Antioxidants – Add a Lean, Muscular Body to the List of Benefits!

Antioxidants – Add a Lean, Muscular Body to the List of Benefits!
By Mike Geary – Author of Truth About Abs and Busy Man’s Fitness

 

Are you eating enough antioxidant foods?

I’m sure by now you’ve heard all about the amazing health benefits of antioxidant rich foods in your diet. Not only do these free-radical fighting antioxidants help you look and feel younger by slowing down the aging process, but they also help to prevent cancer, heart disease, and loads of other degenerative diseases. But that’s not all. Antioxidants also help you to recover better from exercise…and that means more muscle and less fat on your body in the long run!

The function that antioxidants play in aiding your recovery from exercise is the inhibition of free radicals produced during exercise. Any time you workout, free radicals are produced in the body that damage muscle tissue. Having an adequate supply of antioxidants about an hour or so before your workout can greatly reduce the muscle damage caused by free radicals, hence, improving your muscular recovery from exercise.

Some of the most potent sources of whole food antioxidants are berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, cranberries), cherries, acai fruit, various teas (green tea, oolong tea, white tea, black tea, and red tea – a.k.a. rooibos tea), nuts, seeds, red and black beans, purple potatoes, grapes, red wine, cinnamon, and dark chocolate or cocoa. Don’t be fooled by all of the intense marketing for expensive antioxidant supplement pills…remember whole foods are always better for you (and cheaper) than a pill.

My favorite pre-workout antioxidant-loaded snack is a piece of whole grain toast with almond butter, a small amount of blackberry jam, and topped with a pile of fresh blueberries or sliced strawberries. I wash it down with a glass of iced green tea or rooibos tea sweetened with just a small bit (about a teaspoon) of raw honey. This is literally a quintuple-whammy of potent anti-oxidants! The almond butter, blackberry, blueberries, raw honey, and the green or rooibos tea are all loaded with different varieties of muscle protecting, youth promoting antioxidants. I throw down this snack about an hour before my training. Give it a try for yourself, or be creative and come up with your own antioxidant-rich pre-workout snack based on your tastes.

Remember, your body is continually bombarded every day by free radicals (creating oxidative stress) from exercise, air pollution, smoke, sun exposure, junk food, exposure to chemicals, etc. To reap the full benefits of antioxidants, try to make sure that every meal and snack you eat has at least one or two sources of antioxidant rich foods. This will give you a continuous supply of antioxidants throughout every day to prevent damage from the free radicals you are constantly exposed to.

Antioxidants are just one piece to the puzzle of a healthy diet that will give you the lean, muscular, youthful, and disease-free body that everyone wants. To discover the secrets behind all of the other pieces to the diet puzzle that create a lean body (macronutrient profile, glycemic response, hormonal response, glycogen storage, muscle protein synthesis, the role of leptin, the insulin process, etc.), visit:
The Truth About Abs

Michael Geary is a nationally dual certified personal trainer (NCSF-CPT, AFAA-CPT), and author of “The Truth about Six Pack Abs”

Post Workout Nutrition: Secrets to a Hard, Lean Body

Post Workout Nutrition: Secret to a hard , Lean body

Post Workout Nutrition: Secrets to a Hard, Lean Body
by Mike Geary author The Truth About Six Pack Abs

As you’ve probably heard before, your post-workout meal may very well be your most important meal of the day. The reason is that when you’re finished with an intense workout, you’re entering a catabolic state where your muscle glycogen is depleted and increased cortisol levels are beginning to excessively break down muscle tissue. These conditions are not good and the only way to reverse this catabolic state (and promote an anabolic state) is to consume a quickly digestible post-workout meal as soon as you can after training. The goal is to choose a meal with quickly digestible carbs to replenish muscle glycogen as well as quickly digestible protein to provide the amino acids needed to jump start muscular repair. The surge of carbohydrates and amino acids from this quickly digested meal promotes an insulin spike from the pancreas, which shuttles nutrients into the muscle cells.

The post-workout meal should generally contain between 300-500 calories to get the best response. For example, a 120-lb female may only need a 300-calorie meal, whereas a 200-lb male may need a 500-calorie post-workout meal. Your post-workout meal should also contain anywhere from a 2:1 ratio of carbs:protein to a 4:1 ratio of carbs:protein. While most of your other daily meals should contain a source of healthy fats, keep the fat content of your post-workout meal to a bare minimum, since fat slows the absorption of the meal, which is the opposite of what you want after a workout.

When choosing what to make for your post-workout meal, the first thing to realize is that you DON’T need any of these expensive post-workout supplement formulations that the magazines (who advertise for them) will tell you that you absolutely NEED! As with any nutritional strategies, natural is always better. A good source of quickly digestible natural carbs such as frozen bananas, pineapples, raisins, honey, or organic maple syrup are perfect to elicit an insulin response that will promote muscle glycogen replenishment and a general anabolic (muscle building) effect. The best source of quickly digestible protein is a quality non-denatured whey protein isolate and/or some fat-free or low-fat yogurt. Here are a couple ideas for delicious post-workout smoothies that will kick start your recovery process:

Chocolate Banana – blend together 1 cup water, ½ cup skim milk, one and a half frozen bananas, 2 tbsp organic maple syrup, and 30 grams chocolate whey protein powder – 38 g prot, 72 g carb, 0.5 g fat, 440 calories.

Pineapple Vanilla – blend together 1 cup water, ½ cup vanilla yogurt, one cup frozen pineapples, 2 tbsp honey (preferably raw), and 30 grams vanilla whey protein powder – 35 g prot, 71 g carb, 0.5 g fat, 425 calories.

When looking to lose body fat, keep in mind that post-workout meals should have the opposite characteristics of all of your other meals throughout each day. While post-workout meals should have quick high glycemic index carbs, quickly digested proteins, and minimal fat, all of your other meals throughout the day should be comprised of low glycemic index, slowly digested carbs, slow release proteins, and ample healthy fats. These are powerful strategies towards developing a lean muscular body with a low body fat percentage. Another great thing about post-workout meals is that you can satisfy even the worst sweet tooth, since this is the one time of the day where you can get away with eating extra sugars without adding to your gut. Instead, it all goes straight to the muscles! Enjoy!

Michael Geary is a nationally dual certified personal trainer (NCSF-CPT, AFAA-CPT), and author of “The Truth about Six Pack Abs

Cardio Enthusiasts – Discover a More Effective Training Method for Fat Loss and Heart Health!

Cardio Enthusiasts – Discover a More Effective Training Method for Fat Loss and Heart Health!

By Mike Geary – Author of the best seller The Truth About Abs

Get Ripped Like An Action Hero

It is common to hear fitness professionals and medical doctors prescribe low to moderate intensity aerobic training (cardio) to people who are trying to prevent heart disease or lose weight. Most often, the recommendations constitute something along the lines of “perform 30-60 minutes of steady pace cardio 3-5 times per week maintaining your heart rate at a moderate level”. Before you just give in to this popular belief and become the “hamster on the wheel” doing endless hours of boring cardio, I’d like you to consider some recent scientific research that indicates that steady pace endurance cardio work may not be all it’s cracked up to be.

First, realize that our bodies are designed to perform physical activity in bursts of exertion followed by recovery, or stop-and-go movement instead of steady state movement. Recent research is suggesting that physical variability is one of the most important aspects to consider in your training. This tendency can be seen throughout nature as all animals demonstrate stop-and-go motion instead of steady state motion. In fact, humans are the only creatures in nature that attempt to do “endurance” type physical activities. Most competitive sports (with the exception of endurance running or cycling) are also based on stop-and-go movement or short bursts of exertion followed by recovery. To examine an example of the different effects of endurance or steady state training versus stop-and-go training, consider the physiques of marathoners versus sprinters. Most sprinters carry a physique that is very lean, muscular, and powerful looking, while the typical dedicated marathoner is more often emaciated and sickly looking. Now which would you rather resemble?

Another factor to keep in mind regarding the benefits of physical variability is the internal effect of various forms of exercise on our body. Scientists have known that excessive steady state endurance exercise (different for everyone, but sometimes defined as greater than 60 minutes per session most days of the week) increases free radical production in the body, can degenerate joints, reduces immune function, causes muscle wasting, and can cause a pro-inflammatory response in the body that can potentially lead to chronic diseases. On the other hand, highly variable cyclic training has been linked to increased anti-oxidant production in the body and an anti-inflammatory response, a more efficient nitric oxide response (which can encourage a healthy cardiovascular system), and an increased metabolic rate response (which can assist with weight loss).

Furthermore, steady state endurance training only trains the heart at one specific heart rate range and doesn’t train it to respond to various every day stressors. On the other hand, highly variable cyclic training teaches the heart to respond to and recover from a variety of demands making it less likely to fail when you need it. Think about it this way — Exercise that trains your heart to rapidly increase and rapidly decrease will make your heart more capable of handling everyday stress. Stress can cause your blood pressure and heart rate to increase rapidly. Steady state jogging and other endurance training does not train your heart to be able to handle rapid changes in heart rate or blood pressure.

The important aspect of variable cyclic training that makes it superior over steady state cardio is the recovery period in between bursts of exertion. That recovery period is crucially important for the body to elicit a healthy response to an exercise stimulus. Another benefit of variable cyclic training is that it is much more interesting and has lower drop-out rates than long boring steady state cardio programs.

To summarize, some of the potential benefits of variable cyclic training compared to steady state endurance training are as follows: improved cardiovascular health, increased anti-oxidant protection, improved immune function, reduced risk for joint wear and tear, reduced muscle wasting, increased residual metabolic rate following exercise, and an increased capacity for the heart to handle life’s every day stressors. There are many ways you can reap the benefits of stop-and-go or variable intensity physical training. One of the absolute most effective forms of variable intensity training to really reduce body fat and bring out serious muscular definition is performing wind sprints.

Most competitive sports such as football, basketball, racquetball, tennis, hockey, etc. are naturally comprised of highly variable stop-and-go motion. In addition, weight training naturally incorporates short bursts of exertion followed by recovery periods. High intensity interval training (varying between high and low intensity intervals on any piece of cardio equipment) is yet another training method that utilizes exertion and recovery periods. For example, an interval training session on the treadmill could look something like this:

Warm-up for 3-4 minutes at a fast walk or light jog;

Interval 1 – run at 8.0 mi/hr for 1 minute;

Interval 2 – walk at 4.0 mi/hr for 1.5 minutes;

Interval 3 – run at 10.0 mi/hr for 1 minute;

Interval 4 – walk at 4.0 mi/hr for 1.5 minutes;

Repeat those 4 intervals 4 times for a very intense 20-minute workout.

The take-away message from this article is to try to train your body at highly variable intensity rates for the majority of your workouts to get the most beneficial response in terms of heart health, fat loss, and muscle maintenance.

Michael Geary is a Certified Nutrition Specialist, Certified Personal Trainer, and author of the internationally best-selling book, The Truth about Six Pack Abs, with readers in over 150 countries.