Quick Review Of “Green For Life”

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Lately I’ve been studying raw eating.  It’s definitely not the best way to eat, but incorporating more raw foods into your diet is great for improving health.  Latest of the books I’ve read about raw living is Green for Life by Victoria Boutenko.

Victoria was following a completely raw diet, but her health began slipping.  Then she realized that she was consuming hardly any greens, just a lot of fruits and nuts.  When she added in more leafy greens, her health improved.  Since then she started making green smoothie recipes for people following standard raw diets, and they all experienced better health as well.


Everyone will tell you that eating more veggies is a good thing, but they’re kind of vague about amounts.  (That’s why I like Dr. Terry Wahls’ advice to eat three cups a day, it’s a concrete metric to follow.  Check out her TED talk here: Minding Your Mitochondria)  Boutenko added greens to fruit smoothies to increase her daily intake while still having them taste good.

There’s some misleading information in the book, especially when using the chimpanzee diet as the gold standard for humans to achieve, but the general thrust is dead on: Eat More Greens.

If you want to read about Boutenko’s experience and how the lives of many raw foodists improved with added greens, check out the book.  If you agree that greens are good and you don’t care about other people’s experiences, skip it.

Here are three of the green smoothie recipes from Green for Life:

Minty Thrill

  • 4 ripe pears
  • 5 leaves kale
  • 1/2 bunch mint
  • 2 cups water

Weeds For Kids

  • 4 peeled mangoes
  • 1 handful wild greens (like purslane)
  • 2 cups water


  • 8 leaves Romaine lettuce
  • 1/2 medium honeydew
  • 2 cups water

You can tell from these recipes that it doesn’t take much in the way of added greens to make dramatic health improvements.  Even if you don’t read the book or make smoothies, make an effort to take in more greens.

green smoothie

5 Hidden Energy Thieves

Health No Comments »

Want more energy?  Take a look at these five sneaky energy sappers and make some simple changes.

Energy Thief #1: Medication

Many drugs have energy-stealing side effects.  Antidepressants and beta-blockers are common culprits.  If you’ve started feeling more lethargic since a medication change, ask your doctor for an alternative.

Energy Thief #2: Low Iron

Iron is a mineral that helps move oxygen around your body and remove waste from your cells.  When your iron levels are low, your body struggles to function properly and you feel perpetually worn out.  A simple blood test can tell you if you’re iron deficient.

Energy Thief #3: Dehydration

Even moderate dehydration impairs physical and metal performance.  Drink plenty of water even when you’re not thirsty to prevent dehydration before it starts.

Energy Thief #4: Overtraining

Workouts should leave you feeling slightly drained.  If you’re completely exhausted, you might have dipped to much into your energy levels and you’ll feel fatigued until you completely recover.  Make sure to leave a little in the tank after each workout so you can deal with life outside of the gym.

Energy Thief #5: Blue Screens

Cell phones, computers, and TVs all emit a blue light that suppresses your body’s production of the sleep hormone melatonin.  Limit all screen time a few hours before bed to make sure that your sleep is deep and energizing.

Research: Ashwagandha For Increased Testosterone

Health, Study No Comments »

Ashwagandha is an herb used extensively in Indian Ayurvedic medicine.  But does it have benefits for someone living in the modern world?

The research says “Yes!”

What is ashwagandha?

ashwagandha witheria somnifera plant

It is an herb that belongs to the same plant family as the tomato, and has oval leaves and yellow flowers.  It bears tiny red fruit.  Native to India, Africa, and the Middle East, ashwagandha is now grown all over the world.

The plant is called withania somnifera in Latin, which means “sleep inducing.”  This refers to the plant’s ability to relieve insomnia and reduce anxiety.  The translation from Sankrit comes out as “the smell of a horse” because the herb imparts the vigor and strength of a stallion.

black horse rearing

According to research, ashwagandha…

  • protects the immune system (and rebuilds immune function after illness)
  • combats the effects of stress and lowers stress hormones
  • improves learning, memory, and reaction time
  • reduces anxiety and depression without causing drowsiness
  • keeps blood sugar stable
  • lowers bad cholesterol levels
  • reduces brain-cell degeneration
  • helps prevent malaria
  • is a systemic anti-inflammatory

And now the spotlight benefit for today: Ashwagandha increases testosterone.

A study from India shows increases in testosterone up to 40% from ashwagandha supplementation.  Here’s where to find the study, if you’re interested:

Fertil Steril. 2010 Aug;94(3):989-96.
Withania somnifera improves semen quality by regulating reproductive hormone levels and oxidative stress in seminal plasma of infertile males.
Ahmad MK, Mahdi AA, Shukla KK, Islam N, Rajender S, Madhukar D, Shankhwar SN, Ahmad S.

The researchers focused on sperm, quantity and motility.  But they also measured testosterone.

The control group was 75 normal (fertile) men, and the ashwagandha takers were 75 men who were deemed infertile (low test, low sperm count, slow sperm).

Here is a chart showing the results:

ashwaganda studt chart

In infertile men with normal sperm, the supplement increased testosterone by 15%.

Men with slow moving sperm increased testosterone by 21%.

And men with a low sperm count increased testosterone by 40%!

Even if someone doesn’t have fertility issues, ashwagandha is a safe and natural way to increase testosterone.  You can find it in most health food stores and even in the supplement section of organic grocers – but you can source the same brands a lot cheaper online.  (Here is the brand I take Nutrigold Ashwagandha)

Taking 500 to 1000 milligrams twice daily is a good maintenance dosage, and 2500 milligrams twice daily is what we use to raise test levels in clients with low testosterone.

Research: Eating Kelp Helps Lower Estrogen (And Fight Cancer!)

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What is brown kelp? Wikipedia has the answer:

bladder wrack fucus vesiculosus

Fucus vesiculosus, known by the common name bladder wrack or bladderwrack, is a seaweed found on the coasts of the North Sea, the western Baltic Sea, and the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, also known by the common names black tang, rockweed, bladder fucus, sea oak, black tany, cut weed, dyers fucus, red fucus, and rock wrack. It was the original source of iodine, discovered in 1811, and was used extensively to treat goitre, a swelling of the thyroid gland related to iodine deficiency.

Researchers from the University of California at Berkeley have found that brown kelp has an anti-estrogenic effect in the body.  They were looking for an alternative theory as to why Japanese women are less likely to develop breast, womb, or ovarian cancer.  These types of cancer are caused by estradiol, the predominant estrogen in the female body during reproductive years.

estradiol molecule

A traditional Japanese diet contains between 3 and 13g of seaweed every day.  Could this be the reason why estrogen-related cancers are relatively unknown in Japan?  The research points towards Yes.

The study below was a simple one: feed rats seaweed and see if it lowers their estradiol levels.  They gave rats either 175 or 350mg of seaweed per kg of bodyweight and measured estrogen levels.  The rats receiving the higher dose of seaweed lowered their estradiol levels by 40%.


Since eating seaweed definitely lowered estrogen levels in rats, the researchers next tested the effect of seaweed on human ovary cells.  And again, the higher the concentration of kelp, the lower the amount of estradiol the ovary cells made.

In the final part of this study, the researchers tested whether kelp would block estradiol and progesterone receptors in human cells.  Again, kelp beat estrogen.

The reason why kelp is such a powerful anti-estrogenic remains unknown.  All we can say for sure is that it definitely works.

Adding in seaweed supplements and eating foods containing seaweed on a regular basis will be a valuable anti-estrogenic tool for your health and nutrition toolbox.

seaweed salad

Here’s the citation for this study (it has graphs and lots more cool sciency stuff if you’re interested):

J Nutr. 2005 Feb;135(2):296-300.
Brown kelp modulates endocrine hormones in female sprague-dawley rats and in human luteinized granulosa cells.
Skibola CF, Curry JD, VandeVoort C, Conley A, Smith MT.

Add Fat To Lower Insulin Response? Nope

Health, Nutrition, Weight Loss No Comments »

It’s time to clear something up.

Books, magazines, and weight loss courses have all been spreading a bit of misinformation about eating fats and your body’s insulin response.

After vilifying  insulin response to foods, “experts” are recommending adding healthy fats to carbohydrates to reduce insulin in your blood after meals.  Here are just 3 examples I’ve seen today:

  • Adding peanut butter to your whole grain english muffin
  • Adding butter to your baked potato
  • Adding sesame oil to your steamed rice

english muffin with peanut butter

The idea is that the fats will slow/level out the rise in blood sugar in prevent a big insulin release after eating.


Fat doesn’t cause an immediate insulin response, it’s true.  But when added to a protein or carbohydrate, fat either has no effect on insulin response or else it slightly increases insulin response.

Sorry, but it doesn’t slow insulin down.

But there’s good news!  When fat REPLACES an equal caloric amount of carbohydrates, the insulin response is reduced.

To really make it clear, let’s use one of the examples above.  If you add butter to your baked potato, your insulin response will be the same or a little greater than if you ate the baked potato alone.  But if you eat half a potato with butter (even if you replace, calorie for calorie the butter for half a potato) your insulin response will be much lower than if you ate the whole potato plain.

baked potato guinea pig

So the key to using fats to lower insulin response isn’t in adding them to the meal, as if they were an anchor being dragged to slow your food.  The key is to exchange carbohydrates for fat to produce lower insulin levels.

Most of the confusion comes from people’s failure to recognize the difference between adding fat versus substituting fat.

See, adding fat to a meal does (in fact) slow down the rise in blood sugar that follows eating carbohydrates.  Since your insulin response is usually – in healthy people – aligned with the rise in blood sugar, it makes total sense to assume that adding fat to a meal would reduce the insulin response to that meal.

It makes sense, but that isn’t what actually happens!

As I said before, it turns out that insulin is either not affected or it rises with the addition of fat to carbohydrates.

(This is probably related to gastric inhibitory polypeptide, which is a hormone secreted from the pancreas in response to eating fat and which can heighten insulin reaction)

What about the insulin effects of protein?  Everything so far has focused on carbohydrates.  Well, first off, protein doesn’t raise insulin levels as much as carbohydrate… not by a long shot.

But it does affect insulin levels a little (about 30% as much as carbohydrate).  There are three main factors that determine your insulin response to protein:

1.  Fat Content.  The more fat versus protein, the lower your insulin response.

2. Amino Acid Profile.  Sources that are higher in lysine (example: beef) bring on more insulin than other protein sources

3. Processing.  The more processed your protein is, the more it will raise your insulin.  Ground beef doesn’t require as much digestion as steak, so it enters your bloodstream more rapidly.  (Ground meat actually ends up giving you more calories as well, because you don’t use up as much energy during the digestion process.  For a fascinating look at how cooking and grinding food shaped human evolution, I recommend reading Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human)

t bone steak

Fortunately, protein stimulates glucagon release as well, so you don’t need to worry as much about the insulinogenic properties of protein as you do about carbohydrates.  (If you don’t know much about glucagon, think of it as the opposite of insulin).

What does all this mean from a practical standpoint?  How then can you control the insulin response to bread, protatoes, rice – to go with the examples from earlier in this post?

In fact, why worry about the insulin response to carbohydrates at all?

Well, to control the insulin response from carbs… stop eating so many carbs!  Use the insulin response with strategically timed meals, after a workout or as part of a carb cyling plan, for example.

turtle eating strawberry

And you should be concerned about bumping insulin when you’re eating fat because when fat is consumed while your body is in fat-storage mode (high insulin), it is more likely to end up as bodyfat.

When your insulin levels are high, everything you eat is more liable to end up in your fat stores.  Fat especially heads straight for your fat cells when your insulin is high, especially because insulin causes fat burning to stop.

Translation: Fat is fattening IF you are in a fat storing mode (high insulin).

Your solution is to not eat fat when your insulin levels are high, and keeping carbs low the rest of the time.  You want to keep fat and insulin producing carbs apart from each other.

One situation would be to have protein and fat at every meal except for one or two meals right after your workout.  Here’s a sample schedule:

7 am: Protein + Fat

11 am: Protein + Fat

2 pm: Protein + Fat

4 pm: Workout

5 pm: Protein + Carbs

7 pm: Protein + Carbs

Or if you workout in the morning:

6 am: Workout

7 am: Protein + Carbs

10 am: Protein + Carbs

1 pm: Protein + Fat

4 pm: Protein + Fat

7 pm: Protein + Fat

Another option is to have higher carb “refeeds” every few days.  This is a good strategy when you’re looking to gain muscle and lose fat.

Day One: Several moderate protein, moderate fat meals

Day Two: Same as Day One

Day Three: Moderate protein, low fat meals during the day, 3 hour high carb, low protein, minimal fat refeed after your workout

Day Four: Same as Day One

Day Five: Same as Day One

Day Six: Same as Day One

Day Seven: Moderate protein, low fat meals during the day, 3 hour high carb, low protein, minimal fat refeed after your workout

food log body

What a plan like this does is keep you in fat burning mode most of the time, but still bump insulin to keep you anabolic and allow you to build muscle.  If you have more fat to lose, you’d want to go longer between refeeds.  If you’re already lean and looking to build muscle, you can have your refeeds closer together.

So to loop back to the original point of this post, adding fat to carbs doesn’t benefit you from a hormonal standpoint, in fact, it makes it more likely you’re going to store that meal as fat.

EDIT: I was asked why, if adding fat to meals doesn’t help with insulin, does adding fat make you feel fuller longer?

The answer is simple: You ate more calories!

Your Blood Type And What NOT To Eat

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When I was in college I was friends with an insanely strong football player.  He could jump out of the gym, lift more weight than anyone, and outrun the track stars…. Plus he was good-looking (the jerk).

And all he ate was buffalo meat, berries, and mountains of green vegetables.  A naturopath had told him that was the perfect diet for his blood type.  It definitely worked in his case.

red blood cells

In fact, over the years I’ve seen people have lots of success by following blood type based diets.  I figure it’s because people believe in them and thus stick to them – and sticking to your chosen diet is the key to making it work ;)

A quick search on Amazon.com showed 895 results for “blood type diet”, but the best known book is Eat Right 4 Your Type by Dr. Peter D’Adamo, and it’s where to start if you want more info on matching your food choices to your blood type.

Now, what does it mean in the title of this post when it says “What NOT To Eat”?

I think that blood type/food matching isn’t the first thing you should worry about.  Food quality, quantity, and timing are more important for weight loss and athletic performance.

And yet and yet and yet… This can be a big tipping point for losing stubborn fat and getting rid of nagging health issues.

Your blood type is actually better at informing you which foods you should avoid (yes, even some healthy foods) than telling you what you should eat.

The main reason for this is the lectins found in foods.

(For more than you ever wanted to know about lectins, check out this blog post: Chemical Warfare: Lectins Attack!)


Lectins are scary little proteins that work (or force!) their way undigested into your bloodstream where your body recognizes them as invaders and goes into defense mode.  Certain lectins bind to the surfaces of certain blood cells.

Besides causing an autoimmune response in your body, lectins also clump up and then destroy your blood cells.  You know…. those things that keep you alive.

Lectins also:

  • interfere with digestion
  • interfere with absorption
  • cause nutrient deficiencies
  • lead to food allergies
  • can cause inflammatory bowel disease
  • cause headaches
  • give you general achiness
  • give you diarrhea
  • can make you irritable
  • can give you anemia
  • contribute to diabetic problems
  • are definitely linked to rheumatoid arthritis
  • are definitely linked to psoriasis
  • can give you painful gas
  • can lead to immune deficiencies

Many of the effects of different lectins are blood type specific.  So you can avoid a lot of the problems with lectins by avoiding eating foods that contain the lectins that react with your blood type.

If you’re suffering from any of the problems listed above, or if you want an extra nutritional edge to help you lose fat faster, stay away from the foods that react with your blood type.  Here’s how to do it – it’s only two steps.

eating broccoli

Step One: Find out your blood type.

If you already know your blood type, go ahead to step two.  If you don’t, you can donate blood and they’ll tell you.  You can ask your doctor.  Or you can get a home blood test type kit from the pharmacy or order one from Amazon (here’s a link: Eldoncard Blood Type Kit).

Step Two: Don’t eat the foods that react most strongly to your blood type.

Special Note: GMO foods usually have increased lectin levels, avoid all GMO foods.  The most common genetically modified foods in the US are: Corn, soy, cotton (the oil is used in foods), papaya, rice, tomatoes, rapeseed, dairy, potatoes, and peas.  Wheat is often heavily modified too.

What Not To Eat: Blood Type A

  • blackberries
  • brown trout
  • clams
  • corn
  • french mushrooms
  • halibut
  • flounder
  • lima beans
  • snow white mushrooms
  • sole
  • soy
  • string beans
  • tora beans

What Not To Eat: Blood Type B

  • bitter melons
  • black-eyed peas
  • castor beans
  • chicken
  • chocolate/cocoa
  • french mushrooms
  • pomeranates
  • salmon
  • sesame
  • sunflower seeds
  • soy
  • tuna

What Not To Eat: Blood Type AB

  • blackberries
  • black-eyed peas
  • brown trout
  • clams
  • cocoa/chocolate
  • corn
  • french mushrooms
  • halibut
  • flounder
  • lima beans
  • pomegranates
  • salmon
  • sesame
  • white mushrooms
  • sole
  • soy
  • string beans
  • sunflower seeds
  • tuna

What Not To Eat: Blood Type O

  • blackberries
  • cocoa/chocolate
  • french mushrooms
  • halibut
  • flounder
  • sole
  • sunflower seeds

Avoiding GMO foods and the foods that react with your blood type will help your body get back into it’s naturally healthy state and help ease the system stress that is causing you to hold onto stubborn pounds.

Plus, it’s really easy – just don’t eat the foods on your list!

personality and blood type

A Few Posts About Gymnastics

Exercise, Health No Comments »

For a while I was helping with a blog for a local gymnastics team.  Well, that blog is down but here are a few posts that will be of interest for gymnastics parents, coaches, and athletes:

10 Tips For Parents

RICE For Gymnastics Injuries

Basic Tumbling Skills

Research On Ammenorhea, Bone Density, And Female Gymnasts

5 Reasons Sugar Is Bad For Young Athletes

Push Up Variations For Mom And Dad

Research: Injury Rates In Gymnastics

Should Gymnasts Lift Weights?

Must Watch Gymnastics Documentary

Gymnastics Skill: Hollow Body And Rock

How To Increase Pull Ups

Beginning Bridging

SHARP Inflammation

Stretches To Help With The Splits

Female gymnast on gymnastics bar

Stretching Makes You Weaker (Sometimes That’s A Good Thing)

Exercise, Health No Comments »

“Ya gotta stretch before you work out!”

How often have you heard this advice?  Lots of times, I’ll bet.

But it’s only kinda sorta true.

Stretching is traditionally recommended pre-exercise as a way to reduce injuries.  Unfortunately, research and real life doesn’t support the stretching-reduces-injuries theory.

stretch armstrong toy

The Centers For Disease Control And Prevention (CDC) dug through all the research on stretching and injuries and concluded that people who stretch are no less likely to suffer injuries than those who don’t and that stretching does nothing to prevent injuries.

And even worse, several studies have found that stretching before exercise actually makes you more likely to get injured.

Stretching before a workout doesn’t make you more flexible either.  There’s a limit to how far a muscle can be stretched…

Picture a steak.  You can grab the ends and pull hard, and it will stretch a bit.  Keep pulling and pulling and it won’t stretch, it will rip.  Your muscles are like that steak.  There’s a limit to how far you can stretch before you start ripping.

overstretch tear hamstring

Stretching beyond your limits weakens your tendons and ligaments.  (Loose joints might give you a bigger range of motion though, at the high cost of greatly increased chance of injury)

The British Journal Of Sports Medicine stated that test subjects’s “flexibility index decreased significantly after stretching training.”

The warm-up aspect of stretching is also overrated.  Stretching doesn’t contract your muscles (muscles are designed to do only one thing: contract).  Contraction is what pulls blood into the muscle and bumps your metabolism to produce heat as a byproduct of effort.  No muscular contraction, no warm up.

Stretching before you are warm is another good way to injure yourself, incidentally.  Pulling the ends of a cold rubber band make it more likely to snap.  Cold taffy doesn’t stretch out, it breaks.  Your muscles do this too – a cold muscle getting stretched out will tear.

taffy puller

Stretching a muscle makes it weaker.  You have these little things called Golgi Tendon Organs in your tendons that are stretch sensors.  When they feel a stretch they try to contract your muscles to protect your muscles and joints from injury.  if you hold a stretch long enough (and without going too far), the golgi tendon organs “turn off” and allow your muscle to stretch a bit more.

The problem with relaxed golgi tendon organs is that they are designed to help your muscles contract.  Turn them off, and you’ve instantly become weaker.  This not only affects your strength, speed, power, and endurance; your muscles are what support your joints – and if you turn off your support system, you’re left with no protection from moving your joints beyond their range of motion.  Moving your joint outside of its range of motion = injury.

golgitendon organ

Weakened muscles from stretching also limit how effective your workout will be (while also making you more likely to get injured).  If you’re training to lose fat and re-shape your body, being stronger means you can exercise with more weights, go longer, do the exercises better, burn more calories, and raise your metabolism higher.

The American College Of Sports Medicine published a study that checked out the effect that stretching has on strength.  They tested hamstring strength and then the next session had subjects stretch their hamstrings before being tested.  Strength declined every time after stretching, even if the stretch was only held for 30 seconds.

So really, stretching doesn’t do anything that common knowledge holds it does.  Stretching doesn’t warm you up, make you more flexible, make you stronger, or protect you from injury.

Stretching a muscle weakens it.

Stretching your working muscles before practice (in athletes) or a workout is like going in overtrained and tired.  You’ll perform on an inferior level and be more likely to get injured.

That’s why you don’t want to stretch your prime mover muscles before exertion.  Weakened hamstrings, quads, and shoulders lead to injury and impaired performance.  Of course, what are the most often stretched muscles?  Hamstrings, quads, and shoulders…

team warm up stretch

Now, when is stretching a good thing?

You can slightly increase a muscle’s range of motion with stretching if it’s not done too vigorously.  And stretching is ideally done an hour or so after your workout, when the muscles are still warm but not firing lots of electrical signals that cause contraction.

As your strength and mobility improves, your workouts themselves become active “stretches.”  Sitting into a deep squat is a real world exercise that ensures you keep a big range of motion.  (Doing real-world movements like squatting, pulling, pushing, and lunging means you’ll move freely, without even a risk of becoming “muscle bound”)

It’s time for the big idea: Sometimes making a muscle weaker is a good thing!

martha stewart good thing

Really.  After all the slams on stretching so far, sometimes you really do want to make a muscle weaker.

When a muscle is in a contracted position all day, it shortens and becomes very tight.  This can pull your body out of alignment and really mess you up when you try to move.

So you can stretch that muscle to weaken it and let your joints get back into alignment.

Time for a few examples of when stretching a muscle to weaken it is what you should do…

Calves – Wearing shoes with a heel all day keeps your calf muscles shortened and they tighten up.  Then when you go to exercise you can’t keep your feet flat on the floor, your knees shoot forward, and your back goes wonky.

high heel x ray pic shortened calf and achilles

So stretching your calves to weaken them allows you to keep your heels down when you exercise so your body is aligned and you have less risk of injuring other joints.

One caveat with stretching your calves: you don’t want to stretch them so much they’re weakened before doing power jumping exercises.  In this case it’s better to warm them up with little hops and active squat stretches (like toe grab squats) instead of stretching.

 Chest – Sitting hunched over in front of a computer (or on any chair, really) draws your shoulders forward and shortens your chest muscles.  This in turn weakens the muscles of your back and raises your shoulder blades which weakens your shoulders and makes them more likely to get get injured.  A tight chest is no bueno.

computer back tight chest x ray

Opening and loosening your chest will let you activate your back muscles and keep your shoulders in place.

Again, you don’t want to weaken your chest muscles if you’re going to be doing aggressive chest exercises, but anything involving your back or lower body – go for it.

Hip Flexors And Piriformis – This is a big one.  In fact, the most popular post on this website is all about just stretching your hip flexors (Here it is: One Exercise To End Lower Belly Pooch).

Sitting shortens these muscles and tips your hips out of alignment, which throws all of your exercise onto your lower back and prevents you from engaging your abs and glute muscles.

When your hip flexors are tight, your low back is going to hurt.  And you see all the benefits from your core and butt exercises.

if your hip flexors are tight

And a tight piriformis can cause shooting pain (and a shortened range of motion) through your low back and the back of your legs.

Weakening these two muscle groups with stretching is one of the best things you can do for yourself.  We sit so much that it affects everything, and these are two great weapons you can use to counterattack.

There’s no caveat here, do the hip flexor stretch and the piriformis stretch as often as possible.  I start every one of my workouts and the workouts of my clients with these two.  Plus, stretch again throughout the day.

Wrap Up

What doesn’t work about stretching:

  • Doesn’t Warm You Up
  • Doesn’t Decrease Injuries
  • Doesn’t Increase Strength
  • Doesn’t Increase Flexibility
  • Doesn’t Improve Power Output

What stretching does:

  • Slightly Increase Muscle Length
  • Turn Off Contraction System

When stretching is a good thing:

  • To Deliberately Weaken A Muscle To Improve Alignment

wake up stretch dinosaur

Protein: The Coolest Nutrient?

Health, Nutrition, Weight Loss 2 Comments »

I think protein is awesome.

It does all sorts of cool stuff in your body:

  • It forms antibodies to protect you when viruses and bacteria wanna play dirty
  • It forms enzymes to help you digest your food
  • It builds your body, from muscles and bones to organs and connective tissue
  • It carries oxygen through your blood and delivers it to your organs and muscles
  • It forms hormones to tell your body when to burn food for energy and when to store it as fat

protein molecule is awesome

Protein is like the all-star kid from high school that letters in every sport, gets straight As, plays in the band, leads the debate team, and still has time to organize a blood drive and parade.  In short, it’s a versatile superstar.

You should make getting quality protein the number one foundation of your diet because it does so much for you.  Plus…

Protein burns more calories.  Your body has to break down foods to get at the nutrients and energy in the food.  Protein takes about twice as much energy to break down as carbohydrate.  So getting at the energy in the food costs more energy and you use a lot more calories to do it.  When you eat more protein (in place of carbs and fats) you burn more calories all day.

Protein is delicious.  Lobster.  Steak.  Chicken.  Salmon.  Shrimp.  Oooh yeah.  When your diet is built around super-tasty food it’s a lot easier to stick to.

steak steak steak

Protein attacks belly fat.  Well, not directly… But a high-protein diet helps you body control cortisol, a “stress hormone” that leads to fat storage on your abs and upper back.  Less cortisol = less body fat.

Protein satisfies.  You feel full faster when you eat a high protein meal.  I can eat a plate full of cookies in nothing flat. Eating a can of salmon though?  It’s tough!  The fullness will help keep you from overeating.  Plus, high-protein meals keep you satisfied longer, so you’re not starving again an hour later (like you would be after the cookie binge).

Protein helps you firm up.  The lean, toned muscle you build from working out?  Yeah, it’s made from protein.  When you exercise, you create tiny little tears in your muscles.  To repair these tears, your body needs protein.  So if you wanna tone up, you need protein.  Lots of protein.  (And when your body is rebuilding proteins, it’s totally in fat burning mode too.  Win win situation.)

getting toned

That’s five good reasons to make protein the cornerstone of your diet.  Combine them and you can see how focusing on protein will get you burning fat and toning up.

A few tips to help you get the most from protein:

  • ALL plant proteins are incomplete protein sources (yes, even soy).  Get complete protein from animal foods.
  • Choose the wildest meat you can find.
  • Most protein drinks are loaded with fillers and other junky chemicals.  If you supplement with protein powders, read the labels carefully.
  • Your minimum protein intake should be one gram of protein for every pound you weigh.  Ex: If you weigh 150 pounds, get at least 150 grams of protein.
  • Protein is a mild diuretic, so drink lots of water when on a high-protein diet.
  • If you have gout or are diabetic, work with a doctor or nutritionist to plan your diet.
  • Make your protein as delicious as possible.  Try new foods, use lots of spices, keep things interesting

Have fun and go eat some protein!

Simple Health And Weight Loss To Do List

Health, Nutrition, Strategies, Weight Loss No Comments »

Small changes made and sustained over time are a much easier way to lose weight than crash diets.

Sure, you might not lose weight as quickly as your friend who is eating only 2 apricots a day, but you’ll lose the excess weight painlessly, and the results will last (no more rebounding after a crash diet!)

With the overarching goals of being stressless and sustainable, here are some simple changes that will help you transform your body and your health:

  • Cook more, eat out less.
  • Think about good things to eat. (Instead of worrying about bad things to eat)
  • Eat what’s in-season for maximum flavor and value.  Availability doesn’t equal quality.  (Eating in-season is better for the environment as well)
  • Explore farmer’s markets, co-ops, and ethnic markets.
  • Take the stairs.  Park farther out.  Add as much non-exercise movement as you can.
  • Don’t watch much TV. (Or spend forever on Facebook)
  • Experiment with herbs, spices, and other taste-makers to discover new flavors and make meals seem new.  (I never used coriander or cardamom before making Paleo Butter Chicken, now they’re two of my favorite spices)
  • Eat smaller portions of more things, instead of larger portions of fewer things.
  • Eat more vegetables.
  • Eat more fruit.
  • Drink more water.
  • Walk everywhere you can.
  • Present your food appealingly, even if you’re just serving yourself.
  • Don’t eat “fat free” or “sugar free.”  Stay away from artificial flavors.  Instead, enjoy the real thing in moderation.
  • Indulge healthfully – see this post: Coffee, Chocolate, And Red Wine
  • Drink lots and lots of water.
  • Plan meals in advance.
  • Choose your own indulgences and compensations.
  • Don’t follow media fads.
  • Laugh more.  (True laughter leads to positive hormonal changes)
  • Use all five of your senses while you’re eating and less will seem like more.
  • If you choose to exercise in addition to moving more, choose something you enjoy that motivates you.
  • Use clothing and the mirror to keep track of your body shape, not the scale.
  • If you slip up on your plan, just come back.  Don’t focus on the negative.
  • Don’t snack all the time.
  • Never get too hungry.
  • Never get too full.
  • Never eat standing up, walking, in front of the TV, in front of the computer, or while driving.
  • Train your taste buds.
  • Sleep more.  But not too much.
  • Get more sunshine and fresh air.