Monday, December 31, 2012

Top 7 Alkalizing Foods


What pH Should Our Bodies Have? How Much Alkalizing is Needed?

In order for our bodies to maintain the best living environment , the optimal level is close to 7.4. This is at a slightly alkalizing state. Although, 7.36 to 7.44 is also an acceptable range.
In order for blood to effectively, act as a medium for oxygen and other vital nutrients, the pH needs to be close to this specific range. Deviations too far in either over direction of alkalizing or being too acidic can be harmful. However, typically due to the average American diet most individuals are overly acidic and are not concerned or aware of the importance of alkalizing. Really, a balance of these two ends of spectrum (alkalizing and acidic) is key!
Our bodies contain alkaline reserves and will fight to re-balance any deviations of fluctuating levels.  However, the reserves are limited and in order to keep them intact it is important to eat the right kinds of foods which are alkalizing. The excess of the alkali from the alkalizing foods can be stored to neutralize acids in the future.

Why Do People Become Overly Acidic?

Well, it’s not just diet that causes an imbalance and a need for alkalizing.  Even though most tissues in our body are alkaline in nature, our bodies creates acid which needs to be neutralized. This occurs from using muscles, breathing, and digesting certain foods.

Problems with Being too Acidic

Most individuals in the US do not eat diets that are alkalizing, instead they eat deadly diets high in conventional produced animal products, grains, refined foods, processed foods, carbohydrates, and sugars. Diets containing these foods can produce about 100mEq of acid per day. This amount of acid is nearly twice what the body can handle. Without alkalizing the body needs to take vital minerals in order to neutralize the acid.

Why Alkalizing is Important!

Having too many acid-forming foods and not enough alkalizing foods can cause serious health consequences. When the body does not have sufficient alkalizing substances and is overly acidic, the body will take from the bones or vital tissues . This is very damaging and impairs the body’s ability to repair or detoxify and will cause a person to be more susceptible to disease and illness.
Having acidic conditions and not alkalizing can cause  negative effects such as: acne, headaches, joint pain, indigestion, low immune system, weak hair and nails, trouble losing weight, trouble gaining weight, and allergies.
There are also many more serious conditions which can occur from acidic conditions such as yeast and bacteria thriving in the digestive track, cancer cells thriving in acidic environments, yet have been shown to perish when alkalizing. All our organs and glands can be influenced by our pH level including; heart, lungs, liver, pancreas, thyroid, colon, kidneys, etc.

What foods are alkalizing?

Fresh vegetables and fruits are some of the most highly alkalizing to the body.

Top 7 Alkalizing foods:

Alkalizing #1 – Lemons – Lemons are one of the most alkalizing, a great way to start the day is with a glass of lukewarm water with a fresh squeezed lemon or lime.

Alkalizing #2- Leafy greens- Greens  such as: kale, swiss chard, spinach, and turnip greens are very alkalizing for your body and also are packed with rich vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals.

Alkalizing # 3- Root vegetables such as radishes (black, red or white), beets, rutabaga, horseradish, carrots, and turnips are all highly alkalizing.

Alkalizing # 4- Cucumbers and Celery – These are some of the most alkalizing foods you can eat. They quickly neutralize acids and aid in digestion.

Alkalizing # 5- Garlic -  Garlic is not only highly alkalizing it is also very important for overall health as it boosts the immune system, is antibacterial and anti-fungal. Raw garlic is even more beneficial, see my post on the importance of raw garlic in your diet.

Alkalizing # 6- Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, and cabbage.

Alkalizing # 7- Avocados – Are also at the top of the list of alkalizing foods. You can see my recent post on the health benefits of avocados and how to ripen avocados. Avocados contain high amounts of essential vitamins, fatty acids, and amino acids.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Is that a Yam or Sweet Potato? What’s the Difference?

Sweet Potato or Yam?
Do you find yourself using the terms sweet potato and yam interchangeably? Join the club…
What you need to know:
We’ll start with the bottom line. If you live in the US and buy your groceries in a supermarket, you are most likely buying sweet potatoes.
Yams and sweet potatoes are actually 2 different species of the angiosperm (flowering plant) family. According to the records of the Library of Congress:
Yams are a monocot (a plant having one embryonic seed leaf) and from the Dioscoreaceae or Yam family. Sweet Potatoes, often called ‘yams’, are a dicot (a plant having two embryonic seed leaves) and are from the Convolvulacea or morning glory family
Yams have their roots (pun intended) in Africa and Asia, where hundreds of varieties are cultivated and eaten as a staple. “Yam” means “to eat” in various African languages / dialects.
So how did sweet potatoes come to be called yams?
There are 2 major types of sweet potatoes in the US, the lighter colored more round variety, and the orange elongated variety. In colonial times, African slaves brought to the Americas mistakenly identified the latter as the “yam” from back home. Fast forward a few hundred years, the USDA decided to formally differentiate the 2 varieties of sweet potato by calling the darker orange ones yams, thus perpetuating the tradition from the late 17th century.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Naturally Whiten Teeth with These Home Remedies

  Why You Should Naturally Whiten Teeth  Although there are many options  to whiten teeth, all of the kits you can purchase over the counter are loaded with harmful chemicals. The chemical tooth whiteners typically contain coal tars, aspartame, aluminum, floride and benzene.  The over the counter bleaches also have a very high acidity and are very abrasive which can cause damage to teeth, tooth pain and/or sensitivity, and damage the enamel. Not only are these chemicals harmful to your teeth and gums, the toxic chemicals often leak from the trays or strips and are swallowed or absorbed. As a result of the dangerous side effects and hazards with over the counter whitening, many are now opting to choose methods to naturally whiten teeth.
The great news is that all of these ways to naturally whiten teeth include using all eatable foods! So you don’t have to worry about ingesting harmful chemicals.

I have used all of these methods to naturally whiten teeth at one time or another and have found that since most of these are included in my diet or what I use for oral hygiene,  my teeth have remained pretty white and I haven’t had to spend extra trying to whiten them. These ways to naturally whiten teeth can be used daily or weekly to keep your teeth nice and white.

1.Apples: Apples have natural astringents that can help whiten teeth. Apples also contain malic acid which helps dissolve stains.  To use it just slice an apple and rub the pieces on your teeth for a couple of minutes.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV): ACV can remove stains on the surface of teeth. TO use it, use a soft brush and crush teeth with it. Rise afterwards. ACV has been shown to be a very effective way of naturally whitening teeth, however, it may take a couple of weeks of consistent use to see results.
3. Strawberries: Strawberries also contain malic acid and can help remove stains and discolorations on teeth. You can crush the strawberries and brush teeth with them or add a pinch of baking soda and mix with strawberries. The mixture can be left on the teeth for up to 5 minutes.
4. Baking Soda: Baking soda is widely known for its uses for household cleaning and whitening. Baking soda is among the easiest and most efficient ways to naturally whiten teeth. Baking soda is slightly abrasive and helps remove stains on teeth. Simply just brush teeth with baking soda mixed with a little water to create a paste. Or you can use a mixture of baking soda and coconut oil. This is also a great homemade toothpaste. I use baking soda and coconut oil to brush my teeth every day.
5. Lemon or Orange Peels: Lemon and orange peels acid content can eliminate stains on the surface of teeth. However, this method of naturally whitening teeth should not be used daily as the acid content may eventually wear down the enamel. Lemon juice can also be combined with baking soda to naturally whiten teeth.
6. Oil Pulling: Oil pulling is an Ayurvedic technique which has been used to benefit oral health, prevent and treat cavities, reduce plaque, improve gums and even whiten teeth. Oil pulling is when you swish a spoonful of quality oil in your mouth for up to 15 minutes. Then rinse your mouth. Sesame oil or coconut oil can be used, just to name a few.
7. Drink with a Straw: This last method of naturally whitening teeth is more of preventative measure. Drinking through a straw can help you avoid many stains as teeth with have less contact with damaging drinks or substances. This can be very useful especially if you drink tea and/or coffee which can increases surface stains on teeth. You can find many options for glass and stainless steel straws online.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Simple Test Predicts Longevity

By Lisa Collier Cool

Don’t be surprised if your doctor asks you to sit on the floor at your next checkup. A new study says testing a person’s ability to sit down and then rise from the floor could provide useful insight into their overall health and longevity.
Brazilian researchers discovered an interesting link between a person’s ability to sit and rise from the floor and the risk of being 6.5 times more likely to die in the next six years. The study, published in the European Journal of Cardiovascular Prevention, included a simple test in which more than 2,000 people ages 51 to 80 attempted to sit down on the floor and then stand back up using as little support as possible.
Health Problems Cause by Stress/Anxiety

Floors are Replacing Chairs

Chairs used to be a helpful tool to measure a person’s strength and lower body fitness. Having a person stand up from a seated position helped doctors assess a person's overall frailty and also if he or she is likely to fall (and thereby at an increased risk of fracture). It also measured a person’s lower-body strength and agility.
But this new test has some real life applications.
Instead of simply gauging a person’s ability to get up off the couch, the sitting test helps identify risks associated with picking up vital items—such as medicine or eyeglasses—that may drop on the floor. It also can identify those at risk of spending hours (or longer) on the floor after a fall—unable to get up or call for help.
At-Home Remedies that Really Work

Aiming for a Perfect Score

The test used by the researchers required people to sit on the floor from a standing position and then return to a standing position. Speed wasn’t a factor in the scoring, but support was.
The more support a person required—including bracing with a hand or knee or both—the lower the score for each action. A perfect score of five for each action (sitting and standing) was the goal. Points and half points were deducted for things like touching a hand or knee on the ground or pushing off with a hand on one knee to stand up. Looking wobbly on the way up or down cost participants half a point.
More than half the participants ages 76 to 80 failed the tests, scoring 0 to 3. Not surprising around 70 percent of those under 60 earned a near perfect or perfect score of 8, 9, or 10.
Aspirin: The 2000-Year-Old Wonder Drug

Scores and Life Expectancy

People who scored 0 to 3 were 6.5 times more likely to die during the course of the 6.3 year study, compared to people who scored from 8 to 10. Those with scores of 3.5 to 5.5 were 3.8 times more likely to die as the high scorers—and those who scored in the 6 to 7.4 range were 1.8 times more likely to die than those with the highest scores.
During the course of the study 159 of the 2,000 volunteers died, with the majority of the deaths coming from the group that had the most trouble getting up and down.
“Just two subjects that scored 10 died in the follow-up of about six years,” said Claudio Gil Soares de Araújo, a professor at Gama Filho University in Rio de Janeiro who worked on the study. If someone between the ages of 51 and 80 scores 10, “the chances of being alive in the next six years are quite good,” he said.
“A 1-point increment in the [sitting-rising] score was related to a 21 percent reduction in mortality," reported the investigators who noted this is the first study to demonstrate the prognostic value of the sitting-rising test,” said Araújo.
7 Simple Ways to Manage Chronic Pain

It’s Not Just About Getting Up

The ease with which a person stands and sits clues doctors in to a person’s ratio of muscle power to body weight. But the researchers say there are other relevant issues. “It is well known that aerobic fitness is strongly related to survival, but our study also shows that maintaining high levels of body flexibility, muscle strength, power-to-body weight ratio, and coordination are not only good for performing daily activities but have a favorable influence on life expectancy,” said Araújo.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Gym Class 1962

The video below highlights an early physical education program from La Sierra High School in California. As you watch the clip, you may be surprised at the physical ability of the teenagers seen within. Many youngsters today are not aware of the tremendous physical strength that was often on display in previous generations. As I have said many times before, strength is not new.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Facts about Pain: Is your Diet Contributing to your Pain?

This topic is often overlooked in the medical community.  Diagnostic imaging provides great visualization of structural problems, medications help manage painful conditions, but how often do we consider that food might have an impact on how we feel physically?  We all know that we feel tired after we eat a large meal, or feel ‘lousy’ after a fatty or greasy meal; so why then do we often overlook the fact that food and nutrients may contribute to painful symptoms?    How does food contribute to the healing process?  While we don’t pretend to be nutrition experts, or advocating any particular diet (though we certainly have our opinions),  please note that we simply hope to point out common themes with foods and nutrients and how they contribute to the perception of pain.

1) Inflammation or Pain is Driven by the Immune System.

2) Inflammation is the immune system doing its job; This is your body’s attempt to stop injury and initiate recovery.

3) 70% of the cells of the immune system operate in the gut!

4) Food can cause an immune system response. Food allergies can reinforce a chronic immune system response. There is a reason certain foods ‘upset our stomachs’

5) Elimination of certain foods can help your food! Corn, eggs, dairy, soy, sugar, wheat, yeast are all common food allergens.  Think this might be you?  Try eliminating one of these for a few days and see if your symptoms change!

6) Bacteria that live in the GI system can be a source of inflammation. This can be from food, viruses, repeated antibiotics. Probiotics are found in yogurts and certain vegetables and fruits.

7) Omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) are well documented to have anti-inflammatory properties. These foods include: fish, flaxseed, walnuts.

8) Omega-6 fatty acids can create systemic inflammation. These foods include: breads, pastas, corn syrup, seed/vegetable oils. Typical Western diets have an Omega-6 to Omega 3 ratio of over 30:1!

9) Free radicals are naturally occurring, highly reactive molecules that play an essential role in cellular repair and immune system response. Free radicals work to break down cells. Tissue damage, injury, immune responses, pollution, and pesticides can all create free radicals.

10) Antioxidants can help control free radicals and control pain. This is found in fruits; particularly in cherry juice concentrate and blueberries!

11) Vitamins and supplements are ok, but real food is best. Vegetables, fruit and healthy meats will win EVERY time.

12) As with much of the nutrition world, there is tons of other information out there on this topic…some good, some bad.  Consult with a qualified professional for more advice.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Luncheon Meats, Ranked

by Joe MacLeod
24. Bologna
23. Head cheese
22. Swiss cheese
18. (tie) Olive loaf
18. (tie) Pickle-and-pimento loaf
18. (tie) Dutch loaf
18. (tie) Chicken loaf
17. Sopressata
16. Chicken breast
15. Boiled ham
14. Genoa salami
13. Smoked turkey
12. Turkey
11. Liverwurst
10. Braunschweiger
9. Hard salami
8. Virginia baked ham
7. Imported ham
6. Tongue
5. Mortadella
4. Smoked ham
3. Rare roast beef
2. Capicola
1. Prosciutto

Monday, December 24, 2012

How To Get Race Ready In 4 Weeks

Whether you were battling an early season injury or simply slacked on your training, you now find yourself one month away from a race you signed up for a while ago. The problem is that you are nowhere near race-shape. Can you make it to the starting line and walk away with a respectable showing?
The short answer is yes, and even though you may be in for a ruder awaking than some of your cross-training counterparts, there is still an available means to perform your best and achieve what is realistically possible on the day. Regardless of your circumstances for falling behind on training, you can still salvage a good race by making the best use of your workouts over an abbreviated period.

Being honest with yourself is the key to setting obtainable race goals, proper workout paces and ensuring that you increase training volume smartly to avoid getting hurt before race day. “My advice with only four weeks to go is to not over-commit on the training. I know it is tempting for people to ‘cram’ but running a race is not like writing an exam,” explains professional runner and coach, Malindi Elmore. “It needs to be a mind-set of working with your body and maximizing advantages.”
A runner who was injured but diligent in their cross-training has a far different prospectus than the runner struck with slacker-syndrome. For the former, the outlook can be rather bright. “After working hard in the gym cross-training, this athlete could expect to really run well and get close to top form,” says coach Alicia Shay. “It might not be a PR [but] there is a potential that they could take a swing at their best time if they transition well from cross-training to running workouts.”
A runner going from little training to guns blazing shouldn’t expect a personal best but, “They could expect to gain a decent amount of fitness before race day,” explains Shay. Perhaps you’ve consistently been running but haven’t done structured workouts or aren’t quite race-day sharp. “It would be difficult to run a PR off only four weeks of working out but this runner could build fitness quickly and expect to run a solid race.”
Keep the momentum going and a personal best might be in sight with only a few more weeks of focused workouts.

Key Workouts and Training Volume

  • Threshold Workouts: “Basically, threshold workouts will get you more bang for your buck in terms of fitness without beating up the body muscularly and systemically,” says Shay. Aim for 2-3 of these workouts in the early weeks to build your base.
  • Race Paced Workouts: “Integrate 3-4 race-pace specific workouts with plenty of rest so that your body can adjust to the running goal race-pace,” explains Shay.
  • Below Race-Pace: True speed sessions are incredibly taxing, and with only four weeks until race day it’s safer to do sets of strides. “3 sets of strides per week of 6-8 x 20-30 seconds,” suggests Shay. You don’t want them all-out, but rather getting a faster turnover while staying controlled.
  • Volume: Building mileage isn’t as important as focusing on quality workouts with only four weeks to go until your race. “I recommend increasing volume week 1, no more than 5 to 10 percent of previous mileage or minutes cross-training, holding steady week 2, decreasing 5 to 10 percent week 3 and then decreasing 20 to 30 percent week 4 leading into the race,” says Shay. If you haven’t been doing many miles prior, stick with a number that you’ve safely handled in the past and ‘spend’ your miles on the quality runs rather than easy ones.
Predicting Your Showing
You’ve put in the work, race day is nearing, and you’d like a gauge on what to expect time-wise. “A good prediction of what your goal race-pace should be is the pace that you can maintain for a set of [four to six] 1,000 or 1,200 meters repeats with 2-3 minutes recovery. For a 5K, race pace will probably be slightly faster and for a 10K it will be slightly slower,” explains Shay. The time to do this would be your last quality session in week 3.

Then, use your last quality session in week 4 to prime you for the race. “The key is to get to know the pace — not to get a hard workout in…most people start their races too fast and positive split and the last workout is meant to teach the body the appropriate pace for an even-paced race at goal time,” says Elmore.
If you’re tight on training time, having a solid race and potentially even a great race, is well within your reach.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Micro flora balance is key to health

by: Dr. David Jockers

NaturalNews) The digestive tract is loaded with trillions of microorganisms that form a natural ecosystem commonly called the gut flora. Certain lifestyle stressors throw off the natural symbiosis and cause a rise in pathogenic microbes, chronic gut inflammation and damage to the gut lining. Healthy micro flora balance is a key health essential.

The beneficial micro flora digest our food and produce enzymes that metabolize protein into absorbable amino acids. These key enzymes also transport key vitamins, minerals and other nutrients through the intestinal wall and into the blood stream where they are effectively carried to cells that are in need of these nutrient packages.

These beneficial species also help the body produce and metabolize vitamin K2, B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, folic acid and pantothenic acid. Without adequate microflora production, the body will suffer from poor calcium metabolism, neuromuscular function and chronic inflammatory conditions due to deficiencies in these very important nutrients.

Two arms of the gut flora

The gut flora has two major arms. The first arm senses our environment by reading the environmental toxins that are coming into the body. When environmental factors such as dust, chemicals, animal hair and pollen fall on the mucous membranes, the progenic bacteria sense and react to them. The second arm is responsible for immune activation and inflammatory based reactions.

When the first arm is damaged, the second arm begins to become hyperactive which leads to autoimmune reactions. Depending upon the genetic tendencies of the individual, this can result in asthma, allergies, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Hashimoto's or Graves thyroiditis, fibromyalgia, Crohn's disease, etc.

Contaminants destroy gut flora balance

Antibiotics are the most lethal thing for our microbial balance. After a round of antibiotics it will take at least four to eight weeks to reestablish the gut. This time period is an opportunistic window for parasites to establish themselves on the gut wall. Eating conventional meat, dairy and poultry products can be as dangerous as taking antibiotic prescriptions due to the amount of antibiotics present in these products.

Foods high in sugar and processed carbohydrates increase the number and variety of different strains of Candida in the body. These foods also promote the growth of parasitic worms in the gut environment.

Medications of all types including contraception pills and corticosteroids are extremely hazardous to the gut flora. Dental fluoride treatments and fluoride based toothpaste are damaging to the microbial balance. Chlorinated water is particularly dangerous as it sterilizes our gut and repeated exposure destroys the progenic bacteria in the gut.

A diet high in fermented veggies and drinks such as coconut water kefir, ginger beer, raw sauerkraut, kombucha and kimchi help restore microbial balance. Fermented, raw dairy from 100 percent organic, grass-fed cows and goats is outstanding for gut health. This would include amasai, raw cheese and fermented whey. These are some of the best probiotic carriers and have been used for thousands of years by healthy cultures all over the world.

The rest of the diet should be rich in good fats such as coconut, avocados, olive oil and sprouted nuts and seeds. Clean animal foods such as grass-fed beef, organic poultry and eggs are highly recommended. Probiotic supplements are especially important to speed up the restoration of the gut flora and maintain balance afterwards.

Intermittent fasting for periods of 12 to 24 hours daily can be especially beneficial for regulating the gut flora. These fasting periods should include lots of fluids and fermented drinks that bring enzymes, probiotics and organic acids into the gut environment. Longer cleansing periods with fermented drinks are recommended from time to time.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Epsom Salt Baths: An Old-School Way to Feel Better Fast?

Do Epsom Salt Baths Help Us Detox?

At the surface, it didn’t make much sense to me how these baths would help detox. Then I started learning about Sulfur.  Sulfur is the 8th most common element in the human body by mass (4).  It’s used in every area of the body in one way or another.  Here’s a brief overview:
  • Sulfate is needed for proper pancreatic enzyme action
  • Sulfate is essential at forming the mucin proteins that line the gut walls
  • Sulfur containing compounds are a very important part of Phase 2 detox in the liver
  • Sulfate is necessary for the formation of brain tissue and proper neurotransmitter function
  • Sulfate is needed for proper joint lubrication and function
This isn’t going to be an in-depth talk on Sulfur, but I just want to highlight some point’s readers of this blog probably care deeply about.  Bad digestion, detox, bad brain status and hurting joints are all things many of us struggle with.  And it turns out; Sulfur plays a major role in all of these.
Interesting to note: there are 3 ways to get more sulfates into your body.  Eating it, absorbing it through the skin, or creating it from methionine and cysteine.  The problem is: the ability to absorb it from eating sulfur containing foods is very inefficient (5).  And if you have IBD or any gut dysbiosis,  it’s likely even worse (6).
 Read More

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Ibuprofen and Exercise a Bad Mix?

Take this for what it is worth. I'm not sure if the same results found with bikers and marathoners would be similar in resistance training. I have used Ibuprofen as well as other NSAIDS over the years and still do from time to time, although less now that I train to train and not to compete. I remember Lyn Jones, former coach for Team USA Weightlifting as well as Team Australia telling me that any serious lifter needs anti-inflammatories "and not the kind you give your Grandmother for arthritis". Anybody who lifts hard and heavy for any length of time will eventually become familiar with "cumulative microtrauma". That is a word that I heard, but never understood until about the age of 40. Then I began to appreciate it's meaning.

Personally I would not advise using NSAIDs (or any other substance) in order to work through a real injury. I have to admit that I have tried that too, and it is a dead end road. It leaves you with long term or even permanent damage. However using a little ibuprofen, naprosin, or even aspirin over the years to take the edge off of soreness has not had any lasting negative side effects that I can discern. Be smart and keep the dosages and length of use within reasonable limits. Don't make your recovery plan revolve around the pills. Learn to use ice, massage, contrast baths or showers, and foam rollers as well.  Eat healthy and drink a lot of water.

For years, athletes have turned to ibuprofen as a pain reliever to combat muscle soreness, with some even taking the drug before exercise as a preemptive strike against tissue inflammation. However, in a new study published in the December issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, researchers at Maastricht University in the Netherlands report that taking ibuprofen and similar anti-inflammatory painkillers before a workout yields no benefit, and instead may cause temporary intestinal damage. For the study, researchers tested nine healthy, active men four times at Maastricht's human performance lab. According to the New York Times: During two of the visits, the men rested languorously for an hour, although before one of the visits, they swallowed 400 milligrams of ibuprofen the night before and also the morning of their trip to the lab. (Four hundred milligrams is the recommended non-prescription dosage for adults using the drug to treat headaches or other minor pain.) During the remaining visits, the men briskly rode stationary bicycles for that same hour. Before one of those rides, though, they again took 400 milligrams of ibuprofen the night before and the morning of their workout. At the end of each rest or ride, researchers drew blood to check whether the men's small intestines were leaking. Kim van Wijck, MD, a surgical resident at Orbis Medical Center in the Netherlands who led the study, says the post-workout and post-rest checkups found that blood levels of a protein indicating intestinal leakage were much higher when bike riding was combined with ibuprofen than when the test subjects rode without the drug or took it without exercising. The testing also revealed that the protein levels remained elevated several hours after exercise and ibuprofen consumption. The findings support similar results from a 2006 study conducted by researchers from Appalachian State University. In this study, researchers found that runners at the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run who were regular ibuprofen users had small amounts of colonic bacteria in their bloodstream post-race. Ironically, this bacterial incursion resulted in "higher levels of systemic inflammation," David C. Nieman, a Professor of Health and Exercise Science at Appalachian State University, and who conducted the study, told The New York Times. According to Nieman, an ultramarathoner himself, the runners who frequently used ibuprofen ended the race with higher overall levels of bodily inflammation after the race. They also reported the same amount of post-race soreness as runners who had not taken ibuprofen beforehand. Nieman says based on the findings from these studies, athletes should reconsider taking anti-inflammatory painkillers, including ibuprofen and aspirin, before and during exercise. "The idea is just entrenched in the athletic community that ibuprofen will help you to train better and harder," Dr. Nieman told The New York Times. "But that belief is simply not true. There is no scientifically valid reason to use ibuprofen before exercise and many reasons to avoid it." According to the Times, van Wijck agrees. "We do not yet know what the long-term consequences are" of regularly mixing exercise and ibuprofen, she said. But it is clear that "ibuprofen consumption by athletes is not harmless and should be strongly discouraged."

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Five Fundamentals of Training

This is the time of year when most endurance athletes are starting to think about and perhaps even plan for the coming season. That makes it a good time to remember what’s most important when it comes to training for peak performance – the basics. Here are five fundamentals I frequently remind myself of when designing a training plan. There are certainly more than five concerns, but I believe these are the most basic. I’ve linked each of them to a previous, more expanded discussion in case you want to learn more.

1. Train with moderation. Frequently doing extreme workouts that leave you tired for two or more or days afterward do more harm than good. If you’re not recovered from most of your training sessions within 48 hours of their completion then you’re not training with moderation. This will eventually catch up with you. Over the long term, the body responds best when the adaptive changes required are slight. This is not to say you should never do extremely hard workouts. In fact, it’s been shown that a block of several days of pushing one’s limits results in a greatly increased level of fitness once adequate recovery has also had time to remove the resulting fatigue. In my Training Bible books  I call this “crash” training. For most athletes this should not be done more frequently than once every six weeks.

2. Train consistently.  If you follow the first fundamental in your training then this one probably won’t require anything more of you. It will more than likely take care of itself. Moderation usually results in consistent training. That means you don’t miss workouts. In training, zero is a big number. If you have a lot of them in your training log then you are giving away hard-earned fitness. Sometimes zeroes simply can’t be avoided. With the holiday season now in full swing it’s likely you’ll miss a workout or two. The good news is that it’s probably several weeks until your first A-priority race of 2013. Zeroes in the last 12 weeks prior to your race significantly degrade performance.

3. Make workouts increasingly like the race. As the training year progresses your workouts should become increasingly like whatever it is you are training for. What you’ve done in the last six weeks of build period training before the race has a greater impact on how well you will perform on race day than what you did in the first six weeks of base period training. If those last six weeks were devoted to race-like sessions then you will be ready to race well. If the workouts were unlike the race then you are giving away performance. That seems apparent to most athletes and yet this time of year I read of a lot of athletes following what they call a “reverse” periodization plan. What this means is that their workouts are race-like in the base period but not like the race at all in the build period – training becomes less like the race as the season progresses. It’s reversed. That’s what true reverse periodization would be (periodization is correctly based on what you are training for, not the modulation of absolute intensity and duration). What I think most of them mean is that they are training with high intensity now and will do more miles later in the year. For events like an Ironman that is not reversed at all. That’s becoming more race-like. But for a cyclist who does crits that could be disastrous at the first race. Lots of miles done slowly in the last few weeks before such a short, high-intensity race is a sure way to race poorly.

4. Intensity is the key. Sports science hasn’t been around very long as compared with the other sciences. There are only a few things we have definitively learned from it about training. Perhaps the most common lesson is that the key to performance is how you modulate the intensity (power, pace, speed, effort, heart rate) of training. Performance is not dependent on how many miles or hours you do in a week - volume. Unfortunately, most athletes seem to think volume is the Holy Grail. For the experienced and serious athlete, in their order of importance, the keys to performance are 1) race-like workout intensity, 2) race-like workout duration, and 3) weekly volume. In fact, #3 is a distant third. I think the reason volume is so revered by athletes is that it’s easy to measure. Just add up the daily miles. Intensity, on the other hand, is hard to quantify. Now I should point out that this holds true only for the experienced and serious athlete – those who have been training with a performance focus for three or more years. Novices do benefit remarkably by focusing on duration and training frequency (volume). That’s because any intensity – including very low – will prove beneficial for them. They just need to get to the finish line.

5. Rest when needed. If you employ an appropriate training load you will frequently need to reduce the stress of training in order for your body to recover and adapt. Continued stress without rest eventually results in a breakdown of some sort – overtraining, illness, injury, or mental burnout. How often you recover and what exactly you do to enhance recovery is an individual matter. Some athletes recover quickly, others slowly. Some recover with light exercise; others need a day off. So there is no set pattern that all of us should follow. For some the best plan is to have no plan – recovery on demand. Recover when your body says it’s time and until it’s ready to go again. Unfortunately, many athletes are extremely poor at listening to their bodies and are likely to disregard the common indicators of fatigue thus pressing ahead in order to get their weekly miles number in the training log. These folks need a plan for when to rest. Such a plan should include weekly, monthly, and annual rest periods.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Early Warning of Overtraining

Do athletes who push themselves too hard become "overtrained," or do they just get really, really tired? This is a longstanding topic of debate among coaches and physiologists, who have been searching for some quantifiable way to diagnose the warning signs of the sort of prolonged funk that sometimes sidelines endurance athletes for months. Most recently, a group of French researchers ran an interesting study, whose results were just posted online in the Journal of Applied Physiology.

The study recruited 24 highly trained triathletes, and divided them into two groups. For three weeks, both groups performed their normal levels of training. Then for one week, they cut back their training by 50%. Then for another three weeks, one group resumed their normal training, while the other increased their training to about 140% of normal levels to induce "overreaching" (the excessive fatigue that is generally thought to precede full-on overtraining, but may also stimulate big fitness gains). Before and after the second three-week block, the athletes completed a maximal running test (laps around a track with the speed increasing every three minutes to exhaustion), while having a whole bunch of measurements performed on them -- blood tests every three minutes, force-plate and video analysis of their biomechanics every lap, oxygen intake measured through a mask, completing periodic cognitive tests during the second part of the test, etc., etc.
Here's what the researchers found:

A discriminant analysis showed that the changes of eight parameters measured during a maximal incremental test could explain 98.2% of the [overreaching] state (lactataemia, heart rate, biomechanical parameters and effort perception). Variations in heart rate and lactataemia were the two most discriminating factors.

To be precise, what they found was that lactate levels and heart rate were both much lower than expected in the overtrained athletes for any given level of effort, including at lactate threshold. Their bodies simply weren't willing/able to push as hard. This fits with a theory that overtraining involves a suppression of the sympathetic (fight-or-flight) nervous system, though not all studies support this idea.
Anyway, the question is: will this be a useful way for athletes to catch the signs of overtraining? The problem is that, in order for this particular protocol to work, you'd have to perform regular maximal tests and then look for unexpected deviations. It's not out of the question, but I think you'd have a hard time convincing many athletes to insert such a hard effort in at regular enough intervals to be useful.
I'm inclined to think that submaximal protocols have a more realistic chance of being adopted -- like the Lamberts and Lambert Submaximal Cycle Test that I blogged about a few years ago, which essentially involves a 15-minute warm-up protocol at fixed heart-rate levels. You do it before hard workouts, and the results help you distinguish between acute fatigue (from the previous few days, in which case you're free to go ahead and hammer your workout) and chronic fatigue (in which case you're better to back off and let your body recover). The protocol is designed for cycling, but I imagine that similar ideas could be adapted for other activities like running.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Party Tricks with Fascia


One of the most effective ways to demonstrate an intervention is a before and after, a test and retest. A great party trick, and way to demonstrate the connectedness nature of fascia is to try and touch your toes. Then spend a couple minutes rolling out your arches and bottom of your feet with a golf ball. Again, try and touch your toes and see how much further you can reach.

TIME = posterior muscles

The increased range of motion occurs because you have  released and lengthened the plantar fascia. This fascia is first part of the superficial back line (SBL) outlined by Thomas Myers in his book, Anatomy Trains. As discussed last week, anatomy trains are the lines of bone and connective tissue running throughout the body (see Sparta Point 7/27/11). These structures, particularly muscle and fascia, organize the structural forces required for motion and link all parts of the body.

The SBL extends all the way up the scalp, including the

High TIME is a tight backside 

As discussed last week, there are only 3 GRF variables, RATE, FORCE, and TIME. One of them is likely to be much higher, or much lower than the other two. In this week's example, if TIME is high, relative to FORCE and RATE, your superficial back line and posterior chain musculature are overactive.

 Unfortunately not all of these muscles to the right can be released on your own. Moreover, no one has time for each anterior muscle, so we must focus on the few that are easist to access and tend to contain the most trigger points. So spend about 1 minute on each side of these areas

1. Soles of the feet, the plantar fascia
2. Calves, the gastrocnemius and soleus
3. Erector Spinae

What about Low TIME?

As mentioned last week, one of the variables in your movement signatureTM can be low, so what do you do if your TIME is low rather than high?

We know that athletes low on TIME must load down deeper, prolonging the amount of time on your load and finishing the extension portion of the unloading. This extension is accomplished primarily by the contraction of the muscles in the back (posterior chain) such as the gastrocnemius and hamstrings. So the opposing muscles (antagonists) would be the flexors, or the anterior chain.

So if your TIME is low, the antagonists are likely to be preventing this ability (see Sparta Point 11/28/12).. Therefore, since antagonists tend to be on the opposing side, low TIME athletes would need the anterior muscles released and quieted to improve functioning. So focus on the shin and quadriceps to improve ankle and hip extension.

Thankfully, knowing your movement signatureTM can give insight into where to focus myofascial efforts, i.e. which muscles you need to roll out.

It's also good for party tricks...

Thursday, December 13, 2012

7 Foods You Don’t Need to Buy Organic


You won’t see coconut on any Clean 15 or Dirty Dozen lists anytime soon, because the general public has yet to catch on to its fatty, nutty delights. That said, we Primal people eat coconut. We sauté with coconut oil and slather it onto vegetables, sweet potatoes, hair, skin, and armpits. We drink and make curries with coconut milk and cream. We obsess over coconut butter, paying tribute to its glory with a greasy spoon. And when we’ve been running or training particularly hard – or it’s hot out – we often reach for the coconut water. We like our coconut, so it’s in our best interest to determine whether we should be buying organic or not.
Luckily for us, it doesn’t look like organic coconut makes a big difference. Several studies have looked for pesticide residues in coconut products and come up virtually empty handed. There’s this 2008 study, which was unable to detect any pesticide residues in crude coconut oil. Poly-aromatic hydrocarbons, which are generated during the coconut flesh quick drying process and are carcinogenic, were detected in crude coconut oil but were removed in the refining process. Virgin unrefined coconut oil, then, may still contain these hydrocarbons, unless it’s wet-milled and processed without quick-drying the flesh. That goes for both organic and conventional coconut oil, to be clear.
In another study, researchers examined 15 samples of coconut water using two different methods of pesticide detection and were unable to detect any of the 11 pesticides they were looking for.
Coconut milk is also going to be as free from pesticides as any other coconut product. Since it’s made from fresh flesh, not the dried, heat-treated stuff, coconut milk should also be free of poly-aromatic hydrocarbons.


Onions don’t just make you cry for cutting them, they make pests weep at the thought of eating them. Onions are naturally resistant to pests, which is probably why just 0.3% of onions tested for chemical residue came up positive. Big Agra may cut corners and prioritize profit over quality or consumer health, but that just means they won’t fork out the money for chemicals if they don’t have to; they’re not comic book villains, dumping drums of noxious endocrine disruptors and carcinogens onto their crops to punish us. Not onion farmers, at least.
So, feel free to go wild with conventional onions, because there is very little, if any, advantage to organic onions from a health perspective. Unlike many other fruits and vegetables, conventionally grown onions have the same level of polyphenols as organically grown onions.


Avocados are another safe food that ends up with some of the lowest pesticide residues around. Maybe it’s the scaly skin and the way they just kinda “lurk” there up in tree tricking pests into thinking they’re up against alligators. Maybe it’s the fact that a bug got burned one too many times with a beautiful looking avocado that turned out to be stringy and brown on the inside. Maybe pests just hate waiting for an avocado to ripen (who doesn’t?) and give up. Actually, even though a somewhat significant amount of chemicals can be used on avocado orchards, they just don’t make it into the fatty, delicious flesh we crave and consume.
Avocado farmers, both organic and conventional, do use extensive amounts of copper as a fungicide. Copper is an essential nutrient, but too much can be harmful. A single Florida avocado contains 0.9 mg, which is about 100% of the RDI, so don’t go around eating several a day.


The idea of organic honey is fantastic – who wouldn’t want to eat honey produced by bees who dined exclusively on organic, wild, untouched, pure flowers? I sure would.
But the reality is that bees will be bees. They’re going to buzz around and get into trouble, and they’re not going to distinguish between organic and conventionally-grown plants. I suppose you could surround the bee with only organic plant life, but considering bees have an average range of five kilometers from the hive (and twice that when food is scarce), you’d have to control a lot of land to do it. Plus, you know how bees have those cute furry bodies? Yeah, that fur picks up all sorts of stuff from the air. Not only do you have to worry about non-organic pollen, you also have to contend with every non-organic airborne particle in the area.
Buy local honey. Buy raw honey. Buy honey from someone who raised the bees and (at least kinda sorta) knows where they spend their time. But don’t shell out extra money for organic honey unless you happen to really like that particular honey. Those first two characteristics – “local” and “raw” – should come before organic.


I love asparagus, but even I balk at the astronomical price of organic asparagus. Luckily, it’s one of the cleanest vegetables around. When you read that residues from nine different pesticides were found on it, though, you might get a little worried until you look a little closer and realize that the most prevalent of the chemicals – methomyl – was only detected on 3.3% of samples tested.
Organic might eliminate that small probability of pesticides showing up on your asparagus, but I don’t think it’s worth the price tag. Conventional should be just fine. If you’re really worried, domestic conventional (referring to the United States) is far better than imported conventional.

Sweet Potato

Sweet potatoes are a hardy bunch, and the hardy among us – the athletes, the lifters, the highly active – sometimes need a bit of dietary starch to fuel their efforts. Conventional sweet potatoes are a fine choice. Their leaves sometimes get eaten by bugs, but since that rarely affects the viability of the underground tubers that people actually eat, farmers generally don’t feel the need to protect the leaves with agrochemicals.
However, sweet potatoes do sometimes have a problem with fungal growth after harvesting, and the tubers have been known to receive a quick dunk in a dicloran bath before being packed and shipped to curtail this. Dicloran (not to be confused with the flame retardant known as dichloran) is a fungicide that gets a “possible carcinogen” rating from “What’s on my food?” It’s also the only chemical to show up consistently in conventional sweet potatoes. On average, a kilogram of sweet potatoes contains 1.69 mg of dicloran. Based on toxicology studies that suggest a dicloran upper limit of 0.14 mg per kg of bodyweight, a 60 kilogram human can easily get away with consuming up to 8.4 mg of dicloran. Peel your sweet potatoes and you’ll get rid of even more.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Health rankings: USA is living longer, but sicker

Americans are living longer, with fewer deaths from heart disease and cancer, but more chronic illnesses, an annual snapshot of the USA's health shows.
The 2012 America's Health Rankings highlight troubling levels of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and sedentary behavior. Medical advances are allowing more people to live with those conditions.
The bottom line: Americans "are living longer, sicker" with more chronic illness, says Reed Tuckson of theUnited Health Foundation, a not-for-profit foundation that sponsors the report with the American Public Health Association and the Partnership for Prevention.
STORY: Living to 100: 80% are women, report shows

For the sixth consecutive year, Vermont tops the list of healthiest states, says the report, which uses data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Medical Association, Census Bureau and even the FBI. It looks at 24 measures of health, including tobacco and alcohol abuse, exercise, infectious diseases, crime rates, public health funding, access to immunizations, premature birth rates and cancer and heart disease rates.

States that are most successful on the rankings "have good results in a majority of the conditions we evaluate," Tuckson says. But states such as Mississippi and Louisiana, which tied for last place, "are over represented in key measures like tobacco consumption, lack of exercise and obesity — the fundamentals," he adds.

Although socioeconomic factors play an important role in some states' consistent low rankings, "we know it is possible to improve; states are capable of doing that," says Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association. Key to that effort is "taking lessons from things they do well and applying them more vigorously to the things they are not doing well."
Louisiana has low rates of binge drinking and a high rate of childhood immunization, but it ranks in the bottom five states on 13 of 24 health measures, including obesity and diabetes.
But "we don't have to accept those" indicators, says Karen DeSalvo, health commissioner for New Orleans. She says an extensive effort is underway "to get us to the place we need to be … to be a healthy state."
States that showed the most substantial improvement in rankings include New Jersey (up nine places on the list); Maryland (up five). Alabama, Colorado, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Rhode Island each moved up three.
Among the unhealthy behaviors the report cites:
  • More than a quarter (26.2%) of all Americans are sedentary, defined as not doing any physical activity outside of work for 30 days. But it's 36% in Mississippi, and 35.1% in both Tennessee and West Virginia.
  • 27.8% of U.S. adults are obese, defined as being roughly 30 or more pounds over a healthy weight. That's 66 million people — more than the entire population of the United Kingdom. In even the least obese state, Colorado, more than 20% of the population is obese.
  • The percentage of adults with diabetes is 9.5% nationally, but it's 12% or higher in West Virginia, South Carolina and Mississippi.
  • 30.8% of U.S. adults have high blood pressure, but that ranges from a low of 22.9% in Utah to a high of 40.1% in Alabama. High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a primary risk for cardiovascular disease — problems related to the heart and the blood vessels.
"There's no way that this country can possibly afford the medical care costs and consequences of these preventable chronic illnesses," says Tuckson. "We have two freight trains headed directly into each other unless we take action now."
"People have to be successful at taking accountability for their own health-related decisions."
Life expectancy in the USA is now 78.5 years; premature deaths have dropped 18% since 1990, and deaths from cardiovascular disease are down 34.6%. Cancer deaths are down 7.6%.
Read More

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Morning-Person Advantage

It's an unpleasant fact of life that most mass-participation endurance events start at (and sometimes before) the crack of dawn. But it's not equally unpleasant for everyone: the world is divided into morning types ("larks"), evening types ("owls"), and those who don't have a pronounced preference either way. What if you're a wonderful endurance athlete, but you just hate getting up in the morning? Will this make it less likely that you persist in the sport?

That's basically the question that a group of South African scientists from the University of Cape Town tackled in a recent study published in Chronobiology International. They compared four groups of people: 125 cyclists, 120 runners, 287 Ironman triathletes, and 96 active but non-competitive controls. The first test they did was to administer the "Horne-Ostberg Morningness-Eveningness Questionnaire," which is used to distinguish larks from owls. 

Pretty big difference in the number of morning people in the athlete groups compared to the control group. But this doesn't distinguish between cause and effect: maybe years of pre-dawn rides have convinced those cyclists that they really like getting up in the morning (because if they didn't tell themselves that, they'd go crazy). 

In this case, the "5 allele" is associated with shorter circadian rhythms, which in turn translates to morning preference -- so people born with morning preference are indeed (at least in this particular sample of white South African men) more likely than the general population to end up getting addicted to endurance sports, presumably because of the time of day when most people train and compete.
So... who's going to found the first Evening Triathlon Association, bringing endurance sports to the neglected owls of the world?

Monday, December 10, 2012

5 Ways That Workout Nutrition Should be Different For Young People and Children Kids are not just little adults, and growing children who are strenuously exercising have several defining physiological characteristics that make them different than the older population. The following are 5 ways that training and racing nutrition should be different for kids and young active individuals (up to age 16).

1) Athletic girls can succeed on lower carbohydrate intake than athletic boys. In large nutritional surveys that have been done on young athletes ranging from 12-18 years old, the intake of female athletes is on average 3-4 grams per kilogram of body weight lower than male athletes. This seems to make sense, since studies in adult endurance athletes have shown that female endurance athletes tend to be able to oxidize more fat at higher intensities compared to men. An approximate level of carbohydrate intake that would be appropriate for a young athlete would be about 4 grams per kilogram in girls and 7 grams per kilogram in boys (remember there are 2.2 pounds in 1 kilogram). So a 90 pound young female athlete would need to eat around 165 grams of carbohydrate daily, or about 650 calories of carbohydrate.

2) Fat is the preferred exercise fuel in young athletes. In most studies, exercising children have shown 10-40% higher fat oxidation rates compared to exercising adults. Interestingly, very well trained exercising adults (such as Ironman triathletes) show these same high fat oxidation rates. While this shouldn’t be used as an excuse to “not eat” during exercise, it would be quite interesting to see studies of children given a higher fat intake prior to exercise compared to children given primarily carbs. I suspect that fueling children with avocados, coconuts, nuts and seeds may yield just as good results as filling them up with candy and energy bars.

3) Compared to exercising adults, exercising children burn lower amounts of storage carbohydrate, but higher amounts of carbohydrate from food sources. Rather than tapping into the body’s own carbohydrate stores during exercise, children tend to rely more upon carbohydrate sources from food. This is due to lower levels of the enzymes responsible for breaking down muscle carbohydrate to fuel, and is probably some type of carbohydrate conserving mechanism that leaves more storage carbohydrate for a child’s growth and development. While you might think that this should mean you make sure a child has adequate food available during a training session or race, since they’re less equipped to break down their own storage energy, this does not appear to be the case, as I point out below.

4) During exercise sessions 75 minutes or less, eating carbohydrates does not appear to give extra performance advantages in young athletes. As you learned earlier, children burn fat more efficiently than adults, and it appears that during exercise, this increased fat oxidation serves as a mechanism to stop any drop in blood glucose. Children’s bodies literally have the ability to downregulate the pathways responsible for converting carbohydrates into energy during exercise. Interestingly, free fatty acids, which indicate available fats to burn during exercise, increase in children during exercise, indicating a very strong ability of children to mobilize fat stores for energy and possibly even use energy sources that have higher amounts of fat. Once again, for exercising individuals who are under the age of 16, it may be beneficial to choose fat-based energy sources rather than sugar.

5) Regular adult sports drinks may not empty fast enough from a child’s stomach during exercise. In both children and adults, higher exercise intensities slow the rate at which fluids and fuels will pass from the stomach into the intestine, which means that less fuel is absorbed and utilized. However, this occurs to an even greater extent in children who are exercising at higher intensities, and the maximum amount of fluids (either water or a carbohydrate beverage) that a child can absorb per hour in these conditions will be approximately one bike-sized water bottle (about 20-24 ounces).

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Saturday, December 8, 2012

That's 450 pounds................

Friday, December 7, 2012

Here’s How a Little Snack becomes a Calorie Bomb

Does the following ever happen to you? You are buying something non food related, and at the check out counter you see a tasty snack that you just can’t resist? You rationalize that it’s only a tiny treat, you need a pick-me-up, and that it’s really just a 100 calorie sin out of 1600 healthy calories you are eating today. Well that’s what happened to our friend Nena the other day. She eats healthy, cooks most meals, is only 5 pounds overweight, and usually stays away from junk food. Somehow she found herself holding her childhood favorite – Twix – which she proceeded to wolf down in a few minutes. Nena knows Twix is not healthy by any long shot. But the packaging clearly says 110 calories, so she was not too concerned. it was only after she ate all 4 “fingers” that she realized the calorie information was PER SERVING, not per package. Twix Portion DistortionReading the small print, Nena realized she had actually consumed 440 calories, which is over 25% of her daily calorie budget! This was an unintended snacking occasion come-calorie-bomb that was led on by very craftily (shall we say deceiving?) presentation of nutrition information to consumers. The Twix package is single use, once you tear it, you need to eat everything in it. True, you can share with friends, or your kids, or save some for later in your purse (hoping the chocolate won’t melt all over your things). But most people will eat all 4 pieces as a single portion. This is just one small example of how little tricks are played on us to get us to eat more crap. How have you been duped recently?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Tips To Speed Detoxification of Alcohol for Better Health Drinking alcohol will stop fat burning, erase performance gains from training, and delay recovery. You should avoid it! That said, it is useful to have a few strategies to speed detoxification of alcohol since it’s holiday time. In addition, these tips will help protect you from everyday toxins, such as pollution, pesticides, and xenoestrogens. First, knowing what alcohol does to your body can help you choose to take action to prevent its ill effects. Remember, alcohol contains 7 calories a gram—nearly double that of carbs and protein—and when you drink it, all other metabolic processes in the body are put on hold until it’s metabolized. Fat and carbohydrate burning are halted, as is tissue rebuilding and protein synthesis. Alcohol can depress growth hormone production and increase levels of aromatase that turn testosterone to estrogen. Alcohol is metabolized by the liver, but the process causes oxidative stress and chronic drinking leads to significant damage and fat gain inside the liver. The bright side of all the misery caused by alcohol is that if you drink responsibly, there are ways to speed detoxification. Curcumin, green tea, and milk thistle have all been shown to blunt the ill effects of alcohol and help eliminate it. Curcumin is a super nutrient found in the spice turmeric, and multiple animal studies show it protects the liver from alcohol. For example, one study showed that giving rats curcumin significantly decreased the acute inflammation caused by alcohol, while enhancing detoxification. A similar study showed green tea extract can protect the liver from alcohol and accelerate detox. Researchers found that the antioxidants (called catechins) in green tea inhibited absorption of alcohol in the gastrointestinal tract, leading to less of an inflammatory response and faster elimination. Finally, milk thistle can speed the elimination of toxins through the liver and protect it from damage. It’s a well known liver tonic that has been shown to have anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory effects when supplemented regularly. Additional strategies to accelerate detox from alcohol include the following: • Drink LOTS of water with electrolytes before and after drinking. • Focus on eating high-protein, low-carb foods. Always eat protein and vegetables before drinking to minimize cravings for alcohol and high-carb, fatty foods. • Train hard. Studies shows athletes excrete more toxins in urine than sedentary people. • Remember, you have complete control over everything you put in your mouth

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Blood Doping 101 The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) defines blood doping as “The misuse of certain techniques and/or substances to increase one’s red blood cell mass, which allows the body to transport more O2 to muscles and therefore increase stamina and performance.” At the heart of doping in endurance sports such as cycling, the drug you’ve probably heard most about is EPO. Formally known as erythropoietin, EPO is a hormone that controls red blood cell production. Hemoglobin mass is a key factor for maximal exercise capacity. When EPO is injected into an athlete and used as a performance-enhancing drug, it is classified as an erythropoiesis (red blood cell production) stimulating agent. READ MORE

Monday, December 3, 2012

Your guide to digestive health

Your gut is essential for more than just instincts. It has to make sure that your body gets fed, which is a very complex job: The stomach churns food; the small intestine breaks the mixture (called chyme) into smaller molecules so that the body can absorb nutrients; and the large intestine converts what’s not needed into—well, you know. When the process works as it should, you’re happily oblivious. But when one part goes awry, so can your quality of life. For the good of your gut, here’s the full digest on what’s normal and what’s not.

      The Psychology of Your Stomach
Why do we have so little control over what goes on in the digestive tract? Because the gut has a mind of its own.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

30-20-10 Protocol

Do sprint interval training to lose fat fast and improve conditioning. Research shows that sprint interval training is the best conditioning method for fat loss, but you have to use a precise interval program in order to get results—haphazardly making up intervals is not the best way to go.

There are a wide variety of interval programs out there and research shows that they yield different results based on how they stress the body to adapt. For example, a recent study showed that an interval model called 30-20-10 was highly effective at improving health markers and performance in recreational runners, but it probably isn’t the best method for fat loss because it’s not intense enough to generate high levels of lactate or growth hormone.

The 30-20-10 model has trainees perform four 5-minute intervals in which they jog for 30 seconds, run at a moderate intensity for 20 seconds, and sprint for 10 seconds, and then repeat. After doing the program for 7 weeks, trainees improved performance on a 1,500 meter run by 21 seconds and by 48 seconds on a 5 km run. They also decreased their systolic blood pressure by 5 mm Hg and improved cholesterol levels.

Body composition wasn’t measured, but there was no change in muscle pump activity, indicating that although the program improved performance and health, it wasn’t metabolically taxing enough to produce significant fat loss or muscle development.

In comparison, a 20-minute sprint interval program that used 60 intervals of all-out 8-second sprints followed by 12 seconds recovery on a ergometer cycle resulted in 2 kg fat loss and 1 kg muscle development in untrained men. The same program produced 2.5 kg fat loss in women. Note that the difference between this program and the 30-20-10 method is that for each minute trained, trainees sprint all out for a total of 24 seconds, compared to only 10 seconds with 30-20-10. The greater time spent working at maximal intensity is the difference in metabolic stress for fat loss.

For trained individuals or athletes, more demanding programs may be necessary.  Studies suggest longer all-out intervals will elevate growth hormone to produce fat burning.

For instance a very demanding 1 to 1 interval-to-rest program has produced significant fat loss and performance enhancement in trained athletes. This program used four 4-minute intervals with a 30-second sprint and 30-second jogging recovery.

Another model that allowed participants to lose 9 times more body fat than a steady-state aerobic program used 10 sprints of 15 seconds each increasing to 15 sprints of 30 seconds each as trainees began to adapt. The recovery period was based on heart rate—once it returned to 120 beats per minute the next interval was performed.

A third model that produced a significant 2 kg loss of body fat in trained runners included two interval protocols alternated for four sprint sessions a week: Ten intervals of 30-second  all-out sprints with 90-seconds active rest and 6 intervals of 2-mintue maximal intensity sprints followed by 90 second active rest. The maximal intensity sprints were performed at the maximal running speed achieved during a treadmill stage test to exhaustion, so they weren’t at the maximal speed that the trainees could run.

The take away is that you must program interval training to reach your goal and if that goal is fat loss, near maximal intensity sprints in the 30 second range to produce lactate buildup are ideal. Rest periods should be active rather than passive, and 1 to 2 or 1 to 3 work-to-rest intervals have proven effective for eliciting a growth hormone response for fat loss.