OK, I am back. Sorry for the lack of writing folks, been crazy with the holidays, never being in any one place consistently. Hope everyone enjoyed their time off and you have some fun plans for tonight. I hope you all enjoyed 2008 as much as I did, it was a hell of a year. So on the Eve of 2009, I thought it would only be appropriate if I recap the 9 best stories, things I learned, or basically anything that was awesome in the past year.
1. Yup, Tony and EC will kill me for this one, but number one has to go to my fiance. We got engaged on Labor Day weekend, and it was probably definitely the best decision I ever made. Tony loves to give me a hard time about it, though he secretly dreams of having 12 kids. I’m gonna stop right there, cause if I write anymore she will probably never talk to me again!
2. Discovering Lyle McDonald. Prior to working at CP, I had never really heard of Lyle. I had heard his name kicked around here or there, but boy was I in for a surprise. Lyle is simply one of the absolute smartest guys in the entire nutrition world. You will learn more info from any of his books, especially the absolutely fantastic The Protein Book, than from a year of nutrition undergrad. Seriously. Thank you Tony.
3. Winning the Inaugural CP Fantasy Football Season/Trophy. I may have gotten the last pick, but I don’t think there was ever any doubt as to who would finish the season on top.
4. Discovering Jonny Bowden. Wow. If you want some unbelievable nutrition info really describing why some foods are so awesome, and some are not, definitely check out Jonny’s stuff. Truly top notch. If there was one book of his many that I had to choose to recommend, it would hands down be The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth. Awesome. If you ever wanted to know why some foods were so good for you; all the nutrients, antioxidants and phytochemicals they contain to make you damn near immortal, then this is it.
5. Finally getting this blog/website up and running. It had taken a long time for me to get the ball rolling on this. I have had a blast and greatly appreciate all the wonderful support and feedback from all of you. I am humbled to know that there are people out there who not only read my incoherent ramblings, but actually might even enjoy them! Thanks again, and here’s to a great 2009.
6. Becoming a Certified Sports Nutritionist. I have had my nutrition degree and CSCS for a while, but since nutrition is my thing, it was nice to get a quality certification to go along with that. I would highly recommend the CISSN exam to anyone interested in working nutritionally with clients. Check out the International Society of Sports Nutrition HERE.
7. Given that I work for Eric, this might not come as a surprise, but I definitely think his Truth About Unstable Surface Training belongs up here. Having worked in a commercial gym as a personal trainer for a year, I have unfortunately seen first hand the ridiculous use of Bosu balls and physio balls employed by trainers who should know better, and just regular gym goers who might not. With this fantastic resource that was based on his Master’s Thesis, Eric lays out why most unstable surface work is incorrect, what use there is of it, and the proper progressions. It is a great read and a tremendous resource for anyone interested in fitness.
8. The Boston Celtics winning their 17th championship against the Lakers. I was too young to remember the old 80′s rivalry, though I’ve heard a ton about it. I have also pretty much only known the Celtics as garbage, so it was very nice to see them become what they once were. PS – if this were the Bruins, it would be #2.
9. Last but not least, Gourmet Nutrition. This cookbook is simply phenomenal. So many healthy and delicious recipes, beautifully photographed, will full nutritional breakdown of each meal. It has everything you could possibly ask for in a cookbook. The original Gourmet Nutrition was excellent as well, but it wasn’t much to look at. The new version, with 120 brand new, spectacular recipes, is off the charts. The protein bar recipes alone are worth the price of the book. And the Pesto Chicken Pizza? Amazing. So do yourself or your loved one a favor, and pick up a copy.
Have a great and safe New Year everyone, and I will see you all in 2009!
Alright, so I haven’t blogged in a while. My fiance was up for the weekend, and we got absolutely buried in snow. It literally did not stop from 1:45 on Friday until about 4 on Sunday.
So, with my excuses now out of the way, here we go. As many of you may know, especially if you read EC’s blog, we had our inaugural CP fantasy football season. Now unlike Eric I have not gloated about the greatness of my team for all to hear. Also unlike Eric, I did not lose in the first round of the playoffs. Boy this is fun. Nope, I am the CP Fantasy Football Champion. I absolutely destroyed Dan T in the finals 113-74. It wasn’t even a contest. I am preparing for the trophy presentation today, and I am already scouting to defend my championship.
Now on to more important matters. I often get questions about “greens” or superfood products. Which ones are the best, which ones suck, which ones actually taste good, etc. To me greens products can be a very helpful addition to one’s diet. Especially for those picky eaters who really just can’t stomach many veggies, or people who are on the go so much that they must rely on a lot of shakes, it is an easy way to increase their fruit and vegetable consumption. I just don’t like to see people replace fruits and veggies with these products. They are merely an addition to an already great diet.
Researched, but tastes like grass
There are many options to choose from, but which ones are actually beneficial? It is a tough question, if all the products actually contain everything they claim to contain, then they all should help. We all know that in the supplement industry there are some very sketchy companies. The most famous of these products is the original Greens+. This product started it all, has clinical research backing it, but unfortunately tastes like grass. It does come in some decent flavored versions, although all of the Greens+ products contains too many grasses for my tastes.
Trader Joes has created a Greens+ alternative. It has similar ingredients, tastes significantly better, and it is also significantly cheaper. This has gotten some good reviews from people whos opinions I trust, so if you are interested definitely check this one out.
My favorite Greens Product
Biotest Superfood is my favorite of all of these products. It contains only freeze-dried fruits and veggies. It does not have any weird ingredients or any grasses. It also tastes great and is an easy addition to shakes, cottage cheese, yogurt, oatmeal and much, much more. Saying all this, I still do not think it is a substitute for real fruits and veggies, merely a helpful addition. Unfortunately, this also happens to be a pretty expensive option. One way I like to cut down the cost is to only use 1/2 serving per day. I already consume a large amount of fruits and veggies, so do I really need both scoops?
In the end, find one that you like, take it at least 3-4 times per week however you desire. The most important thing is it having it be one that you can enjoy, or at least tolerate, while also fitting it into your budget. So have it, just make sure to eat plenty of real fruits and veggies.
I am assuming that most of my readers are “fitness enthusiasts” for lack of a better term. Maybe you are also most interested in the nutrition part of things, makes sense again if you are reading my ramblings. Now how many of you attempt to make “healthy” recipes, only to find they taste boring and bland? I used to be there myself, it is not an uncommon part of the learning process. I am sure some of my college roommates can attest to seeing me eating plain chicken breast with some plain oatmeal and some crystal light, you know, for some flavor. I thought I was being so healthy, leading this spartan lifestyle. I was an idiot. I was missing out not only on the awesomeness of great tasting food, but on the incredible health benefits proper spices and herbs can offer.
Did you know that cinnamon, a great little spice actually has some research showing some pretty kickass health benefits. In a 2003 study on people with type 2 diabetes, taking in just 1/4-1 tsp daily of cinnamon resulted in reduced fasting blood glucose by 18 to 29%, triglycerides by 23 to 30%, LDL cholesterol by 7 to 27%, and total cholesterol by 12 to 26%. This is some pretty powerful stuff.
There is also turmeric. Now this is a tremendous spice. It has been shown to help prevent prostate cancer, and help current prostate cancer from spreading, it may prevent and slow the progression of Alzheimer’s, can help prevent metasteses of several types of cancer, is an anti-inflammatory, natural pain killer and might aid in weight loss.
Now these are just two examples of some great spices that can not only add a tasty kick to your meals, but a great boost to your health. If you are interested in more information on healthy cooking and the making of great tasting foods, look no further than Gourmet Nutrition by Dr. John Berardi. This beautiful cookbook comes with over 120 gorgeously photographed recipes, with nutritional breakdown and the use of lots of great spices and herbs to really rev up your cooking. It is the perfect Christmas gift anyone who wants to improve their nutrition and body composition.
Yeah, the title pretty much says it all. I know some of you will be up in arms, saying that your glass of OJ in the morning is the least of your worries, and you are probably right. There are worse food choices than fruit juice, but it is not nearly as good for you as many believe.
Today at CP I had a nutrition consultation with a client. He is a highly rated college soccer player, and actually had a decent diet. His biggest downfall was his 2-6 glasses of juice per day. That is a ton of extra sugar to consume everyday, with in reality very little to offer in terms of actual nutrients. His goal was to try and drop some weight for next semester, so what do you think was one of the first things to go? Needless to say, too many people have this idea that fruit juice is an incredibly healthy choice, when in reality, it is quite mediocre. Don’t believe me? Keep reading.
For even more evidence here is a 2008 study by Bazzano et al. The study was a huge (over 71,000 nurses) long term (18 years) look at the impact of fruit, vegetable and/or juice consumption on the development of type-2 diabetes. A daily increase of fruit and vegetable consumption of 3 servings per day had no impact on diabetes development, and an increase of 1 serving of leafy green vegetables actually slightly decreased risk. The real shocker was that an increase in just 1 serving of fruit juice daily was correlated with an increased risk of developing diabetes. Now this was a correlational study, it was not a cause and effect study, so it doesn’t prove that consuming juice will lead to diabetes, it merely suggests that it might.
Now there is also some evidence that certain fruit juices may have some benefit. Aviram et al performed a 3-year study on pomegranate juice consumption (the actual product used was POM Wonderful). This study, along with others by Avirum, have shown that pomegranate juice consumption as low as 2oz per day can decrease blood pressure, LDL oxidation and carotid artery thickness. Other juices that may have some benefit are red wine, concord grape, and maybe some blueberry juice.
In conclusion, decrease consumption of juice, eat more real fruits and vegetables, and maybe imbibe in a few ounces of pomegranate juice or a glass of red wine a few times per week. Your body, heart and waist will thank you.
As some of you may know, and some of you probably don’t, I played a ton of very competitive rugby in college. I was introduced to the sport after my hockey playing days were over and loved it immediately. It is a non-stop thrill ride of controlled aggression and actually a surprising amount of skill and strategy. At UMaine we were one of the few top DII teams that did not have a coach (though I believe they kinda have one now), so we weren’t real big on the skill and strategy part.
Rugby in a Horse Barn - Brilliant!
You may be wondering where I am going with this, but just bear with me a little while longer. We were a huge team and at 5’10″ 210 I was one of the smallest guys. Needless to say, we were known for our aggressive defense, and smashmouth offense. We were not known for impressive ball movement and fancy plays. We ran the ball right down your throat. Well, my former teammates and I are a little older now, and it seems that time, and lots of rugby, are catching up with some of them. I have at least three teammates from our glory years who have had or are having knee surgery directly related to their playing days. I am certainly not putting down this spectacular sport. It is awesome. I thankfully never suffered anything more serious than a broken nose or two myself (knock on wood). These were some of the unfortunate few.
My point of the story is that most if not all of their knee problems could have been prevented. Now some traumatic knee injuries will happen no matter how great your training and programming was and how fit you are, but the proper training can make a HUGE difference. Hands down the best resource on making and keeping your knees healthy is the Bulletproof Knees Manual by Mike Robertson. It contains tons of great info on the best ways to improve the health of your knees, and keep them that way. Check it out HERE.
I recently spoke about the ridiculous levels that prescription medications have reached, check it out HERE. But I wanted to touch on it again as Bill Maher makes some great points in the video below. I don’t agree with everything Bill Maher says, he is a little too left wing for me, but this is a great clip he has here about prescription medications, emerging new epidemics and how we are making ourselves sick.
Some of his other great points are how when the presidential race was being run, the candidates released their health care proposals. The words nutrition and exercise were used once, each, in Hilary’s plan, while the word drug was used 14 times. It is sad how Big Pharma is so influential in our health care policies. There is absolutely a time and a place for prescriptions drugs, but there are a lot of other healthier choices out there for a lot of ailments.
We are not a preventative medicine culture. We want to “cure” everything. Well why don’t we just do our best to prevent it from happening in the first place? It may not make some big industries as much money, but it will certainly save Americans a ton. Here are some fantastic tips for optimal health:
eat veggies and/or fruits with every meal
drink 5 cups of green/white/oolong/black tea every day
get at least 3 grams of EPA/DHA every day
drink a few glasses of red wine per week
only eat carbs not made from flour
The Good Stuff
If you are able to follow these guidelines on a consistent basis while eating a calorically smart diet, combined with regular exercise, you are well on your way to leading a long and healthy life.
Q. Since a lot of fructose (albeit hard to consume just from fruit) can
give those with malabsorption issues problems and grains are vastly
overrated nutritionally and also give a lot of individuals issues
related to food intolerances, wouldn’t we still want a bit of glucose
+ maltodextrin or waxy maize (even though the latter two may still
pose issues for those with grain sensitivities)? Above and beyond
glycogen re-synthesis, wouldn’t spiking insulin to help drive amino
acids into the muscles at a time when protein synthesis is elevated be
an additional goal of PW nutrition?
It seems like the best idea might be to include a glucose/maltodextrin
blend up until a certain amount of the alotted PW carbs and then
consume the rest of the “remaining” PW carbs from fresh fruits. Or do
you feel that a whey hydrolysate or isolate + some additional leucine
is enough to trigger muscle protein synthesis and spike insulin?
Thank you for your time.
A. Well this is a pretty loaded question. OK lets start with the first part. While it is true that a lot of fructose can cause malabsorption issues, that would require A LOT of fruit. I tend to recommend people consume a banana, maybe with a cup of frozen strawberries. That won’t cause issues, what it will do is promote better fuel oxidation as it has been shown that we run better when consuming at least 2 different carb sources. Also combining fructose and glucose helps the rehydration process more than just glucose alone. Since I also recommend milk (usually whole, depends on the person and situation) that also increases the rehydration process significantly.
I would also agree that grains tend to be overrated, but if people really need a significant amount of carbs post training, then I would rather they get them from say oats than maltodextrin, I almost always pick the food with more nutrient density. An example post training shake for a large athlete who is trying to gain mass might be something like:
16oz Organic Whole Fat Milk
1 scoop Whey (I like Biotest Grow)
1 cup frozen strawberries
1/2 cup oats
5 grams creatine
5 grams leucine
A better carb source to me
This way you are still getting a whey/casein blend, milk is very insulinogenic, whole milk is excellent post training, and getting your carbs from more nutritious sources. The idea of needing a HUGE insulin spike is overrated. If you read a lot of Alan Aragon’s work, which I would highly recommend, he also points out that the initial increase in protein synthesis occurs in the absence of insulin. The insulin mediated increase occurs much later, and that shake will have certainly spiked insulin enough at that point to continue that process. Between the milk, whey, carbs, and free leucine there will be plenty of insulin hanging around. New research is clearly showing that speed of delivery is not the greatest factor in recovery and growth from training. If speed was the greatest factor, then whey would defeat casein in post training shakes, though it does not. We want some fast, and some slow to reap all the benefits for optimal gains.
So in the end, yes I think this is more than adequate to increase protein synthesis, decrease protein breakdown, and increase glycogen resynthesis all while contributing a boatload more vitamins, minerals, electrolytes, and phytonutrients. This will also help you reach your fruit and veggies quota, and build maximal amounts of muscle. It just seems to me that if this is going to one of, if not the biggest serving of carbs in the diet, I would much rather see people consume carbs with nutrients, than refined sugars. There are always exceptions to the rule, but I tend to lean this way for the majority.
OK, so this is going to have nothing at all to do with training or nutrition. As much as I love it (some might call it an obsession, semantics) it can be great to get away and focus on something else for a while. I am supposed to be studying for my CISSN test that is on Saturday to be a certified sports nutritionist, but instead I am holding study papers while being enthralled by an absolutely amazing show called Planet Earth.
I know Planet Earth is not new, coming out almost 2 years ago, but it never ceases to blow me away. It shows the staggering beauty, creativity, and fragility of our world. If you have never seen it I highly suggest you buy it for yourself for Christmas (or buy it for a loved one, and then “borrow” it). I got the DVD set last year at Christmas and it is one of the greatest gifts that I have ever received. I have probably seen each episode 5 times, but I get something new or something I hadn’t noticed or remembered from each viewing.
The earth is made up of some completely amazing creatures that have adapted to their environments in extraordinarily fascinating ways. It is actually mind boggling how nature does what it does. I may not be the world’s greatest conservationist, but I still appreciate the importance we must place on saving our planet. So, I am not trying to preach, and I hope it doesn’t come across that way, but definitely just check out Planet Earth, and prepare to be awed.
I know I just blogged the other day about how bad the MSN Health & Fitness section is, but after reading this article on Eating to Beat Stress, I just had to put in my 2 cents. The article will take 5 minutes to read, tops, so definitely read it before going on. Seriously, read it. It’s like a kids book, mainly pictures.
A good snack? According to MSN it is.
OK, my reaction to this garbage. Everyone knows that stress is a killer. It causes a plethora of health problems, from the psychological to the physiological. Finding ways to minimize stress is of ultimate importance for a health conscious person. Using refined, nutritionally empty, blood sugar and insulin spiking carbs is NOT the answer. Sure getting in your “tryptophans” is all well and good, and the transient boost in serotonin might make you feel better temporarily, but it is certainly not teaching you habits to help prevent stress in the first place! It is also most certainly not teaching healthy eating habits that will keep your waistline down.
My favorite analogy for something like this comes from great strength coach Mike Boyle, and I am paraphrasing here, “This is solving symptoms, not the underlying problems. It’s like you have a hole in your roof, and water keeps getting in and stains your nice white ceilings. So you keep painting those stains over and over, making them temporarily nice and white again, only to have the stains return again and again. Why not instead just take the time to fix the damn roof!” If people would actually create healthy eating habits and make better food choices, this wouldn’t be much of an issue anyway. Why not just drink some damn green tea, it has theanine, a known calming agent, tons of health promoting antioxidants and is calorie free. Makes a little more sense to me anyway.
This may be some of the worst nutrition advice ever. Telling people to consume refined carbs, almost completely void of anything resembling nutrients is assinine. Not only are they advocating this, they are recommending you do it on an empty stomach, without protein or fat because they delay gastric emptying. Yes, definitely what we want is nothing to stop that blood sugar rush and subsequent insulin spike and crash. I’m surprised they didn’t recommend people just suck down a soda every time they feel stressed, maybe light up a cigarette too while they are at it. What a great long-term solution this is.
I think my favorite quote is this “Bad rap: Carbohydrates have gotten a bad rap thanks to the popularity of protein-heavy plans such as the Atkins diet. But eaten the right way—think jam on toast—they do provide an energy boost. For you dieters who are terrified of carbs, Wurtman points out that serotonin is actually an appetite suppressant.
Yeah, definitely the right carbs
I mean really? Jam on toast. I am not anti-carb, but this is ridiculous. I think we all know at this point that white toast with jam, on an empty stomach, without any healthy fat or protein is not on the roadmap to health and wellbeing. Shit like this pisses me off and just makes it harder and harder for uninformed people just looking for good info to actually know what the hell to do. To MSN – Stop Giving Shitty Information.
I always have ideas and thoughts bouncing around my head, coming up with some of my best stuff on my 35 minute drive to CP. Unfortunately my mind is always going full tilt so that by the end of the drive I forget some of my self-described brilliance! I’m putting together some of my favorite random tips and thoughts from my drives.
1. Only Eat Foods that DO Something for You.
Bread that does something for you
This is a great point made my Leigh Peele on a recent FitCast episode. (I listen to the FitCast to and from CP) For optimal health, do not eat foods that don’t do anything for you. A great example would be white bread. Some people make it out to be the worst thing ever created, which isn’t true, but nutritionally speaking it doesn’t really do anything for you. You would be much better served eating a sprouted grain product like Ezekiel bread. Ezekiel has no preservatives, is higher in fiber than normal bread, is a complete protein and has a minuscule impact on your blood sugar. This food is so much closer to its original state than white bread, and does a whole lot more for you, clearly making it the better option.
2. Simple Sugars are NOT Necessary Before, During, or After Training.
Unless you are an endurance athlete, our carbohydrate intake does not have to come from nutritionally empty sugars around training. People use the argument that it replenishes glycogen faster, which is only half true. Yes it is faster, but glycogen is replenished within 24hrs if normal carbohydrate consumption happens anyway. Unless you have twice per day training then it is irrelevant. I would much rather see people consume carbs that do something for them nutritionally besides glycogen resynthesis. If we use whole, minimally processeds foods and grains, like fruit and oatmeal, we not only replenish our glycogen, we provide our body with tons of vitamins, minerals, and increasingly important phytonutrients during a time of great stress. This isn’t to say that there is no application of simple sugars, but that for most of us, we are much better off using actual whole food sources. Our body composition and overall health will thank us.
3. If You Don’t Like Green Tea, Try Red Tea.
The Green Tea Alternative
Red Tea, or rooibos, is an herb from Southern Africa that has been found to have an even higher antioxidant content than green, white, or black tea. While research is truly just beginning on this wonderful herb, it is already known to have a lot of health benefits. For those sensitive to caffeine, it is caffeine free. It is also calorie free. Rooibos has no oxalic acid, so people with kidney stones need not worry. It is also low in tannins, so it does not inhibit iron absorption. Though I would still urge you to find a way that you enjoy Green Tea consumption, if you really can’t manage it Red Tea is certainly the way to go. I drink a cup every night before bed.
4. Being a Teetotaler is NOT Necessarily Optimal.
A lot of people in this industry, or even just fitness enthusiasts seem to think that completely abstaining from alcohol is one of the ultimate health promoting choices they can make. I wouldn’t agree. Research has clearly shown that people who consume a drink or two a night are actually healthier than people who do not. While I am certainly not advocating that more is better, or that you need to have some alcohol every night. Consuming some small amounts several times per week will actually benefit you. Red wine contains a powerful antioxidant called resveratrol known to have tons of health benefits, including reducing lung cancer risk, especially in smokers, ala the French Paradox.
A recent study treated mice with three kinds of diets: high calorie, standard or calorie restricted. Each group of mice got their diet with or without resveratrol supplementation (creating six subgroups). Regardless of the diet, the mice given resveratrol supplementation for one year had significantly less symptoms of cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, cataracts, and decline in motor coordination. The resveratrol-treated mice also had liver and muscle tissues resembling much younger animals. So I tend to urge people to consume some red wine or dark beer on a semi-regular basis for optimal health. If you don’t want the calories or alcohol, they do make resveratrol supplements such as Rez-V by Biotest.
5. Eat Fruits & Veggies From ALL Colors.
A new trend in the nutrition world is to push only green veggies. That all veggies and fruits of other colors are not necessary. While it is true that leafy green veggies are tremendously good for you, and they do very well in clinical studies, they are not the only ones with benefit. Limiting yourself to just one color limits the amount and variety of nutrients and antioxidants that you are consuming. It makes no sense to me to only consume green. Sure maybe make that a point of emphasis, and consume more of them, but do not exclude the others. Tomatoes, Pumpkin, Yellow Peppers, Eggplant, Blueberries, Strawberries and more are all being missed out on in the green only diet. For optimal health, consume fruits and veggies from all colors of the rainbow and enjoy the health benefits you will reap.