More Proof – HIIT Better than Cardio

I-LOVE-HIITAs a personal trainer with 25 yrs of experience AND as a certified fitness junkie, I love HIIT because…

  1. it works really, really well to help my clients get fit really, really fast,
  2. it helps my clients drop excess body-fat really, really fast
  3. and because it is really simple to program HIIT workouts and it fits into the busiest of schedules really, really well.

Unfortunately, not everyone sees HIIT like I do. 

There is a large group of trainers and fitness “experts” who…

  • think that low intensity cardio is superior to HIIT for developing aerobic fitness, and
  • fear that the High Intensity aspect of HIIT is dangerous to the health of their clients.

Their concern is that people with less than perfect cardiac function are at imminent risk of suffering a heart attack if their trainer puts them on a HIIT protocol. Which makes sense….if you haven’t read a medical journal in the past few years and still believe that low intensity cardio is the only safe way to improve cardiac function..

However, if you’re like me and don’t want to wait for our mainstream health & fitness to catch up with modern science, I invite you to…

1. Take a look at some of my articles about HIIT and Cardiac Function

2.  Take a look at the latest research investigating HIIT and building a healthy heart

In a study just published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, researchers tested the effectiveness of HIIT workouts to improve the VO2max/VO2peak of 112 patients with coronary heart disease.

NoteVO2max/VO2peak is considered to be the gold standard for aerobic fitness, and aerobic fitness is believed to be the best indicator of cardiovascular health and a well-established predictor of total and cardiovascular mortality in subjects with and without coronary heart disease.

This means that exercise protocols which drastically improve VO2max/VO2peak are to be seen as powerful tools to help the medical (and fitness) communities prevent coronary heart disease and extend life.

In this study, the participants were divided into three groups based upon exercise intensity – as determined by percentage of HRmax.

  • <88%,
  • 88–92%, and
  • >92% of HRmax

The goal of the study was to determine if higher relative intensity during exercise intervals would elicit a greater
increase in VO2peak…leading to greater & faster improvements in aerobic fitness and in theory improve cardiac related mortality rates.

Here’s what happened

  • No adverse effects occurred during training
  • Overall, VO2peak increased by 11.9 % after 23.4 exercise sessions
  • Higher intensity exercise groups showed the greatest increase in VO2peak
  • 3.1 mL for the <88% group
  • 3.6 mL for the 88–92% group, and
  • 5.2 mL,for the >92% of HRmax group

hiit heart function

These findings build upon previous research which shows that the beneficial cardiovascular effects of aerobic exercise are intensity dependent, with higher intensity exercise showing a superior effect…leading the study authors to conclude that  “CHD patients who are able to perform high intensity training should aim at increasing exercise intensity above 92% of HRmax and thereby possibly achieve even greater improvements in aerobic capacity”.

What does this mean for you?

  • If you’re a CHD patient, you need to talk to your cardiologist about HIIT training…keeping in mind of course that CHD patients need to keep a close eye on how everything they do – exercise, nutrition, lifestyle, stress, etc – can impact the function of their CV system.
  • If you’re not a CHD patient, it means that if you want to improve your aerobic fitness and avoid dropping dead of a heart attack, you NEED to start doing some form of HIIT – High Intensity Interval Training.
  • And if you’re a doctor or fitness expert who still believes that low intensity cardio is the best way to improve aerobic function, you need to put down your preconceptions and pick up a scientific journal every now and then.


  • Moholdt T, et al. The higher the better? Interval training intensity in coronary heart disease. J Sci Med Sport
  • Rognmo O, Moholdt T, Bakken H et al. Cardiovascular risk of high- versus
    moderate-intensity aerobic exercise in coronary heart disease patients. Circulation 2012; 126(12):1436–1440.
  • . Kodama S, Saito K, Tanaka S et al. Cardiorespiratory fitness as a quantitative predictor of all-cause mortality and cardiovascular events in healthy men and women: a meta-analysis. JAMA 2009; 301(19):2024–2035.

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Is Magnesium a Cure for Insomnia and Restless Legs?

Magnesium deficiency has been linked to a number of clinical conditions including hypertension, myocardial infarction, cardiac dysrhythmias, coronary spasm, premature artherosclerosis and diabetes.

It is also used as a treatment for angina, asthma, gall stones, menstrual cramps, high blood pressure, hyperactivity, glucose intolerance, diabetes, hypoglycemia, fatigue, fibromyalgia, prevention of hearing loss, kidney stones, leg cramps, migraine, osteoporosis, PMS, prostate issues and INSOMNIA.

And according to government data, 68% of Americans do not consume the recommended intakes of magnesium and 19% of Americans do not consume even half of the recommended intakes.

Not good….and up until 5 years ago, that was me.

Until I was introduced to magnesium supplements during a health & fitness trade show.

A rep for Natural Calm gave me a bunch of samples and while I sleep pretty well, I did notice an immediate effect on my sleep. My mind stopped obsessing over what I did or didn’t do that day or what I had to do tomorrow. Just calm.

And it made me wonder…could something as simple as magnesium be a cure for insomnia?

Since then, I have had no qualms recommending this product to clients & friends who are having trouble getting to sleep, staying asleep or just getting their busy minds to quiet so they can relax.

A mug of their lemon flavor drink about an hour before bed does the trick for me every time.

And recently, while searching for a natural treatment for a friend with neuropathy in both legs, I found a bunch of research about magnesium oil helping to relieve muscle spasms, tension and various forms of neuropathy – pain, restless legs, itching, tingling, etc.

Google also told me that Natural Calm makes a magnesium oil.

So, I emailed the fine folks at Natural Calm and told them about my friend and they sent me a bunch of samples – Magnesium Oil & Gel. (being a blogger can have its perks)

And knock on wood, it’s been a great success. Applied on her legs after a  hot bath and just before bed, my friend has seen a significant reduction in pain, tingling and restlessness.


I was a fan before trying the oil…and I am an even bigger fan now.

So, if you think that supplementing with magnesium may be helpful to you, I can honestly & wholeheartedly recommend both the Natural Calm drink and their Magnesium Oil.

NOTE – You can buy Natural Calm and Magnesium Oil at these links

NOTE #2 – I would love to hear about your experiences (good or bad) with magnesium.


Obese Teens and their Hidden Metabolic Abnormalities

In addition to all of the social, mental & emotional crap that goes along with being a fat teenager, researchers have found that even when obese teens ‘feel’ healthy, blood tests show that they are likely to have high levels of:

And it gets worse – high levels of inflammation, insulin resistance and homocysteine means that the process of developing heart disease has already begun to happen.

The Study

Researchers compared the diets and blood test results of 33 obese youths (ages 11 to 19) with 19 age-matched youths of normal weight.

Blood tests revealed that the obese teens had:

  • C-reactive protein levels almost ten times higher than controls, indicating more inflammation in the body.
  • Insulin resistance, a precursor to type 2 diabetes, with greater amounts of insulin needed to keep blood sugar levels normal.
  • Homocysteine levels 62 percent higher than controls. High levels of the amino acid homocysteine are related to greater heart disease risk.
  • Total glutathione levels 27.9 percent lower than controls, with oxidized glutathione levels 125 percent higher. A higher ratio of oxidized to non-oxidized glutathione indicates oxidative stress, an imbalance in the production of cell-damaging free radicals and the body’s ability to neutralize them. Oxidative stress leads to more inflammation and an increase in blood vessel damage and stiffening.

“Looking at the numbers you would think these children might feel sick, but they did not. They are apparently feeling well, but there is a lot going on beneath the surface.”


Don’t assume that your kid is going to grow out of his or her ‘baby fat’.

Obesity is a medical symptom telling you that their body is not working as well as it should be.

A diet that is high in calories and low in nutrition sets off a whole bunch of metabolic processes that often lead straight to obesity…and inflammation and insulin resistance and heart disease.

So, stop being their friend…and start being a parent.


FYI – this is the diet your kids are supposed to be eating.





Fat Men Can Be Fit Men

Researchers have found that obese men (who have been diagnosed with metabolic syndrome) can keep their arteries healthy and prevent cardiovascular disease, heart attack and stroke by maximizing their cardiovascular fitness.

The Study

Scientists looked at a group of men with varying levels of cardiovascular fitness and metabolic syndrome.

  • Cardio fitness was measured by peak oxygen uptake during a standard treadmill test
  • Risk for heart disease was measured by their level of arterial stiffness.

Not too surprisingly, the researchers found that the men diagnosed with metabolic syndrome had ,on average, higher levels of arterial stiffness.

However, when the men were separated according to their levels of cardiovascular fitness, they found that all of the men in the highest quartile of fitness had significantly lower levels of arterial stiffness than those men in the lowest quartile of fitness.

That included fit guys who had been diagnosed with metabolic syndrome.

In fact, the fit and fat guys had the same levels of arterial stiffness as their skinny yet exercise-adverse brothers.


It is possible for fat guys to be fit guys.


Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that those fat & fit guys will ever be as fit as their lean & fit workout buddies.



This is Why You Need to Take Astragalus

Astragalus Membranaceus has been used for thousands of years in traditional Chinese medicine.

And even though us Westerners are a few thousand years late to the game, our scientists are working hard to get us up to speed.

In particular, an interesting study just came across my desk which showed how a decoction of the dried root of the Astragalus plant was very effective in:

  • reducing body weight
  • improving insulin sensitivity, and
  • improving the severity of fatty liver disease

Which is kind of a big deal considering that excessive body weight, type 2 diabetes and fatty liver disease is fast becoming the new normal in North America and Europe.

So, I decided to do a little more research into Astragalus and it’s effect on insulin sensitivity et al.

And I found a pile of research.

Research which showed how Astragalus was effective at:

  • boosting immune system function – cold, flu, infection, fever, allergies
  • reducing hypertension via a diuretic effect
  • eliminating free radicals
  • improving cardiac function
  • improving chronic fatigue
  • improving heart function
  • improving kidney function
  • improving symptoms of asthma
  • improving stomach ulcers
  • reducing inflammation
  • improving your body’s ability to handle stress

as well as…

  • reducing body weight
  • improving insulin sensitivity, and
  • improving the severity of fatty liver disease

All with no chance of toxicity.

Which is kind of important when you start messing around with herbs and roots.

So…where can you get this Astragalus stuff?

Re-Build Your Heart with Exercise

We all know that exercise is good for our heart.

What we didn’t know is how and why endurance exercise causes your heart to grow larger and work better in response to the increased pressure and volume.

The Science

According to the research published in Cell, endurance exercise causes a downregulation of a specific transcription factor called C/EBPβ.

This reduction in C/EBPβ kickstarts a genetic program which results in the hypertrophy and proliferation of cardiac muscle.

Ergo, endurance exercise re-builds your heart.


Kind of like the Grinch at Christmas.






    A Warning to all Sugar Junkies


    And that’s not good.

    That means that 44% (or 135, 082, 882) of the American population is insulin resistant……And why is this such a big deal?

    It’s a big deal because, according to this new study, when you (or someone you love) is insulin resistant, your arteries are unable to receive the signal that prevents the buildup of fatty plaques that can cause them to harden. (see atherosclerosis)

    And considering that atherosclerosis is responsible for many of diabetes’ worst complications— heart disease, stroke, leg amputations and death….perhaps you should cut back on the cereal and toast and fruit juice and sandwiches and pasta and soda and chips and…



    An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Billion Healthcare Dollars

    Mainstream Medicine may finally be catching on.

    In a major shift of emphasis in the battle against cardiovascular disease, the American Heart Association is urging people to embrace prevention rather than just try to avoid risks long associated with the world’s leading killer.

    The Dallas-based organization unveiled a list of seven steps people can take to help prevent heart attacks and strokes and live healthy lives well into old age. The recommendations, which include staying smoke-free, eating healthy foods and getting regular exercise, are all familiar.

    But leaders hope a more pro-active message comprising the entire package of steps will help blunt the impact of the obesity epidemic and build on four decades of progress against the ravages of cardiovascular disease.

    “We’ve always looked at this from the risk side of the equation,” said Donald Lloyd-Jones, head of preventive medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago. “It’s important to push the agenda of promoting health, not just avoiding disease.”

    Dr. Lloyd-Jones is lead author of a scientific statement being published in the AHA journal Circulation describing the science behind the strategy. The paper doesn’t break any new ground on heart-disease risk. Indeed, in addition to the steps on smoking, diet and exercise, the report urges people to control cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar and a measure of healthy weight called body mass index.

    Each of the recommendations has long been at the foundation of heart-disease prevention, but Dr. Lloyd-Jones says their impact taken as a whole hasn’t previously been appreciated.

    By attaining goals in all seven steps, Dr. Lloyd-Jones said, people would achieve “ideal” cardiovascular health with a likelihood of living healthy lives well into old age.

    • Together, they amount to “a fountain of youth for the heart.”
    • So, here’s my question…. How do we move from telling to doing?

    There is a big difference between knowing that you should do something and actually doing it. And, while education about disease prevention / health promotion is important, it still doesn’t get many big ole butts up off the sofa.


    Did You Take Your Vitamin D This Morning?

    • Winter is on the way people.
    • And along with the frigid temperatures and slushy sidewalks, winter means less sunshine.
    • And less sunshine means less Vitamin D.

    And, according to this study, less Vitamin D means you have an increased risk of stroke, heart disease and death.



    The Study

    For more than a year, the Intermountain Medical Center research team followed 27,686 patients who were 50 years of age or older with no prior history of cardiovascular disease. The participants had their blood Vitamin D levels tested during routine clinical care. The patients were divided into three groups based on their Vitamin D levels – normal (over 30 nanograms per milliliter), low (15-30 ng/ml), or very low (less than 15 ng/ml). The patients were then followed to see if they developed some form of heart disease.

    Researchers found that patients with very low levels of Vitamin D were 77 percent more likely to die, 45 percent more likely to develop coronary artery disease, and 78 percent were more likely to have a stroke than patients with normal levels. Patients with very low levels of Vitamin D were also twice as likely to develop heart failure than those with normal Vitamin D levels.

    The researchers concluded “that among patients 50 years of age or older, even a moderate deficiency of Vitamin D levels was associated with developing coronary artery disease, heart failure, stroke, and death,” she says. “This is important because Vitamin D deficiency is easily treated.

    If increasing levels of Vitamin D can decrease some risk associated with these cardiovascular diseases, it could have a significant public health impact. When you consider that cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in America, you understand how this research can help improve the length and quality of people’s lives.”

    So, did you take your Vitamin D today?

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    What does Healthy Look Like?

    According to research out of the UK, the color of a person’s skin affects how healthy and therefore how attractive they appear.

    And since the color of a person’s skin is directly influenced by the quality of their diet, the researchers concluded that your diet may be crucial to achieving the most desirable complexion and therefore maximizing your attractiveness.

    So, it’s true…you are what you eat. Or, in this case, you’re as attractive as you eat.

    Note – Researchers were looking exclusively at Caucasian test subjects. The research was not concerned with racially differentiated skin colors. Draw your own conclusions.

    The Study

    Using specialist computer software, a total of 54 Caucasian participants of both sexes were asked to manipulate the skin color of male and female Caucasian faces to make them look as healthy as possible. They chose to increase the rosiness, yellowness and brightness of the skin.

    “Most previous work on faces has focused on the shape of the face or the texture of the skin, but one of the most variable characteristics of the face is skin color,” said Dr. Ian Stephen who is now at the University of Bristol.

    “We knew from our previous work that people who have more blood and more oxygen color in their skins looked healthy, and so we decided to see what other colors affect health perceptions.

    Skin that is slightly flushed with blood and full of oxygen suggests a strong heart and lungs, supporting the study’s findings that rosier skin appeared healthy. Smokers and people with diabetes or heart disease have fewer blood vessels in their skin, and so skin would appear less rosy.

    whathealthylookslike - red face

    The preference for more golden or ‘yellow-toned’ skin as healthier might be explained by the ‘carotenoid pigments’ that we get from the fruit and vegetables in our diet. These plant pigments are powerful antioxidants that soak up dangerous compounds produced when the body combats disease. They are also important for our immune and reproductive systems and may help prevent cancer.

    whathealthylookslike - yellow face


    They are the same dietary pigments that brightly colored birds and fish use to show off their healthiness and attract mates, and the researchers think that similar biological mechanisms may be at work in humans.

    “In the West we often think that sun tanning is the best way to improve the color of your skin,” said Ian Stephen, “but our research suggests that living a healthy lifestyle with a good diet might actually be better.”

    Melanin, the pigment that causes the tan color when skin is exposed to the sun makes the skin darker and more yellow, but participants in the study chose to make skin lighter and more yellow to make it look healthier.

    whathealthylookslike - bright face


    Beauty = Health

    And until all of us start carrying our health records around with us, we will have to rely on our ancient “lizard brains” to determine if another person looks healthy and therefore attractive.


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    Researchers Find the Answer to Senior Citizen Heart Health


    Researchers have discovered a cutting edge technique to help senior citizens improve the elasticity of their arteries – thereby reducing their risk of heart disease and stroke.

    Led by Dr. Kenneth Madden, the researchers were able to reduce arterial stiffness by 15 to 20% in only 3 months time.

    But wait, it gets better.

    Unlike most cardiovascular treatments, the cost of this new cure-all is…….nothing, zero, nada, rien…it’s free.

    It’s free because the treatment is:



    Exercise instead of drugs…who would have thought of that???

    The Study

    Dr. Madden divided his test subjects into two groups.

    1. The first group performed one hour of vigorous physical activity for one hour, three times a week for three months.
    2. The second group continued to live a sedentary lifestyle.

    Subjects were classified as sedentary at the beginning of the study but gradually increased their fitness levels until they were working at 70 per cent of their maximum heart rate, using treadmills and cycling machines. They were supervised by a certified exercise trainer.


    And after three months, the exercise group was healthier, while the sedentary group wasn’t.


    So, as a public service to all of my 65+ readers (and those readers with friends & family who are 65+), I will be posting “no equipment necessary” workouts geared toward trainees who are boomer age and older.



    BTW, this post is for my Dad…who should be outside right now getting some exercise


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    Vinegar is a Fat-Burning, Waist Shrinking, Cholesterol Lowering Superfood

    In yesterday’s post, I introduced you to a study which showed that plain ole’ vinegar is effective in suppressing body fat accumulation.

    More specifically, the researchers found that laboratory mice fed a high-fat diet and given acetic acid developed significantly less body fat (up to 10 percent less) than other mice.

    I was so excited by this low-tech, inexpensive weight loss trick that I contacted the author of the study.

    And to my surprise, he emailed an even more recent study which looks at the fat-burning effects of vinegar on actual human beings….no more mice studies.

    The Science

    In this study, researchers investigated the effects of vinegar intake on the reduction of body-fat mass in obese Japanese students.

    The 175 students were randomly assigned to three groups of similar body-weight, BMI and waist circumference.

    During the 12 week study, the participants ingested 500ml daily of a beverage containing either 15 ml of apple vinegar (750 mg AcOH – acetic acid), 30 ml of vinegar (1500 mg AcOH) or 0 ml of vinegar (0 mg AcOH, placebo).

    In place of vinegar, the placebo group ingested 1250 mg of lactate.

    To make them more palatable, all beverages contained the equal amount of flavor and artificial sweetener.

    The Results

    After only 4 weeks, the vinegar-group participants saw their body-weight, BMI and body-fat percentages improve. These improvements continued  in a dose dependent manner for the entire 12 weeks

    Translation: more vinegar = more fat loss

    In addition to BF, BMI and BF%, waist circumference, waist-hip ratio, LDL cholesterol and serum TG (triglyceride) levels also fell (starting in week 8).

    These results can be considered to be due to the body-fat loss because the VFA (visceral fat), SFA (subcutaneous fat) and TFA  (total fat) values were significantly lower in the vinegar groups than in the placebo group.

    Does the vinegar make these
    Does the vinegar make these “diet” chips?


    15 ml (0.5 oz or 1 tbsp) of vinegar per day is enough to significantly improve your:

    • Body-Weight
    • BMI
    • Body-Fat Percentage
    • Waist Circumference
    • Waist-Hip ratio
    • LDL Cholesterol
    • Serum TG
    • Visceral Body-Fat, and
    • Subcutaneous Body-Fat

    And considering that these health markers are associated with type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and metabolic syndrome, perhaps it might be wise to consider adding a tbsp or two of vinegar to your daily diet.

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    Your Omega 3 Prescription

    By this point, you should already know that you need more Omega 3 fatty acids into your diet.

    The question is: how much?

    • A teaspoon of fish oils?
    • A tablespoon?
    • 3 pills?
    • or a great big slab of smoked salmon?

    Well, according to this study, researchers believe that “a 200 mg dose of DHA per day is enough to affect biochemical markers that reliably predict cardiovascular problems, such as those related to aging, atherosclerosis, and diabetes”.

    This study is the first to identify how much DHA is necessary to promote optimal heart health.

    The Study

    To determine the optimal dose of DHA, the researchers examined the effects of increasing doses of DHA on 12 healthy male volunteers between ages of 53 and 65. These men consumed doses of DHA at 200, 400, 800, and 1600 mg per day for two weeks for each dose amount, with DHA being the only omega-3 fatty acid in their diet. (No EPA)

    Blood and urine samples were collected before and after each dose and at eight weeks after DHA supplementation stopped. The researchers then examined these samples for biochemical markers indicating the effects of each dose on the volunteers.

    They found that supplementation with only 200 mg/d DHA for 2 wk induced an antioxidant effect.

    They concluded that “low consumption of DHA could be an effective and nonpharmacological way to protect healthy men from platelet-related cardiovascular events”.


    If this study is correct, you need only 200 mg of DHA per day to reap the cardiovascular benefits of the Omega 3 fatty acid DHA.

    And how do you get 200 mg of DHA?

    OxyCholesterol…the most serious cardiovascular health threat of all?

    homer cholesterol

    Researchers have found that a (virtually unknown to the public) form of cholesterol called oxycholesterol may be your most serious cardiovascular health threat.

    “Total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL), and the heart-healthy high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL) are still important health issues,” says study leader Zhen-Yu Chen, Ph.D., of Chinese University of Hong Kong. “But the public should recognize that oxycholesterol is also important and cannot be ignored.

    Our work demonstrated that oxycholesterol boosts total cholesterol levels and promotes atherosclerosis [“hardening of the arteries”] more than non-oxidized cholesterol.”

    Q.     So, how do we get this oxidized cholesterol – oxycholesterol?

    A.     Fried food, processed food, junk food…basically all of the food that makes you fat also has high levels of oxycholesterol. Quel surprise.

    Scientists have known for years that a reaction between fats and oxygen, a process termed oxidation, produces oxycholesterol in the body.

    • Oxidation occurs, for instance, when fat-containing foods are heated, as in frying chicken or grilling burgers or steaks.
    • Food manufacturers produce oxycholesterol intentionally in the form of oxidized oils such as trans-fatty acids and partially-hydrogenated vegetable oils. When added to processed foods, those substances improve texture, taste and stability.

    Until now, however, much of the research focused on oxycholesterol’s effects in damaging cells, DNA, and its biochemical effects in contributing to atherosclerosis. Dr. Chen believes this is one of the first studies on oxycholesterol’s effects in raising blood cholesterol levels compared to non-oxidized cholesterol.

    In the new study, researchers compared the effects of a oxycholesterol rich diet to a diet rich in regular non-oxidized cholesterol.

    The oxycholesterol group showed greater deposition of cholesterol in the lining of their arteries and a tendency to develop larger deposits of cholesterol. These fatty deposits, called atherosclerotic plaques, increase the risk for heart attack and stroke.


    More importantly, oxycholesterol had undesirable effects on “artery function.”

    Oxycholesterol reduced the elasticity of arteries, impairing their ability to expand and carry more blood.

    In a healthy, elastic artery, expansion allows for more blood to flow through arteries that are partially blocked by plaques, potentially reducing the risk that a clot will form and cause a heart attack or stroke.

    Luckily, a healthy diet rich in antioxidants can counter these effects, Chen said, noting that these substances may block the oxidation process that forms oxycholesterol.

    Scientists do not know whether the popular anti-cholesterol drugs called statins lower oxycholesterol.

    And how do we get a diet rich in antioxidants?

    Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices….aka real food.


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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.


    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.


    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


    Bleeding Edge Nutrition Research


    This post is strictly for the fitness/nutrition geeks.

    All sorts of neat-o research studies.


    • The Nutrient-Rich Foods (NRF) Index is a new, objective, science-based way to measure the total nutritional quality of foods and beverages…link to the research, Nutrient Rich Foods Coalition
    • Urban Farming? Will Allen – creator of Growing Power, FoodCycles – Toronto’s Urban Garden
    • Millions Of U.S. Children Low In Vitamin D – Increased risk of bone and heart disease – all due to sunscreens and a fear of the sun? – link to the research
    • More Evidence Of Fish Oil’s Heart Health Benefits – There is mounting evidence that omega-3 fatty acids from fish or fish oil supplements not only help prevent cardiovascular diseases in healthy individuals, but also reduce the incidence of cardiac events and mortality in patients with existing heart disease. link to the research
    • Caloric Restriction reduces the risk of Breast Cancer link to the research
    • If you have an overweight child who has overweight friends, you need to read this
    • Social Stress leads to visceral/belly fat which leads to heart disease link to the research
    • Gut hormone CCK has an insulin like effect on blood sugar link to the research
    • Traditional Gender Roles aren’t dead yet – Women Eat Less when they Eat with a Man – link to the research
    • High-fat, High-sugar Foods Alter Brain Receptors – Researchers report that either continuous eating or binge eating a high fat, high sugar diet alters opioid receptor levels in an area of the brain that controls food intake – link to the research


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    High Carb Diet = Heart Attack

    IHOPs Butterscotch Rocks Pancake....mmmmmm distended brachial arteries
    IHOPs Butterscotch Rocks Pancake....mmmmmm distended brachial arteries

    For the first time in medical history, researchers have been able to visualize what happens inside our arteries before, during and after eating high carb foods.

    And it ain’t a pretty sight.

    Looking inside the arteries of students eating a variety of foods, Dr. Michael Shechter ( Tel Aviv University visualized exactly what happens inside the body when the wrong foods for a healthy heart are eaten.

    He found that foods with a high glycemic index resulted in distended brachial arteries for several hours.

    Dr. Shechter continues:

    Elasticity of arteries anywhere in the body can be a measure of heart health.

    But when aggravated over time, a sudden expansion of the artery wall can cause a number of negative health effects, including reduced elasticity, which can cause heart disease or sudden death.

    So, let’s recap:

    High GI foods (bread, sugar, desserts, pop, pizza, cereal, 99% of the food sold at any fast food restaurant…) leads to distended brachial arteries which can lead to heart attacks which can lead to death.

    The Science

    Using 56 healthy volunteers, the researchers looked at four groups.

    1. Group One ate a cornflake mush mixed with milk,
    2. Group Two ate a pure sugar mixture,
    3. Group Three ate bran flakes,
    4. Group Four was given a placebo (water).

    Over four weeks, Dr. Shechter applied his method of “brachial reactive testing” to each group. The test uses a cuff on the arm, like those used to measure blood pressure, which can visualize arterial function in real time.

    The results were dramatic. Before any of the patients ate, arterial function was essentially the same. After eating, except for the placebo group, all had reduced functioning.

    Enormous peaks indicating arterial stress were found in the high glycemic index groups: the cornflakes and sugar group.

    “We knew high glycemic foods were bad for the heart. Now we have a mechanism that shows how,” says Dr. Shechter. “Foods like cornflakes, white bread, french fries, and sweetened soda all put undue stress on our arteries.

    We’ve explained for the first time how high glycemic carbs can affect the progression of heart disease.”

    During the consumption of foods high in sugar, there appears to be a temporary and sudden dysfunction in the endothelial walls of the arteries.

    Endothelial health can be traced back to almost every disorder and disease in the body.

    It is “the riskiest of the risk factors,” says Dr. Shechter.


    So how come my doctor tells me to eat cereal for breakfast?


    Sadly, Mikey never made it past his 25th birthday.

    Damn you Life brand cereal, damn you.

    If you like what you see here, click here for updates


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    Today’s Workouts – June 16, 2009

    recumbant bike
    Alan Ariail racing his NoCom - Photo: Dan Glatch

    Tuesday’s Workouts

    Workout # 1

    • 20 min of HIIT sprints on the bike – 100% intensity (10:50 / 15:45 / 20:40) w 5 min warm-up & cool-down

    Workout # 2

    • 60 min of steady state cardio at intensity 6/10
    • 10 min of stretching
    • 20 min of meditation (approx time as time ceases to be linear in the meditative state…..ohmmmm

    Today’s Workout – June 10, 2009

    rocky boxing meat

    Resistance Training Day


    • 5 min of Joint Mobility exercises & Dynamic Stretching


    Superset #1

    • 10 minutes of heavy bag work – fists, knees, feet & elbows

    No rest between techniques…sweat pouring off me like Niagara Falls

    60 sec rest between superset 1 & 2 as I moved from the heavy bag room to the weight room

    Superset #2

    • Push-Ups – various grips – Bodyweight – 10 sets of 10 reps, supersetted with
    • BW Row on Smith Machine – Bodyweight – 10 sets of 10 reps, supersetted with
    • Swing Snatch – 35 lb plate – 10 sets of 10 reps

    No rest between sets

    30 sec rest between superset 2 & 3

    Superset #3

    • Straight Arm Pushdowns – Dynamic movement – lots of core involvement – 8 sets of 20 reps, weight pyramiding from 145 – 260 lbs., (last 3 sets 19, 16, 14 reps) supersetted with
    • Jumping / Shuffling Split Lunges – 8 sets of 40 reps, Bodyweight

    No rest between sets

    60 sec rest between superset 3 & 4

    Superset #4

    • Cybex Incline Chest Press – 10 sets of 20 – 13 reps – weight increasing from 145 – 300 lbs, supersetted with
    • Bulgarian Split Squat – 10 sets of 7 reps, Bodyweight,

    Flexibility/Mobility Training

    • no time to stretch…oops, gonna pay for that


    Short on time today. 35 minute workout. No rest between sets. No rest between supersets. Exhausted at the end of 35 minutes. Jogged to the gym and jogged/stumbled home from the gym


    If you like what you see here, click here for updates

    Today’s Workout – June 09, 2009

    old fashioned bicycle

    Cardio Workout Day

    • 30 min of steady state cardio at 60-70% intensity (recumbant stationary bike)
    • 20 min of HIIT sprints on the bike – 100% intensity (10 sec sprint – 50 sec recovery time)
    • 10 min of steady state cardio @ 50% intensity
    • 10 min of stretching
    • 20 min of meditation (approx time as time ceases to be linear in the meditative state…..ohmmmm

    Additional 60 min (approx) of walking today

    The Atkins Diet for Vegans

    flintstone ribs

    Quick…What comes to mind when I say… Atkins Diet?

    • Steak?
    • Bacon?
    • Ribs?

    How about textured vegetable protein?


    Or, smoothies made from vegan protein powder?

    rice protein vegan

    Well, according to this research, test subjects who followed a “low-carbohydrate (26% of total calories), high–vegetable protein (31% from gluten, soy, nuts, fruit, vegetables, and cereals), and vegetable oil (43%) plant-based diet” for 4 weeks, saw improvements in blood cholesterol levels and other heart disease risk factors…including weight loss.

    In comparison, the control diet (a high-carbohydrate lacto-ovo vegetarian diet (58% carbohydrate, 16% protein, and 25% fat)), produced improvements in weight loss but little change in the other heart disease risk factors.


    A Vegan-Atkins diet is superior to a high carb, Lacto-Ovo, low-fat dairy, whole grain diet.


    Is a Vegan-Atkins diet superior to:

    • a traditional “Fred Flintstone” Atkins diet?
    • or a Paleo style diet based on animal protein, fruits & vegetables?
    • or a Mediterranean style diet?


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    Today’s Workout – June 08, 2009

    one arm press paul anderson

    Resistance Training Day


    • 10 min of Joint Mobility exercises & Dynamic Stretching


    Superset #1

    • Rollouts – 10 sets of 10 reps, supersetted with
    • alternating sets of Bodyweight Squats & Bodyweight Reverse Lunges – 10 sets of 20 reps

    No rest between sets – Total reps – 100 rollouts & 200 reps squats/lunges

    3 min rest between superset 1 & 2

    Superset #2

    • Pull-Ups – various grips – Bodyweight – 5 sets of 5 reps, supersetted with
    • 1 Arm DB Press – 75 lbs – 5 sets of 3 reps, supersetted with
    • Jumping Lunges – Bodyweight – 5 sets of 20 reps

    No rest between sets

    3 min rest between superset 2 & 3

    Superset #3

    • 1 Arm Kneeling Pulldowns – 8 sets of 5 reps, weight pyramiding from 145 – 250, supersetted with
    • Glute Ham Raises – 8 sets of 5 reps, Bodyweight

    No rest between sets

    3 min rest between superset 3 & 4

    Superset #4

    • Standing Cable Crunch – 7 sets of 3 reps @ 135 lbs, supersetted with
    • Bulgarian Split Squat – 7 sets of 7 reps, Bodyweight, supersetted with
    • Standing Cable Row – 2 hand – focus on scap retraction not biceps – 7 sets of 7 reps @ 225 lbs

    No rest between sets

    3 min rest between superset 4 & 5

    Superset #5

    • Cybes Shoulder Press – 5 sets of 5 reps @ 205 lbs, supersetted with
    • DB Concentration Curl – Hammer grip – 5 sets of 5 reps @ 50 lbs

    No rest between sets

    Flexibility/Mobility Training

    • 15 min of stretching

    Today’s Workout – June 07, 2009


    Cardio Workout Day

    • 30 min of steady state cardio at 60-70% intensity (recumbant stationary bike)
    • 20 min of HIIT sprints on the bike – 90-100% intensity (alternating 10 sec, 15 sec & 20 second sprints – recovery times were 50, 45 & 40 seconds respectively)
    • 10 min of steady state cardio @ 50% intensity
    • 15 min of stretching + foam roller work on my IT Bands


    Read a little of Dr. Natasha Turner’s “The Hormone Diet” during the first 30 min on the bike. Pretty good so far. This book is selling well in Canada but barely making a dent in the States. Too bad. Good stuff. I will be reviewing this book along with the Jillian Michaels book.

    Can Potassium Reverse High Blood Pressure?

    • High blood pressure is a killer….we all know that
    • Eating a diet high in sodium can lead to high blood pressure….we all know that

    And because we know these things, a lot of people have been told by their doctors to stop eating this…

    Salty Snacks

    …and to start eating this…


    And they aren’t happy about it……….but maybe there is another way.

    Maybe, instead of labeling salt as a BAD FOOD, and banning it from our diets altogether, we can balance out the hypertensive effect of sodium with the hypotensive effect of potassium. If only we had some proof…

    The Proof

    Earlier this year, researchers found that “the ratio of sodium-to-potassium was a much stronger predictor of hypertension and cardiovascular disease than sodium or potassium alone”.

    “There isn’t as much focus on potassium, but potassium seems to be effective in lowering blood pressure and the combination of a higher intake of potassium and lower consumption of sodium seems to be more effective than either on its own in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease,” said Dr. Paul Whelton, senior author of the study in the January 2009 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

    In this study, researchers determined average sodium and potassium intake of their test subjects.

    They collected 24-hour urine samples intermittently during an 18-month period in one trial and during a 36-month period in a second trial.

    The 2,974 study participants initially aged 30-to-54 and with blood pressure readings just under levels considered high, were followed for 10-15 years to see if they would develop cardiovascular disease.

    The Results

    • The highest salt consumers were 20% more likely to suffer strokes, heart attacks or other forms of cardiovascular disease when compared to the lowest of the low sodium eaters.

    20% more likely to suffer a stroke. That sounds great…time to ditch that salt shaker…..right?  Maybe not…

    • The participants with the highest sodium-to-potassium ratio in urine were 50 percent more likely to experience cardiovascular disease than those with the lowest sodium-to-potassium ratios.

    According to this study, the ratio of potassium to sodium in your diet is more important to the health of your heart than the overall consumption of sodium.

    According to Dr. Whelton, healthy 19-to-50 year-old adults should consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day — equivalent to one teaspoon of table salt.

    NOTE: More than 95 percent of American men and 75 percent of American women in this age range exceed this amount.

    What does this mean to you?

    Odds are that you are part of the majority whose sodium : potassium ratio is out of whack.

    • How much potassium do you need to help balance out the salt?

    To lower blood pressure and blunt the effects of salt, adults should consume 4.7 grams of potassium per day unless they have a clinical condition or medication need that is a contraindication to increased potassium intake.

    Most American adults aged 31-to-50 consume only about half this amount.

    • And how do we get more potassium?
    • Good potassium sources include fruits, vegetables, dairy foods and fish.
    • Foods that are especially rich in potassium include potatoes and sweet potatoes, fat-free milk and yogurt, tuna, lima beans, bananas, tomato sauce and orange juice.
    • Potassium also is available in supplements. However, most potassium supplements come in dosages of 50mg . To get your daily 5 grams, you would need to take 100 pills.

    So, maybe we should listen to the good doctor and “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”Hippocrates

    Click here for the USDA’s list of foods high in Potassium..

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    10 more reasons to love High Intensity Interval Training

    1. HIIT was better than the standard  multidisciplinary approach (exercise, diet and psychological support) at helping overweight kids reduce their cardiovascular risk factorsHere’s the study
    2. HIIT can prevent cardiac death in type 2 diabetic individuals. Here’s the study
    3. HIIT should be a required treatment for all Metabolic Syndrome patients. 16 weeks of HIIT training significantly reduced their risk of cardiovascular disease, in terms of improved VO2max, endothelial function, blood pressure, insulin signaling, and plasma lipid composition. Here’s the study
    4. HIIT substantially improves insulin action. Say bye-bye to type 2 diabetes & metabolic syndrome. Here’s the study
    5. HIIT increases levels of HDL cholesterol – that’s the  good cholesterol. Here’s the study
    6. HIIT improves the HRR (Heart Rate Recovery – a measure of how quickly your heart returns to normal post-exercise)) in already well-trained cyclists. Here’s the study
    7. HIIT drastically improves cardiovascular function (V02max) in patients with COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) Here’s the study
    8. Interval training produced a 302% greater increase inV02max when compared to a long, slow distance training protocol. Here’s the study
    9. HIIT significantly improved the aerobic fitness of a group of prepubescent children (aerobic fitness measured by peak oxygen consumption and maximal aerobic velocity) Here’s the study
    10. HIIT improves the erectile function of hypertension patients  Here’s the study fellas

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    Red Meat Kills?

    image: Charles Valek
    image: Charles Valek

    It’s a sad day people.

    This morning, I was going through my emails and came upon this study.

    This horrible, horrible study.

    This decade-long study, involving the 322,263 men and 223,390 women ages 50 to 71 who participated in the National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health Study.

    This study, which tries to pry the burger from my hand by telling me that red and processed meat intakes were associated with a 20 to 40% increase in total mortality.

    20 to 40%!!!

    Hmmmm, 20 to 40%?


    Question: Would you drastically reduce (or eliminate altogether) your consumption of red meat if you thought that it would improve your odds of dying from cancer by 20 to 40%?

    If not, why?


    If you like what you see here, click here for updates


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    Omega 3s protect men from heart failure


    Attention MEN!!!


    Eat one serving of fatty fish per week and reduce your risk of heart failure


    The Science

    According to this new study:

    • Men who eat one serving of fatty fish a week reduced their odds of heart failure by 12%.
    • Men who consume 330 mg of omega 3 fish oils per day reduced their odds of heart failure by 33%

    What this means to YOU

    If you eat:

    You will get your 330 mg of Omega 3s and lower your odds of dying from heart failure by 33%


    Pretty cheap insurance policy if you ask me.


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    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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    Obesity: Insulin trumps Genetics

    I have said it before and I will say it again. Genetics isn’t Destiny. Even when it comes to obesity.

    And if you don’t believe me:

    Purdue University scientists have uncovered evidence that genetically identical cells store widely differing amounts of fat, depending on subtle variations in how the cells process insulin.

    They said identifying the precise mechanism responsible for fat storage in cells could lead to methods for controlling obesity.

    Although other studies have suggested certain “fat genes” might be associated with excessive fat storage in cells, the Purdue researchers confirmed such genes are expressed, or activated, in all of the cells. Yet those cells varied drastically — from nearly zero in some cases to pervasive in others — in how much fat they stored.

    Their findings indicate that the faster a cell processes insulin, the more fat it stores.

    It’s the insulin…it’s the insulin…it’s the insulin.

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    National Heart Health Strategy


    Canada may be on the verge of something revolutionary in the annals of Western Medicine.

    Today, in Ottawa, Dr. Eldon R. Smith, chairman of the Canadian Heart Health Strategy and Action Plan steering committee, presented the federal government with a  new nationwide strategy aimed at combating heart disease and stroke.

    The CHHS-AP plan would cost an estimated$700 million to implement over the next seven years.

    However, by 2020, the plan could save Canada’s health care system over$22 billion in direct and indirect costs.

    That’s over $30 of savings for every $1 invested in the plan.

    And just how do they plan on saving all of those health care dollars?

    According to Dr. Smith, “”We need to find ways to have people eat healthier foods, do more exercise, and we need to have less people smoking.”

    “We think that with a combination of education, legislation, regulation, as we did for smoking in the past, and perhaps some incentives, that we’ll be able to create better environments for heart health in Canada.”

    jaw-drop-genie-alladin<jaw drops to floor>


    Promote a healthy lifestyle in order to prevent disease.

    What a truly shocking and inspired idea!


    The Plan

    The plan makes six key recommendations to fight heart disease and stroke, including:

    1. Creating “heart-healthy” environments through education, legislation, regulation and policy.
    2. Helping Canadians lead healthier lives.
    3. Ending the cardiovascular disease crisis within Aboriginal communities.
    4. Continuing to reform health care with improved delivery of patient-centered services.
    5. Improving the surveillance and electronic medical records system to enhance prevention, care and research into vascular diseases.
    6. Developing the right number of health-care service providers with the right education and skills.

    Okay, sounds good….a little vague, but good.

    “The CHHS-AP will allow us to focus more on prevention, among other key areas, and tackle this health challenge head-on,” said Sally Brown, CEO of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, one of three lead organizations involved of the plan.

    Still vague.

    Seriously, we need some details.


    According to the CHHS-AP, implementing this strategy will result in the following benefits:


    • By 2015, working with partners,
      • 20% more Canadians eating at least five servings of vegetables and fruit per day
      • 20% more physically-active Canadians
      • 20% fewer obese or overweight adults
      • fewer obese children (from 8% to 5%)
    • By 2020,
      • decrease annual rate of CV deaths by 25%
      • bring CV diseases burden among Aboriginal/indigenous populations in line with other Canadians
      • decrease prevalence of hypertension in adults by 32%
        • increase awareness by 64% among adults with hypertension
        • Increase by six-fold those hypertension treated to recommended targets
      • decrease (risk adjusted 30-day) hospital mortality rate
        • from heart attacks by 32%
        • from stroke by 25%
      • decrease hospitalizations for treatment of heart failure by 25
      • decrease hospitalizations for treatment of acute stroke by 25%
      • have 90% of Canadians aged 45+ with CV risk assessments
      • decrease (by working with partners) the smoking rate by 25%

    The Economy

    • Significant savings in costs of CV diseases by 2020,
      • decrease $7.6 billion in direct costs  (2008 dollars)
      • decrease $14.6 billion in indirect costs (2008 dollars)

    Canadians and our Country

    • Canadians will know their CV risk and how to reduce it to lead longer, healthier lives.
    • All regions of the country benefit from more sustainable health care systems.
    • Governments, the health care system, the private sector, communities and individuals work together, making a long-term commitment to change.
    • Patients will be partners in their own health and care.
    • Interprofessional health teams are well equipped to promote health, prevent CV disease, and provide timely, comprehensive, patient-centred care.
    • Canada is internationally recognized as a productive, economically competitive and heart healthy nation.

    DETAILS!!!…for the love of god, less rhetoric and more details.

    Seriously, two years and $2.5 million to come up with this?


    So, where do we go from here?

    According to the experts:

    What needs to happen?

    Work with federal Health Minister Aglukkaq to maintain momentum to:

    • Initiate the processes for change.
    • Develop effective partnerships, within and outside the health sector, to engage citizens, care providers, their professional organizations, non-governmental organizations, industry and the media to enable Canadians to become international leaders in heart health.


    Please, somebody give me some details.


    Oh, forget it. I ‘ll do it myself.

    Here are some of my suggestions for how to spend the $700 million:

    • Tax refunds for participating regularly in exercise programs
    • Tax credits to private health clubs for administrating these exercise programs
    • Tax credits for private individuals organizing fitness clubs
    • Eliminate inequalities in federal food subsidy programs – quit subsidizing grains and soy at the expense of fruits and vegetables
    • Promote local and organic farming practices
    • Promote exercise and fitness – advertising, contests, athletes, amateur competitions
    • Tax credits to grocery chains to supply local and organic foods
    • Also, let’s stop listening to the same “experts” who have been telling us to follow those stupid healthy food pyramids all these years. Let’s talk to the fitness experts in the “real world” who get “real” changes out of their “real” clients in order to pay their “real” bills and keep “real” food on their “real” tables.
    • We should also structure the funding of these programs to encourage results. There will be lots and lots of experts lining up to collect their share of the $700 million. How many of them are willing to guarantee their work? How about we structure the contracts with a balloon payment to be paid at the end of the contract. The amount of that payment could be directly tied to the results that their program achieves.


    Any other bright ideas?

    And not just my Canadian readers.

    Us Canucks are not the only overweight, diabetic, just waiting to have a heart attack, couch potatoes out there.


    If you like what you see here, click here for updates


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    HIIT Training: The Cure for Insulin Resistance, Type 2 Diabetes, Metabolic Disease and Obesity?

    Art by Bill Hall -
    Art by Bill Hall -

    It’s official:

    HIIT training is AWESOME!!!

    Researchers from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland have concluded that:

    The efficacy of a high intensity exercise protocol, involving only 250 kcal of work each week, to substantially improve insulin action in young sedentary subjects  is  remarkable.

    This novel  time-efficient  training paradigm can  be  used  as  a  strategy  to  reduce  metabolic  risk  factors  in  young  and middle aged sedentary populations who otherwise would not adhere  to  time consuming traditional aerobic exercise regimes.

    And for those of you that don’t know, here are the risk factors of Metabolic Syndrome that HIIT training is so effective at reducing:

    • Abdominal obesity (excessive fat tissue in and around the abdomen)
    • Atherogenic dyslipidemia (blood fat disorders — high triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol and high LDL cholesterol — that foster plaque buildups in artery walls)
    • Elevated blood pressure
    • Insulin resistance or glucose intolerance (the body can’t properly use insulin or blood sugar)
    • Prothrombotic state (e.g., high fibrinogen or plasminogen activator inhibitor–1 in the blood)
    • Proinflammatory state (e.g., elevated C-reactive protein in the blood)

    People with the metabolic syndrome are at increased risk of coronary heart disease and other diseases related to plaque buildups in artery walls (e.g., stroke and peripheral vascular disease) and type 2 diabetes.

    It’s estimated that over 50 million Americans have it.

    And I am 100% sure that you don’t want it.


    So, what do you need to do?

    1. Go to your doctor and get checked out – Max intensity sprints combined with a sky high B.P. is just asking for trouble.
    2. Go through my HIIT resources
    3. Find an exercise bike, set of stairs, outdoor track or even a carpeted area in your home to do burpees
    4. Schedule 3 x 15 minute HIIT workouts per week
    5. Get HIITing

    And I am serious about the doctor. I don’t mean to sound like your mother, but a visit to your doctor at least once a year for a check-up is a very, very, very good idea.


    If you like what you see here, click here for updates


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    HIIT Training: The Cure for Type 2 Diabetes and Obesity?

    It’s official:

    HIIT training is AWESOME!!!

    Researchers from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland have concluded that:

    The efficacy of a high intensity exercise protocol, involving only 250 kcal of work each week, to substantially improve insulin action in young sedentary subjects  is  remarkable.

    This novel  time-efficient  training paradigm can  be  used  as  a  strategy  to  reduce  metabolic  risk  factors  in  young  and middle aged sedentary populations who otherwise would not adhere  to  time consuming traditional aerobic exercise regimes.

    Art by Bill Hall -
    Art by Bill Hall –

    And for those of you that don’t know, here are the risk factors of Metabolic Syndrome that HIIT training is so effective at reducing:

    • Abdominal obesity (excessive fat tissue in and around the abdomen)
    • Atherogenic dyslipidemia (blood fat disorders — high triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol and high LDL cholesterol — that foster plaque buildups in artery walls)
    • Elevated blood pressure
    • Insulin resistance or glucose intolerance (the body can’t properly use insulin or blood sugar)
    • Prothrombotic state (e.g., high fibrinogen or plasminogen activator inhibitor–1 in the blood)
    • Proinflammatory state (e.g., elevated C-reactive protein in the blood)


    People with the metabolic syndrome are at increased risk of coronary heart disease and other diseases related to plaque buildups in artery walls (e.g., stroke and peripheral vascular disease) and type 2 diabetes.

    It’s estimated that over 50 million Americans have it.

    And I am 100% sure that you don’t want it.


    So, what do you need to do?

    1. Go to your doctor and get checked out – Max intensity sprints combined with a sky high B.P. is just asking for trouble.
    2. Go through my HIIT resources
    3. Find an exercise bike, set of stairs, outdoor track or even a carpeted area in your home to do burpees
    4. Schedule 3 x 15 minute HIIT workouts per week
    5. Get HIITing

    And I am serious about the doctor. I don’t mean to sound like your mother, but a visit to your doctor at least once a year for a check-up is a very, very, very good idea.


    Your Anti-Senility Prescription


    This post is for everyone out there with a loved one over the age of 50.

    .New research shows that our lifestyle choices (nutrition and physical activity) have a powerful effect on age related cognitive health.

    Translation: Senility is mostly preventable with diet and exercise.

    And guess what?

    The same lifestyle choices that have created an epidemic of obesity in the Western world are also responsible for much of the dementia in today’s senior citizens.

    Here’s the science:

    Study #1

    Researchers from the Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer’s Disease and the Aging Brain found that maintaining steady blood sugar levels, even in the absence of disease (diabetes, metabolic syndrome) is an important strategy for preserving cognitive health.

    For many of us, senior moments are a normal part of aging. Such lapses in memory, according to this new research, can be blamed, on rising blood glucose levels as we age.

    Whether through physical exercise, diet or drugs, our research suggests that improving glucose metabolism could help some of us avert the cognitive slide that occurs in many of us as we age,” reported lead investigator Scott A. Small, M.D.

    Although it is widely known that the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease cause damage to the hippocampus, the area of the brain essential for memory and learning, studies have suggested that it is also vulnerable to normal aging.

    Until now, the underlying causes of age-related hippocampal dysfunction have remained largely unknown.

    In previous studies, Dr. Small et al had discovered that decreasing brain function in the dentate gyrus region of the hippocampus is the main contributor of normal age related cognitive decline.

    In this new study, researchers used medical imaging devices to “help us better understand the basic mechanisms behind hippocampal dysfunction in the aged.”

    Their research looked at measures that typically change during aging, like:

    • rising blood sugar,
    • body mass index,
    • cholesterol and
    • insulin levels.

    The research found that decreasing activity in the dentate gyrus only correlated with levels of blood glucose.

    “Showing for the first time that blood glucose selectively targets the dentate gyrus is not only our most conclusive finding, but it is the most important for ‘normal’ aging- that is hippocampal dysfunction that occurs in the absence of any disease states. There have been many proposed reasons for age-related hippocampal decline; this new study suggests that we may now know one of them,” said Dr. Small.


    Control your blood sugar and prevent senility


    Read this and this and this and this.


    Study #2

    In this study, researchers found that as we age, a slow, chronic starvation of the brain appears to be one of the major triggers of Alzheimer’s disease.

    When the brain doesn’t get enough glucose, “a process is launched that ultimately produces the sticky clumps of protein that appear to be a cause of Alzheimer’s”. During this process, a key brain protein (eIF2alpha) increases the production of an enzyme which, in turn, flips a switch that produces the sticky clumps of protein.

    And what causes this reduction in blood glucose to the brain?

    Cardiovascular Disease

    And how do we prevent cardiovascular disease?

    But don’t take my word for it.

    “This finding is significant because it suggests that improving blood flow to the brain might be an effective therapeutic approach to prevent or treat Alzheimer’s,” said Vassar, a professor of cell and molecular biology at the Feinberg School.

    A simple preventive strategy people can follow to improve blood flow to the brain is getting exercise, reducing cholesterol and managing hypertension.

    “If people start early enough, maybe they can dodge the bullet,” Vassar said.

    For people who already have symptoms, vasodilators, which increase blood flow, may help the delivery of oxygen and glucose to the brain. It also is possible that drugs could be designed to block the eIF2alpha protein that begins the formation of the protein clumps, known as amyloid plaques.


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    1. EurekAlert
    2. EurekAlert

    Cross Training Best For Cardiac Patients

    A new study, published in the ACSM’s journal, Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, shows that coronary artery disease patients should replace their existing aerobic exercise programs with a combined resistance / aerobic training program.

    The study looked at various markers of health important to individuals suffering from coronary artery disease.

    These markers were:

    • Vo2 peak
    • Body Composition
    • Anaerobic Endurance
    • Muscular Strength
    • Muscular Endurance

    The cross training (combined Resistance and Aerobic training) group demonstrated greater improvements than the aerobic group in every single marker of health.

    After 29 weeks:

    • Vo2 peak – Improved 18% in the Cross-Training (CT) group and 11% in the Aerobic (AT) group (data)
    • Lean Body Mass – The CT group gained close to 4x more muscle mass than the AT group (1.5 kg v.s 0.4 kg) (data)
    • Body Fat – The CT group lost 2% body-fat while the AT group lost 0.1% (data)
    • Anaerobic Endurance – Insignificant changes in both the AT and CT groups (data)
    • Muscular Strength – The CT group increased their leg strength by 18%, while the AT group increased leg strength by only 6% (data)
    • Muscular Endurance – Muscular Endurance (tested by Leg Press) improved 100% in the CT group and only 15% in the AT group (data)


    Scientific Conclusion


    The major findings of this study are that replacing two aerobic training (AT) sessions with two Resistance Training (RT) sessions (creating a Cross Training (CT) workout) each week elicited similar or higher changes in cardiovascular fitness (V⋅O2peak) than AT alone (5 sessions per week) with the added benefits of significant gains in muscle strength, local muscle endurance, lean mass accretion and reduction in percent body fat in CAD patients.

    These data support the hypothesis that combined RT/AT training (or CT) was superior in eliciting physiological adaptations, with more substantial gains seen with increased volume of RT for lean muscle mass, lower body muscular endurance, VAT, and V⋅O2peak.


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    1. Aerobic and Resistance Training in Coronary Disease: Single versus Multiple Sets, Susan Marzolini; Paul I. Oh; Scott G. Thomas; Jack M. Goodman


    Want To Lower Your Blood Pressure?

    Common sense tells us that exercise is good for us.

    Scientific research tells us that “exercise, of appropriate intensity and duration, could help maintain normotension if post-exercise hypotension persists over subsequent everyday activities.

    In English:

    • Exercise lowers your blood pressure – hypotension
    • Our lifestyles make us prone to high blood pressure – primary hypertension
    • The B.P. lowering effect of regular exercise balances out the B.P. raising effect of our lifestyles to give us a healthy blood pressure – normotension

    So, What Now?

    In this study, researchers looked at how exercise intensity affected our “at rest” blood pressure.

    During the study, the researchers:

    • Monitored the B.P. and heart rate of 6 normotensive males for 24 hours after a workout.
    • The 6 guinea-pigs performed 4 different workouts over the course of the entire study.
    • The workouts differed only in their intensity.
    • Workout #1 was the control workout: They did nothing. No workout
    • Workout #2 consisted of 30 minutes of cycling at 70% of their V˙O2peak
    • Workout #3 consisted of 30 minutes of cycling at 40% of their V˙O2peak
    • Workout #4 consisted of cycling at 40% of their V˙O2peak until they had matched the work output achieved in Workout #2.

    V˙O2peak is the highest amount or volume(V) of oxygen(O2) you can consume while exercising at your maximum capacity.

    The Results

    While the participants slept, their resting blood pressure (B.P.) was monitored

    • Workout # 2 produced the greatest reduction in resting B.P.
    • Workout #1 had little to no effect on the participants’ B.P.
    • Workout #3 had the second lowest effect on lowering B.P.
    • And even though Workout #4 produced the same amount of work as Workout #2, even it did not have as strong an effect on the participants’ blood pressure (90 % CI for difference = − 22.1 to − 0.1).


    • Daytime exercise can elicit a physiologically meaningful lower BP during sleep, and
    • Exercise intensity is the most important factor in this phenomenon.

    So there you go folks, increase your exercise intensity and lower your blood pressure.

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    health healthhabits exercise fitness Energy System Training Makes Your Heart Healthier and Stronger

    Energy System Training Makes Your Heart Healthier and Stronger

    On April 17, I wrote an introductory article to Energy System Training. In that article:

    • I explained how each of your body’s three energy system pathways provide energy for bodily functions.
    • I also explained how each energy system could be developed through exercise.

    Since that time, there has been new research conducted which proves that not only will exercise affect the function of your energy systems, it will affect the function and structure of your heart.

    In this latest study, researchers have “concluded that participation in 90 days of competitive athletics produces significant training-specific changes in cardiac structure and function.”

    • Endurance Athletes (40 university rowers) expanded both the left and right ventricles of their hearts (bi-ventricular dilation).
    • As well, they improved the relaxation of the heart muscle between beats (Diastolic relaxation).
    • In contrast, Strength Athletes (35 football players) thickened the heart muscle at the site of the left ventricle.
    • Additionally, the football players experienced diminished diastolic relaxation.

    What does this mean?

    • For athletes, this indicates that dramatic changes to the function of the heart’s function and structure can be achieved in a very short amount of time. Future studies will be looking at how different exercise protocols affect both the function and structure of the heart.
    • For heart disease patients, this study should indicate that as not all heart dysfunctions are the same, not all exercise prescriptions are the same. Like different drugs are prescribed for different conditions, in the future unique exercise prescriptions may be dispensed based on the patient’s unique physical condition…allowing you to make your heart healthier and stronger and more capable of the specific tasks you might ask it to do.
    • For you and the rest of the health conscious public at-large, Energy System Training Makes Your Heart Healthier and Stronger

    Your prescription:  go take a long walk with some short HIIT sprints, and call me in the morning.

    Energy System Training Makes Your Heart Healthier and Stronger

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