Tuesday, November 30, 2010

6 Surprising Health Foods

Posted on Nov 5th 2010 12:30PM by That's Fit Editors

If the low-carb craze of the early 21st century left you believing that potatoes equal pounds and corn is no better than candy, it's time to wake up and taste the produce. The truth is: Certain fruits and vegetables -- along with other foods with less than stellar nutritional reputations -- are rich in vitamins and minerals, not to mention come in an array of colors, flavors and textures. If you've been avoiding the following dietary outcasts, it's time to give them another look.


For the 161 calories in a medium baked potato with skin, you get 4 grams of fiber plus 20 percent of your daily requirement for potassium, along with a boatload of phytochemicals known as kukoamines. Both potassium and kukoamines help keep your blood pressure in check. If you allow that cooked potato to chill before eating it, you'll get a generous dose of resistant starch, a fiber-like substance that promotes post-meal satiety -- important for losing weight without feeling hungry. "If you keep portion sizes in check -- no more than one medium potato in a given meal -- and eat the fiber-rich skin, potatoes make a satisfying, low-calorie, nutrient-rich side dish," says Michelle Dudash, a Gilbert, Ariz.-based registered dietitian.


Just one cup of shredded iceberg lettuce delivers nearly 20 percent of your daily dose of vitamin K, a nutrient that many women don't get enough of. When Harvard University researchers tracked the diets of more than 72,000 women, those who ate one or more servings a day of any type of lettuce (all are good sources of vitamin K) had the lowest rates of hip fracture. Iceberg lettuce also is a good source of vitamin A, which helps keep your vision sharp; just one cup supplies 15 percent of your recommended daily intake. So if iceberg lettuce is the leafy green that floats your boat the most, go ahead and eat up!


This pale, crunchy veggie delivers a unique combination of disease-fighting vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. For example, celery is a good source of pthalides, rare compounds that lower your blood pressure by relaxing artery walls. It also is rich in apigenin, a potent plant chemical that protects against cancer by inhibiting gene mutations. Munch on celery sticks for a low-calorie, crunchy snack: One large rib has just 10 calories and one gram of filling fiber.


Corn does double duty as a veggie and a whole grain, with one large ear supplying 15 percent of your recommended daily fiber intake. It also satisfies 10 percent of your daily folate requirement. This heart-healthy B vitamin plays an important role in keeping blood levels of potentially dangerous homocysteine in check. Not to be outdone, the lutein and zeaxanthin in corn help protect your eyes against agerelated macular degeneration. For a simple corn salsa, toss together fresh or thawed frozen corn kernels; finely chopped jalapeno chili pepper; chopped fresh cilantro, tomato, and onion; and a pinch each of chili powder or ground cumin.


The amino acid arginine, abundant in watermelon, might promote weight loss, according to a new study in the Journal of Nutrition. When researchers supplemented the diets of obese mice with arginine over three months, the animals' body fat gains declined by a whopping 64 percent. Adding this amino acid to the diet enhanced fat and glucose oxidation while increasing lean muscle, which burns more calories than fat. Snack on watermelon while it's in season, and enjoy other arginine sources -- such as seafood, nuts and seeds -- year-round.


It might sound as rich as cream, but, in fact, buttermilk has 98 percent less fat. This tart, thick dairy product contains beneficial bacteria that convert the milk protein lactose into lactic acid, a natural preservative. Buttermilk can be used in place of milk in many recipes, reducing fat and calories; it makes pancakes, waffles and cakes rise quite nicely, and adds a tangy flavor to smoothies and salad dressings.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Fit Bottom Girls - Help for an Active Small-Chested Girl

Fit Bottom Girls have a great blog! Check it out if you have not read it yet, www.fitbottomgirls.com. Anyway, they have good advice here for sports bras that I thought you triathlon goddesses would be interested in!

Posted: 10 Nov 2010 03:00 AM PST
Today we’re featuring an Ask the FBGs post. This feature allows readers like you to ask the FBGs for advice. Nothing is off limits, although we do prefer that it’s fitness or nutrition related, so send your undying health questions to AsktheFBGs@fitbottomedgirls.com. You just might see them posted on the site in the future!
Hello lovelies!
I adore your blog and was wondering if you had any thoughts on sports bras or would consider doing a post on them. In particular, I’m desperately seeking a good super-high-impact sports bra for A or B cups. (Yes, we small-chested gals need support, too, even though many bra manufacturers seem to forget about us!) I’ve tried many high-impact sports bras for smaller chests, and they hold up okay for running but never do well when I’m jumping with a speed rope. I can’t stand my boobs flying every which way as I jump—it looks terrible and is so uncomfortable—but I can’t find a solution. Help, please!
Lots of love to you ladies,
Dear Claudia,
You poor thing! We definitely can help. In fact, we thought this issue was so important that we put FBG Kristen on the case! —Jenn

Supportive Sports Bras for B-Cups and Smaller

We know that big-busted ladies need serious support from a sports bra, but, you know what? Those of us who aren’t terribly well-endowed still need an over-the-shoulder boulder holder that keeps our smaller breasts in place. My chest might not threaten me with a black eye when I start jumping around, but without proper support, it’s still pretty darn uncomfortable.
I’ve spent the last month or so checking out different sports bras designed to offer plenty of support for girls with smaller chests, and I think I’ve not only found a few that worked really well, but I’ve also narrowed down what qualities seem to make a difference. Here are my favorites.
Nike Swift Bra, $40, available in XS-XL: Even though this bra isn’t offered in specific cup sizes, the adjustable straps on the bra make it easy to get just the right fit and support. The back closure is also adjustable—perfect for anyone whose size fluctuates with training or time of year! I really liked the back closure because it means I didn’t have to lift the bra over my head after a really tough arm workout. This was one of the most attractive bras I tried. I loved the “Light Wild Mango” color, and the Y back really showed off my hard-earned shoulder muscles.
Danskin Women’s X-Training New Aerosilver Flex Sports Bra, $48, available in 32B, 34B, 34C, 34D, 36C, 36D, 38C, 38D: This bra is one of my long-time favorites. Available in various cup sizes, it provides cupped support, so you still get a ladylike shape but no bounce. It also offers a partial back closure to make it easier to get on and off, and there’s light padding in the straps and the cups, offering both comfort and a bit of modesty, if you know what I mean.
Moving Comfort Vixen A/B, $36, available in S-XL: The fit of the Vixen is along the lines of the Danskin bra mentioned above with separate cups and light padding in the front. It lacks padding in the straps, which didn’t pose much of a problem for me, and it comes in a bunch of really cool colors. If you’re looking for a supportive sports bra that has a lot of style, this is a great option.
Kalyx Uplift MAX, $44, available in S-XL: The eco-friendly Uplift MAX (made from at least 35 percent recycled fibers) looks like it’s made of separate layers, but actually utilizes different materials to provide stretch where needed and serious support in other areas. The different materials also serve to keep your breasts separate, rather than smooshing them together, and the thick bottom band hooks in the back to—once again—make removal a bit easier.

The Takeaway, Claudia (and All Other Smaller-Chested Ladies!)

There are two things I’ve found to be most important in choosing a sports bra that’s comfortable and supportive. First of all, you have to find the right fit in all areas. Don’t settle for a bra that fits well beneath your breasts but leaves you bouncing, and don’t opt for a bra that’s too tight beneath your breasts in order to get the right fit on your chest. The right bra for you will fit properly in the straps, chest, and the band below. If it doesn’t feel good in all three places, keep shopping.
Second, look for a quality material—generally, this means it’s going to be somewhat thick and probably have multiple layers, specifically in the front where it counts. All the bras I mentioned have soft, thick material in the cup area, which not only helps keep things where they should be, but also helps me avoid chafing during long or extra-vigorous workouts.
Do you have a favorite brand or style of sports bra? Be sure to share with us and Claudia in the comments! And be sure to check back in next week when we’ll share sports bra shopping tips for the more endowed ladies out there! —Kristen

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Be Healthy All Year

This was written for the new year, but I think it's important stuff to remember year round, especially as we get into the holidays.

by Suzie Cooney on Athleta Chi

As we settle into the New Year, it’s a time for many of us to take special inventory of family, life and our own personal health. I am so thankful for being on Maui, but not everyone is as lucky to live on a tropical island, eat fresh fish, and simply enjoy the natural healthy lifestyle that surrounds us. But even if you are in the coldest place in the world, you can embrace health in the simplest ways…
Make YOU a Priority. Exercise or do an activity you enjoy each and every day. Make an appointment with yourself in your calendar or phone, so that nothing gets in your way. It works for me.
Choose Health. Embrace your life as it is today, and strive hard to make everlasting healthy lifestyle choices.
Build Your Support. Surround yourself with people that challenge you, inspire you and believe in you. It really makes a difference! I like to surf or do sports with people that are pretty aggressive. It keeps me on my toes and makes me a better surfer. I also have several mentors that act as my compass. Who is your compass?
Love Your Body. Look in the mirror and like what you see. Having a healthy body image and loving yourself inside and out is contagious and I think very attractive. People with negative body images have a greater likelihood of developing an eating disorder and are more likely to suffer from feelings of depression, isolation, low self-esteem and obsessions with weight loss. I often come across training clients who have a vision of how they want to see themselves vs. who they really are and how their bodies are made. Genetics, medical conditions and other physiological factors play a role in how our bodies take shape.
Forget New Year’s Resolutions. They don’t work. Chunk it down and be realistic with your fitness goals. People expect not to keep their resolutions so it’s almost self defeating. Treat your goals as process or journey. Reward yourself with a new workout top, new surf board, or whatever makes you happy!
Reflect. Look back, and see where you are now and where you want to go; in life, love and health.
Wishing that all you love comes your way. Be strong in every step you take. Try something new!
Aloha and Mahalo, Suzie

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Things to think about before tomorrow

How Far You’d Have to Run to Burn Off…

Apple cider: 1 c Treetop brand = 120 cal = 11 min = 1.1 miles
Glazed Donut: 1 Krispy Kreme = 200 cal = 18 min =  1.8 miles
Pumpkin Pie: 1 piece  = 316 cal = 29 min = 2.9 miles (or try this healthier version for only a 1.1 mile run!)
Turkey Leg: 1 leg and thigh with skin = 192 cal = 17.5 min = 1.8 miles
Mashed Potatoes and Gravy: Boston Market 4.4 oz = 190 cal = 17 min = 1.7 miles
Mulled Wine: 3.4 oz = 118 cal = 11 min =  1.1 miles
Sweet Potato Casserole: Boston Market 7 oz = 460 cal = 42 min = 4.2 miles
Pecan Pie: 1 slice from recipe = 503 cal = 46 min = 4.6 miles

Thanks to the Fit Bottomed Girls for calculating this all out for us!  Check out the complete article.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Weird energizers: Runners share 7 secret food weapons

From pickle juice to coconut water, marathoners reveal the quirky ways they fuel up for the long haul

By Cari Nierenberg
msnbc.com contributor
  • His running buddies call him "Doctor Pickle Juice." Rick Ganzi, a 47-year-old anesthesiologist from Holland, Mich., has long been singing the praises of pickle juice after discovering that the briny beverage worked wonders for his marathon-induced muscle cramps.
    Ganzi got hooked on running during his medical residency to shed some unwanted pounds. But when trying to improve his marathon time, he found his calves knotting up around mile 20. Then a coworker, who was also a competitive body builder, tipped him off about using pickle juice to prevent cramps before an event.
    "So I bought a medium-sized jar of dill pickles before my next marathon. Three days before the race, I started eating a couple of pickles a day. The day before, I stopped eating the pickles and started sipping the juice. On race day, I finished all of the juice," said Ganzi.
    Thanks to his pickle prescription, he had a cramp-free run and shaved 13 minutes off his marathon PR (personal record).
    From that race on, "Doctor Pickle Juice" was born. Ganzi even convinced his local Heinz plant to donate the salty solution to the Grand Rapids Marathon along with pickles at the finish line. “It’s developing a bit of a cult following,” he said.
    With 70 marathons under his belt, Ganzi will again put his cucumber cure to the test as one of 43,000 competitors in the ING New York City Marathon, on Sunday, Nov. 7.
    Read on for more about pickle juice and seven other unconventional ways that runners hope to boost their energy, improve their performance or speed their post-race recovery.
Beetroot juice
British middle distance runner Colin McCourt drinks a cup of beetroot juice.
English ultra-marathoner Chris Carver credits nitrate-rich beetroot juice with his first place showing in a 24-hour race in Scotland this September, according to news reports.
For a month before the grueling event, he added a daily glass of the purple juice to his usual training program. Carver won the daylong competition and ran 148 miles compared with 140 miles the year before.
Two small British studies have found that cyclists who drank about a pint of beetroot juice before a workout rode 20 percent longer than those given a placebo.
"Beetroot juice is purported to increase stamina," said Suzanne Girard Eberle, a sports dietitian in Portland. It may do this by increasing the nitric acid in the body, which reduces the energy requirements of muscles, so you can possibly exercise with less oxygen, she explained.
Before downing the juice regularly, be aware that it might turn your urine red.
And it might be hard to find. Leslie Bonci, director of sports nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center calls the juice “interesting,” yet adds that "it seems to be a European phenomenon. There's still an issue of availability here."

Salty starches
Potatoes are one of the 'secret food weapons' for runners.
Lauren Antonucci, a New York City-based sports dietitian, calls baked potatoes and salted rice balls her "secret food weapons." These salty starches -- combined with drinking water to stay hydrated -- are a training tip she shares with endurance athletes. She suggests baking and salting small new potatoes or fingerlings, and wrapping the spuds in foil so they're easy to carry and eat every half hour during a race.
For the rice balls, she recommends cooking either Thai sticky rice or basmati with lots of water until it's mushy, adding salt or soy sauce and forming small balls.
"The baked potato and salted rice balls are easy to get down and easily absorbed, and you need carbs and salty things when you're exercising for a long time," Antonucci explained.
And she should know; her impressive fitness resume includes finishing 12 marathons and 3 Ironman Triathlons.
"It's a little bit weird," admitted Antonucci, "but they totally work."
Hard candy can provide sugar energy to get you through a marathon.
When Ellen Richards of Millis, Mass., ran her third New York City Marathon, she was fading badly at the 18-mile mark. Then some kids along the course handed her fruit-flavored candy.
The candy "really did the trick for me," confessed Richards. "It gave me something to keep in my mouth along with a slow intake of pure sugar for energy. I know it got me through the marathon."
And while sweets don't win points for their nutritional value, Felicia Stoler, a sports nutritionist and exercise physiologist in New Jersey, sees nothing wrong with them in this instance. "They're just sugar, and they can get your saliva going. As long as you don't choke on it while you're running, that's fine."
Stoler thinks jelly beans might be easier to manage than hard candies, though. "They even have sports jelly beans that have some sodium in addition to the sugar," she pointed out.
If you're after quick-acting forms of glucose, you can do it on the cheap by substituting sugar cubes, honey sticks or packets of the sticky sweetener for pricier energy gels and blocks, suggested Bonci, who wrote "Sports Nutrition for Coaches."
[ok, sugar? not secret and not weird! but, whatever... - L]

Tart cherry juice

You'd have to eat plenty of sour cherries to get the benefits from one cup of juice.
In a few small studies, people who consumed the sour fruit juice before exercising had less pain and inflammation afterward and recovered their muscle function sooner than those given a placebo.
Scientists speculate that antioxidant-rich plant chemicals in cherries known as anthocyanins may help suppress the enzymes that cause inflammation in the body. That's good news for marathoners because distance running is a breakdown activity that leads to lots of wear and tear on muscles.
To get the beneficial compounds found in one cup of juice, you'd have to eat plenty of sour cherries.
As far at taste goes, "there's definitely a little pucker to it, but it's also refreshing," Bonci explained. You can find the bottled juice in grocery stores and some retailers stock the concentrate.

Coconut water
Coconut water helps rehydrate after sweating.
Billed as "nature's sports drink," coconut water has become the trendy apr├Ęs workout quaff of celebrities. The clear liquid from inside a green, unripe coconut has been gaining fame as a good -- but expensive -- way to rehydrate after sweating.
"Coconut water has a lot of potassium in it, which is involved in muscle functioning, and it's fairly low in sodium," pointed out Eberle. (Sports drinks are often the reverse -- higher in sodium, lower in potassium -- a ratio some experts prefer for longer exercise sessions.)
But what appeals to runners like Amy Fingerhut is the water's low sugar content and healthier image.
She finds traditional sports drinks and energy gels too sweet and highly processed. And as the commercial real estate broker trained this summer for her second New York City Marathon in the brutal heat and humidity of Atlanta, she experimented with coconut water after her husband suggested it.
"At first, I was forcing it into me and scrunching my eyes as I drank," recalled Fingerhut. But then she'd have the water before and after her long runs and "could literally feel the energy going back into my body."
Chocolate milk
Choclate milk is a 'new' sports drink for grown-ups.
This kid-friendly beverage has been described as a "new" sports drink for grown-ups.
It's popular with runners as a post-workout recovery drink and provides protein to repair muscle damage, carbs to replenish depleted fuel stores and fluids to replace sweat losses.
In two small studies, one of which was sponsored by the dairy industry, chocolate milk was as good if not better than a sports drink for athletes recovering from and rehydrating after intense training.
"It's a liquid food with a perfect ratio of carbohydrates to protein that commercial drinks are trying to emulate," explained Eberle, author of "Endurance Sports Nutrition."
In addition, the milk has sodium, potassium and magnesium, which runner's need after strenuous activity, as well as calcium and vitamin D for hard-working muscles and bones.

Pickle juice
Compared to sports drinks, juice from pickles is loaded with sodium and also offers potassium and magnesium.
Pickle juice has been a favorite remedy of sports medicine professionals for years.
The dill-flavored fluid first won over NFL athletic trainers who discovered its ability to stave off muscle cramps after giving this mixture of salt, water and vinegar to football players during the sweltering days of training camp.
A few studies have confirmed the drink's cramp-preventive potential in athletes. It's been suggested for salty sweaters, people whose perspiration stings their eyes, stains their hats and makes their skin feel gritty.
"I think there's some good science behind it," Eberle said. Pickle juice "gives a high dose of sodium, can be quick acting against cramps and replaces salt and fluid lost in sweat."
Compared to sports drinks, the beverage is loaded with sodium and also offers potassium and magnesium.
As for why pickle juice works, some researchers think the acidity of the vinegar might help stifle a cramp, while others credit the magnesium.
[ok, this is weird!!! :-) - L]

Friday, November 19, 2010

7 Foods That Should Never Cross Your Lips

Is your food loaded with toxins and chemicals? Here, simple swaps to protect yourself

By Anne Underwood
on prevention.com

Which foods should you avoid?

Clean eating means choosing fruits, vegetables, and meats that are raised, grown, and sold with minimal processing.

Often they're organic, and rarely (if ever) should they contain additives. But in some cases, the methods of today's food producers are neither clean nor sustainable. The result is damage to our health, the environment, or both. So we decided to take a fresh look at food through the eyes of the people who spend their lives uncovering what's safe—or not—to eat. We asked them a simple question: "What foods do you avoid?" Their answers don't necessarily make up a "banned foods" list. But reaching for the suggested alternatives might bring you better health—and peace of mind.

1. Canned Tomatoes

Fredrick Vom Saal, PhD, an endocrinologist at the University of Missouri who studies bisphenol-A, gives us the scoop:

The problem:
The resin linings of tin cans contain bisphenol-A, a synthetic estrogen that has been linked to ailments ranging from reproductive problems to heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Unfortunately, acidity (a prominent characteristic of tomatoes) causes BPA to leach into your food. Studies show that the BPA in most people's body exceeds the amount that suppresses sperm production or causes chromosomal damage to the eggs of animals. "You can get 50 mcg of BPA per liter out of a tomato can, and that's a level that is going to impact people, particularly the young," says vom Saal. "I won't go near canned tomatoes."

The solution:
Choose tomatoes in glass bottles (which do not need resin linings), such as the brands Bionaturae and Coluccio. You can also get several types in Tetra Pak boxes, like Trader Joe's and Pomi.

Budget tip:
If your recipe allows, substitute bottled pasta sauce for canned tomatoes. Look for pasta sauces with low sodium and few added ingredients, or you may have to adjust the recipe.

2. Corn-Fed Beef

Joel Salatin, co-owner of Polyface Farms and author of half a dozen books on sustainable farming, gives us the scoop:

The problem:
Cattle evolved to eat grass, not grains. But farmers today feed their animals corn and soybeans, which fatten up the animals faster for slaughter. But more money for cattle farmers (and lower prices at the grocery store) means a lot less nutrition for us. A recent comprehensive study conducted by the USDA and researchers from Clemson University found that compared with corn-fed beef, grass-fed beef is higher in beta-carotene, vitamin E, omega-3s, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), calcium, magnesium, and potassium; lower in inflammatory omega-6s; and lower in saturated fats that have been linked to heart disease. "We need to respect the fact that cows are herbivores, and that does not mean feeding them corn and chicken manure," says Salatin.

The solution:
Buy grass-fed beef, which can be found at specialty grocers, farmers' markets, and nationally at Whole Foods. It's usually labeled because it demands a premium, but if you don't see it, ask your butcher.

Budget tip:
Cuts on the bone are cheaper because processors charge extra for deboning. You can also buy direct from a local farmer, which can be as cheap as $5 per pound. To find a farmer near you, search eatwild.com.

3. Microwave Popcorn

Olga Naidenko, PhD, a senior scientist for the Environmental Working Group, gives us the scoop:

The problem: Chemicals, including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), in the lining of the bag, are part of a class of compounds that may be linked to infertility in humans, according to a recent study from UCLA. In animal testing, the chemicals cause liver, testicular, and pancreatic cancer. Studies show that microwaving causes the chemicals to vaporize—and migrate into your popcorn. "They stay in your body for years and accumulate there," says Naidenko, which is why researchers worry that levels in humans could approach the amounts causing cancers in laboratory animals. DuPont and other manufacturers have promised to phase out PFOA by 2015 under a voluntary EPA plan, but millions of bags of popcorn will be sold between now and then.

The solution: Pop natural kernels the old-fashioned way: in a skillet. For flavorings, you can add real butter or dried seasonings, such as dillweed, vegetable flakes, or soup mix.

Budget tip: Popping your own popcorn is dirt cheap.

4. Nonorganic Potatoes

Jeffrey Moyer, chair of the National Organic Standards Board, gives us the scoop:

The problem: Root vegetables absorb herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides that wind up in soil. In the case of potatoes—the nation's most popular vegetable—they're treated with fungicides during the growing season, then sprayed with herbicides to kill off the fibrous vines before harvesting. After they're dug up, the potatoes are treated yet again to prevent them from sprouting. "Try this experiment: Buy a conventional potato in a store, and try to get it to sprout. It won't," says Moyer, who is also farm director of the Rodale Institute (also owned by Rodale Inc., the publisher of Prevention). "I've talked with potato growers who say point-blank they would never eat the potatoes they sell. They have separate plots where they grow potatoes for themselves without all the chemicals."

The solution: Buy organic potatoes. Washing isn't good enough if you're trying to remove chemicals that have been absorbed into the flesh.

Budget tip: Organic potatoes are only $1 to $2 a pound, slightly more expensive than conventional spuds.

5. Farmed Salmon

David Carpenter, MD, director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University at Albany and publisher of a major study in the journal Science on contamination in fish, gives us the scoop:

The problem: Nature didn't intend for salmon to be crammed into pens and fed soy, poultry litter, and hydrolyzed chicken feathers. As a result, farmed salmon is lower in vitamin D and higher in contaminants, including carcinogens, PCBs, brominated flame retardants, and pesticides such as dioxin and DDT. According to Carpenter, the most contaminated fish come from Northern Europe, which can be found on American menus. "You could eat one of these salmon dinners every 5 months without increasing your risk of cancer," says Carpenter, whose 2004 fish contamination study got broad media attention. "It's that bad." Preliminary science has also linked DDT to diabetes and obesity, but some nutritionists believe the benefits of omega-3s outweigh the risks. There is also concern about the high level of antibiotics and pesticides used to treat these fish. When you eat farmed salmon, you get dosed with the same drugs and chemicals.

The solution: Switch to wild-caught Alaska salmon. If the package says fresh Atlantic, it's farmed. There are no commercial fisheries left for wild Atlantic salmon.

Budget tip: Canned salmon, almost exclusively from wild catch, can be found for as little as $3 a can.

6. Milk Produced with Artificial Hormones

Rick North, project director of the Campaign for Safe Food at the Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility and former CEO of the Oregon division of the American Cancer Society, gives us the scoop:

The problem: Milk producers treat their dairy cattle with recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH or rBST, as it is also known) to boost milk production. But rBGH also increases udder infections and even pus in the milk. It also leads to higher levels of a hormone called insulin-like growth factor in milk. In people, high levels of IGF-1 may contribute to breast, prostate, and colon cancers. "When the government approved rBGH, it was thought that IGF-1 from milk would be broken down in the human digestive tract," says North. As it turns out, the casein in milk protects most of it, according to several independent studies. "There's not 100% proof that this is increasing cancer in humans," admits North. "However, it's banned in most industrialized countries."

The solution: Check labels for rBGH-free, rBST-free, produced without artificial hormones, or organic milk. These phrases indicate rBGH-free products.

Budget tip: Try Wal-Mart's Great Value label, which does not use rBGH.

7. Conventional Apples

Mark Kastel, former executive for agribusiness and codirector of the Cornucopia Institute, a farm-policy research group that supports organic foods, gives us the scoop:

The problem:
If fall fruits held a "most doused in pesticides contest," apples would win. Why? They are individually grafted (descended from a single tree) so that each variety maintains its distinctive flavor. As such, apples don't develop resistance to pests and are sprayed frequently. The industry maintains that these residues are not harmful. But Kastel counters that it's just common sense to minimize exposure by avoiding the most doused produce, like apples. "Farm workers have higher rates of many cancers," he says. And increasing numbers of studies are starting to link a higher body burden of pesticides (from all sources) with Parkinson's disease.

The solution:
Buy organic apples.

Budget tip:
If you can't afford organic, be sure to wash and peel them. But Kastel personally refuses to compromise. "I would rather see the trade-off being that I don't buy that expensive electronic gadget," he says. "Just a few of these decisions will accommodate an organic diet for a family."

Get more tips on how to go organic without breaking the bank

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

How to Use Your Core in Freestyle

Q: I decided it was finally time for me to attempt to integrate more of my core muscles into freestyle rather than simply trying to pull my way through practice. When I was attempting to integrate my core more, I was essentially using my hand as a lever against which to snap my torso, thereby bringing the pulling arm back and extending the other arm, is this the right idea or is there something else I should be going for?

A: Since the water doesn't offer very good traction, it's a bit difficult to use your grip on it—the hand's not a very large gripping surface either—to "snap" something as "massive" (i.e. a significant piece of body mass) as your torso.

It's really not like what occurs when you use your planted feet on solid ground as a base for snapping your torso. Full disclosure: I used this analogy when writing the original TI book 13 years ago. I have since come to see it as a weak analogy because of the significant differences between solid ground and water.

So what emphasis that will work reasonably well in water can you replace that one with? I have found that the following combination works well:

1) Have an intention to use your hands to "hold your place" in the water, rather than to push it back. Your hand will still move back; indeed to an extent it will still push water back. But that intention will cause you to engage core muscle more and arm muscle less.

2) Using the slight leverage offered by that gripping hand/arm, drive the "high side" of your body down. This taps the free energy available from gravity to assist in your intention. It also results in your swimming with your body, rather than using your arms to drag it through the water.

In freestyle, as your left hand is "patiently" establishing a grip, the right hip will be higher than the left. Rather than exert left-arm muscles to push water back, use them to stabilize your hold on the water as you drive the right hip down. Indeed think of using your right hip to drive your right hand past the gripping left. This should result in a sensation of sending energy forward rather than back.

Don't expect to get it on the first try. I've been working at this for seven years, and millions of strokes, and, though it felt promising from the very beginning, it still feels like a work in progress because I've had to undo 30-plus years of swimming with an intention to push water back. But unquestionably I'm using energy more efficiently now than previously.

Terry Laughlin is head coach of Total Immersion. This article comes from the January, 2008 issue of the Total Immersion Online Magazine. Read similar articles atwww.totalimmersion.net.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

4 Resistance Band Workouts to Sculpt Your Body

Always good to have a band and exercises at home to use if you can't make it to the gym or are traveling...

Few workout tools beat the efficiency of the multitasking resistance band, which costs under 20 bucks and takes up less space in your bag than an iPod. "Plus, it works your muscles at a full range of motion, targeting parts that are often missed by free weights," says Hannah Davis, a personal trainer at Club H Fitness in New York City (bodybyhannah.com), who created the routine below.

Do this workout as a circuit: Complete 10 to 12 reps of each move without resting between the exercises. Rest for 30 seconds, then return to start and repeat. Do three sets per session up to five days a week.


For this workout, Davis recommends using a set of resistance bands like the Thera-Band Latex-Free 3-Pack, which comes with three bands in varying levels of resistance. $11 and up, protherapysupplies.com


Hold one end of the band in your right hand, the other under your right foot. Cross your left leg behind you and drop into a curtsy lunge. Lift your right elbow diagonally, fist in front of your shoulder (a). Without moving your upper arm, raise your fist (b). Pause, then slowly lower to start. That's one rep. Do 10 to 12.


Sit on the floor with your legs straight and loop the resistance band securely around your feet, holding an end in each hand, arms extended in front of you (a). Keep your back straight and shoulders square. Tuck your elbows close to your sides as you pull the band to each side of your torso, squeezing your shoulder blades together (b). Pause, then slowly return to start. That's one rep. Do 10 to 12.


Start in a pushup position, with your legs extended straight behind you and your hands shoulder-width apart. Position the band across your shoulder blades with tight resistance, each end tucked under a hand (a). Lower your body until your chest nearly touches the floor (b), then push back to start. That's one rep. Do 10 to 12.


Lie faceup, bend your hips and knees 90 degrees, and loop the band around your feet, crossing the band to create an X. Hold an end in each hand just above your shoulders or hips (a). From this position, brace your core and slowly extend your legs into the air straight in front of you (b). Pause, then return to start. That's one rep. Do 10 to 12.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

7 Foods That Sabotage Your Diet

I hate the word diet. I would re-title this "7 Things That Derail Healthy Eating". For me, this article was interesting because it made me realize things that were causing me problems.

Posted on Oct 12th 2010 1:00PM by That's Fit Editors
Courtesy of Prevention

We've followed all of the weight-loss rules, trading our lunchtime burger and fries for a salad, cutting back on snack foods and sweets, choosing fat-free over full-fat whenever possible. So if we're doing everything right, why is the needle on the scale stuck -- or worse, moving in the wrong direction?

Even when we have the best of intentions, something as simple as a healthy but oversize snack can make us gain weight rather than lose. But finding small ways to save just 100 calories a day can take off 10 pounds in a year. With help from a few nutrition experts, we've put together this list of red-flag foods and some simple strategies to keep them from undermining your weight loss efforts.


Are 100-calorie snack packs a part of your stay-slim repertoire? As it turns out, these pre-portioned treats may do more harm than good. When researchers from the Netherlands gave TV-watching students either two large bags of potato chips or several portion-controlled ones, those with the smaller bags ate twice as many chips. If you find yourself reaching for a second 100-calorie bag, leave the empty pack in plain sight: Previous research has shown that people consume less food when they can see what they've already eaten.
[That is me! I will want a second bag, then feel the need to finish it. Plus, these snack packs are a waste of packaging and end up in the landfill. - L]


Fat-free and sugar-free don't necessarily mean low calorie. For example, one brand of reduced-fat chocolate chip cookie supplies 47 calories -- just 6 less than a regular cookie. Plus, studies show that people who are overweight take in twice as many calories when they eat low-fat snacks rather than the regular versions. If you have a cookie craving, advises Katherine Brooking, RD, a New York City-based dietitian, go for the real thing -- but limit yourself to about 150 calories' worth.


A couple cups of cappuccino (each with two teaspoons of sugar) and a couple of cups of tea (each with two teaspoons of honey) add up to 150 calories in sweetener alone. Brooking recommends making do with less sweetener or switching to a zero-calorie alternative, like Splenda. Watch out for alcoholic beverages, too. Replace wine or beer with flavored club soda or sparkling water, and you can save big on calories.
[Bleh on Splenda. Why would you do that to yourself? Start by ordering a mocha with only 1 pump of chocolate, then add some cinnamon on top. - L]


Eating every few hours is a good way to keep your metabolism humming, but it's easy to consume too many calories if you aren't careful. Snacks are the main culprits, particularly if they are too big and too frequent, explains Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, author of The Flexitarian Diet. Limit yourself to just two snacks a day, at about 150 calories each. And be wary of relying on energy bars as snacks; some deliver as many as 400 calories each. As a rule of thumb, a bar under 200 calories is a snack, Blatner says; anything above that counts as a meal.
[This is my main problem. I know snacking is good, but then I'll snack and snack and pretty soon it adds up to a lot of calories! So what helps me is to plan my snacks in advance, and make them balanced in protein/carbs/fat. More of a mini-meal. And gawd knows I love my bars - LUNA Bars, LUNA Protein, and Think Thin! But those I'm trying to get away from - condensed calories! - L]


Stick with lean proteins because higher-fat versions can have twice as many calories. Even if you measure the proper serving size, just three ounces of sirloin supplies 225 calories, nearly half of which come from fat.

By comparison, the same amount of skinless turkey contains 144 calories, only 10 of which come from fat. And turkey sausage has 75 percent less saturated fat than pork sausage. Other lean protein choices include fish and beans.


Many of us reach for boastful labels like "reduced fat!" and "fat free!" but it turns out that manufacturers often replace the fat in these products with sugar, which means that your dressing still may be loaded with calories. Ironically, a salad without fat is not living up to its potential. You need a little fat to absorb vitamins A, D, E, and K and other nutrients, so use smaller amounts of oil-based salad dressings instead. You'll get good-for-you fats rather than the saturated fat found in some creamy dressings. Look for ingredients like olive oil, vinegar, and herbs.


Yes, they're lower in fat. They're also high in calories but low in nutrients, with little fiber to fill you up. A better snack choice: popcorn. You'll get the salt and crunch of the chips in this whole grain, plus a healthy dose of fiber, all for about 65 percent fewer calories per cup. Look for oil-free microwave popcorn or brands that are airpopped or popped in healthful oils such as olive or canola. Adults who munch on popcorn consume up to two and half times more whole grains than those who don't, according to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.
[Popcorn is a great idea! - L]

For more healthy living tips, check out the "List-Maker's Get Healthy Guide" -- it's packed with 96 lists that are fun, informative and get to the heart of the quickest, easiest ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Enter to win a copy here.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

How to Cope With the 5 Stages of Injury Grief

I'm dealing with a chronic injury right now that may require surgery, so I've been crabby, sad, depressed, OK, frustrated - all of those emotions. I was just looking for the "Stages of Injury Grief" and found a couple that are interesting. For the record, I am in stage 4 and 5 - combined.

How to Cope With the 5 Stages of Injury Grief

By Mackenzie Lobby
Runner’s World

For many of us, running is like a best friend. We count on it to quiet our anxieties, focus our minds, and make us happier, healthier, and saner. So what happens when injury strikes and takes away our trusted ally? We curse, we pout, we may even cry and scream. Sound excessive or irrational?

It’s not—in fact, experts say experiencing these emotions is normal and healthy. “The sense of loss an athlete feels when injured can be very similar to the other types of mourning or grief that occur in our lives,” says Diane Wiese-Bjornstal, Ph.D., associate professor of kinesiology at the University of Minnesota and a leading researcher of injury psychology. “It’s a huge sense of loss that you feel.”

In order to deal with this pain and frustration—and move on to recovery—Wiese-Bjornstal recommends sidelined runners adopt a specific grieving strategy. It may sound familiar—it’s what you’d go through if you lost a job or a pet. And if you’ve been injured before, you’ve probably stumbled through it unknowingly. The key is taking a purposeful approach. If you can recognize each stage of mourning, and work actively to move through each one, you’ll heal faster. And that means you’ll be back on your feet sooner.

The Stage: DENIAL

Ignorance Is Bliss

After running a 2:35 marathon in 2006, Michelle (nee Lilienthal) Frey was recruited by Team USA Minnesota and offered a sponsorship contract. She spent the next two years preparing for the 2008 Marathon Trials, where she hoped to make the Olympic team. A year before the race, the bottom of her leftfoot began to hurt. “But I kept running on it,” she says. Runners often play this game of Russian roulette—limping through workouts, disregarding red flags. “Runners in denial know they’re injured but won’t admit it,” Wiese-Bjornstal says.

Getting stuck here is dangerous. “By denying you’re injured, you can exacerbate the injury,” says Jim Taylor, Ph.D., a sports psychologyconsultant and sub-three-hour marathoner in San Francisco. “What was once a minor tweak could turn into a major injury.” Which is what happened to Frey—she was crippled by plantar fasciitis for one year. Listen to your body. At the first sign of a potential injury, be smart and back off . A few days on the couch is better than months of physical therapy.

The Stage: ANGER

It’s Not Fair!

Not being able to run a goal race as fast as you had hoped—or at all—can be disappointing, even devastating. “I was like, Why is this happening to me before the biggest race of my life?” Frey says. It’s this sense of injustice that triggers anger. “You feel betrayed by your body, your training, the universe,” Taylor says.

A positive outlook—as hard as that may be to summon—may be your greatest weapon. Research reports that athletes who use positive self-talk and set goals for their rehab experience “exceptional recovery.” So be angry for a few days, then look forward. Set rehab goals so you can celebrate small successes. If your therapy program includes planks, aim to hold the position for 15, then 30, then 60 seconds. When you reach each goal, recognize the achievement.


Just Let Me Exercise

When injured athletes finally confront their injury, they sometimes become too gung-ho. “You think, I’ll do more rehab, more often, more reps, more weights, and then I’ll get back to running sooner,” Wiese-Bjornstal says. “But more isn’t always better.” In Frey’s case, she began to scramble to fix the problem, seeing an extensive circuit of doctors to get second, third, and fourth opinions. “That, in itself, was draining,” she says. “I panicked.”

Taking action to fix your problem is good, but don’t go overboard. “You can’t microwave healing,” Taylor says. “You have to slow bake it.” Obey your rehab prescription the same way you would a training program. (You wouldn’t do three long runs in one week, would you?) “If rehab goes well, you can come back a better athlete,” Taylor says. “Don’t jeopardize that ultimate goal.”


What’s The Point?

Wiese-Bjornstal’s research shows that athletes with severe injuries that require long amounts of downtime are likely to linger in this stage. The enthusiasm you initially had for your rehab routine fades. You miss the endorphin fix running provided, and you feel cut off from the running and racing community.

Fill your newfound downtime with other activities that help fill the void of running. Schedule time consuming sports you enjoy but can’t fit in when you’re training—as long as they don’t exacerbate your injury—golf, say, or leisurely bike tours. Stay connected to the running community: Cycle alongside friends on their long runs; invite your running buddies to a yogaclass you’ve started taking; volunteer at a race.


It’s Working!

“This is when you are properly sticking with your rehab plan and you’re seeing progress,” Taylor says. You’ve accepted the injury, and also that you’ll eventually be back on your feet. Coming to this mindset is critical to recovery. Research shows a direct relationship between stress and injury. Anxiety can cause muscle tension and suppress immune function, which can delay how quickly you get better. In this stage, you have a peaceful mindset that encourages healing.

After faltering her way through these stages, Frey says she’s confident that if confronted with an injury again, she’d reach acceptance—and recovery—sooner. It was a hard lesson to learn: She was the 10th fastest woman going into the 2008 Trials, but ultimately placed 85th. Her sights are now set on the 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials. By listening to her body, and not lingering in denial, she’s hoping to avoid the grief of injury.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Quote for the Day

When you don't think you can do something, sometimes things just fall together really well on race day and you totally surprise yourself. So it's worth it to put yourself out there and take some chances.

Lisa Koll, U.S. distance runner and four time NCAA Division One Champion

Sunday, November 7, 2010

I heart Chrissie Wellington

She is such a classy woman! She seems so well spoken, stands up for herself and others, makes no excuses, gives credit where it is due, and is a tremendous athlete! All of this she proved in how she handled not starting Ironman Hawaii. I usually don't get so excited about professional athletes. Well, maybe I do in their performance, but certainly not their personality.

I just read an interview with her on firstoffthebike.com. Here are some highlights:

Did that annoy you though? The speculation that – I mean, obviously it’s such a small industry and people are going to talk. The fact that people aren’t taking you at face value?

However, there were a couple of articles that were actually published by journalists that were libelist and we had to take legal action to have those removed and apologies issued. And those two are slightly different. It’s all very well for the public to speculate, but I think when it’s done more professionally in print media, then action needs to be taken. In terms of does it bother me, what frustrates me is that it undermines my and other athletes’ credibility. The thing that’s most important to me is to be credible. To have credible victories and win in a manner that people can identify with and that can inspire and encourage people. So people start questioning me as an athlete and my motives, and yes, my reasons for withdrawing from the race. And I feel that it undermines my credibility. And therefore, I can’t be the role model that I want to be.

And so what were your thoughts on the race? Obviously, you had a well, you were replaced as one of a better term, as the World Title Holder. And Mirinda Carfrae took over your title after a great day out. Obviously, she would’ve been one of your biggest threats. How did you see the race?
...But Rinny’s (Carfrae) an amazing athlete. She’s phenomenal and she has shown this year that she can produce the goods across the board, not just at Ironman, but in all other distances. And that’s an amazing talent and one that I don’t have, and which I really admire in her. She’s a worthy champion and I take nothing away from her.

So looking over your body of work at the moment in your career, how do you compare it to what you were doing previous to triathlon? I mean, do you think can compare it in terms of how you motivate others and the altruistic aspect of what you did prior to becoming a professional triathlete?
I think being a professional triathlete has given me more of a platform to do the things that I was already passionate about, and that’s something that, I think now that I’m not the current world champion, I might have more time to do. I’m already putting wheels in motion in terms of establishing my own foundation and things like that, so that I can maximise the amazing opportunity that I’ve been given. I think I’ve, through the things I’ve done before, it’s enabled me to kind of grow stronger as an athlete, and throughout my life I’ve been kind of driven and obsessed and determined. I’ve just channelled it into different things. You know, academia and my work, and now triathlon.

Just on that, when you were the reigning World Title Holder, you had a lot to say about the WTC’s restructuring a lot of their rules and their professional regulations. Did you feel exposed when you were making those comments because your counterpart in the male ranks wasn’t saying a heck of a lot. Did that make you feel exposed at all?
We’re all different as athletes in how we approach our career, and I felt, as World Champion, and ...a person, an athlete... one of the top athletes, and hence have a personal belief that I have a responsibility to articulate not only my views but also the views of those that perhaps don’t have a voice, being the, for want of a better word, lower-tier pro’s and the age-groupers.

And if I feel strongly against or for something that the governing body, the WTC, other race organisers are doing is right or wrong, then I’ll speak out. Did I feel exposed? I hope I verbalised my opinions in a way that didn’t necessarily antagonise those that I was commenting on. I just wanted to raise the questions that I felt needed to be asked. And I feel that the pressure we brought to bear, in this case, on the WTC, not just me but other athletes, that we brought to bear actually helped in affecting some positive change... I will continue to voice my opinion, even though I’m not World Champion, because I think it needs to be done. And I think that the powers that be need to be held accountable by those whose policy it’s going to impact the most, and that’s the athletes.

Those are just some of my favorite parts. You can read the whole interview/article here.

Also, you can check out her blog.

Friday, November 5, 2010

10 FAQs on Sports Nutrition

By Nancy Clark, MS RD CSSD
For Active.com

Time and again, athletes ask questions about sugar, protein, supplements, caffeine, carbs, recovery and body fat. To address these issues, an international group of sports nutritionists (Professionals in Nutrition & Exercise Science (PINES); www.sportsoracle.com) gathered in Seattle in May. Experts in their fields discussed the latest research and answered commonly asked questions. Perhaps the answers will help you resolve confusing nutrition issues.

Q. Is pre-exercise sugar harmful to performance?
A. More than 100 studies indicate consuming sugar within the hour pre-exercise does not hurt performance. The vast majority of athletes can enjoy pre-exercise sweets for a quick fix. But some athletes are, indeed, "sugar sensitive" and experience rebound hypoglycemia. They quickly learn:
1) to avoid sugar 15 to 45 minutes pre-exercise and instead consume it right before they exercise (the body will not have time to release the insulin that contributes to the "crash") or
2) choose pre-exercise foods that do not produce a "sugar high" such as oatmeal or whole grain toast with a little peanut butter.

Q. How can I gain muscle and lose fat?
A. It's difficult for the body to build muscle and lose fat at the same time. Building muscle requires calories. If you are restricting calories to lose undesired body fat, your body does not have the fuel it needs to create new muscle tissue. Instead, the body breaks down muscle to use for fuel.

A dieting athlete can minimize muscle loss with:
1) a small calorie deficit that contributes to slow fat loss.
2) an adequate protein intake (i.e., some protein at each meal).
3) frequently eaten meals that offer a constant supply of protein and fuel.
4) strength training to help protect against muscle loss.

Q. What should I eat to recover after exercise?
A. After a moderate workout, you need not worry about rapidly refueling because your muscles are not depleted. But if you have done exhaustive exercise, you should plan to replace carbs, water and sodium as soon as tolerable--particularly if you will be exercising again within six hours. Adding a little protein to the recovery meal or snack helps repair damaged muscle, reduce soreness, and also enhance glycogen replacement in athletes who neglect to eat enough carbs:
-For a 150-pound athlete, the recommended carb dose for rapid recovery is ~300-calories every two hours for four to six hours.
-A wise protein target is about 15 to 30 grams protein for a 150-lb athlete, taken right after (and/or during) exercise. (More precisely: 0.5 g carb/lb and 0.1-0.2 g protein/lb)
Simple suggestions include 16 ounces of chocolate milk; a handful of pretzels and a yogurt; a meal such as cereal with milk, Carnation Instant Breakfast or a shake made with milk, powdered milk and a big banana or other fruit.

Timing may be more important than the actual amount of food consumed. Your best bet is to time your meals to your training, so you eat a meal after a hard workout.

Q. What's best to drink during and after exercise? How much?
A. Beverages that include a little sodium (i.e., sports drinks) enhance fluid retention. Alternatively, pre-exercise, you can consume sodium-containing foods (salted oatmeal, pretzels, broth). How much you need to drink depends on how much sweat you lose. Weigh yourself pre- and post exercise; dropping one pound equates to losing 16 ounces of sweat that needs to be replaced. More simply, you can monitor your urine and drink enough to urinate a pale-colored urine frequently throughout the day. Not urinating for several hours post-exercise is bad: dehydration!

Q. What should I take to boost my immune system?
A. Moderate exercise actually boosts your immune system; moderate exercisers have no need to take immune-boosting supplements. Hard, exhaustive exercise, in comparison, contributes to inflammation, oxidative stress, and immune dysfunction. But if you are healthy, well fed, and well rested, your immune system can handle the stress. Supplements will not boost your immune function above normal levels.

If you undereat and fail to consume adequate protein or carbs after exercise (as happens with dieters or athletes who are "too busy" to eat), immune response drops. The best supplement to take to counter this response is adequate food--carb-protein combinations, like chocolate milk or a meal.

Quercetin (a bioactive compound found in red apples) is touted to boost the immune system. However, research suggests quercetin works best in "cocktails," the way it naturally come in foods. That is, a quercetin supplement, by itself, is less effective than when quercetin is combined with other bioactive compounds, such as fish oil and green tea extract.

Q. Should I train on a high fat diet to enhance fat-burning?
A. By burning more fat, athletes are able to burn fewer carbs and thereby spare their limited glycogen stores. Supposedly, this should enhance endurance, given that glycogen depletion is associated with fatigue. Yet, the practice has yet to translate into improved performance. The best way to enhance endurance is to consume carbs during extended exercise.

Q. Should I train with low glycogen stores, and then compete when carbo-loaded?
A. While the "train low, compete high" method is an interesting concept, research has yet to prove it will enhance performance. Theoretically, training "low" stimulates physiological adaptations that spare muscle glycogen and allow greater endurance. The problems are:
1) athletes are unable to train at a high intensity when their muscles are glycogen depleted.
2) training with glycogen-depleted muscles increases the risk of injury.

Bottom line: Eat carbs daily for well-fueled muscles that allow you to train hard.

Q. What dose of caffeine is best to enhance performance?
A. Although responses to caffeine vary greatly from person to person, a suggested dose equates to a 12-oz. mug of coffee one hour pre-exercise. (More precisely, consume 1.5 mg caffeine per pound of body weight (3 mg/kg)--or about 225 mg for a 150-lb athlete. Higher doses of caffeine offer no performance advantages and can create the disadvantage of sleep problems that end up hurting performance. Enough is enough; more caffeine is not better!

Q. Do I need to worry about contamination in commercial sports supplements like protein powders?
A. Yes! A survey of 634 nutrition supplements indicates about 15 percent included a banned substance, even though the supplement came from a factory that did not even manufacture banned substances (i.e., steroids, ephedrine). The contaminants make the products "work" (read that, "sell better"). The products most likely to be contaminated with illegal compounds include bodybuilding supplements and weight loss products. Buyer beware!

Q. Where can I find a sports dietitian to help me eat to win?
A. For a board certified specialist in sports dietetics (CSSD) in the US, use the referral network at www.SCANdpg.org. With a personalized eating program that optimizes your fueling practices, you'll gain a winning edge!

Nancy Clark, MS RD CSSD (Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics) counsels casual and competitive athletes in her private practice at Healthworks, the premier fitness center in Chestnut Hill MA (617-383-6100). Her Sports Nutrition Guidebook, new Food Guide for Marathoners, and Cyclist’s Food Guide are available at www.nancyclarkrd.com. Also see www.sportsnutritionworkshop.com for information about her online workshop.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Interesting Reasons for Triathletes to Strength Train

From TrainingPeaks.com blog

Because triathlon is primarily an aerobic sport, there is no need for a triathlete to build rippling muscles capable of producing enormous amounts of force. Since muscle takes significant amounts of energy to cool and carry, there is without doubt a point of diminishing returns as an aerobic athlete builds muscle. I personally began the sport of triathlon from the sport of bodybuilding, and some of my most painful memories of endurance competition come from the soreness, dehydration, overheating and overall discomfort associated with carrying 25 pounds of extra muscle.

But muscle mass is not necessarily synonymous with strength and power. For example, top Tour de France cyclists appear to have toothpicks for legs compared to powerlifters and bodybuilders, yet they are capable of producing nearly superhuman wattage on a bicycle. Champion swimmer Michael Phelps is one of the most powerful athletes in the sport of swimming, but does not appear to have significant amounts of muscle mass compared to other top male athletes in the sport. So how is it that a muscle can stay at a manageable, carry-able size for endurance sports, and yet still be capable of producing strength and power?

The answer lies in the relationship between the nerves, the muscle and something called the motor unit. A motor unit is defined as a nerve and all the muscle fibers stimulated by that nerve. Muscle fibers are grouped together as motor units. If the signal from a nerve is too weak to stimulate the motor unit, then none of the muscle fibers in that motor unit will contract. But if signal is strong enough, then all of the muscle fibers in the motor unit will contract. This is called the “all-or-none” principle.

It doesn’t take much of a signal to recruit slow-twitch, or endurance muscle fibers in a motor unit. It takes a stronger signal to recruit fast-twitch, or explosive muscle fibers. However, the goal of weight training is not to increase the signal to the fibers, but rather to train the body to be able to recruit multiple motor units, whether those motor units are comprised of slow-twitch or fast-twitch muscle fibers. Better athletes have the capability to recruit multiple motor units, which means more fibers are firing, which increases force production.

So, you can have a relatively small number of motor units, but with proper training, can gain the ability to recruit a significant number of those motor units simultaneously. If this is the case, you don’t need much muscle, but just the ability to be able to wholly recruit the muscles that you do have.

Of course, recruitment of multiple motor units is not the only benefit of weight training. Over 20 years of research have successfully demonstrated lower injury rates for the shoulders, knees, hamstrings, low back and ankles in athletes including swimmers, cyclists and runners when weight training was used to strength the soft tissue surrounding and supporting the joints. In some cases, injury prevention is due to correction of a muscular imbalance through the use of targeted weight training, and in other cases, injury prevention is due to the increased ability of a joint to absorb impact.

In addition, weight training can be used to maintain fitness when impact-based exercise is not an option due to a pre-existing injury. For example, triathlete with a foot injury that inhibits running and cycling may still be able to perform single or double-legged variations of the squat or lunge to maintain leg strength, and can also perform non-foot bearing exercises such as the fire hydrant or leg curl. These same exercises and workouts can also be used when it is not logistically feasible to engage in triathlon training. For example, a traveling triathlete may be able to run, but may have to substitute a swim workout for a series of exercises with cables and elastic bands.

Finally, the hormonal response to resistance training is significantly different than the response to endurance exercise. From the perspective of a triathlete, an increase in anabolic hormones such as testosterone may be beneficial for decreasing body fat or improving mood. Studies have shown that endurance trained men tend to have lower levels of testosterone, compared to both sedentary and resistance trained men. A 2003 study entitled “Effect of Training Status and Exercise Mode on Endogenous Steroid Hormones in Males” discovered that compared to an endurance training group and sedentary group, a resistance training group had higher levels of luteinizing hormone, DHEAS, cortisol, total and free testosterone and hematocrit (plasma volume). The take-away message for endurance athletes is that a focus on pure aerobic training with no resistance training may result in a less-than-ideal hormonal response to exercise, which may affect reproductive function, libido, and physical appearance.

Now that you understand that:

  • the goal of weight training is not necessarily to build muscle, but rather to recruit muscle
  • a proven benefit of weight training is injury prevention
  • weight training offers an effective mode of cross-training
  • the hormonal response differs between weight training and endurance training