Friday, February 27, 2009

The New Rule Of Hydration

Remember when the only guideline for staying hydrated during exercise was to drink--and drink often? And plain water took the podium as the perfect sports drink? Thanks to new insights on how our bodies process fluids and other nutrients while we're working up a sweat, the conventional wisdom on when and what to drink is evolving. And although the rules may have changed, the objective remains the same: improved performance and optimal health. Here's a look at the old and new views on hydration.

Old: Drink ahead of your thirst.
New: Drink according to your thirst.

For years, sports nutrition experts advised athletes to drink "ahead of thirst," that is, to drink before getting thirsty and more frequently than what thirst dictated during exercise. Experts warned that by the time you feel thirsty, you've already become dehydrated. However, recent studies show that being in this state of slight dehydration has no negative impact on performance or health.

"The idea that thirst comes too late is a marketing ploy of the sports-drink industry," says Tim Noakes, M.D., a professor of sport and exercise science at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. While thirst is not a perfect indicator of hydration status, it does appear to be a good indicator of the optimal drinking rate during exercise, according to Noakes. "The answer is just drink as your thirst dictates."

Old: Aim to completely prevent dehydration.
New: Aim to slow dehydration.

You've probably been told to drink enough fluid during exercise to completely make up for what you lose through sweat. In other words, the goal is to weigh the same before and after your workout. But the latest research has revealed problems with this advice.

The recommendation to drink enough fluid to prevent weight-loss is based on the false assumption that all the weight lost is from body fluid evaporating as sweat. However, recent studies show that a significant amount (as much as 60 percent) is actually due to the loss of water stored with fat and carbohydrate molecules, which is released from the muscles when these stores are converted to energy. So, instead of drinking to completely replace the fluid you sweat out during exercise, aim for keeping thirst at bay. Respond to your thirst right away with small amounts of sports drink, but don't allow your thirst to build to the point that you're forced to guzzle down a full bottle at one time. Taking a few sips about every 10 to 12 minutes will help you stay hydrated and avoid stomach upset.

Old: Use either a sports drink or water for hydration.
New: Use a sports drink instead of water.

Prior to 2003, USA Track & Field's hydration guidelines suggested that water and sports drinks were equally good choices for hydration during intense physical activity. But, based on new research concerning the risks of blood sodium dilution, the USATF revised its hydration guidelines stating, "A sports drink with sodium and other electrolytes is preferred." Athletes in other sports are now following these guidelines as well.

In short, sports drinks simply hydrate better than water does. Your body absorbs fluids through the gut and into the bloodstream faster when their osmolality, the concentration of dissolved particles in a fluid, more closely matches the osmolality of body fluids such as blood. Because a sports drink contains dissolved minerals (key electrolytes such as sodium, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and phosphate) and carbohydrates, it's absorbed into the bloodstream more quickly than water, which has fewer or no dissolved particles.

Water is fine for short (less than an hour) workouts of easy to moderate intensity in which you don't sweat a lot. But in any workout where sweat losses are substantial, and especially in warm weather, use a sports drink.

Old: Caffeine exacerbates dehydration.
New: Caffeine does not affect dehydration.

Caffeine is a known diuretic, which means it increases urine production and has a dehydrating effect. But research has also shown that during exercise, the body is able to circumvent the diuretic influence of caffeine, which can boost athletic performance by stimulating the nervous system and reducing perceived effort.

A new study conducted at the University of Birmingham in England found that caffeine increases the rate at which supplemental carbohydrates (those consumed during the workout as opposed to those already stored in the body) are burned during exercise. In the study, cyclists received either a 6 percent glucose solution or a six percent glucose solution plus caffeine during a two-hour indoor cycling test. The rate at which the supplemental carbs were burned was 26 percent higher in the cyclists receiving carbs with caffeine, concluding that the caffeine may have increased the rate of glucose absorption in the intestine. By providing fuel to working muscles at an accelerated rate, caffeine helps athletes work harder for longer periods of time.

But don't overuse it. Reserve caffeine consumption for races and occasional high-intensity workouts. "The best use of caffeine as an ergogenic aid [energy booster] is prior to competition," says Jose Antonio, Ph.D, author of Supplements for Endurance Athletes. "The beneficial effects of caffeine on athletic performance are reduced with habituation, so the more often you rely on it, the less it will do for you."

Although no major sports drink brand contains caffeine, some flavors of sports gels do, such as Gu Chocolate Outrage, Strawberry Clif Shot, and Chocolate Accel Gel.

The Cardinal Rule

One principle of proper hydration hasn't changed: Practice makes perfect. Experiment with various hydration strategies to learn what works best for you. Try different sports drinks in varying amounts, and hydrate at different times during your workout to discover the optimal mix.

So, thoughts on this new hydration research anyone? What do you drink during your workouts and why?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Recipe Day!!

Yes, we've moved recipe day to Thursday this week. We like to keep you guys guessing. This one has a quirky name and it sounds tasty too. Planning to try it this weekend (and of course double it, so I can have leftovers!)...

Chicken Zoneitorri

3 oz Skinless boneless chicken breast
1 Tsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 Cloves Garlic, chopped
1 Large Green Pepper, chopped
1 Medium Red Pepper, chopped
1 Medium Onion, coarsely chopped
2 cups Fresh Mushrooms, sliced
1 15 oz. can Stewed Tomatoes
¼ cup dry White Wine
1 Tsp. Italian Seasoning
Dash of Salt and Pepper


Lightly salt and pepper chicken pieces. Using a large skillet, brown chicken pieces on each side in olive oil on medium-low heat 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Remove from pan, cover and keep warm. Add peppers and onions and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes, then add mushrooms and garlic. Continue cooking another 5 to 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes, wine, and 1 tsp. of Italian seasoning. Place chicken pieces back in skillet, cover and simmer about 15 minutes turning once. Serve chicken pieces with vegetables.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Common Nutrition Mistakes and How To Fix Them

Nutrition may be your missing link in training. Here are some common nutrition mistakes many athletes make with tips and recipes for how to solve them.
Post-exercise Food

At the end of a hard workout, you haven't finished your training until you have refueled. Don't rush off to work or school, with "no time to eat" as the excuse.

Solution: Plan ahead, so you have recovery foods readily available. Even in a time-crunch, you should be able refuel your muscles properly. "No time" is no excuse.

Recovering With Both Carbs + Protein

Recovery foods should offer a foundation of carbs with protein as the accompaniment. A reasonable target is about 240 calories of carbs (60 g carb) and about 80 calories (20 g) of protein. Some popular choices include Greek yogurt with honey, chocolate milk and oatmeal with protein powder and fruit.

Note that recovery foods can be eaten pre-exercise. That is, a pre-exercise yogurt gets digested into amino acids and glucose; those food components will be ready and waiting to be put into use when you stop exercising. In a 10-week study with recreational body builders, those who consumed a protein-carb supplement both immediately before and right after the mid-afternoon strength training session gained 2.3 pounds more muscle and 7 pounds more in strength (as measured by bench press), compared to the group without the pre- and post-exercise fuel. (2)

Adequate Fluids

Athletes who stay well hydrated can train harder and perform better. For each one percent of body weight lost via sweat, your heart has to beat three to five more times per minute (4). This creates needless fatigue.

Solution: If you are well-hydrated, you will need to urinate every two to four hours, and your urine will be a light color. If you are sweat heavily, you really should learn how much sweat you lose (and thereby need to replace) during a workout. Do this my weighing yourself naked before and after exercise. For each pound (16 oz.) of sweat, you should drink at least 16 to 24 oz. of fluid.

Rest Days for Muscles to Refuel

Rest is an important part of a training program; muscles need time to refuel and heal. Depleted muscles may need more than 24 hours to replace glycogen stores. Hence, rest days with little or no exercise enhance a training program.

Athletes who want to lose weight commonly hesitate to take a rest day; they fear they will "get fat." These athletes need to understand:

1) On a rest day, they will feel just as hungry because the muscles need food to refuel.

2) They will gain (water) weight. For each 1 oz. of glycogen, the muscles store about 3 oz. water. This water gets released during exercise; it is beneficial.

Solution: Plan one to two rest days a week. Notice how much better you are able to perform the day after a rest day.

Boot campers! Keep these in mind when planning out your eating (and water drinking schedule) for the day. It will give you optimal results!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Recipe Day!!

Grilled Chicken with Tomato-Avocado Salsa

This recipe serves: 4
Preparation time : 20 minutes
Cooking time : 15 minutes


For the salsa
4 ripe plum tomatoes, chopped or 12 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
1 jalapeño chili pepper, seeded and diced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 avocado

For the chicken
1/2 cup non-fat, plain yogurt
1/2 small red onion
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, about 4 to 6 ounces each salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper

Cooking Instructions

For the salsa:
1. In a small bowl, combine the tomatoes, red onion, pepper and cilantro.

2. Chop the avocado and sprinkle it with 2 tablespoons of lime juice to keep it from browning. Add the avocado and remaining lime juice to the bowl and toss to combine. (This can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 day.)

For the chicken:
1. In a small food processor, puree the yogurt, red onion, lime juice and cilantro to make a yogurt marinade.

2. Transfer the marinade to a shallow bowl or a plastic bag. Add the chicken and coat well with the marinade. Refrigerate for 1 hour or up to 8 hours.

3. Preheat the grill to medium-high.

4. Remove the chicken from the marinade, discard the remaining marinade and season the chicken with salt and pepper. Grill the chicken on both sides until it is cooked through, about 6 minutes per side.

5. Serve the chicken with tomato-avocado salsa.

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size 1 chicken breast with salsa
Amount Per Serving

Calories 283
Protein 43 g
Total Carbohydrate 16 g
Dietary Fiber 4 g
Soluble Fiber 0 g
Insoluble Fiber g
Sugar 8 g
Total Fat 6 g
Saturated Fat 1 g
Monounsaturated Fat 1 g

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Purchase Produce At Its Peak!

Almost every fruit and vegetable is available year-round. But if you buy in-season, you get produce at its peak of flavor and nutrients. Here's a month-by-month guide to the best of the fresh.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Fruit heavy for its size

REAP THE BENEFITS: 35 percent of Daily Value (DV)
for vitamin C and a wealth of folate, a heart-healthy B vitamin.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Vibrant leaves (not wilted); firm stalks

REAP THE BENEFITS: A cup of braised chard is big on fiber, calcium, and carotenes.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Firm stalks the width of your little finger

REAP THE BENEFITS: 1 cup steamed provides 100 percent of DV for vitamin K (great for bone health) and 65 percent of folate.

FRUIT OR VEGETABLE: Salad greens (radicchio, mache)
WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Richly colored, nonwilted leaves

REAP THE BENEFITS: A two-cup serving supplies more than 400 percent of for vitamin A, 100 percent of folate, and a wealth of minerals, such as magnesium and potassium.

That gets you through the first few months of the year, so load up on these veggies when they're at their peak. We'll give you more in a few months, when it's closer to summer. In the meantime, here is more on this month's pick - Rainbow chard...

Chard’s leaves can be prepared like spinach. In fact, its leaves serve as a good substitute for spinach in most recipes, but they will need to be cooked slightly longer.

Chard may be steamed, sautéed, or braised, and it can be added to soups, stews, and casseroles. The leaves and stems may be cooked and served together, or prepared separately as two different vegetables. The Italians make an egg frittata with chard.

Like other leafy vegetables, chard needs to be thoroughly washed before cooking since sand and other debris tend to nestle in its leaves. Instead of using a colander and running water over the leaves, the best way to remove debris from leafy greens is to dunk and soak them in plenty of water. Place the leaves in a large bowl, pot, or sink filled with cold water. Agitate the leaves one by one, then remove individual leaves by hand and place them in another container. Pour out the water and repeat the procedure until the water is free of debris. If you will be using the greens in a salad, dry them in a spinner.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Prograde Cravers On Sale All Week!

If you love dark chocolate, I have a very big Valentine's Day present for you. Seriously.

You've got to try these things. The taste is out of this world good.

What am I talking about? Prograde Cravers, that's what. They have been dubbed the best tasting healthy snack on the planet for good reason - they taste THAT good.

Plus, they have no preservatives, only 180 calories and they come in three delicious flavors: peanut butter, almond butter and spirulina.

The even better news is they are on sale all this week for Valentine's Day.

Here's everything you need to know:

- Again, because it's Valentine's Day, the sale is 14% off all purchases of Prograde Cravers

- When you checkout you will enter this coupon code to save the 14%: vday0909

- Shipping will take 3-5 days, so while I HIGHLY recommend you jump all over this sale, don't purchase these as a gift expecting them to be there for Valentine's Day itself. Buy them as a healthy gift for yourself or others.

- Sorry, Prograde Cravers are not available overseas

- The offer cannot be combined with others from Prograde and it ends this Saturday, February 14th at 11:59pm EST.

- Prograde Cravers are NOT available in stores anywhere. You can only find them online here: Prograde Cravers (

Look, I'm not kidding about how great they taste. They are the EXACT opposite of the bars you are used to that taste like cardboard and chemicals. In fact, if you go to Prograde Cravers ( watch the video of a real life taste test, well, I know you will be blown away.

Yours in health!

PS - Remember, it's 14% off all Prograde Cravers purchases this week only. The sale ends this Saturday, February 14th at 11:59pm EST.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Can You Really Ward Off A Cold?

With cold and flu season upon us, I thought we could all use a refresher on how to fight disease naturally...

Americans are turning in high numbers to natural supplements for everything from colds to memory lapses. In fact, there are so many options and variations that the real challenge is knowing what to take. For example, if you're looking for a mood booster, you might think about upping your omega-3s. And if you're worried about cholesterol, loading up on lycopene may be helpful. The key is not to wait for springtime to try them.

Immunity, Cold And Flu

Echinacea - This daisylike cone flower, used as a medicinal remedy since the late 1800s, is now known as the cold and flu supplement. It also helps boost immune response.

How it Works - Echinacea acts like virus-fighting interferon, which helps resist infection.

The Lowdown - A meta-analysis of 16 trials found that echinacea helps prevent as well as treat common cold symptoms more effectively than a placebo.

Expert Testimony - "People should take echinacea before cold symptoms really even begin—when you're just starting to feel achy," says Glenn S. Rothfeld, a physician and medical director of WholeHealth New England, an integrative medicine practice in Arlington, Massachusetts. "If you catch symptoms early enough, echinacea can stop a cold in its tracks."

Did You Know? Up until the introduction of powerful antibiotics in the 1930s, many Americans relied on this native plant to fight off infections. Echinacea's star rose again with the herbal revival of the 1970s.

Suggested Dose - For cold symptoms, take 50 to 300 mg, two to four times daily, depending on extract concentration. Supplements using aboveground parts of E. purpurea and roots of E. pallida are best. Echinacea should not be taken continuously.

Zinc - This essential trace mineral participates in hundreds of bodily functions, from immunity to sense of smell. In lozenge form, when taken at the first inkling of a cold, it can minimize the severity and duration of symptoms.

How it Works - Zinc lozenges appear to destroy the cold and flu virus in the mouth. The mineral likely eases symptoms—runny nose, sore throat, cough—by decreasing chemicals involved in the pathways of inflammation.

The Lowdown - Studies are mixed, but generally positive. In one trial of 50 people, cold symptoms, especially coughing, disappeared about three days earlier in those who sucked on zinc lozenges (versus placebo) every two hours.

Expert Testimony - Both zinc gluconate and zinc acetate lozenges have been studied, but it's not clear which is more effective. "If one formulation doesn't work, try the other next time," says Carol Haggans at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Dietary Supplements.

Did You Know? - Balk at the disagreeable flavor of zinc lozenges? Resist swigging orange juice to wash out the taste; citrus fruits can decrease the bioavailability of zinc.

Suggested Dose - Take a lozenge every two hours during waking hours, for as long as symptoms persist. Avoid exceeding total daily dosage of 40 mg. Concentrations vary, so check the label.

Boot campers! Remember to stay hydrated even if you're freezing your butts off out there or enjoying the summer like weather. And be sure to drink lots after your workout. Water, that is!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Recipe Day!!!

Pumpkin Muffins (makes 18 muffins)

½ cup Egg White
2 medium eggs
3 Tbsp. almond or pumpkin seed oil
1 - 15 oz. can canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
1 Tbsp. of Baking Powder
½ cup oat flour
1/8 Tsp. salt
14 - 1 oz. scoops of vanilla protein powder (98g of protein)
1 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
4 Tbsp liquid fructose
¼ cup whole wheat flour

Preheat oven at 375 degrees. Combine the wet and dry ingredients until lightly mixed. Pour into muffin tins and bake for 15 minutes. Makes 18 muffins.

I've made these warm, tasty treats for parties before, and no one has a clue how healthy they are. Also, they are best when not overmixed or overcooked.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Hybrid Fruits Help Fight Disease

What do you get when you cross an apricot with a plum? An aprium, of course.

Although you may not have spotted this less-fuzzy apricot, such hybrid fruits and vegetables are increasingly making their way to the produce aisle. Floyd Zaiger, a California geneticist, developed the aprium by transferring pollen between tree blossoms with an eye-shadow brush. Other companies and even the U.S. government are using crossbreeding—not to be confused with genetic engineering—to boost flavor, novelty and nutrition.

Philipp Simon, a geneticist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has created purple, red and yellow carrots, each with its own nutritional benefits. But don't be fooled by his ordinary-looking orange carrot: It packs 30 percent more beta-carotene than the regular variety. Simon is now looking to enhance the disease-fighting power of garlic.

Frankenstein Fruits and Veggies

Keep an eye out for these new snacks, plus a couple waiting on-deck. Many of these products are available in major grocery store chains. Most can also be ordered online.

Pluot (Plum + Apricot) - Looks: Like a plum with light-orange flesh. Comes in several varieties, including the Flavor King and Flavor Queen. Tastes: The King is spicy; the Queen is sweet. Available: Now.

Aprium (Apricot + Plum) - Looks: Resembles an apricot, but with less fuzzy skin. Tastes: Sweeter than either the plum or the apricot. Available: Now. (Pic above is an aprium)

Colorful Carrots - Looks: Regular carrots in wild colors. Tastes: Like a carrot. Nutrition: Each color contains a different antioxidant: Red has lycopene; yellow has lutein and purple contains anthocyanins. Available: Now.

Nectaplum (Nectarine + Plum) - Looks: Like a nectarine with maroon skin and white flesh. Tastes: A slightly spicy nectarine. Available: Now

Red-Fleshed Kiwi - Looks: A normal kiwi but with red flesh. Nutrition: Contains higher levels of anthocyanins than in ordinary kiwis. Same high vitamin C and fiber content as the green kiwi. This one is still in the lab.

Peacotum (Peach + Apricot + Plum) - Looks: Like a peach with deep purple skin. Tastes: Like sweet fruit punch. Available: Now.

Anyone tried any of these?