Optimizing Vegetable Selection

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All food is not created equal! Appearance matters when it comes to selecting the most nutritious foods at the super market. Use the following tips to select and prepare your veggies.

Artichoke:

  • The Globe or French artichoke is the most common variety as well as one of the most nutritious.

  • Artichokes are one of the highest antioxidant valued vegetables in the supermarket. You would have to eat 18 servings of corn or 30 servings of carrots to get the same benefits.

  • Due to their high respiration rate, it is important to buy the freshest artichokes you can find as both their flavor and health benefits decline with each passing day.

  • If you must store them, place them in the crisper drawer as soon as you get home and eat them within 1 or 2 days.

  • It’s not often that the inside of a vegetable is as nutritious as the outside but recent research has shown hat the artichoke heart is as nutritious as the leaves.

  • Steaming artichokes retains more nutrients than all other cooking methods.

  • Canned or jarred artichoke hearts are nutritious as well. 

Asparagus:

  • When selecting asparagus, choose the bunch with the straightest spears. When asparagus is stored in a dark warehouse for a week or more, the spears length and bend upward in search of light giving them a contorted appearance.  Additionally, if tips are starting to separate, have a yellowish cast, or mushy consistency these asparagus have been stored far too long. Once you select healthy looking spears, flip the bunch over; the cut end of the stalk should be smooth and moist.

  • Green asparagus has 7x more antioxidant than the colorless white variety.

  • Asparagus has a high respiration rate, similar to broccoli or artichokes. It loses much of its flavor and nutritional value within a day or two of harvest.

  • Cooked asparagus is more nutritious for you than raw. If you steam asparagus it will increase the antioxidant value by 30%.

  • For storing asparagus for more than a day, it is best to place the bunch in a microperforated bag and keep them in the crisper drawer.

Beets:

  • Beets are more nutritious after you steam, microwave or roast them.

  • If you cook them with the skin on and remove after they will retain more nutrients. The skin acts to keep water-soluble nutrients inside the beets.

  • Beet greens are more nutritious than the beets themselves, add them to salad or in a green smoothie.

Broccoli:

To increase nutrient absorption use Extra Virgin Olive Oil as part of your cooking of vegetables or as a dressing for salads will increase the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.

  • Whole heads of broccoli are more nutritious than the pretrimmed florets. Sectioning broccoli into florets doubles its respiration rate, using up much of its antioxidant reserve in response to the “injury” of being cut into pieces. This leaves little for you, so buy whole head and trim them yourself before cooking.

  • Eating broccoli raw will give you 20x more of the compound called sulforaphane than cooked broccoli. Sulforaphane has been shown to reduce inflammation, slow again and fight cancer.

  • Frozen broccoli is convenient but is less nutritious.

  • Cooking broccoli in boiling water will cause half the nutrients to leach out into the water. Microwaving isn’t a good idea either as you can destroy have the nutrients in two minutes.

  • The best cooking method to retain the most nutrients for broccoli is to steam it for about 4 minutes. Or sauté them in extra virgin olive oil, this way they don’t lose any water-soluble nutrients because they are in contact with oil, not water.

  • If you keep broccoli for more than a day, place it is a resealable plastic bag, prick 10-20 small holes and then store in the crisper drawer for the best retention of nutrients and flavor.  

Brussels Sprouts:

  • When selecting Brussels Sprouts, look for bright green, tight heads. Browning shows their age and reduced nutrient value.

  • Brussels Sprouts respire rapidly so treat them as you would Broccoli. Purchase them as needed. Use them when you get them or store in the refrigerator for the next day.

  • Frozen Brussels Sprouts have been shown to only contain 20% of the beneficial compounds of fresh Brussels Sprouts.

  • The best cooking method for the preservation of nutrients is to steam them for 6-8 minutes. Brussels Sprouts become less sweet and more bitter the longer they cook. 

Cabbage:

  • Cabbage is lower in antioxidant than other crucifers, however still nutritious. The deeper the color the more nutritious.

  • Cabbage does not respire quickly and as such can be stored in the refrigerator for a week or two without losing many of its nutrients.

  • The longer the storage, the more compromise comes in flavor. In only a few days of refrigeration, 30% of its sugar will be gone along with the freshest flavor.

  • Prepare cabbage by cutting it and steaming it briefly to reduce odor and increase nutrient yield.   

Carrots:

  • Deeper colored carrots are more nutritious than fairer varieties. Purple carrots have more antioxidant activity and potentially more health promoting benefits than the beta-carotene in orange carrots.

  • For the freshest, most nutritious and flavorful carrots, select those with their green tops still attached. Before refrigerating, cut the tops off to preserve the moisture in the carrot. Be weary, of purchasing carrots without the top as they are often several months old which will give them less flavor and nutritional content overall.

  • Baby carrots, while convenient, are just larger misshapen carrots that have their outer-skin whittled away. Like potatoes or Apples, the skin or outermost part of the vegetable or fruit is the most nutritious because it has to pump up the phytonutrient and antioxidant content in that regions to defend against UV rays, mold, insects, fungus and disease. When the outer most part of a carrot is whittled away, 1/3 of its phytonutrients go along with it.

  • Cooking carrots whole, then chopping them before plating will allow the carrots to hold onto more nutrients than if you chopped them beforehand.

Cauliflower:

  • Colorful varieties are higher in antioxidants than less colorful varieties. Purple cauliflower has been shown to have 2.5x more antioxidants, and Romanesca cauliflower has as much as 4x glucosinolates — the beneficial sulfur-containing compound that gives cruciferous vegetables their bitter taste and high nutrient density — than the standard white variety. However, white cauliflower has more cancer fighting compounds than either green or purple.

  • Frozen cauliflower, like most frozen vegetables has fewer nutrients than fresh varieties. The processing and freezing of cauliflower can destroy up to 40% of their phytonutrients.

  • Prepare cauliflower as you would broccoli, by steaming for 4 minutes or sautéing with a quality extra virgin olive oil.

Chives:

  • Garlic chives have more antioxidants than the most potent of onions

Corn:

  • Go for organic corn as it will have 50% more phytonutrients than conventionally raised corn.

  • Choose colorful varieties if possible; look for deep yellow, red, blue, black or purple as they are higher in phytonutrients than pale yellow or white corn. The same goes when searching for cornmeal.

  • Frozen corn has the same nutritional content as fresh yellow corn. It is better to steam frozen corn without thawing to retain more nutritional value.

  • Steam, grill or microwave corn but don’t boil it as nutrients will be lost in the water. Corn cooked in the husk will retain the most nutrients overall.

  • If you have no time for prep, canned corn can be as nutritious as fresh corn. The canning process reduces the vitamin C content, however it does not alter the phytonutrients with some even becoming more potent. Studies show that during the process of canning, the heat applied transforms certain phytonutrients into more active forms, making them easier to absorb. This may explain why canned corn has higher carotenoid content than fresh corn.

Garlic:

  • There has been no concerted effort to improve garlic for conventional farming and selling practices, therefore it contains most of its wild nutrients and anything you come across at the store is a great find. Look for garlic with plump, firm cloves with a tight outer wrapper.

  • Optimizing the nutrients of garlic is dependent on how you prepare it. To get the full benefit of garlic it is best to chop, crush or use a garlic press, then let the garlic rest for 5-10 minutes before use. Different enzymatic reactions occur when garlic is prepared this way allowing for the powerful compound called allicin to have it’s full effect.

  • Allicin has been found to have health promoting effects on atherosclerosis, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Kale:

  • Kale is one of the few vegetables that exceed the nutritional values of some wild greens.

  • Red-leaved varieties have a higher antioxidant value than green-leaves.

  • For those who are prone to kidneys or gallstones, the variety known as “Dino Kale” or Lacinato Kale are lower in oxalates. 

Lettuce:

  • The most nutritious lettuce greens aren’t green, but red, purple, or reddish brown and then dark green — the deeper the hue the higher the phytonutrient content. 

  • The arrangement of leaves on a lettuce plant plays a role in the phytonutrient content. Tightly wrapped plants like iceberg lettuce have less phytonutrient content than plants with loose or open leaves like romaine or red lettuce. If given a chose seek out the looseleaf varieties

  • As soon as you get home, separate the individual leaves, rinse and then soak them for about 10 minutes in very cold water. In addition to increasing the internal moisture of the greens which allows them to remain crisp longer, the cold water will reduce their temperature, slowing the aging process. Next, it is important to dry them, with a dry paper towel or salad spinner, as any moisture left on the surface will hasten their decay. Store in a plastic bag with 10-20 tiny prick holes, then place in the crisper drawer.

  • If you tear your greens into bite-sized pieces it will increase the antioxidant content, however if you do this make sure to eat it within a day or two.

  • Whole heads of greens are always fresher than bagged greens, this goes for all varieties. The longer the leaves stay in a bag the greater the reduction in antioxidants. If you do buy greens in a bag, look for mixtures that contain both red and dark green varieties. Be sure to check the “use-by” date and reject anything that has yellow, brown or withered leaves.

Onions:

  • The more strongly flavored the onion, the better for your health.

  • Red and Yellow onions pack more nutrients than White onions

  • Small onions have more nutrients per pound than their larger siblings 

Potatoes:

  • The most colorful potatoes with the darkest skin and flesh — blue, purple, and red — will give you more antioxidants than yellow potatoes.

    • The Purple Peruvian potato has 28x more bionutrients than the Russet Burbank and 166x more than the Kennebec white potato

    • However, the Russet Burbank potato is still a good choice as it is higher in phytonutrients than most white potatoes.

    • Another good option is the Purple Majesty. It has been said that this potato has twice the anthocyanin amount of any other fruit or vegetable

  • Don’t peel your potatoes, if you do you’ll lose 50% of the antioxidant value

  • Store your potatoes in a cool dark place with plenty of ventilation. New potatoes can be stored in the refrigerator for a week or two but after than find a cool dark storage area with a temperature between 45-50° to prolong nutritional life of the potato.

Scallions (Green Onions):

  • Scallions are more like wild onions than any other variety, as such they are more nutritious than most other allumins

  • The long green leaves have a greater concentration of nutrients than the small white bulbs 

Shallots:

  • Ounce for ounce shallots have six times more phytonutrients than the typical onion.

Spinach:

  • Bunches are fresher than bagged leaves. Spinach that’s been in a bag for only one week has just half the antioxidant benefits of freshly harvested.

  • Mid-sized leaves have more phytonutrients than baby spinach or large spinach leaves. 

  • Compared to Spinach, Dandelion Greens have eight times more antioxidants, twice the calcium, three times the vitamin A and five times more vitamin K and E. Try mixing in Dandelion Greens to your next salad, just be careful as adding too much can make the salad a little too bitter for some. If this is the case add come acid from balsamic vinegar or fresh squeezed lemon.

  • As soon as you get home, separate the individual leaves, rinse and then soak them for about 10 minutes in very cold water. In addition to increasing the internal moisture of the greens which allows them to remain crisp longer, the cold water will reduce their temperature, slowing the aging process. Next, it is important to dry them, with a dry paper towel or salad spinner, as any moisture left on the surface will hasten their decay. Store in a plastic bag with 10-20 tiny prick holes, then place in the crisper drawer.

Sweet Potatoes:

  • Sweet potatoes are higher in antioxidants than regular potatoes.

  • The most nutritious varieties have purple and dark orange flesh, but remember you still need to consume the skin for the full benefits.

  • Avoid storing sweet potatoes in the refrigerator as they can develop a distinctly “off” flavor. Like normal potatoes, store sweet potatoes in a cool dark location.

Tomatoes:

  • Choose tomatoes that are deep red in color, they will have more antioxidants than yellow, gold or green tomatoes.

  • Size is equally as important as color, when selecting tomatoes. Small, dark red tomatoes are sweeter and more flavorful as well as having the most lycopene — the phytonutrient that gives tomatoes their red color and has been show to have benefical effect on the heart, blood pressure, osteoporosis and skin  — per ounce. The red-colored cherry, grape and currant varieties are the most flavorful and carry the highest amount of lycopene. Additionally, smaller tomatoes will have more vitamin C than their heftier relatives.

  • Storing tomatoes in the refrigerator is not a good idea because when the internal temperature drops below 50°, it stops producing and exacerbates the loss of flavor and aromatic compounds. The longer the duration of refrigeration will make the tomatoes increasing less sweet and more bitter. Store at room temperature to preserve taste.

  • The longer you cook tomatoes the more health benefits you get. The heat breaks down cell walls and transforming nutrient compounds making them more available and easier to absorb. Just 30 minutes of cooking can double the lycopene content.

  • As such, canned tomatoes are the most nutritious sources of lycopene, due to the heat required in the canning process. Canned tomatoes are also more flavorful than what you would find in the produce section because they are picked when ripe and then processed immediately. Therefore, no flavor is lost along the way.

  • Tomato paste is the most concentrated source of lycopene you can find, with up to 10x more than a raw tomato.


If you like this please let me know and I will put a more comprehensive guide together by including fruit!

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New Research Shows Benefits of Collagen for Skin Conditions

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Whole Body Collagen

Whole Body Collagen helps support:

  • Bone density; bone mass and quality; reduced risk of fracture

  • Improved skin elasticity, thickness and hydration; nail health

  • Reduced wrinkle formation & cellulite appearance

  • Joint tissue health & function involving cartilage, tendons and ligaments

  • Healthy blood pressure

  • Muscle strength; GI tract health

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Not all collagen is considered equal. Supplementation sources can vary from porcine, bovine or marine — all variations in quality and molecular weight can affect absorption and efficacy.

Collagen is broken down in the digestive tract, whereafter it enters the bloodstream and accumulates in various tissues depending on it's molecular weight. For superior absorption, a collagen supplement with low molecular weight is key.

Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body, making it the most prevalent structural material in the human body after water. This is important when we understand that collagen is a necessary component for building beautiful skin. As much as 75% of the extracellular matrix is comprised of collagen.

In a recent research review the efficacy of collagen supplementation was tested for dermatological applications. The researchers looked at 8 studies using collagen hydrolysate (which has a low molecular weight) at doses ranging from 2.5-10 grams per day for a period of 6-24 weeks. These studies found a reduction of wrinkle volume, improved skin elasticity, increased skin moisture and a significant reduction in the degree of cellulite.

Additionally, The use of collagen has also expanded into treating such dermatological conditions as atopic and allergic contact dermatitis. The aforementioned review also looked at one 12-week study that sought to examine the effect of collagen supplementation with atopic dermatitis with a dose of 3.9 grams a day. Those who supplemented with collagen saw a significant decrease in immune response and inflammation after 12 weeks. Severity of skin eruption areas, skin hydration and itchiness were all reduced with collagen supplementation.

Collagen is effective in supporting various dermatological conditions such as wound healing, skin elasticity, and suppleness. Other applications for collagen supplementation include osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, improving blood pressure and insulin resistance. As with all things, quality is important. It is necessary to use a high-quality collagen supplement that is supported by clinical research and is of a low molecular weight in order to optimize absorption and intended results.

Source: Choi FD, Sung CT, et al. Oral Collagen Supplementation: A Systemic Review of Dermatological Applications. J Drugs Dermatol. 2019 Jan 1;18(1):9-16.

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7 Counterintuitive Tips to get Healthy, Lean & Strong

1. CARDIO IS NOT THE BEST WAY TO BURN FAT

 
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Cardio is easy, that is why it is everyone’s go to. However, your body doesn’t care how easily you can jog away from something. Ease of use is not a priority for the body’s growth or energy expenditure. If you move easy, your body will take it easy and progress will be slow. The body is built through adaptation and stress applied from external sources, as such it prioritizes what it needs. If you jog, it sees no need to use energy to build muscle and thus your lack of effort and hyper caloric intake leads you to gain fat instead of burn fat. The body priorities what it needs. If you do easy workouts it will not grow and you will not lose weight. Instead, prioritize higher intensity bouts of cardio like sprint intervals (e.g., 10 seconds all out followed by 50 seconds recovery pace). Not only will you get better results and body composition, but you will do it in a fraction of the time. For even better results, combined your sprint intervals with moderately-heavy weight training sessions with only 30-60 seconds rest in between sets.

2.BLINDLY RESTRICTING CALORIES IS NOT THE BEST WAY TO LOSE WEIGHT

 
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The conventional advice given to those trying to lose weight is to simply limit calories. Initially, this will produce desirable weight-loss, however progress will quickly stall because during calorie restricted diet a significant percentage of the weight lost comes form muscle mass. Muscle is important to hold onto as it is metabolically expensive, requiring as much as 40% of your body’s resting metabolism. Blindly restricting all calories will only serve to hinder further weight-loss progress. To combat the negative effect of losing muscle mass, it is important to increase you caloric intake from protein to maintain a greater amount of muscle mass. To optimize weight-loss by preserving muscle mass just remember there is an inverse relationship between calories and protein, whereby decreasing calories will result in an increase need for protein. Aim for .08 to 1.2 grams of protein per pound of body weight.

For more information, check out the article: Eat Less & Move More is Bad Advice

3. IT’S NOT WHAT YOU CAN DO IN THE GYM, BUT WHAT YOU CAN RECOVER FROM

 
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Working out comes with a host of negative consequences — higher blood pressure, muscular weakness due to muscle fiber breakdown, a compromised hormonal profile, fatigue, etc. It’s the recovery phase in between the workouts where your body adapts, heals and as a result allows you to become leaner and stronger. Prioritizing rest and recovery is a key to optimizing progress, regardless of your goal. Remember, it is not what you can do in the gym, but what you can recover from. One thing to keep in mind, is that the more fit you get the longer it takes to recover due to you being able to push yourself further and harder than before.

4. YOU ARE NOT WHAT YOU EAT, YOU ARE WHAT YOU CAN ABSORB

 
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Good thing you are not what you eat because if you’re like most people you’d be fast, cheap and easy!  Seriously though, the health of the gut determines what nutrients are absorbed and it is directly linked to the health of the total organism. It is often said that we are what we eat, but it is more accurate to say we are what we absorb. A strong gut barrier, diverse microbiome and sufficient levels of stomach acid is necessary to breakdown food, assimilate their nutrients and keep bad things from entering the body. When either of these things go awry, problems other than micronutrient (vitamins and minerals) deficiencies can arise. For example, if the integrity of the gut is compromised it can lead to joint pain and inflammation throughout the body, a microbial imbalance can lead to mood disorders or cause intense cravings, and insufficient stomach acid production can lead to heartburn or unwanted bacteria entering our body. 

To help the processes of the gut heal:

      • Try an Elimination Diet. Remove suspect foods from your diet for a period of 2-3 weeks to see if symptoms subside.

      • Take a Digestive Enzyme with meals to improve the digestive fire and assist with the breakdown of food.

      • Supplement with L-Glutamine (20-30 grams, taken in 5-10 gram doses throughout the day) to mend the intestinal lining. 

      • Improve your microbiome with a Multi-Strain Probiotic.

For more on joint inflammation check out: Correlation between Food and Joint Pain

5. THE TWO BIGGEST STRESSORS IN LIFE COME FROM OUR MOUTH

 
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What comes out of your mouth is as important as what you decide to put in it. Choose your words as carefully as your food. Both can have negative consequences.

6. CHOOSE ORGANIC TO REDUCE YOUR TOXIC LOAD

 
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It is no secret that large agricultural companies spray their crops and add a host of chemicals so that they will be able to increase their product yield. What is less known is the damage a lifetime intake of pesticide laden food can have. In addition to possible endocrine disruption, nerve disorders, reproductive issues, and birth defects it can cause us to gain unsightly fat! This is largely due to the overall toxic load we are up against. If the toxic burden is too much for our body to get rid of or exposure becomes chronic our body simply stores toxins in fat cells to be dealt with later. An easy way to reduce your exposure to pesticides is to utilize the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Dirty Dozen list when selecting produce. Each year the EWG selects the most sprayed foods and compile them for you. If you pick all organic versions of the following fruits and vegetables you can reduce your exposure to chemicals and pesticides by as much as 74%.

  1. Strawberries

  2. Spinach

  3. Nectarines

  4. Apples

  5. Grapes

  6. Peaches

  7. Cherries

  8. Pears

  9. Tomatoes

  10. Celery

  11. Potatoes

  12. Bell Peppers

For more information check out: Will Eating Organic for 2 Weeks Make a Difference?

7. A NEGATIVE MINDSET CAN NEVER LEAD TO A POSITIVE LIFE

 
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The way we see the world shapes our personality which develops our personal reality. A personal reality cultivated by an unconscious process of negativity can never lead to a positive life because thinking the same negative thoughts lead to making the same choices. Making the same choices leads to practicing the same behaviors. Practicing the same behaviors lead to creating the same experiences. Creating the same experiences lead to producing the same emotions that lead to the same negative thoughts. Nothing can change unless you break the cycle. If you exist in the same negative mindset, think the same negative thoughts, experience the same negative emotions, how can you expect to positively change your life? As long as you view the world the same way, you are bound to create the same life. To truly change, you have to shift the way you view the world and believe you are destined for a better life. 


For more tips purchase the ebook

21 Tips to Become Healthier, Leaner & Stronger

 
21 Tips to Be Healthier, Leaner & Stronger EBOOK
10.00

The default in nature is health, so why are you fat, sick and broken? Probably because you wear your constant stress, long hours in the office, sleep deprivation and ability to eat like a garbage disposal as a badge of honor! If this is you, you need this book! It contains 21 tips for you to improve your life for the better. Become healthier, leaner and stronger today!

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Calm Down! CBD Oil for Anger and Stress

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Guest post authored by Madeline Taylor from SundayScaries.com

Emotions are part of human life and throughout the course of our lives, we will go through the entire spectrum of feelings. There are some emotions that are directly related to events such as post-traumatic stress disorder and others that seem to pop up from nowhere. Anger and stress are two of the most powerful feelings that we can experience and if one is present, the other will be too.

Stress and anger are often accompanied by underlying anxiety and this is what makes it difficult to find an appropriate treatment. When these three emotions are all present in someone’s life, things can get out of control rather quickly and your quality of life is in jeopardy, especially if you don’t seek treatment. It is easy to overlook the fact that your anger could be a side effect of anxiety, especially if you haven’t been eating or sleeping properly and you may find that even the smallest of issues will suddenly seem like the end of the world is nigh.

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Stress shouldn’t be taken lightly as, in severe cases, it can kill you. It causes hypertension, affects your nervous system, and can lead to depression. Furthermore, as there is still a stigma attached to those who seek medical treatment for seemingly minor emotional issues, many people choose to ignore the symptoms of stress and anger and hope that they will go away on their own.

The Effect of Pharmaceuticals on Mental Health Issues

When we feel like we are under a high level of stress or anxiety, there will likely come a point where a friend or colleague will point us in the direction of a physician to help us address our issues. It could be caused by a social anxiety disorder, increased stress levels through work, Post-traumatic stress (PTSD), or even because of chronic pain. And one of the most commonly prescribed treatments for anxiety is a benzodiazepine like Xanax. These pills will treat your symptoms almost immediately, but they are accompanied by a long list of harmful side effects—especially when used for long periods of time. Benzodiazepines are highly addictive and they can cause the following symptoms:

  • Nausea

  • Depression

  • Dry Mouth

  • Incontinence

  • Headaches

  • Shaking

  • Paranoia

  • Loss of appetite

  • Acne

How CBD Works for Anger and Stress

The past couple of years have seen the rise of alternative medicines such as CBD products like hemp seed oil, cannabis oil, and medical cannabis becoming increasingly popular. Medical marijuana and hemp oil (and all their derivatives) have been proven for use as an efficient and effective natural treatment for disorders like anxiety, depression, and stress and it is currently a hot topic in the medical industry. This has led to more studies being performed on cannabinoids and its potential therapeutic uses, as well as much more research scheduled to take place in 2019. While CBD oil is relatively new to the medical market, it has been used in ancient traditions for thousands of years to cure illness and provide relief from emotional issues like anger, stress, and anxiety.

Here are some of the ways that CBD is thought to alleviate the symptoms of anger and stress:

CBD is thought to cause pleasure hormones in the body to be released. These particular hormones are incredibly powerful, as they are responsible for inducing feelings of calm, reducing stress, and eliminating underlying anxiety.

  • Research has shown us that CBD positively affects the basolateral amygdala receptors that we naturally have in our bodies in order to process most of our sensory information.

  • The hippocampus is the part of our brain that is basically an emotional control center. CBD interacts with receptors in the hippocampus to stimulate positive emotions and the necessary chemicals to provide us with therapeutic comfort.

  • A daily dose of CBD oil has been found to reduce cognitive impairment.

  • CBD has powerful anti-inflammatory properties that help eliminate the effects that stress can have on our heart and arteries.

Another major factor to take into account, when looking at CBD as a viable treatment for emotional disorders, is the effect that CBD has on Serotonin levels in the brain. Science and anecdotal evidence have both demonstrated the positive effect that CBD has on the mood-enhancing chemicals in our brain. It triggers the release of these necessary chemicals and works to ensure that they are balanced in an entirely natural way. As an added bonus, it is not accompanied by any nasty side effects.

CBD Is not Addictive

CBD oil is a cumulative substance, meaning that it builds up in our body and works away behind the scenes. This is why it should be taken as a routine supplement each day, instead of when you are right in the clutches of a panic attack. Good quality CBD oil is extracted and processed in a way that allows it to override the psychoactive effects of THC (another important compound in the cannabis plant—the one that gets you high) this means that you won’t be walking around like a zombie and CBD oil is perfectly safe to take at work and it won’t impair your ability to drive or be productive. One of the primary risks of treating anxiety with traditional pharmaceuticals is an addiction and this, in turn, contributes to even more stress! CBD is completely non-addictive and you can take as much or as little as you like, without experiencing withdrawal symptoms.

Final Thoughts

While CBD oil is an incredibly powerful natural substance, not all oils are created equal. Before making a purchase, always check that the oil you are looking at is full spectrum and extracted in a chemical-free process. One of the biggest appeals of using CBD oil is the fact that it is completely non-toxic, so making sure that it is as pure as possible is going to be the key to success. It is also not a quick fix and should ideally be taken as part of a balanced diet and combined with exercise, which is also another incredibly effective way of eliminating stress from our lives. Finally, know that it is completely safe to experiment with dosage. What works for one person, might not be effective for another. Therefore, always start by taking a lower dose and increase it until you notice a positive change with regards to your anger and stress.


How to Run Faster: Mental and Physical Techniques

 
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Guest post authored by Nate Martins from HVMN.com

What is speed? If we’re opening the dictionary, it’s a measurement of the rate at which someone or something is able to move; it also means to move quickly. Speed is both relative and concrete. It’s both an exact measure and a feeling with wholly different meanings depending on the context.

Speed is inexorably linked to time: seconds, minutes, mile splits, PRs. It can be easy to forget the idea of being fast, the heavy breathing, wind-through-your-hair, quad-burning sensation in which runners know they are hitting the ground but feel as if they’re floating.

Sam Robinson is a writer and marathoner–he has a PhD in history, has been featured in Outside Magazine, and is a fixture in the Bay Area running community. He recently discussed the idea of running philosophy on the HVMN Podcast.

“Fast is relative. It’s always good to keep that in mind.” — Sam Robinson

Fast is a feeling, one that maybe can’t be associated with time for all athletes.

Keeping Pace with the World’s Fastest Runners

During the 100m dash at the 2009 Berlin World Championships, sprinter Usain Bolt hit 27.8mph. Marathoner Dennis Kimetto ran the 2014 Berlin Marathon in 2:02:57 which was the fastest marathon of all time–until Eliud Kipchoge smashed that record on September 16, 2018 (also at Berlin) with a time of 2:01:39.

These runners exhibit different kinds of speed, each fast in their relative events. While Bolt hit a top speed of nearly 28mph, Kipchoge maintained over 13mph during his world-record setting marathon. The result was an average mile time of 4:38, faster than the max speed of the average treadmill (5 minutes per pace). These are the two extremes: sprints and marathons are almost entirely different sports and ways to exhibit speed.

Between these two efforts, middle distance running (800m, most commonly) provides a unique physiological middle ground.

One study cites the contribution from aerobic and anaerobic variables as allowing a runner to maintain speed during middle distance races. These runners are able to produce velocity without impairment from things like VO2 max (long-distance running), and lactate threshold (sprints).1

The world’s fastest 800m runner is David Rudisha, who holds the world and Olympic record set at London in 2012 with a time of 1:40. That effort broke his own record, set in 2010. Before that? The record was set in 1997 by Wilson Kipketer (who broke his own record several times). And before that? The record was set by Sebastian Coe in 1981. This is interesting when compared to marathon records (broken every few years) and 100m world records (broken even more frequently).

This is all to say that fast doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It depends on things like distance, event, output, and maybe most importantly for the casual runner, personal goal: a number, denoted in time, less than your previous run.

 
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We are not Bolt or Kipchoge. But we share a desire to run faster, whatever that may mean to you as a runner.

Mental Techniques

Running faster is something that must be achieved through physical ability–the body is what propels us forward. But now more than ever, the mental aspect of endurance exercise is being considered a powerful tool to push the body to extreme lengths.

“We’re so fixated on screens. Running is one of the times I can get away from that and be in my own head.” — Sam Robinson

The body and mind are linked; while we’ll explore physical aspects of technique and pacing, we’ll also address mental strategies to employ while on the road or the course.

Welcome the Pain

We previously discussed motivational techniques for runners, which points to embracing pain as a way runners can push themselves to log miles every day. The same is true for running faster. There’s an element of discomfort that must be welcomed in order to increase pace.

“Try not to see it as pain, just an intense sensation like spicy food or dark chocolate.” — Michael Brandt, HVMN Co-founder and COO

This is especially difficult for runners who are just starting because they’re not used to the feeling of pain. During workouts like speed training, the pain will come–it’s about being ready for it, anticipating it, and eventually, embracing it.

The pain will lessen with training. Crossing the lactate threshold is the point at which the body cannot recycle the lactic acid accumulated in the blood–it’s then that the body begins sending pain and nausea signals in an effort to make you slow down and thus recycle all that lactic acid. But you can train to increase that lactic threshold and decrease the pain.

With training also comes a knowledge of your body and an understanding of pain, remembering how it feels and at what point in the run it’ll hit.

Positive Thinking

The power of the mind can’t be understated–being aware of your thinking, and how those thoughts make you feel, can have a positive or negative impact on performance outputs. Sometimes telling yourself “you’re great” is the first step to actually making that happen.

One meta-analysis concluded the strategy of self-talk facilitates learning (so it can also help training) and enhance performance.2 Since self-talk has an impact on performance, it’s important to make that self-talk positive.

Cindra Kamphoff has a Ph.D in performance psychology, and she is a performance coach to professional athletes, executives and championships teams from all over the US. She understands the power of the mind and helps athletes harness it. When speaking about the mental aspect of sport, she had this to say: “The negativity is going to come, the disempowering thoughts are going to come because you’re pushing your body. You don’t have to believe them.”

While talking to yourself during a run, it also helps to be mindful. Many runners reach a flowstate of zen or a meditation-like experience. This happens during the run, but its power can be harnessed while off the trail. One study showed that several weeks of mindfulness training could help elite athletes adapt better to stressful situations.3

The ability to harness the connection between body and mind may lead to better results.

Chunking

No, this isn’t adding carbs to your pre-workout.

Breaking a casual run or race into chunks can help–especially for longer runs. This technique can help by making the total mileage feel less daunting. For a marathon distance, a popular way to break it down is into two 10-mile runs and a 10k.

Even on a smaller scale, chunking can be similar to gamifying the run. If you’re running in a city, you might push yourself to the end of the block. During a race, it’s undeniable that seeing the finish line can allow you to tap into a new running gear and push to the end.

Breaking down a run into smaller sections may help increase speed incrementally, which will likely lead to a better overall time.

 
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Training Smart

Training is like juggling. Breathing, form, power–all these things are on your mind with each stride. When one is dropped, the others tend to follow. But it’s during this training process that the best habits are built. And remember, it’s a process.

“Running is about playing the long game. Think of it like a house. A good race or bad race is a single brick in the edifice of your long-term fitness.” — Sam Robinson

Things like intervals and tempo runs can help. It’s also important to track your progress: keep a training log to see how you’ve been able to increase speed after all that hard training.

Intervals

Intervals are great speed workouts for both the aerobic and anaerobic system. They consist of short, high-intensity bursts followed by slow recovery phases which are repeated one after the other. One of the earliest forms of interval training was the Fartlek method (Swedish for “speed play”), and today, many athletes use high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Sometimes, running fast means actually running fast.

Generally, these workouts are ten seconds to several minutes long, run nearly at maximum effort, followed by a rest period of up to four times the length of the effort itself. The shorter the interval, the more of them you’ll likely do.

But the length of intervals (time and distance), power of those intervals, and the rest period, should be optimized for the specific runner. Elite runners can do four intervals of ten minute runs at their 5k pace. Most runners won’t be able to maintain that. An average interval workout is an 8x4: eight repeats of a 400m run done in 90 seconds with a two-minute recovery.

One study in soccer players found that HIIT improved maximal aerobic speed.4 And recreational runners can improve their running economy by replacing aspects of their conventional training with long-interval running.5

Hills

Hill training usually targets power in the legs, meaning higher output. One study found that six weeks of hill workouts increased top speed for runners, while also allowing them to sustain that speed 32% longer.6

Hill repeats are similar to interval training in that they’re usually conducted in short bursts. First, warm up. Then find a hill that’s about 100m long and run hard to the top, with the jog downhill serving as the recovery period. Start with two or four repeats, and work your way up to six or eight.

 
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Tempo Runs

Tempo runs are also known as lactate threshold runs–this is the point at which your body is unable to recycle accumulated lactate in the blood. This is a pace that’s anywhere between ten and 30 seconds slower than a 5k or 10k pace.

The goal of tempo runs is to increase your anaerobic threshold, thus allowing your body to sustain an effort that was previously unsustainable. This training technique tends to benefit longer-distance runners more than sprinters.

Tempo runs should be part of a weekly running routine, and can vary depending on experience level and training needs. One way to incorporate this into training is to start by running 15 - 20 minutes at 75% of maximum heart rate, then build up to 30 - 45 minutes by adding about five minutes to these runs weekly.

Strength Training

While many runners are laser-focused on logging miles, time in the gym can lead to time off your mile splits.7

Two areas of strength training are often employed by runners: leg and core workouts. Weight training can both improve strength and lead to greater running economy (as it did for female runners in this study).8

Exercises like lunges and squats can strengthen those leg muscles used more frequently on runs. And for core workouts, even simple additions like planks and leg raises and weighted sit-ups can positively impact form and posture. Don’t discount yoga and stretching–on days where you’re looking for some active recovery, yoga is perfect for both developing strength in core muscle groups and stretching tight muscles.

Fix Your Form

Essential to running efficiently, improving running form and technique can lead to faster speed. The way you run affects the way force is applied to your muscles and joints. Correcting form can be help injury prevention, as improper execution can cause injury if you’re a beginner;9 if you aren’t running, you aren’t getting faster.

“People assume that running is running is running, but it's not true. Especially when we sit at our desks all day, or aren't used to it.” — Michael Brandt, HVMN Co-founder and COO

Good overall form can feel like a unicorn; it’s best broken down into a few manageable techniques to consider on each run.

Stride Turnover

Changing stride turnover–how my steps taken during one minute of running–may have an impact on speed.10

The goal is to have a higher stride turnover, meaning to take shorter, quicker steps; these reduce the impact on your joints because you’ll hit the ground with less force. Longer strides have the opposite effect, and can create more impact because you’re in the air for longer. Sprinters will typically need to lift their knees higher to achieve maximum leg power, but distance runners won’t need as much lift.

Figuring out your stride turnover is easy. Just run for one minute at your 5k pace and count the number of times your right foot hits the ground. To improve stride turnover, jog for one minute to recover, trying to increase your stride count by one. Repeat this several times with the goal of increasing strides each time.

At the proper stride length, your feet should land directly under your body. And when your foot strikes the ground, your knee should be slightly flexed, bending naturally to the impact. Keep in mind that the middle of your foot should be making contact with the ground–not your heel.

Heel Striking

It’s a very common problem for runners.11 Landing on your heel can mean too long of a stride, which wastes energy and may cause running injuries (hello, shin splints).12 Avoid landing on toes too–this can also increase fatigue and wear out your calves.

You want to be a mid-foot striker. Hitting the ground mid-foot allows you to roll through to the front of your toes. Changing your footstrike takes practice, but the results can show up both in speed and in reduced joint pain. One study of runners from habitually barefoot populations showed an increase in speed when mid-foot or front-foot striking.13

Overstriding is usually the culprit–try increasing your number of strides. Your next run, focus on striking on the balls of your feet. Interestingly, that’s where most people strike when running barefoot; try running on grass (or another soft surface) without any shoes on, translating that muscle memory to other runs. Also, running drills can help. Skipping, high knees, side shuffling, butt kicks–with all these, it’s almost impossible to land on the heel.

One last thing. It may seem obvious, but keep those toes pointed in the direction you want to travel. As fatigue sets in, form gets wonky–you may find your toes are turning in or out, which can lead to joint pain.

Relax

It goes from top to bottom and will have an impact on running posture.

Relax your shoulders. Relax your arms. Relax your hands.

 
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Posture

“Running tall” is a repeated mantra meant to encourage good running posture.

It starts with the head: look ahead naturally while keeping the chin parallel to the ground, and avoid looking down at the feet. This should improve posture in your neck, shoulders and back–which, remember, should be relaxed.

Avoid hiking up your shoulders, which can happen naturally with stress. Upon feeling your shoulders close your ears, try giving them a good shake to relax and keep them level.

Efficient running means less overall movement. Arms, at a 90-degree angle, should swing back and forth around the waist, powering the lower body. Think of yourself as two halves: left and right, and keep each arm on that side of the body. Tension in the upper body is controlled by the hands, so relaxed hands are also important. You may notice tension developing throughout the run as it gets more difficult–imagine you’re carrying an egg in each hand and watch that tension disappear.

The torso and back should be naturally straight, as this promotes optimal lung capacity and stride length. Slouching during a run? Try a deep, realigning breath and hold position.

Breathing

We’ve discussed VO2 max, and its impact on the body’s ability to use oxygen efficiently. Since oxygen is feeding those muscles, it’s important to understand how to take in the most air possible.

Inhale and exhale primarily through your mouth–it’s the most effective way to take in oxygen. Your nose can join the party too, but it can be difficult for some to breathe through both simultaneously. Practice makes perfect here; you can try it throughout the day to help get the body adapted to the technique.

And focus on belly breathing, with the force of the inhale extending to the diaphragm with the stomach expanding. These should be deep, slow, rhythmic breaths. Overall, you should see a decrease in cramps and an increased ability to pace yourself.

Sleep & Recovery

The importance of rest cannot be understated–but it’s often forgotten or unaccounted for in a training plan.

“Our culture has a ‘no pain, no gain’ mindset. But that’s not how the body works exactly. You need to recover properly.” — Sam Robinson

Sleep and recovery days are important to give tired muscles a chance to rebuild tissues that have been broken down during exercise.14 That breakdown is meant to cause muscles to adapt and become stronger, thus potentially leading to increased speed. Sleep is also part of this process. It’s important to encourage good sleep: set a sleep schedule and get some screenless time before bed, because screens can negatively impact rest.15 One study found that lack of sleep can lead to muscle degradation.16

Recovery runs are a must. These should be done at a slower, less-strenuous pace that allows the body to recycle lactate as its produced. This pace per mile should be about one minute or 1:30 more than your average pace.

Consuming Your Way to Speed

What you eat, and the supplements you take, can have an impact on how fast you run. A body operating on high-octane fuel will undoubtedly perform better than one with a less-optimized fuel source.

Diet

Diet can have a roundabout effect on speed through a few different avenues.

It directly impacts body composition, which affects speed. It can also determine the body’s fuel source, meaning that a diet low in carbohydrates can lead to fat-adaptation, allowing the body to tap into fat stores. If you aren’t a fat burner, carbs are essential to keep running pace, as glycogen depletion leads to bonking. And after a run, diet can help with recovery, enabling the body to train again faster.

VO2 max is a measure of one’s running fitness; it’s the maximum amount of oxygen that can be delivered to working muscle per unit of body mass. Those with higher VO2 maxes are better runners. And because body weight impacts VO2 max, the lighter the runner means a higher VO2 max which can mean a lighter runner is a better runner.

Many distance runners are employing the ketogenic diet for weight loss. The low-carb, high-fat diet can force a metabolic adaptation allowing the runner to burn fat as fuel (as opposed to carbs). And the restricting of carbohydrates often leads to better body composition.

Counting calories may help you lose weight. While the macronutrient composition of food can be more important than the amount of calories, counting calories while on keto might lead to greater results.

 
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Supplements

We’ve covered supplements for runners extensively, providing you with a toolkit from training to race day to recovery. You’ll want to focus on those for race day, as they’re the supplements that can have a direct correlation to speed.

Many runners drink coffee and consume carbohydrates before a race, giving the body fuel sources to immediately tap into. Buffers are also useful, and may delay the onset of muscle pain associated with the building up lactic acid in the blood (but really it’s the proton associated with lactate)–check out sodium bicarbonate, Beta-alanine and HVMN Ketone.

HVMN Ketone

Ketones are a fundamentally different fuel source from carbohydrates and fats that cells normally use for energy.

Taken before or during exercise, D-BHB (the ketone body in HVMN Ketone) is 28% more efficient than carbohydrates alone, helping your body do more work with the same amount of oxygen.17 In one study, cyclists went ~2% further in a 30-minute time trial.18

When taken with carbs, the glycogen-sparing effect of HVMN Ketone helps many runners–the body will preferentially use the ketones as fuel first, saving glycogen for later in the race, when the need it most.

"By consuming exogenous ketones, athletes give themselves an additional source of fuel that they can burn first, thus preserving glycogen." — Allison Goldstein, Runner’s World

HVMN Athlete and professional cyclists, Vittoria Bussi, recently broke the world record for the women’s Hour: riders see how far they can cycle in a velodrome in one hour. Vittoria used HVMN Ketone before her attempt, citing its effectiveness later in the race.

 
 

Read more about Vittoria’s story here.

Running Fast: a Personal Pursuit

With countless ways to measure and track and compare and share statuses, it’s important to remember that on a run, it’s just you and the road. You should want to improve. You should want to get faster. You should expect to work to get there.

Running isn’t about taking shortcuts, if you want to get faster, you have to train. Aspire to some of the world’s best runners, and use that as motivation each time you lace up your shoes to run.

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Scientific Citations

1.Brandon LJ. Physiological factors associated with middle distance running performance. Sports Med. 1995 Apr;19(4):268-77.
2.Hatzigeorgiadis A, Zourbanos N, Galanis E, Theodorakis Y. Self-Talk and Sports Performance: A Meta-Analysis. Perspectives on Psychological Science. 2011 July; 6(4): 348-356. https://doi.org/10.1177/1745691611413136
3.Haase L, May AC, Falahpour M, et al. A pilot study investigating changes in neural processing after mindfulness training in elite athletes. Front. Behav. Neurosci., 27 August 2015 | https://doi.org/10.3389/fnbeh.2015.00229
4.Dupont G, Akakpo, K, Berthoin, S. The Effect of In-Season, High-Intensity Interval Training in Soccer Players. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: 2004; 18(3): 584–589.
5.Franch J, Madsen K, Djurhuus MS, Pedersen PK. Improved running economy following intensified training correlates with reduced ventilatory demands. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise [01 Aug 1998, 30(8):1250-1256].
6.Ferley D, Hopper DT, Vukovich M. Incline Treadmill Interval Training: Short vs. Long Bouts and the Effects on Distance Running Performance. International Journal of Sports Medicine 2016 Aug; 37(12). DOI: 10.1055/s-0042-109539
7.Storen O, Helgerud J, Stoa EM, Hoff J. Maximal Strength Training Improves Running Economy in Distance Runners. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 40, No. 6, pp. 1089–1094, 2008.
8.Johnston RE, Quinn TJ, Kertzer R, Vroman NB. Strength training in female distance runners: Impact on running economy. J. Strength and Cond. Res. 11(4):224-229. 1997
9.Kluitenberg B, van Middelkoop M, Diercks R, van der Worp H. What are the Differences in Injury Proportions Between Different Populations of Runners? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Sports Med. 2015; 45(8): 1143–1161. doi: 10.1007/s40279-015-0331-x
10.Hogberg, P. Arbeitsphysiologie (1952) 14: 437. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00934423
11.Larson P, Higgins E, Kaminski J, et al. Foot strike patterns of recreational and sub-elite runners in a long-distance road race, Journal of Sports Sciences. 2011;29:15, 1665-1673, DOI: 10.1080/02640414.2011.610347
12.Daoud, AI, Geissler GJ, Wang F, Saretsky J, Daoud YA, Lieberman DE. Foot Strike and Injury Rates in Endurance Runners: A Retrospective Study. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 44, No. 7, pp. 1325–1334, 2012
13.Hatala KG, Dingwall HL, Wunderlich RE, Richmond BG (2013) Variation in Foot Strike Patterns during Running among Habitually Barefoot Populations. PLoS ONE 8(1): e52548. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0052548
14.Parra J, Cadefau J A, Rodas G, Amigo N, Cusso R. The distribution of rest periods affects performance and adaptations of energy metabolism induced by high‐intensity training in human muscle. Acta Physiologica Scandinavica, 169: 157-165.
15.Exelmans L, Van den Bulck J .Bedtime mobile phone use and sleep in adults. Soc Sci Med. 2016 Jan;148:93-101.
16.Dattilo M, Antunes H K M, Medeiros A, Mônico Neto M, Souza H S, Tufika S, de Mello M T. Sleep and muscle recovery: Endocrinological and molecular basis for a new and promising hypothesis. Medical Hypotheses Volume 77, Issue 2, August 2011, Pages 220-222.
17.Sato, K., Kashiw.aya, Y., Keon, C.A., Tsuchiya, N., King, M.T., Radda, G.K., Chance, B., Clarke, K., and Veech, RL. (1995). Insulin, ketone bodies, and mitochondrial energy transduction. FASEB J. 9, 651-658.
18.Cox, P.J., Kirk, T., Ashmore, T., Willerton, K., Evans, R., Smith, A., Murray, Andrew J., Stubbs, B., West, J., McLure, Stewart W., et al. (2016). Nutritional Ketosis Alters Fuel Preference and Thereby Endurance Performance in Athletes. Cell Metabolism 24, 1-13.

The Importance of Strength Training in Combat Sports

The Importance of Strength Training in Combat Sports

Strength is an attribute that cannot be significantly improved through the practice of participating in Combat Sports, therefore it makes strength training a wise investment, particularly if you want to win. The purpose of increasing strength is to develop physical capacities necessary to handle the unpredictable nature and stressors of the sport. Athletes need to be prepared for all aspects of physical combat including punching, kicking, takedowns, takedown defense, arm bars, guillotine, grappling, and clinching, not to mention proper conditioning and muscle endurance. A simpler way to say it would be, to achieve victory an athlete needs to be faster, more explosive and last longer than their opponent. Also, let me make it clear before I go any further, strength does not replace technique — wrestlers should prioritize wrestling, just as martial artists should ultimately work to perfect their discipline — but improving strength will transfer to better technical performance (e.g., technique) on the mat or in the cage.

Take-a-ways from the past week

 
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1. Essential Amino Acid’s (EAA’s) are better than Branched Chain Amino Acid’s (BCAA’s).

When it comes to making gains you want the full amino acid profile because it has been found that loading up on Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine can have a negative effect on neurotransmitter balance effecting drive and recovery. BCAA’s lack essential amino acids like L-Tryptophan and L-Tyrosine (precursors to dopamine and serotonin) which can throw off neurotransmitter balance over time. Also, net protein utilization are profoundly affected by the limitations of the complete amino acid profile, therefore it is important to have all essential amino acids present to make optimal gains.

2. Essential Amino Acid’s (EAA’s) combined with a Carbohydrate source are best for making strength and hypertrophy gains.

A 2006 study called “Independent and Combined Effects of Liquid Carbohydrate/Essential Amino Acid Ingestion on Hormonal and Muscular Adaptations following Resistance Training in Untrained Men” showed surprising results in that Carbohydrates alone outperformed EAA’s in almost all categories including, Muscle Fiber (Type I, Type IIa and Type IIb) improvements; Post-Workout Glucose Uptake, Insulin response and favorable reduction in Cortisol response. Yet, when EAA’s were combined with Carbohydrates for intra-workout nutrition, the positive effects on all categories were greater than either EAA’s or Carbohydrates alone. The best results for Body Composition were also seen in the EAA/Carb group. Moral of the story, to optimize your workout use EAA’s and Carbohydrates together.

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3. The more carbohydrate sources you take in before/during/after your workout the better the absorption rate.

Your body can absorb 1g of carbohydrates from a single source from dextrose, maltodextrin, fructose, cluster dextrine, etc. per minute. However, if you combine sources you can increase carbohydrate uptake into the muscle by a factor of 5. Products like PentaCarb are formulated for this specific purpose and as the name implies, it has five different carbohydrate sources.

 
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4. Improve insulin sensitivity for optimal hypertrophy.

The easiest way to recognize that you are not insulin sensitive is that you do not feel the “pump” when you are working out. The more insulin sensitive you are the better able you are to increase glucose and amino acid uptake into the muscle cells, thereby suppressing cortisol and reducing muscle breakdown. Plus, if you are insulin sensitive, when you eat carbohydrates the are better able to be used for fueling your muscles rather than storing them as fat.

5. Don’t have a bolus dose of Antioxidants around your workout.

This can turn off your insulin sensitivity and reduce the amount of hormetic stress placed on your mitochondrial which are both drivers of growth.

6. Fasting is beneficial, even for those seeking hypertrophy.

Due to the amount of calories one must consume to put on size, the gut can take quite a beating. Fasting allows the gastrointestinal tract to relax and have time to heal so that when the fast is over, nutrients can be better absorbed. A 24 hour fast once a week can offer improvements. Also, intermittent fasting for 3 days a week has the same benefits as intermittent fasting for 7 days a week.

7. Over 90% of athletes are deficient in Iodine.

This fundamental nutrient is often lost through sweat and can cause hydrochloric acid (stomach acid) deficiencies, migraines, insomnia or brain fog if not repleted through supplemental or dietary means.

8. When it comes to nutrition, the 80/20 Rule is Bullshit.

You have to take into account the inflammatory affects of food and the cumulative effect it can have on your body. A study recently produced a study that said 100% of people who consume gluten have intestinal inflammation within 30 minutes!

9. The first step towards success is taken when you refuse to be a captive of the environment in which you first found yourself.

This is the basis of all change, and fundamental to my 7 Pillars of Health. Realizing that the environment that surrounds you makes you who you are; the people, the food, the job, the situation all have an effect, whether good or bad. To make a change, start by changing your environment.

10. The things that are done to you or for you are rarely as effective as the things you do for yourself.

Read that over a few times.

Take Your Vitamins!

 
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“Do you know that most of us today are suffering from certain dangerous diet deficiencies which cannot be remedied until depleted soils from which our food comes are brought into proper mineral balance? The alarming fact is that foods (fruits, vegetables and grains) now being raised on millions of acres of land that no longer contain enough of certain minerals are starving us — no matter how much of them we eat. The truth is that our food vary enormously in value, and some of them aren’t worth eating as food… Laboratory tests prove that the fruits, the vegetables, the grains, the eggs, and even the milk and the meats of today are not what they were a few generations ago.”
— 74th Congress, 2nd session (senate document no. 264) 1936

It has long been thought we can eat a balanced diet and remain healthy, yet, increasing rates of illness and disease have proven otherwise. The Department of Agriculture has estimated that 99% of Americans have some type of nutrient deficiency. This becomes important when we understand that our body’s require adequate nutrition to simply stay alive and significantly more nutrients if we wish to optimize our health and lifespan in this increasingly stressful and polluted world.

Why has this happened? Very simply, the food we eat — fruits, vegetables, grains, etc. — is being grown in soil which has become depleted in minerals from modern agricultural practices. In turn, our soil has become so impoverished that it has negatively effected the nutrient yield of the foods we consume. Research from the Life Extension Foundation in 2001 showed the vitamin and mineral content of several foods has dropped dramatically between 1963 and 2000. For example: Collard greens were shown to have a 62% loss of vitamin C, 41% loss of vitamin A, 29% loss of calcium, 52% loss of potassium and an 84% loss in magnesium! Furthermore, in 2004 the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found similarly significant declines in the vitamin and mineral content of over 43 crops grown in US markets.

Adding proof to the claims of nutrient insufficiency through dietary intake, lets take a look at a 2002 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). The authors examined  several nutrients including vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D, E, K, Folic Acid and Carotenoids to which they concluded that the current US diet, while sufficient to prevent acute vitamin deficiency diseases, such as scurvy and pellagra, is inadequate to support long-term health. Continuing the theme, in a 2006 study from the journal Advances in Therapy it was stated: “Only supplementation was able to significantly boost nutrient levels and confer beneficial effects on general welfare, physical performance, and resistance to infections. Therefore, it appears that nutritional supplements are advisable for everyone.

How can we optimize our nutrient intake? Along with eating as fresh, local and wild as possible, the incorporation of a high-quality, nutraceutical grade supplementation program is warranted. It is essential to find a supplement company which guarantees both potency and purity of their products, can provide proof of their effectiveness in human trials, with all  ingredients are Generally Recognized As Safe. A good place to start is with The Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements by Lyle MacWilliam. This provides a comprehensive review of over 1,300 products in the United States and Canada.

What should I take? The following is a list of fundamental recommendations to get you started:

MultiVitamin
Most people do not meet their vitamin and mineral needs through diet alone, and as we have learned above, it would be hard to get all the nutrients we need from food alone. Supplementing with a MultiVitamin is essential to optimize health and performance, however most multivitamins you find in retail stores contain inefficacious, synthetic forms of vitamins and mineral that aren’t readily absorbed (or even usable) for your body. Therefore, it is imperative to find quality brands like NutriDyn or ATP.

 
ATP Lab - Total Defense 2.0
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Fruits & Greens Powder
A 2014 meta-analysis of 16 studies found that “higher consumption of fruits and vegetables is associated with a lower risk of all-cause mortality, particularly cardiovascular mortality.”* However, less than 10% of Americans consume sufficient amounts of fruits and vegetables per day. The NutriDyn Fruits & Greens provides 20+ servings of fruits and vegetables in a single scoop and tastes great.

 
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Magnesium
Magnesium is the second most abundant mineral inside human cells, or at least it should be. It is essential for over 700 enzymatic reactions in the body, such as normal nerve and muscle function, supporting the immune system, keeping a steady heart beat, helps bones remain strong and it is also needed to regulate blood glucose levels. According to Carolyn Dean, author of The Magnesium Miracle, as much as 80% of Americans are magnesium deficient. This is largely due to unsustainable farming practices and the use of Roundup which binds magnesium, removing 50% of what little is left in the soil.

 
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EPA/DHA Fish Oil (Omega-3)
The majority of animal protein — beef, poultry, pork — in America is fed an unnatural diet of grains containing soy/corn. The downstream effect of this is inferior quality meat that is higher in inflammatory Omega-6’s and lower in Omega-3’s. On top of this, the Standard American Diet  consists of highly processed foods, also high in these same inflammatory oils. Historically, it has been estimated that humans evolved eating a diet close to equal in Omega-6 and 3 fatty acids**. However, the current ratio in the Western diet is closer to a 15:1 to 30:1 ratio. This is cause for a host of inflammatory diseases. Improving your Omega-3 ratio can improve insulin sensitivity, lower triglycerides, mitigate the effects of stress, and has the ability to turn on lipolytic genes (fat burning genes). Additionally, out of 14 omega-3 trials, which followed patients for an average of 2 years, the overall reduction in mortality was almost twice as good as statins, 25%. This is significant for at least 2 reasons: 1) that is a huge difference, and 2) the studies only lasted 2 years on average, meaning that the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids are fast-onset and robust. In other words, statins take ~50% longer and are only ~50% as good as omega-3 fatty acids.

 
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References:

* https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6426a1.htm 

** Simopoulos AP. Omega-3 fatty acids in health and disease and in growth and development. Am J Clin Nutr. 1991 Sep; 54(3):438–63.)