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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Avoid The Pitfalls Of Holiday Weight Gain!

The holiday season is undoubtedly a time for rejoicing. Unfortunately, the average adult tends to celebrate a little too much during this time of year, which leads to distressed organs and extra baggage in the form of weight gain. Studies have shown that over the holiday months some Canadians gain an excess of 5 to 7 pounds! But even slight weight gain, if left unchecked, can accumulate yearly and endanger long term health.

Many people have good intentions however procrastinate on their New Year’s resolutions. The danger lies within gaining a pound or two and not working it off. The gain stays on and adds up each year; in a decade it could mean an excess of 20 pounds! Such gains can lead to obesity and related health problems such as hypertension, stroke, diabetes, cancer and other maladies. So what’s the solution? You guessed it, healthy food choices, good eating habits and consistent exercise.

Although walking, if done at a rapid pace, is a good fat burning workout, you need to shake up the fitness routine with variety to effectively start seeing results. 45 – 60 minute high-intensity, fat-burning and muscle toning workouts can burn an excess of 600 calories! To achieve this, consistent total body workouts must target both major and fine muscles and the cardiovascular system. Performing regular vigorous exercise increases the body’s need for the essential building blocks found in a balanced diet. These are the macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, fats) and the micronutrients (vitamins and minerals).

Carbohydrates are the body’s chief source of energy for the internal organs, nervous system and muscles. They help to regulate protein and fat metabolism, indirectly help to fight infections, promote growth of tissue, lubricate joints and provide the only energy source useable by the brain. Some good carbohydrates include berries, sweet potatoes and spelt.

Proteins are the building blocks of our cells. They are made up of essential amino acids. Amino acids are essential because the body cannot manufacture them and therefore must be obtained from food sources (both plant and/or animal). Proteins are essential for growth and maintenance of muscles and for synthesizing hormones, enzymes and antibodies. They can be obtained from sources such as halibut, kidney beans and eggs.

Essential fatty acids (EFAs) speed up metabolism and increase metabolic rate (speed at which the body uses energy). They also regulate emotions and mood, brain function and nerve impulses. EFAs protect the heart against disease, control blood pressure and inhibit blood clotting). Some of the healthiest oils include: Omega 3 (e.g. fish oils), Omega 6 (e.g. avocado) and Omega 9 (e.g. olive oil).

A macronutrient such as fiber keeps our digestive tract from getting clogged with mucus, toxic materials and metabolic wastes. Fiber is a natural appetite suppressant and it aids in the removal of waste from our bodies. It also lowers blood cholesterol, attaches to bile acids and removes excess estrogen. Some great sources of fiber include flax seeds, leafy greens and whole grains.

By maintaining a balanced diet and through regular vigorous exercise one can shed holiday weight gain and maintain a happier and healthier lifestyle. Regardless of your fitness goals and current physical health, the keys to success are variety, moderation and consistency. For most people change, convenience, fear and a lack of motivation are the first barriers to exercise and to making positive dietary commitments.

However, as with anything else in life there is always a starting point. If omitted, nothing improves or changes. You owe it to yourself to make the necessary changes to improve your health and happiness! Start today. It’s never too late!

Source: USKD MMA Inc,

Saturday, November 21, 2009



Adequately feeding your immune system boosts its fighting power. Immune boosters work in many ways. They increase the number of white cells in the immune system army, train them to fight better, and help them form an overall better battle plan. Boosters also help to eliminate the deadwood in the army, substances that drag the body down. Here are the top eight nutrients to add to your family's diet to cut down on days missed from work and school because of illness.

Vitamin C. Vitamin C tops the list of immune boosters for many reasons. There has been more research about the immune-boosting effects of Vitamin C than perhaps any other nutrient. Vitamin C supplements are inexpensive to produce, and it's available naturally in many fruits and vegetables. Also, you can buy a vitamin-C-fortified version of just about anything. Here's what the research shows about how this mighty vitamin protects your body.
Vitamin C increases the production of infection-fighting white blood cells and antibodies and increases levels of interferon, the antibody that coats cell surfaces, preventing the entry of viruses. Vitamin C reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease by raising levels of HDL (good) cholesterol while lowering blood pressure and interfering with the process by which fat is converted to plaque in the arteries. As an added perk, persons whose diets are higher in vitamin C have lower rates of colon, prostate, and breast cancer.

You don't have to take in massive amounts of vitamin C to boost your immune system. Around 200 milligrams a day seems to be a generally agreed-upon amount and one that can be automatically obtained by eating at least six servings of fruits and vegetables a day. See Top Seven Vitamin C-Containing Fruits. If you take vitamin C supplements, it's best to space them throughout the day rather than take one large dose, most of which may end up being excreted in the urine.

Vitamin E. This important antioxidant and immune booster doesn't get as much press as vitamin C, yet it's important to a healthy immune system.
Vitamin E stimulates the production of natural killer cells, those that seek out and destroy germs and cancer cells. Vitamin E enhances the production of B-cells, the immune cells that produce antibodies that destroy bacteria. Vitamin E supplementation may also reverse some of the decline in immune response commonly seen in aging. Vitamin E has been implicated in lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease. In the Harvard School of Public Health study of 87,000 nurses, Vitamin E supplementation was shown to cut the risk of heart attacks by fifty percent.

It's not difficult to get 30 to 60 milligrams every day of Vitamin E from a diet rich in seeds, vegetable oils, and grains, but it's difficult for most people to consume more than 60 milligrams a day consistently through diet alone. Supplements may be necessary to get enough vitamin E to boost your immune system.

You need 100-400 milligrams per day, depending on your general lifestyle. People who don't exercise, who smoke, and who consume high amounts of alcoholic beverages will need the higher dosage. Those with a more moderate lifestyle can get by with lower levels of supplementation.

Carotenoids. Beta carotene increases the number of infection-fighting cells, natural killer cells, and helper T-cells, as well as being a powerful antioxidant that mops up excess free radicals that accelerate aging. Like the other "big three" antioxidants, vitamins C and E, it reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease by interfering with how the fats and cholesterol in the bloodstream oxidize to form arterial plaques. Studies have shown that beta carotene can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, especially strokes and heart attacks, giving scientific credence to the belief that a carrot a day can keep the heart surgeon away. Beta carotene also protects against cancer by stimulating the immune cells called macrophages to produce tumor necrosis factor, which kills cancer cells. It has also been shown that beta carotene supplements can increase the production of T-cell lymphocytes and natural killer cells and can enhance the ability of the natural killer cells to attack cancer cells.
Beta carotene is the most familiar carotenoid, but it is only one member of a large family. Researchers believe that it is not just beta carotene that produces all these good effects, but all the carotenoids working together. This is why getting carotenoids in food may be more cancer-protective than taking beta carotene supplements.

The body converts beta carotene to vitamin A, which itself has anticancer properties and immune-boosting functions. But too much vitamin A can be toxic to the body, so it's better to get extra beta carotene from foods and let the body naturally regulate how much of this precursor is converted to the immune-fighting vitamin A. It's highly unlikely that a person could take in enough beta carotene to produce a toxic amount of vitamin A, because when the body has enough vitamin A, it stops making it.

Bioflavenoids. A group of phytonutrients called bioflavenoids aids the immune system by protecting the cells of the body against environmental pollutants. Bioflavenoids protect the cell membranes against the pollutants trying to attach to them. Along the membrane of each cell there are microscopic parking spaces, called receptor sites. Pollutants, toxins, or germs can park here and gradually eat their way into the membrane of the cell, but when bioflavenoids fill up these parking spots there is no room for toxins to park. Bioflavenoids also reduce the cholesterol's ability to form plaques in arteries and lessen the formation of microscopic clots inside arteries, which can lead to heart attack and stroke. Studies have shown that people who eat the most bioflavenoids have less cardiovascular disease. A diet that contains a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, at least six servings per day, will help you get the bioflavenoids needed to help your immune system work in top form.
Zinc. This valuable mineral increases the production of white blood cells that fight infection and helps them fight more aggressively. It also increases killer cells that fight against cancer and helps white cells release more antibodies. Zinc supplements have been shown to slow the growth of cancer.
Zinc increases the number of infection-fighting T-cells, especially in elderly people who are often deficient in zinc, and whose immune system often weakens with age. The anti-infection hype around zinc is controversial. While some studies claim that zinc supplements in the form of lozenges can lower the incidence and severity of infections, other studies have failed to show this correlation. A word of caution: too much zinc in the form of supplements (more than 75 milligrams a day) can inhibit immune function. It's safest to stick to getting zinc from your diet and aim for 15 to 25 milligrams a day.

For infants and children, there is some evidence that dietary zinc supplements may reduce the incidence of acute respiratory infections, but this is controversial. The best source of zinc for infants and young children is zinc-fortified cereals.

Food Source of Zinc Serving Size Zinc (in milligrams)
Oysters 6 medium 76
Zinc-fortified cereals 1 ounce 0-15
Crab 3 ounces 7
Beef 3 ounces 6
Turkey, dark meat 3 ounces 3.8
Beans 1/2 cup 1.2-1.8
Garlic. This flavorful member of the onion family is a powerful immune booster that stimulates the multiplication of infection-fighting white cells, boosts natural killer cell activity, and increases the efficiency of antibody production. The immune-boosting properties of garlic seem to be due to its sulfur-containing compounds, such as allicin and sulfides. Garlic can also act as an antioxidant that reduces the build-up of free radicals in the bloodstream. Garlic may protect against cancer, though the evidence is controversial. Cultures with a garlic-rich diet have a lower incidence of intestinal cancer. Garlic may also play a part in getting rid of potential carcinogens and other toxic substances. It is also a heart-friendly food since it keeps platelets from sticking together and clogging tiny blood vessels.
Selenium. This mineral increases natural killer cells and mobilizes cancer-fighting cells. Best food sources of selenium are tuna, red snapper, lobster, shrimp, whole grains, vegetables (depending on the selenium content of the soil they're grown in), brown rice, egg yolks, cottage cheese, chicken (white meat), sunflower seeds, garlic, Brazil nuts, and lamb chops.
Omega-3 fatty acids. A study found that children taking a half teaspoon of flax oil a day experienced fewer and less severe respiratory infections and fewer days of being absent from school. The omega 3 fatty acids in flax oil and fatty fish (such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel) act as immune boosters by increasing the activity of phagocytes, the white blood cells that eat up bacteria. (Perhaps this is why grandmothers used to insist on a daily dose of unpalatable cod liver oil.) Essential fatty acids also protect the body against damage from over-reactions to infection. When taking essential fatty acid supplements, such as flax or fish oils, take additional vitamin E, which acts together with essential fatty acids to boost the immune system. One way to get more omega-3 fatty acids in your diet is to add one to three teaspoons of flax oil to a fruit and yogurt smoothie.


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Alcohol Can Ruin Your Workout!

With more people trying to fight obesity and get the perfect physique working out has become a way of life. Many employers offer their employees and their family member's free membership as incentives to their new and potential workers. Quite a few colleges also offer state of the art gym facilities to both students and faculties alike. The problem is many people who work out regularly think that exercise will not be affected by alcohol consumption.

For some people the occasional happy hour or holiday cocktail will have no affect on a work out routine. The problems start to arise when casual drinking becomes a habit. Excessive alcohol consumption causes medical problems which can severely inhibit the most well thought out work out routine.

Most serious exercisers do not realize that drinking can completely negate all of their hard work. Quite a few college students and young men who make a practice of drinking nights and weekends do not understand why their muscle building work out routine is not working. The problem is caused by the fact that alcohol ultimately dehydrates the body.

In order to build muscle mass the body needs water. With out proper hydration muscle can not be created and it certainly can not be maintained. The dehydration caused by excessive alcohol consumption eventually leads to muscle damage that prevents the muscles from continuing the growth that work outs aimed at muscle growth promote.

Some might notice that they are feeling the effects of dehydration immediately after their work out. These symptoms usually include severe headaches, weakness, and thirst that can not be quenched by anything other than water. Those who eventually connect the dehydration with their work out will not make the further leap from exercising to alcohol. If anything these people working out and then drinking will proceed their alcohol consumption with water consumption which will really have next to no affect on the overall dehydration situation.

As the dehydration caused by alcohol becomes more severe the muscle growth will not only stop, it will start to degenerate. Usually the body burns fat during a work out, even if the work out is designed to promote muscle growth. When dehydration occurs because of alcohol the body will begin using, and burning, muscle for energy during a work out.

Not only will the work out start causing someone to actually lose muscle mass it is entirely possible that someone consuming large amounts of alcohol will begin actually gaining weight in the form of fat. Alcohol contains many empty calories that stop being burned because of the dehydration. While muscle mass is burned and body fat remains it is easy for people attempting to gain a muscular body to instead gain weight but no muscle. Cutting out alcohol, or at least limiting it, is a great way to get the most out of any work out. Those who work out to gain, and tone, muscle mass almost instantly notice better results once they cut alcohol consumption from their daily or weekly routine.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Six Pack Abs To Die For

In order to create a great ab section you need to do these simple steps. You will need good nutrition. If you are eating a lot of fatty food obviously you are not going to see your abs. Therefore eating the kinds of food that have a lower calorie intake will help you in burning the fat faster. Also if you eat several small meals through out the day helps you keep your metabolism burning full blast. A lot of people eat three big meals a day and snack the rest of the day. If you don’t burn the energy you eat your body will start storing the fat. For most people that fat ends up in your abdominal area. If you surround yourself with fruits and vegetables these are the things you will eat. Again if you eat smaller amounts through out the day it will burn your fat faster. Eating those small amounts of fruits and vegetables goes even further and faster in burning the fat.

Exercise is your next important step in six pack abs. Combining these two steps work the best. You can walk, run and workout for a long time and not see results if you do not try to eat right. This step is very important because if you put the calories into your body you need to find a way to burn all those calories up. You need to do a cardiovascular workout combined with a good ab workout. Abdominal muscles come in three layers, transversus abdominis, this is the muscle that provides stability and plays a roll in exhalation. The next layer is the rectus abdominis. This muscle flexes the spine. Then there is the internal and external obliques these muscles are closest to your skin. They provide your rotation and lateral movement of your body. Working these muscles with a cardio workout will burn your stomach into submission and get the abs you dream off.

The next step is abdominal exercises, lets face it with out this step it will not happen. You need to burn these muscles for a stronger core. You will have a better posture and your back will be strong to fight against a back injury. An easy way to remember if you worked them to hard or not hard enough is to think if you were doing your bench presses or arm exercises how many sets would you do? If you do two or three sets and your muscles burn then that is probably the same you should do with your abs.

Your desire to have six pack abs is a desire everyone wants but there are other reasons why we should loose our midsection fat. Our abdominal fat is dangerous to our over all fitness. Being over weight is dangerous for our heart and blood pressure. By doing the steps we talked about above will not only get you six pack abs but also give you the physical fitness you need to live a healthy life. Also it is most important to not give up your program you choose. Staying focused and persistent you will get you the results you always hoped for.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Measure Your Cardio Fitness

This simple test offers an easy way to measure your cardio fitness—one of the most important indicators of your overall physical health.
By Diane Vadino for MSN Health & Fitness

This simple test offers an easy way to measure your cardio fitness—one of the most important indicators of your overall physical health. Cardio fitness is a prime bulwark against myriad medical problems, including but not limited to the No. 1 killer in the United States, heart disease; more than 70 million Americans suffer from some form of it.

This test really couldn't be easier: all you need is a 12-inch step (or stair) and a stopwatch. You’ll step up and down for three minutes. Alternate your feet and try to maintain a pace of 24 sets—that's one up, and one down, on each foot—per minute. When the time's up, sit down and take your pulse immediately: With your fingers lightly on the pulse-point on your neck, count the number of beats for 15 seconds, and then multiply by four for the number of heart beats per minute.

In this case, you're aiming low. A low number suggests that your body is better able to recover quickly from exertion—a key element of a healthy body—so the lower the figure, the greater your cardio fitness. Once you have the number of beats per minute, it's easy to gauge your situation.

Excellent: Anything less than 97 beats per minute

Good: 97-127 beats per minute

Fair: 128-142 beats per minute

Poor: 143-171 beats per minute

Very Poor: anything above 172 beats per minute

Don’t despair over an unsatisfactory result, however: Your level of cardio fitness can improve remarkably quickly, with as little as 20 minutes of cardio exercise four to five times a week.

Source: GMTV and the American College of Sports Medicine

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Building Strength

Building Strength

Whey Protein: the ultimate nourishment

Whey is the ultimate protein in terms of bio availability (around 100) and content of essential amino acids, which the body needs on a daily basis to promote a healthy body and assist in maintaining muscle tone. Whey protein is a by-product of cheese making, which has been concentrated and purified by a filtration process to yield a high purity protein product, that is both natural and pure without any added preservatives.

The amount of protein in Whey Protein Concentrate is 22 grams per serving and the balance is made up of 2 grams fat, 2 grams carbohydrate and a mixture of minerals amounting to less than 1 gram. All the Whey Protein Isolate is the purest form of whey protein and contains 25 grams of protein per serving, less than 1 gram of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of minerals and trace amounts of fat.

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Without protein, you may spend hours in the gym and never increase your lean muscle mass simply because you cannot grow a muscle without protein.

Benefits of Whey Protein:

Recent research shows that it’s best to consume whey protein two hours before exercising - after exercising, within two hours or less. This is the time when the body needs protein the most. More recent studies have reduced this time to as little as 15 minutes. Whey Protein digests easily to start nourishing muscle tissue in need of repair. It has a high concentration of branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) which are used by muscle fibers during exercise. The body prefers to use BCAAs during periods of exercise as a source of energy. The muscles break down BCAAs into glucose which passes directly into the skeletal muscles from the bloodstream. Low levels of BCAAs may lead to increased fatigue, especially during endurance exercise. Whey Protein replenishes the BCAAs to help prevent muscle fatigue, produce favorable psychological effects, improve performance, and foster faster recovery after intensive exercise.

Whey Protein contains a protein fraction known as glycomacropeptide, which is a powerful stimulator of the pancreatic hormone cholecystokinin (CCK). CCK is an appetite suppressant that plays many essential roles relating to gastrointestinal function, including the regulation of food intake. Also, CCK stimulates gall bladder contraction and bowel motility; regulates gastric emptying; and stimulates the release of enzymes from the pancreas.

Certain specific types of hydrolyzed whey protein show promise in helping to naturally reduce blood pressure (High Blood Pressure). While whey proteins should not be substituted for prescription medication, they may be a good complement to your current program. Look for more information later this year.

Whey Protein is a very useful and key component in weight management programs. Protein has long been known to provide a higher level of satiety versus carbohydrates, and may help dieters feel less hungry between meals. The Journal of the American Dietetic Association compared the effects on body weight and composition of two diet plans. One plan included liquid protein meal replacements, and the other followed a more traditional approach. At three months, both groups experienced significant weight loss. After one year, most of the participants in the protein supplement consuming group maintained their initial weight loss, while the traditional group regained most of their weight.

Whey protein has been researched in prevention and life extension studies for such things as cancer, AIDS and other degenerative diseases. It may help T-cell activity and decrease wasting tissues during illness and therefore increase well-being and the speed of overall recovery. Whey proteins contain high levels of the amino acid cysteine, which is needed to help the body produce glutathione, a powerful anti-oxidant that plays a key role in maintaining immune health. In fact, one of the first symptoms often noticed in individuals with autoimmune diseases, such as HIV, is a decline in glutathione levels. Numerous studies have demonstrated the positive effects of whey protein supplementation on individuals with various types of cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome, and HIV. One recent study found that whey proteins inhibited the growth of breast cancer cells in a test tube. Another study showed a reduction in the size of cancer tumors in some patients when they consumed a whey protein product that delivered 24 grams of pure whey protein per day.

Whey Protein provides High Quality Protein For Those on Lactose, Casein or Gluten Restricted Diets-- Whey protein isolate is the purest form of whey protein and is made up of over 90 percent protein. It contains only trace amounts of lactose therefore individuals with lactose intolerance can safely take whey protein isolate. It is also a great protein source for individuals with Celiac disease who are on gluten or wheat protein restricted diets.

Osteoporosis, is a major health concern. Studies show that low protein intake, including lower levels of animal protein intake, is significantly related to increased levels of bone loss. Regular exercise and adequate amounts of protein and calcium in the diet can make a positive difference to bone health and may help to reduce the incidence of osteoporosis.

Exciting new research is being conducted that indicates certain whey protein components help promote the growth of new body tissue. This work is ongoing and still in the early stages.


Whey protein comes in three, distinctly different types, of which some are better than others, depending on different factors. One of great importance is absorption, followed by the price.

Hydrolyzed Whey - Protein Isolate (HWPI)

In the whey protein family, Hydrolyzed Whey Protein is the most readily digestible. While having the highest efficacy of all the whey proteins it is also the most expensive. HWPI is partially utilized to aid in the human digestive process, which makes it very soluble. The problem with HPWI is that it has an extremely bitter taste that is impossible to overcome with sweeteners or flavorings, which prevent it from possibly ever becoming a primary ingredient in this class of protein supplementation. HPWI still can be found in some supplements but as one of the lesser ingredients.

Whey Protein Isolate (WPI)

WPI has a good taste and is also extremely digestible. WPI is almost entirely void of fat and is lactose free. The latter is of great importance to individuals with lactose intolerance. The process of cross-flow microfiltration helped to revolutionize this type of protein. This is the phase in processing which follows the "concentration" phase to "isolate" the whey protein.

Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC)

Whey Protein concentrates have a variety of different problems associated with them. Symptoms from users of WPC included bloating, gas and in some cases diarrhea. There is a very large variance in the protein content itself. Actual protein content can vary widely from twenty-five (25) to eighty (80) percent that is a direct result of the dependence on the quality and cost. If you were to compare WPI to WPC you will find that WPC has higher concentrations of fat, carbohydrate and lactose. The absorption is also reduced due to the lower assimilation in the stomach and intestines. Due to the lower cost of manufacturing and the reduced quality and quantity of the protein content, this is the most economical.

Intake Recommendations:

For sedentary, unstressed people, the recommended daily protein intake level is approximately 0.4g per pound of body weight daily (60g of protein per day for a person weighing 150 lb).

At the other end of the scale, for people on an intense training or workout program, up to 1 g. of protein per pound of body weight is ideal to fuel the muscle tissue. At this level of consumption, it is recommended to spread the protein intake over a number of meals through out the day to allow for efficient assimilation of the protein by the body.

Whey protein is readily available in a concentrated powder form and may be purchased in nutrition or health product stores, in many large grocery stores, or directly from suppliers on the Internet. There are many ways to consume whey protein as it can easily be added to water, juice or other liquids. It can also be added to softer solid foods, such as applesauce, or used as an egg replacement in many baking recipes.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Snacks tend to be salty, sugary or fried and therefore unhealthy. here are some tasty alternatives

Snacks are an integral part of our diet. Unfortunately, they tend to be salty, sugary or fried. Familiar snacks like vada pav, puris, pizza, chivda, chips, cakes, though hard to resist, have little to offer other than empty calories, and a craving for more. So, should you forgo the yummy temptations altogether? Is there a sensible alternative that is healthy, full of satiety value, and nutritionally sound? There are plenty of options, if you care to look around. They are not as boring or tasteless as perhaps you imagine. The effects of certain foods that we have been consuming all along are more dangerous than we realise. We have always believed that they are a part of our daily food intake, and never gave it a second thought. Well, if you did, you would be rudely jolted out of your complacency.

Here are some startling facts on what excessive intake of any of these could do to you.

White flour
• Digestive disorders
• Poor eyesight
• Anaemia
• Tiredness and irritability
• Weakening of bones (osteoporosis)
• Increase in blood sugar ( diabetes )
• Obesity

White sugar
• Because it is refined, it is devoid of vitamins, minerals and nutrients
• Contributes to obesity
• Suppresses the immune system
• Causes hyperactivity, anxiety, difficulty in concentrating, and cranky behaviour in children and adults
• Produces a significant rise in triglycerides and cholesterol levels
• Causes hypoglycaemia and diabetes
• Causes premature ageing and osteoporosis
• Robs you of vitamin B
• Contributes to eczema in children
• Causes bowel problems, especially constipation
• Can adversely affect performance in school that could lead to learning disorders. Can also cause depression
• Sugar in excess may be one of the causes of prostate gland cancer
• Cancer cells multiply with sugar
• In women, sugar increases PMS syndrome

Fried foods
Fried foods have high fat content and are energy dense. They lead to undesirable weight gain

• Frying leads to undesirable alteration in the chemical composition of oils especially during deep frying. This irritates and damages the inner lining of the gut which may cause bowel upsets manifesting as abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea

• Prolonged heating of oil at high temperature results in formation of several other harmful chemicals. One of them is acrolein, which irritates the gut lining, and is a cancer-causing compound. Reheating of polyunsaturated fats also produce toxic substances such as polymerised products, peroxides and free radicals

• At high temperature, the natural form of fats may undergo change into ‘trans’ form, forming trans-fatty acids. Trans-fatty acids increase blood cholesterol levels even more than pure ghee or animal fat. They also reduce HDL (good) cholesterol and increase the tendency of blood clotting, thus increasing the risk of coronary heart disease

• At high temperatures many nutrients especially vitamins and dietary proteins are destroyed. There is progressive loss of vitamins A and E at temperatures above 150 degrees Celsius.

• Fried foods with their high fat content are unsuitable for those suffering from indigestion. They are not as easily digested as boiled, steamed and baked foods Replace

• Opt for baking, boiling or steaming instead of frying food

• Instead of using white sugar for sweetening, substitute with jaggery, honey, or dry fruits wherever possible

The healthier alternatives
• Fruits (rich in anti-oxidants, high in fibre, contains natural sugar, low in glycaemic index, high content of water, and are a good source of carbohydrate)

• Freshly chopped vegetables with salsa, yoghurt dip, or hummus (contain fibre, roughage, anti-oxidants, vitamins)

• Dried fruits – dates, raisins, figs, apricots, prunes (contain good fats, vitamins, boost energy levels and immunity, low in calories)

• Nuts – almonds, pistachios, cashews, walnuts (good source of essential fatty acids such as omega 3, vitamin E, lowers cholesterol, boosts energy levels)

• Seeds – pumpkin, sunflower (essential fat, high in vitamins and minerals, calcium) • Wholegrain bread, vegetable sandwiches with chutney, salsa, mustard (whole wheat is an excellent source of dietary fibre, vitamins B and E, reduces risk of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes)

• Poha/upma with vegetables

• Salted popcorn (carbohydrate, fibre)

• Baked potato (low in calories, high in carbohydrates, good source of energy)

• Corn on the cob/ Corn bhel / boiled corn with masala (excellent source of fibre, good; for memory)

• Low-fat yoghurt (good quality probiotic bacteria, low in glycaemic index, contains a small percentage of vitamin B, good for the skin and hair)

• Whole wheat frankies stuffed with paneer/corn/spinach/potato masala

• Steamed idli with coconut chutney (good source of carbohydrate and protein, good satiety value. Coconut chutney has natural saturated fat, and is high in vitamin E)

• Uttappa stuffed with onion, capsicum, tomatoes (anti-oxidants)

• Sprouts bhel (protein, living food, high in fibre)

• Potato with jacket with mixed vegetable salsa

• Wholegrain biscuits Yummy recipes

Corn melody
• 50 gms yellow corn
• 50 gms french beans, chopped
• 50 gms carrots, chopped
• 100 gms shelled green peas
• 2 to 3 tbsp green chilli and ginger paste
&bul; salt to taste
• ½ cup coriander, freshly chopped
• ¼ cup grated coconut
• ½ cup milk
• 1 teaspoon olive oil
• ¼ tsp. mustard seeds
• a pinch of asafoetida
• 7 to 8 curry leaves
• Crush the yellow corn in a blender
• Boil the vegetables till half done and strain
• In a pan heat oil and add mustard seeds to it. When it starts to splutter add asafoetida, curry leaves, corn, milk, vegetables, salt, ginger, and chilli paste to it
• Let it cook for sometime. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking to the pan
• When the corn is tender, remove from the fire. Stir in chopped coriander and grated coconut. Serve hot

Masala idlis
• 5 to 6 steamed idlis
• tomato, chopped
• green capsicum, chopped
• onion, chopped
• tbsp pav bhaji masala
• tbsp red chilli powder
• salt to taste
• tsp. oil
• Cut the idlis into cubes.
• Heat oil and add chopped vegetables and masala to it.
• Fry for sometime and then add the idlis.
• Mix well and serve hot.

Paneer cutlets
• 150 gms paneer, crumbled
• 4 potatoes, boiled and mashed
• 1 onion, chopped finely
• 5 to 6 green chillies
• a small piece of cabbage, chopped finely
• coriander for garnishing
• brown breadcrumbs
• salt to taste
• Mix all the ingredients and shape into cutlets.
• Coat with breadcrumbs and cook on a nonstick pan till brown. Serve hot.

Masala green channa
• cup green channa, soaked and boiled
• ½ cup capsicum in all colours, chopped
• 1 tsp. chaat masala
• ½ tsp pav bhaji masala
• salt to taste
• ½ tsp red chilli powder
• ½ tsp amchur powder
• 1 green chilli, chopped finely
• ½ cup chopped onion
• 1 tsp oil
• ¼ cup chopped coriander
• Boil the chana with salt and set aside.
• Heat oil in a pan
• Add all the chopped vegetables to it along with the masala
• Mix well and add the boiled chana
•Garnish with chopped coriander and serve hot

By: Naini Setalvad
Obesity and Health Food Consultant

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Tips for Healthy Eating and Losing Fat

* Eat a small meal or a snack every 2-3 hours to keep your blood sugar level, energy and mood stable. Eat less food more often!

* Include a lean source of protein at each main meal.

* Protein is the key for fat loss because it has a high thermogenic effect. This means that your body produces more heat when digesting protein; therefore, you burn more calories.

* Consume plenty of salads and vegetables as these are high volume foods.

* Avoid refined carbohydrates as these foods easily store as fat and give you a surge of energy followed by a drop in energy and mood.Examples are white sugar and white flour products such as white bread, white rice and white pasta.

* Choose complex carbohydrates as these foods are released slower into your system so they stabilize your energy level. Examples are whole grains such as brown rice and rye bread.

* It is best to eat your carbohydrates earlier in the day so that you have more time to burn them off. Limit starchy carbohydrates for fat loss.

* Include essential fatty acids (good fats) such as olive oil and omega 3, 6, and 9 in your diet.

* Fruit intake should not exceed 2 servings per day when you are trying to lose weight. Avoid fruit with and after a main meal that contains animal protein as this may cause digestive problems. Have fruit 1/2 hour before a meal or 2-3 hours after.

* Drink 8 cups of water/herbal tea/green tea per day. Avoid with meals. Avoid tap water.

Source: JM Nutrition

Monday, August 17, 2009

Quick & Easy Turkey or Chicken Parmesan

Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 15 minutes

• 2 cups of homemade tomato sauce or PC Blue Menu tomato basil jarred sauce

• ½ cup of pine nuts, coarsely chopped, wheat free breadcrumbs or whole grain breadcrumbs

• 1 ounce freshly grated Parmesan cheese (1/4 cup)

• ½ teaspoon dried Italian seasoning or dried basil, rosemary or thyme

• 1 pound turkey cutlets or chicken breast, about 1/3 inch thick

• 2 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil

• 2 ounces of shredded part skim mozzarella cheese (1/2 cup)

• Sea salt and black pepper (optional)

Note: Parmesan and Mozzarella cheese may be replaced with Goat cheese.

Heat oven to broil.
Bring sauce to low simmer in a small saucepan over medium-low heat.
Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.

Stir together pine nuts or breadcrumbs, Parmesan and Italian seasoning in a wide, shallow dish.
Season turkey or chicken on both sides with sea salt and pepper, then dredge both sides in the nut or breadcrumb mixture, pressing to adhere.

Heat oil in a large non- stick skillet over medium-low heat. Add turkey or chicken and cook until coating is golden brown and juices run clear, about 4 minutes per side. If nuts brown too quickly, reduce heat.

Place turkey or chicken in a baking pan, top evenly with mozzarella and broil until cheese melts, about 30 seconds.

Spoon ½ cup of warm sauce on each plate and top each with a piece of turkey or chicken.

Makes 4 servings

Source: JM Nutrition, Julie Mancuso, Registered Holistic Nutritionist

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Blood Sugar Problems Are Everyone's High-normal blood sugar is often overlooked, yet millions of Americans have it

The average American consumes more than a pound of refined sugar a week. It sounds unbelievable until you realize that sugar goes by more than 50 names and is an ingredient in virtually all processed foods, from your morning doughnut to the ketchup on your burger.

Eat it (along with excess fat and calories), sit around, and you'll gain weight. It's the average American way of life, and it deserves a new warning label: Practicing this lifestyle could send another sugar — your blood sugar — into the danger zone.

Your body's primary source of fuel, blood sugar plays a vital role in physical and mental well-being. But when it rises even slightly above normal — thanks to excess body fat, lack of exercise, and/or genetics — your health, your energy levels, and your weight-loss efforts are jeopardized.

Overlooked by Doctors

High-normal blood sugar is anything but normal. Too high to be healthy yet too low to be called diabetes, high-normal blood sugar has long been overlooked by doctors and their patients alike. Yet an estimated 16 million Americans have it — including tens of thousands of children and teens.

The rise of the high-normal blood sugar epidemic is the direct result of the rise in overweight and obesity in the United States. Our lifestyles have changed; our bodies haven't caught up.

"Our bodies are essentially the same as they were 40,000 years ago, but our eating and exercise habits have changed tremendously," says Bryant Stamford, Ph.D., professor and chair of exercise science at Hanover College in Indiana.

"The same number of calories it might have taken our prehistoric ancestors an entire day to hunt and gather, we can now have brought to our door with a phone call. We simply eat too much and exercise too little," says Stamford.

The result: high blood sugar. The danger: More and more research links even "slightly" high blood sugar to food cravings, mood swings, and overweight, as well as pregnancy and fertility problems, heart attacks, stroke, full-blown type 2 diabetes, and even, early evidence suggests, some forms of cancer.

It's serious. That's why Prevention recommends getting a blood sugar test and taking steps to keep your sugar levels within a healthy range.

Without a blood sugar test, it's impossible to know whether your blood sugar falls within a normal range. And because elevated blood sugar typically does its damage silently, it's easy to brush off what few symptoms there are, like fatigue and mood swings.

High-normal blood sugar can lead to the following conditions:
Metabolic syndrome
Pregnancy diabetes
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
Heart disease and stroke
Type 2 Diabetes

Uncontrolled type 2 diabetes itself can lead to many serious problems including:
Heart disease
Heart attack
High blood pressure
Diabetic neuropathy
Eye disease (including retinopathy)
Kidney damage
Foot problems (including infections and amputations)
Gum disease
Skin complications

Source: SarĂ­ N. Harrar, Prevention

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Top 'Super Foods'


One ounce of walnuts has 2.6 grams of alpha-linolenic acid, a type of omega-3 fatty acid. Other nuts contain only 0.5 grams per ounce, and fortified juices have only 0.1 grams per cup. Walnuts are also packed with antioxidants and amino acids, and they're rich in fibre and protein.


Pucker up: Drinking lemon water first thing in the morning cleanses your liver, giving your body a mini detox by "gently keeping your bowel processes regular," says the Toronto-based naturopathic doctor Cara MacMullin. Squeeze half a lemon into lukewarm water and drink 20 minutes before breakfast. This citrus fruit also boasts vitamin C and potassium.

Green Tea

Consumed for ages in Asia, this brew contains polyphenols, which have strong antioxidant properties. Studies show that drinking green tea may lower your risk of developing certain cancers, and researchers are investigating its role in preventing liver disease, diabetes and high cholesterol. If that's not enough to sway you to sip, green tea may also help with weight loss. All that is enough to convince us that green tea deserves some of our coffee time.

Button mushrooms

These mushrooms may seem like innocuous salad filler, but they're actually gaining notoriety for their healthful properties. This unlikely superfood is a source of B vitamins, which help break down carbs into energy-boosting glucose and aid the normal functioning of the nervous system. They may also offer an immune boost: A recent study at Tufts University in Boston found that common mushrooms may ward off viruses and help fight cancer tumours in mice by increasing the immune system's killer-cell activity. But the best part is that they're high in umami, a savoury flavour that's also abundant in fattening food. When you're craving French fries, cook up some mushrooms instead and see if that doesn't satisfy you.


It doesn't get any juicier - or healthier - than a summerfresh tomato. The red ones are packed with the most lycopene, a fat-soluble antioxidant that may lower your risk of heart disease and cancers of the cervix, breast, bladder, skin and lungs. Add them to omelettes and salads, or chop them up to make a fiery salsa for weekend entertaining.


This curlier cousin of cabbage and broccoli is impressively high in beta carotene and vitamins A and C, not to mention sulforaphane, a compound that researchers suggest can prevent cancer by helping the body eliminate carcinogens. (Mom was right: We shouldn't leave the table before eating our greens.) Try it roasted or steamed with salt and garlic.

Dark Chocolate

Long the cure for a broken heart, dark chocolate may actually help prevent heart disease. New research has found that eating even a small amount every day reduces inflammation associated with cardiovascular disease.

Researchers credit dark chocolate's antioxidant flavonoids. "The higher the cocoa content, the better, says the Toronto-based dietitian Susan Fyshe.


Raspberries, blueberries and strawberries: Take your pick. They're all full of disease-fighting phytochemicals, which can help prevent certain types of cancer. Buy extras - organic is best, because non-organic berries are heavily sprayed with pesticides - and freeze them: Berries frozen at peak ripeness have higher nutritional value than the ones shipped north in the winter.


Make your life sweeter with peppers. Nearly all peppers start out green, ripening on the vine to become red, orange or yellow, depending on the variety. It picked early, peppers will stay green, losing out on some of the nutritional power of their more colourful cousins. A green pepper has more vitamin C than an orange and more than 100 percent of our recommended daily intake. Red and yellow peppers have twice as much vitamin C as that. And red peppers have eight times as much beta carotene as green ones. Grill, stir-fry or dip some for a satisfying snack.


This may be the sweetest thing you hear all winter: A research team at Pennsylvania State University has found that buckwheat honey given to children ages two to 18 before bed was more likely to relieve their coughs and help them sleep than dextromethorphan, a cough suppressant. You'll rest easier knowing that honey is a safe alternative to cough syrups, which Health Canada warns could affect your child's health. (Honey is not safe for children under age one.) Try it for your own coughs, too. Who needs a spoonful of sugar when honey's the remedy of choice?


Want some seasoned advice? Add a quarter of a teaspoon of ground cinnamon to your food to help lower triglyceride and "bad' LDL cholesterol and reduce blood-sugar levels, an especially good result for those with type 2 diabetes. Sprinkle the sweet and spicy condiment into tea or coffee, into cereal and oatmeal or on apple slices for a midday snack.


These buttery fruits contain monounsaturated fats (a good fat) and vitamin E: two ingredients that help keep your skin nourished. But the best part may be that the fat in avocados helps your body absorb carotenoids, such as lycopene and beta carotene, from other foods, which may lower your cancer risk. Pass the guacamole!


Eggnog, pumpkin pie, Grandma's creamed spinach - these festive treats all contain an ingrethent that's good for you during pig-out season: nutmeg. According to Sherry Chen, a Toronto based naturopathic doctor, the spice, traditionally used in Chinese medicine to treat gastrointestinal disorders, helps relax muscles and remove gas from the digestive tract, soothing poor circulation, bloating and diarrhea. If this sounds like your usual holiday hangover, you may want to go easy on the turkey and save room for dishes laced with this savoury spice.

First published in's July 2009 issue.
© Rogers Publishing Ltd.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Injury Prevention

Injuries - Injury Prevention

Like most athletes, you undoubtedly want to lower your chances of incurring an injury while participating in your favourite sport. Injuries decrease the amount of time you can spend in leisure activities, lower your fitness, downgrade competitive performance, and can lead to long term health problems such as arthritis.

There are some general rules for injury avoidance which apply to all sports. Sports scientists suggest that injury rates could be reduced by 25% if athletes took appropriate preventative action.

Common Misconceptions

Coaches and athletes believe that males have higher injury rates than females. Male and female athletes have about the same injury rate per hour of training. Among runners it is considered that training speed is the cause of injuries (Speed Kills) but research indicates that there is no link between speed and injury risk.

Do Not Overdo It

The amount of training you you carry out plays a key role in determining your real injury risk Studies have shown that your best direct injury predictor may be the amount of training you completed last month. Fatigued muscles do a poor job of protecting their associated connective tissues, increasing the risk of damage to bone, cartilage, tendons and ligaments. If you are a runner, the link between training quantity and injury means that the total mileage is an excellent indicator of your injury risk. The more miles you accrue per week, the higher the chances of injury. One recent investigation found a marked upswing in injury risk above 40 miles of running per week.

The Two Best Predictors of Injury

If you have been injured before you are much more likely to get hurt than an athlete who has been injury free. Regular exercises has a way of uncovering the weak areas of the body. If you have knees that are put under heavy stress, because of your unique biomechanics during exercises, your knees are likely to hurt when you engage in your sport for a prolonged time. After recovery you re-establish your desired training load without modification to your biomechanics then your knees are likely to be injured again.

The second predictor of injury is probably the number of consecutive days of training you carry out each week. Scientific studies strongly suggest that reducing the number of consecutive days of training can lower the risk of injury Recovery time reduces injury rates by giving muscles and connective tissues an opportunity to restore and repair themselves between work-outs.

Psychological Factors

Some studies have shown that athletes who are aggressive, tense, and compulsive have a higher risk of injury than their relaxed peers. Tension may make muscles and tendons taughter, increasing the risk that they will be harmed during work-outs.

Weak Muscles

Many injuries are caused by weak muscles which simply are not ready to handle the specific demands of your sport. This is why people who start a running programme for the first time often do well for a few weeks but then, as they add the mileage on, suddenly develop foot or ankle problems, hamstring soreness or perhaps lower back pain. Their bodies simply are not strong enough to cope with the demands of the increased training load. For this reason, it is always wise to couple resistance training with regular training.

Make It Specific

Resistance training can fortify muscles and make them less susceptible to damage, especially if the strength building exercises involve movements that are similar to those associated with the sport. Time should be devoted to developing the muscle groups, strength training, appropriate to the demands of your sport. If you are a thrower then lots of time should be spent developing muscles at the front of the shoulder which increases the force with which you can throw, but you must also work systematically on the muscles at the back of the shoulder which control and stabilize the shoulder joint.

Injury Prevention Tips
Avoid training when you are tired
Increase your consumption of carbohydrate during periods of heavy training
Increase in training should be matched with increases in resting
Any increase in training load should be preceded by an increase in strengthening
Treat even seemingly minor injuries very carefully to prevent them becoming a big problem
If you experience pain when training STOP your training session immediately
Never train hard if you are stiff from the previous effort
Introduce new activities very gradually
Allow lots of time for warming up and cooling off
Check over training and competition courses beforehand
Train on different surfaces, using the right footwear
Shower and change immediately after the cool down
Aim for maximum comfort when travelling
Stay away from infectious areas when training or competing very hard
Be extremely fussy about hygiene in hot weather
Monitor daily for signs of fatigue, if in doubt ease off.


Coaching Focus - No 34 page 3 Peak Performance - February 1994 Peak Performance - Issue 41, 46, 47, 50, 52, 55 and 56 Peak Performance - Issue 65, 66, 71, 84 and 88 Peak Performance - Issue 95, 97, 98 Peak Performance - Issue 99 page 1 & 9 Peak Performance - Issue102, 104

Monday, June 22, 2009

Myths and Facts About Muscle Cramps

Muscle Cramps During Endurance Activities

Many endurance athletes such as runners, triathletes and cyclists will experience muscle cramps at some point during their training or racing. Using a definition from Dr. Martin Schwellnus a cramp is "a painful, spasmodic, involuntary contraction of skeletal muscle that occurs during or immediately after exercise"(1). While most athletes understand what a cramp feels like there is much confusion as to what causes cramps and how they can be prevented.

Dating back to the 1930s a theory was put forth that dehydration and electrolyte depletion were the primary causes of exertional cramps. This is still a popular theory that has come under fire recently. In 1996 Manjra, Schwellnus and Noakes did a study of over 1300 marathon runners and found the following criteria to be primary risk factors associated with muscle cramps during exercise:

* Older age
* Longer history of running
* Higher body mass index
* Shorter daily stretching time
* Irregular stretching habits
* Family history of cramping

They found no evidence of a large electrolyte imbalance in runners with cramps. Nor was dehydration deemed to be a causative factor. Other studies done throughout the 1980s and 1990s came to similar conclusions.

New Theory

Schwellnus and Noakes put forth the new theory that abnormal spinal reflex activity is the real culprit behind muscle cramps. In other words, muscle fatigue leading to abnormal functioning at the spinal level of the muscle contraction mechanism is the root cause of muscle cramping during activity.

Receptors called muscle spindles cause muscles to contract when they are stretched. Other receptors called Golgi tendon organs (GTO) cause muscles to relax when they are contracted. Both types of receptors are needed to help protect muscles from over-stretching and over-contracting, respectively. These receptors act on muscles by sending an electric signal to the appropriate motor neuron, which is located in the spine. During a normal contraction, signals from both receptors are in balance. According to the theory, when a muscle fatigues the activity of the muscle spindles increases (causing a contraction) and the Golgi tendon organ activity is inhibited (no relaxing) leading to a muscle cramp.

They also cite another factor that contributes to cramping. Golgi tendon organ activity is also limited when a muscle contracts in its shortest position (also called the inner range). Muscles that are the most prone to cramps are those that cross two joints. Examples of such muscles are the hamstrings, gastrocnemius (one of the calf muscles) and rectus femoris (the longest of the quadriceps muscles). The hamstrings span the hip and knee, the gastrocnemius spans the knee and ankle and the rectus femoris crosses the hip and knee. During exercise these two-joint muscles are often contracted in their shortened position leading to less tension in their tendons as well as less activity of their GTO.

Further Evidence

In their study, Schwellnus et al had runners list conditions they associated with cramps, which were as follows:

* High intensity running (racing)
* Long duration of running
* Subjective muscle fatigue
* Hill running
* Poor performance in the race

From this list it's obvious that conditions leading to premature muscle fatigue are linked to cramping. They also found that poor stretching habits seem to increase risk of cramping. The reasoning behind this is that irregular or not stretching the muscles "could lead to an exaggerated myotonic reflex, thereby increasing spindle activity."(1)

Other Theories

Some other explanations have also been offered as to what causes muscle cramps. Poor posture and inefficient movement patterns may cause the Golgi tendon organs to malfunction in a similar way as explained above.(2) The GTO cannot get the muscle to relax and a cramp begins.

Another theory offers that carbohydrate depletion may also cause muscle cramps.(2) This ties in with the abnormal spinal reflex theory as muscle fatigue is thought to play an important role in developing cramps. Carbohydrates are stored in the muscles as glycogen and used for energy during activity. Fully "topped up", a human being has enough glycogen stores to last for about 2 - 2.5 hours. If you run out then your muscles fatigue, your nervous system begins to malfunction and you get fuzzy, light headed and unable to think clearly; a condition athletes typically refer to as "bonking". That is why it is so important to take in adequate food during long distance/duration events.

Finally there is the theory of electrolyte imbalance. Dr. Bill Misner offers a thorough explanation in his article, "Muscle Cramps: Dealing with Heat Stress During Endurance Exercise".(3) While there is certainly more debate as to the role electrolyte imbalances may play in muscle cramps a proper level is still needed to perform well during events.

How to Prevent Muscle Cramps

Having some idea of why and how muscle cramps occur the $64,000 question is how to prevent them. Based on the major theories discussed take the following precautions:

* Train adequately for the conditions (pace, terrain, temperatures, duration, etc.) you plan to compete in

* Follow a regular stretching program (read my article on stretching for recommendations on how to stretch properly)

* Work on correcting any muscle imbalances or incorrect movement patterns; develop an efficient technique required for your sport

* Take in enough carbohydrates before, during and after your event; the amount will vary among individuals but aim for 250 - 400 calories per hour during the event

* Hydrate properly during the event, especially events lasting longer than 3 hours; using a sports drink and not just water will give you the electrolytes you need; again this will vary among individuals and conditions but aim for 125 - 250 ml every 10 - 20 minutes

What to Do If You Cramp

If you do cramp there are a few things you can try:

* Slow down and lower the intensity of the activity
* Stretch and try to relax the affected muscle(s)
* Apply pressure to the affected muscle group(s) to get the muscles to "release"

None of these are guaranteed to relieve a cramp and in these cases all you can do is grin and bear it.

Stay fit, stay healthy!

Curb Ivanic, CSCS


1. Schwellnus, Marti P., "Skeletal Muscle Cramps During Exercise", Physician and Sportsmedicine, 1999; 27 (12)

2. Friel, Joe; "Muscle Cramps", 2000

3. Misner, Bill, "Muscle Cramps: Dealing with Heat Stress During Endurance Exercise"

4. Noakes, Tim, Lore of Running (Third Edition); Leisure Press; Champaign, Illinois; 1991

Friday, June 12, 2009

What To Do When Fitness Injury Strikes

What to Do When Fitness Injury Strikes

How to stay in shape until you're back in the game
By Colette Bouchez
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic-Feature

You've reduced your calories and increased your activity and finally, the weight loss is starting to show. Then one unsuspecting day you don your workout clothes, tie on your sneakers -- and the next thing you know, you're yelping in pain.

Experts say a workout injury can happen to anyone, regardless of experience or conditioning.

"A pulled muscle, a strained back, a turned ankle, a shoulder sprain -- it can happen in the blink of an eye, usually when you least expect it," says Todd Schlifstein, DO, clinical assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at New York University Medical Center.

According to sports medicine specialist Robert Gotlin, DO, the most vulnerable areas for pulls and strains are the hamstring and thigh, followed by leg or calf muscles.

If you're a beginner exercising to lose weight, the risk of injury may be even greater, with hot spots that also include knees and ankles.

"If you are overweight, the most common injury is a sprain occurring in either the ankle or the kneecap," says Gotlin, director of orthopaedic and sports rehabilitation at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York. This problem often occurs when surrounding muscles are weak due to a lack of exercise, he says.

"The more out of shape you are when you start to work out, the greater your risk of injury, particularly if your muscles are weak," says Gotlin.

Pain vs. Soreness: Know the Signs

Even if you're already in good shape, experts say problems can occur if you overuse any one set of muscles. To keep this from happening, ease into the activity slowly and never skip warm-ups.

"For example, take five minutes out to stretch your muscles before jumping on that treadmill or bicycle, and don't push yourself to the point of pain -- even if you have done the routine before," says Schlifstein.

Some more advice: Stop immediately if you do feel pain, and rest for a day. If pain begins when you do the same motion again, says Schlifstein, it's a sure bet you've got an injury.

But how do you know you've got an injury and are not just sore from working out?

"Soreness usually shows up one or two days after you work out, and does not usually occur while you are actually doing the activity," says Rich Weil, MEd, CDE, an exercise physiologist at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital in New York and consultant for the WebMD Weight Loss Clinic.

If you try to work out when you're feeling sore, the pain usually subsides after 10-15 minutes of activity, Weil says. Not so when an injury is involved.

"Pain related to an injury gets worse when you are working out," says Schlifstein. "That's when you know it's time to stop and listen to your body."


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

What to Drink When You Exercise

What to Drink When You Exercise

The options include sports drinks, energy drinks, and just regular water.

We all know that when we work out, it's important to stay hydrated. Something we may not be so clear on is what exactly we should drink when we exercise.

Ordinary water, of course, is the classic choice. But with store shelves everywhere full of sports drinks, energy drinks, and various flavored and fortified waters, what's an exerciser to do?

Experts say it all depends on your taste -- as well as the length and intensity of your workouts. Here's a look at how the various drinks measure up.

Flavored or Unflavored?

When I'm really thirsty, the only thing that hits the spot is good old H2O -- preferably cold. But that's just me.

Are you someone who will drink more if your drink is flavored (and there are plenty of you out there)? Then you're better off drinking whatever ends up helping you drink more when you exercise. The bottom line is hydration.

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends flavored drinks when fluid replacement is needed during and after exercise to enhance palatability and promote fluid replacement.

And how do you know when fluid replacement is really needed?

"Exercising 1.5 hours to three hours is long enough to warrant fluid replacement due to sweat losses," says Kristine Clark, Ph., FACSM, director of sports nutrition for Penn State University Park. "How much sweat is lost influences how much sodium and potassium are lost."

The longer you exercise and the more heavily you sweat, the greater the need for a sports drink to help replace these lost micronutrients, Clark says.

"A sports drink can do many great things to increase energy levels without the complications of digesting and absorbing a meal," says Clark.

Sports Drinks and Exercise

Basically, a sports drink offers your body three things it might need before, during, or after vigorous exercise:

* Hydration. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that people drink about 17 ounces of fluid about two hours before exercise, to promote adequate hydration and allow time for the body to excrete any excess water. During exercise, they recommend that athletes start drinking early and at regular intervals in order to take in fluids at the rate they're losing them through sweating.
* Fuel. The carbohydrates found in sweetened sports drinks provide energy to help delay fatigue, Clark says. The Gatorade Co. says lab tests have shown that 6% carbohydrate (14 grams of carbohydrate per 8 ounces of water) is the optimal percentage of carbs for speeding fluid and energy back into the body.
* Electrolytes or Minerals. These are things like sodium, potassium, and chloride that athletes lose through sweat. When water goes out of the body, so do electrolytes. And when the body is losing lots of water (as during exercise), it makes sense that you need to replace electrolytes.

What About the Average Exerciser?

So what if you're just a "weekend warrior" when it comes to tough workouts? Or an avid exerciser who's not quite of athlete standing? Do you really need a sports drink when you exercise?

The answer, it seems, lies in how much you're sweating.

The American College of Sports Medicine says that during exercise lasting less than one hour there's little evidence of any difference in performance between exercisers who drink beverages containing carbohydrates and electrolytes, and those who drink plain water.

And, according to Clark, someone exercising 1.5 hours in a cool environment (who is probably not sweating much) is more in need of fluids or water than electrolytes.

The ABCs of Vitamin Water

I totally get adding electrolytes to drinks to help your body recover from vigorous exercise, but vitamins? It's still best to get vitamins and minerals naturally from foods and beverages -- like vitamin C from citrus and dark leafy green vegetables, and calcium from dairy products.

"Athletes will not need vitamin and mineral supplements if adequate energy to maintain body weight is consumed from a variety of foods," the American Dietetic Association and American College of Sports Medicine say in a position paper on nutrition and athletic performance.

But if you really like the idea of vitamin water, here are some things to think about:

* Whether alternative sweeteners are added. Many experts believe that even alternative sweeteners should be consumed in moderation, especially in children.
* Whether you'll be taking in too many vitamins. Most of the vitamins added to vitamin water are water soluble (like vitamin C, B vitamins, etc.). This makes it seem like any excess consumed can just pass out through the kidneys. This is true -- but that doesn't mean large amounts of water-soluble vitamins are entirely harmless. High amounts can affect the absorption or utilization of other nutrients. It's also possible that passing large amounts through the kidneys could cause problems.
* Whether you might be just as happy with dressed-up regular water. You can flavor it with lemon, lime, orange, or a strawberry or two. Green tea comes flavored naturally these days, too. This can be a different but healthful way to drink water once a day, too.

Source: By Elaine Magee, MPH, RD
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Expert Column

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

About Vitamin B

B vitamins are water soluble vitamins which greatly determine the health of the person.

As B Vitamins are water soluble, it is impossible to experience toxic effects since excess intake of B vitamin can be flushed out through the urine.

Therefore, it is important to maintain your levels of water soluble vitamins on daily basis.

B vitamins are group of vitamins. There are 8 B vitamins which are thiamine or vitamin B1, riboflavin or B2, niacin or B3, pyridoxine or B6, folic acid or B9, cobalomin or B12, pantothenic acid and biotin.

B vitamins are necessary for your body in many ways. They are important for your liver, skin, eyes, hair, and mouth as well as stomach and intestines.

B vitamins help in breaking down of carbohydrates into glucose, which is the basic sugar that your body’s cells use for fuel. As the B complex vitamins help to break down fats and proteins within the body, they aid in the functioning of nervous system.

You can get all the B vitamins by taking a supplement daily, but it is not difficult to get all the B vitamins you need from a healthy diet. B vitamins can be found in whole grain cereals, rice, nuts, breads, and brewer’s yeast. Certain animal products also contain B vitamins such as eggs, fish and milk. Vegetables such as potatoes, legumes and peas contain some level of B vitamin.

B vitamin deficiency can result in innumerable bad health effects. Beriberi, anemia, dermatitis, pellagra, diarrhea, memory and brain damage can occur if your body is not receiving the B vitamins it needs. Therefore it is important to know the recommended daily allowances for B vitamins to ensure that you are getting sufficient levels of consumption.

Thiamine or B1 should be consumed at a level of 1 to 1.5 milligrams per day. Riboflavin or B2, niacin or B3 should be around 1.2 to 1.8 milligrams. Pyridoxine or B6 should be consumed 1.4 to 2 milligrams per day. Cobalamin or B12 should be consumed around 2 milligrams for the average adult.

Pantothenic acid and biotin should be maintained by your own intestine by eating meat, liver, mushrooms and egg yolk which help assist your body in maintaining its supply. You can see many important body functions that are maintained by B vitamins.

Vitamin B3 helps lower cholesterol, increases good cholesterol levels and limits the damage of heart disease. Vitamin B12 is used for managing stress, anxiety and fatigue and improves memory.

Be sure that you are getting the nutrition and body building supplements that your body needs. If you are not getting B vitamins through diet, a multivitamin can help you to regulate your daily vitamin dosage.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

About Protein

Protein Overview

There are nine amino acids that must be supplied by our food intake. Out of more than 20 identified, our bodies cannot manufacture these and thus protein restriction will have its consequences

The body will only use the precise amount of protein it needs. The rest will be excreted in the urine and excess amount may even cause liver and kidney strain. It can also cause an increase in calcium loss in the urine as well as dehydration.


It's estimated that over 50 % of the dry weight of your body is protein. Proteins are everywhere in the body - in muscle, bone, brain cells, blood cells, genetic matter, skin, hair, fingernails, etc.

Constant processes of repair and renewal takes place inside our bodies with the aid of protein. Maintenance, repair and growth of body tissue is accomplished by the digestion of protein into subunits called amino acids. In this form these amino acids can enter cells where, following instruction from DNA, they can be synthesized into new proteins as is needed. Protein is therefore essential for healthy living.

There are nine amino acids that must be supplied by our food intake. Out of more than 20 identified, our bodies cannot manufacture these and thus protein restriction will have its consequences. Some specific proteins require these amino acids to synthesize and failure to provide them results in muscle breakdown and other protein functions named earlier. Muscle breakdown is detrimental to weight loss.

Protein cannot be stored and needs to be replenished daily. Muscle wasting can occur if protein intake is inadequate as it may be needed for more important body functions. However, most people eat more than they need in terms of protein. The train of though that strength athletes followed is that the more material you supply the body the more it will build. That is not true. The body will only use the precise amount of protein it needs. The rest will be excreted in the urine and excess amount may even cause liver and kidney strain. It can also cause an increase in calcium loss in the urine as well as dehydration.

Studies done with strength trainers and aerobic trainers alike have concluded that the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of 0.8g per kilogram of body weight is too low for serious exercisers. Higher dosages have produced more strength gains than control groups and less muscle wasting in endurance exercise or rigorous strength training. But these are people who strength train 4 times per week and/or participate in aerobic exercise sessions lasting 60 to 90 minutes three times a week.

Beginners and even intermediate exercisers generally should not follow increased protein intake, being brainwashed by protein advertisements. The only way to build muscle is to stimulate it through exercise. Research shows that even on RDA of protein strength trainers built muscle as well as those on twice the amount (1). This is because the protein utilization increased in efficiency and exemplifies on how the body adapts to what is available.

The most concentrated sources of protein come from flesh sources like beef, chicken, turkey and fish. High protein diets should be avoided, especially from animal sources as they are usually high in fat, cholesterol and linked to early disease and death. Protein in animal and dairy foods should be avoided as they are high is saturated fats and cholesterol. Better sources are egg whites, legumes like beans, soy products, and grains. Poultry, fish and low fat dairy products should be used as optional protein sources.

Protein along with fats, are the building materials of the body. Therefore you must authorize construction by stimulating the body through physical activity like exercise. If you don't, minimal amounts of these foods should be eaten. Too much building material and not enough work inevitably cause a deposit which will inevitably contribute to weight gain. But perhaps the worst part is that these foods, (proteins and fats) are not the ideal storage foods as excess can contribute to heart disease, cancers and early death.


Scientific References:
1.Campbell, W. W., et al. 1995. Effects of resistance training and dietary protein intake on protein metabolism in older adults. American Journal of Physiology 268: E1143 -53.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Cardiovascular Disease And Prevention

Cardiovascular Disease (CVD)

CVD - namely heart disease and stroke -- is largely preventable through a healthy lifestyle that includes no smoking, healthy food choices, physical activity and maintenance of a healthy weight. Preventive care as appropriate to control blood pressure and blood cholesterol and other lipids is also essential. Studies show that Canadians have low awareness of the causes of CVD. A full 30% cannot name even one of the major risk factors for heart disease (smoking, high blood pressure, elevated blood cholesterol, sedentary lifestyle, diabetes).

Current Situation

  • Cardiovascular disease is the major cause of death and disability among Canadian women. The number of deaths from CVD are just about equal for Canadian men and women. In 1996, 40,037 men and 39,924 women died of CVD.
  • Two in three women have one or more of the major risk factors for heart disease.
  • In 1996, CVD in women accounted for over 2,569,333 hospital days, a greater number than that reported for other conditions, including cancer, pregnancy and neurological ailments.
  • In 1996, 26% of women aged 15 and over smoked. Forty-eight percent of women smokers aged 18 to 24, and 23% aged 25 to 34 also take oral contraceptives, thus significantly increasing their risk for CVD.
  • Thirteen percent of Canadian women have high blood pressure, and 45% have elevated blood cholesterol.
  • Women are under-represented in heart health research and prevention studies. The lack of data and the consequent difficulty of determining appropriate preventive interventions for women hamper their ability to deal with heart disease.

Health Canada Initiatives

The Canadian Heart Health Initiative (1988-2003) is a federal-provincial strategy Top of pageencompassing disease prevention, health promotion and healthy public policy; it is based on alliances with community, provincial and national partners. The Heart and Stroke Foundation is a major partner in the Initiative. Health Canada contributes $2 million per year. Approximately $300,000 per year from this Initiative is allocated to projects which specifically target women's heart health issues, including integrated action on nutrition, physical activity, tobacco reduction and psychosocial factors.


  • Participation in collaborative heart health promotion projects that address women and CVD prevention issues, such as the Tobacco Control Strategy and the Vitality Program (nutrition, healthy weight, active living).
  • Facilitate development and dissemination of evidence-based clinical and public health preventive guidelines for CVD risk factors and related conditions.


  • A National Consultation on Women, Heart Disease and Stroke, took place in Ottawa in April 1998.
  • Co-sponsor of the International Heart Health Conferences, Victoria, B.C. (1992), Barcelona (1995), Singapore (1998).

Heart Health Facts

  • Eight times as many women die from heart disease and stroke than from breast cancer. 40% of all Canadian women's deaths are due to heart disease and stroke.
  • A woman's risk of death from heart disease increases 4 times after menopause. The rate of stroke also increases dramatically after menopause.
  • Some women may have different symptoms than men such as indigestion-like discomfort, vague chest pain, discomfort or pressure, nausea or back pain. These symptoms occur more often in women than men, and should not be ignored. It is important to know that 70% of women have similar symptoms of a heart attack as men, such as sudden strong crushing chest pain and shortness of breath.
  • Women with diabetes at any age are at more risk of developing heart disease and stroke than men who have diabetes. Compared to women without diabetes these women have triple the risk of heart attack and a much greater risk of a stroke.
  • Compared to active women, inactive women are twice as likely to die from heart disease and stroke.
  • Contrary to popular belief, hypertension (high blood pressure) is not usually caused by stress or anxiety. It is a condition that makes your heart work too hard. Have your blood pressure checked regularly.


  • Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
  • Canadians and Heart Health, Reducing the Risk, Supply and Services Canada, Cat. no. H39-328/1995E, 1995.
  • Canadian Heart Health Surveys: A Profile of Cardiovascular Risk, reprinted from CMAJ, June 1, 1992.
  • Fact Sheet: Cardiovascular Disease and Women (ICD-9390-448). Chronic Disease in Canada 1996; 17:28-30.
  • Heart Disease and Stroke in Canada. Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, 1995.
  • The Catalonia Declaration on Investing in Heart Health, Declaration of Advisory Board of the Second International Heart Health Conference (Barcelona, Spain, 1995).
  • The Victoria Declaration on Heart Health, Declaration of the Advisory Board, International Heart Health Conference, (Victoria, Canada, 1992).
  • Women in Canada: A Statistical Report, 3rd ed. Statistics Canada, Cat. No. 89-503E, 1995.
  • The Singapore Declaration: Forging the Will for Heart Health in the Next Millennium. Declaration of the Advisory Board, International Heart Health Conference (Singapore, 1998).
  • Stachenko, Sylvie. Challenges and Issues in Cardiovascular Disease Prevention: A Focus on Women. Journal of the Ontario Occupational Health Nurses Association, Spring, 1997

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Low-Down On Weight Loss Supplements

Every potential user probably already knows that weight loss supplements can come in many different forms; while some supplements are healthy, many can become addictive and cause permanent damage to the heart and nervous system. Before starting any new weight loss supplement, it is important to carefully read the packaging to check for possible side effects. It would be best to consult a physician before introducing any new supplements to make sure the right and safest choice is being made.
Although people rarely think about it, it has been proven that some weight loss supplements can cause permanent damage with just a few uses. Certain weight loss supplements, however, used correctly and in correct doses, can be very helpful, and a few little-known advanced dieting techniques can strip a body of fat quickly and effectively.

With all these different types of weight loss supplements to choose from, what should we take to most effectively aid the fat burning process?

Different types of weight loss supplements
There are several different weigh loss supplements in the market today, and people often complain of information overload because they’re finding it hard to figure out which ones are best for them.

There are over 300 different weigh loss supplements today on the market, including the following:

• Thermogenic Fat Burners

• Stimulant-Free Fat Burners

• Carb Blockers

• Fat Blockers

• Thyroid Hormone Increasers

• Appetite Suppressants

• Cortisol Blockers

• Transdermal Fat Loss Gels

• Other Fat Loss Products

Thermogenic Fat Burners

These fat burners don’t contain ephedra, which is probably their best property. If someone wants a good fat burner without ephedra, this is definitely the place to look. Some people simply don't tolerate ephedra because of their heart condition or other medical condition. Others just don't want ephedra because it makes them feel a little too jittery. In the past, fat burners without ephedra didn't work all that well, but research has intensified in this area, and the latest products are really helping people lose fat fast.

Stimulant-Free Thermogenics

Because some people want to avoid stimulants altogether, including caffeine, experts from this field came up with a great idea – stimulant-free weight loss supplements! Today, there is a number of effective stimulant-free fat burners available. Although they are not as effective as some stimulant supplements, they are safer alternatives for some people. Results vary, but typically people lose an average of 7-10 pounds with these.

Carb Blockers

Carb blockers are a great standalone weight loss aid, but they can also be used in conjunction with thermogenics or other fat burners. The most famous carb blocker is BSN Cheaters Relief, which works by blocking the absorption of certain carbohydrates. Carb blockers are safe with no reported side effects, and can make it a lot easier to lose weight by absorbing up to 35 grams of unwanted starches per meal.

Fat Blockers

In addition to carb blockers, there are also fat blockers which serve a similar purpose. Their most important ingredient is a substance called chitosan. Their exact mechanism of function is based on binding fat in the digestive tract before you absorb it. It can trap as much as seven times its weight in fat, so even if you eat a little extra fat each day, fat blockers can keep some of it from being absorbed into your body. A pretty intelligent solution!

Thyroid Regulators

Thyroid supplements are nothing more then actual thyroid replacements for what body would normally produce. A person can regulate and optimize the thyroid so that it performs at a higher level than it would on its own. Regulators optimize and increase the intensity of metabolism. Popular thyroid-enhancing ingredients are Guggulsterones and Forskolin.

Appetite Suppressants

The most popular form of weight loss supplement is the appetite suppressant. An appetite suppressant will reduce a person’s desire for food in order to help them loose weight. A popular form of appetite suppressant is a bulking agent, which will absorb liquid in the stomach and swell up larger, making a person feel full when really they aren’t. However, many of these supplements contain guar gum, which can cause obstructions in the stomach, esophagus, and intestines.

Cortisol Blockers

When under stress, the body releases its primary stress hormone - cortisol. Cortisol is a potent signal to do two things - increase appetite and store fat. This means that whenever we're under stress, the increased cortisol in our body tells our brain that we're hungry, while at the same time telling our fat cells to store as much fat as they can (and then hold on to it as tightly as possible). Cortisol blockers can inhibit this process.

Fat Loss Creams or Gels

The latest innovation in fat loss technology produced a fat loss trans-dermal gel. It is extremely easy to use – you rub it on wherever you want to lose the fat. The Cutting Gel and other Yohimbe-based creams work very well, especially in conjunction with another fat burner.

Metabolic Enhancers - pros and cons

• Health Damage: A metabolic enhancer will increase metabolism and energy level, which is good, but also increase heart rate and possibly cause damage to the nervous system. Ephedra has been removed from the market because of its damaging and addictive effects. Doctors from Belgium and Germany discovered that the Chinese herb Aristolochia fangchi, often found in fat burners, may cause not only kidney failure but urinary tract cancer.

• Addiction: Weight loss supplements are often highly addictive.

• Poor long-term results: Simply eating less would help anybody lose weight, but of course, that is the hardest thing to ask a person to do when they are used to eating whatever they want. The use of appetite suppressant drugs is rather popular because they seem to achieve very fast short-term weight reduction. However. the long-term results are usually poor, if no behavioral change takes place.

• Tolerance and misuse: Most appetite suppressant medication is very similar to amphetamines. There is a major risk of tolerance and misuse of these drugs. Every user should be strictly restricted to short-term medication (6-12 weeks), combined with change of eating behavior, exercise and behavioral therapy.

• Short-term side effects: Possible short-term side effects include

o dry mouth
o irritability
o blurred vision
o stomach upset
o a raise of heart rate and blood pressure

• Inefficacy: Pyruvate is an ingredient found in a variety of different weight loss products, and is often represented as a natural alternative to prescription diet pills, acting as a muscle builder as well as aiding in weight loss. Studies, however, have shown very little improvement in weight.


Weight loss medications and supplements should be avoid in a case of history of anxiety disorder, heart problems, high blood pressure, glaucoma, thyroid disorders, epilepsy or antidepressant medication with MAO-inhibitors. Any use of appetite suppressant medication during pregnancy or nursing should be avoided.