Sunday, March 31, 2013

At 95 Orville Rogers Assualts the USATF Records

Orville Rogers, 95, Dallas, Texas, continued his assault on world marks for men 95-99 with his 5th and 6th world records during the meet, running 6:53.84 for 800 Meters and 57.88 seconds for 200 Meters. Since his opening day’s 3000 meter mark of 30:19.33, Rogers also set world records in the Mile Run – 14:39.91, 400 Meters – 2:24.51 and 60 Meter Dash – 14.82 seconds

Orville Rogers
  • Running USA - Runners of Interest - Orville Rogers
  • At 2013 USA Masters Indoor Championships, Orville, at age 95, set six (6) age group (M95-99) world records including in Mile (14:39,.91) and 3000m (30:19.33).
  • At 2010 World Masters Indoor Athletics Championships, won the M90 3000 meter race in 22:57.41.
  • At 2009 USA Masters Indoors won 800 meters (4:31.53) and mile (10:08.28)
  • In 2008, ran 4:19.97 in the men's 90 800 meters, besting the previous world and American record of 4:50.81. Also set a world and American record in the mile, running a 9:56.58.
  • Started running age age 50
  • Retired airline pilot

Saturday, March 30, 2013

6 Yoga Poses for Better Posture

Try these simple poses during your day to improve your posture:

yoga for posture, yoga poses for posture, better posture, yoga postureMountain Pose (Tadasana)

Yes, this is a yoga pose. It doesn’t feel like it at first, but it’s a very active pose. Stand tall, feel your feet on the ground, open your chest with arms at your sides, slightly tuck your tailbone, engage your thighs, roll your shoulders back and down to lower your shoulder blades, and bring your chin back so your ears are above your shoulders. It’s all in the chin and you want to align your body from feet to head.

yoga for posture, yoga poses for posture, better posture, yoga postureStanding Forward Bend (Uttanasana)
This is probably one of my favorite poses because I can literally feel my spine lengthen as I fold over towards my feet. Just hang there, grab your elbows with your opposite hands, and breathe. After you release your arms, try looking up by opening the chest and flattening your back on an inhale. Then exhale and fold again. This pose saves me on visits to the chiropractor!

yoga for posture, yoga poses for posture, better posture, yoga postureCobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
This is an ideal pose for strengthening the back and opening the chest. Place your hands on the mat in front of you in a sphinx position and then slowly straighten your arms into your full extension of cobra. Bring your shoulders away from your ears, while keeping your pelvis and toes on the mat.

yoga for posture, yoga poses for posture, better posture, yoga postureHero Pose (Virasana)

This is a seated yoga pose that makes it difficult to slouch. Sit on your heels and sit up straight with the crown of your head towards the sky. If you have knee issues, this will not be your pose. If you can’t sit on your heels, get an ergonomic chair that mimics this pose or use a pillow for cushion.

yoga for posture, yoga poses for posture, better posture, yoga postureChild’s Pose (Balasana)

This is also known as resting pose in yoga. Sit back on your heels and reach your arms out in front of you or bring them alongside the body towards your feet into a tiny little yoga ball.

yoga for posture, yoga poses for posture, better posture, yoga postureLocust Pose (Salabhasana)
This is another great pose for strengthening the back. Open your chest lifting your arms and legs off the mat while keeping the pelvis on the mat. If necessary, you can lift just your chest and aim your arms towards your feet. A more advanced yoga pose would be to go into bow pose, but proceed with caution until you’re ready.

Remember, just like our bad habits developed over time, our good habits take time to build back up as well. Try practicing these poses and see which ones resonate with you. Give yourself reminders in your calendar or on your desk to be present to your posture. In the end you will breathe, move, and feel better.

Friday, March 29, 2013

8 Ways to Make Your Coffee Super Healthy

Coffee is good for you.
For many people, it is actually the single largest source of antioxidants in the diet, outranking both fruits and vegetables… combined (1, 2).
Here are a few tips to turn your coffee from healthy… to super healthy.

1. No Caffeine After 2PM

Caffeine is a stimulant.
This is one of the main reasons we enjoy coffee so much… the caffeine gives us a jolt of energy and helps us stay awake when we feel tired.
But if we drink coffee late in the day, this can interfere with our sleep, but poor sleep can cause all sorts of problems (3, 4).
For this reason, it is important not to drink coffee late in the day. If you must, choose decaf or opt for a cup of tea instead, which has much less caffeine than coffee.
Abstaining from coffee after 2-3 p.m. is a good guideline, depending on the time you go to bed and how sensitive you are to the caffeine.

2. Do NOT Load Your Coffee With Sugar

It is very easy to turn coffee into something completely unsuitable for human consumption.
The best way to do that is to put a whole bunch of sugar in it, which is arguably the single worst ingredient in the modern diet.
Sugar, mainly due to the high amount of fructose, can cause all sorts of serious diseases like obesity and diabetes (5, 6).
If you can’t imagine living your life without a sweetener in your coffee, use Stevia.

3. Choose a Quality Brand, Preferably Organic

Just like it is with other foods, the quality of the product can vary greatly depending on the processing method and how it was grown.
Coffee beans tend to be heavily sprayed with pesticides, herbicides and various toxins that were never intended for human consumption.
For this reason, I recommend that you choose organic coffee whenever possible.

4. Do Not Use Artificial Sweeteners

Putting artificial sweeteners in your coffee instead of sugar might seem like a good idea, given that they’re calorie free.
But the evidence doesn’t support it.
Multiple observational studies associate artificial sweeteners with all sorts of health problems (7, 8).
For this reason, do not put artificial sweeteners in your coffee.
Again, Stevia is a natural alternative, but really… unsweetened coffee is wonderful if you just give yourself some time to get used to it.

5. Add Some Cinnamon to Your Coffee

Cinnamon is a tasty herb that mixes particularly well with the flavor of coffee.
Studies show that cinnamon can lower blood glucose, cholesterol and triglycerides in diabetics (9).
If you need some flavor, try adding a dash of cinnamon. It’s surprisingly good.

6. Avoid Low-Fat and Artificial Creamers

The commercial low-fat and artificial creamers you might come across tend to be highly processed and full of unnatural, harmful ingredients.

High fructose corn syrup and trans fats are likely suspects, as well as others.
I recommend you avoid these like the plague.
Instead, consider adding some full-fat cream, preferably from grass-fed cows.
Studies show that high-fat dairy products are actually associated with a reduced risk of obesity (10).

7. Add Some Cocoa to Your Coffee

Cocoa is loaded with antioxidants and associated with all sorts of health benefits, including a reduced risk of heart disease (11).
If you want some flavor in your coffee, try adding a little organic unsweetened cocoa to your cup.

8. Brew Your Coffee Using a Paper Filter

Brewed coffee may contain harmful substances known as diterpenes, which can raise cholesterol levels in the blood.
However, getting rid of them is simple… just use a paper filter.
Brewing coffee with a paper filter effectively removes all the diterpenes, but lets the caffeine and beneficial antioxidants pass through (12).

Take Home Message

Back in the day, I used to put tons of sugar and milk in my coffee. Yuck.
Now I prefer my coffee black, organic, brewed with a paper filter.
It’s better that way… much better, just takes a while to get used to it.
Once you go black (coffee), you never go back. It’s true.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Is Grass-Fed Beef Worth the Premium Price?

Why is Grass-fed More Expensive?

Price is a big factor when considering grass-fed beef. I think it’s important to understand why grass-fed is more expensive to get a better understanding of its true quality. Is grass-fed more pricey because it is more nutrient rich?
I’ve found that grass-fed meat’s added value is derived from the extra time and space. The life of modern day, conventional grain-fed cattle is different on all fronts from grass-fed cattle. The only similarity is that they both end up on the dinner plate.
Big Beef
Conventional feedlot operations are designed to put weight on cattle as fast as possible. The cattle are fed a dense mix of grains and… other things, which packs the pounds on faster than normal pasture grazing. Grass-fed ranchers choose to let the cattle grow and put on weight naturally. After all, good things come to those who wait.
The rapid weight gain that is standard operating procedure for feedlot cattle is good for revenue, but not good for the animals’ health or quality of life. The lifespan of a feedlot cow is much shorter, with operations regularly slaughtering animals just after their first year. Factory cattle operations generate revenue based on quantity, not quality. Large volumes of cattle are the only way to make a profit. In general, the principle of quality gets shelved.
Grass-fed cattle, on the other hand, have more time and space to fatten up naturally, commonly up to an extra year. This time and care plays into the price of grass-fed beef, as the ranchers of grass-fed cattle have higher expenses in maintaining the land, paying the mortgage and taxes on their vast grasslands which are required for a healthy and vibrant herd to graze.
Read More

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Anaerobic Power Reserve & Conditioning


Aerobic Power

Aerobic power is the maximum rate of power than can be produced through aerobic metabolism. This is most commonly measured by looking at the power output or speed at VO2 max – though it will certainly correlate highly to power output at lactate threshold as well.
The amount of power an athlete can generate aerobically is essentially a direct measure of the maximum amount of power they can maintain for long duration and also important even in fairly short duration activities if they are repetitive.

Anaerobic Power

Anaerobic power is a measure of how much power the anaerobic energy systems are capable of generating. Although this level of power output is invariably much greater than the amount generated by aerobic metabolism, it can only be maintained for relatively short periods of time before fatigue sets in and power output is drastically reduced.
Science is still unclear as to all the exact mechanisms that lead to the rapid fatigue associated with a heavy reliance on anaerobic metabolism, but it’s likely the result of many different peripheral factors that reduce muscle contractility as well central factors that decrease neural drive to the working muscles.

Anaerobic Power Reserve

The Anaerobic Power Reserve is a measure of the difference between the maximum amount of power that can be generated anaerobically compare to aerobically. The greater the difference between the two, the greater the anaerobic power reserve.
The anaerobic power reserve can be used to predict the rate of fatigue both in cycle and acyclic activities. In other words, the greater the level of anaerobic power reserve and the more you rely on anaerobic metabolism, the faster you will fatigue.
This is true both in a sport where power output is constant, such as in a sprint and in repetitive sports like football, soccer, basketball, etc. This simple principle is hugely important to understanding conditioning and fatigue because it explains how energy system contribution direction relates to fatigue and performance.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Food Labels

 By Marcy Franklin

From meat to dairy, produce to pasta, food labels frequently tout all sorts of claims that shouldn’t always be taken at face value.

Below is an explanation of some of the most common terms used on food products so that you understand exactly what you're consuming.


A USDA organic seal is the highest stamp of organic approval. This label ensures that the product is produced without synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering.

Any product with an “organic,” “100 percent organic,” or “made with organic [ingredient here]” label is certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). For those products made from less than 70 percent organic ingredients, the manufacturer must identify which specific ingredients are organic — but those products don’t get to boast the official seal of approval. The USDA organic standards also prohibit antibiotics and growth hormones in organic meats and poultry, and require 100 percent organic feed for livestock.

Cage-Free or Free-Range

Products stamped with “cage-free” or “free-range” means that the animals are given more freedom to move around. “Cage-free” is used mostly for eggs, while “free-range” can include anything from cows and chickens to pigs. There is a hitch, however. There is no governmental certification to guarantee that the meat labeled this way is indeed from humanely-treated, free-roaming animals — which means some companies can cash in on the higher prices these products command by making false “free-range” claims.


While there’s no USDA stamp of approval for products labeled ”grass-fed,” the best definition of a grass-fed animal is one that has eaten nothing but its mother’s milk, fresh grass, and hay.

Look for products with an American Grassfed Association or Animal Welfare Approved stamp, which guarantee the animal was raised on a family-owned pasture or range.


If a food product has  the USDA Organic certification, it’s usually pesticide-free, too. Unfortunately, that’s not always a guarantee: studies have found that even some organic produce can contain pesticide residue. For truly pesticide-free food, look for a pesticide residue-free label.

Hormone-Free and Antibiotic-Free

There is a long list of health concerns tied to hormone-filled meat, from prenatal developmental problems to early puberty and infertility. Though the evidence isn’t always reliable, some studies have shown growth hormones from certain foods can disrupt human hormones and can even contribute to breast and prostate cancer. But much like “free-range,” there’s no restriction about the term “hormone-free” or “antibiotic-free.” The best bet for finding hormone-free meat is to look for a certified organic product.

Natural or All-Natural

The term “natural” may be one of the most dubious terms of all — there’s no government regulation from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or USDA for using the world on labels.

“Natural” is a loose term for foods without synthetic preservatives, artificial sweeteners, and other additives. The word “natural” is only regulated when it comes to meat, since regulations require meat to have no preservatives and minimal processing.
Again, food companies bank on the buzzword to bring in business— but they often over-exaggerate the claims. (Other industries aren’t immune either: cereal makers have recently been criticized for misleading the public with “all-natural” claims that don’t add up.)

Multigrain and Whole Grain

We’ve all been told whole-wheat is healthier than white,  but what about the brands of breads and crackers toting their grainy goodness? Multigrain products are made with more than one type of grain, however, these grains are typically the refined kind, meaning they’ve been stripped of the healthiest parts of the grain (the bran and germ), and are not any healthier than white bread. In fact, dyes are often added to multigrain products to make them look healthier (or like whole-grain products). Whole-grain items, on the other hand, are made from whole grains. Opt for whole-grain over multigrain for the healthiest choice!


For those who have to maintain a strict gluten-free diet must be aware that all products labeled “gluten-free” aren’t always entirely free of gluten. Because the FDA hasn’t yet set regulations for products labeled gluten-free, individual companies are coming up with their own definitions. Some products simply contain no gluten ingredients but are processed on the same equipment or in the same facility as gluten-filled products; some are tested to contain less than 20 ppm (parts per million) of gluten; and others (the most strict) are tested to assure a gluten content of less than 5 ppm. Proceed with caution if staying away from gluten is critical for your health.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

March Madness Pools: Sports Knowledge Doesn't Matter

With March Madness getting under way, this post goes out to everyone who felt pressured to join an office pool even though you don't follow college basketball. The good news: it doesn't matter. Really.
In a recent issue of the journal Psychopathology (don't take that personally), Israeli researchers asked 165 people to predict the winners and exact scores of the Round of 16 matches in European Champions League football/soccer. (In some forms of soccer betting, you have to successfully predict the score to win.) The volunteers consisted of three different groups:
(1) pathological sports gamblers, as diagnosed under DSM-IV;
(2) "amateurs": people who follow soccer but don't bet on it;
(3) "laypersons": people who don't follow soccer and flunked a test of basic soccer knowledge.
Here's how the three groups did in picking the exact results, including score:

If the picture doesn't tell the story clearly enough, there were absolutely no significant differences in the success rates of the different groups. In fact, the researchers note in a press release accompanying the study, the two most successful gamblers in the study actually came from the "layperson" group: they knew nothing about either soccer or gambling. In contrast, the compulsive gamblers spend every waking moment collecting and analyzing data that they believe gives them an advantage over their fellow bettors:
"Sports gamblers seem to believe themselves the cleverest of all gamblers, [the lead researcher says]. They think that with experience and knowledge — such as player's statistics, manager's habits, weather conditions, and stadium capacity — they can predict the outcome of a game better than the average person."
This result is actually surprising to me. I would have expected it for betting on sports games like basketball or football where the bookmakers set a points spread. In that case, if the bookmakers have done a good job, you'd expect to have a roughly 50-50 chance of picking the correct choice -- so a random set of picks might easily do just as well as an expert. But in this case, there were no odds or spread to bet against; it was just a case of picking the winners and scores, a situation in which you'd think expertise would matter. I suspect the specific setting -- Champions League round of 16 -- made a difference. At this point, all the teams are very, very good, so the advantage of prior knowledge is diminished.
Had the same experiment been repeated with regular season matches, where there's a much greater performance gradient between the best and worst teams, then we might have seen a different outcome. But in reality, no bookmaker is going to give you even odds in a match between Manchester United and Wigan. Betting is always arranged so that the statistically expected outcome of a bet is very close to its purchase price (*) -- and in that context, this study suggests that sports betting is no different from a lottery ticket. That's actually the main point of the study: to point out that pathological sports gamblers are fundamentally different from pathological casino gamblers, because they have the "illusion of control," and thus they need a different form of treatment.
(*) There are some exceptions, of course. Unfortunately, March Madness pools are one of them if you simply decide to fill in your bracket randomly. There's enough of a competitive gradient between the top and bottom seeds that total lack of knowledge will be a hindrance. However, I suspect that this problem is completely remedied if you simply pay attention to the seedings provided. Follow the seedings, throw in a few random (but not too radical) upsets for fun, and your chances of winning are probably as good as they guy who organized the pool.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Elements of Rest and Recovery

1. Sleep

Sleep is the most important time to recover. Adequate levels of sleep help to provide mental health, hormonal balance, and muscular recovery. You need to get enough sleep, which is between seven to ten hours for most athletes. Everyone has individual needs based on their lifestyle, workouts, and genetic makeup.

  • Hours slept before twelve at night are proven to be more effective than those slept after.
  • Sleep in the most natural setting possible, with minimal to no artificial lights.
  • Wakeup with the sun if possible.
  • Fresh air and cooler temperatures help to improve the quality of sleep.

2. Hydration

Drinking adequate amounts of water is critical to health, energy, recovery, and performance. Athletes tend to be very attentive to hydration levels close to and during competitions, but keeping that awareness during training and recovery times can make just as large an impact. Water helps all of our functions. A few examples are more efficient nutrient uptake, lower levels of stress on the heart, improved skin tone, and better hair quality.

The simplest way to check hydration is to look at your pee. If it is clear to pale yellow you are hydrated. The darker and more color in your pee the less hydrated you are and more water you need to drink.

  • Water is the best way to hydrate.
  • Sports drinks are only needed for before, during, and after strenuous training or completion, don’t drink them simply because they taste good.
  • Flavorings, Crystal Lite, and other additives simply give you system more to process and cause it further strain. Stick to adding a lemon or lime.

3. Nutrition

Everything you eat has the ability to help heal your body, or to poison it. This may sound strong, but alcohol and processed foods contain toxins and are harmful to the body. I do not like to recommend a specific diet, but eating clean and balanced meals in moderation is proven to be effective to remain healthy and increase performance. Dairy and wheat are processed differently by everyone and you need to educate yourself on these topics and how they personally affect you. Some people process these food items very well and have no side effects, while other people have slight to severe autoimmune reactions. Start with a paleo diet as your base template and add to it based on your experiences, not what you read by others.

Food in our society goes far beyond fueling the body, so it is not always such a simple choice. We go out to dinner, and most social events have food. The key is achieving balance so you get the results you want, but can also function as a normal person and enjoy life.

  • Create a meal plan and shop ahead for the week.
  • Have healthy snacks readily available that you enjoy.
  • Plan ahead for dinner out by helping to pick the place you’re eating and looking at the menu ahead of time.

4. Posture

This is one of the least focused on areas in the American culture. We on average spend more time sitting than any other country in the world, and as a general trend have bad posture. This is not a restful position; sitting or standing with bad posture is harmful. It can lead to back or neck pain, specifically for those with desk jobs.

  • Find a chair that is ergonomically correct.
  • If you struggle to sit upright use a foam roller or ball in your back to give you a tactile cue and help force good posture.
  • Don’t lean to one side or on an object for support while standing.

5. Stretching

You need enough flexibility to move well and remain pain free. Include dynamic stretching in your warm-ups while saving static stretching for after your workouts. Go through my previous articles that included screens on the squat, hip hinge, and ankle movement. Attempt to self-identify tight areas and work on them. Don’t get caught doing the exact same stretches you’ve always done. If you don’t know any new variations look through the previous articles, attend a yoga class, or check out Kelly Starett's Mobility WOD.

6. Self-Myofascial Release

Tight muscles and trigger points sometimes need assistance to return to healthy normal tissue. Read my article on foam rolling for more information.

7. Heat, Ice, and Compression

Use these techniques for recovering from injuries or a very stressful training or racing experience such as a road marathon or the CrossFit Games.

Spending some additional time focusing on rest and recovery can pay dividends beyond additional training time. It’s essentially legal performance enhancement, yet people don’t take advantage of it because it takes time. Dedicating additional time primarily to the three categories of sleep, hydration, and nutrition will increase your output ability, decrease recovery time, and lower your risk of injury. It’s the trifecta that all coaches and athletes aim for, yet most people miss the mark because they don’t want to dedicate time to the little things that matter most. Don’t ignore your body until it becomes too late and you’re forced to take unnecessary time off due to injury, burnout, or worse.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

How to Optimize Your Melatonin Levels

  • Avoid watching TV or using your computer in the evening, at least an hour or so before going to bed. These devices emit blue light, which tricks your brain into thinking it’s still daytime. Normally your brain starts secreting melatonin between 9 and 10 pm, and these devices emit light that may stifle that process.
  • Make sure you get BRIGHT sun exposure regularly. Your pineal gland produces melatonin roughly in approximation to the contrast of bright sun exposure in the day and complete darkness at night. If you are in darkness all day long, it can’t appreciate he difference and will not optimize your melatonin production.
  • Sleep in complete darkness, or as close to it as possible. Even the slightest bit of light in your bedroom can disrupt your biological clock and your pineal gland's melatonin production. Even the tiniest glow from your clock radio could be interfering with your sleep, so cover your radio up at night or get rid of it altogether. Move all electrical devices at least three feet away from your bed. You may want to cover your windows with drapes or blackout shades.
  • Install a low-wattage yellow, orange or red light bulb if you need a source of light for navigation at night. Light in these bandwidths does not shut down melatonin production in the way that white and blue bandwidth light does. Salt lamps are handy for this purpose.
  • Keep the temperature in your bedroom no higher than 70 degrees F. Many people keep their homes too warm (particularly their upstairs bedrooms). Studies show that the optimal room temperature for sleep is between 60 to 68 degrees.
  • Take a hot bath 90 to 120 minutes before bedtime. This increases your core body temperature, and when you get out of the bath it abruptly drops, signaling your body that you are ready to sleep.
  • Avoid using loud alarm clocks. Being jolted awake each morning can be very stressful. If you are regularly getting enough sleep, you might not even need an alarm.
  • Get some sun in the morning, if possible. Your circadian system needs bright light to reset itself. Ten to 15 minutes of morning sunlight will send a strong message to your internal clock that day has arrived, making it less likely to be confused by weaker light signals during the night. More sunlight exposure is required as you age.
  • Be mindful of electromagnetic fields in your bedroom. EMFs can disrupt your pineal gland and its melatonin production, and may have other negative biological effects as well. A gauss meter is required if you want to measure EMF levels in various areas of your home.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Five ways to strengthen your immunity using simple food choices

(NaturalNews) The best way to avoid developing colds, influenza, and other viral diseases this winter is not to go out and get more vaccines and over-the-counter drugs. Your immune system is fully equipped to thwart these conditions naturally on its own, provided you feed it the nutrients it needs in order to maintain homeostasis. Here are five ways to strengthen your immune system naturally using simple food choices:

1) Garlic. This powerful member of the onion family comes up frequently in lists of food and herbs that promote health and prevent disease, and for good reason. Garlic's high allicin content is largely responsible for its disease-fighting effects, as this powerful antioxidant compound neutralizes free radicals and quells disease-causing inflammation. As a whole, garlic has been used for thousands of years to prevent and treat respiratory, bacterial, fungal, viral, and parasitic infections as well.

A 2009 study published in the international chemistry journal Angewandte Chemie found that allicin in particular is uniquely effective at targeting free radicals, far surpassing virtually all other natural antioxidants in terms of both its efficacy and efficiency. According to Dr. Derek Pratt, a professor of chemistry and Canada Research Chair in Free Radical Chemistry, no other known compound, either natural or synthetic, works as effectively as an antioxidant as does allicin. (

2) Homemade chicken soup. Arguably one of the most effective, and delicious, natural remedies for preventing and treating viral infections, homemade chicken soup made from whole, pasture-raised chickens is loaded with disease-fighting nutrients such as cysteine, an amino acid released during the cooking of chicken that, according to resembles the bronchitis drug acetylcysteine. Real chicken broth made from whole chickens, bones and all, also contains a host of beneficial fats, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that support vibrant immunity.

Gelatin, for instance, which is naturally formed in chicken broth, is a food substance composed of both essential and non-essential amino acids that is critical for regulating immunity, promoting healthy digestion, improving liver function, and strengthening bones. Dr. Kaayla T. Daniel, Ph.D., C.C.N., writing for the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF), explains in further detail how the gelatin found in natural chicken broth is essential for health. You can read her paper here:

You can also learn how to make your own immune-boosting stocks and soups at home by visiting the following recipe page put together by Healthy Home Economist and WAPF Chapter Leader Sarah Pope:

3) Sweet potatoes. A rich source of both vitamins A and C, sweet potatoes are another essential immune-boosting food. Sweet potatoes are particularly beneficial for your skin, which just so happens to be your body's largest organ, and the first line of defense against harmful bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens. But this starchy root vegetable also contains nutrients that improve cardiovascular and nervous system health, and also boost immunity.

Sweet potatoes are also one of the most effective foods for boosting glutathione levels in the body. Glutathione is often referred to as the "master antioxidant," as it plays a primary role in detoxifying cells and fighting off free radicals. In general, high glutathione levels are absolutely vital for maintaining strong immunity, which in turn helps lengthen lifespan and improve overall quality of life. (

4) Mushrooms. Long revered in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) for their incredible ability to stimulate the immune system, mushrooms of numerous sorts may hold the key to keeping you and your family healthy during the winter season. Copious research, including a 2009 study out of Arizona State University, has revealed that white button, reishi, maitake, shiitake and oyster mushrooms, to name just a few, all possess unique immune-boosting properties that make them a worthy addition to a healthy diet.

"[Mushrooms] are 'functional foods' and/or 'dietary ingredients,' which help support the immune system on a fundamental, multi-factorial level," says acupuncturist and nutritionist Dr. Patricia Fitzgerald. "We need all the support we can get as our immune systems and health are under assault from pollution, stress, contaminated food and age-related diseases as our lifespans increase." (

5) Brazil nuts. One of nature's richest sources of selenium, Brazil nuts are distinctively beneficial in promoting a healthy immune system. Recognized for its ability to stimulate the production of antibodies, selenium is involved in most functions of cellular biochemistry, and is absolutely essential for proper immune function. Selenium also plays an important role in the production and function of glutathione which, as mentioned earlier, boosts adaptive immunity and promotes the production of white blood cells.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Most Important Meal for Training

Before you step foot into the gym you may have doomed your workout depending on what you ate before you left your house. Your pre-workout meal can make or break you in training and if it’s not done right, your gains in the gym can be minimized. You’ll probably also feel sluggish and have a guaranteed “off day” in the gym. In order to prevent this from happening here are a few tips you should consider next time before you hit the weights.

Let’s Get Things Straight
The general consensus in the fitness world is that a greater emphasis is placed on what you eat after your workout rather than what you eat before a workout. But let me pose a question to you: Is it smarter to have preventative maintenance done on your car or only take it when a problem occurs with it? The same thing applies to your pre-workout nutrition. Most people have your post-workout nutrition down. But shoring up before AND after will yield way better results than focusing on one over the other. The bottom line is if your before is lagging, you are depleting your muscle fibers by not stimulating them to their limits where they will form new scar tissue and muscle.

Pre-Workout Meal
This meal should be consumed about 1-2 hours before you are training and consist of a clean, slow-digesting carb, a fruit, and a good source of protein. Now I realize sometimes training can be sporadic and you don’t get to hit the gym when you want, but try to keep some sort of a schedule so you can properly fuel up and make optimal gains.
The right kinds of carbohydrates are key when fueling up for a workout. It’s a great source of energy and prevents the body from going to the muscles for energy. A slow digesting carb will last you the entirety of the workout.  When figuring which carbs to include in your meal, rice, whole grain pasta, or wheat/multi grain breads are great options.  Your body needs sufficient time to digest and process what you eat, so don’t overdo it when it comes to meal time.  As a rule of thumb, you should consume  20-40 grams of carbs 1-2 hours before your workout.

Another portion to be included in that pre-workout meal is fruit. These will contain your fast-digesting carbs that your body will use immediately and will help spike your insulin levels to give a jump start to your workout. One piece of fruit will do and apples, oranges, and bananas are all excellent options.
The last portion of the meal and most important is protein.  Protein is the cornerstone of building muscle and contains essential and nonessential amino acids necessary to build and repair muscle. In order to ensure that you get all the nutrients you need from protein, you need to consume complete protein sources such as eggs, chicken, turkey, fish, and milk. Another option is to grab yourself a protein shake. These are guaranteed to have a balance of the nutrients you need and are very convenient if you have a hectic lifestyle.  You should consume 20-40 grams of protein 1-2 hours before your workout.

The End
Proper nutrition before a workout is often overlooked and not given the consideration it should be. 1-2 hours before your workout consume the proper balance of carbs and protein, and you should have a great workout that helps you build muscle better and faster

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Ginseng for Colds and Flu

Summer is nearly upon us and the last thing anyone wants is to come down with a dreaded summer cold or flu. The fact that many people vacation during this season makes it even more important than usual to keep the immune system in prime shape. One way to do this is to utilize the fortifying power of ginseng, an ancient medicinal root. My most recent encounter with Panax quinquefolius (North American ginseng) was kind of like running into an old friend. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that there were many new developments in the life of this traditional remedy. I’ll share some of my recent findings about ginseng in today’s column and in a second part that I’ll post next week.

Two populations that are most vulnerable to the common cold and influenza are young children and the elderly. Fortunately, a special extract of North American ginseng is building a strong reputation as a safe and natural way to change that trend. It seems that the extract in question, known commercially as COLD-fX, contains high levels of a group of substances known as polysaccharides. These naturally occurring chemicals have been shown to support the body’s immune system by increasing the numbers and activity of natural killer cells, macrophages and t-lymphocytes – major players in various stages of the immune response. (1,2)
In March 2006, a study investigating the effects of COLD-fX on “acute respiratory illness” (ARI) appeared in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 43 healthy seniors were given a 200 mg capsule of N. American ginseng extract or a placebo twice a day for a total of 4 months. After one month of treatment, all the participants were also administered an influenza vaccine. The volunteers were asked to document their experiences for any signs of respiratory illness and take note of any adverse effects that might be due to either “medication”. Here’s what the study results revealed:
  • No adverse reactions were reported in the placebo and treatment volunteers.
  • During the first two months of the trial, both groups reported similar outcomes.
  • The second half of the study demonstrated a 48% reduction in ARIs in those using ginseng and a 55% decrease in ARI symptom duration.
The authors of the study concluded that, “Daily COLD-fX administration can thus be a safe, natural therapeutic means of prevention of ARI in healthy seniors”. (3)
A larger trial, presented in the journal Canadian Family Physician, examined the impact of N. American ginseng or a placebo on a total of 279 volunteers of all ages (18-65). The one common trait they possessed was having had at least 2 colds during the previous year. Approximately half of the group was given 200 mg of N. American ginseng twice daily. The remainder took an identical looking placebo. Once again, the duration of the trial was 4 months.

The results of this investigation clearly indicate that the ginseng users had a lower incidence of colds, fewer instances of multiple colds, less severe symptoms and fewer days where they exhibited any cold symptoms. As in the previous study, no side effects were noted. (4)
Ginseng’s effects may be even more profound when it’s pitted against influenza. Two trials published in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society point to an “89% relative risk reduction of acute respiratory infections” during influenza season. What’s encouraging about these studies is that they were shorter in length (8 and 12 weeks) and involved volunteers with an average age of over 80. This may indicate rapid immune boosting effects and a broad degree of safety, even in populations that may be more vulnerable to adverse reactions. (5)
There is a very real safety concern about giving young children any type of preventive medicine, natural or otherwise. Therefore, a toxicity experiment was conducted and appeared in the August 2008 issue of the journal Pediatrics. It studied the relative safety of COLD-fX in a group of 46 children (aged 3-12) who developed upper respiratory infections. No adverse effects were noted in the children given a low or moderate dose of the ginseng extract or the inert placebo. (6)

All of the above research was conducted on North American ginseng. But other varieties of this root, such as Korean red ginseng, may also promote a vital immune system. However, different kinds of ginseng may impact immunity differently. For instance, Korean red ginseng is theorized to keep the body’s defenses strong with a stress reducing effect. Ginseng has historically been known as an adaptogen, a substance that aids the body to adapt to physical and psychological stressors. Researchers in Matsuyama, Japan have recently determined that this stress adaptation can possibly support efforts to prevent the common cold and flu. (7)

Finally, I want to mention an Italian study from way back in 1996. It’s an example of ginseng being used as part of an integrative approach. 227 volunteers were given either a once daily ginseng supplement (Ginsana G – 100 mg) or a placebo for a total of 12 weeks. At the 4 week mark, they all were administered an influenza vaccine. Those receiving the ginseng were nearly three times less likely to catch a cold or flu in the subsequent 2 months, as compared to the placebo + vaccine group. Blood tests revealed that antibodies rose significantly more in the ginseng users, as did natural killer cell activity – two markers of enhanced immune function.(8)

The issue of whether or not to get the flu vaccine is shrouded in controversy. The decision needs to be carefully examined on a case by case basis. I personally choose not to have a yearly “flu shot”, but from here on out, I will strongly consider using ginseng during those times when my immune system may need some additional support.
Be well!

Trenta Sized Starbuck’s Lemonade Could Include 21 Teaspoons of Sugar

he mega-sized Starbucks 31-ounce drink, the “Trenta,” joins the ranks of other drinks that can pack plenty of caffeine and calories. Ellen Schuster, a nutrition expert, says that Americans should be wary of extra calories and sugar in the quest for bigger, bolder drinks.
Trenta Sized Starbuck’s Lemonade Could Include 21 Teaspoons of Sugar”The sheer size of new coffee and energy drinks increases consumers’ potential for unhealthy calorie and sugar consumption,” said Schuster. “A ‘Trenta’-sized Starbuck’s lemonade could include 21 teaspoons of sugar – much more than should be consumed at one time, or in one day.”
Excess sugar is common in many prepared beverages. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, people who consume drinks with added sugars consume more total calories, and studies have found that drinking sweetened beverages is related to weight gain.
Health experts at the Mayo Clinic note that moderate consumption of coffee and other caffeinated beverages is unlikely to cause harm, but large quantities in excess of 500 mg, or more than four cups of coffee, can cause difficulty sleeping, irritability, restlessness, stomach problems and irregular heartbeat. Especially of concern is caffeine consumption among children and adolescents.
“Energy and coffee beverages are subject to the same nutrition rules as other foods and drinks; it’s all about moderation,” Schuster said. “Ideally, it’s best to avoid drinking calories, because drinks leave you less full than solid foods. By eating calories in the form of high-calorie, high-sugar drinks, people crowd out other nutritious foods. However, like any indulgence, it’s fine to order a ‘Trenta’ drink as an occasional treat.”

Friday, March 15, 2013

Top 10 Supermarket Superfoods

Superfood is term that seems to get thrown around quite a lot these days. Whether it be the simple tomato or an exotic berry cultivated from the depths of the Amazon rainforest, these foods are revered for doing everything from being antioxidant powerhouses to rejuvenating the body and slowing the aging process. The question is, what exactly is a superfood and what are the best ones to include in your diet to maximize your fitness and health goals?

Superfood is a term that arose in the 1990s. They are called superfoods because they are thought to contain very high amounts of certain nutrients, making them a valuable addition into your diet. The potential health benefits of a superfood include:

  • Regulating your metabolism and helping to burn body fat
  • Protecting the bodies organs from toxins
  • Regulating blood pressure and lowering cholesterol levels
  • Helping reduce or even prevent inflammation in the body
  • Preventing cancer and heart disease
  • Promoting digestive health

There is a lot of debate about what makes a superfood or which items should be named a superfood. So, I’m going to help organize things for you based on my personal opinion. In this two-part article I will detail my top twenty superfoods and break them down into two groups: top ten supermarket superfoods and top ten exotic superfoods. Now exotic doesn’t mean they are rare; in this instance, I just mean they are not always supplied in your supermarket but will generally be able to be sourced from your health food store.

 1. Tomatoes 
 2. Olive Oil
 3. Oily Fish
 4. Berries
 5. Broccoli
 6. Natural Yogurt
 7. Lean Meat
 8. Avocado
 9. Kale
 10. Eggs
  Read More

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Eat A High-Protein Breakfast To Lose Fat & Keep It Off—Better Training Performance Too

Eat a high-protein breakfast to lose fat and keep it off.  Research shows that you can lose much more weight and avoid regaining it if you eat a high-protein, low-carbohydrate breakfast rather than skip it altogether or opt for a high-carb breakfast. In addition, eating breakfast before working out will allow you to burn more fat during your workout and achieve a greater post-workout calorie burn.

A recent study from Italy found that contrary to popular belief, training on an empty stomach will not help you burn more fat than if you ate a light meal containing protein and healthy fats beforehand. Researchers compared the effect of having young men run for 38 minutes at a moderate intensity of 65 percent of maximum heart rate after eating breakfast or skipping it.

Results showed that the group that ate breakfast burned significantly more fat for fuel than the fasted group during the workout (14 percent more). Fat oxidation was favored during the 24-hour recovery period after the workout as well. The breakfast group also had greater post-exercise oxygen consumption, which indicates they burned more calories over the 24 hours after training.

The authors concluded that if the goal is body composition, the greatest fat loss will occur by eating breakfast before training because it will enhance the burning of fat for fuel. In addition, by eating protein and saving carbs exclusively for post-workout, muscle gains can be maximized by supporting protein synthesis.

Pair this news with a new study that tested the effect of breakfast and subsequent meal frequency on weight loss. This Spanish compared fat loss in people who naturally ate breakfast and had their main meal (as in the Spanish custom) prior to 3 pm, with the same diet in people who normally skipped breakfast, eating their main meal after 3 pm.

Results showed that the early lunch eaters lost more weight and displayed a faster weight-loss rate during the 20-week study than those who ate later and skipped breakfast. Energy intake, exercise levels, and dietary composition were equal between groups, indicating that meal timing and frequency appeared to be the primary difference leading to greater weight loss.

The take away is that to breakfast is critical and that you should follow it up with frequent small meals every few hours for optimal body composition. Favor high-protein, healthy fat whole foods and limit carb intake. Be sure to always eat before training—avoid intermittent fasting—to ensure maximal focus, drive, and fat burning for optimal performance.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Why should older people do power training?

We know that as you get older strength training becomes critical, but it seems like power training maybe even more important.

But what is power?

Strength is the ability  of muscles to produce force, whereas power is the ability of the muscles to produce force more quickly or rapidly. For example, if person A does one rep of bench press at 3 sec, while person B does the same weight in 1 sec, B has  greater power.

Why older folks need power than strength?

Muscle loss: Once you hit your 40’s and 50’s, there is a steady decline in muscle mass. This decline in muscle mass (called sarcopenia) could be partly due to reduced activity and decreases in anabolic hormones with ageing.
Also, with ageing you seem to lose one specific type of muscle more than the other. There are two types of muscle fibers: Type 1 and Type 2. Type 2 fibers are the fast fibers or the power fibers. They are the fastest and the strongest and can produce power 2-4 times more than type 1. Unfortunately, with ageing, there is a preferential loss of the number and size of the these type 2 fibers. Guess what happens when you lose the fast or power muscle fibers?
Functioning: In older folks, what is important is physical functioning. It doesn’t matter if you can bench a lot or has a six pack, but can’t do your daily functions. Function is the most important factor affecting quality of life. Below is a nice picture of how loss of strength and power can gradually lead to functional limitation and finally disability. This is when your quality of life goes down, you become dependent on others, gets admitted to nursing care facility and things turn a bit sad from there onwards . So one of the critical questions in ageing research is how can we improve physical function in older people and prevent this slippery slope towards disability.
weight training older adults
Strength or power? : Number of studies have shown that power to be associated with the ability of older adults to perform activities of daily life such as walking, climbing stairs, rising from a chair and so forth and is considered to be a stronger predictor of function than strength.  Power is also a stronger predictor of falls than strength.  Also muscle power declines at faster rate than strength (3-4% vs 1-2%)
So the bottom line is power maybe more important than strength in older folks.  

So is power training better than regular resistance training?

Not all, but a few studies have shown an increase in power with power training than regular weight training. Strength has shown to increase to similar extent in both groups.
A recent meta-analysis looked at the same question and concluded “power raining is feasible for older folks and has a small advantage over strength training for functional outcomes”
However, there are still more questions about the optimal loading for power, volume for power, which functional outcome measures to use, the long term effects, the feasibility in frail individuals and so forth.

Ok so how the heck do I do power training?

Fast reps: When I say power training , it doesn’t mean using olympic lifts and plyometrics. Here power training means just a simple modification - lifting the load as fast possible - and keeping everything else the same.

Majority of the studies used machines, 2-3 sets for major muscle groups for 2-3 days per week and used an intensity around 70%1RM for 8-10 reps.

What about the safety?

Most studies looked at non-frail individuals so we don’t know how frail individuals can perform power training safely.
Until now, we haven’t seen any more increase in adverse outcomes in studies using power training compared to regular resistance training.
For frail individuals, a lower intensity (40% of RM) might be a better option


  • Power training seems to be slightly better than regular strength training in older folks to improve physical functioning
  • The only simple modification required to do power training is to lift the weight as fast as possible.
  • This is a very important area of research and has lot of unanswered questions, and more research is clearly needed
  • Next time when you train an older client or if you are old and working out, keep this in mind.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Exercise May Help Protect Children From Stress

Physically active children generally report happier moods and fewer symptoms of depression than children who are less active. Now researchers may have found a reason: by one measure, exercise seems to help children cope with stress.

Finnish researchers had 258 8-year-old boys and girls wear accelerometers on their wrists for at least four days that registered the quality and quantity of their physical activity. Their parents used cotton swabs to take saliva samples at various times throughout a single day, which the researchers used to assess levels of cortisol, a hormone typically induced by physical or mental stress.

There was no difference in the cortisol levels at home between children who were active and those who were less active. But when the researchers gave the children a standard psychosocial stress test at a clinic involving arithmetic and storytelling challenges, they found that those who had not engaged in physical activity had raised cortisol levels. The children who had moderate or vigorous physical activity showed relatively no rise in cortisol levels.

Those results indicate a more positive physiological response to stress by children who were more active, the researchers said in a study that was published this week in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. The children who were least active had the highest levels.
“This study shows that children who are more active throughout their day have a better hormonal response to an acute stressful situation,” said Disa Hatfield, an assistant professor of kinesiology at the University of Rhode Island, who was not involved in the study.

Dr. Hatfield noted that the study did not control for sugar intake, which has also been associated with higher levels of cortisol. And as the researchers themselves noted, the wrist-born accelerometers could not accurately measure certain activities like bicycling or swimming.

Michael F. Bergeron, a professor of pediatrics at the University of South Dakota and executive director of the National Youth Sports Health and Safety Institute, cautioned that chronic levels of cortisol might be a better measurement of a child’s propensity toward stress, rather than the single-day measurements taken in the new study.
“A single response to a single stressor may be what the body needs to do, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing,” he said.

Although elementary schools in the last decade have generally been supportive of physical education, only 29 percent of high school students meet the national guideline of 60 minutes a day, said Russell R. Pate, a professor of exercise science at the University of South Carolina, who has worked on national studies of fitness levels in students.

“It’s not a huge surprise that kids who are encouraged to be more active would be more relaxed,” he said.
In a school, a child who gets more activity on a daily basis, Dr. Hatfield said, will respond better to everyday stressors like tests and social challenges. “The study suggests the physiological reason: it may be because their hormonal response is different,” she said

Monday, March 11, 2013

Weight Watchers Suffers PR Disaster in Sweden

Weight Watchers recently suffered a true PR diaster in Sweden. They’ve run a lot of TV commercials this year with its new spokesperson in Sweden, pop singer Shirley Clamp. This under the slogan “Weight Watchers – because it works”.

A Swedish paper revealed the truth behind the commercials. Shirley Clamp did not lose weight with Weight Watchers. Instead, from June to August 2012, she went to the exclusive private Bülow Clinic (price tag around $3200), which provides a very different method, including hormone supplements. A few weeks after her significant weight loss at the Bülow Clinic she signed a lucrative contract to become the public face of Weight Watchers.

Expressen (Swedish paper): Weight Watchers knew that Ms. Clamp had already lost weight (Google translated from Swedish) 

So what does this mean? Can Weight Watchers really continue to use Ms. Clamp as its face to the public and its slogan “Because it works” when Ms. Clamp has lost weight in a very different way? It would be more than unethical.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Forget Cholesterol, Inflammation’s the Real Enemy



It’s the inflammation in the blood vessel which is the cause of the lesion, the body then sends the cholesterol like a scab to cover over it and protect the vessel wall from further damage.” ~                              Dr. Beverly Teter, University of Maryland
There seems to be a growing acknowledgement in the medical and health science fields that cholesterol is more of a signal, rather than overt cause, of heart disease. Like the police officers who show up at the scene of the crime, cholesterol happens to be present at the scene of atherosclerosis.  But far from being the much-maligned enemy of heart health, it might actually be part of the body’s attempt to protect itself from further damage.

Where does that damage come from? Inflammation is one suspected culprit, and oxidative stress from unstable polyunsaturated fatty acids might be another. If that theory pans out, than the very diet plans that are commonly promoted for helping fight heart disease might actually make it worse. Further, if inflammation is a key factor, than the anti-inflammatory effect of some statin drugs could explain some of their positive results in certain patient categories.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Eat Your Heart Out


Over the last several decades, it has become accepted wisdom that consuming saturated fat, the type found in meat and butter, is bad for you. Starting in the 1960s, studies showed convincingly that saturated fat raises cholesterol levels and that these elevated levels, especially of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, or LDL (the so-called bad cholesterol), increase heart disease. Studies also showed that consuming polyunsaturated fats — safflower, corn and soybean oils — reduced people’s levels of overall cholesterol and LDL and should be encouraged.

But new studies may be upending those assumptions. Researchers with the National Institutes of Health and other organizations recently resurrected the results of a long-overlooked Australian study conducted from 1966 to 1973, in which one group of men with heart disease increased omega-6-rich polyunsaturated fat intake to 15 percent of calories, while reducing saturated fat intake to less than 10 percent. Another group of men with heart disease continued their normal diets.

The men were followed for an average of 39 months, and those on the polyunsaturated-rich diet lowered their cholesterol levels by an average of 13 percent. But they also were more likely to die, and in particular to die of a heart attack, than those who stuck with their usual diet, which consisted of about 15 percent saturated fat.
This study — the results of which weren’t fully analyzed when it was conducted in the early days of enthusiasm for polyunsaturated oils — adds to a small but unsettling body of data suggesting that consuming polyunsaturated oils, even though they reliably lower cholesterol, may nevertheless increase your risk of heart disease.

In broader terms, the new analysis muddies the already murky issue of just how diet affects heart-disease risk and health in general. Polyunsaturated oils, while decreasing cholesterol, may simultaneously promote inflammation throughout the body, says Philip C. Calder, a professor of nutritional immunology at the University of Southampton, in England, who wrote an editorial accompanying the new analysis. This inflammation may initiate heart disease and “outweigh any possible good effect” of the oils.
More fundamentally, we don’t fully understand how high cholesterol levels contribute to heart disease. Some would argue, Calder wrote in an e-mail, that “the link between cholesterol and heart disease is not actually as strong as we think.” That possibility, while startling, lends credence to other studies showing that assiduously sticking to a diet rich in fish oils, another heart-healthful fat, doesn’t necessarily protect people from heart attacks or strokes; and that those who carry extra pounds, even to the point of being slightly obese, may live longer than people who weigh less.

None of this is to say that there are no links between diet and heart disease or longevity. We know that synthetic trans fats seem particularly risky. And that the interplay between what you eat and your particular genetics may be primary. But the truth is, at this point, we don’t truly understand how it all works. Calder said the new analysis might prompt some people to recommend lowering the use of vegetable oils, substituting animal fats instead, but that he wasn’t ready to come to that conclusion.

Friday, March 8, 2013

The Post-Workout Supplement Window: What You Need & When You Need It

Post-workout nutrition is essential and will produce better strength, body composition, and endurance results, according to your training goal. However, there’s much confusion and debate as to what you need to consume and when you need it. This tip will tell you what we know for sure based on the research, and provide additional pointers from practical experience for best results.

A review of post-workout nutrition studies published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition makes the following points:

1)    Theoretically, there is a post-workout window of opportunity in which trainees need to consume nutrients immediately after training to achieve optimal rebuilding of damaged tissue and restoration of energy reserves. A supercompensation effect means that body composition and exercise performance will be enhanced if trainees consume the proper ratio of nutrients during the “window.”

The importance and existence of the “window” depends on a variety of factors including training status (trained or untrained), age, volume and intensity of training, workout mode (aerobic vs. anaerobic), and training fasted or fed, among other things. Therefore, there’s no universal answer, but there are basics that shouldn’t be ignored.

2)    Muscle glycogen is a source of energy during resistance training:  Studies show that a moderate volume can reduce muscle glycogen by between 12 to 38 percent. But there’s also evidence that high-intensity resistance training with low muscle glycogen doesn’t impair anabolic signaling or muscle protein synthesis during the post-workout recovery period. This suggests that if you’re trying to lose fat, or improve your body’s ability to burn fat for energy, training in a glycogen-depleted state may not be a bad thing.

But, if you are training twice a day, whether in endurance sports or strength training, you should definitely take carbohydrates post-workout to replenish glycogen stores. Additionally, if you are very lean and your goal is strength and muscle development, using carbs in the post-workout window is a good idea because research shown that glycogen is replenished faster during the first two hours after training. Best results come from taking carbs with protein.

3)    High-intensity training with moderate volume (6 to 9 sets per muscle group) has been shown to reduce glycogen by up to 39 percent. But, this or greater volume typically requires decreased training frequency that permits for the replenishment of glycogen without urgent post-workout carb feeding. If you train exhaustively with recovery of less than 24 hours, carbs are called for, otherwise, they aren’t required for the purpose of replenishing glycogen.

4)    Muscle protein breakdown is best prevented by eating a high-quality protein meal pre-workout, and then supplementing with protein after training. The authors suggest that the classical post-exercise objective to quickly reverse catabolic processes to promote recovery and growth may only be applicable in the absence of a properly constructed pre-exercise meal. Don’t train on an empty stomach!

5)    The key here is that acute muscle breakdown and protein synthesis both contribute to long-term muscle and strength gains, so you have to consider how nutrition affects the pair and look at what you get from proper nutrition over the long-term.

Taking protein right after training leads to greater muscle development in old and young subjects and in the trained and untrained. For example, a study that compared taking protein and carbs immediately after lifting and two hours after showed that elderly untrained men had greater growth in the quad muscles when supplementing immediately after training. Male body builders also benefited more from taking protein, carbs, and creatine pre- and post-workout than taking the same supplement in the morning and evening.

6)    For advanced trainees and the elderly, utilizing the “window” appears most important. For advanced trainees, protein synthesis happens more in the myofibrillar component than mitochondrial, meaning immediate feeding with a high concentration of the amino acid leucine and whey are needed. The elderly also benefit from a large dose of leucine and an overall large amount of protein—one study showed greater protein synthesis in the elderly from 40 grams of whey immediately after training compared to 20 grams.

Take away the following points:

Don’t train on an empty stomach. Eat protein and healthy fat and avoid fast-digesting carbs before lifting.

Always take whey protein or amino acids post-workout to support protein synthesis and muscle development.

Based on practical experience, you should consider taking branched-chain amino acids during training to prevent protein breakdown.

If your goal is fat loss, avoid carbs post-workout. Otherwise, use them wisely—if your goal is glycogen replenishment and muscle building a conservative approach is to consume a supplement containing carb and protein in a 3:1 or 4:1 ratio within 30 minutes following exercise. This translates to 1.2 to 1.5 g/kg of simple carbs (dextrose, sucrose) with 0.3 to 0.5 g/kg of a quality protein containing essential amino acids.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Fish Oil News for Women

Holistic practitioners pride themselves in treating individuals based on their unique needs and requirements. However, even when dealing with a holistic physician, it’s still important to make sure that you are indeed receiving personalized care. For instance, the effects of any given supplement may have slightly or significantly different effects based on age, gender and medical history. In practice, this could mean that one form of fish oil is better suited for pregnant women and another for those trying to improve exercise performance.

A slew of recent studies are helping to define how to best use omega-3 fatty acid supplements in female populations. Some of the latest findings reveal that: 1) Taking supplemental fish oil, but not plant-based omega-3s, such as chia seeds, assist with body fat and weight loss. In addition, “long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids” support physical performance which, in turn, promotes consistent exercise and healthier body composition. 2) Taking a minimum of 200 mg of DHA, a fatty acid found in fish oil, and a maximum of 600 mg daily reduces the risk of premature birth and very low birth weight. The use of pre and postnatal DHA has, likewise, been shown to benefit cardiovascular function (i.e. higher heart rate variability) and a healthier body mass index (BMI) in children followed up to the age of six. 3) Fish oil rich in DHA more effectively lowers platelet aggregation, a measure of “blood thinning”, than EPA rich fish oil. EPA is another prominent, long-chain fatty acid contained in fish and fish oil. 4) Supplemental fish oil should be considered a viable therapy for women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), “a common female endocrine disorder associated with several risk factors of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases”. A recent trial involving 64 women with PCOS found that 4 grams/day of fish oil, providing a total of 480 DHA and 720 EPA, improved various markers of cardiometabolic health including elevated insulin, high triglycerides, low adiponectin and HDL (“good”) cholesterol. Finally, if you need one more reason to consider taking fish oil, do it for your skin. A study published in the March 2013 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports that fish oil supplementation prevents UV-related photoimmunosuppression. By protecting the skin against solar ultraviolet radiation, fish oil therapy may minimize the risk of skin cancer.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Natural Tips To Increase Testosterone To Get Leaner and Stronger

The hormone testosterone is associated with body fat and muscle mass in men: Low testosterone means you’ll have more body fat, less muscle, and put yourself at risk of disease. It is also an important hormone for women, however, the key is to keep everything in balance for both sexes.

To do this, you have to make sure you aren’t lacking key nutrients, or engaging in habits that compromise your testosterone levels such as being sleep deprived, drinking alcohol, or exposing yourself to hormone disruptors like BPA and phthalates. This tip will cover the basics for increasing testosterone (T) for optimal body composition and health.

First, you must solve the following nutrient deficiencies: Vitamin D, magnesium, and zinc. Vitamin D is all the rage in the medical world for preventing disease and improving health, and rightly so. Low vitamin D puts you at risk of having more body fat, less strength, more risk of bone fracture, and a host of other problems including low T. It appears that vitamin D inhibits aromatization in which T is turned into estrogen. Take vitamin D daily to raise your levels above 50 ng/ml to prevent low T—one study had men take 3,332 IUs for a year and found blood levels and T were significantly improved at the end of the trial.

Magnesium is another extremely common deficiency that is linked to low T due to this  mineral’s role in enhancing vitamin D activity, improving sleep, and aiding insulin health. Taking 500 mg of magnesium a day is a no-brainer for health and body composition, especially if you are working out since magnesium must be present to enable forceful muscle contractions.

Zinc deficiency predicts low testosterone in men, by avoiding aromatization of T to estrogen. Zinc is involved in hormone conversion and it’s a potent antioxidant, protecting the organs for optimal function. Solve low zinc by doing a zinc taste test, or better yet, get a red blood cell zinc test the next time you get a physical because the regular serum blood readings don’t reflect trace mineral levels in the body. If you have low zinc take a high quality zinc supplement that is not cut with calcium because this will impair absorption.

After solving nutrient deficiencies, you need to focus on decreasing stress because it will lead to high levels of cortisol, testosterone’s primary nemesis. Assuming you have a basic handle on stress in your life, make sure you aren’t sleep deprived (this is repeatedly linked to low T, high cortisol, and poor insulin health), and focus on clearing cortisol after intense exercise. Vitamin C will do this and if you take regularly, it has been shown to raise T. Try 2 to 10 grams after your workout.

Your final tool to improve T levels is a high-protein, “clean” diet with regularly spaced meals. Anytime your blood sugar is elevated, T will be temporarily reduced, which means that if you experience repeated elevations in blood sugar throughout the day, your T levels will become depressed. For example, one study found that men who had normal insulin health had a 25 percent decrease in T after ingesting a drink containing sugar. T remained low for 2 hours, and nearly 80 percent of the men had their T drop to levels that would be considered clinical testosterone deficiency.

Obviously you MUST manage blood sugar and the best way to do that is by eliminating all carbs other than vegetables and fruit and eating high-protein, healthy fat diet. The other benefit of this that you need fat from both saturated and unsaturated sources to provide the building blocks for T in the body.

Lastly, eat regularly spaced meals every 2 to 3 hours to support T. Avoid missing meals or long periods of fasting because emerging evidence suggests this will compromise T: A new study on male rats showed that 12 weeks of intermittent fasting with calorie restriction led to a significant reduction in T and luteinizing hormone (involved in T production) compared to rats that were allowed to eat at will.

Take away the understanding that supporting T is not hard, but simple errors have a devastating effect. Focus on the key nutrient deficiencies, a clean diet, sleep, avoiding endocrine disruptors, and blood sugar regulation and you will experience rapid progress in terms of health and body composition.

Monday, March 4, 2013

40 Yd Dash Timing and 2013 NFL Combine Recap

The 2013 NFL Combine was last weekend and despite what appeared to be fairly unimpressive times, the reality is that the NFL has finally moved out of the stone age and began officially using FAT (electronic) timing. So instead of the times being slow...they are, for the first time since the combine was conducted, fairly reliable and legitimate. This is made painfully obvious by this nice article comparing reported high school and this year's NFL 40 yd dash times. No surprise, but the fastest time (4.27) of 2013 was turned in by none other than 2012 Long Jump Olympian, Marquise Goodwin.The other impressive performance came from 306 lb Terron Armstead who ran a 4.71. All that said, track timing is still more reliable and performances more comparable across eras since we've used FAT timing for over 40 years. But now that football has started to put away the sun dial as a viable timing method we can at least make valid comparisons based on both relatively extrapolations from time, distance, and comparisons between known track splits and the newly reliable 40 yd dash times we'll see at NFL combines. Considering Goodwin's time of 4.27, who has quite an impressive track resume and sports 60m and 100m personal bests of 6.69 and 10.24 we're going to start putting to rest ridiculous claims of the fastest football athletes being faster than the fastest track athletes. Considering Marquises times are both national class but not truly elite sprint performances, I think it's safe to say the top 10 sprinters in the world would quite easily run a 40 yd dash under 4.10 with similar timing and conditions.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Does Vitamin C Help With Colds – Fact or Fiction?

I got a rather nasty case of the common cold last week.
Runny nose, sore throat, mild fever and coughing. You know the drill.
Nothing really newsworthy about that, the common cold is the most frequent infectious disease in humans and the average person gets it several times during the year.
But it got me thinking about the old myth that high-dose Vitamin C can prevent colds.

Does Vitamin C Help With Colds? Fact or Fiction?

This theory was popularized around 1970 when Nobel prize winner Linus Pauling published a book about cold prevention using mega doses of Vitamin C. He used up to 18,000 mg himself, every day (The RDA is 75mg for women and 90mg for men).
At that time, there weren’t really any reliable studies that proved this to be true.
Since then, this has been studied extensively.

Vitamin C And The Immune System

Vitamin C is an antioxidant and necessary to produce collagen in the skin. Collagen is the most abundant protein in mammals, keeping our skin and various tissues tough but flexible.
A deficiency results in a condition known as scurvy, which isn’t really a problem today as most people get enough Vitamin C from foods.
However, it is less known that Vitamin C is also highly concentrated in immune cells and is consumed quickly during an infection (1).

Does it Have Any Effect on The Common Cold?

In the past few decades, multiple randomized controlled trials have examined whether the vitamin has any actual effect on the common cold.
The results have been fairly disappointing.
A meta-analysis that examined 29 trials in a total of 11,306 participants revealed that supplementing with 200mg or more of Vitamin C did NOT reduce frequency of colds (2).
However, there was a tendency for Vitamin C to reduce the severity and duration of colds.

Take Home Message

Basically, if you take Vitamin C, you’ll get just as many colds as you did before but they may be slightly less severe and last for a slightly shorter time period.
Of course, there are other potential benefits of Vitamin C supplementation and there’s a lot of epidemiological evidence suggesting that adequate Vitamin C from foods reduces risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer (3).
Personally I don’t eat a lot of plant foods so my dietary intake of Vitamin C is pretty low, but I do get more than the RDA from my daily multivitamin.