Should You Boost Your Athletic Performance With Caffeine?

 

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Do you use caffeine to boost your athletic performance?  While wanting that extra boost of energy to perform your exercise routine at it’s max, stay in tune to how your body responds to the caffeine.  This is very important.  Why?  Because just as there is health benefits of “coffee”, ( I’m not talking about energy drinks, supplement, or soft drinks), there are also health concerns of the caffeine. 

Health concerns of caffeine

  1. It has addictive qualities 
  2. Interferes with hormones such as cortisol and insulin, which can cause insomnia or worsen it
  3. For some people 3 or more cups (or even less) can interfere with hormone levels and increase PMS symptoms.
  4. Can cause anxiety or make it worse
  5. Dehydration
  6. Increases blood pressure
  7. Increases stomach acid and can cause acid reflux

Are you genetically able to metabolize caffeine?  Some people may, and some may not.  Everyone’s tolerance is different.  We all have a gene in our liver for making a particular enzyme that breaks down caffeine.  Because everyone’s genetics are different, some of us have the enzyme that breaks down caffeine quickly, while others have the enzyme that breaks caffeine down slowly.

  • If you have the fast enzyme, caffeine is processed and removed quickly and your body can benefit from the antioxidants found in coffee than can help protect against free radicals.
  • If you have the slow enzyme, caffeine will linger around in your system much longer, which causes health problems.

The risk of caffeine might outweigh the benefits.  Minimizing or completely getting rid of caffeine in your diet may be best for some people. 

If you can tolerate the caffeine with no negative side affects, here are some health benefits of coffee.

  1. It can increase mobilization of fatty acids as a fuel during exercise
  2. Studies show it can make you feel more alert and improve athletic performance temporarily
  3. Suppresses appetite
  4. Has antioxidants that help protect against free radicals

Some studies have shown that the phytochemical compounds in coffee, called chlorogenic acids, decrease hunger.  Chlorogenic acids are also found in fruit such as, pears, strawberries, blueberries, apples, and pineapple.

Questions you may ask yourself after your cup of coffee.

  1. Do you get the coffee jitters?
  2. Do you have trouble sleeping, or falling to sleep?
  3. Are you having heart palpitations?
  4. Are you finding yourself anxious after consuming caffeine?

Listen to your body.  These are signs of the slow enzyme, and the caffeine isn’t being properly processed and removed from your body quick enough.

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A Healthy Gut = Better Weight Loss

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Do you want to…  Lose weight?  Tone?  Build Muscle?  Have more energy?  Create a healthy gut by eliminating foods that cause inflammation in your intestinal tract.  With inflammation, you cannot absorb the nutrients your body needs to become the person you would love to be, or have that healthy body to hit your goals!  

Carrageenan is a red seaweed or algae.  It is a glucose related sugar called sulfate polygalactan.  It is found in many processed foods in your supermarket, whether it may be a health food store or just a regular grocery store.  Carrageenan is used as a food additive thickening agent to improve food consistency, it adds no nutrition or flavor to our foods.

What is bad about Carrageenan?

  1. It is processed with chemicals to help neutralize it’s acidity.
  2. It becomes degraded (carcinogenic) when exposed to our stomach acid.
  3. Studies have shown that it causes ulcerative colitis, tumors, and gastrointestinal inflammation. (According to The Cornucopia Institute)
  4. Dr. Joanne Tobacman, MD (a physician scientist) studied the carcinogenic effects of carrageenan for over 20 yrs, her research linked the development of digestive problems and diabetes with the consumption of carrageenan.

Degraded carrageenan is what scientists use in order to create inflammation in lab rats!

Studies have shown exposure to carrageenan clearly causes inflammation in the intestinal tract, which will raise the risk of intestinal cancer.

Carrageenan can be found in several processed foods! 

  • Rice milk, coconut milk, and soy milk
  • Yogurt
  • Tofu
  • Nitrate-free turkey lunch meat
  • Protein drinks/Nutritional shakes
  • Infant formula
  • Cottage cheese
  • Sour cream
  • Toothpaste

Individuals experiencing IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) or bloating have noticed great improvements in their gastrointestinal health by eliminating carrageenan from their diets.

If you’re already struggling with weight, consuming an ingredient that can worsen diabetes is also bad for your blood sugar.  Steer clear of these added ingredients in order to lose those extra pounds.  Better yet, steer clear of processed foods in general and you will worry less about reading labels.  🙂 

 

 

Testosterone for Muscle Growth

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One of your worst enemies for muscle growth is high estrogen levels.  Testosterone plays a crucial role in muscle growth, fat loss, and optimal health .  When we don’t have enough testosterone, we have higher levels of estrogen.  Higher levels of estrogen can create weight gain, extra fat around waste, high cortisol levels, fatigue, lack of sex drive and less motivation.

*Your testosterone levels might be what’s holding you back on your fitness goals!

What can cause low testosterone:

  • Over training raises cortisol- limit endurance training (long distance)
  • High carb intake raises cortisol
  • Too low of fat intake
  • Age- as we get older
  • Lack of sleep
  • Stress/Anxiety
  • Medications/Drugs
  • Not eating clean- GMO’s, too many chemicals, and preservatives.
  • Birth control- high estrogen.

*Maximize your Testosterone levels naturally for muscle growth, recovery, and health!

Natural ways to lower Estrogen- AVOID these:

  • Eliminate BPA- avoid food and water in plastic.  BPA is a Xenoestrogen (environmental disruptor) and can mimic naturally occurring estrogen in our bodies and act as endocrine disruptors.  Can cause you to produce too much estrogen.
  • Avoid Soy- contains Xenoestrogens which mimic estrogen in the body that isn’t real.  Soy in the U.S. is genetically modified  and doesn’t contain the benefits of real fermented soy.
  • Avoid Conventional Dairy- A study done in Japan by the Interdisciplinary Graduate School of Medicine & Engineering found that conventional dairy contains high amounts of estrogen and progesterone, which suppresses testosterone by suppressing gonadotropin.  Choose organic!

Minimize carbs and reduce sugar intake.  Too many carbohydrates spike insulin levels, which in return will lower your sex hormone binding globulin that is responsible for binding testosterone and estrogen.  When that hormone is too low it creates too much estrogen.    

*Breast Cancer is estrogen increased cancer! 

Natural ways to increase Testosterone- INCREASE these:

  • Increase Healthy Fats- Numerous studies have shown a positive impact by increasing these healthy fats;  coconut oil, avocado, grass-fed butter, sprouted nuts, wild caught salmon, egg yolks, and grass-fed red meat.  You want to contain a minimum of 20% fat to keep hormones regulated.
  • Interval Training- Weight training and exercises like Yoga, Pilates, and BARR training lower cortisol levels and slow aging process. HIIT and Weight Training is best at balancing hormone levels.  (Studies show that these exercises improve testosterone levels)
  • Increase Cruciferous Vegetables- Contains indole-3-carbinole that has been shown to reduce estrogen levels in the body and can also detox the body of excess estrogen because of the sulfur levels they contain.
  • Pumpkin Seeds- helps to increase testosterone
  • Hemp Seeds- great for balancing hormones

*High levels of cortisol increase estrogen!

Ways to lower your cortisol by supplements:

  • Adaptogenic Herbs- like Ashwagandha helps to lower cortisol by helping your body handle stress.  Studies have shown an increase in testosterone levels.
  • Sandalwood Essential Oil- great for increasing testosterone
  • Fish Oil- keeps hormones functioning properly
  • Vita D3/Natural Sunlight- One study found a close correlation between vitamin D defficiency and low testosterone. 

*Remember!  FAT= Testosterone!  SUGAR/CARBS= More Estrogen!

Please let me know of other interests in health and fitness that you are interested in.  Make a comment below.  Thank you, have a great week! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Illusion of a Smaller Waist

imageSome of us are not as narrow as others in the waistline due to our genetics.  So, why not create the illusion of having a smaller waist?  It’s possible and this workout works! 

Get that V-shape and create the illusion of a smaller waist by incorporating pull-ups into your routine. Why?  Because having a stronger more defined back/shoulders will create that look for you.  Pull-ups create this look because it builds your back, core, shoulders, and biceps.  It also is one of the most effective ways to building a strong muscular back.

Pull-ups for your upper body are like the importance of squats and dead-lifts for your lower body.

Everything we do is in a forward position.  Everything is in front of us which creates constant tightness in our chest muscles.  Pull-ups are great for opening up your chest and will allow you to keep those shoulders from falling forward and looking hunched over.  You need to allow yourself to come all the way down to expand the chest in order to get that dynamic stretch. 

There are other great benefits of adding pull-ups to your routine.

  • Creates fat loss by getting your heart rate up.  By adding another exercise or super-setting them with push-ups or burpees, you can boost the effect of burning fat by turning it into a HIIT workout.
  • Is a compound upper-body workout that allows you to target multiple muscle groups, which triggers a release of growth hormone.
  • Improves grip strength which will help you with your other weight training exercises.
  • Can build larger biceps by using the reverse grip.
  • Is easy to increase your intensity simply by adding weight strapped around your waist.
  • In a hurry and need to hit your upper body?  This is a great way to hit your upper body all at once!
  • Pull-ups are very convenient!  You can do this exercise pretty much anywhere.  Just find a bar you can use or take one with you.

Don’t overlook your back!  Most people focus on their chest muscles.  Pull-ups encompass your whole entire back.  Your back is a large body part!  By working your lats, rhomboids, and trapezius, you’re creating a lot of blood flow that will bring out more of a metabolic response after a workout.

There are different variations of pull-ups.  Wide grip, close grip, and reverse grip.  Reverse grip places more emphasis on your biceps.

Even if you can only do assisted pull-ups, or even 1-2 pull-ups, you have to start somewhere!  If that’s the case, do 4 sets of 1-2 pull-ups.  Try to hold position for 3-5 seconds then lower yourself slowly with control.  You’ll be able to work yourself up from there! Good luck! 🙂

 

 

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The Choice of Salt Matters

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Table salt is very processed and contains added chemicals like, iodine, anti-caking agent, MSG, and sometimes dextrose.  Table salt is also heated which destroys the natural minerals that it contains.  Unlike real salt, processed salt will cause your body to retain fluids and is also very toxic to the body, which in turn causes elevated blood pressure and arteriosclerosis.

So, why Himalayan Salt?

Himalayan Salt has so many health benefits, unlike table salt.  Himalayan Salt is completely pure, in its natural state.  It is real salt!

Himalayan Salt naturally contains:

  • Iodine, chromium, calcium, and magnesium
  • 60 Trace Minerals (which will help you stay hydrated)
  • Contains sodium levels that help balance your sodium-potassuim ratios
  • Contains all 84 elements found in your body

Our body is made to properly absorb nutrients from food that is whole and unprocessed!  These are great reasons to choose Himalayan Salt.

Here are some health benefits of Himalayan Salt:

  • The Nervous System –  We crave salt because our body needs it to function properly. Our nervous system is full of neurons that fire messages to each other.  Your brain lets your body know to move by changing concentration of sodium and chloride ions, which salt is made up of!  Without salt, you might feel depressed, low energy, and not able to concentrate as well.
  • Digestion-  Helps with digestion by stimulating salivary glands and enzymes, which helps facilitate normal absorption of nutrients from food.  It also helps eliminate food-borne pathogens during digestion by transporting chloride ions in the form of HCL in your intestines.
  • Blood Sugar–  Magnesium and Chromium in Himalayan Salt helps normalize your blood sugar levels.  Magnesium helps keep blood glucose levels in normal range.  Chromium is needed for the regulation of insulin and helps with its production.
  • Sleep-  Regulates sleep because of the ability to regulate blood sugar along with the effects of magnesium, which promotes a feeling of being calm.
  • Vascular Health-  Calcium and Magnesium will help prevent high blood pressure, which promotes a healthy cardiovascular system.
  • Cramps/Fluid Balance-  Magnesium is also a great electrolyte, which hydrates the body and helps prevent muscle cramps do to the body lacking fluids.  Regulates water content.
  • PH Balance (Alkaline/Acidity)-  Naturally harmonizes the body’s PH balance, particularly the brain cells.  The several minerals in Himalayan Salt also help remove heavy metals form the body.  Our body cells love to be in a slight alkaline to function.

Females, have you ever craved chocolate during you period?  If you have, it’s your body telling you that it needs magnesium!  Chocolate contains a natural occurring mineral, magnesium, which helps relieve painful cramps.  You can add Himalayan Salt in your glass of water, or just give into that craving of dark chocolate! 🙂

 

 

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Protein and Muscles

imageWhat is protein?  What are Amino Acids?

  • Protein itself is made up of organic compounds that are formed from chains of amino acids.
  • Amino Acids  are the building blocks for the tissues in our bodies, which are made up of organic compounds containing, carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen.

Why do we need protein?

  • We use protein every single day to maintain our body, from our muscles, organs, skin, hair, immune system, digestive enzymes, hormones, and wounds.  It’s always getting used.
  • Protein in the food we eat is our only source of amino acids, which are absolutely necessary to make the proteins that form every aspect of the human body.  Our tissues.
  • Amino acids are the only nutrient provided in the protein of our food, which are the building blocks of all proteins.

Protein in food that we consume are not the same proteins used by our bodies.

  • The human body is able to only manufacture some of the amino acids for its own protein-building function.
  • Out of 20 amino acids, there are 9 that cannot be made by the cells of the body.  We must provide these EAA’s (Essential Amino Acids) through our food sources.
  • To build proteins, the cell must have access to all 20 amino acids.  Each cell constructs and synthesizes the protein it needs.  If we don’t have enough of a particular indispensable amino acid, then all of the other amino acids, including that indispensable one, will be essentially wasted rather used for repairing tissue.
  • Unlike fat, we don’t store lots of extra amino acids in our body.

If you choose a variety of protein-rich foods, you’ll get the proper amount of amino acids your body needs.

Here are some health benefits of protein:

  1. Improves muscle mass.
  2. Helps maintain lean muscle mass when in calorie deficit.
  3. Helps promote weight loss by preventing you from over eating and will keep you full longer.
  4. Has been shown to lower blood pressure.
  5. Some studies show that substituting carbohydrates with protein can lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
  6. Improve glucose regulation by spiking insulin.

When choosing a protein source, use clean sources or organic. Making the better choice of animal/plant product will provide enough EAA’s (Essential Amino Acids) over conventionally raised/grown foods.  Reducing toxins in your diet will allow our body to use the Amino Acids effectively.  Here are some higher animal protein food sources.

  • Grass fed beef
  • Wild caught fish
  • Cage free eggs
  • Raw organic dairy
  • Organic chicken
  • Organic turkey

Most plant-based foods are less protein-dense.  If you are Vegan/Vegetarian you’ll have to work a little harder at getting protein form a wide variety of sources to meet your protein needs.

  • Beans
  • Legumes
  • Nuts
  • Lentils
  • Seeds

Protein Supplements. 

  • Pea protein
  • Whey protein isolate
  • Rice protein
  • Hemp protein

Choose clean supplements with least amount of additives or go Organic.  By choosing proteins with a higher quality, the easier the amino acids can be used in your body for muscle growth, repair, and body maintenance.

How much protein do we need?   

  • The RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) for protein according to the USDA is 0.8g/kg (0.36g/lb), the higher your weight, the higher your protein intake.
  • This amount was developed originally to prevent malnutrition, so we can survive or not get sick.

You may need more protein if you are:

  • Weight Training
  • Physically more active in general
  • Older to prevent loss of lean muscle mass
  • Injured
  • Sick
  • A growing child
  • Having a hard time absorbing protein

We break down our muscle by lifting weights and doing strenuous activities.  Increase your protein intake, amino acids are critical in building muscle mass and repairing tissue to grow back stronger!  Research shows that eating protein before and after exercise helps increase muscle recovery and promotes muscle synthesis.

It’s best to consume your protein in small amounts throughout the day.  Your body can’t store protein, excess amounts in a meal will be excreted.  Eating in small amounts throughout the day will help balance blood sugar levels to keep you satisfied longer and support your metabolism. 

Burn Body Fat & Build Lean Muscle

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Let’s face it, we all want a better body in less time.  Would you believe me when I say that it’s possible?!  You can build muscle, burn calories, boost metabolism, and shred fat all in one workout!  You can do all that by using HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training).  We all have busy schedules, by using HIIT you can accomplish a great workout in a short amount of time.

  • HIIT allows you to burn more subcutaneous fat (subcutaneous fat is the fat on top of the muscle and under the skin) than those using steady state cardio. (research done by Physical Activity Sciences Laboratory, Laval University, Ste-Foy, Quebec, Canada)
  • HIIT burns more of subcutaneous fat because of the ability of the muscle to utilize fats for fuel.
  • HIIT is a powerful method to increase the body’s ability to oxidize (breakdown) fats by the size of the muscle.  HIIT builds up the muscle and it conditions it to oxidize fat.
  • HIIT doesn’t give your body time to recover and utilize oxygen for fuel, it taps into the carbohydrates that are stored in the muscle and uses that for fuel.
  • You’ll burn more fat throughout the day.

Don’t think you’re getting away with a simple workout. 😉  High Intensity Interval Training needs to be done right in order for you to get the proper results HIIT was intended to give.  HIIT is physical exercise characterized by brief, intermittent bursts of vigorous activity, interspersed with periods of rest or low-intensity exercise.

  • Your intervals should be short quick bursts of ALL-OUT effort for about 15-20 seconds.  Intense!  (80-90% peak capacity)
  • Your recovery should be as long as it takes.  Everybody is different.  Your body needs to recover its anaerobic energy system so you are able to give it your all during your next interval.  (If you feel more than 60% fatigued from your last interval before you start your next one, you need more recovery time)
  • The purpose of HIIT is to engage what is called the Anaerobic energy system.  Anaerobic is the same energy system that you use when you lift weights.
  • You can do up to 20-30 minutes of HIIT.  Start off with once a week and work your way up to 3 times per week.  You don’t want to overdue it if cardio hasn’t been a part of your routine.  Build up your cardiovascular fitness slowly.
  • HIIT workouts come in several forms- cycling, weights, body weight exercises (burpees, mountain climbers, push-ups), etc.

If you’re new to working out, please check with your physician before trying any vigorous exercise program.

Get yourself out there and burn some fat! High Intensity Interval Training will help you hit your goals!

Benefits of Lemon Water

img_3995Let’s give our liver some help.  We are exposed to toxins every day. The better your liver functions, the easier it is to lose weight and gain muscle.  Just adding lemon to your water daily will help aid in digestion and detoxification. There are many health benefits of lemon water. These are only a few.

  1.  An unhealthy liver suffers from diluted liver enzymes, and lemon water helps to trigger the production of liver enzymes for better performance.  The lemon is a wonderful stimulant to the liver and is a dissolvent of uric acid.  Studies have shown that a glass of lemon water stimulates the release of toxins, expelling them from your body. Lemon juice’s atomic structure is similar to the digestive juices found in the stomach.  Better nutrient absorption allows your body to function properly, which gives you less bloating and more nutrients for muscle gains. Fresh lemon juice added to your water first thing in the morning is a great liver detoxifier.
  2. Lemons are acidic to begin with but they are alkaline-forming on body fluids helping to restore balance to the body’s pH.  Alkalizing the body has been proven to encourage fat release and weight loss.  Lemons provide plenty of vitamins, minerals and alkaline power, leaving you with faster recovering muscles and less fatigue.
  3. Lemons contain pectin, a type of fiber commonly found in fruits. Pectin helps you feel full longer. Studies have shown that the pectin fiber contained in lemons helps to keep your appetite in check, as well as keeping your metabolism functioning higher throughout the day.