09/13/2010

Can we change our body shape

The general shape of an individual is defined mainly by that person’s inherited skeletal structure, muscles and fat. So is it possible to change our body shape or are we stuck with what we’ve been given?

Skeletal structure grows and changes up until adulthood and then remains essentially the same until death. Muscle mass and fat distribution develops during puberty due to the influence of hormones, but can also be affected by activity levels and diet. Muscle mass and fat distribution then continue to change throughout life, due to these same influences.

So the answer is yes, we can have an effect on our body shape; the easiest and simplest way being through diet and exercise.

Some things are of course harder to change than others. During puberty, men develop broad shoulders and expanded ribcages to support the oxygen requirements of a larger muscle mass while women experience a widening of the hip bones to accommodate childbirth. For hormonal reasons, women also store most of their body fat in their buttocks, hips and thighs while men store most of their body fat around the abdominal area.

Unfortunately it appears to be human nature to want the opposite of what we have, and so we have a growing number of body conscious men who want bigger legs to balance out their expanded chests and broader shoulders, and women who want more shapely arms to balance out their larger buttocks and thicker legs. And of course we all want to be lean, because leanness is associated with the youth and virility that we are all so desperately trying to gain and/or hang on to.

As body shape is affected by muscle and fat distribution, does it not follow that by manipulating our muscle and fat distribution we can change our body shape. This is essentially what bodybuilding is all about.

Diet and exercise controls the amount of body fat that we store on our bodies, so a healthy calorie controlled diet and active lifestyle gives us control over our jelly bellies and chunky thighs.

The type of diet and exercise we follow affects the size and distribution of our muscle mass, so a “tailor made” diet and training program gives us control over our chicken legs and stick arms.

Sound easy? Nothing worth working for is ever easy but the results are always worth the effort!

09/06/2010

Exercise Makes You Feel Full

There is now another good reason to exercise. Besides burning calories, exercise restores the sensitivity of neurons involved in the control of satiety (feeling full), which in turn contributes to reduced food intake and consequently weight loss.

This is the conclusion of a study led by Brazilian researchers at the University of Campinas, and the findings will be published next week in the online, open access journal PLoS Biology. This disclosure may bring hope to over 40% of the population that suffers from weight problems and obesity around the world.

The increase in obesity has become one of the most important clinical-epidemiological phenomena. Factors such as changing eating habits and a sedentary lifestyle both have a role in the pathogenesis of this disease. It is postulated that excessive consumption of fat creates failures in the signal transmitted by neurons controlling satiety in a region of the brain called the hypothalamus. These failures can lead to uncontrollable food intake and, consequently, obesity.

The group led by José Barreto C. Carvalheira demonstrated that exercising obese rodents showed signals of restored satiety in hypothalamic neurons and decreased food intake. "In obese animals, exercise increased IL-6 and IL-10 protein levels in the hypothalamus, and these molecules were crucial for increasing the sensitivity of the most important hormones, insulin and leptin, which control appetite," Carvalheira explained.

Physical activity contributes to the prevention and treatment of obesity, not only by increasing energy expenditure but also by modulating the signals of satiety and reducing food intake.

Physical activity has always been considered a cornerstone in the treatment of obesity, however, only now have the effects of exercise on the control of body weight been understood. Thus, these findings, besides reinforcing the necessity for regular exercise also change the current paradigm established between physical activity and weight loss.

Funding: This study was supported by grants from Fundacao de Amparo a Pesquisa do Estado de Sao Paulo (FAPESP) and Conselho Nacional de desenvolvimento científico e tecnológico (CNPq).

08/29/2010

Seven Reasons to Laugh More

By Matt O'Neill

Everyone knows ‘laughter is the best medicine’. Now research shows exactly why a good chuckle can boost your health. Here are seven good reasons why you should laugh more:

Boosts your immunity – Laughter may defend against colds, cancer and other conditions affected by a weakened immunity. The blood of patients who watched a humorous video contained higher levels of antibodies and natural killer cells after the viewing.

Reduces pain – It’s harder to feel pain when you are laughing. Studies have reported less perceived pain from burns, surgery and other conditions during and following a mirthful bout of laughter.

Relaxes your muscles – Vigorous laughter provides a form of internal massage and exercise for your diaphragm muscles. After laugher you’re likely to feel more relaxed.

Expands your lungs – A hearty chortle can enhance respiratory function. In one study, the long sigh following laughter induced by funny videos increased oxygen intake.

Improves blood flow – Laughter can increase blood flow to the heart. When volunteers watched a funny movie that made them laugh, their arteries dilated in a similar way to that caused by aerobic exercise. Blood vessel dilation was 50% better after the comedy than after a depressing film.

Reduces stress – A good giggle can counteract the release of stress hormones. When a group of sixteen men watched a funny video their levels of cortisol fell by 39% and adrenaline dropped by 70%.

Elevates your mood – Laughter-induced endorphins can calm the mind and induce positive emotions. When the men in the study above were told they would watch the funny video in three days time, they experienced an anticipatory increase in endorphin levels. Looking forward to a good laugh appears to be just as important as laughing itself.

08/18/2010

Cross Training Improves Fitness & Reduces Injury

You consider yourself to be in better than average shape. You run several times a week for health and fitness and maybe do an occasional fun run on the weekend. Some friends come into town for the holidays and you decide to go skiing. No problem, you're in great shape, right? Wrong. After a day on the slopes you feel like you've been run over by Santa's sleigh and all his reindeer. What's going on?

You may be in great shape, for the sort of exercise you do routinely. But if that's all you do, day after day, you may be setting yourself up for injury or mental burnout and that is not a good way to get fit. What can help prevent injury and burnout? Cross training.

Cross training is a great way to condition different muscle groups, develop a new set of skills, and reduce boredom that creeps in after months of the same exercise routines. Cross training also allows you the ability to vary the stress placed on specific muscles or even your cardiovascular system. After months of the same movements your body becomes extremely efficient performing those movements, and while that is great for competition, it limits the amount of overall fitness you possess and reduces the actual conditioning you get while training; rather than continuing to improve, you simply maintain a certain level of fitness. Cross training is also necessary to reduce the risk of injury from repetitive strain or overuse.

The term cross training refers to a training routine that involves several different forms of exercise. While it is necessary for an athlete to train specifically for their sport if they want to excel, for most exercisers cross training is a beneficial training method for maintaining a high level of overall fitness. For example, you may use both biking and swimming each week to improve your overall aerobic capacity, build overall muscle strength and reduce the chance of an overuse injury. Cross training limits the stress that occurs on a specific muscle group because different activities use muscles in slightly different ways.

Benefits of Cross Training
•    Reduces exercise boredom
•    Allows you to be flexible about you training needs and plans (if the pool is closed, you can go for a run instead).
•    Produces a higher level of all around conditioning
•    Conditions the entire body, not just specific muscle groups
•    Reduces the risk of injury
•    Work some muscles while others rest and recover
•    Can continue to train while injured
•    Improves your skill, agility and balance

What exercises should make up a good cross training routine?

Cardiovascular Exercise (Think about adding three different exercises from the list below):
•    Running
•    Swimming
•    Cycling
•    Rowing
•    Stair Climbing
•    Rope jumping
•    Skating (inline or ice)
•    Skiing
•    Racquetball / basketball / other court sports

Strength Training
•    Calisthenics (push ups and crunches and pull ups)
•    Free Weights
•    Machines
•    Tubing and Bands

Flexibility
Stretching
Yoga

Speed, agility, and balance drills

Circuit training, sprinting, plyometrics and other forms of skill conditioning


With cross training, you can do one form of exercise each day, or more than one in a day. If you do both on the same day, you can change the order in which you do them. You can easily tailor cross-training to your needs and interests; mix and match you sports and change your routine on a regular basis.

Exercise can strengthen the cardiovascular system, bones, muscles, joints, reduce body fat and improve flexibility, balance and coordination. But if you want to see all of these benefits, you'll need to start cross training. What better time to start than now? I hear your friends have taken up snowboarding.

08/09/2010

Stress & Cortisol Link

By Matt O’Neill – Metabolic Jumpstart

You may be aware that cortisol is the "stress hormone" but how exactly does it affect body fat levels?
And what can you do to stress less for success?


Stress > Cortisol


No matter what the source of stress - emotional, physical, diet restriction or over-exercising - one physiological response is for certain. Levels of the hormone cortisol will increase. Cortisol is designed to help release energy from body stores when stressed. Cortisol sounds good for fat burning, but it often backfires due to some negative effects.


Cortisol > Cravings

When circulating cortisol reaches your brain, it stimulates another chemical neuropeptide-Y, which can trigger your appetite and cravings. If you are stressed and experience persistent food cravings, cortisol could be the culprit.

Cortisol > Abdominal Fat

Research has also found a link between cortisol and greater amounts of abdominal body fat. So, being stressed could be contributing to a plateau or the inability to budge that last few centimetres.

Stress Less for Success

There is now a clear case for managing stress and therefore your body's cortisol production to maximise your results.


Being more patient about your progress, allowing yourself the occasional slip-up and becoming comfortable being a healthy weight, rather than the lowest weight, may be an approach that gets breakthrough results. What steps will you take to manage stress?

.

08/03/2010

Weight Lifting for Skinny Guys

By Harry Hawkins

So you hate that scrawny marathon runner body. You would prefer to have the sprinter body that has lean, strong, dense muscles.

However, try as you may, you can't seem to gain any significant amount of muscle. Whether it is genetics or just wacky hormones that are out to get you, one thing is for certain, and that is that you need to train a little differently. It's good that you are learning about how to gain more muscles so you know, you won't be knocked over by a strong gust of wind.

Being a hardgainer, you need to weight train a little differently than the guys that are genetically gifted and can put on muscles in a short period of time. The one crucial thing you need to do is avoid volume work at all costs.

Rule #1 - Because you're a skinny guy, you have to make the most out of your workout, and that means getting in the gym and getting out! You can't afford to mess around in the gym doing long duration workouts and expending large amounts of calories in the process. With your body type, you need to conserve some calories or you won't grow.

You will need a lot of rest, more so than other guys since you only grow when you are resting.

Now I'm not saying that you have to wait a week in between your workouts, but what you should be doing is going in the gym, exhausting your muscles, and get out. You have no time for sissy, light-weight workouts of 20 sets and then stopping to check out the hot girl, then doing another sissy 10 sets that takes 4 hours.

Rule #2
So if you can't do the sissy light-weight sets, what DO you do? Compound workouts. If your workouts currently include, bicep curls, triceps kickbacks, neck rolls, cell phone talking, and checking yourself out in the mirror, then stop. You can only be in the gym for a short amount of time, you can't afford to let that time go to waste. The best way to get the most bang for your buck is to do compound workouts. Workouts such as squats, bench presses, deadlifts, rows, anything that requires more than one major muscle group to complete.

Make these exercises your focus and you will soon have nice new muscles in no time.

Rule #3
Cardio

Don't do it. I know you don't want to be fat, and for health reasons it's great. But, for muscle building, and especially skinny guy muscle building, doing cardio is going to hurt your progress. You're already burning calories at an accelerated rate, you don't want to take that through the roof by doing cardio. Save those calories so that they can be used to build muscles. If you really want to do cardio, limit it to 2 or 3 20 minute sessions of low or moderate intensity, anything more than that and you'll be hurting your progress.

Rule #4
You need to rest. As mentioned in rule #1, you only gain muscles when you rest. This is especially important for a scrawny guy like you. Make sure you get your beauty sleep of preferably 8 hours, 7 hours minimum. You can't afford to be partying all night with your friends. The less sleep you get the less time your body has to repair itself and the less time your body can build new muscles. Resting is as important if not MORE important than working out.

Rule #5
Proper technique. I'm sure you've seen the guy that swings his arm in a huge arc to get that bicep curl. He's using momentum to help with the lift and so his bicep isn't getting a good workout. The right technique not only prevents injuries, but also increases muscle mass by recruiting the maximum amount of muscle fibers to help with the lift.

If you're not sure how a lift should be performed, hire a trainer or look at reputable videos.

Conclusion
Okay so what do you need to change? To summarize, get in there, train hard with proper technique, get out, eat and rest. Rinse and repeat and within a few short months that hot girl will maybe glance back at you too....maybe.

07/27/2010

15 top diet tips

By Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD WebMD Weight Loss Clinic-Feature

Best Diet Tip No. 1: Drink plenty of water or other calorie-free beverages.

People sometimes confuse thirst with hunger. So you can end up eating extra calories when an ice-cold glass of water is really what you need.

"If you don't like plain water, try adding citrus or a splash of juice, or brew infused teas like mango or peach, which have lots of flavor but no calories," says Cynthia Sass, RD, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.

Best Diet Tip No. 2: Think about what you can add to your diet, not what you should take away.

Start by focusing on getting the recommended 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables each day.

"It sounds like a lot, but it is well worth it, because at the same time you are meeting your fiber goals and feeling more satisfied from the volume of food," says chef Laura Pansiero, RD.

You're also less likely to overeat because fruits and vegetables displace fat in the diet. And that's not to mention the health benefits of fruits and vegetables. More than 200 studies have documented the disease-preventing qualities of phytochemicals found in produce, says Pansiero.

Her suggestion for getting more: Work vegetables into meals instead of just serving them as sides on a plate.

"I love to take seasonal vegetables and make stir-fries, frittatas, risotto, pilafs, soups, or layer on sandwiches," Pansiero says. "It is so easy to buy a variety of vegetables and incorporate them into dishes."

Best Diet Tip No. 3: Consider whether you're really hungry.

Whenever you feel like eating, look for physical signs of hunger, suggests Michelle May, MD, author of Am I Hungry?

"Hunger is your body's way of telling you that you need fuel, so when a craving doesn't come from hunger, eating will never satisfy it," she says.

When you're done eating, you should feel better -- not stuffed, bloated, or tired.

"Your stomach is only the size of your fist, so it takes just a handful of food to fill it comfortably," says May.

Keeping your portions reasonable will help you get more in touch with your feelings of hunger and fullness.

Best Diet Tip No. 4: Be choosy about nighttime snacks.

Mindless eating occurs most frequently after dinner, when you finally sit down and relax.

"Sitting down with a bag of chips or cookies in front of the television is an example of eating amnesia, where you mindlessly eat without being hungry, but out of habit," says American Dietetic Association spokesperson Malena Perdomo, RD.

Either close down the kitchen after a certain hour, or allow yourself a low-calorie snack, like a 100-calorie pack of cookies or a half-cup scoop of low-fat ice cream. Once you find that you're usually satisfied with the low-cal snack, try a cup of zero-calorie tea, suggests Perdomo.

Best Diet Tip No. 5: Enjoy your favorite foods.

"I think putting your favorite foods off limits leads to weight gain because it triggers 'rebound' overeating," says Sass.

Instead of cutting out your favorite foods altogether, be a slim shopper. Buy one fresh bakery cookie instead of a box, or a small portion of candy from the bulk bins instead of a whole bag.

"You can enjoy your favorite foods, but you must do so in moderation," says Sass.

Best Diet Tip No. 6: Enjoy your treats away from home.

When you need a treat, Ellie Krieger, RD, host of Food Network's Healthy Appetite, suggests taking a walk to your local ice cream parlor or planning a family outing.

"By making it into an adventure, you don't have to worry about the temptation of having treats in the house, and it is a fun and pleasurable way to make it work when you are trying to lose weight," says Krieger.

And for those times you just can't get out? Krieger stocks her kitchen with fresh fruit, which she thinks can be every bit as delicious as any other dessert.

Best Diet Tip No. 7: Eat several mini-meals during the day.

If you eat fewer calories than you burn, you will lose weight. But when you're hungry all the time, eating fewer calories can be challenging.

"Studies show people who eat 4-5 meals or snacks per day are better able to control their appetite and weight," says obesity researcher Rebecca Reeves, DrPH, RD.

She recommends dividing your daily calories into smaller meals or snacks and enjoying as many of them as you can early in the day -- dinner should be the last time you eat.

Best Diet Tip No. 8: Eat protein at every meal.

Protein is more satisfying than carbohydrates or fats, and thus may be the new secret weapon in weight control.

"Diets higher in protein [and] moderate in carbs, along with a lifestyle of regular exercise, have an excellent potential to help weight loss," says University of Illinois protein researcher Donald Layman, PhD.

Getting enough protein helps preserve muscle mass and encourages fat burning while keeping you feeling full. So be sure to include healthy protein sources, like yogurt, cheese, nuts, or beans, at meals and snacks.

Best Diet Tip No. 9: Spice it up.

Add spices or chiles to your food for a flavor boost that can help you feel satisfied.

"Food that is loaded with flavor will stimulate your taste buds and be more satisfying so you won't eat as much," says Perdomo.

When you need something sweet, suck on a red-hot fireball candy for a long-lasting burst of sweetness with just a few calories.

Best Diet Tip No. 10: Stock your kitchen with healthy convenience foods.

Having ready-to-eat snacks and meals-in-minutes staples on hand sets you up for success. You'll be less likely to hit the drive-through or call in a pizza order if you can make a healthy meal in 5 or 10 minutes.

Sass stocks her kitchen with:

  
·         94% fat-free microwave popcorn (20-25 calories per cup, and you can make it in two minutes or less)
  ·         Frozen vegetables
  ·         Bags of pre-washed greens
  ·         Canned diced tomatoes
  ·         Canned beans
  
·         Whole-grain wraps or pitas
  ·         Pre-cooked grilled chicken breasts
  ·         A few containers of pre-cooked brown rice

Within minutes, she can toss together a healthy medley.

Best Diet Tip No. 11: Order children’s portions at restaurants.

"When you are eating out, order a child's pizza or a small sandwich as an easy way to trim calories and get your portions under control," suggest Perdomo.

Another trick is to use smaller plates. This helps the portions look like more, and if your mind is satisfied, your stomach likely will be, too.

Best Diet Tip No. 12: Eat foods in season.

"If you don't love certain fruits or vegetables, it could be because you ate them out of season when they have little taste or flavor," says Pensiero. "When you eat seasonally, fruits and vegetables are more flavorful, at their best, and I promise you won't be disappointed."

At GiGi's Trattoria, her restaurant in Rhinebeck, N.Y., she serves simple fruit desserts, like naturally sweet strawberries topped with aged balsamic vinegar, or low-fat yogurt or fresh berries in a compote.

Best Diet Tip No. 13: Swap a cup of pasta for a cup of vegetables.

Simply by eating less pasta or bread and more veggies, you could lose a dress or pants size in a year.

"You can save from 100-200 calories if you reduce the portion of starch on your plate and increase the amount of vegetables," says Sass.

Best Diet Tip No. 14: Use non-food alternatives to cope with stress.

Sooner or later, you're going to be faced with a stressful situation. Instead of turning to food for comfort, be prepared with some non-food tactics that work for you.

Sass suggests reading a few chapters in a novel, listening to music, writing in a journal, practicing meditative deep breathing, or looking at a photo album of loved ones.

Best Diet Tip No. 15: Be physically active.

Although it may seem counterintuitive, don't use exercise either to punish yourself for eating or to "earn" the right to eat more.

"When you do, it sets up a negative thought pattern, which is why so many people say they hate to exercise," says May.

Instead, focus on how great you feel, how much better you sleep and how much more energy you have when you exercise. Physical activity is good for you whether you are trying to lose weight or not, so keep it positive and build a lifelong habit.

07/19/2010

The Ideal Growth Hormone Inducing Diet

The following information has been extracted from Hormones and Diet: Part One: Growth Hormone Copyright © 2005 by Gary F. Zeolla

Hormones have a direct affect on a person's body composition (muscularity vs fatness) and what you eat has a direct bearing on your hormone levels. So what is the ideal growth hormone inducing diet?

The Hormones

Human growth hormone (HGH or GH) and testosterone are the two primary anabolic and lipolytic hormones. This means that increased levels of these hormones will increase muscular size and strength and reduce body fat.

Cortisol is the primary catabolic hormone. Increased levels decrease muscle size and strength and direct the body to store body fat. Interestingly as cortisol levels rise, levels of growth hormone and testosterone drop, and vice-a-versa.

Insulin can be anabolic in that it helps to drive amino acids (protein) into muscle cells, but it can also be lipogenic in that chronically high levels increase body fat.

Glucagon works in opposition to insulin. As glucagon rises, insulin drops, and vice-a-versa. And its actions are opposite to that of insulin. It leads to muscle breakdown but also to the loss of body fat.

Insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) is a hormone-like substance that has both anabolic and lipolytic effects.

There are many other hormones in the body. But these are the ones that are primary affected by diet.

Growth Hormone and Carbohydrates

The most important point in regards to growth hormone (GH) and diet is that high blood sugar levels cause growth hormone inhibition and "Growth hormone levels increase significantly when insulin levels (blood sugar levels) are low" (Jamieson, p. 85).

The type and amount of carbohydrates that you eat determines the degree of this effect. High glycemic foods increase blood sugar levels more than low glycemic foods. Eating a large amount of carbohydrates at once will cause a greater increase in blood sugar levels than eating a small amount of carbohydrates. Eating fat with cabs blunts the rise in blood sugar. What all of this means is that, consuming a large amount of high glycemic carbohydrates by themselves could completely halt growth hormone release. Or more generally, a high carbohydrate, low fat diet is absolutely devastating to growth hormone levels. This is one of the reasons why many people trying to lose weight on such a diet "plateau" after a period of time. Their inability to continue to lose weight is partly due to suppressed GH levels.

However, “we need insulin to promote the benefits of growth hormone. Studies show that GH fails to cause growth in animals lacking a pancreas and it also fails if carbohydrates are restricted from the diet" (Jamieson, p.56). The reason for this could be that a strict low carbohydrate diet would lead to chronically low insulin levels, and insulin, as indicated above, is needed to drive amino acids into the muscle cells.

Moreover, IGF-1 is produced in the body through the combined actions of GH and insulin. And IGF-1 "is at least as powerful an anabolic agent as either of its parents" (Faigin, p. 90). In fact, this relationship of insulin, growth hormone, and IGF-1 is one reason why those following a low carbohydrate diet also often plateau after a period of time.

So a low carbohydrate diet is not the answer either. An ideal GH enhancing diet would include some carbohydrates, but not an excessive amount. And the focus would be on low glycemic carbohydrates.

Growth Hormone and Protein

Next to be considered is the relationship of GH to protein intake. "GH is released after the consumption of protein. This might signify to the body that it is now an opportune moment to build" (Creative Newsletter).

Moreover, "Hormonally, protein intake is positively correlated with growth hormone, IGF-1, and glucagons. These hormones, collectively, exert an anabolic and biolytic effect" (Fagin, p.156).

This article is not about GH supplementation but interestingly “growth hormone supplementation increases the need for protein and people who supply the additional protein (do) better with their HGH supplementation program" (HGH Magazine, "Whey Protein").

In short, increased protein intake will increase GH levels, and increased GH levels will increase the need for protein. Moreover, frequent protein feedings will increase absorption of protein and produce frequent GH spikes.

So an ideal GH raising diet would also include frequent feedings of high quality protein.

Growth Hormone and Potassium:Sodium

"Medical science has known for some time that even modest potassium deficiency causes growth hormone and IGF-1 suppression" (HGH Magazine, "Potassium"). The reason for this is rather complicated but basically relates to cellular hydration.

Fluid is constantly moving in and out of the cell across an electrical gradient bisected by the cell membrane. The key to obtaining the positive benefits of "cell volumisation" is to maximize intracellular fluid. Drinking water will improve your overall hydration status, but it will not significantly alter the ratio of intracellular to extracellular fluid.

Water moves in and out of cells with electrolytes. The mineral sodium is the chief extracellular electrolyte, whereas the mineral potassium is the chief intracellular electrolyte. By increasing your potassium intake and reducing your sodium intake, you can shift water from the extracellular compartments of your body into the cells (HGH Magazine, "Potassium"). An increased intracellular hydration increases HGH release.

The best source by far for potassium is vegetables, and then fruit. Processed foods on the other hand are very high in sodium. So to enhance your GH levels, the answer is obvious, eat more veggies and fruits and less processed foods.

Growth Hormone Release

There are two times when the release of growth hormone is the greatest, when you are asleep and when you are exercising.

The first and “largest burst of GH is released during the early hours of sleep-hence our eating habits are crucial to maximizing this nighttime secretion.” (Jamieson, pp. 85,86). More specifically, "Growth hormone is especially dependent on sleep, because a major growth hormone surge occurs during the first episode of slow-wave sleep, approximately 30-70 minutes after falling asleep" (Faigin, p.200).

The consumption of carbohydrates at bedtime can blunt this crucial release of growth hormone. And the greater the amount of carbohydrates and the higher the glycolic rating of the carbohydrates, the greater will be the increase in blood sugar and the greater the suppression of GH. Thus, “going to bed with a belly-full of carbohydrates is hormonally unwise and may diminish, if not nullify, nocturnal growth hormone release" (Fagin, p.201).

It is for this reason that some will recommend not eating at all for at least two hours before bedtime. However, as indicated above, the consumption of protein will increase GH release. So an even better approach would be to limit carbohydrate consumption but to eat some protein at bedtime.

The second significant release of GH can occur in response to exercise. Any type of exercise will cause some increase in GH levels. But vigorous exercise will cause a greater release than exercise done at a low or moderate intensity.

Moreover, strength training will cause a greater release than aerobic exercise. For instance, riding an exercise bike at a high intensity will cause a 166% increase in GH, but weight training at a high intensity will cause a 400% increase.

Furthermore, all weight-training exercises are effective promoters of GH release, but those that involve the use of high-resistance and major muscle groups tend to be the most effective. “Applying maximum effort to fewer repetitions of squats, leg presses, deadlifts, overhead presses, bench presses, standing curls, and leg curls will optimize your results”. (Jamieson, p.92).

But how does all of this relate to diet? A common recommendation is to consume a carbohydrate-rich meal prior to a workout to provide fuel for that workout and then it is recommended to consume carbohydrates, especially high-glycemic ones, post-workout to replenish glycogen stores. However, "a carbohydrate-rich, pre-workout meal squelches exercise-induced growth hormone secretion.” "Another disadvantage of a pre-workout meal rich in carbohydrate pertains to its effect on brain chemistry…. By elevating serotonin, a neurotransmitter with sedative properties, a carbohydrate-rich meal can adversely affect motivation and energy levels. A protein based pre-workout meal has the opposite effect" (Faigin, pp. 240, 241). Protein would therefore be much better to consume pre-workout than carbohydrate.

Post-workout it is generally recommended to consume some kind of drink consisting of high glycemic carbohydrates, like dextrose or maltodextrin, but "The insulin spike produced by these high-carbo concoctions will, literally within seconds of swallowing your first gulp, kick you out of the heightened fat-burning state you worked so hard during your workout to attain,” and blunt any growth hormone release that is occurring due to the exercise. "By contrast, a medium-sized protein or protein/ fat meal will not thwart post-workout exercise fat burning (or growth hormone release). Rather, it will perpetuate the fat-burning momentum generated by your workout" (Faigin, p.243).

The Conclusion

If we put all of the above information together, the ideal growth hormone inducing diet would consist of a moderate amount of low glycemic carbohydrates (like whole grains), substantial quantities of protein, and copious amounts of vegetables (along with some fruit). It would also limit carbohydrate consumption pre- and post-workout and at bedtime.

Sources
Brand-Miller, Jennie, et. al. The New Glucose Revolutionhttp://www.qksrv.net/image-1355383-42121. Marlowe & Company: New York, 2003.

Creatine Newsletter. Issue 20. "Growth Hormone De-Mystified" - http://www.creatinemonohydrate.net/creatine_newsletter_20.html.

Dean, Ward M.D. "Neuroendocrine Theory of Aging Chapter 3; Part 1 Energy Homeostat Dysfunction" - http://www.vrp.com/art/253.asp.

Di Pasquale, Mauro. The Anabolic Solution for Powerlifters. N/A. 2002. For details on this book and nutrition program, see the Metabolic Diet Web site: www.metabolicdiet.com.

Faigin, Rob. Natural Hormonal Enhancement. Extique Publishing: Cedar Mountain, NC. 2000. For details on this book and nutrition program see the Extique Web site - www.extique.com.

HGH Magazine. www.hghmagazine.com. "Fiber helps manage HGH, Insulin, and Cholesterol." "Potassium and HGH - What your doctor does NOT tell you." "Whey Protein Supercharges HGH Supplements."

Jamieson, James and Dr. L.E. Dorman. Growth Hormone: Reversing Human Aging Naturally. Published by J. Jamieson: St. Louis, MO, 1997.

Schuler, Lou. The Testosterone Advantage Planhttp://www.qksrv.net/image-1355383-42121. Rodale: USA, 2002.

Thorton, Jim. "Maximum Testosterone." Men's Health. April, 2005, pp. 146-155,182.

Disclaimers:  The material presented in this article is intended for educational purposes only. The author is not offering medical or legal advice. Accuracy of information is attempted but not guaranteed. Before undertaking any diet, exercise, or health improvement program, one should consult your doctor. The author is in no way responsible or liable for any bodily harm, physical, mental, or emotional, that results from following any of the advice in this article.

07/13/2010

What not to wear

By Chris Rovny

 

The gym is probably one of the best places to witness fashion disasters. It's funny to see the different combinations people make with their clothing and workout accessories. These diverse styles range from the super trendy people wearing brand names like Versace and DKNY, to the less trendy people who wear tiger motif 49ers pants. Here are some basic fashion faux pas that can be seen in gyms everywhere.


Shoes


It is hard to tell someone how to dress, but a lot of men need pointers on what not to wear when training at the gym. First, we will discuss mistakes men do regarding their shoe selection. A definite no-no is wearing any type of non-athletic boots to workout. Almost every gym has a few men training either with construction boots or in some cases, with cowboy boots. Let's face it, wearing the right shoes isn't only important to be fashionable, but first and foremost, it is a pre-requisite to having a good and safe workout. A simple tip is to choose running shoes with the least possible colors so that they can match all your training clothes.

Another type of shoe one should steer clear of is the good old Velcro strapped shoe . They were really the big thing ten years ago, but lately, these shoes have been found in discount retailers that target less fashion conscious people. Then again, many top designers are including Velcro in their latest sneaker designs. The difference between designer shoes and the normal Velcro shoe isn't only the price; the designer sneakers will have a Je ne sais quoi that make them more suitable and glamorous. Another little tip is to try to keep your sneakers free of the gray film that accumulates over the years. This will keep the dirty glances away from your shoes.


Pants


Next up in the gym's fashion no-nos are the v-shaped bodybuilding pants. We all know that bodybuilders have their own little subculture with distinctive clothing, accessories and even their own vocabulary. Unless you weigh 300 pounds of pure muscle and eat a surplus of protein, you're probably not part of that subculture and should therefore not wear those funny looking pants.

It is one thing when pants have a baggy look on top and a narrow cut near the boot, but on top of that, they are available in different colors and designs. The unstylish cut and the unpleasant colors give way to a totally unattractive piece of clothing. The recommended bottom attire would be track pants. They are the most versatile clothing apparel to wear at the gym because they are comfortable, and if the color is uniform, they will match with any top and any pair of running shoes.


Shirts


The next big fashion mistake men make when suiting up for the gym is to pull out a white t-shirt with sweat stains in the armpits. The sweater might be totally clean, but time allows most deodorants to leave yellowish stains under the arms. It is a simple question of perception; people might see a yellow stain and assume that the person isn't clean. As a general rule, no one wants to be perceived as an unclean person. The easiest solution to this problem is to save up a mere 20 dollars and buy yourself a new white t-shirt; the investment is worth not going through the embarassment.

Another fashion gaffe is to wear spaghetti-strap tank tops. Even if someone has a shredded and defined body, there is no reason why any man should be wearing a top designed like
lingerie for the beach. If you really need to see your muscles, have the decency to wait until you are home behind closed doors. Wearing a less revealing tank top instead will still allow you to see just enough skin and muscle to properly execute your training movements.

These little fashion tips may seem obvious, but unfortunately, we see many of these fashion no-no's every time we step into a fitness facility. Suit up your simple training gear and start pumping away. Remember to keep your cell phone in your locker because your going to the gym to train, not to chit-chat .

06/30/2010

Hellping Kids Eat Right

There's no denying it – as a nation, we're getting heavier and heavier. And, our poor diets and sedentary lifestyles are affecting our kids, too. Just as adults are struggling with the "battle of the bulge", statistics show that our kids are getting heavier and that they are experiencing obesity-related health problems at very young ages.

Parents face an uphill struggle when it comes to getting kids to be more active and to eat healthy foods. Like adults, many kids face pressures of too much work and too little time for leisure-time activity, and the lure of television, video games or surfing the net often keeps them indoors. Food choices are influenced by taste, cost and convenience, and many foods are marketed as "cool" – something kids may value more than healthy nutrition.

Ultimately, parents are responsible for helping kids to make proper choices, and making sure there are healthy foods at home is a great place to start. Parents also need to set an example for their kids by eating right and staying active, too. Here are some tips to help your child eat smart and play hard:

1.    Keep a bowl of fresh whole fruit on the kitchen counter where it can be seen, or some cut up fruits or vegetables in plain view when the refrigerator door is open. By making these items convenient and easy to consume, kids are more likely to eat them.
 
2.    Take kids to the grocery store with you and use the time for some nutrition education. Older kids can learn how to read food labels, and often enjoy making comparisons between items and trying to find healthy alternatives. You can also do some negotiating with your kids by selecting items together that you both agree are acceptable.
 
3.    Get your kids involved in food preparation. Children are much more likely to eat foods when they have helped to prepare them. If you enjoy cooking, encourage your child to try new foods by preparing new dishes with you.
 
4.    Be patient when trying to get kids to try new foods. Studies show that repeated exposure does work – so keep offering foods, and encourage kids to try "just a bite". It may take more than a dozen tries, but it's worth the effort.
 
5.    Be a good role model. It's difficult for busy parents to put a balanced meal on the table every night, but kids need to know that their parents value their own nutritional intake. Try to include veggies or a salad at mealtimes, and serve fruit for dessert.

6.    Help your kids (and yourself) with portion control. Serve foods from the kitchen, rather than placing serving dishes family-style on the table, to avoid taking "just another spoonful". Studies show that we tend to eat what we are served – whether it's a little or a lot – and empty plate usually signals that we're finished.
 
7.    Don't be a couch potato yourself. Your kids need to know that you value an active lifestyle. Get outdoors with them for a bike ride, a jog, or to shoot some hoops, and make sure they know how good you feel when you get your blood pumping.

8.    Plan ahead. It's easier said than done, but planning meals ahead of time, making a shopping list, and preparing meals in bulk so you have extras on hand can help make evening meals less stressful.

9.    Snack smart. Active kids need snacks, but typical snack foods are loaded with fat and sugar. Keep the sodas and chips out of the house, but have fruit, yogurt, string cheese, nuts or soy nuts or healthy cereals on hand for those snack attacks. Kids also like making their own smoothies, so keep some milk, fresh or frozen fruit and some protein powder around and let them experiment.

10.    Build exercise into your day, and encourage your kids to do the same. If you're on the phone, walk around the house or yard while you talk, instead of sitting down. Find errands you can walk to, rather than taking the car. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, and park a few blocks away from the mall. By Susan Bowerman, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D.

Susan Bowerman is a consultant to Herbalife