This article is not about discussing what I personally think about animal products, nor what a doctor or a certain diet simply states about them. Rather, this article will discuss the scientific implications of the consumption of animal products in relation to immune system health and the prevention and control of disease using research-grounded findings. After you develop your own opinion of animal product consumption in your OWN life (I emphasize this because what works for someone else may not work for you, no matter how much they swear by it), there will be some simple guidelines that are proven to improve immune system function for life with the help of chemical compounds from certain foods.
Without talking about research, right off the bat we must understand WHY there is a recent seemingly “villainization” of animal products in the health industry. Just like exercises, there is no such thing as a food being in a constant state of being “good” or “bad”, but only appropriate and necessary. That said, Americans must ask themselves if the AMOUNT and QUALITY of animal products they consume is appropriate and necessary, rather than question the general integrity of animal products overall. So let’s quickly assess quality.
58% of the meat consumed in the United States is red meat . In reaction to consuming so much meat, demands must be met effectively and fast for smallest amount of money. This is why a vast majority of consumed meats are also processed meats. For a fun view of what this can look like, watch how chicken nuggets are made here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T67DvoH2H3E.
Another popular cooking method of preparing meats for consumption (whether processed or not) is BBQing. BBQ is the cornerstone of the American pastime, but ironically charring and meats in this way robs micronutrients (iron, zinc, B-vitamins) of their full bio-availability and actually CREATES CARCINOGENS . That’s right, that next well-done hamburger you eat can be appropriately renamed “Cancer-which”. Not that you should “never ever eat BBQ again”, but how often does this really need to be consumed to achieve optimal health? Once again, we shouldn’t be surprised that American has outstanding cancer and obesity rates when foods such as this are its cornerstone.
Does eating more meats, specifically red, account for higher risks of major diseases? 100%! There is endless research on this, but the big-game lobbyists in the ‘Big Meat’ industry pay countless dollars to make this not seem so. Aside from the terribly disgusting way some of these animals are treated (which directly affect sanitation issues), “energy-dense diets, purported to be high in meat, fats and sugars, and further compounded by sedentary lifestyle, have been implicated in the growing epidemics of obesity and diet-related chronic diseases. Evidence suggests vegetarians may be at lower risk for CVD, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, obesity, and cancer…. Inflammation and oxidative stress have also been linked to intake of meat and disease risk.” 
What about Pescatarians? Well those who primarily consume fish can be at a high risk for sustaining higher levels of toxic metals and contribute to the severe overfishing of natural habitats. Eat fish (I love fish), but all you can eat sushi twice a week and expensive salmon from Whole Foods twice a day might want to be re-thought.
So we get the bottom-line; TOO MUCH meat, especially at lower qualities, sets us up to die faster and sicker . As mentioned earlier, there are in fact essential nutrients in meats, such as Iron, Zinc, B-vitamins and more (see my previous post about Plant-Based diets for healthy ways to prevent deficiencies in these), but there are vast nutrients that one may miss out on when being too busy consuming primarily animal products.
MY SOLUTION? – Keep eating a reasonable amount of animal products if you wish, but also (in addition to or in place of animal products) include a large variety of fresh plant sources.
Now, the varieties are of healthy foods to incorporate are endless, as are their benefits. Regardless, I am going to list several categories of food that contain compounds that can strengthen your immune system and protect you from disease, both big and small. You can remember the acronym “GOMBBS”. The compounds they contain are listed, so you may research them if you are interested.
- Greens, especially Cruciferous (too many benefits too list. Just eat as much as you can, seriously. Highlights – folic acid, antioxidants, Omega-3, kill cancer cells)
- Onions (prebiotic fructans, selenium, Quercetin)
- Mushrooms (through Beta-glucans and ergosterol, prevent DNA damage)
- Beans (Fiber, Blood Sugar and Cholesterol Regulation, Cancer Prevention)
- Berries (Flavanoids, High Antioxidant content, and the benefits described above)
- Seeds (Phytosterols, Omega-3, Zinc, Iron, Calcium, Antioxidants)
If you want to further explore the benefits of these groups (all of which have reliable scientific evidence), read the book “Super Immunity” by Dr. Fuhrman or visit: http://www.drfuhrman.com/library/gbombs.aspx. To be honest, eat those foods above and you’ll be living well.
The take-away? Develop your own diet based on scientific findings and how you feel, not based on what someone else has planned because it worked them and a few others.
Muscle Dysmorphia is defined as a disorder that deals with obsession over the perceived muscularity of one’s body. Simply, it is the psychology that one’s body is too thin and not muscular enough. Essentially, Muscle Dysmorphia (M.D.) is the male reverse counterpart to female Anorexia nervosa. It is categorized as a branch of obsessive compulsive disorder and is VERY COMMON in today’s gyms and society…much more than we think. I will admit that some define M.D. is NOT an over-interest in gaining muscle that is considered not wise, but this is what I mostly will refer to (as many characteristics of M.D. carry over to this mentality). This article will show you why people seem to get M.D. and how to cope with the real issues of its detrimental effects.
To begin, there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with the fitness goal of hypertrophy, or gaining muscle. It improves performance, positive physiology, vitality, strength, power, functionality, and mentality. Yet there is something at work in the minds of men (and women) that want purely the result of more muscle and become obsessed about it. Before I talk about the potential causes, let’s discuss the common detriments:
- M.D. creates a network of gym-goers that melts into a flawed “norm” for weight training. We see this often with high schoolers that are just getting into the gym and look to the guy with biggest muscles for mentorship. Should those suffering from M.D. really be trusted to indoctrinate developing humans with sub-par nutrition advice, unhealthy obsessions with weight lifting (and unsafe, more on that later) and a downward spiraling psychology that they are never good enough? I think not. And it’s not just high school-aged children, but children of all ages and adults both younger and older.
- The obsession over building muscle can take away from the benefits of other modes of exercise. For example, many of those who have M.D. will say “never do cardio” for the sake of expending fewer calories that could go towards the process of protein synthesis that is involved in building muscle. I’m not saying this does not work, but they may be missing out on essential, research-backed cardiovascular benefits. Think of ALL the various movement patterns not incorporated in traditional exercises that your body never gets to experience. I’m a strong believer in the Uncle Ben philosophy that if you have potential to do well, you are obligated to do it (even if that includes moving your body in all three planes of motion). With great hypertrophy comes great responsibility.
- Mindsets stemming from M.D. flow directly into the nutrition and supplement industry, who gives a more-than-steady stream of products that claim to “help you get bigger” in order to meet demands. In addition to being a money cow, is this direction really what we need in an undernourished America? Even physique competitors (who are slightly more justified to develop M.D.) are rushed to hospitals from kidney failures and other physiological malfunctions from jumping into using some supplements (not necessarily in excess, either). Keep in mind that not all supplements are created equal, and stick to the essentials if you need them (multivitamin, fish oil, vegetable supplements, and protein if needed).
- Constantly tending to the desires associated with M.D. TAKES A LOT OF TIME. Normally, I would condone clocking in more hours at the gym, but it can get to a point of excess. I have dealt with clients whom let their obsession prevent them from everything from getting a job, to not facing problems at home, to performing poorly in school, and to achieving serious life ambitions. With all that time spent in a gym, people must understand it is necessary to pay attention to other aspects of health outside of exercise. Due to this time restriction, many will turn to performance-enhancing drugs.
- The ideas of a “good diet” get misinterpreted and blown out of proportion. Primarily, I am talking about the obsession over protein (as reflected by the supplement industry). It is true that people incorporating resistance training and who want to gain muscle mass SHOULD increase their protein intake generally from 0.8 grams/kg/bodyweight to 1-2 grams/kg/bodyweight, but this is often mistaken as an invite for protein overconsumption. This excessive protein intake can lead to renal problems, decreased energy, the reliance upon less-efficient metabolic systems, as well as other health issues.
- The most obvious (to me, but is the most overlooked) is the symptoms associated with overtraining, as well as overreaching (which is often a precursor to overtraining). Some symptoms are insomnia, mood fluctuations, injury, pain, feeling “washed-out”, decreased appetite, depression, decrements in performance, and an increase in compulsiveness to exercises (vicious cycle or what?). Some may aspire to become as big as their idols, but may fail to realize their genetics do not allow for it.
- Social aspects can also be heavily affected in relevance to someone with M.D., as well as for those around them. If one person is obsessed with M.D. and they happen to gain a large amount of muscle mass successfully, others may look to that individual with envy, sometimes even with “muscle worship”. The individual with M.D. will begin to “mentor” those who envy them, entailing some detriments mentioned above. They can also create a sense of unnecessary masculinity within a social environment, leading to the lowering of self-efficacy in those who are not “up to par” with how muscular they feel they should be. This is a strange phenomenon since large amounts of muscle mass are not normative, but the psychology to move in that direction is so great that the mindset itself become pandemically normal.
You may be wondering if these detriments are as bad as they sound. They are indeed generally varied from individual to individual, but there are noticeable trends in the characteristics I have explained. Spend some time at the gym observing how others train and interact with resistance training, and you will see many of them in action for yourself.
Strategies and Solutions for Dismantling Dysmorphia:
Hopefully by now you can see how a mentality of needing to always gain more muscle mass can rob healthy habits from other aspects of life. I will now share some strategies and behaviors that can diminish the detrimental effects associated with M.D.-like mentalities.
- EDUCATE YOURSELVES! There are several reasons as to why some individuals are so inclined to believe everything someone says especially when it may not be true or backed up by evidence. If someone is successful, we may think what made them successful might work for us. WRONG! Everybody is an individual, and I’ll just leave it at that. Many have a “learned helplessness”, where we expect quality education to come to us. This state makes people more susceptible to believe what is put in front of them, which is why shows like Dr. Oz are a hit in America. Bottom line, high-quality and research-backed education should be sought out and integrated into individual lifestyles. Some of my favorite websites that cite reliable sources and remain unbiased while covering popular topics include www.precisionnutrition.com, www.examine.com, www.integrativenutrition.com, and www.ideafit.com.
- Set goals for yourself, so as not to pick up on those of others. Being truly independent with your mindset and motivation is to not take what others give. Establish you OWN foundation. This does not mean do not seek inspiration, education and direction from others; you really should. Here are some common guidelines for goal setting as outlined by the acronym “SMART”.
*Look to my earlier posts for more detailed outlines of goal setting and changing your mindset.
- Seek professional advice to make sure your plans pertain to your goals. Yes, even if the biggest guy in the gym says that bench pressing as much weight as you can is the holy grail of gaining muscle, he does not know your individual physiology, needs, sensitivities to certain modes of exercise, or specific goals. Seek advice from trusted fitness professionals with education behind them. Unfortunately, nowadays a personal trainer certification does not mean they have science-backed education.
- Keep your workouts relevant and wise. There are endless combinations of variables to modify within your workouts (tempo, reps, sets, distance, load, rest time, plane of motion, etc) but you must make them relevant to your goals. For example, training for a volleyball season by running very long distances could be counterproductive to increasing performance, when instead shorter duration exercises with more powerful movements would be more appropriate. The most common and most drastic mistake I see those with traits similar to M.D. make is the misconception of recovery time. Many of these people will come in day after day for their workouts (and sometimes doing the same things…even worse) and not give their selves a single day off, as they are afraid they will lose progress. I will never forget the time I had to spend 20 minutes convincing a friend of mine to take some time off from the gym, and the internal conflict with his obsession was saddening to observe. Understand that after a training period (especially high intensity) recovery can IMPROVE results. After all, recovery is when the body’s response to adapting to the stresses you put upon it previously occurs. Have you ever taken an entire week off of resistance or high intensity-training? Depending on your program, you can return bigger, stronger, and with increased performance.
- Maintain a quality diet. Want to get bigger? Eat more, move a little less. Want to get smaller? Move more, eat less. But the quality of your diet will also aid the quality of your results. Use high quality supplements (proven to work, of course), don’t eat crap, and make sure it’s a balanced diet related to your goals and body type (research a lot). You don’t have to worry about how you think you should go on the Paleo diet because every other guy is doing it…this isn’t cigarettes you know.
- Surround yourself with a supportive and knowledgeable social network. Do not rely on the people making you feel insignificant to get you to your goals. After you have the tools and the planning, ask for support from credible individuals and people that will encourage and support you positively. We are influenced heavily by environment, so create a positive environment for yourself.
Fitness, nutrition and its related mindsets do not have to be confusing, intimidating and misleading. As long as you take initiative to help yourself and others, there is nothing to fear!
Sustaining an injury is a tough trial to turn, but understanding the needs of the body on a cellular level can empower any injured individual to combat their injury wisely. You may ask yourself, "How did I get injured in the first place?", but that is not the point of this specific article. Once you are in an injury "cycle", it is your responsibility to get out of it. What does "injury cycle" mean? Perhaps this chart (courtesy of Trigger Point Therapy) will help explain:
The Injury Cycle:
I specifically appreciate this depiction of the injury cycle as it considers hydration, the integrity of the tissue networks (read my post "The Soft Tissue Issue" to learn more), biomechanics, and psychological reaction in one cycle. It is important to be aware of these stages so that you may see where you are or could be during injury.
Suprisingly, the psychology of injury ends up dictating poor nutrition during the cycle. Imagine you have badly sprained an ankle. You may be mad because you cannot work, play, exercise, or move like you could before the injury. You entire mindset shifts from carefree to careful. Some do everything in their power to deal with the injury, some ignore it until it goes away. Some people rest it but have misconceptions about how much and what they should be eating. Hopefully this article with diminish that confusion.
Understand that when injury occurs, your body's response is primarily inflammation. Redness, swelling, heat, and pain are all characteristics of inflammation.While inflammation is a necessary part of the healing process, the goal post-occurance of the injury is to reduce it (hence the purpose of anti-inflammatories). The goal IS NOT to get rid of inflammation, but to control it.Another physiological event post-injury is anabolism, or the building up of protein-based structures after their breakdown, or catabolism. This is somewhat similar to process of muscle building and the rebuilding of bone. Therefore the content of your "injury diet" should have these two goals: promote tissue anabolism and reduce inflammation.
The Injury Diet:
Before I outline the general suggestions to cope with injury nutritionally, understand that they are only suggestions. I recommend consulting a nutritionist in conjunction with a well-versed doctor to confirm and further specify your needs. Also know that chronic (long-term) and acute (short-term) injuries require different needs.
- Calories: In order for the processes and raw materials of healing to be dealt with and integrated, energy is needed. This is where most people make a big mistake; they under-eat. By eating too little, you are preventing an effective healing process. Under-eating can actually advance further into the injury cycle, as well as cause you to enter it in the first place. However, during injury your BMR (basal metabolic rate) should increase 15-20%. [if you don't know your estimate BMR, go here: http://www.bmi-calculator.net/bmr-calculator/].
This is where the "injury psychology" can be detrimental. It is logical to think that if you're moving less, you need less calories. Other reasons for under-eating are fear of gaining too much fat, losing too much muscle, or losing performance. While these things may occur on a smaller-than-percieived scale, they can be managed after injury as well as potentially maintained during. As similar to nutrition during sickness, under-eating is a general trend that should be overlooked.
- Protein: As with muscle building programs, protein intake should increase as they are the basis for tissue structures. The baseline protein intake is often 0.8g/kg but should increase 1.5-2.0 g/kg. If you are already intaking that ratio, a good rule of thumb during injury is 1 gram/lb of bodyweight
- Fat: The overall consumption fat during injury demonstrates a certain trend; any fats unbalanced in terms of ratios will not reduce inflammation effectively. Saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats should all share 1/3 each of your overall fat intake. When supplementing with fish oil, 3-9 grams are enough (or 1 gram of algae oil). The monunsaturated fats in nuts, seeds, or olive oil can somewhat reduce inflammation, but too much will interfere with the healing of acute injuries.
- Carbohydrates: There are no current suggestions for numerical intake of carbohydrates, but glucose is certainly needed for healing. Insulin should be controlled and stable (as it is an anabolic hormone) in respect to sugar intake. Processed and excessive sugar and carbohydrate inake can increase inflammation and prevent healing.
- STAY HYRDATED
- Vitamin A: Can help rebuild collagen and support healthy and early inflammation. It also prevents the immune system from being supressed. In very short periods of traumatic injury, 25,000 IU per day is often used temporarily. In 1-2 weeks after acute sport injuries, 10,000 IU per day. Vitamin A should be used wisely and not in excess, as there could be a risk for toxicity.
- Calcium and Iron: There is no recommendation during injury, as these minerals do nothing during it. In fact, they play larger roles in prevention of injury.
- Vitamin C: Increasing collagen synthesis, white blood production, and acting as an antioxidant are all benefits of Vitamin C. 1-2 grams/day during injury is recommended to keep the tissue strong.
- Copper: Helps to form elastin, the best friend of collagen, which is why copper works well with Vitamin C. Copper also helps to form red blood cells. 2-4 mg/day is recommended.
- Zinc: Responsible for synthesizing DNA and protein as well as cell division. 15-20 mg/day will accelerate tissue repair.
- Tumeric: This herb also anti-viral and anti-bacterial properities in addition to its anti-inflammatory properties. Some Indian foods contain tumeric and other herbs that reduce inflammation.
- Garlic: Compounds in garlic can "turn off" certain inflmammatory enzymes, reducing activity. Garlic extracts are also quite effective and sometime preferred.
- Bromelain: Found in pineapple, and can also help with digestion.
- Boswellia: Often found in extract form, this tree resin has been reported to do good anti-inflammatory work.
- Flavonoids: These are chemicals found in plants that often reflect pigmentation (color). There are many perceived health benefits of flavonoids, although research is still catching up. Dark-colored fruits and leafy vegetables are good to incorporate (and daily due to their antioxidant properties) but extracts of grape, blueberry, citrus, and green tea can also prove useful. Outside of injury, these can be used to reduce inflammation after workouts, such as cherries recently being proven to do so.
I am going to tell you all about something readily present to all moving organisms, but a like a visually stunning insect, is often overlooked. I am talking about the pot-o-gold, the unicorn, the Lucky Charms of movement. Indeed, I am talking about the….
TRANSVERSE PLANE OF MOTION!
What is this transverse plane you ask? Well to understand the most neglected and challenging plane of motion, you must understand the other main two.
The first is the Sagittal Plane, moving forward and backward. This is the road most traveled, as most of us participate in movements in this plane (sitting, walking, and most traditional exercises).
The second plane is the Frontal, or lateral. This plane is traveled when you move from side to side, or do exercises such as dumbbell lateral raises or lateral band walking.
Understand before we move on, it is VITAL to move and exercise in ALL these planes of motion, as they come together to form true happiness for the body. But we are talking about the transverse plane only since it is often overlooked, and therefore must be better understood.
The third plane being the Transverse Plane includes twisting and rotational movements. Many movements in sports and everyday life incorporate all three planes in an integrated fashion, but the transverse plane is often the weakest link. Even if it is traveled in, the mechanics of doing so may be altered by biomechanical “hiccups” and inefficiencies. If you read my previous blog post about redefining core training, as well as my core training video (www.glattfitness.com), you will understand some of the principles in overcoming these obstacles.
All musculatures of the human body benefit greatly from traveling in the transverse plane, both functionally as well as kinesthetically. In fact, any unaccustomed stimulus will be stressful for the body, both mechanically and metabolically. If one were to look at many muscle fibers in the body on a microscopic level, one would see that they literally "spiral". The structured is an evolution of efficiency to overcome the downward forces of gravity, as our bodies always take the path of least resistance.
As a Personal Trainer and gym-goer, it truly saddens me to see individuals ignore this plane and continue to negatively impact their bodies in repetitive movements. This article is not just educational, but a challenge to the entire human population to learn about and love the transverse plane. I’ll cut to the chase now; here are some tweaks to common movements to include the transverse plane.
Fitness modeling courtesy of Tracy Kelpadlo
Movement Preparations/Stretches: I encourage you to use these movements as stretches and preparations before moving as well as for general daily mobility. Everyone is different, so only go to a range that is comfortable for you.
Calf: Using the wall for support and the hip as a driver, twist left to right in slightly bent knee position.
Hip Flexor: One may use the hand, hip or knee as a transverse circular driver in both directions.
External Rotator: Using support if necessary, with trunk or hands as a driver.
Hamstring: In a bent-leg and dorsiflexed (toe pointed up) position. One may hold onto a doorframe or kneel for added support.
Internal Hip: Externally rotate the targeted hip in a kneeling position on the support leg, using the hands as a transverse driver.
Shoulder Girdle, Version 1: Raising the hand high against a pole or doorframe and making sure the tissues are elongated use the hips as a driver to twist left and right.
Shoulder Girdle, Version 2: Externally rotating the hand in a cobra-like position, use the hips to drive in the transverse plane.
Movements/Resistance Exercises: The following are movements in which you can use as exercises or for more specific movement preparation. If you do add resistance, make sure to progress slowly and decrease range of motion as a precaution.
Internal and External Rotation of all Lower Body Movements with the Foot as a Driver (Lunge, Squat, and Calf Raise): MANY variations for this exist, but only angulate the toes in or out slightly, and continue to show caution as you move in any unaccustomed fashion. These variations can be used in cooperation with upper body hand drivers (as reaches) to compliment desired emphasized musculatures. These movements can be adapted to strength, mobility, agility, and power exercises. Rotational Movements can be added to create more compound rotational components.
Deadlift: The internal or external rotational concepts explained above can be applied to a two leg, one leg, or staggered stance deadlift. The rotational variation in a single leg deadlift is shown below. A rotational and reactive component may be added to agility and partner exercises, using tubing and medicine balls as possible tools options.
Push Up: The rotational movements shown come from the chest as a driver in one variation and the hand as a driver in another. The hips may also be used as a driver, and the pushup can be on other implements such as a stability ball.
Plank (side and low-prone): The hips or hand are commonly used drivers. A quadruped position may also be adapted.
Bridging: The foot is used as a driver, and instability implements and carpet sliders may be used as additional tools.
Shoulder Presses: In a basic standing press, the dumbbell overhead press is shown with a single arm movement; while endless other variations may be applied. If adapting to a hypertrophy or strength program in which heavier weights are used, it would be wise to reduce to range of motion.
Medicine Ball Rotations and Chops: The following exercises can be used with medicine balls, tubing, dumbbells and other implements. The movements shown are sagittal plane lunges, but any lunge, squat, or other lower body variation can be incorporated.
Rows: In a standing single arm row using a band as resistance, the opposite hand is shown as a driver for the rotation. This method may be applied to a bent-over row or suspension trainers.
Foam Rolling: Both used for movement preparation and recovery, self-myofascial release or foam rolling is an essential part component of exercise programming. Understand that the soft tissue is 70% water, so gentle compression in necessary to avoid “tensing up.” Make sure to move slowly as you release tight tissue with these seldom-used techniques.
Lats: Place a foam roller under the bulk of your armpit in a side lying position, using the arm as a driver.
IT Band: The foam roller may be placed on the lateral side of the thigh anywhere between the knee and hip, using the hip or hand as a driver.
External Rotator: Using a foam roller or ball on where the back pocket on a pair of jeans would be, use the foot as a driver in external and internal rotation.
Calf: Placing a foam roller or ball underneath the base of the bulkiest portion of the calf, place slight pressure downward using the foot as a transverse driver.
Thoracic Spine: Placing the ball between the scapula (shoulder blade) and spine lay down in a supine position, using the arm as a driver in the transverse plane as well as other directions.
Posterior Neck: Gently pressing a ball, thumb, or massage tool against the back of the neck lateral to the spine, use the head as a driver to the left and right.
Remember that no exercise is the "right or wrong" exercise. Everybody is an individual and these variations are simply tools and models to stimulate new ideas for your workouts or clients. Make sure to be creative and innovate your own movements within all planes of levels of movement complexity.
Plant-based diets are a sweeping trend and are slowly gaining popularity, despite the fact that only 2% of the world’s population attribute themselves to such a diet. You may want to be more environmentally conscious, saw one of those life changing videos of animal mistreatment, have religious reasons, or want to take a new approach to weight loss or general nutrition. Regardless of your reasons, plant-based diets are certainly a great way to go! If you are thinking about adopting a plant-based diet, or currently have one, there’s some essential facts regarding deficiencies and benefits that are important for you to know!
- Minimize greenhouse gases and animal waste
- Save water and agriculture (such as grain) used to feed mass amounts of livestock
- Support animal rights and contribute to lowering their consumption
- Intake of more antioxidants from plant-based foods, resulting in less chances of cancer, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, cardiovascular issues, and gastrointestinal issues.
- Adopt more whole, natural foods in place of processed ones
- Save money (if you know where to shop and select produce-start a garden!)
Common Nutrient Deficiencies:
Precision Nutrition (http://www.precisionnutrition.com/) has provided some common micronutrients often absent from plant-based diets and their suggested daily intakes.
- Zinc: Truly vital for the development and maintence of the immune system, protein synthesis (building protein structures for tissues such as muscle or injuries), and the forming of parts of the blood. While zinc is offered in plants, the way the human body absorbs it in comparison to animal products is slightly different. It has been found that drinking coffee or tea between your mealtimes can help absorbtion of zinc, Some foods that are rich in zinc are quinoa, pumpkin seeds (pepitas), goji berries, dried apricots, hemp seeds, almonds, lentils, and hummus.
- Calcium: Abosrbtion of calcium is also worse in a plant-based diet, but consuming 1000 mg/day will compensate. In addition to coffee and tea, a liquid calcium supplement drink can also help with zinc absorbtion in between meals, hitting two birds…or broccolis…with one stone! Some natural sources include lentils, tofu, nuts, leafy green veggies, and fortified foods.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids: While you can get alpha-linoleic acids (ALA) from hemp seeds, walnuts, seaweed, and flax seeds, a lack of fish soruces may cause defficienes in docosahexonic acid (DHA). You can get DHA in supplements or algae sources (spirulina or other algae oils-this is what fish eat to get their healthy fatty acids!). Combine at least 2 grams of ALA/day with 1 gram of DHA/day.
- Vitamin B12: Often found in animal products, makes sure you get adequate B12 intake for nervous system health, red blood cell production, and the construction of DNA. Some foods have added B12 (aim for 3-5 mcg/day) while supplements for B12 and other B vitamins are common (if using supplements, aim for 10-100 mcg/day).
- Iodine: The human body does not produce it, but it is necessary for hormonal production and the thyroid. You can get a good source of iodines from the sea, from things such as kelp, seaweed, sea salt, and other green leafy veggies. Aim for 75-100 mcg/day.
- Vitamin D: If you’re excluding dairy, it will be hard to get enough Vitamin D in a plant-based diet. Have adequate sun exposure (20-30 min/day for 3-5 time/week) or supplement with 25 mcg on days when the sun don’t shine.
- Protein: With the exclusion of animal products, it can be hard to think-outside the box to get enough protein in your diet, which is essential. It is often recommended that an individual should get 0.8 gram/protein per kg of their weight, but a fair rule of thumb is to have 1 gram/lb or around that. There is a great availability of plant-based protein powders, such as Spiru-teen, and meal replacements. Here is a link to a list full of great plant sources rich in protein: http://thriveforward.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/03-Protein-for-Athletes-Ref-Visual-Guide-to-Plant-Based-Protein.pdf
There you have it, a survival guide to being a brontosaurus. Remember, don’t feel like you HAVE to abandon animal products to incorporate more plant-based foods. I definitely encourage everyone to do add them into your diet as much as possible, as they are continuing to show decrements in the risks of cancer and other disease. But consider lowering the amount of animal products and substituting one or two things for plants instead. If you make a big jump the next day, it might not stick. So if it sounds like it’s for you, power to the plants and good luck!
PS: Grow and buy locally and respect the bees!
I want to make it clear that I am not married nor an impregnated female, or any female at that. But being educated about pregnancy is not just a responsibility for the mother, but for everyone else, too. As we are all human beings, we should empower ourselves to empower others, and therefore positively influence human development. Now, I won’t turn this into a to a boring fetal development lecture, but rather an easy-to-understand and share list of general nutritional guidelines for pregnant mothers to follow, as well as to be educated about by others (this does not replace a program outlined by a Nutritionist or Dietician, these guidelines are GENERAL).
First, what to AVOID:
-Too much fish intake due to potential metal toxicity
-Anything that could carry harmful bacteria (uncooked seafood or meats, eggs, and some deli meats)
-Alcohol, tobacco, and excessive caffeine (this INCLUDES limiting artificial sweeteners)
-Junk food and highly processed ingredients (things you shouldn’t be eating anyway)
Many individuals will use pregnancy cravings as an excuse to engage in consumption in some of these foods, but the pregnant individual and those around her must remember that a healthy baby comes first before superficial dietary desires.
Macronutrients: Total caloric intake should be increased to 300-500 calories/day.
-Protein: It’s best to increase intake (during 2nd and 3rd trimesters) by a minimum a 25 grams of protein through whole food intake (best) or natural protein powder supplementation. This is essential for the growth of tissues and structures in the fetus.
-Fatty Acids: Assuming fish intake is lowered, ask a dietician for a suggested Omega-3 fatty acid supplements. Natural sources include flax and hemp, algae (check out spirulina for an added protein bonus), walnuts, and leafy greens.
Micronutrients: Add these to your diet through whole foods (always a better option) or supplementation.
-B12: Many sources come from the sea (trout, salmon, clams, crab, and tuna) so limit intake or get high quality sources/take supplementation. Also found in beef, yogurt, and fermented foods (not beer).
-Folate: ESSENTIAL!!! Leafy greens, legumes, whole grains, beets, cauliflower, lettuce, and asparagus. Supplements for folic acid are common and often necessary.
-Vitamin D: Sun (20-30 min X 2-3 days/week). Foods rich in Vit. D include egg yolks or fish, so make sure they are cooked thoroughly, intake is limited, or a supplement is taken.
-Calcium: Helps improve immunity and prevent pre-eclampsia. Leafy greens, bok choy, tofu, legumes, figs, seeds and nuts such as almonds.
-Iron: Legumes, dark green veggies, dried fruit, nuts, seeds and whole grains. Molasses contains some iron if you want to use it as a sweetener.
-Zinc: Legumes, nuts, seeds, peas, chickpeas, yogurt, whole grains, cereals, and some animal products.
If you read my last post about the Super food Sphere Project, you know very well how I feel about the health food industry. It has the right heart, mostly the ingredients, but fails in the sense of pricing that appeals to ALL populations and makes a healthy seem foreign; only something that can be achieved through buying a product that claims to "have all you need" in one serving. Once again, let's change that. You can easily make your own products that are CHEAPER and HEALTHIER than some of the ones you are often overcharged for.
Today's subject for nutrition-based self-empowerment: The Veggie Burger.
Why? I personally love the veggie burger not because I'm trying to watch my figure or that I'm anti-animal, but more that IT'S A BURGER MADE OF VEGGIES! Seriously, this is exciting. The opportunity to get several servings of healthy vegetables that most people miss out on in one meal is the one of the gnarliest things ever. So enough talk, let's get down to veggies.
What you'll need:
- Vegetables fool! We're talkin' 1 can of Black Beans, 1 can of Corn, 1/2 an Onion (we pre-caramilized them), 3 cloves of Garlic, 2 purple potatoes, 2 yams, 2 red potatoes
- We also added 1/2 lb of Quinoa, some pine nuts, and we got Alfalfa sprouts and Enoki Mushrooms as a topper.
- A bun: go for whole grain or your favorite health bread.
Prep time is about 20-30 minutes depending on how long the potatoes take to boil. The rest is simple. Cook time is around 8 minutes.
Here's the steps (they're super easy):
- Boil potatoes and yams until soft
- Mash up corn and black beans (we used a potato mashers)
- Cook your Quinoa if it isn't premade, and add it to the mixture when done. Add chopped garlic. This is also when you throw in your pine nuts, or any other special ingredient. These did come out a weeeee bit mushy, so a binder such as bread crumbs may be a good idea.
- Once the potatoes are done, mash them up in a separate bowl and then add to the mixture. Add onions. We didn't add any spices, but if you would like to, now is the time to do it.
- If you have plastic gloves (which is no fun), use them here. After you annihilated the crap out of this mixture, it's time to form the patties. But not in patty form. For us, we found it is easier (for transport and storage sake) to form into balls and press them into patties with a spatula on the pan. Press the ball you made into a patty to see if it is the desirable size, and then adjust accordingly.Too big and it may fall apart, too small and you got yourself some sliders.
- Placing them on sheets of aluminium foil, wrap them up like Hersehy's Kisses.
- Drizzle olive oil in a pan and cook one side until ready to flip, etc.
- Place on your bun and top with whatever you like. We didn't make a sauce or add any seasoning, and they tasted amazing. VIVA LA VEGGIE!
We kept it all natural here. About 20 dolllars worth of fresh produce made 8 burgers, coming in hot at $2.50 a piece (big profit for potential fresh street food here). Here's the breakdown of all the ingredients and a brief explanation of their health benefits. It's important to reach out to other ingredients and educate yourself on their benefits, as we cannot truly empower with mind power.
Black Beans- They have a great protein and fiber harmony! In one cup you can find 15 grams of fiber and 15 grams of protein. A match made in digestive tract heaven. This balance is also speculated to have a positive effect on blood sugar balance. They breakdown sulfites with a mineral called Molybdenum and have a good B6 content (good for pregnant women).
Corn- Similar to the bean, corn has a great amount of fiber. In addition, it has essential vitamins such as B vitamins (niacin and folic acid) and Vitamin C.
Purple Potatoes-High in potassium and an amazing source of antioxidants due to its vibrant color. Some studies have shown it can also reduce blood pressure in hypertensive individuals.
Red Potatoes-Contains close to 1/2 the recommended DV of Vitamin C and has 1/3 more potassium than foods such as bananas and broccoli. Also high in fiber and antioxidants (keep the skins in).
Yams-Very high in B6 (which break down a protein that damages the walls of blood vessels) and potassium as well as a powerful antioxidant. These dudes and their roots are considered all-powerful in the nutrition and herbal medicine world.
Onions-contain plenty of phytochemicals and Vitamin C. If you get the bright green tops involved, you can even add some good Vitamin A. They are rich in Chromium as well.
Garlic-Known for its anti-inflammatory properties, garlic also contains Vitamin C and B6. Don't cook it or burn it, add it fresh to maintain its most powerful benefits.
Afalfa Sprouts-These guys are an unlikely hero. They contain Vitamin K as well as a plant component called Saponins, which can increase immunity, fight off tumor cells, act as anti-inflammatories, and cleanse your intestinal tract. Read more about it here: http://www.sprouts-as-medicine.com/alfalfasprouts.html
Enoki Mushrooms-These fungi have anitoxidants and proteins that aid in immune system regulation and have been used in many cancer therapies and to increase vaccination efficiency. I just think they look like ET's fingers.
Super foods and convenience are two things that make health foods the most valuable nowadays, it seems. I love supporting small scale companies and health movements as much as the next guy as do I love shopping around stores such as Whole Foods, but to be bluntly honest: THIS STUFF IS FRIGGIN’ EXPENSIVE!!!
I make an effort to continue my nutrition education through programs like Precision Nutrition, research articles, current health trends, and through cooking. I stress cooking to those who want to be healthier because you are more aware of quality ingredients you put into your foods, you tend eat less, share more, save a good amount of money, and it happens to be therapeutic in a world that steals our focus every second of the day. So instead of just preaching about how much better it is to cook and create your "super food" super diet, I went ahead and did it myself. This recipe rivals the bars and snacks that contain ingredients that are scientifically proven to be godly nectar on the cellular level.
I will give a brief rundown on the health benefits of each ingredient below the recipe, but for now here's the rundown for the super food sphere or bar you decide to make based off this recipe, which takes about 20-30 minutes total.
You will need:
· A coffee grinder, blender or processor that can finely chop nuts
· Mixing bowl and spoon
· A cookie tray for freezing or dehydrating or aluminum foil
· Assorted nuts and seeds. I use pumpkin, chia and flax seeds with almonds and walnuts and peanut butter.
· Banana or blueberries as a mashed base. Feel free to add raisins, coconut, cranberries, goji berries, or mulberries if available and within your price range.
· Honey (RAW and ORGANIC!!!) – support your local beekeepers PLEASE
· Buckwheat and raw rolled oats (both are gluten free)
· Raw cacao or 75% dark chocolate. I pick one without dairy. Baking chocolate is also an option.
· Super food or herbal powders. This recipe uses organic kelp and organic spirulina powder. You can affordably purchase these off of a wholesale herbal wholesale website.
1. Grind up your choice of whole nuts along with the super food powders. I used two handfuls of nuts for one batch (the picture shows two batches worth). Empty the powdered mixture into a bowl.
2. Mash up 3/4 of a banana, 2 tbsp honey, a small box of rasins (or other berry/fruit) and 2.5 tbsp of peanut butter in a separate bowl until mushy and unified. (The measurements allow the consistency not to be to mushy. If it is add less banana)
3. Combine both bowls and add in 2.5-3 tbsp of each type of seeds. Mix very well until the powder form turns to a glue-like mixture.
4. Spread out buckwheat and make golf-ball sized spheres out of the mixture and roll in the buckwheat until spheres are covered. Lightly press the buckwheat into the sphere.
5. Melt chocolate in microwave or double boiler. Lightly cover spheres in chocolate and then cover in the raw rolled oats.
6. Place spheres spaced out on cookie sheet and place in then freezer. Let soften in fridge or room temperature before eating and enjoy!
Spirulina- I consider this to be the soul of this recipe. These blue - green algae have reportedly 60-85% protein, compared to steak which is 20% as well as containing ALL of the essential and nonessential amino acids. It has chlorophyll, vitamins D, B, E, and K, linoleic acid (omega 3 fat components, and why fish have these healthy fats from eating algae like spirulina). There are many benefits to ingesting for diseases and vitality.
Kelp-this super seaweed absorbs minerals and electrolytes from seawater, contains calcium, and produces iodine. Iodine is not produced by the human body, but parts of the body such as the thyroid require it for healthy function. Most people show deficiencies, so kelp up!
Almonds- these nuts are almost a multivitamin themselves. They contain monounsaturated fat, Vitamin E, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, iron, folic acid (necessary for pregnancy), riboflavin, copper and fiber.
Walnuts-alpha-linoleic fatty acid (ALA), phosphorus, protein, fiber, omega 3's, and antioxidants.
RAW honey-Being a bee enthusiast myself, honey rocks. Antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant rich. Need I say more?
Chia Seeds-these has-been commercial stars (CHIA PETS!!!) contains as much omega-3's in 3.5 tbsp as a 32 ounce salmon slab. It is also a good source of magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, fiber, antioxidants, and has a reputation for managing cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
Flax Seeds-these guys have more lignans (powerful antioxidants and plant estrogen characteristics) than most foods, sometimes up to 400%! Also great omega-3 and fiber content.
Peanut butter-a source of healthy fats and proteins as well as Vitamin B6, Vitamin E, potassium and magnesium.
Banana-potassium and crazy amounts of health benefits. Read 24 of them here:
Buckwheat-fiber, antioxidants, bioflavinoids, magnesium, manganese, and several essential amino acids. It’s a seed, so its gluten free.
Raw rolled oats-contains beta glucan, which has antifungal properties. Has fiber and amino acids.
Cocoa-MAJOR source of heavy antioxidant reinforcement. I'll let you read about it and its 700 compounds here: http://www.medicinehunter.com/cocoa-health-miracle
WHY these ingredients? I have spent a LOT of time in health food stores comparing bar to bar, super food snack to super food snack, and I have seen a very apparent trend. Each food “flaunts” its own claim to super food fame, displaying the names and phrases of often a SINGULAR super food ingredient. Looks for ones like “Health Warrior” that advertises chia seeds, “Raw Revolution” with spirulina and peanut butter variations, “Nature Valley” with nuts and oats, “Kelp Krunch” with kelp…you get the point. But why succumb to the flaunting of ONE super food and just include ALL OF THEM for an unstoppable force of nutrition?
By combining the ingredients I love, I have created a monster with more Omega-3's, antioxidants, amino acids, fiber, and protein than anything I have yet to buy. Do your own research and see what you like health-wise and taste-wise in different bars, and CREATE YOUR OWN! Empower yourself and don’t be a slave to the “health food sales pitch”. VIVA LA NUTRITION!
The pure mention of the abreviation for the abdominal musculatures brings about superficial and anxious feelings of the consistently mentioned and seemingly unachievable "six pack of the gods". Well let's step aside for a second, and treat the core musculatures they way a woman should be treated (brownie points for me!); by personality before appearance. By personality, I mean the way the core musculatures function. This is not meant to be an anatomy lesson, but rather change the way you think about core training. We will talk about current training pitfalls as well as how to REALLY train the thing that hold you all together; the core.
- "CRUNCHES FOR BREAKFAST!" : This is the most common piece of advice you will get regarding 'core training' from the average gym enthuisast. But there is so much more to the core than simply crunches. While they do work the spinal flexion action of the rectus abdominus (the abs) as well as the other hip and spinal flexors, performing only this exercise to train your core is like constraining a Bengal Tiger in a cage! Your core does WAY more than one action in a supine (on your back) position. Don't dismiss the movements involved in crunches, but it's time to think outside the box. Not to mention to much repetitive action on the spine can lead to detrimental neuromuscular and spinal health.
- "Train your abs everyday!" : I'll make this one quick. You should only use your abdominals as much as you would work out every other muscle. For the sake of recovery, performance, and injury prevention, optimal rest for the abs is just as important for anything else.
- "Crunch as fast as possible!" : Exercise tempo is whole other story, but here are the basics. Slow and controlled = stability and more aerobic emphasis (the core is mostly type 1 or aerobic fibers anyway due to their function of posutral control). Fast and powerful = less controlled but greater performance yield (if power is required in performance) as well as more caloric output (only because higher intensity training yields a high calorie burn, assuming this is the case in your workouts). Rule of thumb: DO NOT break your spine trying twist a medicine ball back and forth before building up a stable foundation, as is the trend for all movements.
Okay, now that those pet peeves are out of the way, let us discuss the truths about the core.
- The core is the muscles of your front torso, back torso, and the LPHC (lumbo-pelvic hip complex). Definitions of the "global core" include the core being anything your limbs attach to. I would tend to agree with the latter. Our bodies move as one, and it is a beautiful thing that is not to be "cut up" and looked at as isolated muscle actions. An easy way to think of the core is mostly everything a one-piece swim suit cover, especially the GLUTES!!! The LPHC mentioned above refers to lumbar spine inserting into the hips, in which the glutes and other hip muscles are heavily involved. THEY are also the core, and important players at that.
- ALL Movements are CORE Movements: This is the one TRUTH I would like you to take away from this post. Place your hand on your abdominals, glutes and/or lower back muscles. Start reaching with your hands above, below, side to side, in a twisting motion, behind and in front of you. FEEL how the core components react and move with you. Try the same with stepping in front, in back, and to the side. Once again feel the core move and react with every slight movement (even BEFORE it happens!!!). You can tell I am excited about this discovery for your because it is beautiful and complex, yet comforting to know that your core is working for you in all movements....assuming you read below on how to properly activate it first.
- The Foundation: The Transverse Abdominus (TVA). This muscle plays a large role in stabilization of the other core musculatures and is often the culprit of lower back pain and core dysfunction. Training the TVA is important for a truly strong core. The most common way is to lay down "draw in" the navel towards the spine and brace the core as if preparing to be jabbed in the stomach or pick up a heavy box. Diaphragmatic breathing also is a big help. Another tool to visually measure TVA activation is this pressure-based feedback mechanism right here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0010L48YC/ref=oh_details_o00_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1. Once you feel you can progress to other exercises, try the ones in my Game Changing Core Exercises video on http://www.glattfitness.com
- Now that all of the basics are out of the way, use your newfound knowledge and core activation techniques next time you go to the gym. Every repetition of lunge, lat pulldown, chest press, pull up, push up, shoulder press, and even cardio exercises should involve healthy core movement and stabilization. Once you start activiating the core during these movements, defined abdominals and healthy movement is right within your reach.
When it comes to change, mindset is one of the ultimate drivers in taking action towards achieving a goal. As a a person giving or receiving information, it is often just hearing the benefits and downfalls of certain strategies are not enough to bring an individual to the brink of action. In other words, you as an individual are entirely responsible for changing.
The necessary internal motivation that acts as a "lightswitch" in your head leading to change can most powerfully be derived from one thing: your mindset. People often use their mindset to determine their identity, This can be dangerous or this could achieve a lot of things.
So let's start with identifying your mindset before we talk about changing it. Read the four statements below and decide which two you agree with the most:
1. You are a certain kind of person. Not much can be done to change that.
2. No matter what kind of person you are, you can always change substantially.
3. You can do things differently, but the important parts of who you are can’t really be changed.
4. You can always change things despite the kind of person you are.
If you agreed with statements 1 and 3, you have a fixed mindset.
If you agreed with statement 2 and 4, you have a growth mindset.
If you agreed with statements 1 and 2, you are in a confused mindset.
Let's say you are in a fixed mindset, but you would like to change. To be effective or even simply begin the change, you MUST move to a growth mindset. First, let's identify some of the traits associated with the three mindsets.
An individual with a fixed mindset may have one or more of the following qualities:
- You perceive your abilites as static (you are what you are)
- You behavior accurately represents you perceived natural abilities
- You tend to avoid challenges (if you fail, people will think you're not what you say you are)
- You can be threatened by negative feedback
- Youcan be afraid to show yourself exerting effort (if you have your abilities, you are naturally good at them and you want to show everyone how easy it is for you)
- You register compliments based off of skill the greatest
An individual with a growth mindset may have one or more of the following qualities:
- You believe you can build up abilities with practice
- You tend to accept more challenges to grow as a person
- You accept more criticism for improvement's sake
- You think more in the long-term and how little steps lead to big payoffs
- You register praise as result of effort the greatest
So how do we make the switch? How can change our mindset so that we can manipulate our identitiy to become something we want to be? Let's go through a few steps:
- Avoid talking about abilities as if they are traits. You will often hear a middle school student who is struggling with math say, "I suck at math." In fact, I still say this in college. But if we wanted to be better at say, math, we have to stop associating "sucking at math" as a part of who we are. After all, math is a subject, and your capacity for demonstrating a conceptual understanding is simply an accumulated ability. This is the same for just about any ability, including the will for fitness goals.
- Acknowledge that your brain is like a muscle. It can be built up, made stronger. We just need to put in the effort. It won't happen overnight, but you will never get worse than you already are.
- Act like a coach, not a scorekeeper. A good coach will focus on what can be better instead of the amount of times a team has failed or won. Do the same for yourself or those you're teaching. Never focus on the quantity of failures, but rather what you can learn from them.
- Every failure is a necessary investment. No matter what you're doing, you will most likely fail at one point (whether big or small). Fail early, admit mistakes, and be more prepared before you actually need to be.
- Best to say "not yet" instead of "never." Saying never cannot lead to successful change. Saying not yet, however, can serve you well. If you do not succeed today, hold off your expectations but not your efforts, Even when you don't think about it, you will be moving forward.
Follow these five steps, and you will be on your way to changing your perceived identity. Be realistic with yourself. I have met many a person who will say something like, "I would love to work out frequently and move recreationally, but that's just not ME -or- I don't have enough talent." In this situation, everyone has the opportunity to be an athlete. My favorite definition of 'athlete' is "one who is trained in a skill or movements". ANYBODY can be an athlete if they simply build up abilities aside from their fixed mindsets. So get out there, change, and be better.