Archive | January, 2012

Christy’s Top 5: Ways to Recover from Your Workouts Faster

30 Jan

We all want lean, strong muscles but we may not appreciate the side-effects, in particular, muscle soreness and weakness. DOMS or Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness is that achy feeling in the muscle fibers that arises 24 hours to 48 hours post-workout due to tiny, microscopic tears in the muscle tissue from intense work, such as resistance-training. Lactic acid rushes in to help promote muscle renewal. Think putting hydrogen peroxide on a cut, it hurts temporarily but then heals. In this case, however, the muscle not only heals but is strengthened and more defined than before the workout. Unfortunately, this re-building phase can be painful. Not to fret. Here are my top five ways to lessen the ouch! factor and have you hitting the weights again faster.

1. L-Glutamine – This important amino acid is a hidden gem in the medical world. The University of Maryland Medical center found glutamine to be useful in the treatment of serious illnesses, injury, trauma, burns, and treatment-related side-effects of cancer as well as in wound healing for post-operative patients. In relation to muscle response, L-Glutamine has been proven to increase Human Growth Hormone, or HGH, the hormone responsible for those defined, shapely muscles you desire, according to a study published in  The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Ingesting the miracle amino acid will not only help your muscles to grow re: increase your metabolism and burn fat, but you will have a more improved immune system, thus aiding in recovery.

Glutamine can be found in plant and animal proteins such as beef, pork and poultry, milk, yogurt, ricotta cheese, cottage cheese, raw spinach, raw parsley, and cabbage. But a concentrated source of L-glutamine, such as a powder or capsule form, can be found at vitamin shops or online. If you are taking a glutamine supplement, follow directions on the product for proper portioning. But generally, taking 500 mg – 1 gram of L-glutamine before and after workouts, and even before bedtime, should be sufficient.

2. BCAA’s – Branched Chain Amino Acids are a group of three amino acids – leucine, isoleucine and valine – which comprise three of the eight essential amino acids needed by our bodies. A Japanese study found that five grams of BCAA’s before exercise significantly reduced muscle soreness and fatigue for several days after exercise. The study found that this amino acid chain plays an important role in building protein and preventing its degradation in our bodies.

These powerful amino acids can be found in meat, dairy products, legumes, beans, brown rice, whole wheat, eggs, fish, mushrooms, soy protein, lentils, chickpeas and nuts, including cashews and almonds. BCAA’s, like L-Glutamine, can also be supplemented in powder or capsule form and can be found at vitamin shops or online. As with glutamine, follow directions on the product if ingesting a supplemental form.

3. Chocolate Milk –   The fountain of muscle recovery? While plain water replaces fluid loss from sweat, chocolate milk with its high water content does that and more. According to a study published in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Sports Metabolism, this yummy drink has double the protein and carbohydrate content than plain milk and sports drinks. The protein and carbohydrates help to reduce muscle fatigue, the study states, and the slight amount of sodium and sugar help to replenish lost water stores and to regain energy.

Have a glass within 20 minutes post-workout. Mike Huff, coordinator of the Duke University Sports performance program says that muscle depletion and breakdown has occurred by then due to intense training; so go ahead and drink your chocolate ASAP.

Yoga – Relax your way to a faster recovery. Stretching tightly bound muscle fibers after a heavy-duty weight workout was once thought to help to reduce DOMS, but an Australian study has proved stretching provides no post-workout muscle soreness relief. However, yoga stretches do have benefits for muscle recovery and it begins with the breath. Oxidative stress includes free radicals and waste products and causes adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, in the muscles to be reduced. ATP is a chemical that helps generate muscles to contract. Without enough of this chemical, our ability to perform strong weight workouts is dramatically reduced. Diaphragmatic breathing has been shown to reduce oxidative stress, according to a study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

There really is power in our breath, and it will show up in the intensity of your next weight-training session. Try to incorporate yoga into your program at least once a week to encourage more successful resistance workouts from an increase in ATP, relaxation of the muscle fibers and mind and an overall sense of well-being.

5. Active Recovery AKA Light Cardio – It seems counterintuitive to work more when those fatigued muscles are screaming STOP! But a study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found that active recovery or light cardio activity immediately after a strength training session, for example, encourages recovery and reduces muscle lactate levels better than rest alone. Low-intensity cardio helps to stimulate blood circulation, which helps remove lactic acid from the muscles, thus reducing the potential for soreness.

After a resistance workout, try performing 30 minutes of a low-impact cardio activity such as cycling, biking or swimming at 30% of your usual intensity once a week to feel a less painful difference in those muscle fibers.

Christy’s Top 5: Ways to Liven Up Your Protein Shake

14 Jan

Tired of your usual protein and water mixture? Shake things up with these five delicious – and nutritious – protein recipes.

Note: For your protein powder, you may use: 100% whey, vegan, rice, egg-white or soy. Please make sure your protein powder is void of artificial sweeteners, colors and preservatives, and it is low in fat and sugar and high in protein.

1. Pumpkin Cheesecake Protein Shake:

Blend 6 oz canned pumpkin, 1 cup unsweetened almond milk (or water), 1 scoop protein powder,  1 Tbsp sugar-free, fat-free jello cheesecake pudding, 1/2 tsp cinnamon and ice. Enjoy this healthy holiday treat.

2. Protein Egg ‘n Oats Pancake:
Blend 1 scoop protein powder, 4 egg whites and  1/4 cup old-fashioned oatmeal in a bowl, pour into a pan and heat on medium/medium high until both sides are lightly browned. You may add 1 Tbsp natural sunbutter or raw almond butter and/or 1/2 tsp cinnamon and/or 1 packet Stevia or Truvia, as desired.
3. Protein Fruit ‘n Oats Pancake:
Blend 1 scoop protein powder with 1/4 cup steel-cut oatmeal and 1/2 banana or 1/2 cup berries, pour into a pan and heat on medium until softly cooked. You may add 1 Tbsp pure maple syrup and/or 1 Tbsp raw honey and/or 1/2 tsp cinnamon and/or 1 packet Stevia or Truvia, as desired.
4. Chocolate Protein Pudding:
Mix 1 cup plain greek yogurt with 1 scoop chocolate protein powder in a bowl. Stir until a creamy consistency.
5. Berry Craze Protein Smoothie:
In a blender, add the following: 1 scoop protein powder, 8 oz almond, soy or coconut milk, 1 cup frozen mixed berries (raspberries, blueberries and strawberries), 1 Tbsp raw honey, and ice. Blend until a rich consistency.
It’s Your Lifestyle, Make it a FIT One!
 Christy

Is Your Diet pH-Balanced?

8 Jan

We are often bombarded by calories, sugar grams, sodium content and fat amounts but did you know that the pH-balance of your food could be helping – or harming your health? My own health was secretly suffering due to unhealthy and not-so-unhealthy choices. I will explain how I realized my food was affecting me and how I became healthier than I’ve ever been. I will also help you to find out if you are out of balance and how to get yourself in sync with true health.

What is the ph balance of food and why is it important if I am counting calories and fat grams? Well, all foods contain chemical compounds that make up its origin. Foods that contain more hydrogen are considered more acidic, while foods that contain more oxygen are deemed more alkaline. An equal balance of both hydrogen and oxygen is called neutral.

The ph scale below demonstrates the ph ranges in various products:

To maintain optimum health, we should eat 75% Alkaline-forming foods and 25% Acidic-forming foods, according to Sam Graci, the author of  The Power of Superfoods. This is because blood and most body fluids, with the exception of stomach acid and urine, are utilized best under a slightly alkaline pH. To maintain this balanced pH, saliva helps us to dilute excess acidity or alkalinity in our bodies. Graci states that because of the alkaline nature of blood, Alkalizing foods help to maintain homeostasis and good health. Excess Acidifying foods decrease cellular metabolism, reducing our energy production and produce toxic byproducts that can lead to premature aging. Chronic acidosis compromises immunity and the body becomes a breeding ground for bacteria, viruses and cancer.

From my own personal experience, decreasing my acidic food intake and increasing my alkaline food intake have saved my health. I was in a downward spiral with mood swings, acne, severe stomach pains, lethargy and bloat. I tried to hide my symptoms but knew that I could not live with physical and emotional pain anymore. I went to my doctor who half-heartedly told me to “eliminate it if it bothers you” in regards to what I realized were curious food issues. I began to isolate certain foods and found what was causing me distress. I also began to eliminate foods that I didn’t enjoy or made me feel sick physically or emotionally. I began to add other foods that made me feel calm, centered and revitalized.

The main culprits I found were diet pop, dairy and excess meat. To test my assumption, I would add a can of diet pop after lunch or one string cheese slice to my afternoon snack hoping stress was the main reason for my breakouts or gut issues. Within days, dots appeared on my face and shocks of pain exploded in my sides. Sadly, I knew I had to let go of my daily pop intake and cheese on my pizza. But I was forever grateful for clear skin, a less-anxious attitude and a pain-free tummy. I also began to eat more apples and bananas, dark greens, beans and quinoa, and I sipped on herbal tea. All of which helped fill me up so I no longer needed a majority of the other foods. To my surprise, I had pH-balanced my body.

An aesthetician once told me my breakouts were because I was eating too many acidic foods. I didn’t believe her – until nowOf course, I still have acidic foods, just in moderation. I will never have a perfect diet, nor would I want to – chocolate tastes too yummy. But I feel so much better than I ever have. I am in balance and grateful for it.

Do you know if you are pH-balanced? Please answer my questionnaire below with ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to see if overly-acidic eating is possibly affecting your health.

ARE YOU pH-BALANCED?

1. I usually feel tired and/or sluggish.

2. I suffer from skin rashes, hives or acne on a regular basis.

3. My body is slow to digest food.

4. I regularly feel depressed and/or anxious.

5. I don’t feel satisfied after my meals and reach for junk food to compensate.

If you answered ‘yes’ to 3 or more questions, you may need to increase your alkaline food choices and decrease your acidic food choices. Take a look at the chart below to help get your pH in check now.

ACID AND ALKALINE FOOD CHART from The Power of Superfoods.

Alkalizing Foods
Vegetables
Alfalfa
Asparagus
Barley Grass
Beets
Broccoli
Brussels sprouts
Cabbage
Carrot
Cauliflower
Celery
Chlorella
Collard Greens
Cucumber
Eggplant
Garlic
Kale
Lettuce
Mushrooms
Nightshades
Onions
Parsley
Peas
Peppers
Pumpkin
Sea Veggies
Spirulina
Sprouts
Squashes
Wheat Grass
Fruits
Apple
Apricot
Avocado
Banana
Cantaloupe
Cherries
Dates/Figs
Grapes
Grapefruit
Lime
Honeydew
Nectarine
Orange
Lemon
Peach
Pear
Pineapple
All Berries
Tangerine
Tomato
Watermelon
Spices
Cinnamon
Curry
Chili Pepper
Ginger
Mustard
Miso
Sea Salt
Protein
Almonds
Chestnuts
Cottage Cheese
Chicken Breast
Flax Seeds
Millet
Pumpkin Seeds
Soy (fermented)
Sprouted Seeds
Sunflower Seeds
Whey Protein
Raw Yogurt
Oriental Veggies
Daikon
Kombu
Maitake
Nor
Reishi
Shitake
Wakame
Beverages
Apple Vinegar
Herbal Teas
Raw Milk
Other
Calcium
Magnesium
Potassium
Potatoes (baked)
Acidifying Foods
Fats & Oils
Avocado Oil
Canola Oil
Corn Oil
Hemp Seed Oil
Flax Oil
Grape Seed Oil
Lard
Olive Oil
Safflower Oil
Sesame Oil
Sunflower Oil
Grains
Amaranth
Barley
Buckwheat
Corn
Hemp Seed
Kamut
Oats (rolled)
Pasta (all)
Quinoa
Rice (all)
Rye
Spelt
Wheat
Fruits
Cranberries
Dairy
Cheese (all)
Pasteurized Milk
Butter
Nuts & Butters
Cashews
Brazil Nuts
Peanuts
Peanut Butter
Pecans
Tahini
Walnuts
Beans
& Legumes

Black Beans
Chick Peas
Green Peas
Kidney Beans
Lentils
Lima Beans
Pinto Beans
Red Beans
Soy Beans
White Beans
Protein
Beef
Carp
Clams
Eggs
Fish
Lamb
Lobster
Mussels
Oyster
Pork
Rabbit
Salmon
Shrimp
Scallops
Tuna
Turkey
Venison
Beverages
Almond Milk
Beer
Liquor
Rice Milk
Soy Milk
White Vinegar
Wine

NOTE: Please check with your doctor before changing your diet. This is my personal experience. If ph-balancing your diet works for you, great! If not, at least you are making an informed choice to treat your body with respect and give it what it needs – healthy food.

 

MelanieAvalon.com

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