Gold's Gym will be hosting a Master Zumba class with Carolina Arias from New Zealand on November 9th. The class will be followed by the Zumba basic training course being offered exclusively at Gold's Gym on November 10th. Sign up today at Gold' Gym!!
Thursday, October 18, 2012
Are you one of the 16 million Americans who suffer from depression, or one of the approximately 32 million who experience anxiety or stress? It has been “estimated that by the year 2020, depression will surpass cancer as the second largest worldwide cause of disability and death, behind cardiovascular disease." Although people typically deal with these issues through counseling, individuals are now looking at exercise as a way to enhance their psychological well-being. There is ample support for the belief that exercise can improve mood, which is why many clinical psychologists and psychiatrists view exercise as an adjunct to therapy. Not only is exercise beneficial to mental health, it is also more cost effective than therapy, and is associated with numerous other positive health benefits.
Some of the symptoms of depression include withdrawal, inactivity, and feelings of hopelessness and loss of control. Because exercise can alleviate these symptoms, exercise can be a useful intervention tool for depression. In support of the effects of exercise on depression, “a recent Gallup poll identified exercise as a close second behind religion as an alternative means of relieving depression.”
Researchers have even examined exercise as a treatment for depression. Individuals who had been diagnosed as depressed were put into three groups: time-limited psychotherapy (10 weeks), time-unlimited psychotherapy, and a running-treatment group. Under the guidance of a running therapist, runners would stretch, walk, and run for 30-45 minutes, and discuss issues while exercising, with little emphasis on the depression itself. Results indicated that six of the eight patients in the running-treatment group were essentially well at the end of three weeks; another had recovered by the end of the 16th week; and only one neither improved nor deteriorated. This should not be taken to mean that depressed individuals should drop out of traditional forms of treatment, just that running is a useful adjunct to traditional treatment.
Anxiety is defined as a state of worry, apprehension, or tension. It occurs many times without real or obvious danger. Research has shown that many people feel calm after a hard workout. They have forgotten their worries, and use exercise as an outlet for their nervous energy. Thus, like depression, exercise seems to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety.
In one study, subjects were placed in one of three groups: jogging, stress-inoculation training, and waiting list. The participants’ self-report statements indicated that both the jogging and stress-inoculation groups had lower levels of anxiety than the waiting-list group immediately following the intervention. Furthermore, this finding held true when researchers followed up one month and 15 months later. It is important to note that the joggers only continued to experience lower levels of anxiety if they continued to exercise (which was about 40% of the original group).
With anxiety, the reasons for improvement are unclear. It is thought that, in certain situations, the exercise environment plays a role in relieving anxiety, although it might be that subjects are distracted by exercise enough to divert their attention from what would normally be anxiety-producing stressors. What is clear and important for the purpose of this article is that exercise does alleviate symptoms of anxiety.
Stress includes some or all of the following symptoms: muscle tension, headache, stomach upset, racing heart, high blood pressure, sweating, flushing, dry mouth, and behaviors ranging from aggression to hyperactivity to withdrawal. Stress can occur during a crisis of high impact or during the smaller everyday hassles of life. Studies have confirmed that exercise reduces and lessens the number of symptoms of stress by providing a short term distraction and increasing feelings of control, which might buffer the impact of stressful events.
In order to study stress reactivity, researchers compared the ability of exercisers and non-exercisers to recover after being subjected to a stressor, such as a timed, frustrating mental activity. In order to determine the magnitude of their psychological and physiological response to stress, and the amount of time it takes to return to baseline levels, these activities were given either to people who were in shape, or to people following intense exercise. It is believed that exercise may contribute to a “hardy” personality type, which is a person who can transform or buffer stressful events into less stressful forms by altering their perception of those events and placing less value on them. In that exercise contributes to a person’s hardiness, it is believed that exercise can lead to a reduction of stress-related illness by buffering reactions to stressful life events.
From the above discussion, “it is clear that there are many benefits on psychological functioning that result from exercise.” However, it is important to note that, although there is a relationship between exercise and psychological well-being, exercise should not be thought of as the sole cause for the improvements in psychological well-being.
So how do we tie all of this together? One of the best approaches for people dealing with depression, anxiety, or stress is to use exercise as an adjunct to any other forms of treatment that might be necessary. And in order for exercise to work in alleviating symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress, it has been suggested that the workout environment include fun, consistency, an avoidance of competitive situations, and activities that are personally satisfying and enjoyable.
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Here is another one your mom got right: “Eat your breakfast.”
Unfortunately many people, especially young people, are not hungry when they first rise in the morning. AND when they finally do eat something, because of the long wait from yesterday’s last meal, often the food choices are not exactly what you would consider ideal. There are good reasons why no one should miss breakfast, but even more reasons for athletes.
This quick course on breakfast will help explain the loss of appetite.
The name breakfast says it all: “Break the overnight fast,” and this is accomplished by eating something. When the body has had no food for a certain amount of hours, it goes into a fasting or semi-starvation state in which the metabolism slows down, the fuel mix switches to increasing the use of fat for energy because glycogen (sugar/energy) stores are depleted. The switch to fat as your primary energy source decreases your appetite so you don’t wake up and chew your arm off. This also explains why traditional breakfast foods are primarily fast-digesting carbohydrates (short- and long-chain sugar foods) such as cereals, breads, etc. Your body is looking for what it wants to quickly fill the depleted glycogen, but for some people it takes a while for true hunger to set in, especially if the available food is not sweet tasting.
Always eat before you exercise, no matter the goal or when you train
Unfortunately, the old saying that “a little bit of knowledge can be dangerous” is spot on when it comes to how the above information is often interpreted. Because the popular press (non-scientific media sources such as fitness magazines, newspapers, etc.) does a great job of taking information out of context, exercisers with the goal of weight or body fat reduction often follow bad advice such as, “Don’t eat before you go to the gym,” or, “Do your cardio on an empty stomach and you will burn more fat.” Boy, how wrong can you be! As we have discussed many times in previous articles, it’s how many calories in versus out that determines how much fat you lose or gain, not the time of day you consume the calories. In fact, eating before you workout will allow you to burn MORE calories during your activity. And who cares where the calories come from, because at the end of the day, the difference between your calories in and out is how much fat will be taken from your stores – PERIOD.
Don’t forget, I did not say anything about adding food calories to your day. All you are doing is spreading them out further, which has additional benefits such as using more calories to digest each meal and giving your body a steady stream of nutrition (enhancing recovery and energy).
More on breakfast and weight control
Data from the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) and other studies clearly shows an association between skipping breakfast and being overweight. Although the actual mechanisms aren’t clear, missing breakfast generally leads to a greater appetite when finally confronted with your first meal, causing poor choices and overeating in order to compensate for 12-18 hours with no food.
By the way, a fancy coffee drink is not breakfast. In fact, popular coffee concoctions have more calories than an average breakfast, but do little to fill you up—so now you’ve had 500 calories and will be very hungry soon. Basically it’s a double whammy: lots of calories, little satiety, leading to lots more calories.
Eating before you work out is mandatory for performance athletes in order to enhance each training bout, recovery and the final outcome. Therefore, it should be intuitive that anyone would ingest part of their energy requirements before they train (even if you go straight from the bed to the workout or game) for the following reasons:
So, eat before you train. Common sense tells you to consume fuel if you have not eaten for the last 6-12 hours and you are about to perform an activity that requires more energy than anything else you do all day. It takes calories to burn more calories and fill energy systems to perform optimally.
- Filling energy stores before a workout (not adding daily calories, just redistributing them) so you can perform better and longer
- Breaking the fast to bump the metabolism back up and continue a constant flow of nutrients
- Increasing workout performance which will use more calories and allow for a higher intensity workout that will also burn two to three times more fat throughout the day following exercise
- Enhancing recovery to improve maintenance or growth of muscle which also adds to the metabolic rate; and finally
- Increasing daily activity so you are never in a fasting thus “lazy” state beyond rising in the morning, causing the body to naturally move more and drive the desire to train
Breakfast and your brain
As we have discussed, especially during your growth years, you do NOT want to miss meals. You need a steady flow of nutrition daily to maximize all the growth potential within your body and the brain is no exception. There are windows of opportunity for intellectual and physical growth from infancy through adolescence. A person whose diet is not nutritionally complete during these critical periods will not be able to compensate for the loss at another time.
Studies strongly suggest that omitting breakfast interferes with cognition and learning. An extended fast (missing breakfast) is perceived by your body as a stress event, and therefore your body releases adrenal corticosteroid and catecholamine, two well-known stress hormones, in order to maintain brain nutrition. This may lead to irrational or less-controlled thinking (hmmm that sounds familiar – that is, “getting a little moody when hungry”). To be sure, cognitive test scores are higher in adolescent breakfast eaters than non-breakfast eaters. At the very least, chronic breakfast skipping may have a negative impact on one’s overall nutritional status based on years of omitting valuable breakfast-type nutrients and the fact that the body/brain is continually going undernourished for extended periods of time.
There you have it – don’t miss breakfast under any circumstances. Always be prepared one way or another. Follow your dotFIT athletic meal plans that have your meal times set around your activities, including what to eat if you go straight from waking up to the workout or event (also see previous article, The Basics of Performance Nutrition).
- Force yourself to eat breakfast regardless of appetite or time constraints – you will eventually adjust to both
- Consume a full meal when possible as shown in your menu plans and previous articles
- Little to no preparation breakfast ideas that are easy to consume:
- Milk with favorite healthy carbohydrate (bread, bagel, cereal, etc.)
- Nutrition bars/shake high in carbohydrates, moderate protein and low in fat
Early morning workout/event and no time for full meal
- Eat your pre-workout/game meal as late as possible the night before
- Consume an appropriate nutrition bar or workout shake ASAP upon rising or 30 minutes before event
If after reading this you STILL miss breakfast, you probably always will. But hey, you will also never know what you missed, except the meal.
Saturday, October 13, 2012
Anyone can boost their metabolism by simply consistently increasing their physical activities, including standing and moving in any fashion. Metabolism is the sum of all the bodily processes necessary to run our bodies. The energy/fuel that these processes used is measured in calories. Everyone has complete control over total metabolism or the calories they burn per day. The more you move, the more bodily processes take place so the more calories you burn. Therefore, moving more is the only significant practical method to boost metabolism.
Other practices to potentially boost metabolism:
There are natural and synthetic compounds that can slightly increase resting metabolic rate (RMR). Caffeine is the most common compound used to increase RMR and has been shown to increase metabolism/energy expenditure (EE) ~3-5% in the first 2.5 hours after ingestion. Comparable increases in EE have been shown with Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) a compound found it green tea. Combining caffeine and EGCG together, as found in some weight loss supplements, may have a synergistic effect on 24 hour EE. Capsaicin from cayenne fruit may also increase RMR by stimulating the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) activity. To be fair, some of the documented daily increases in the total 24 Hour EE from any of these 3 substances may also come from their well known abilities to induce more daily movement, whether it be through fidgeting at rest, or simply from an increased desire to move more due to feeling more energetic. There are also a few weight loss drugs such as Phentermine and Sibutramine that can increase RMR but generally have more negative side effects than effective supplements.
Friday, October 12, 2012
Question: What kind of snack would you recommend eating after my workout for the best recovery? What’s the ideal protein/carb/fat ratio?
Answer: It depends on your sport. If you are an endurance athlete, you want a significantly higher carbohydrate (CHO) to protein (P) ratio than most other athletes – somewhere in the range of 2-4 grams of CHO to 1 gram of protein with relatively low fat. Where you fall in that range will depend on the length of the activity; the longer the activity the greater need for a higher CHO to protein ratio.
Using a powder such as the dotFIT™ Pre/Post Workout and Meal Replacement Formula or FirstString™ gives you the proper starting materials and allows you to make the drink according to the percentages that you need. Add whatever you like to the mix in order to adjust the CHO, protein and calories where you want or need them.
Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Women who are pregnant or who want to be have many questions about how to have a healthy baby, a healthy pregnancy, maintain some level of fitness and return to their pre-pregnancy weight as quickly as possible. The short answer for a normal-weight woman is to eat as perfectly as possible, gain between 25 and 35 pounds during pregnancy, exercise in moderation and you will likely be within a few pounds of your former weight in about 6 months.
Gaining the correct amount of weight is important as excesses in either direction may have detrimental effects for the baby and mother. A strong predictor of weight gain for the baby is the starting BMI (Body Mass Index – a measure of weight for a given height) of the mother and the amount of weight she gains. Weighing too little at the beginning of pregnancy for the mom can lead to growth slowing and an underweight baby. Slowed growth can be bad for the baby since it increases the risk for problems shortly after birth. Being underweight or gaining too little from inadequate nutrient intake also puts the mother at risk for larger than normal losses of mineral stores. Weight gained during pregnancy above recommendations is more likely to be retained weight after delivery. Too much weight gain for the mother increases the risk of gestational diabetes, high blood pressure and can indicate preeclampsia. It also increases the risk of either preterm delivery and low birth weight, or excessive weight gain for the baby. The table below shows the recommended amount of weight gain for a single pregnancy based on the starting BMI of the mother.
Recommended Pregnancy Weight Gain Based on Starting BM
Starting BMI Under 20 20 to 26 26.1 to 29 Above 29
Recommended Weight Gain 30 to 40 lbs 25 to 35 lbs 15 to 25 lbs Up to 15 lbs
Based on this chart a woman who is 5’4” tall weighing between 117 and 151 lbs should gain between 25 and 35 pounds during pregnancy for optimal health for her and her baby. The weight gain recommendation is to supply adequate energy and nutrients to support tissue growth in several areas and averages 300 calories daily. This energy cost is not even throughout the pregnancy. The beginning of pregnancy demands little to no additional energy, while the last half sees a large surge in energy needs. Figure 1 below shows an estimated breakdown of the components of a 25 pound weight gain during the pregnancy for a 7 pound baby.
Figure 1 Weight Gain in Pregnancy in pounds.
At week four there is not enough of a change to equal a pound so it appears as zero on the figure.
To support optimum weight gain during pregnancy, avoid alcohol, cigarettes, limit or avoid caffeine and exercise in moderation. Proper formation of the central nervous system, spine and skull occurs early in development and requires an ample supply of nutrients such as folic acid even before calorie needs begin to climb. Inadequate folic acid to the developing baby can lead to neural tube defects such as spina bifida and anencephaly. Calcium and iron intakes need to be increased in addition to many others. This can be a difficult time to eat properly for women with nausea, vomiting, heartburn and a limited stomach size.
The intake of alcohol should be avoided during pregnancy. There is a strong relationship between alcohol intake and abnormal baby development in women who drink alcohol during pregnancy. The severe form of this is called fetal alcohol syndrome, which is characterized by facial changes, small size for age and problems with the central nervous system including low IQ. The bottom line: there is no safe period during pregnancy to drink alcohol and no safe amount to drink.
Caffeine is safer than alcohol in small amounts. It is still important to limit caffeine to 300mg daily. Recent studies of caffeine use during pregnancy show an increased risk of a preterm delivery although there is no proof that caffeine causes it.
Not much needs to be said about tobacco during pregnancy. Cigarettes contain numerous harmful chemicals that reach the baby when a woman smokes. One of the better known compounds in tobacco is nicotine, which constricts blood vessels and limits the oxygen that reaches the baby. Don’t do it.
Exercise during pregnancy is covered elsewhere on this website and will be briefly discussed here. In general exercise during pregnancy is healthy and can be beneficial for the mother and delivery. Ask your doctor before beginning any exercise program. Avoid exercises that make it easy to lose balance, contact sports, and large increases in volume or intensity to the workload. Start slowly, make gradual changes and pay attention to your body; when it is painful or difficult to continue, stop. Also, don’t do exercises on your back during the second and third trimesters. Click here to download a workout routine for pregnant women designed by the experts at NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine).
dotFIT recommends the use of a multivitamin formula for everyone, especially women of child bearing years. Iron and folic acid can be very difficult to consume in the quantities required by pregnancy, which is why the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists endorses the use of supplements to supply iron for pregnant women. Ask your doctor for instructions if you have been diagnosed with any blood disorder, have a history of birthing children with neural tube defects or take medicine for seizures. Otherwise, it is prudent to use the dotFIT PrenatalMV™ or a prescription prenatal multivitamin/mineral supplement for the duration of the pregnancy. This will augment your best attempts at eating a perfect diet. The table below shows the contents of the dotFIT PrenatalMV along with the RDA for pregnant women aged 18 to 50.
Table 2 Nutrient needs during pregnancy and the dotFIT PrenatalMV multivitamin.
* Beta carotene is converted to vitamin A in the body as needed. Large doses of vitamin A during pregnancy have negative effects, whereas beta carotene does not. dotFIT has chosen to use beta carotene for the vitamin A source in the prenatal.
+ Calcium was left out of this product to maximize iron absorption and minimize pill size. Adding 1000 mg of calcium to this formula would result in a pill too large for most women to swallow comfortably. Instead, the dotFIT SuperCalcium+™can be used to add calcium to any diet with inadequate intake.