Tuesday, April 30, 2013

: Fat Is GOOD For You: Five Tips For Eating Fat So You Lose Fat


Thursday, April 25, 2013 6:08 AM
Certain fats are extremely good for you. These fats convey abundant benefits including aiding in the achievement of optimal body composition, the prevention of  cancer, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes. Here are five tips for enjoying fat.
#1: Eat A Lot of Omega-3 Fats
You shouldn’t be surprised that the fat derived from fatty fish is extremely important for a healthy body. In fact, they the omega-3 fats are actually called essential fatty acids (EFAs) and you must eat them in order for the body to function properly.
The EFAs support body composition because they are incorporated into the outside lipid layer of cells. This improves insulin signaling to the cells, which allows for a better metabolism, whereas a diet high in carbohydrates and low in EFAs and other fats is very sluggish, leading to fat gain. Other benefits of EFAs are brain protection and lower inflammation throughout the body, allowing for decreased cancer and heart disease risk.
Get omega-3s from fish, fish oil, organic and pastured meat and dairy, and flaxseeds.
#2: Use Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is very high in medium chain fatty acids, which have been shown to promote health, aid brain function, and improve body composition. A recent study found that when Malayans ate 30 ml of coconut oil with each meal for a month they lost a small amount of body fat (about 1 pound) and significantly decreased waist circumference. Make sure the coconut oil you buy is “virgin” and not partially hydrogenated—this is extremely important!
Try cooking with coconut oil in place of vegetable oils. Coconut oil is solid at room temperature and can be treated like butter in recipes, however it has a high smoke point (around 350 degrees), making it ideal for stir-frying.
#3: Eat Butter
Butter is good for you as long as it’s organic and from grass-fed cows. Butter has lots of fat soluble vitamins, especially vitamin K, which is particularly important for bone health because it enables calcium metabolism. In addition, it contains conjugated linoleic acid, which is a potent cancer fighter and has been found to produce fat loss when it is eaten daily.
Butter also contains medium chain fatty acids, which don’t enter the cholesterol cycle, and although butter is high in saturated fats, it won’t raise “bad” LDL cholesterol. The truth is that eaten without an abundance of high carbohydrate foods,  animal-derived saturated fat is benign!
Eat butter however you like, just make sure it’s from grass-fed cows. Avoid margarine, butter substitutes, and opt for a lower carb diet for best health results.
#4: Eat Avocado, Olive Oil & Nuts
Avocado, olive oil, and tree nuts have all been called “anti-obesity” foods by food scientists. They all provide omega-6 fats, which when eaten in balance with omega-3s, are very good for you.
There’s much confusion about omega-6 fats because the typical Western diet is dangerously high in isolated, processed omega-6 fats in the form of vegetable oil. Those are fats you want to avoid, but avocado, unrefined, virgin olive oil (or olives), and tree nuts aren’t processed and can improve body composition, while countering inflammation. Plus, if you eat any of these fats with vegetables, the fat bolsters absorption of vitamins and nutrients in veggies.
Add them to salads, or cooked vegetable dishes. Or try the meat and nuts breakfast, rotating your nut of choice every morning with a different meat.
#5: Go Low-Carb & Avoid All Processed Foods
Processed foods, especially man-made fats and processed carbs, produce chaos in the body because they elevate blood sugar quickly and lead to a lot of insulin being released. Aside from making you feel sluggish, this produces oxidative stress.
Most people have accepted that man-made trans fats are BAD news, but the idea that processed low-fat foods are also horrible for you is taking longer to sink in.
Maybe this is because it’s very counterintuitive that processed carbs, many of which are “non-fat” and “low-fat,” cause cholesterol buildup. The reason is that when the fat is removed from the products, they are digested very quickly and the carbs hit the blood sugar with a bang, producing inflammation and high cholester

Monday, April 29, 2013

How Much Protein Should You Be Eating?


The answer – wait for it – depends on who (and what) you are. Your goals, your age, your activity levels, your size, and your health status all impact how much protein you need. And although individual protein requirements ultimately depend on dozens of variables that we can’t really know, there are some baseline intakes that can serve as a foundation for different groups. Let’s take a look.

The Sedentary

The RDA of 0.8 g protein/kg bodyweight or 0.36 g protein/lb bodyweight assumes you are sedentary, uninterested in gaining muscle, and free of health issues that might compromise your lean mass. If that describes you, the RDA is a good baseline from which to experiment. Just don’t go below that.

The Active

Athletes need more protein than the average person, but perhaps not as much as most fitness enthusiasts think (or consume). A 2011 paper on optimal protein intakes for athletes concluded that 1.8 g protein/kg bodyweight (or 0.8 g protein/lb bodyweight) maximizes muscle protein synthesis (while higher amounts are good for dieting athletes interested in preserving lean mass), whereas another settled on “a diet with 12-15% of its energy as protein,” assuming “total energy intake is sufficient to cover the high expenditures caused by daily training” (which could be quite high). One study even found benefit in 2-3 g protein/kg bodyweight (0.9-1.4 g protein/lb bodyweight) for athletes, a significant increase over standard recommendations. That said, I wouldn’t be too quick to discount anecdotal evidence or “iron lore.” A significant-enough portion of the strength training community swears by 1-2 g protein/lb bodyweight that it couldn’t hurt to try if lower amounts aren’t working for you.

The Dieters

Weight loss involves a caloric deficit (whether arrived at spontaneously or consciously). Unfortunately, caloric deficits rarely discriminate between lean mass and body fat, while most people are interested in losing fat, not muscle/bone/tendon/sinew/organ. Numerous studies show that increasing your protein intake during weight loss will partially offset the lean mass loss that tends to occur. In obese and pre-obese women, a 750 calorie diet with 30% of calories from protein (about 56 grams) preserved more lean mass during weight loss than an 18% protein diet. Another study in women showed that a 1.6 g protein/kg bodyweight (or 0.7 g protein/lb bodyweight) diet led to more weight loss, more fat loss, and less lean mass loss than a 0.8 g protein/kg bodyweight diet. Among dieting athletes, 2.3 g protein/kg bodyweight (or a little over 1 g protein/lb bodyweight) was far superior to 1.0 g protein/kg bodyweight in preserving lean mass. And, although specific protein intake recommendations were not stated, a recent meta-analysis concluded that high-protein weight loss diets help preserve lean mass.

The Injured

Healing wounds increases protein requirements. After all, you’re literally rebuilding lost or damaged tissue, the very definition of an anabolic state. One review recommends around 1.5 g protein/kg bodyweight or close to 0.7 g protein/lb bodyweight for injured patients.

The Elderly

The protein RDA may not suffice for older people, who lose thigh muscle mass and exhibit lower urinary nitrogen excretion when given the standard 0.8 g protein/kg bodyweight. What’s good for the goose may not be good for the elderly, frail gander. More recent studies indicate that a baseline intake of 1.0-1.3 g protein/kg bodyweight or 0.5-0.6 g protein/lb bodyweight is more suitable for the healthy and frail elderly to ensure nitrogen balance. As always, active seniors will probably do better with slightly more, and evidence suggests that increasing protein can both improve physical performance without necessarily increasing muscle mass and increase muscle mass when paired with extended resistance training in the elderly.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Heart Surgeon Speaks Out On What Really Causes Heart Disease

Dr. Dwight Lundell

These recommendations are no longer scientifically or morally defensible. The discovery a few years ago that inflammation in the artery wall is the real cause of heart disease is slowly leading to a paradigm shift in how heart disease and other chronic ailments will be treated.

The long-established dietary recommendations have created epidemics of obesity and diabetes, the consequences of which dwarf any historical plague in terms of mortality, human suffering and dire economic consequences.

Despite the fact that 25% of the population takes expensive statin medications and despite the fact we have reduced the fat content of our diets, more Americans will die this year of heart disease than ever before.

Statistics from the American Heart Association show that 75 million Americans currently suffer from heart disease, 20 million have diabetes and 57 million have pre-diabetes. These disorders are affecting younger and younger people in greater numbers every year.

Simply stated, without inflammation being present in the body, there is no way that cholesterol would accumulate in the wall of the blood vessel and cause heart disease and strokes. Without inflammation, cholesterol would move freely throughout the body as nature intended. It is inflammation that causes cholesterol to become trapped.

Inflammation is not complicated -- it is quite simply your body's natural defence to a foreign invader such as a bacteria, toxin or virus. The cycle of inflammation is perfect in how it protects your body from these bacterial and viral invaders. However, if we chronically expose the body to injury by toxins or foods the human body was never designed to process,a condition occurs called chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation is just as harmful as acute inflammation is beneficial.

What thoughtful person would willfully expose himself repeatedly to foods or other substances that are known to cause injury to the body? Well, smokers perhaps, but at least they made that choice willfully.

The rest of us have simply followed the recommended mainstream diet that is low in fat and high in polyunsaturated fats and carbohydrates, not knowing we were causing repeated injury to our blood vessels. This repeated injury creates chronic inflammation leading to heart disease, stroke, diabetes and obesity.

Let me repeat that: The injury and inflammation in our blood vessels is caused by the low fat diet recommended for years by mainstream medicine.

What are the biggest culprits of chronic inflammation? Quite simply, they are the overload of simple, highly processed carbohydrates (sugar, flour and all the products made from them) and the excess consumption of omega-6 vegetable oils like soybean, corn and sunflower that are found in many processed foods.

Take a moment to visualize rubbing a stiff brush repeatedly over soft skin until it becomes quite red and nearly bleeding. you kept this up several times a day, every day for five years. If you could tolerate this painful brushing, you would have a bleeding, swollen infected area that became worse with each repeated injury. This is a good way to visualize the inflammatory process that could be going on in your body right now.

Regardless of where the inflammatory process occurs, externally or internally, it is the same. I have peered inside thousands upon thousands of arteries. A diseased artery looks as if someone took a brush and scrubbed repeatedly against its wall. Several times a day, every day, the foods we eat create small injuries compounding into more injuries, causing the body to respond continuously and appropriately with inflammation.

While we savor the tantalizing taste of a sweet roll, our bodies respond alarmingly as if a foreign invader arrived declaring war. Foods loaded with sugars and simple carbohydrates, or processed with omega-6 oils for long shelf life have been the mainstay of the American diet for six decades. These foods have been slowly poisoning everyone.

How does eating a simple sweet roll create a cascade of inflammation to make you sick?

Imagine spilling syrup on your keyboard and you have a visual of what occurs inside the cell. When we consume simple carbohydrates such as sugar, blood sugar rises rapidly. In response, your pancreas secretes insulin whose primary purpose is to drive sugar into each cell where it is stored for energy. If the cell is full and does not need glucose, it is rejected to avoid extra sugar gumming up the works.

When your full cells reject the extra glucose, blood sugar rises producing more insulin and the glucose converts to stored fat.

What does all this have to do with inflammation? Blood sugar is controlled in a very narrow range. Extra sugar molecules attach to a variety of proteins that in turn injure the blood vessel wall. This repeated injury to the blood vessel wall sets off inflammation. When you spike your blood sugar level several times a day, every day, it is exactly like taking sandpaper to the inside of your delicate blood vessels.

While you may not be able to see it, rest assured it is there. I saw it in over 5,000 surgical patients spanning 25 years who all shared one common denominator -- inflammation in their arteries.

Let's get back to the sweet roll. That innocent looking goody not only contains sugars, it is baked in one of many omega-6 oils such as soybean. Chips and fries are soaked in soybean oil; processed foods are manufactured with omega-6 oils for longer shelf life. While omega-6's are essential -they are part of every cell membrane controlling what goes in and out of the cell -- they must be in the correct balance with omega-3's.

If the balance shifts by consuming excessive omega-6, the cell membrane produces chemicals called cytokines that directly cause inflammation.

Today's mainstream American diet has produced an extreme imbalance of these two fats. The ratio of imbalance ranges from 15:1 to as high as 30:1 in favor of omega-6. That's a tremendous amount of cytokines causing inflammation. In today's food environment, a 3:1 ratio would be optimal and healthy.

To make matters worse, the excess weight you are carrying from eating these foods creates overloaded fat cells that pour out large quantities of pro-inflammatory chemicals that add to the injury caused by having high blood sugar. The process that began with a sweet roll turns into a vicious cycle over time that creates heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and finally, Alzheimer's disease, as the inflammatory process continues unabated.

There is no escaping the fact that the more we consume prepared and processed foods, the more we trip the inflammation switch little by little each day. The human body cannot process, nor was it designed to consume, foods packed with sugars and soaked in omega-6 oils.

There is but one answer to quieting inflammation, and that is returning to foods closer to their natural state. To build muscle, eat more protein. Choose carbohydrates that are very complex such as colorful fruits and vegetables. Cut down on or eliminate inflammation- causing omega-6 fats like corn and soybean oil and the processed foods that are made from them.

One tablespoon of corn oil contains 7,280 mg of omega-6; soybean contains 6,940 mg. Instead, use olive oil or butter from grass-fed beef.

Animal fats contain less than 20% omega-6 and are much less likely to cause inflammation than the supposedly healthy oils labelled polyunsaturated. Forget the "science" that has been drummed into your head for decades. The science that saturated fat alone causes heart disease is non-existent. The science that saturated fat raises blood cholesterol is also very weak. Since we now know that cholesterol is not the cause of heart disease, the concern about saturated fat is even more absurd today.

The cholesterol theory led to the no-fat, low-fat recommendations that in turn created the very foods now causing an epidemic of inflammation. Mainstream medicine made a terrible mistake when it advised people to avoid saturated fat in favor of foods high in omega-6 fats. We now have an epidemic of arterial inflammation leading to heart disease and other silent killers.

What you can do is choose whole foods your grandmother served and not those your mom turned to as grocery store aisles filled with manufactured foods. By eliminating inflammatory foods and adding essential nutrients from fresh unprocessed food, you will reverse years of damage in your arteries and throughout your body from consuming the typical American diet. 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Movement Reserve: Enhancing the Physiological Buffer Zone

by Patrick  http://optimumsportsperformance.com

has been, and always will be, much debate about why athletes get injured.  This is the holy grail question that keeps researchers busy in the lab, coaches scratching their heads, and athletes constantly frustrated.
Injuries are a complicated event and usually cannot be linked to one single variable (aside from a contact injury).  In my mind, I think of three main categories that influence the state of the athlete:
  1. Stress Overload
  2. Poor Fitness
  3. Poor Movement
The first two have been discussed before in previous blog entries.  Obviously, we should be doing everything we can to try and monitor and manage the stress and fatigue of the athlete to ensure that they are in an optimal state of readiness for their competitive season.  Part of being able to tolerate the stresses of practice and the game is being in shape.  Plain and simple, being out of shape is huge problem!  An athlete can have an amazing movement capacity but if they are unfit the chances of them being able to sufficiently use their movement throughout the course of a game, as fatigue sets in, will drastically be reduced.  Additionally, athletes who do not possess a level of basic general strength (which is a component of fitness) will lack the ability to tolerate the stress of the season.
Poor movement is an interesting addition to the puzzle and one that has come under scrutiny lately as many want to take shots at the idea that having a decent movement base to draw from can potentially limit your chances of getting injured.
I tend to see many of these arguments being one-sided, with advocates arguing either for or against the issue.  I’d rather take the middle ground and say that (a) we probably don’t know exactly why most injuries happen and (b) it is probably a combination of all of the things above instead of just taking a myopic view and saying that one thing is the only thing or one thing is more important than anything else.  As stated earlier, if you have great movement but poor fitness, you are no more bullet proof than the guy with great fitness but less of a movement base.
Theory of Movement Reserve
With all of this in mind it led me to come up with my idea of what I call movement reserve.
What this basically means is that the athletes who do have a well-developed movement capacity appear to have a little bit larger physiological buffer zone when the circumstances are not perfect and the stars are not all aligned.
Obviously we do all we can to manage stress but no situation is 100% perfect.  If the team has to fly across country, the plane is delayed getting in, everyone misses dinner, and then they don’t get a good night sleep, the head coach cannot just go to the other head coach and say, “Our team is really exhausted.  Do you think we can put the game off until tomorrow so that we have another day to rest?”  It just doesn’t happen!  And, as an athlete, if a coach says “you have to play”…you have to play!  Even if that means you are a little bit tired, the HRV numbers are poor, and your level of stress is high.
In these instances, when there is more fatigue/stress than usual and when their body is not fully recovered/rested, it is the athlete with better movement capacity (and better general strength) that can get in the game and challenge their bodies knowing that their physiological buffer zone is a little bit greater than the guy who, when trying to push himself and operate under a high level of fatigue, doesn’t have the ability to manage his bodies ranges of motion and joint positions.
In a nut shell, when the chips are on the line, when the athlete starts to fatigue those with the greater movement capacity have some movement reserve to fall back on.  I believe that this may be one of the reasons why when looking at the research on the Functional Movement Screen it appears to be most valid in the NFL population.  This is a group of people who are trying to push their body to the max limit of its capacity and do so under some considerable amount of fatigue.
If you take the time to do all of the things above:
  • Manage stress with a good training and recovery program
  • Develop fitness – work capacity, strength, power, etc – to adequately prepare for the season
  • Enhance movement reserve – ensure that joint ranges of motion, mobility, joint stability, etc, are healthy - and then integrate of all of these things into systematic whole body movements to help increase the physiological buffer zone
you have a much better chance (in my opinion at least) to keep athletes as healthy as possible.
Look at all the factors of the athlete and try not to get stuck in the black & white arguments.  Nothing in the body is as simple as that.  Allow the body to express its complexity and embrace the grey area between the black & white by accepting the fact that no one has all of the answers (and maybe never will).

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Foam Rolling & Increased Joint ROM

Foam rolling has become a popular modality used both in warm ups and as a method to assist in recovery from hard training. Little is known about how foam rolling works but the main goal and reason for its use is to decrease muscular tension and improve range of motion, similar to the way in which massage is often used.

A recent study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research by MacDonald and colleagues aimed to understand the effects of an acute bout of foam rolling on knee joint range of motion and muscular force.
The subjects, 11 healthy recreational resistance training males (ages 18-25) participated in the study and were asked to report to the lab on four different occasions, separated by 24-48hrs of rest, each occasion focusing on either baseline measurements or a foam rolling intervention.
  • Test Day 1 – A Range of Motion (ROM) assessment was followed by 2min of rest and then the assessment was taken again at 2min and 10min post rest
  • Test Day 2 – Muscle force production was measured using maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) and evoked muscle activation and was followed by 2min of rest and then the assessment was taken again at 2min and 10min post rest
  • Test Day 3 – A Range of Motion (ROM) assessment followed by 2min of foam rolling and then the assessment was taken again at 2min and 10min post foam rolling
  • Test Day 4 – Muscle force production was measured using maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) and evoked muscle activation and was followed by 2min of foam rolling and then the assessment was taken again at 2min and 10min post foam rolling
All test conditions were preceded by a 5min bike warm up.
Foam Rolling Protocol
Foam rolling was performed on a foam roller constructed from hollow PVC pipe surrounded by a neoprene foam of 1cm thickness. The subjects were taught to roll their quadriceps from origin to insertion for 1min. They then rested for 30sec and then rolled for another minute – 2minutes of total foam rolling.
Some Key Findings
  • Foam rolling did not produce significant differences in either voluntary or evoked muscular force output
  • Acute foam rolling significantly increased knee flexion ROM at both 2 and 10min post foam rolling
Practical Application
The increase in joint ROM is a promising finding of this study as improving joint mobility is often a goal of warming up for activity/training.  Additionally, athletes who lack joint ROM in certain areas may find foam rolling to be a beneficial modality to help assist with limitations. While most associate foam rolling with relaxation its application has been used significantly in warm ups over the past several years and if often followed with some form of stretching activity or mobility activity where the muscles are taken through a range of motion, held of a second or two, and then brought back to their starting position, this sequence repeating for several repetitions. As I discussed in a blog article 3 years ago, Stretching As A Part of the Warm Up: Can We Make It Work?, when these two modalities are followed by a more active/dynamic warm up that prepares the nervous system there does not seem to be the performance decrement that most research notes when stretching is immediately followed by a test of maximal power.

Interestingly there was not a decrease in force output of the muscle, as one would assume that foam rolling would cause a greater amount of relaxation in the tissue similar to the findings of other massage research (Wiktorsson-Moller, et al). McKechnie, et al. did find a similar result – improved ankle joint ROM without a decrease in power output – using a 3 minute massage treatment of either Petrissage or Tapotement to the calf musculature.

I do wonder if some of this has to do with the fact that in massage research the subjects are at the mercy of the therapist and the therapist can adjust their touch and depth of pressure to “meet the subject’s nervous system where it is at” rather than trying to force things and go too deep, too fast, and hoping that this produces the results they would like. Perhaps the density of the foam roller in this study was too hard or maybe the subjects leaned too aggressively into the foam roller and really pushed, as many do with the “no pain, no gain” approach that is often taken with foam rolling? Or perhaps there is just something about human touch that allows for more relaxation, comfort, and an ease of tension? Additionally, time may be an issue when it comes to decreasing muscular force, as indicated in Wiktorsson-Moller et al’s study which used a 7-15min massage protocol administered by a therapist and showed a decrease in quadriceps isometric force and hamstring isokinetic force. Additionally, Crane et al have shown that longer periods of time on one area (10min on the quadriceps alone) produced a positive influence on inflammation following an intense bout of exercise (HERE is my write up of that paper from last year).

The time piece is a critical element, in my opinion, as everyone adapts at different rates and their nervous systems ability to adapt may be related to a variety of factors – fitness level, stress, perception, nutrition/hydration, etc – which is why I find it odd that some therapists will perform a few passes on a muscle and expect things to be normalized in 2min. I believe that to be truly comprehensive you need to take a holistic approach, think big picture, and consider how you want to influence more than just a few muscles within a treatment session. So, perhaps the subjects in the study just needed more time in order to see a favorable result in terms of decreased muscle force output?
Wrapping up
This was an interesting study and shows some promise that foam rolling may have something beneficial to offer besides the anecdotal praises that it currently enjoys. We still don’t know how it exactly works, what it exactly does, and we don’t know all of the things that rolling your muscles on a piece of PVC may actually influence within the body. Regardless, it seems to do something and if that something improves a client’s ability to perform or feel better and does not have negative effects on health then I am all in!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Long Runs vs. Sprints


Which develops VO2 max more effectively: long runs done within a lower heart rate zone, or high-intensity training, i.e. sprints? Or does it depend on the individual?


 For those who aren’t physiologists or exercise geeks, VO2 max is shorthand for maximal oxygen uptake, a standard measure of aerobic fitness. About half of anyone’s VO2 max is innate, genetics studies suggest; you’re born relatively more or less fit. The rest is up to you.

Until recently, most experts believed that to improve fitness, you needed to complete lengthy runs or other endurance workouts. But lately, some have begun to swear by short bursts of extremely taxing exercise, a routine known as high-intensity interval training. Whether one is more effective than the other at building endurance, though, remains in dispute. ‘‘There is not a lot of scientific literature” directly comparing the two, says Martin Gibala, chairman of the department of kinesiology at McMaster University in Ontario.
He, however, votes for intervals. Data from his lab, he says, show that even a few minutes per week of high-intensity intervals can “increase VO2 max to the same extent” as many hours per week of more moderate, prolonged endurance training.
Other scientists have found that intervals can elicit even greater increases in VO2 max than longer, slower workouts, if the total energy output is the same. This means that, per minute, you get more physiological bang from intervals, an important consideration if your exercise time is limited. ‘‘Of course,’’ Dr. Gibala adds, ‘‘it is probably most effective’’ to deploy both intervals and traditional longer workouts.

Monday, April 22, 2013

How Many Heart Beats Do We Get?

It's a question that every runner is asked at some point: "Aren't you afraid you're using up all your heart beats by exercising so much?"

First of all, for the record, let's just do some simple math. Let's say you're a sedentary dude with a resting pulse of 60. Each day, your heart beats 24*60*60 = 86,400 times. Now let's say you're a real nut who takes up running, and works up until you can go for an hour every day with a pulse of 160 (which is likely an overestimate). As you get fitter, your resting pulse drops to 50. Now, in any given day, your heart beats 23*60*50 + 60*160 = 78,600 times. So in fact, by running, you're saving 7,800 beats every day!

The reason I bring this up is an interesting Danish study just published in the journal Heart. Essentially, they followed 2,800 middle-aged and older men for 16 years, and found that higher resting heart rate at the beginning of the study predicted a greater chance of dying before the end of the study. This is no big surprise -- cardiovascular fitness lowers resting heart rate and also raises life expectancy. But this study had a twist: in addition to asking the subjects how much exercise they got, they also tested their VO2max to get a reliable measure of cardiovascular fitness. Here's the relationship between resting pulse and VO2max:


Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Main Difference Between Different Types of Shoes

from  http://lifehacker.com

So, you're standing in the store and staring at 1,000 different shoes. What's the difference between all of these? Essentially, running shoes are typically marketed in four different types:
  • Motion Control: These shoes are typically the most rigid and heavy shoes available. They have more support and cushion then other running shoes. They're typically recommended for people with flat feet, or who are heavy runners.
  • Stability: Stability shoes are recommended for people who overpronate. This means your foot tends to roll inward slightly when you're running.
  • Cushioned/Neutral: As the name suggests, neutral shoes are designed for people with a neutral gait. Typically they have a little bit of cushioning.
  • Minimalist/Barefoot shoes: These shoes tend to have little to no cushioning or support. They're meant to mimic barefoot running as closely as possible while still providing the protection many people need.
What does this all mean to you as a shopper? Not that much, actually.
A lot of footwear companies are shying away from the rigid categories above because a number of studies that have shown previous ideas about foot type and the kind of shoe you need aren't as accurate as you'd think. A series of studies done by U.S. Military showed that the type of shoe isn't as linked to injury as we used to think. Additionally, studies from the University of British Columbia, and the British Journal of Sports Medicine show that how shoes are prescribed and sold is typically over-simplistic and not based on evidence. Basically, the way running shoes are sold doesn't exactly correlate to injury prevention or comfort.
That said, running shoes are still important. As WebMD points out, running shoes don't have lateral stability because you don't move your foot side-to-side when running. Other shoes, like basketball or tennis shoes, provide lateral support, which you don't really need when you're running. The American Podiatric Medical Association recommends that if you participate in one sport on a regular basis you should buy a sport-specific shoe.
So, how the heck are you actually supposed to pick a pair of shoes? Podiatrist Ian Griffiths suggests it's about comfort (links to referenced studies ours based on footnotes):
All decisions could and should be based on one main factor in my opinion: comfort. Believe it or not comfort has been linked to injury frequency reduction and is thought to be the most important variable for sports shoes, and a focal point for any future sports shoe development. We all know that comfort is subjective and subject specific so with that in mind only the wearer can confidently choose the most appropriate shoe for themselves. [Be wary of the shop assistant/Podiatrist who tells you the exact make and model shoe which is best for you]. What one person finds comfortable will differ greatly from another; perhaps this is why some people find that stiff supportive shoes work best for them, and others discovered that barefoot running was the answer to their long history of injury woes.
The unfortunate truth here is that it takes a bit of trial-and-error to get the right pair of shoes. As The New York Times points out a lot of debate still surrounds the best shoe type and running style. While the shoe types that you find in stores can help narrow down your options, they're not the end all of finding the right shoe.

Once you actually figure out the differences between all these different types of shoes, it's time to pick the pair that's best suited for you. This is a surprisingly hard task.
If you're new to running, or if you're having trouble with the shoes you have, then you might need to reassess what type of shoe you need. To that end, it's a good idea to head into a specialized running shop and get advice and a fitting from them. Most stores dedicated to just running shoes have a staff that's trained to help with fitting. When you're there, they'll take a look at your posture, age, and physique. Then they'll pair that up with your goals, training intensity, and where you're running to get you into the right type of shoe. If it's your first pair of running shoes, it's not a bad idea to skip Zappos and pick them up in person so you can actually get the fit right.

Fit is the most important thing, and that means the heel is snug, you have enough space for the ball of the foot to move a little, and enough room to wiggle your toes. For a few more tips for getting the fitting right, head over to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeon's athletic fitting guide to make sure you're trying them on right.

As far as price is concerned, The New York Times suggests that it doesn't really matter. Certain shoes might be better made than others, but comfort and fit are more important than whatever the price tag says.

From a technology perspective, no two shoes are exactly alike, and a pair of shoes a friend swears by might not work for you. When you're shopping for shoes remember the main goals: comfort, support, and fit. That's all that really matters when it boils down to it. As many runners often say: the best running shoe is the one you never notice.
Good luck,

Friday, April 19, 2013

Old age is simply a 'state of mind

from  http://www.dailymail.co.uk

Krystal Warmoth, from the University of Exeter, believes that older people who categorise themselves as elderly and decrepit are more likely to behave as though they are.

She interviewed 29 older people in the southwest of England and asked them about their experiences of aging and fragility.

She discovered that an elderly person’s attitude could lead to a loss of interest in participating in social and physical activities, poor health, and reduced quality of life. 
One respondent summed up the findings: ‘If people think that they are old and frail, they will act like they're old and frail,’ she said.

Ms Warmoth also discovered there can be a cycle of decline whereby perceiving oneself as frail can lead to a person disengaging from activities that could reduce the likelihood of frailty - such as physical exercise.

This, in turn, makes them more likely to become frail and to have a poor quality of life.

Ms Warmoth said: ‘This study gives an insight into the role of psychological factors in older adults’ health and activity levels.’

However, plenty of elderly people are clearly following Ms Warmoth’s advice.
A 2010 report from the Health Protection Agency found a rise in the number of people in their 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s having sex with new partners since 2000.

The study also found that there had been an increase in all of the five main STDs in older age groups, with the age group 45 to 64 witnessing the biggest rise in syphilis, herpes, chlamydia and genital warts between 2000 and 2009.

Meanwhile, researchers at North Carolina State University found that elderly people who played video games had 'higher levels of well-being'.
They asked 140 people aged 63 and above how long they play games for, then put them through tests to asses their emotional and social well-being.
Sixty-one per cent of participants said they played video games 'at least occasionally', while 35 per cent said they played at least once per week.
The results of the study indicated that those who played games occasionally reported higher levels of well-being, whereas those that did not play reported 'negative emotions and a tendency toward higher levels of depression'.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Chain Restaurant Nutrition: 12 Easy Ways to Less Unhealthy


Here are 12 best tips on how to eat healthier in chain restaurants – without offending anyone OR derailing your diet:
  1. Look Online: Most large restaurants have their nutrition information online. You can prepare in advance by deciding what’s least harmful to you. By the way, we’ve recently started to add some of this information into our app.
  2. Avoid the Salad Trap: Salads can be healthy, but some of the most unhealthy dishes in a restaurant can be a salad! This is usually due to the dressing. Just because something is called a salad, does not make it healthy! Applebee’s Pecan Chicken Salad has 1320 calories, almost 80 grams of fat, 17 of which are saturated and 2610 mg of sodium! Order 1/2 a portion with dressing on the side for better nutrition.
  3. Go Vegetarian or Vegan: Even if you’re not a vegetarian, veggie or vegan dishes tend to have more vegetables and grains, less processed ingredients and a better nutritional profile. Seek out those options.
  4. Soup’s the Word: Soups might not be low in salt or calories, but choosing a healthier soup can be better than a main dish. Choose fiber-rich soups like bean soups, with chili and vegetables. Avoid high calorie soups such as cream-based soups and carb-based soups like potato or noodle soups.
  5. Get Fishy: While chicken used to be the go-to dieter’s protein, baked fish dishes tend to be a bit healthier and less processed than the chicken, which can come pre-sauced, pre-breaded, par-fried or with added salt and flavor.
  6. Side Dishes as Main Dishes: Side dishes, like salads, soups, potatoes and veggies can make a healthier main dish.
  7. Avoid GMOs the Smart Way: If avoiding GMO is one of your top priorities, avoid ordering dishes with GMO ingredients as best you can. Assume that anything that can be GMO, is GMO – this means corn, soy, any frying oils, and probably salad dressings & sauces. You can avoid much of it by looking for soy in an item’s allergy warnings and not ordering anything fried.
  8. Be Demanding: Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want – even if it isn’t on the menu, like side dishes as main dishes. You can make yourself healthier combinations. Be ready to pay a little more, but don’t be bashful – most restaurants are happy to help.
  9. Take Out 1/2: No matter what you order, portion sizes can be out of control when it comes to main dishes. When the food arrives, try cutting it in half before you even start eating. If you’re too embarrassed to have it wrapped up right away, visually separate what you’re prepared to eat and what you’re taking home.
  10. Eat Ahead of Time: If you’re invited out for lunch, you can always eat the lunch you brought and then tag along to the restaurant for a coffee or tea. If you’re going for a nighttime dinner, eat before you go and nobody will be the wiser.
  11. Watch Your Alcohol: An alcohol-impaired mind can fuel overeating, grazing and bad choices. If you’re going to drink with your meal, order before you drink and don’t let alcohol decide you’re gong to have dessert.
  12. Be Polite: If you’re philosophically opposed to these chain restaurants and the ingredients they use, that’s great, but now is not the time to vocalize it. You’re going out to be with your co-workers, friends, family, etc. not to make a political statement. Be a polite guest or politely decline. Your invite out was not a request for castigation. Try steering the next outing in a more healthy direction, but do it nicely.
Lastly, remember . . . you eat healthy 95% of the time – don’t sweat the 5% when you don’t.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

How Long Does It Take to Get Hydrated?

Jeff Barnett

long does it take to get hydrated before training? Just 45 minutes, says a recent study from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. Challenging the popular notion that complete hydration requires you to drink yourself into a water-induced coma, this study shows that just 600ml of water ingested 45 minutes prior to training is enough to take an athlete from mildly dehydrated to fully hydrated.

The study was conducted on ten recreationally active men and women, each about 25 years old and weighing close to 160 pounds. They were all instructed to arrive at the testing lab dehydrated. Hydration status was determined by measuring urine specific gravity - they peed in a cup. Then the subjects were fed a variety of water-based solutions: pure water, Gatorade, and something in-between. Hydration was measured again at 30, 45, and 60 minutes after drinking.

Participants went from mildly dehydrated to fully hydrated in 45 minutes by consuming 600mL of water. That’s less than two bottled waters. Researchers also found no difference between water and Gatorade for achieving hydration. What does this mean for you?

First, this study is only applicable to getting hydrated before exercise, and the participants were only mildly dehydrated. They had not just finished a half-marathon in the Mojave Desert, which would have required more than 45 minutes and 600mL of water for recovery. So as your workout approaches, drink a couple glasses or bottles of water in the hour prior. This will ensure you perform your best.

Finally, don’t worry about drinking some magic concoction of salt, ginseng root, and unicorn blood to get hydrated before your workout. Plain old water will work just fine. But post-exercise is a different story. Research has shown that after you lose significant water during intense exercise, a drink containing electrolytes will help you rehydrate more quickly than water alone.

Personally, I’m stoked that I don’t have to visit the urinal every thirty minutes starting at 8:00AM just to get hydrated for my afternoon workout. Of course, for that half-marathon in the Mojave I might get started early, but it appears that a couple glasses of water and 45 minutes are plenty to prepare most of us for training.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

American Football Declining?


I have to admit that I was surprised to see the article below a few days ago. Here in the U.S.A. the game we call football (we call the game the rest of the world calls football, soccer here) dominates the sporting landscape. The revenue generated from filling stadiums with fans each Fall along with booster donations, pretty much funds the rest of the sports at most high schools and universities. Football drives the strength and conditioning programs as the facility design, and scheduling access are determined by the desires of the football staff. Football players receive the greatest amount of recognition and rewards from society and from the schools they represent.

The article claims a large drop in participation here in our state of Arizona. I'm not sure that I have actually seen such a drop in our area, although I have to say that the quality of athlete seems to have dropped some in the last few years. I coached football for 23 years and have been out of it for about 9 years now. On some of the last teams I coached we had every player capable of a minimum 100 kg. clean. Now our local team might have two players who are able to do that. Double bodyweight squats were the norm, now they are rare. This decline is not limited to football either. The track results also show similar deterioration. I recently officiated the Discus at a varsity track meet with 20 teams and didn't even have 9 boys throw over 100 ft. The winning distance was 119 ft. This all concerns me.
While I think that maybe the increased coverage of concussions may have something to do with the decline in football participation, I fear that the major cause is lack of desire by many of our youth to do anything physically challenging. It is easier to play fantasy football on the computer than it is to prepare and practice. While our best athletes are better than ever in many ways, with improved training and nutritional knowledge and resources, the numbers who are actually taking advantage are decreasing. Here in the U.S., during the last election, much was made of the growing gap between the rich and the poor. I can see some validity in that. Well, I also see a growing gap between the few who value physical health and strength and those who think it has become obsolete in our techno world.

If you are reading this, I know which side you are on. Don't let go. The world needs Warriors more than ever. Read More

Saturday, April 13, 2013


 10 things the soda industry won’t say

You are either hard wired to save or not


Updates on Compression Clothing and Block Periodization

Joe Friel

 Compression clothing
I first wrote on compression clothing in October 2007 after seeing so many athletes in the Hawaii Ironman wearing them in the race that year. They continue to be used extensively in many endurance sports. There wasn’t much in the research literature on them then, and over the years only a little has been added. I’ve continued to follow the topic and done updates periodically (March 2009, February 2011, May 2011). Here are two more recent studies followed by comments.
de Glanville KM, Hamlin MJ. 2012. Positive effect of lower body compression garments on subsequent 40-kM cycling time trial performance. J Strength Cond Res, 26(2):480-6. 

Fourteen male triathletes were divided into two test groups. One group wore a full leg-length compression stockings and the other a similar looking non-compression garment continuously for 24 hours after a 40k time trial. Following the day of recovery while wearing the stockings they took them off and once again did the 40k TT. One week later the groups reversed the clothing worn and repeated the entire 40k time trial-24 hours of recovery wearing the socks-40k time trial protocol. 

After wearing the compression stockings performance time in the second time trial improved, on average, by 1.2% and average power increased 3.3% compared with wearing the non-compression stockings. The athletes’ rating of perceived exertion during the subsequent tests did not change significantly.
Born DP, Sperlich B, Holmberg HC. 2013. Bringing light into the dark: effects of compression clothing on performance and recovery. Int J Sports Physiol Perform, 8(1):4-18.
This is a review of the existing literature on the effect of compression garments on performance and recovery. The review found little change in performance while wearing the garments, but they noted improvements in recovery when the subjects wore them.

My opinion on compression clothing has not changed since I first wrote about them five years ago. I doubt there is a significant improvement in performance while wearing them. In a triathlon, the time to put them on in T1 is probably greater than any time gained while wearing them. But there may be a post-workout benefit that could speed recovery prior to the next workout or race. I’ll keep watching for this topic in the literature and let you know what I find.

Block periodization
Back in 2011 I described a relatively new way of organizing training time for advanced athletes called “block periodization” (herehere and here). In block periodization the athlete focuses on only one or two aspects of fitness (what I call “abilities:” aerobic endurance, muscular force, speed skills, muscular endurance, anaerobic endurance and sprint power) within a block lasting for a short time – usually three to six weeks. As explained in the above previous blog posts, block periodization is intended only for advanced athletes. Moderately trained athletes are best advised to follow a linear (“classic “or “traditional”) periodization plan as described in my Training Bible books.
There is very little research done on periodization and that which is available usually uses strength athletes as subjects. Such studies of endurance athletes are rare. But here is one that is a recent update on the topic of periodization.
Rønnestad BR, Hansen J, Ellefsen S. 2012. Block periodization of high-intensity aerobic intervals provides superior training effects in trained cyclists. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 
Nineteen experienced and fit cyclists were divided into two groups for this Norwegian study comparing block and traditional periodization. Each group trained for 4 weeks and did 8, high-intensity interval sessions and otherwise low-intensity aerobic training. Their training volume, both for high- and low-intensity workouts, was the same over the 4 weeks. The only difference was how the weeks were structured. 

The 10 riders following the block periodization protocol did 5 of their 8 interval sessions in the first week and then only one each in the last 3 weeks (along with the low-intensity sessions). This concentration on only one ability for a brief period of time followed by maintenance is common in block periodization.
The other group of cyclists who followed the traditional periodization plan spread the 8 intense workouts over the 4 weeks doing 2 each week along with the low-intensity sessions on the other days.
So what was the result? Those following a block periodization program improved their VO2max (one physiological indicator of aerobic fitness) by 4.6% (+/-3.7%). This group started with an average VO2max of 62.2 mLO2/kg/minute so they bumped the average up to just over 65. Their peak power at VO2max increased by 2.1% (+/-2.8%). And this group elevated their power at 2mmol/L of lactate (approximately their aerobic thresholds, similar to low zone 2) by 10% (+/-12%). The traditional periodization group saw no significant changes in these same metrics.
The block periodization group’s numbers are all remarkable given that the gains would have almost certainly been attained in just the first week with only 5 hard workouts. That makes me wonder. One of the problems with such a study is that it isn’t possible to use a double-blind protocol in which neither the subjects nor the researchers know who is following which protocol. This raises the question of a placebo effect. But also note that some of the block periodization subjects had decreases in both their VO2max (-0.7%) and aerobic threshold (-2%) power. That’s a good sign in a way as it confirms what happens in the real world – some positively respond to the protocol and some get worse. It happens in nearly all aspects of training. Such is life.

So far the few studies I’ve seen on the topic have indicated that there may be good reasons for advanced and highly fit athletes to follow a block periodization program. If you fall into this rather small club be sure to read my other blog posts listed above before making such significant changes to your training.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Vitamin A

Brad Sly http://breakingmuscle.com

What Does Vitamin A Do?

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin found in many foods that is involved in immune function, vision, reproduction, and cellular communication. Vitamin A comes in many forms, but only from two sources. One group is found in animal-based foods. These are called retinoids. The other group is found in plant-based foods. These are called carotenoids and include beta-carotene. Beta-carotene in the body is converted to vitamin A.

One of vitamin A's major functions is helping with vision. This is because the human retina has four photo pigments that store vitamin A. Rhodopsin is one of these pigments and is located in the rod cells of the retina. Rhodopsin is responsible for the rod cells detecting small amounts of light and allows us to see at night and in dimly-lit conditions. Retinal, the aldehyde version of vitamin A, is used to manufacture rhodopsin and is also involved in the reactions that cause visual excitation by light hitting the rod cells of the eye.

Vitamin A also supports cell growth, playing a critical role in the normal formation and maintenance of the heart, lungs, and kidneys. It also helps form and maintain healthy skin, teeth, skeletal and soft tissue, and mucus membranes. It may also be needed for reproduction and breast-feeding.

Foods Rich in Vitamin A

There are many foods rich in vitamin A and beta-carotene. Vitamin A comes from animal sources, such as eggs, meat, milk, cheese, cream, liver, kidney, and cod. If you drink skim milk it should be noted that generally it will be fortified with vitamin A.

Sources of beta-carotene include bright orange and yellow fruits such as cantaloupe, pink grapefruit, and apricots, and vegetables such as carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, and squash. Other good sources of beta-carotene include broccoli, spinach, and most other dark green and leafy vegetables. Just remember that the more intense the colour of a fruit or vegetable, the higher the beta-carotene content.

Vitamin A Deficiency

Vitamin A deficiency due to a poor diet is quite rare in developed countries. Deficiency could be attributed to inflammatory diseases like Crohn's and celiac because the digestive track becomes damaged and this affects the absorption of vitamin A. Zinc deficiency, alcoholism, and pancreatic diseases can also affect vitamin A levels in the body. Nutrients that can help with vitamin A absorption in the body include vitamins B2, B3, B12, C, D, and E, as well as magnesium, selenium, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, carotenoids, iodine, tyrosine, and zinc.

As vitamin A is an important component for normal vision, vitamin A deficiency can cause night-blindness, or at the very least a decreased ability to see in dim light. Vitamin A deficiency can also manifest as diminished immune system function, which will cause your body to have difficulty fighting infections and healing wounds.

General deficiency symptoms can include dry eyes, night blindness, diarrhea, and skin problems. If you have vitamin A deficiency symptoms you need to see a health care provider who can order blood tests to determine if a vitamin A deficiency is the problem or if there are other causes.

Vitamin A Side Effects

If you get too much vitamin A, you can become sick. Large doses of vitamin A can also cause birth defects. Acute vitamin A poisoning can occur when several hundred thousand IUs of vitamin A is taken randomly or is over supplemented. Symptoms of chronic vitamin A poisoning may occur in adults who regularly take more than 25,000 IU a day. Babies and children are more sensitive to vitamin A, and can become sick after taking smaller doses of vitamin A or vitamin A-containing products.

On the other side large amounts of beta-carotene will not make you sick. Consuming large amounts of beta-carotene can turn the skin yellow or orange, though. The change in skin color will return to normal once the intake of beta-carotene is reduced.

Researched Uses

Scientists are studying vitamin A to understand how it affects health. Here are some examples of what this research has shown:

Cancer: People who consume large amounts of food containing beta-carotene might have a lower risk of certain kinds of cancer, such as lung cancer or prostate cancer. Studies to date have not shown that supplementing with vitamin A or beta-carotene can help prevent cancer or lower the chances of dying from this disease.

Age-Related Macular Degeneration: Age-related macular degeneration is one of the most common causes of vision loss in older people. Among people afflicted, a supplement containing large doses of beta-carotene combined with other antioxidants, zinc, and copper has shown promise for slowing down the rate of vision loss.

Measles: When children with vitamin A deficiency get measles, the disease tends to be more severe. In these children, taking supplements with high doses of vitamin A can shorten the fever and diarrhea caused by measles. These supplements can also lower the risk of death in children with measles who live in developing countries where vitamin A deficiency is common.

Recommended Intake

It is recommended to get the following amounts of vitamin A per day:

  • Infants: 400 micrograms (mcg) a day up to 6 months and 500 mcg up to 12 months
  • Children: 300mcg a day up to 3 years, 400mcg a day up to 8 years, and 600mcg a day up to 13 years
  • Adolescents and adults: 900mcg a day for males 14 and older, 700mcg a day for females 14 and older
  • Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding: You need more, and you should ask the doctor what is best for you in this case.

As you can "see" literally, vitamin A is an important vitamin to include in your diet, but with any type of supplementation always consult your health care provider to make sure you are taking the correct doses. Just remember that you don't want to be caught orange-faced over a lack of vitamin A.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Parallel vs. Full Range of Motion

By: Greg Merritt & Jim Stoppani, Ph.D Flex

Bodybuilders typically perform the squat with their thighs parallel to the floor in the bottom position. Olympic weightlifters, on the other hand, usually do what are known as full squats, where the thighs are well below parallel with the floor, or what some call “ass-to-floor” (deep) squats.

Squatting to parallel is the safest and most effective way to squat. Some experts believe that going any deeper than parallel in the squat can lead to knee injuries. Plus, most guys lack the flexibility to squat any deeper, anyway.

Parallel squats are not full range-of-motion (ROM) squats. Full range of motion is only reached when a squat passes parallel level. To get the most out of a muscle in the areas of strength and hypertrophy, you should use full ROM movements at least some of the time.

Researchers from the University of Alberta, in Canada, calculated what is known as the “net joint movement” (NJM) of the ankles, knees, and hips during both squats to parallel (about 105 degrees of knee flexion) and full ROM squats (about 120 degrees of knee flexion). This technique is used in biomechanical studies to determine the minimum muscular torque required by the muscles that move that joint. In other words, the NJM of the knee joint determines the amount of force supplied by the quads. The more force, the more muscle activity and the stronger the muscle
can get; and the more muscle activity involved, the greater the potential for muscle growth. 
The results: The NJM of the knee joint was approximately 20% greater during full squats than during parallel squats.
Similar results regarding NJM of the knee joint during full squats versus parallel squats were also reported by Swedish researchers in a 1996 study.
And a study presented at the 2008 Congress of the European College of Sport Science reported that subjects performing full squats for 12 weeks had a significantly greater increase in thigh muscle growth compared to those doing shallow squats.
As far as safety of the knee joint goes, several long-term studies suggest that doing full squats does not have a negative effect on knee ligament stability or place the knee joint at risk of injury. Plus, ROM squats reduce stress on the spine.


Based on these studies, it does make sense to try to increase your ROM in the bottom position of the squat for better strength and muscle growth.

To start going deeper with your squats, begin your leg workouts with two to three sets of lightweight squats, trying to go as deep as possible. This will serve as both a warmup and a method for increasing your ROM in the squat. Follow this with your typical squat workout with heavy weights, not worrying about how far past parallel you go down. Over time, you’ll find that your heavy sets of squats are getting deeper and your leg strength and size are becoming greater.
Also, to help you get deeper in the squat, work on your flexibility in your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. Static stretching (hold-and-reach style) works well for this, but be sure to do this AFTER your workouts, as research shows that doing static stretching before workouts can limit muscle strength and power.

You can also work on increasing your
 ROM in the bottom of the squat by using
box squats that get progressively lower over time. If your gym doesn’t have a variety
of box sizes (most don’t), you can use an adjustable decline bench instead. Start with a flat bench, then progressively increase
the decline until you feel comfortable going deep in the squat with a loaded barbell
on your back. You can also do this with a decline bench that’s not adjustable simply by standing farther back for higher squats then progressively moving forward on the bench to go lower. You may also want to consider wearing shoes that have a raised heel, such as Olympic weightlifting shoes (or even
work boots). Or you can place a two-by-four or weight plates under your heels. This will reduce the forward bend of your shins and help you go deeper.
This article was found on: http://www.flexonline.com/training/on-trial-parallel-full-squats

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A Popcorn Trans-Fat Trap


You would think that 7 years after trans fat labeling became mandatory, no products manufacturer would dare use partially hydrogenated oils (trans fats) in their products anymore. According to the FDA, there has been a steep decrease in trans-fats across all food categories.
There is still a loophole of products that contain a small amount of artificial trans-fats (less than half a gram per serving) that label as zero, but overall the situation has improved.
That why we were utterly shocked to discover a “healthy” popcorn snack with no less than 6 (SIX!!!) grams of trans-fat: Meijer’s Kettle Popcorn
A quick reminder: Trans fats are linked to:
  • High cholesterol levels (LDL – bad cholesterol) and low cholesterol levels (HDL – good cholesterol)
  • Heart disease
  • Obesity
  • Liver Disease
  • Infertility
  • Alzheimer’s
Who are the immediate suspects when it comes to trans-fats:
Products such as flavored popcorn, icing, cake mix, pies, pancake mix, rolls, pan-baked bread products, cookies, cookie mix and more are still being produced with trans fats!

How can I avoid artificial trans fats?

  • Check the label or use the Fooducate app.
  • Don’t assume that when a label says 0 trans fats that it doesn’t have trans fats – manufacturers can include up to 0.5 grams of trans fats and NOT put it on the label.
  • Avoid processed foods as much as possible.
  • Learn how to make your own mixes for baking. It will save you money and ensure you avoid controversial ingredients.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Busting common nutrition myths


1. Eggs Are Unhealthy
 Bottom Line: Eggs do not cause heart disease and are among the most nutritious foods on the planet. Eggs for breakfast can help you lose weight.

 2. Saturated Fat is Bad For You
Bottom Line: Newer studies have proven that saturated fat does not cause heart disease. Natural foods that are high in saturated fat are good for you.

3. Everybody Should be Eating Grains

Bottom Line: Grains are relatively low in nutrients compared to other real foods, like vegetables. The gluten grains in particular may lead to a variety of health problems.

4. Eating a Lot of Protein is Bad For Your Bones and Kidneys
Bottom Line: Eating a high protein diet is associated with improved bone health and a lower risk of fracture. High protein also lowers blood pressure and improves diabetes symptoms, which should lower the risk of kidney failure.

Read more: http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/food/busting-common-nutrition-myths/story-fneuz8zj-1226611849627#ixzz2PvAblg6t

Monday, April 8, 2013

Meditate To Sleep Better & Recover Faster From Training: Better Anabolic Response Too!


Start a meditation practice in order to enhance your anabolic hormone levels, recover faster from training, and sleep better. Research suggests that mediation is one of the most powerful habits you can adopt for a healthier life that will also significantly enhance your training results.
Did you know that people who engage in regular transcendental meditation have naturally higher growth hormone, DHEA, and testosterone levels, as well as lower baseline cortisol? It’s true, and research suggests that meditation has a profound “anabolic” effect on the body by regulating the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis for reduced stress. The effects are better cognition, improved mood, less chronic inflammation, and a better metabolism for optimal body composition.

For example, in one study of young men, aged 18 to 32, researchers compared the effect of a 4-month meditation program to a university stress reduction class on hormone levels. Results showed that in the meditation group, average cortisol levels were much lower at the end of the study, whereas the cortisol response to stress was elevated. This is considered to be favorable because it indicates the subjects are dealing with day-to-day stressors better, thereby producing lower stress hormones, and they have an adaptive higher response to a challenge test that poses a threat.

In fact the stress hormone response is supposed to be large, but passing, in that we should only experience it when we are in acute, extreme danger—not all the time, as is happening in modern life. In addition, this study showed higher testosterone, for a more favorable testosterone to cortisol ratio. Growth hormone was also significantly higher in the meditation group, and put together, this hormonal profile is much preferred for health, body composition, and muscle building.

Other studies support this, showing better overall regulation of the stress system for better sleep. For example, meditation can enhance levels of another hormone, melatonin, which is involved in helping you sleep. Not only does it manage your sleep rhythm, melatonin acts as an antioxidant and anti-aging agent. Studies suggest meditation either increases melatonin by enhancing its production from the pineal gland where it is made, or by slowing its metabolism by the liver.

The benefits for sleep have been seen with two studies that show people who meditate experience more REM sleep, and deeper overall sleep. REM sleep can be enhanced by 10 to 17 percent depending on age, and meditation appears to be particularly important for older people who experience less time spent in REM sleep. Researchers suggest a meditation practice could delay aging in the brain.
For guidance in starting a meditation practice, join a meditation group, or take a class. Two online resources that may be helpful include the following:
•    How to Meditate for Beginners.
•    What Meditation Really Is from Sogyal Rinpoche.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

6 Easy and Healthy Tips for the Supermarket Condiments Aisle


How to choose tasty and healthy? Here are some tips that we hope can help:
  1. Condiments are usually packed with flavor and thus used in tiny portions. Make sure you know the serving size suggested on the label compared to what you normally consume.  2 Tbsp of sauce is the amount that would fit into a ping-pong ball.
  2. When choosing salad dressing, choose one with 3-5 grams of fat. Opt for see through choices like vinaigrette. A little fat in your salad dressing helps absorb vitamins A, D, E, and K. Creamy dressings tend to be higher in saturated (unhealthy) fat and calories, so try to stay away from them.
  3. Use mustard instead of ketchup or mayo to reduce calories and fat. Reminder: Ketchup is 30% sugar, and mayo is a combo of oil and raw eggs.
  4. As always, shorter ingredient lists usually make better choices. Many condiments can be filled with artificial flavors, coloring, additives and preservatives.
  5. Some condiments tend to run very high in the sodium department. Especially when considering their small serving size. Spice mixes are a great way to liven up rice, pasta, and soups within pouring on the sodium.
  6. Pickles tend to be extremely high in sodium. Buy the smaller kind or the pickle slices so you don’t over-consume.
What are some of your favorite condiments? How do you use them in your kitchen?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Why You Should Get Up Early

  http://www.mensjournal.com By Laird Hamilton

Almost every guy I look up to – everyone whose life is an example of how to live – is an early riser. All of them wake up in the dark, and they're just revved and ready to go. To me, there's nothing worse than waking up and realizing that the sun's already been up for awhile. I feel like I've missed out, like I'm only getting three-quarters of the day.

I subscribe to the idea that energy perpetuates energy, and nothing makes you more tired than sleeping in or sleeping too much. If I don't get a chance to work out first thing in the morning, my whole day sort of goes awry. Not everyone has the chance to exercise in the morning, but it's still the best time to do it – not only because we're well rested, but because if we burn off some energy first thing, we'll be less restless and better able to concentrate for the remainder of the day. Besides, we're just better equipped to do anything physically demanding in the morning. Our hormone levels peak early. Cortisol, for example, a stress-reducing hormone produced in the adrenal gland, spikes at 7 a.m. Testosterone levels are highest around then, too.

Any undertaking that's going to require your full focus – a stressful task, a journey, a physical challenge – you're probably better off starting first thing in the morning. I know I always perform my best in the morning. And that doesn't mean I haven't surfed well in the afternoon, but my energy, my ability to go for a long period of time and to perform at a high level is better in the morning. But I've never compromised on sleep. Even when I was young and would run around, when it was time to go, it was time to go. I didn't care how cute she was or what my friends were up to – I was never one to stay up all night. Some people say that every hour of sleep you get before midnight is equal to two, and I believe them.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Extra high growth hormone peak with clever interval training


Interval training costs little time, makes you fitter, helps you to reduce fat and boosts your production of anabolic hormones like testosterone and growth hormone. What more do you want?

The Israelis published the results of an experiment in which 12 handball players aged 17-25 had taken part in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. On two occasions the test subjects did interval training on the treadmill, consisting of four sprints. They ran a total of 1000 metres, and took 9 minutes of rest between the sprints.
The difference between the two interval training sessions was in the length of the sprints and the rest periods. On one occasion the rests became longer the further the workout progressed; on the other occasion the rests became shorter.

During the first interval training the subjects started with a 100-m sprint, 2 minutes rest, followed by a 200-m sprint, 3 minutes rest, then a 300-m sprint, 4 minutes rest, finishing with a 400-m sprint [increasing distance].
The second time the handball players did it the other way around. They started with a 400-m sprint, 4 minutes rest, followed by a 300-m sprint, 3 minutes rest, then a 200-m sprint, 2 minutes rest, finishing with a 100-m sprint [decreasing distance].

During the interval training and then an hour afterwards the researchers analysed the athletes' blood. By doing this they found out that the decreasing distance workout resulted in a bigger rise in the lactic acid level, and to a bigger rise in the growth hormone level [structural formula of growth hormone shown here].

The production of cortisol, testosterone, IGF-1 and IGF-BP-3, the inflammatory proteins interleukin-6 and interleukin-1beta and the inflammation inhibitor interleukin-1-receptor antagonist all rose as a result of the interval training, but the rise was the same in all types of training.

Extra high growth hormone peak with clever interval training

The researchers also asked the athletes how tiring they had found the training they did. Here the Israelis discovered that the subjects found the decreasing distance interval training a little less tiring.

Et voila! Higher growth hormone production with even less effort.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

How does a person run a marathon everyday


How do you explain Stefaan Engels? He ran a marathon everyday for a year, ate whatever he wanted, and showed no muscle or cartilage damage.
Engels is certainly impressive, but he’s pretty easy to explain.
He’s an outlier, well-suited for marathon running. I’ve never argued that you can’t run marathons and be healthy. I’ve merely argued that running and (most importantly) training for marathons at an elite level usually means avoiding other beneficial ways to train, and results in aches, pains, and injuries. Just because lots of slow moving, some sprinting, and heavy lifting (and even some endurance work alongside) builds more lean mass and more well-rounded fitness in a fraction of the time doesn’t mean marathoning means certain death.

Not to take anything away, but it was a parlor trick. He took an average of four hours to complete each marathon, which means he was taking a little over nine minutes per mile. For him, an elite endurance athlete (and accomplished triathlete), he probably never got past 60% of his max heart rate, which might not even qualify as chronic cardio in his case. A 9+ minute/mile pace is far better than most people could do, but it’s not very hard for him. He was taking it relatively easy. Engels’ best time was 2:56, and 4:00 is an easy jog for a guy with a sub 3:00 marathon.

As for eating whatever he wanted, exactly! When you’re training for marathons like I was, you have to be willing to shovel just about anything in, purely for the easy and quick calories. Superhuman levels of athletics often require superhuman levels of consumption – just look at Michael Phelps.
Nothing against Engels or his feats, mind you. But his situation really isn’t applicable to the average Joe, for whom I write my books and my blogs.

There were runners in the 1970s who regularly did 250 training miles a week and then raced hard and fast. My friend Dave McGillivray ran across the USA (3,452 miles) in 80 days. He turned out fine, but most of the other guys are dead or ailing now. Many of my triathlon buds had no signs of damage during their careers, but years later had big problems.
So yeah, you can do it, but it doesn’t mean you should.
That’s it for this week, guys. Thanks for reading and be sure to leave a comment!