Pre-Workout Caffeine to Get Stronger, Faster, Bigger and More Powerful

A new study published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research indicates that the immediate ingestion of caffeine (6 mg·kg−1 body weight) prior to resistance training:

  1. Reduces the level of muscle fatigue and,
  2. Preserves leg power throughout the training session,
  3. With zero increase in muscle damage

Which is awesome if you are interested in getting stronger, faster, bigger and/or more powerful.

In the study, six male handball athletes ingested placebo (PLA) or caffeine (CAF) (6 mg·kg−1 body mass) capsules on 2 different occasions. Sixty minutes after ingestion of the capsules, serum CAF levels were evaluated.

Thereafter, all participants performed a protocol of vertical jumps (VJs). The protocol consisted of 4 sets of 30 seconds of continuous VJs with 60 seconds of recovery between sets.

Blood lactate (LAC) and creatine kinase (CK) levels were determined before and after the protocol.

We found significant differences in serum CAF levels between PLA (0.09 ± 0.18 µg·ml−1) vs. CAF (6.59 ± 4.44 µg·ml−1) (p < 0.001).

Caffeine elicited a 5.23% (p≤ 0.05) improvement in the leg power compared with PLA. The CAF trial displayed higher LAC (p ≤ 0.05) compared with PLA (6.26 ± 2.01 vs. 4.39 ± 2.42 mmol·L−1, respectively) after protocol of VJs, whereas no difference in CK was observed between trials (p > 0.05).

These results indicate that immediate ingestion of CAF (6 mg·kg−1 body weight) can reduce the level of muscle fatigue and preserve leg power during the test, possibly resulting in increase in LAC. There was no increase in muscle damage, which indicates that immediate administration of (6 mg·kg−1 body weight) CAF is safe. Thus, nutritional interventions with CAF could help athletes withstand a greater physiological overload during high-intensity training sessions.

The results of this study would be applicable to sports and activities that require repetitive leg power.

What does this mean to you?

  • To properly follow the protocol used in the study, you need to ingest 6mg of caffeine per 1kg of body weight ( 2.72mg per 1lb of bodyweight)
  • There is approximately 100mg of caffeine in 1 cup of coffee
  • Which means that a 150lb trainee would need to drink 408mg or 4 cups of coffee before training….probably not the best idea if you don’t want to spend your workout in the bathroom.
  • The same caffeine-math applies to tea, Red Bull, 5 Hour Extra Strength Energy Shot (the strongest energy drink with 242mg of caffeine), etc..

As a result, you are going to need to purchase some caffeine pills if you want to take advantage of this caffeinated training boost.

And of course, not everyone’s GI tract is going to do well with all that caffeine.

BUT…if your gut is okay with a big dose of caffeine AND you’re looking to break through a training plateau, supplementing with caffeine immediately pre-workout could be exactly what you’re looking for.

ronnie coleman squat

NOTE: If you try this caffeine protocol, I would love to hear how it works for you. Feel free to contact me on Twitter or Facebook.

Reference

NEW Research : Drinking Green Tea Improves Aerobic Capacity

A new study finds  that daily tea catechin consumption (combined with a twice weekly cycling program) improved aerobic capacity significantly in a group a Japanese males.

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Previous studies found that dietary supplementation with tea catechins combined with exercise improved endurance capacity in mice.

This is the first study (that I could find on PubMed) aimed to test the aerobic capacity of humans supplementing with tea catechins.

This new (8-week) study conducted on sixteen Japanese non-athlete males shows that daily tea catechin consumption (500 ml test beverage with 570 mg tea catechins) combined with a twice weekly cycling program improved aerobic capacity significantly when compared to the placebo group.

  • Aerobic capacity was evaluated by indirect calorimetry and near-infrared spectroscopy during graded cycle exercise.

  • Catechin beverage consumption was associated with a significantly higher ventilation threshold during exercise and a higher recovery rate of oxygenated hemoglobin and myoglobin levels after graded cycle exercise when compared to subjects receiving the placebo beverage.

These results indicate that daily consumption of tea catechins increases aerobic capacity when combined with semiweekly light exercise, which may be due to increased skeletal muscle aerobic capacity.

Disclaimer:

This research was conducted by researchers who work for the Biological Science Laboratories of Kao Corporation….who just happen to sell a green tea fitness supplement beverage.

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Which doesn’t mean that the science is bogus. Just something to be aware & skeptical of…just like any good scientist.

In green tea’s favor is a ton of science showing a wide range of health benefits associated with green tea catechins.  IMHO, it isn’t unlikely that green tea catechins probably have a positive effect on your aerobic capacity. There just isn’t any science (other than this study) on this subject.

But there will be. If you’re interested, I have set up an PubMed feed for “green tea & aerobic capacity” Click on the link and you will have access to the latest published research on how green tea catechins improve (or don’t) aerobic capacity.

 

Reference

Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry Journal

Coronary Heart Disease : New Research Blames Sugar and Exonerates Saturated Fat

For the past 60+ years, doctors have been telling us that saturated fat is responsible for the high number of people dying from coronary heart disease.

These recommendations have been largely based on the observational studies conducted by American scientist Dr. Ancel Keys. In his research, Dr. Keys observed that people who ate higher levels of saturated fat were prone to elevated serum cholesterol and were more likely to expire due to coronary heart disease.

Around the same time that Dr. Keys was presenting his research, another scientist, Dr. John Yudkin, came to a different conclusion – that it was excessive consumption of processed sugars that was driving the increase in coronary heart disease.

And for the next 60 years, both hypotheses have been defended with a succession of studies that:

  1. Observed what people ate
  2. Hypothesized which aspect of that complex diet of carbohydrates, protein, fats, enzymes, vitamins, minerals, etc was responsible for causing coronary heart disease

Unfortunately for us “normal people” who are looking to ways to live longer & better, this kind of science is pretty darn sketchy. Here’s why:

If you have pizza for dinner tonight, Dr. Keys would tell you that the saturated fat found in the cheese & pepperoni is bad for your heart. Conversely, Dr. Yudkin would blame the processed flour used to make the pizza crust.

So…who’s right?

If we rely on observational studies to answer this question, we will never come to a consensus. People don’t eat individual nutritional components…we eat FOOD. We eat meals in which we mix carbs and fats and proteins together.

Observational studies do nothing to separate those components and because of this…this kind of study is next to useless.

Luckily for us health-nerds, in the past fifty years, researchers have added to the observational studies with a giant body of research employing basic science, epidemiology and clinical trial data to provide us with a clearer picture of the relationship between nutrition and CHD risk, CHD events and CHD mortality.

And in their new study, Drs. DiNicolantonio, O’Keefe & Lucan have analyzed the best of that research and concluded that:

  • Saturated fat can raise levels of total serum cholesterol (TC) but TC is only modestly associated with coronary heart disease (CHD) and that some types of saturated fat are actually protective against CHD.
  • Conversely, when saturated fats are replaced with refined carbohydrates, and specifically with added sugars, we see increases in low-density lipoproteins (LDL), increases in triglycerides and decreases in high-density lipoproteins (HDL) that are shown to increase your odds of CHD.

Additionally, diets high in sugar may induce many other abnormalities associated with elevated CHD risk, including elevated levels of glucose, insulin, and uric acid, impaired glucose tolerance, insulin and leptin resistance, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and altered platelet function.

Does this mean that all sugars / carbs are bad?

NO, because while the body of research indicates that “a diet high in added sugars has been found to cause a 3-fold increased risk of death due to cardiovascular disease”, that doesn’t mean that all sugar/carbs are created alike.

Like some saturated fats are cardio-protective, we know that natural sugars found in whole fruits, grains and vegetables are not causing coronary heart disease.

It’s the processed fructose-containing sugars like sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup found in highly processed junk foods that are the problem.

 

 

For a more detailed look at the research, check out the link below.

Reference

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The Best Vitamin C Foods

Back in the 1970’s, Dr.Linus Pauling popularized a theory that high doses of Vitamin C would significantly decrease the incidence of the common cold.

This theory spurred a widespread belief that consuming more vitamin C will reduce the risk of catching a cold and reduce its severity. While that theory has taken a beating in the past few years, no one can deny that Vitamin C is a nutritional superstar.

  • Vitamin C is required for the synthesis of collagen – an important structural component of blood vessels, tendons, ligaments, and bone.
  • Vitamin C also plays an important role in the synthesis of the neurotransmitter – norepinephrine. Neurotransmitters are critical to brain function and are known to affect mood.
  • In addition, vitamin C is required for the synthesis of carnitine, a small molecule that is essential for the transport of fat into cellular organelles called mitochondria, where the fat is converted to energy.
  •  Research also suggests that vitamin C is involved in the metabolism of cholesterol to bile acids, which may have implications for blood cholesterol levels and the incidence of gallstones.
  • Vitamin C is also a highly effective antioxidant. Even in small amounts vitamin C can protect indispensable molecules in the body, such as proteins, lipids (fats), carbohydrates, and nucleic acids (DNA and RNA), from damage by free radicals and reactive oxygen species that can be generated during normal metabolism as well as through exposure to toxins and pollutants (e.g., cigarette smoke).
  • Vitamin C may also be able to regenerate other antioxidants such as vitamin E. One recent study of cigarette smokers found that vitamin C regenerated vitamin E from its oxidized form.

So…which are the best Vitamin C foods?

Most of us get our Vitamin C from a glass of OJ with our breakfast.

And while that glass of liquid sunshine is a great way to get the “C” into your body, it’s also a great way to get a whole bunch of sugar without all the fiber, vitamins & minerals that goes along with most solid-food sources of Vitamin C.

And for that reason, I am giving you 2 different lists of Best Vitamin C foods sources

The JUICE list….

  • 1 cup of Orange juice – has 124 mg Vitamin C…over twice the daily recommended amount
  • 1 cup of Pineapple and grapefruit juice drink has 115 mg Vitamin C
  • 1 cup of Cranberry juice cocktail  has 107 mg Vitamin C
  • 1 cup of Grapefruit juice  has 94 mg vitamin C
  • 1 cup of Grape drink has  79 mg Vitamin C
  • 1 cup of Vegetable juice cocktail has 67 mg Vitamin C
  • 1 cup of Pineapple juice – 1 cup has  25 mg Vitamin C

And the FOOD list…

 

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Mmmmmmmmm Smoothie

I made an awesome smoothie this morning and I thought I should share it with y’all.

Ingredients:

  • Water (duh) – didn’t measure – adjust for desired thickness
  • Mango juice – 1/2 cup
  • Cinnamon – didn’t measure – 5 shakes from container
  • Yogurt – 1 cup
  • Inulin fiber – 1 tbsp
  • Magnesium (Natural Calm plain) – 1 tsp
  • Honey Comb – 1 tbsp
  • Coconut Oil – 1 tbsp
  • Fish Oil – 1 tbsp
  • New Zealand Whey protein powder (Ergogenics Nutrition)  – 3 scoops
  • Vege Greens green powder – 2 scoops
  • Frozen Blackberries
  • Frozen Blueberries
  • Frozen Raspberries
  • Frozen Strawberries – 1/2 bag of mixed berries

This recipe makes 3 medium sized smoothies for me. Feel free to play with ingredient amounts. Everytime I make a smoothie it turns out different. Except for the oils, protein powder and greens, I usually never measure anything.

Directions:

  • Add the ingredients to the blender as listed..
  • I used the smoothie auto-setting on my Blendtec blender.
  • If you don’t have one of these bad boys, start by blending slowly to break up the frozen fruit for approx 20 seconds. Then go to a medium speed for 10 seconds. Then blend on the highest speed for 10 seconds – this will give you the desired smoothieness.
  • Make sure the fruit is chopped up before moving up to med speed.
  • Rinse out your blender right away…I pour a couple of cups of water in the blender, add some dish soap and blend on high – rinse and let dry

Does Ketone Drink = EZ Weight Loss?

Oxford researcher, Dr. Kieran Clarke has created a new type of ketone-based endurance drink designed to…

  • Generate significant weight loss
  • Improve mental alertness
  • Improve cognitive function

…as well as treat, prevent or reduce the effects of…

In short, this supplement MAY make you leaner, smarter, healthier, faster, stronger and less prone to diabetes, alzheimer’s, parkinson’s, huntington’s, heart disease and metabolic syndrome.

Note that I say MAY.

The science is all very new. According to Doc Clarke:

“We are very excited about our research, which we think shows great promise. Our primary interest so far has been to understand how the body’s metabolism responds and makes use of our ketone drink.

We are a long way yet from showing meaningful benefits as a treatment for disease or in aiding athletes’ endurance, and while we think it is possible that the ketone drink may have benefits in slowing Alzheimer’s progression, no one has done much research on this as yet…although this remains of great interest to us.”

How great an interest???

Great enough to apply for a US patent.

Can you imagine how much money Dr. Clarke will make if this product lives up to it’s potential?

The Science

  • Previous research indicates that a state of elevated ketones may improve physical and cognitive performance.
  • Unfortunately, direct administration of ketone bodies is unpractical and potentially dangerous
  • Fortunately, there are ketone precursors that might give her the same effect without any of the downsides.

On of those ketone precursors is  (R)-3-hydroxybutyl (R)-3-hydroxybutyrate, the ketone monoester that Dr. Clarke has been administering in the form of a meal replacement drink to her healthy human volunteers.

In one pilot study, eight adults with type 2 diabetes to see whether the drink produced any effect. The volunteers had three ketone drinks a day for five days and had their weight, cholesterol, and blood sugar monitored. Their weight dropped an average of nearly two per cent (in 5 days), as did their levels of glucose, cholesterol and fat in the blood.

In another study, Dr. Clarke gave 22 elite rowers the ketone drink and monitored the distances they achieved in 30 minutes on an indoor rowing machine.

One rower broke a world record and five others beat their personal best.

Conclusion

I am thoroughly geeked-up about the potential of this supplement.

Fingers crossed people.

Reference

The Super-Amazing Celsius Energy Drink Giveaway!!!

Here’s what you can win:

  • A Celsius Soft Cooler Bag filled with:
  • (1) Celsius Dri-Fit T-Shirt,
  • (3) Retail Coupons, 
  • 14CT Box On-the-Go Sticks of our new Outrageous Orange flavor, and
  •  (7) Ready to Drink Cans in the following flavors; Sparkling Wild Berry, Sparkling Orange, Sparkling Cola, Apple Orchard Blend, Lemon Iced Tea, Raspberry Acai Green Tea, and Outrageous Orange.

Entering is easy…. just wait for the form below to load and then follow the prompts!

Note – You can earn bonus entries by sharing on Facebook, Twitter, and/or  leaving a comment here on the blog. – check it out! Feel free to enter early & often.

Good luck everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Boring Contest Rules Stuff

  • The contest is open to American residents only (excluding Alaska & Hawaii). Sorry…that’s just the way it is…
  • The contest will run from July 5, 2012 12:01 am EST until July 12, 2012 12:01 am EST
  • You can earn extra entries by leaving a comment and/or tweeting about the contest and/or liking the Health Habits Facebook page. Follow the prompts on the form
  • The winner will be announced July 13, 2012 here at Health Habits
  • I will contact the winner on July 12.

Celsius: The First Healthy Energy Drink?

What comes to mind when I say: ENERGY DRINK?

Personally…. I think of the idiot frat boys who live two blocks down the street from me who like to pound Red Bulls & vodka on a Wednesday afternoon and do stupid stuff on their skateboards

I also think of this article – Do Energy Drinks Improve Athletic Performance and Promote Weight Loss?

So….when the folks at Celsius contacted me about trying out some samples of their product, my initial & immediate response was to say “no thanks” and get back to work.

However….in their email, they mentioned that their product was “natural”. And when I think of “energy drinks”, I don’t think natural. I think chemicals and artificial sweeteners and the aforementioned idiot frat boys and gym rats and people who don’t give a crap about their health.

Which probably makes a ton of sense from a business perspective.

But what about us health & fitness geeks?

There are some afternoons when my energy is drained from long hours of work and my brain is having a tough time writing blog posts that don’t suck swamp water.

On days like that… I can really use a dose of liquid energy. But I want that energy drink to be healthy & chemical free.

So I checked out the Celsius ingredients:

As you can see, Celsius contains the 3 big “energy drink” ingredients – Caffeine, Taurine and Glucuronolactone.

However, unlike their competitors, Celsius also contains:

  • Ginger extract,
  • Green Tea leaf extract,
  • Your daily dose of Vit C and,
  • A whole whack of B Vitamins

Equally important to me were the ingredients that weren’t included:

Instead of that crap, Celsius sweetens it’s drinks with sucralose and/or stevia.

Based on all that, I decided to give up my afternoon espresso for a week to beta-test some Celsius samples.

And after seven days of taste testing…. and it turns out that I like this stuff.

  • It definitely gave me a mid-afternoon boost,
  • Without any jitteriness
  • It tasted pretty good – some flavors better than others
  • No afternoon coffee breath

Conclusion

Celsius markets to people who:

  1. Want the buzz of an energy drink,
  2. Is “proven” to reduce body-fat, and
  3. Is HEALTHY.

And while I’m not too blown away by the -100 calorie claim, I can honestly say that Celsius provides:

  1. A very un-jittery boost in energy,
  2. Tastes pretty darn good,
  3. Has a bunch of useful micronutrients
  4. Isn’t full of harmful chemicals

And because I love you guys so much, I talked the Celsius rep into doing a giveaway of a bunch of Celsius product. Stay tuned for the details.

The @HealthHabits Diet

Like most personal trainers, my business has been built on word of mouth. When my clients lose weight and get fit, their friends notice and I pick up a new client. And, considering that most of my clients are interested in melting off body-fat, diet & weight loss has become a bit of an obsession for me.

So, when it comes to dietary recommendations, I need to get it right. That’s why, at it’s core, the @HealthHabits Diet is a modified Paleo-style diet.

Apple Glazed Turkey Breast

Because based upon the scientific research and my first hand experience, there is no better way of eating for general health and gradual weight loss than Paleo.

You’re eating foods that are high in nutrients and relatively low in calories

And while, it’s always a big transition for new clients, the ones who buy into the concept and trust me (even for a month or so) always see great results….always.

But, we’re not done yet.

As much as I love the Paleo Diet, it’s not perfect. As much as some Paleos want to believe that everything Paleo is good and everything modern is bad, they’re wrong.

  1. Certain foods enjoyed by some Paleo Dieters make weight loss difficult. For that reason, during a weight loss phase, they are eliminated.
  2. And as I said in this post, it’s not only what you eat, it’s when you eat it, and the Health Habits Diet makes use of precise peri-workout nutrition to allow my clients to:
  •  Perform better during their workouts
  •  Maintain muscle mass while dieting
  •  Gain muscle mass if desired
  •  Boost their metabolism and
  •  Speed up fat loss

But, we’re still not done yet.

Depending upon the goals of my clients, nighttime eating and meal size must also addressed.

  • Clients interested primarily in fat loss eat nothing for the 4 hours before sleep (except for a tbsp of fish oil)
  • Clients interested in gaining muscle mass while losing fat will eat a solid meal before bed.
  • As well, there are never any seconds on the Health Habits. One serving per meal…and don’t try getting around that by buying gigantic bowls or plates.

So, to recap, these are the basics of my Health Habits Diet

  1. A modified Paleo Diet makes up the majority of your meals
  2. Peri-workout nutrition for better workouts and a metabolism boost
  3. Nighttime eating geared to specific weight loss goals
  4. Portion control

So, where do you go from here?  

Next Page : Dieter Archetypes…

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mango-shake health nutrition fitness healthhabits food

Peri-Workout Nutrition

Back in the olden days, workout nutrition consisted of a quick run to the water fountain between exercises.

Then came Gatorade.

Then, we were introduced to the magic 20 minute post-workout window of time.

We were told that if we chugged down a  carb/protein shake immediately after working out, we would:

  1. Shift our metabolism from a catabolic state (muscle damaging) to an anabolic state (muscle building) .
  2. Reduce post exercise muscle soreness
  3. Get bigger, stronger, leaner, faster, etc…

And there was (and still is) a lot of scientific research to back up this belief.

As a result, every gym put in a “smoothie bar” and we all chugged down some pretty gross post-workout protein shakes.

But wait, it doesn’t end there, we’re just getting started.

Researchers began to study whether pre-workout carb/pro nutrition might be even more efficient than post-workout carb/pro nutrition.

And their research showed that it was.

mango-shakeAs a result, instead of one post-workout shake, I was now drinking half my shake pre-workout and finishing the rest post-workout.

I thought I had it all figured out.

Not quite.

The next scientific breakthrough discovered that while a combined carb/pro shake pre-workout worked wonders, a carb free protein meal didn’t work near as well.

And that was fine with me. Those heavy pre-workout protein shakes were sloshing around in my stomach and slowing down my workouts.

RECAP

At this point:

  • Carbs before workout – GOOD
  • Carbs & pro before workout good, but made Doug’s tummy upset
  • Carbs during workout – GOOD
  • Carbs & Pro (Amino Acids) immediately post workout – GOOD

In a nutshell, the theory is that:

  1. Carbs raise your insulin levels, increasing the efficiency of nutrient absorption.
  2. Your workout inflicts micro-damage on your muscles.
  3. Your muscles are now screaming for nutrition to re-synthesize newer/stronger/faster muscles.
  4. Then you throw a bunch of protein/amino acids into the mix

And voila, your body recovers faster & more efficiently from your workouts.

End of story, right?

Not yet.

In the past few years, I have been reading more about improving anaerobic endurance during workouts by supplementing with beta alanine or bicarbonates. And while the research shows mixed results, I have personally and professionally seen impressive gains in endurance during some pretty intense HIIT & HIRT workouts.

Since adding these supplements into the mix, I have been able to push some very intense workouts well past the dreaded 45 minute mark.

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So, what does all of this mean?

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It means that for best results, I recommend:

  • Eating a combined pro/carb meal (real food) 1 to 2 hours before working out
  • Drinking a mid-workout beverage containing…a high GI carb like maltodextrin, BCAAs, creatine, bicarbonates and/or beta alanine.
  • Drinking a post-workout shake containing carbs and a fast digesting protein (whey isolate).

Keep in mind this is a best case scenario type of peri-workout nutrition program.

Most of you aren’t going to want to spend the money on all of this stuff.

So, if cost is an issue, I would recommend

  • Eat the pre-workout meal as described above.
  • Drink watered down orange juice during your workout. BCAAs & Creatine if you can afford them.
  • Post-workout shake as described above.

Personally, I have tried 3 different workout beverages with sugar/BCAAs/Beta Alanine/Bicarb and have found that Biotest’s Surge Workout Fuel to be the most effective. It costs approximately $1.10 per serving.

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BTW – peri means around or about…so in this case peri-workout nutrition means nutrition around your workout

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I look forward to hearing your feedback. Workout nutrition is a hotly debated topic amongst all of the “experts” out there on the interweb.

My skin is thick, don’t hold back.

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Related Posts

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SuperFood: Beet Root

An interesting new study shows that drinking beet root juice boosts your stamina and could help you exercise for up to 16% longer.

The theory is that the nitrate contained in beet root juice leads to a reduction in oxygen uptake, making exercise less tiring.

And while the researchers are not yet sure of the exact mechanism that causes the nitrate in the beet root juice to boost stamina, they suspect it could be a result of the nitrate turning into nitric oxide in the body, reducing the oxygen cost of exercise.

In fact, drinking beet root juice reduces oxygen uptake and improves endurance better than any other known means, including training.

Including training! Obviously, this is big news for endurance athletes.

beetroot

The Science

The researchers gave the test subjects 500ml per day of organic beet root juice for six consecutive days before completing a series of tests, involving cycling on an exercise bike.

On another occasion, they were given a placebo of blackcurrant cordial for six consecutive days before completing the same cycling tests.

After drinking beet root juice the group was able to cycle for an average of 11.25 minutes, which is 92 seconds longer than when they were given the placebo.

Beet root supplementation resulted in a 19% reduction in the amplitude of the pulmonary O2 response during moderate cardio exercise

As an extra added bonus, the group that had consumed the beet root juice also had lower resting blood pressure. (systolic pressure dropped 6 mmHg)

This blood pressure benefit was also found in a 2008 study.

In that study, researchers discovered that within 1 hour of drinking 500ml of beet root juice, volunteers experienced a drop in blood pressure, with the peak drop 3 to 4 hours after ingestion.

Some degree of reduction continued to be observed until up to 24 hours after ingestion.

Researchers showed that the decrease in blood pressure was due to the chemical formation of nitrite from the dietary nitrate in the juice. The nitrate in the juice is converted in saliva, by bacteria on the tongue, into nitrite. This nitrite-containing saliva is swallowed, and in the acidic environment of the stomach is either converted into nitric oxide or re-enters the circulation as nitrite.

The peak time of reduction in blood pressure correlated with the appearance and peak levels of nitrite in the circulation, an effect that was absent in a second group of volunteers who refrained from swallowing their saliva during, and for 3 hours following, beet root ingestion.

This research suggests that drinking beet root juice, or consuming other nitrate-rich vegetables, might be a simple, effective and inexpensive way to reduce blood pressure and maintain a healthy cardiovascular system.

Conclusion

If you are interested in:

  • Lowering your blood pressure
  • Reducing your risk of heart disease
  • Increasing your aerobic endurance
  • and making you cardio sessions feel much, much easier

Drink your beet juice.

And if you can’t get your hands on some fresh beet root juice, there are a number of GreenFood/SuperFood/Antioxidant drinks that have beet root powder as an ingredient.

Related Posts

Reference

Weight Loss & Breakfast: Eggs are Better

Need to lose a few pounds?

Try this…tomorrow morning, instead of wolfing down a bagel as you run out the door, scramble up a few eggs with some cheddar cheese and black forest ham.

According to a bunch of new studies, this high protein breakfast will help you manage your hunger while also reducing the amount of calories that you pack away throughout the day.

The Science

University of Conneticut researchers found that adult men who consumed eggs for breakfast:

  1. Consumed fewer calories following the egg breakfast compared to the bagel breakfast
  2. Consumed fewer total calories in the 24-hour period after the egg breakfast compared to the bagel breakfast
  3. Reported feeling less hungry and more satisfied three hours after the egg breakfast compared to the bagel breakfast

This study was presented at Experimental Biology 2009. This research builds upon previous work by Dr. Fernandez which showed how the cholesterol from egg yolks  improves the level of good (HDL) cholesterol.

A second study, published in the International Journal of Obesity, concluded that eating eggs for breakfast as part of a reduced-calorie diet helped overweight dieters lose 65 percent more weight and feel more energetic than dieters who ate a bagel breakfast of equal calories and volume.

And if that isn’t enough proof, you can check out this study which showed that getting your protein with breakfast was more effective at controlling hunger.

But what about the cholesterol?

For years, we have been told to avoid eating too many whole eggs.

We’ve been warned by the experts that the cholesterol found in those egg yolks are going to clog our arteries.

Maybe the experts are wrong.

New research (presented at Experimental Biology 2009) out of the University of Florida State  examined the relationship between cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors such as body mass index, serum lipids and levels of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP), and the degree to which these factors are influenced by dietary intake of fiber, fat and eggs.

The study found:

  • no relationship between egg consumption and serum lipid profiles, especially serum total cholesterol,
  • no relationship between egg consumption and hs-CRP,
  • a positive correlation between dietary trans-fat intake (the margarine on your bagel) and CVD risk factors, as well as a negative correlation between fiber and vitamin C intake and CVD risk factors(6)

In addition, research presented at Experimental Biology, investigators with Exponent, Inc. evaluated egg consumption data from the NHANES III Follow-Up Survey to determine the association between egg consumption and heart health.

The researchers developed a statistical model which showed:

  • no increased risk of death from coronary heart disease with increased egg consumption
  • a reduced risk of mortality among men who consumed one to six eggs/week compared to less than one egg/week
  • a significant reduction in risk of stroke among women who consumed one to six eggs/week and one or more eggs/day<

So, while I am not advocating that you chug back a dozen raw eggs at breakfast a la Rocky, I am suggesting that you replace your morning toast with an omelette.

Your shrinking love handles will thank you.

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Reference

Exercise Better with Coffee

For decades, endurance athletes have relied on caffeine as a performance aid. They claimed that a pre-workout cup of coffee helped them to push themselves harder and for longer periods of time.

And along the way, science has backed up that belief:

  • In 1979, scientists found that caffeine helped cyclists improve their performance by 7% during a 2 hour workout.
  • In 1991, cyclists dosed with 9mg of caffeine per kg of bodyweight were able to increase their endurance by 51%
  • In 1995, cyclists performing high intensity circuits were able to improve their endurance by 29% with a dose of 5.5mg of caffeine per kg of body mass.

Pretty good, right? The only problem is that no one really knew why caffeine improved athletic performance…until now.

Researcher (and cycling geek) Dr. Robert Motl has spent the last 7 years considering the relationship between physical activity and caffeine. Today, he has a much better understanding of why that cuppa Joe he used to consume before distance training and competing enhanced his cycling ability.

  • Early in his research, he became aware that “caffeine works on the adenosine neuromodulatory system in the brain and spinal cord, and this system is heavily involved in nociception and pain processing.”
  • Since Motl knew caffeine blocks adenosine from working, he speculated that it could reduce pain.
  • A number of studies by Dr. Motl support that conclusion, including investigations considering such variables as exercise intensity, dose of caffeine, anxiety sensitivity and gender.

The good doctors latest study “looks at the effects of caffeine on muscle pain during high-intensity exercise as a function of habitual caffeine use,” he said. “No one has examined that before”.

And what did they find?

  • Caffeine reduces pain during exercise.
  • Less pain means you can work harder.
  • Less pain means you can work longer.

The Science

The study’s 25 participants were fit, college-aged males divided into two distinct groups:

  1. Subjects whose everyday caffeine consumption was extremely low to non-existent,
  2. And those with an average caffeine intake of about 400 milligrams a day, the equivalent of three to four cups of coffee.

After testing their baseline aerobic fitness, Dr. Motl tortured his subjects with two monitored high-intensity, 30-minute exercise sessions.

  • An hour prior to each session, cyclists – who had been instructed not to consume caffeine during the prior 24-hour period – were given a pill.
  • On one occasion, it contained a dose of caffeine measuring 5 milligrams per kilogram of body weight (equivalent to two to three cups of coffee); the other time, they received a placebo.
  • During both exercise periods, subjects’ perceptions of quadriceps muscle pain was recorded at regular intervals, along with data on oxygen consumption, heart rate and work rate.

The Results

Obviously the most important result was that caffeine reduced the pain of intense physical activity. But Dr. Motl also found that when it came to the reduction of pain, “caffeine tolerance doesn’t matter”. Caffeine-junkies and the herbal tea drinkers received the same pain reducing benefit from their little caffeine pill.

So, what now?

Dr. Motl wants to see what effect caffeine’s pain-reducing abilities has on sport performance.

“We’ve shown that caffeine reduces pain reliably, consistently during cycling, across different intensities, across different people, different characteristics. But does that reduction in pain translate into an improvement in sport performance?”

Interesting question for sure, but I am way to impatient to wait for science to catch up to real life. If you’re like me, check out this list of caffeine based beverages and let’s get physical.

Reference

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Omega 3s – Why you need them and How to get them

Why do you need Omega 3s?

  1. When Omega 3 consumption increases, your risk of cardiovascular disease decreases
  2. High levels of the Omega 3 fatty acid – DHA are required for optimal mental performance and vision
  3. Low levels of Omega 3s have been associated with depression, Alzheimer’s disease, ADHD, as well as developmental coordination disorder.
  4. Omega 3 supplements have been shown to improve the condition of chronic inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, various skin disorders, and gastrointestinal disorders such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Crohn’s disease
  5. Omega 3s may help men reduce their risk of prostate cancer.
  6. And if that isn’t enough, various population studies have also shown that diets high in Omega 3s have been effective in preventing:
  • chronic eye conditions (cataracts, dry eye),
  • epilepsy,
  • allergic sensitivity in very young children,
  • pneumonia,
  • lung/breathing capacity and chronic pulmonary disorders,
  • bone health, and
  • fibromyalagia

Now you know why you need Omega 3s.

So, what’s the best way to get them?

Currently, there is a bit of disagreement between Omega 3 experts.

On one hand, we have experts like Dr. David Jenkins who prefer we get our Omega 3s from the plant based Omega 3 – ALA.

Dietary sources of the Omega 3 – ALA include:

  • Flaxseed
  • canola oil
  • English walnuts
  • specialty eggs

Dr. Jenkins believes that ALA is an effective source of Omega 3s and because it can be found in vegetarian sources such as canola, walnuts and soy, it is superior to the fish-sourced Omega 3s -EPA & DHA.

Dr. Jenkins cites the crisis of global fisheries as an important reason to choose vegetarian sources of Omega 3s.

However, critics of Dr. Jenkins position claim that the majority of Omega 3 fish oil supplements rely on smaller, less commercially attractive fish such as herring and anchovies. These fish are available in large numbers due to their lack of market popularity and higher reproduction rate.

In addition, supplement manufacturers are trying to improve the harvesting of algae and krill as potential mainstream sources of Omega 3s.

Dietary sources of the Omega 3 – EPA include:

  • Fish,
  • fish oils
  • marine sources like krill & algae

Dietary sources of the Omega 3 – DHA include:

  • Fish,
  • fish oils
  • specialty egg/dairy products

And if that wasn’t complicated enough

There is significant research that shows that ALA is an inferior source of Omega 3s.

And why is that?

It’s because our bodies require that ALA be converted into EPA and/or DHA for use in our bodies.

And, apparently our bodies do a pretty poor job of making DHA out of ALA.

So, if you want the benefits of DHA:

You should probably go with a combined EPA/DHA Omega 3 supplement.

But, then again, just about every day, there is some new Omega 3 research being published….so stay tuned.

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Reference

Supercharge Your Brain On A Low Carb Diet

It is generally believed that our brains need sugar to operate at peak efficiency.

This argument has been one of the strongest indictments of low carb diets such as the Atkins Diet. It may also be totally false.

In fact, according to a new study published in the October 2008 edition of The FASEB Journal, your brain, just like your muscles, works harder when fueled by lactate instead of glucoseThe Study
In this study, researchers subjected their volunteers to strenuous exercise while looking at the blood running to and from their brains.

Specifically, they were trying to see what happened to the large amounts of lactate that are produced in the body as a by-product of exercise.

Analyzing the blood entering and exiting the brain, the researchers found that “the brain was not storing the lactate which had come from the muscles during exercise, but rather using it as fuel”.

In fact, the brain helped to clear lactate from the body, shifting the supply of glucose towards the hard working muscles.

In addition, the data also showed that brain activity increased significantly during the study. The brain was thriving on the diet of lactate.

If our prehistoric ancestors had not been able to think and react while evading four legged predators, they might literally have lost their heads.

Being able to use lactate as “brain food” allowed our ancestors to survive and evolve.

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An Unbelievably Great Post-Workout Shake

Mango Protein Shake

I just polished off this post-workout protein shake and I am ready for another. My version is a protein filled take on Jamie Oliver’s Mango Lassi.

Here’s Jamie’s recipe:

    • 9 fluid ounces (255 milliliters) plain yogurt
    • 4 1/2 fluid ounces (130 milliliters) milk
    • 4 1/2 fluid ounces (130 milliliters) canned mango pulp or 7 ounces (200 grams) from 3 fresh mango, stoned and sliced
    • 4 teaspoons sugar, to taste, or feel free to try salt and cardamom seeds
    • Put all the ingredients into a blender and blend for 2 minutes, then pour into individual glasses, and serve.
    • Feel free to try salt and cardamom seeds.
    • The lassi can be kept refrigerated for up to 24 hours

In my version, I use:

      • Approximately the same amount of yogurt. I used Balkan or Greek style yogurt. It’s thicker and creamier.
      • I replaced the milk with water
      • I replaced the mango pulp with frozen mango
      • I skipped the salt and cardamom (none in my spice rack)
      • I added 5 grams each of creatine and glutamine
      • I added 2 scoops of vanilla whey protein

I am not kidding when I say this was the BEST protein shake I have ever drank.

Give it a try.

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News Flash! Caveman Diet Good…Your Diet Bad

Swedish scientists have just published a research paper that indicates that eating a diet rich in lean meat, vegetables, berries and nuts is effective in lowering YOUR chances of suffering a heart attack or stroke.

Keeping in mind that it was only a three week study, and additional long term research will be required, scientists at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden found that the volunteers reduced body-fat, lowered their blood pressure and slashed levels of a blood-thickening agent (plasminogen activator inhibitor-1) known to cause deadly clots.

The results, published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, support earlier scientific and real world findings that praise the health benefits of the Paleolithic/Caveman Diet.

The theory behind this way of eating is that prior to the advent of agriculture (10,000 years ago) our ancestors lived only on foods that could be speared or picked from trees and plants.

Some scientists argue the human genome has been unable to keep pace with our advances in agriculture and food preparation. The theory is that the modern human body is not genetically programmed to thrive on our modern diet. Our technology may be modern, but our bodies haven’t fully caught up and chronic ailments like obesity and type 2 diabetes are the result.

To that end, following the Paleolithic/Caveman Diet means no cereals, bread, milk, butter, cheese or sugar but plenty of lean meat, fish, fruits, vegetables and nuts.

To test its effect, the Swedish researchers recruited 20 healthy volunteers and put them on caveman rations for three weeks.

Each patient was assessed for weight, body mass index, blood pressure and cholesterol at the beginning of the experiment.

They were then given a list of stone-age foods they could eat, including fresh or frozen fruit, berries or vegetables, lean meat, unsalted fish, canned tomatoes, lemon or lime juice, spices and coffee or tea without milk or sugar.

Banned foods included beans, salt, peanuts, dairy products, pasta or rice, sausages, alcohol, sugar and fruit juice.

However, they were also allowed up to two potatoes a day and a weekly treat of dried fruit, cured meats and a portion of fatty meat.

After three weeks, the volunteers were tested again.

Among the 14 who successfully completed the diet, the average weight loss was around five pounds. BMI dropped by 0.8. Systolic blood pressure fell by an average of three mmHg. And the levels of plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 dropped by 72 per cent. Other favorable effects were the increase in antioxidants and a healthier potassium-sodium balance. One potential negative was the reduction of calcium. This effect should be addressed in further studies.

Official Scientific Conclusion:

This short-term intervention showed some favourable effects by the diet, but further studies, including control group, are needed. blah,blah,blah

My Conclusion:

Fruit, vegetables, lean meat – GOOD. Typical North American diet – BAD.
If you are interested in changing your diet, I have a pretty easy how-to post here.