs, an organ that humans don’t have. Nevertheless, the study, published in the Japanese Journal of Cancer Research, concluded that BHA was “reasonably anticipated to be a carcinogen,” and as far as I’m concerned, that’s reason enough to eliminate it from your diet.
You’ll find it in: Fruity Pebbles, Cocoa Pebbles


 These synthetic preservatives are used to inhibit mold and yeast in food. The problem is parabens may also disrupt your body’s hormonal balance. A study in Food Chemical Toxicology found that daily ingestion decreased sperm and testosterone production in rats, and parabens have been found present in breast cancer tissues.
You’ll find it in: Baskin-Robbins sundaes

Partially Hydrogenated Oil

 I’ve harped on this before, but it bears repeating: Don’t confuse “0 g trans fat” with being trans fat-free. The FDA allows products to claim zero grams of trans fat as long as they have less than half a gram per serving. That means they can have 0.49 grams per serving and still be labeled a no-trans-fat food. Considering that two grams is the absolute most you ought to consume in a day, those fractions can quickly add up. The telltale sign that your snack is soiled with the stuff? Look for partially hydrogenated oil on the ingredient statement. If it’s anywhere on there, then you’re ingesting artery-clogging trans fat.
You’ll find it in: Long John Silver’s Popcorn Shrimp, Celeste frozen pizzas
FIGHT FAT WITH FAT! Some fats, like trans fat, will pad you with extra pounds, but other types can help you shed unwanted weight. See for yourself—pick up these 5 Fatty Foods that Make You Skinny today!

Sodium Nitrite

 Nitrites and nitrates are used to inhibit botulism-causing bacteria and to maintain processed meats’ pink hues, which is why the FDA allows their use. Unfortunately, once ingested, nitrite can fuse with amino acids (of which meat is a prime source) to form nitrosamines, powerful carcinogenic compounds. Ascorbic and erythorbic acids—essentially vitamin C—have been shown to decrease the risk, and most manufacturers now add one or both to their products, which has helped. Still, the best way to reduce risk is to limit your intake.
You’ll find it in: Oscar Mayer hot dogs, Hormel bacon

Caramel Coloring

This additive wouldn't be dangerous if you made it the old-fashioned way—with water and sugar, on top of a stove. But the food industry follows a different recipe: They treat sugar with ammonia, which can produce some nasty carcinogens. How carcinogenic are these compounds? A Center for Science in the Public Interest report asserted that the high levels of caramel color found in soda account for roughly 15,000 cancers in the U.S. annually. Another good reason to scrap soft drinks? They’re among The 20 Worst Drinks in America.
You’ll find it in: Coke/Diet Coke, Pepsi/Diet Pepsi


 Castoreum is one of the many nebulous “natural ingredients” used to flavor food. Though it isn’t harmful, it is unsettling. Castoreum is a substance made from beavers’ castor sacs, or anal scent glands. These glands produce potent secretions that help the animals mark their territory in the wild. In the food industry, however, 1,000 pounds of the unsavory ingredient are used annually to imbue foods—usually vanilla or raspberry flavored—with a distinctive, musky flavor.
You’ll find it in: Potentially any food containing “natural ingredients”

Food Dyes

Plenty of fruit-flavored candies and sugary cereals don’t contain a single gram of produce, but instead rely on artificial dyes and flavorings to suggest a relationship with nature. Not only do these dyes allow manufacturers to mask the drab colors of heavily processed foods, but certain hues have been linked to more serious ailments. A Journal of Pediatrics study linked Yellow 5 to hyperactivity in children, Canadian researchers found Yellow 6 and Red 40 to be contaminated with known carcinogens, and Red 3 is known to cause tumors. The bottom line? Avoid artificial dyes as much as possible.
You’ll find it in: Lucky Charms, Skittles, Jell-O
THE DOMINO EFFECT: Sugar doesn’t just come in the form of cookies and candy. Discover the insidious ways it can creep into your diet with 9 Sneaky Sources of Sugar.

Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein

 Hydrolyzed vegetable protein, used as a flavor enhancer, is plant protein that has been chemically broken down into amino acids. One of these acids, glutamic acid, can release free glutamate. When this glutamate joins with free sodium in your body, they form monosodium glutamate (MSG), an additive known to cause adverse reactions—headaches, nausea, and weakness, among others—in sensitive individuals. When MSG is added to products directly, the FDA requires manufacturers to disclose its inclusion on the ingredient statement. But when it occurs as a byproduct of hydrolyzed protein, the FDA allows it to go unrecognized

Friday, August 24, 2012

Mineral Water Question

I was recently contacted by a young lady whose mother has osteoporosis. I was told that she’s unable to have dairy and many calcium-fortified foods such as orange juice and soy products. In addition, she has a difficult time swallowing pills. On the other hand, she very much enjoys mineral water. Her question to me was, “Can I drink mineral water instead of taking a calcium supplement?”.

Before I delve into the mineral water issue, please note that there is almost always a way to incorporate adequate amounts of calcium in your daily routine via fortified and whole foods. For instance, non-dairy foods including collard greens, sardines and sesame seeds provide upwards of 25% of the Daily Value (DV) of this essential mineral. Likewise, milk substitutes made from almonds, coconuts and hemp seeds are frequently fortified with up to 45% of the DV per 8 oz serving. There are also quite a few chewable or liquid calcium supplements available in most health food stores and pharmacies. Simply put, there really isn’t a practical reason why one can’t get optimal amounts of calcium on a daily basis.
In terms of mineral water, the data is fairly straight forward. Mineral waters that are rich in calcium (providing a minimum of 342 mg of calcium/day) support bone mineral density in women who are deficient in the nutrient. Some evidence indicates that alkaline water, abundant in naturally occurring bicarbonate, may also slow the rate of bone breakdown. What’s more, several studies have demonstrated that calcium contained in mineral water is at least as bioavailable as dairy-derived calcium. A controversy that has yet been resolved is the role of trace minerals in select mineral waters. One example is silica, a trace element which has shown some benefit in relation to joint and skeletal integrity. A 12 week study appearing in the October 2010 issue of the Nutrition Journal determined that silica is easily absorbed from mineral rich water. However, the added silica intake “did not affect bone turnover markers in the short-term”.
The bottom line is that mineral rich water can be a good source of dietary calcium. But, reading labels to determine calcium concentration is vitally important. The disparity between calcium levels in various mineral waters can be significant. It also bares mentioning that the key to success with mineral water is consistency. For some, chewing or swallowing a daily calcium supplement may be easier to do than drinking a few glasses of mineral water each and every day. Finally, please remember that there is a whole host of other nutrients, including magnesium, Vitamins D and K, which benefit the skeletal system and generally aren’t found in mineral water. So, don’t place all of your eggs in one basket and assume that mineral water alone is enough to stave off osteopenia and osteoporosis

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Eggs, Smoking and Silly Health Scares

Here’s the silliest health scare of the month:
      Study: Eggs Are Nearly as Bad for Your Arteries as Cigarettes
As usual the headline is based on science of the fluffiest kind: an observational study. The sort that doesn’t prove cause and effect.
      This egg-study is even weaker than usual. Instead of trying to make people remember what they ate last week they actually asked people how many egg yolks they ate decades ago. Quickly: How many egg yolks did you eat in 1987? Do you remember?
      As usual those who ate more whole eggs during the low fat fad also smoked more etc. So we’re comparing people who ignore health advice with people who try to be healthy. There are thousands of differences between these two groups and it’s impossible to control for them all. But the authors of the study believe that it all comes down to egg yolks.
     Its silly and nobody who knows how these studies are done take the results too seriously. But the press loves them. They supply a never ending stream of juicy headlines.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Baseball Vs. Football Mortality

     A few months ago, I blogged about the somewhat surprising results of a study that found that retired NFL players live longer than the general population. I say "somewhat surprising" because we've been hearing a lot over the past year or two about the incredible physical toll that professional football takes on players' bodies (and brains) -- but on the other hand, football players tend to be rich, get lots of medical care, and have years of physical training under their belt, all of which suggests that comparing them to the general population isn't really a meaningful metric.
A better comparison, as Bill Barnwell over at Grantland points out, would be to retired professional baseball players, who tend to have roughly similar lifestyle and size. Barnwell and an intern did some really serious number-crunching in order to produce a fair comparison between baseball and football players who entered the league between 1959 and 1988. And the results are...
[Okay, this is your last chance to head over to Grantland and read the original article before I spoil it for you.]
football players win. As of the beginning of this month, 15.9% of the baseball players had died, compared to 12.8% of the football players -- a differences that was statistically significant. This is despite the fact that football players tend to be significantly heavier than baseball players. If you restrict the comparison to players with BMI between 21.4 and 27.7, the difference is even greater: 16% of the baseball players have died, but just 9.7% of the football players.
Why does this happen, Barnwell asks?
Truthfully, as a layman, I can't say with any certainty, and I don't think it's appropriate to speculate.
        I really don't know either. But I'm going to pretend for a second that I'm being held at gunpoint and forced to speculate. Football players -- particularly those in the 21-27 BMI range, who are the ones boosting the survival stats -- need much more cardiovascular fitness than baseball players. They're not out there running marathons, but they do need to be able to perform intermittent sprints at maximal intensity over and over again. (A very cool nugget of information I picked up from Asker Jeukendrup's book on sports nutrition: your first sprint in a field sport is 20% aerobic/80% anaerobic; your third sprint is 50%/50%; and your nth sprint is 75% aerobic/25% anaerobic.)
Obviously the details vary depending on the sport, the position, and the player -- but the point is, football players, at least at certain positions, likely spend more time than baseball players training their cardiovascular system. Baseball players need to be strong and (primarily) skilled. They may look thinner than the average football player, but cardiovascular fitness is a much better predictor of all-cause mortality than fatness. So that's my theory -- but I'm happy to hear other ideas!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Aging Athlete - My First 68 Years


    Defining the “aging athlete” is difficult, especially in the conventional way with a number representing age. But more importantly, this is a highly personal matter--when am I going to be an old athlete? Each of us knows it’s going to happen; we just don’t know when.
When I was in my 40s I thought that perhaps I would be an “aging athlete” by age 50. In my 50s I was pretty much sure it would show up any day. Now at 68 I’m still waiting for the other shoe to fully drop, but seeing signs that its on the way down. On the positive side, I’m putting out nearly the same power numbers as in 1994, at age 50, when I got my first power meter. Many other things have changed in those 18 years. For example, my training and nutrition have improved remarkably in that period while lifestyle stress has decreased significantly.
That's not to say that the changes, or lack thereof, have all been positive or even neutral. I now recover much more slowly than when I was younger. I also find it more difficult to add muscle mass. What and when I eat has a greater effect on how I train than ever before. And there are many more, performance-lowering changes taking place. The net result of all of this is an overall drop in performance. But the bottom hasn't fallen out - yet.
When I review the performance data of national-class, age group time trialists, runners and swimmers I see that there is a steady and obvious drop in performance times starting around age 35. But this is rather small, and barely noticeable. The trend remains negative over the next 30 years. The biggest decline in performance occurs around and after age 70 in all three sports.
     But this doesn't tell the whole story. Those who set the 70+ age group records did not have the advantages that my generation, and especially those who follow me, have had. Besides training methodology and nutrition, equipment improvements also give those of us who are younger a long-term advantage.
Then there is the competition factor. Those who set their 70+ age group national records did not have the depth of competition in their earlier years that the Baby Boomers have enjoyed (I use the term “enjoyed” loosely here because greater competition means harder training and more race suffering). This competition has groomed the up-and-coming older athletes to compete at a higher level than ever before seen in sports.
Of course, regardless of age, there are only three things one can do to improve endurance performance: raise aerobic capacity (VO2max), elevate lactate (anaerobic) threshold as a percentage of VO2max and improve economy which has to do with how efficiently one uses energy.
    Greater competition and better nutrition have led to meaner and leaner aging athletes who have higher aerobic capacities than their aging predecessors as a result. The growth of technology has allowed those on the leading edge of the Baby Boomer generation to maintain a higher lactate or anaerobic threshold since it can now be easily measured and appropriately stressed with somewhat more precise training methods. There has also been an emphasis on technique and efficiency in sport which didn’t exist 20 years ago. So aging athletes are also more economical now than ever before. Improved coaching and training information available through the Internet has played a major role in these improvements.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Hunger is not an Emergency.

Hunger is quite simply a signal, either physical or neurological. We have many hormones at play that will tell us when our body is in need of feeding, or expects to be fed. Here’s the kicker though: you can ignore it, and you’ll be just fine. Because we’re creatures of habit, we tend to adapt to certain behaviors and schedules. If you eat breakfast everyday at 8am, then don’t eat the next day until 10am, you will probably experience strong hunger pangs. This will happen regardless of when your last meal was, etc.

If you are used to eating every 3 hours, try on occasion spreading out your feeding window to every 6 hours. You could also eat all your meals for a given day in a condensed 8 hour window, then fast the remaining 16 hours.

There is much to be gained from opting for deliberate periods of mild starvation both from a mental and metabolic standpoint. It will help break any cycles of dependence you have with food, and make you able to function without eating for longer than you may ideally like to.

Eat when you are hungry and until you are full, except when you can’t, and that’s totally fine too.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Drink Green Tea To Speed Recovery from Training and Lose Body Fat

Drink green tea to speed recovery from training and lose body fat. The wonders of green tea on health and body composition are well known. However, new research indicates that to get the best results from green tea, you need to get a fairly high dose every day.

For example, a recent study in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports tested the effect of giving trained young men who were doing endurance training a placebo or a highly concentrated green tea beverage daily for 10 weeks. Results showed that the group that took the green tea increased the amount of body fat that was being burned during exercise, as measured by a marker called the respiratory exchange ratio (RER).

When the RER is higher, it indicates that more carbohydrates are being used for energy, whereas when it is lower, it means that more body fat is being used. RER was significantly lower in the group that took the green tea, and researchers think this is because the antioxidants in green tea activate the Beta oxidation of fat.

You might wonder if it was the caffeine in the green tea that increased fat burning. However, the amount in the test beverage was equal to 1 mg/kg/bw of caffeine, which has been proven to be too low a dose to boost performance or shift the body into fat burning mode.

This study is important for two reasons. First, it is not easy to shift the body into a fat burning mode, but taking green tea extract pre-workout is a simple and effective way to do so. Second, burning fat during endurance exercise is uncommon because the body first calls on stored muscle glycogen and carbohydrates for fuel. Fat burning tends to happen once muscle glycogen is depleted, which only occurs after about 90 minutes of endurance exercise. Green tea supplementation could be used to boost fat loss in endurance athletes. It could also be used to spare glycogen during long and intense training to increase time to exhaustion and boost performance.

The green tea drink used in this study was a concentrated green tea extract that provided 572 mg of antioxidants, which approximately corresponds to the amount in six or seven cups of green tea. To get this dose, you could down a lot of green tea pre-workout or take a highly concentrated green tea extract in liquid or capsule form.

Another cool finding about green tea is that taking it can speed recovery from intense training because the antioxidants will enhance the immune system and neutralize free radicals produced during exercise. A study using mice in the journal Basic and Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology found that giving the animals a large green tea dose of 100 mg/kg/bodyweight every day for 15 days prevented behavioral and biochemical deterioration due to intense swim training.

Results showed that the  green tea prevented oxidative stress markers from becoming elevated, and there was almost no evidence of anxiety and chronic fatigue, which was present to a significant degree in mice that did not receive the green tea. The high green tea dose almost normalized all tested markers to levels equal to a control group that did no exercise.

In this study, smaller green tea doses of 25 and 50 mg/kg/bw were also tested , and they did decrease evidence of chronic fatigue, anxiety, and oxidative stress in a dose response manner. However, the 100 mg/kg/bw dose was the most effective, nearly producing baseline levels.

Take away the understanding that large doses of green tea can help you recover from intense training because the antioxidants will help clear the acute inflammatory response. You will feel fresher post-workout and be able to go hard again sooner. Additionally, more fat will be burned for fuel, helping you drop body fat, while increasing time to exhaustion.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


         Our intestines are actually home to trillions of microorganisms that help us digest our food, improve and aid our immune systems, and even provide us with some micro-nutrients.  If you find it unnerving that so many other lifeforms make there home in your gut, maybe it will be helpful to know that you cannot survive without them.  They evolved right alongside us with harmonious symbiosis as a result.  Therefore, it is important to protect and nourish our gut flora, a fact that has been often ignored in the neolithic western diet.
          Antibiotics and stress are probably the two biggest enemies of healthy gut flora, but offensive foods need to be removed to achieve healthy digestion, which will improve the gut flora environment, as well.  This part is sometimes confusing for some people.  No matter how you try to create a healthy environment in your gut, your efforts will be undone if you continue to eat offenders like grains and legumes, and have copious amounts of psychological stress.  (Since stress is a big problem for gut flora, it also stands to reason that beating yourself senseless in your workouts will be problematic as well, but I’m only speculating because all the studies I have seen have used purely psychological stressors.)  Trying to heal your gut under these conditions is kind of like working really hard to get the PH just right in your fish tank only to put a drop of bleach in it every couple of days.  Good effort, but you probably aren’t getting anywhere.
            Once you have stopped hurting yourself to the best of your ability, you should start supplementing  with probiotics.  Probiotics are healthy gut bacteria cultures that can be ingested to repopulate the gut with the right flora.  There are a few supplement companies I trust for just about everything, and probiotics are no exception.  My clients and I have had good results with both Jarrow and Now brands, using them as directed.  Some professionals recommend taking probiotics all the time.  I think they are something that should be returned to often, but if you are not regularly killing your gut flora through stress, unhealthy eating, or antibiotics, you probably don’t need them all the time.  I have clients who seem to do well taking a bottle of probiotics, as directed of course, every couple of months.  Be sure to supplement with probiotics during and after any antibiotic use.  Antibiotics are not choosy about which bacteria they kill, and gut bacteria are no exception.  Fermented foods, like sauerkraut, are  an excellent source of healthy bacteria and should be a regular part of your diet all the time.  It is also important to eat your veggies for their soluble fiber content.  Soluble fiber is food for gut bacteria.
To sum it all up, stop hurting your gut with bad foods and too much stress, throw in some probiotics on a regular basis to help keep your gut flora healthy, eat plenty of vegetables and fermented vegetables, and especially do all these things during and after taking any antibiotics.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Reflections on Jamaican Sprint Dominance

It's obvious. Jamaica is the most dominant sprint nation in the world. Even more so when you look at the size of the country. Consider the following:
  • Eight of the ten fastest 100m performances of all time are by 2 Jamaicans
  • Of the 10 people who have run under 9.85 seconds in the men's 100m 6 of them were born in Jamaica (Donovan Bailey competed for Canada but was born in Jamaica).
  • Of the 4 people who have run under 9.75 seconds in the men's 100m 3 of them are Jamaican.
  • Things aren't too different on the women's side or in other events....Jamaican's are disproportionately represented at the top of world sprint rankings.
The bottom line is something special is going on there. Some look at the recent success and think the tiny island has found some secret. The reality is that it's been sneaking up on us all along and we'd missed the clues up until 2008. Other Jamaicans who later became sprint champions for other countries (Ben Johnson, Donovan Bailey, Sanya Richards-Ross, Mark Lewis-Francis, etc) were all over the place just masking the sprinting prowess of Jamaica. If you put insane talent with a long term development program that doesn't rip athletes away from the coaches who developed them you have a recipe for elite level success.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Saturday, August 11, 2012

What do Stress Fractures, Shin Splints and Foot Pain Have in Common?


     There are many similarities between soldiers and athletes, especially in training, which often exposes them to “fatigue fractures”, otherwise known as stress fractures. These injuries account for up to 20% of all sports medicine injuries, and over 50% occur below the knee! This injury is a partial or complete fracture after repetitive loading, so it is categorized as an overuse injury. Just think about stress fractures like the next step after shin splints or foot pain. Basically, the bone is unable to repair itself before the next physical stimulus; whether it is running with a drill sergeant or playing a tournament. Neither of these environments can really be changed, so we must seek to understand why it happens and then some quick, practical ways to avoid the stress…fracture that is.

       A 2011 review out of the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands examined all the literature on stress fractures, specifically the relationship between this injury and ground reaction force (GRF). The major finding was that the loading rate was significantly higher in the stress fracture group. The loading rate refers to the RATE at which GRF is created (see Sparta Point 2/8/12). Subjects who produced force quicker upon impact were more likely to have stress fractures. Likewise, we have seen our athletes that create more RATE are also more likely to develop pain in their lower legs (feet and shins). These findings are pretty intuitive, if you have higher RATE, or are stiff like a wooden dowel, you are more likely to break than a flexible object like a rope.

The best way to prevent fatigue fractures is to limit the volume of exercise (see Sparta Point 7/6/11). However, the tricky part is knowing how much exercise is too much; how many games or how much distance crosses the threshold from a good stimulus to improve into injury risk. We use force plate analysis to identify at risk athletes, those with naturally high RATE. Without this objective tool to, there are some practical, immediate solutions that both prevent and help rehabilitate stress fractures.

1. Target the fascia (see Sparta Point 7/27/11) by rolling out below knee, particularly the peroneals

At impact with the ground, vibrations are produced in the soft tissue, mostly bone and fascia. Better fascia means less bone stress.

2. Increase ankle muscles' (your calves) flexibility so you can absorb impact and disperse the GRF

Muscles help the fascia mentioned abovein a process called tuning; changing their activity to minimize the soft tissue vibrations that lead to injury. While this protective mechanism is initially sufficient, these vibrations must increase with fatigue in attempt to maintain the same levels of peak GRF.

3. Substitute running with non-impact, yet explosive activities

These movements simulate the same angles, such as slideboard 
The other option is to ignore, or even ice the pain, you’ll recognize the smarter athletes when they slide by.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Prevent Inflammation and Impaired Healing by Avoiding Pain Killers and Ibuprofen during Intense Training


Avoid pain killers and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen during training because they damage the gut and hinder absorption of nutrients, delaying recovery. NSAIDs have also been shown to impair healing of tendons and blunt muscle hypertrophy response.

A new study published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise tested what happens in the gastrointestinal tract during intense exercise after taking ibuprofen. Researchers measured a biomarker called IFABP, which when elevated, indicates damage to intestinal cells and is a marker of extended inflammation. IFABP was tested in trained cyclists at rest with ibuprofen, and after intense cycling with and without ibuprofen (400 mg of ibuprofen was taken about 12 hours before exercise and another 400 mg was taken an hour before exercise).

Results showed acute significant damage to the cells in the intestines as measured by IFABP after exercise with ibuprofen. Levels of IFABP following the cycling trial with ibuprofen was almost double that following the cycling trial without the drug (875 vs. 474 pg/mL). Simply taking ibuprofen and performing no exercise elevated IFABP to 507 pg/mL, indicating that taking NSAIDs alone causes inflammation, which is significantly increased with intense exercise In addition, following exercise with ibuprofen, other markers  indicated that the barrier of the gut was injured, essentially causing leaky gut syndrome.

Researchers believe that when you combine intense physical activity with NSAIDs, damage to the intestines is increased as a result of redistribution of blood flow from the gut to the muscles, skin, heart, and lungs. This harms the lining of the gut, which could put you at risk for greater susceptibility to toxins because the gut lining is more permeable and not as protective. It will also inhibit absorption of nutrients, and long-term NSAID use could lead to serious damage to the gut and chronic inflammation.

Take away the understanding that you should avoid ibuprofen and NSAIDs when exercising because they can cause damage to the gut, put you at risk of infection, and impair nutrient absorption. NSAID use with exercise has also been associated with increased risk of cardiovascular adverse events, and they have been shown to get in the way of long-term tendon and muscle repair. NSAIDs reduce the regeneration of satellite cells, which are the cells that rebuild connective tissue that joins muscle with bone. NSAIDs also impair the muscle  hypertrophy response by 50 to 75 percent in animals, and we know they suppress protein synthesis following a single bout of exercise.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

10 Health Boosting Herbal Teas

Herbal teas are a delicious and easy way to up your fluid intake and sneak in some extra nutrients. Unlike coffee (whose health benefits are highly debated) herbal teas offer the benefits and nutrients without the caffeine (and pesticides in non-organic coffee).
There are literally thousands of combinations of herbal teas, so there is one for every palate. Herbal teas can be very inexpensive if you buy the ingredients in bulk and you can mix up your own combinations!
If you aren’t already an avid herbal tea drinker, here are some delicious combinations to break you in gently….


Chamomile flower tea is one of the most consumed teas in the world behind regular black tea. Chamomile flowers have a naturally sweet taste with a hint of an apple flavor. Chamomile is a good herbal source of  Magnesium, and is known as a soothing and relaxing herb.
It makes an excellent in the evening or in times of stress because of its mildly sedative and soothing properties. It is an excellent herb for children and can even be an effective remedy for pink eye.
Chamomile can be made into a tincture for a more potent effect and to extend shelf life.


Mint tea is probably second to Chamomile in popularity among herbal teas. Peppermint tea soothes the digestive track and is helpful for heartburn, nausea and indigestion. I drink it daily in early pregnancy to help alleviate nausea and use it in a homemade digestive tincture.
While it is especially helpful during illness, Peppermint is a delicious tea anytime and can be consumed alone or with other herbs to help increase their effectiveness.

Raspberry Leaf

Raspberry leaf is my favorite tea and I drink it daily. It is highly nutritious and especially beneficial for women as it helps balance hormones and is good for the skin. It is often consumed during pregnancy as it can strengthen the uterus and is a good source of Magnesium, Potassium and B-Vitamins (all important during pregnancy).
Raspberry Leaf Tea has a taste similar to regular black tea and can be combined with Stevia leaf to make a naturally sweet tea. I drink it hot in the winer and cold during the summer months and my kids like it iced (and sometimes with chia seeds in it).  Herbalists often recommend Raspberry Leaf tea or tincture to women suffering from infertility, PCOS, endometriosis or painful menses.

Sleep Easy Blend

My go-to tea when I am having trouble sleeping is an equal mixture of Chamomile, Mint and Catnip herbs. Catnip has natural relaxing and soothing properties. It is one of the ingredients in my Sweet Dreams Sleep Tincture, which is great at helping kids relax and sleep better, especially during illness.
I mix a teaspoon each of ChamomileMint and Catnip herbs in a glass of water for a relaxing nighttime tea that is also great during illness. This same mixture can be used to fill a homemade eye pillow to aid in sleep as well.

Lavender Tea

Lavender is my favorite scent and essential oil but it is too strong to be used alone in a tea. My favorite Lavender Tea recipe is:
Mix all and store in an air-tight container. Use 1-2 tsp per cup of water to make hot or iced tea.

Chai Tea

Chai tea is a favorite around our house and we usually make it with Raspberry Leaf tea instead of black tea and with coconut milk instead of regular milk. There are many variations of chai tea recipes and with a little experimenting, you can find the one that you like best. Here is my basic recipe to give you some ideas.
When I don’t feel like making my own, I love this caffeine free Firefly Chai that is slightly sweeter than regular Chai and is great for nighttime. If you add a little chamomile and catnip to it, it is a delicious evening drink for kids.

Herbal Coffee

Have trouble kicking the coffee habit? While I still love coffee once in a while, an herbal coffee is a great alternative without the caffeine. My favorite one packs a powerful nutritional punch too with Maca powder and dandelion root!

Stomach Soother

For stomach aches or for those prone to digestive troubles, this tea is very calming. The recipe is also very easy:
  • 2 teaspoons mint leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • Pinch of dried ginger (optional)
Pour 1 cup of boiling water over it, steep, covered for 5 minutes and consume. You can also add some grass-fed gelatin powder (about a tablespoon) for a long-lasting soothing effect.


During pregnancy I drink a special tea that helps keep nausea and digestive troubles at bay and also helps strengthen the uterus. The nettle also provides Vitamin K, an essential nutrient for pregnancy and birth to help with clotting.
Many women report having easier and faster labors from using this tea, though my labors are typically 24+ hours even though I go natural, so I may not be the best example! This tea is delicious anytime, but especially during pregnancy.
What you need:
Mix and use 1 tablespoon to brew by the glass or 1 cup to brew by the gallon. Add more or less Stevia to taste. Enjoy!

Kombucha Tea

This herbal tea is consumed cold and requires a culture to make but it is packed with vitamins and probiotics. It is made with regular black tea, though I’m experimenting with making it with coffee as well. Kombucha is a slightly sweet, slightly tangy drink that can be made fizzy like soda if a secondary fermentation is done.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Sleeping Your Way to the Top

Okay, this isn't exactly breaking news -- it's from a 1993 paper that I was reading today for an article I'm working on. It shows the sleep patterns of three groups of violinists from the Music Academy of West Berlin: one group of students with exceptional promise for a solo career, another of "good" students, and a third group of violinists who were going to become music teachers (presumably because they weren't good enough to become soloists):
The paper is famous because it's one of the first to introduce Anders Ericsson's concept of "deliberate practice" and what has become known as the 10,000-hour rule. (The "best" students, along with a control group of actual professional soloists, are shown to have accumulated about 10,000 hours of deliberate practice by the age of 20, compared to about 8,000 hours for the "good" students and 5,000 hours for the teachers.)
But the sleep data is interesting too. You can see pretty clearly that the best students go to bed earlier on average, stay asleep longer, and take more afternoon naps. Here's what the authors of the paper say:
The high relevance of sleep for improving violin performance must be indirect and related to the need to recover from effortful activities such as practice.
In the context of sports, we take this for granted: physical training is tiring, and you have to recover from it. What this data reminds us that it's not just the physical exertion that tires us out. To become very good at something, you have to practice hard, and that processes is both physically and mentally exhausting. Getting adequate sleep isn't a luxury; it's a choice you make if you want to be at your best.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Clearing up Kidney Confusion

If I wanted to cut to the chase I could boil this whole thing down to the following:

2-Chronically elevated BLOOD GLUCOSE levels DO cause kidney damage.
3-Dietary fructose REALLY causes kidney damage.
4-Many kidney issues have either a hyperinsulinemic characteristic, an autoimmune characteristic, and or a combination of autoimmunity or hyperinsulinism. A standard, low-ish carb paleo diet can fix most of these issues.
5-For serious kidney damage a low-protein, ketogenic diet can be remarkably therapeutic.
6-If you get kidney stones that are from oxalates, reduce your green veggie intake (spinach for example) and have other types of veggies.
7-If you get kidney stones that are from urate salts, you are likely NOT following a low-ish carb paleo diet, you likely have insulin resistance and your liver is not processing uric acid.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Eat A High-Protein, Low-Carb Breakfast for Weight Loss: Lifestyle Tips for A Better Body Composition

Eat a high-protein, low-carb breakfast that includes veggies or fruit to lose weight and feel good. The Poliquin Meat and Nut Breakfast is one lifestyle strategy that will help you achieve the best body composition, and two new studies point to additional tips that will help you get lean and feel better.

A study in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that college students who skipped breakfast and ate their first meal at lunch consumed significantly more high-calorie, high-carb foods than students who had eaten breakfast. The students started their meals with high-carb foods 75 percent of the time if they had skipped breakfast compared to only 44 percent of the time if they had eaten breakfast. More importantly, if they started eating a high-carb food first (dinner rolls or French fries), they consumed nearly 50 percent more calories of that type of food.

 In fact, the food that all participants (those who ate breakfast and those who skipped breakfast) ate first at lunch ended up being the food they ate the most of, meaning that those who started with vegetables ate more veggies overall, which translated into fewer calories and a lower glycemic response. Protein would have the same low-glycemic benefit, but it will provide more calories than veggies.

The lifestyle take away from this is that to lose fat and feel better, you should always eat a high-protein, low-carb breakfast, and always start your meal by eating low-glycemic vegetables. For best results, completely avoid high-glycemic carbs, but at the very least, don’t take a bite of a high-glycemic carb such as bread or French fries until you’ve already eaten some vegetables and some protein.

A second new study identified the lifestyle behaviors that are most effective at producing weight loss in women during a 12-month study. Results showed that the following practices were most effective:
•    Women who combined diet modification with exercise lost more weight (11.6 percent of body weight) than those who modified their diets (9.6 percent loss of body weight).
•    Women who did food journals lost 6 pounds more than those who did not.
•    Women who didn’t skip meals lost 8 pounds more than those who did skip meals. Breakfast was the most often skipped meal.
•    Women who ate out less often (less than once a week) lost 5 pounds more than those who ate out at least once a week.

The strategies of doing a food journal, eating breakfast and not skipping meals, and not eating out were all much more effective than the most commonly used strategy of trying to restrict calories. Those three strategies were also much more effective than restricting fat, regular fasting, or regularly weighing oneself.

The lifestyle take away from this is that aside from always eating a high-protein, low-carb breakfast (think Poliquin Meat and Nut Breakfast!), you should consider doing a food journal to keep track of and face up to what you are actually eating.

You have complete control over what you put in your mouth and a food journal is a way to take that control. Obviously, avoid eating out as much as possible since you have much less control over how food is prepared even if there are adequate high-protein, low-carb options.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Rowers lose their senses during races

LONDON – Olympic athletes routinely go to extraordinary levels of sacrifice in pursuit of their competitive dreams, but few endure a greater level of suffering than those in the rowing events.
Olympic legend Matthew Pinsent, who retired after winning the last of his four gold medals for Great Britain at the Athens Games in 2004, revealed how it is not uncommon for rowers' senses, such as their hearing and even their vision, to shut down during a race due to the physical side effects of the sport's torturous test of spirit.
"Towards the end, everything starts to go a bit weird," Pinsent said. "It all starts to go. Your senses are not in control anymore and they start to leave you. The hearing will go, the vision goes out of synch, there isn't much left.
"Your body starts to close down anything it doesn't need at that moment. It prioritizes to the parts of the body that are in trouble, like your muscles suffering the agony of the row."

Rowing, known as crew in American high school and college circles, is undoubtedly one of the toughest events of the Olympic Games. Races are held over 2000 meters and have been described as a "six-minute sprint" that leads to huge lactic acid build-up.
Athletes have been known to suffer from memory loss. The sight of an Olympian throwing up over the side of the boat after a race is not uncommon.
Pinsent described how it takes a few moments for the initial pain to set in, but once it does, the remainder of a race is nothing but punishment for the competitors.
"It won't happen in the first few seconds, even sprinting away from the blocks," Pinsent said. "Our body doesn't register the pain problem for 20 seconds and even then it only starts to really burn after 40. The lactate kicks in after about a minute and stays there, tearing at your muscles and mind for the rest of the race.
      "The only way to relieve the pain is to stop and that's not going to happen."

Friday, August 3, 2012

Reasons Not to Skip Leg Day

Weak Legs are a Pain in the Back

Proper posture is often thought of as a spinal issue, but these issues start at the feet.  A tree is only as strong as the roots and stalk holding it up.  Here is just one of many common tales of poor lower body training working it’s way up. Weak glutes put more work on the lower back and hamstrings, leading to tight hip flexors that pull on the lumbar spine, creating an anterior pelvic tilt, protruding the abdomen, adding further pressure on the back , this of course doesn’t matter because the excess pressure on the abdominal wall is transferred to the kidneys, increasing blood pressure and decreasing blood flow.

More Fat Loss

The exercises that exert the most physiological benefits for fat loss are Squats, Deadlifts, Step-ups, and their many variations.  The large muscles in the lower body burn more calories, create more lactic acid, and ultimately lead to a greater fat loss effect.  If you are going to depend on your bicep curls, tricep pushdowns and crunches to get you that six pack, you will be waiting a very long time.  You wouldn’t try towing a boat with a moped.  Don’t try burning fat without breaking out the big guns, which in this case are your quads, hamstrings, and glutes.

Bigger, Faster, Stronger

Not only are lower body exercises better for creating the hormones the help you lose fat, but performed in a the proper variables also create more of the anabolic hormones for building muscles and increasing strength.  Heavy squatting alone will not increase your bench press, but if you do squats and bench press, you will increase your bench press faster than a guy doing leg extensions or treadmill sessions.  Ladies should not be afraid of these exercises either.  You wont get a masculine physique from these exercises, you will get a proper set of legs for conquering that bikini everyone wishes they could wear at the beach and the strength to wear it with pride.

Quality of Life

Quality of life is perhaps one of the most important reasons to exercise.  Mobility impacts quality of life greatly as you age.  Proper lower body training helps maintain flexibility, strength, and mobility.  Being able to do the things you love doing long into you later years is much more likely when you have taken care of your legs with proper training.  If that’s not reason enough, maybe you would just like to prevent social mockery.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Weight Loss: It’s About Food, Not Exercise, Say 2 New Studies

Are you frustrated that despite your strict exercise regimen you are not losing weight? Are you running 5 times a week and disappointed to see the pounds dropping off much more slowly than your calculations predict?
You may want to take comfort in 2 recently published studies that show that weight loss is more about calorie intake reduction that it is about calorie expenditure through exercise. Won’t that disappoint some mega food corps.
The first study compared the metabolism of hunter gatherers, the Hadza of Tanzania, with people living a more modern lifestyle. Turns out that despite covering 7 miles of walking a day, the energy expenditure of an average tribesman was not that different than that of a westerner! Energy expenditure is a synonym for metabolic rate, or calories burnt. According to the researchers:
human daily energy expenditure may be an evolved physiological trait largely independent of cultural differences.
Study number two refutes the common belief that the more we exercise and lose weight, the faster our metabolism. The truth is actually the opposite. The less we weigh, the less energy we require and the less energy we expend while resting.
One of the few studies ever to have scrupulously monitored exercise, food intake and metabolic rates found that volunteers’ basal metabolic rates dropped as they lost weight, even though they exercised every day. As a result, although they were burning up to 500 calories during an exercise session, their total daily caloric burn was lower than it would have been had their metabolism remained unchanged, and they lost less weight than had been expected. read more from the New York Times…
This means your personal weight loss calculations need to be dynamic and updated each time you lose a few pounds.
That said, you should not abandon exercise. Working out, even it won’t help you lose weight, is healthy for you heart, increases your muscle mass, helps with flexibility, and helps you to sleep better. Not to mention that it can be fun.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Shakes, Bars, Pills and Potions: My Take on Meal Replacement Products

     Muscle Milk, AdvoCare, Isagenix, Shakeology, Body By Vi, MetRX, MetaboLife, HerbaLife, Slim Fast, EAS…every fitness professional seems to either have their own line of meal replacement products, or be part of a supplement and meal replacement Multi-Level Marketing company. Type the term ‘weight loss’ into google and you’ll be served hundreds of websites hawking all kinds of shakes and potions promising quick weight loss, faster muscle building, improved health and even income opportunities. It’s obviously a HUGE industry, and people are buying it up to the tune of billions of dollars a year in the US alone.

    The first thing everyone needs to understand about meal replacement products and other supplements is that they are the big moneymakers in the fitness/weight loss industry. That’s why everyone is selling them. They’re inexpensive to make, require very little time and energy investment by the seller, and appeal to human nature’s desire for immediate gratification. In other words, they’re an easy sell, especially to a demographic that is desperate for a magic pill.

There’s very little difference from brand to brand. Some make claims of using higher quality or ‘natural’ ingredients (the term ‘natural’ is totally unregulated and can mean pretty much anything the marketer decides they want it to mean), others cite studies that show their product outperformed similar products (generally funded by the manufacturer of the product), there are minor differences in macro and micronutrient profiles from brand to brand. Overall however, most meal replacement products are more alike than they are different.

       So what’s my opinion? It’s no secret that I believe we should be getting our nutrition from real, whole foods. However, meal replacement products DO offer a measure of convenience that can’t be denied. Running around all day and don’t have the time to sit down to a full meal? A meal replacement shake or bar can come in handy here, to give you the calories and macronutrients of a full meal in a convenient and portable package. Maybe you’re having trouble getting enough protein through food alone. A protein shake can help you meet your protein requirements while you’re working on getting your diet dialed in. So meal replacement products can be useful tools to take advantage of when you can’t get what you need from food for one reason or another.

 Read More