Lil Miss Fitness Freak

"And though she be but little, she is fierce"


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Too Much Of A Good Thing…Fitness Friday 41

Greetings my fitness friends, so I am just finished my exams this week and officially I can say that I have graduated with my second Bachelor of Science. Yay for being 25 with 2 degrees eh?

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As I head into my Masters/Internship this fall…very expensive Masters/Internship… -_- … My parents my be thinking this instead…

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Not art school but you get the idea

So now as I have this week and next to do a bit of relaxing and moving (gross) I want to get into a few topics with you including today’s topic…

When Something Good Becomes Something Bad

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We all know why the idea of ‘moderation’ is out there. Everything has it’s limits. Even the healthiest of things are bad when taken in excess. I wanted to re-iterate this for a few things that the bodybuilding/fitness community tends to go overboard with .

Lets do a quick short list of a bodybuilder staples that maybe they should reconsider their portion sizes in.

Cinnamon.

You a bit shocked? I have mentioned the benefits of cinnamon before, but it was pointed out to me more recently that my mindless pouring sprinkling, which was probably upwards of a tablespoon (ooppps), in my cream of rice every morning is something I need to stop doing.

We health freaks, bodybuilders and just oatmeal lovers adore us some cinnamon and while it is great for you, it actually contains a compound in it that has blood thinning property (anticoagulant). Specifically, coumarin. This pesky lil guy also can damage your liver when eaten in large quantities as well…

Unfortunately for us all, the ‘cinnamon’ that you buy in the store is not really true cinnamon. I wrote this in another blog, but the actual cinnamon, ceylon, which is found mostly in health food stores, is what you actually want to go for and provides you with those amazing benefits the most and less of this nasty compound. What most of us eat is cassia, which contains high amounts of coumarin and can then put you at risk if you’re like me and use half a bottle at a time.

So for all you cinnamon lovers out there, find you’re the real good stuff and watch how heavy-handed you are on the cinnamon shaker as a sprinkle here and another 4 sprinkles there can really add up.

Spinach

So low in calories. So great for volume. Eat all the spinach all the time!

But spinach has calcium they say. It has fiber. It has vitamin K. It has glorious vitamins!

So put it in everything right? Especially when those calories are getting a bit low for your liking and the hanger is too high for others to handle…

Check yourself.

Spinach along with other dark green vegetables have oxalic acid in them, which is a strong inhibitor of calcium. So while you think you’re getting a great dose of plant based calcium, you’re actually not really absorbing all of it. In fact, a study by Weaver and colleagues (1993) found that the foods that contains the most oxalic acid (including spinach and rhubarb) in them had a the lowest absorption of calcium. These plant chemicals can also cause kidney stones which also ain’t something you want to deal with (Durham, 2017).

Tuna

Canned tuna is easy and on-the-go friendly. Not to mention it is a great source of protein with virtually no fat (skipjack, not albacore) and no carbs. Perfect food for prep and many fitness lovers.

How do you all feel about mercury?

Well tuna (among other big fish) are notorious for becoming overly contaminated with this metal due to being one of the bigger predators, especially albacore. Mercury is often found in many species small and large, but as the larger ones eat more of the smaller ones, the overall levels in the bigger fish accumulate and therefore when you eat them, you’re getting a much larger dose.

Switch up your protein sources and the recommendation is have no more than 3 servings of those larger fish like tuna per week of this meaty fish. Also, try to stick to the white tuna varieties, as they are smaller which means they have less bioaccumulation.

For those on prep, try shellfish or, if those are too pricey for your liking, go for other white fish like haddock and hake (if you can get your hands on it) as I find them more tasty than things like cod. Also, don’t be afraid to get your fats from your proteins venture out to the other fishes too.

See Burger and Gochfeld (2004) for more information about canned tuna and their mercury content

Caffeine

Yell at me all you want about how much you need your Starbucks to survive, but there is a limit of caffeine that the body can actually handle. Apparently there is a fairly high level that is actually toxic, but when in prep you got the coffees going plus the pre-workouts and perhaps even a fat burner (ps those don’t work…) and well you have accumulated quite a bit of caffeine there…

Although mortality is rarely seen with caffeine intake, and toxicity generally only arises from doses in the gram amounts, a study by Musgrave et al (2016) pointed out the fact that some people may be at greater risk even with small doses. Those with liver (this metabolizes drugs) and cardiac issues should be especially mindful of their intake, as symptoms of excess may present themselves at lower doses than your average person.

Unpleasant symptoms that have been cited include:

~Tachycardia (super fast heart rate)

~Nausea

~Vomiting

~Shaking and agitation

Can’t say those sound too fun to me and obviously are a sign that you need to cool your jets on the ol’ coffee maker. The other issue is that research no this topic is still quite inconsistent and some people have seen these negative symptoms at a few hundred milligrams too.

So, although considered and widely accepted as safe in most regards, keep an eye on all your sources of caffeine, including potential hidden sources in all those random herbal supplements out there.

Fiber

Now this isn’t about to kill you but the digestive distress that you could be forced to endure may make you want to go into hiding. For a lot of people, when their macros get low start they tend to go really high with the vegetables to feel more satisfied. The problem with that is that too much fiber really is not a nice thing. Bloating, gas, flatulence (I’m being professional here..) and just general discomfort and, well, not feeling lean, all can result from excessive amounts of fiber.

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Did you know that too much fiber can also lead to mineral losses too?

So, yes you’re hungry, but do yourself a favour and don’t ring in more fiber than your body can handle.

Please keep in mind that this was geared towards people in competition prep who will undoubtably feel hunger at some point. The average person should not have this feeling as they shouldn’t have their calories lowered to the same degree even in a weight loss phase. 

This can also be targeted at vegetarians and vegans as they increase their vegetable and plant based protein consumption. Be mindful of how you feel and adjust as you need to. Try to get some of your vegetarian protein sources from things other than beans and legumes 24/7.

Artificial Sweeteners

I know I know this one also comes with a stamp of uncertainty, but from experience alone, I know that these can cause real digestive upsets. Different types lead to varying degrees of gastrointestinal upset (lets not get started on the lack of sound research for LT brain effects..) but in most cases taking in way too many of these things to lower your fat or carbohydrate intake can also lead to you looking like you’re 4 months pregnant OR will force you to live on the toilet for a bit.

It appears that some are better tolerated in adults than others (erythritol may show less adverse digestive affects)(Source) but from a subjective perspective, I know a lot of people (including myself who’s IBS HATES them) who feel bloated ingesting them and feel much better keeping them to a minimum.

So, although I focused on foods that are commonly overeaten by those in prep for bodybuilding competition or heavily into fitness, some of these are eaten quite often in the general public due to being regarded as healthy staples. These foods do provide many benefits to you, however, like almost everything, things have their limits, so I wanted to make you aware of some of the ones you may not think about.

Are you a cinnamon inhaler like me?

-Chelsea


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Happy Gut, Happy Training

Happy Fitness Friday Friends!

I thought I would keep trekkin along on the gut topic as more recently gut health has really been getting some hot attention. It would have been nice if the importance of gut health and taking proper care of your flora and and such was noticed earlier but that’s science and they are only really starting to crack the surface on this whole intricate system (which did you know actually has something very similar to an entire CNS for itself??!).

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So why am I talking about this for Fitness Friday you ask?

Well, as you’re probably aware, your gut is important for a number of things. Some of those things are extremely vital to your training…

~Digestion and absorption of the nutrients you get from your food

~Making short chain fatty acids that can also be used as a form of fuel

In taking a deeper look at the first one, obviously an efficient and EFFECTIVE digestion system not only helps you get the nutrients you need but that ultimately affects your mood to train and how intense you think you can go, your energy levels, your strength levels, recovery ability and overall just makes you feel good enough to have a beneficial and enjoyable lift. After all, who enjoys anything when their stomach is is just not right?

So with keeping this post low key and not too wordy, I thought I would share some tips for optimizing your digestive health and also some things that can help when your stomach decides to attack you.

These are going to be coming from my experiences and my coaches suggestions mostly. Some other things I may include are those that I have heard about but may not have much experience with SO they may or may not be effective. I still want to share them, however, because gut health and what makes people feel their best is so variable that some random things may work for some readers.  

So lets start with somethings that help optimize gut health and prevent issues.

Probiotics

Adding healthy, live cultures to your gut is a good thing. Many things inner environment today kill our flora. With less bacteria, you have less lil guys to break down your food and can cause poor digestion. Invite some new people into your lil biome to help yourself out. Ensure they are refrigerated! Ones on the shelf are no good. 

Glutamine.

I talked about this one in a previous post, so check it out here. I also talked about making your own gelatin gummies there too which are loads with glutamine naturally and are very cheap to make.

Bone Broth.

Going along with glutamine and probiotics, making your own broth is great for your gut and very satisfying during the winter months here in the great white north. Ensure to use free range and organic chicken or beef with the bones to get the live bacteria and the most omegas and glutamine.

Apple Cider Vinegar.

Another thing I already talked about here, but I will say that this is helpful for adding more acid to the gut to help with breakdown. It is especially helpful for those who have low stomach acid and often complain of indigestion. Lemon juice also has similar effects.

Fermented Food.

Kombucha, Sauerkraut, raw yogurts with the active cultures, etc are all great sources of probiotics and thus have the same benefits as taking a supplement, just in a much smaller amount. Take caution though, these may be a problem for some. For example, I love love love kombucha, but the carbonation that naturally occurs with the fermentation doesn’t go over well with my tummy unfortunately. Trial and error with these guys friends.

Watch your water consumption with meals.

Sounds weird, but makes sense when you put it all together. If you drink water during a meal, the liquid will dilute you enzymes and simply slow digestion. Consider holding off on the drinks until a lil bit after you have digested a bit. Some say 30 minutes, but I always say to go with your gut…I’m so punny…

Avoid gum or things that add excess gas in the stomach.

Gum. Beer. Carbonated drinks. Straws. ETC. All of these are going to put lots of gas and excess air into the gut and if you’re very sensitive, well you’re gunna get an upset tummy plus bloating. Also, chew slowly and don’t gulp in tons of air.

Say no to artificial sweeteners.

These tend to be HUGE gut irritants. Whether they give you diarrhea if consumed in large amounts or just straight up gas and distention, they do not make for a happy gut.

Sleep!

Sleep is super important for many things, but one clear cut trigger for my stomach is go hay-wire is if I don’t sleep enough. Poor sleeping, whether it’s chronic or even just a couple days, can really cause your digestion to slow right down and cause you discomfort so make sure you are getting your beauty rest.

…and a last and seemingly obvious one…

Avoid things that your tummy doesn’t agree with.

As mentioned, this seems obvious. If you get an upset stomach after eating something, don’t eat it. Surprisingly, I have heard of so many cases where people say they choose to suffer the consequences and just eat it. To each their own I guess but if you have a serious sensitivity like celiac, where further consumption continues to damage your intestinal track, you need to give you head a smack and just quit cold turkey.

What about when your tummy gets mad…

Low FODMAPs.

I would have said BRAT diet foods BUT I’m much more confident in this approach for a few reasons. One, apple sauce is out for me because I have experienced issues with apples, which are high FODMAP. Also, the bread is another issue. What if your issue is wheat? Overall, yes the FODMAP diet is more restricted but most often chronic digestive issues are from sensitivities that you are going to have to figure out and those often require elimination and then trial and error. By going full low FODMAP you are giving your system a break from all inflammatory and problematic foods and then can re-try them when it’s a bit happier.

Slippery Elm.

I personally have taken this, but not sure whether it made a difference at the time because I was trying so many things at that point, but I have heard good things from others about this one. You can get it in a supplement form, but they also have it as a tea.

Digestive Enzymes.

If you know you have issues with digestion OR for those who are thinking about starting a bulk, digestive enzymes can help support the breakdown of your food simply by adding more enzymes to the playing field. You can chose ones that contain one or more types of enzymes depending on your needs. Have an issue with dairy? Try lactase. Don’t know what your issue is? Try a multi-enzyme.

Pineapple.

Speaking of enzymes, pineapple actually naturally contains an enzyme of it’s own, Bromelain, which can also help digestion. Plus pineapple is awesome. Just be careful not to over do it or you will find yourself peeling the top layer of your mouth off…

Mint Tea.

I always do well with peppermint. Whether you have nausea or you need something warm and comforting when your stomach is being annoying, mint (specifically peppermint…yes there is a difference!) is always my go-to.

Take it easy on harder to digest foods.

Red meats, fats, raw vegetables, high fiber foods, etc are all much more difficult for your system to take care of. When it’s already upset, go for things that are absorbed more quickly and easily. Think low fiber carbohydrates (cream of rice, oats sit well for some, pumpkin, squash, white rice and potatoes), some fruits like bananas, lean meats and fish and easier digesting fats (but still keep these a bit lower) like coconut oil, which bypasses the liver and goes right into use as energy.

And finally be patient. When your stomach is upset, the best you can do is be nice to it and let it settle. Try not to stress about it and let it run its course. Ensure that if it’s a new problem that you take a look at your recent eats and activities and try to figure out the trigger so you can try to avoid it in the future. If it is due to chronic illness, I can relate and I’m sorry you have to put up with that crap but I can only hope that these can serve as a means of coping with it when it looses its mind.

Hope your tummy’s are happy tonight and enjoy the rest of your Friday friends!

-Chelsea


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Back To Basics…Fitness Friday 28

Hello my friends, short and sweet today as I’m in the midst of finishing up final assignments, studying for exams and attempting to squeeze in writing maayyybbee something I can call a coverletter of sorts for my masters/internship applications.

But the fitness-ing must go on!

And by go on I mean, read this post then drop the floor and try these lil numbers out.

I dare ya 😉

So we all know the many benefits of the good ol’ plank, but did you know of it’s children? Oh yes, the plank is now longer alone, its got some newer versions and they are quite the upgrade if you are ready for them.

Lets take a peek shall we.

You have the basic plank

Cues:

~Squeeze EVERYTHING. Glutes, quads and core should be all nice and tight.

~Focus on pulling that navel back towards the spine 

~Roll the shoulders back. Even in this picture, the ‘model’ has hers coming a bit past her elbows. Avoid this, they should be in line with the elbows

~Your back should be straight, enough so that you can put something on it and it won’t fall off.

~Do not crane your neck up, keep it looking at the floor to keep your spine neutral

~Hips should not be sagging and your butt should not be pointed in the air. Again, keep hips parallel with the floor. 

Now you can be a lil fancier even with this basic movement by having one foot off the ground and hovering the leg (did your position change? if the hips dropped, you’re not ready for this yet.) More? Throw your opposite arm out in front of you, parallel with the floor as well. Again, only if proper form is maintained.

Now what about the plank upgrades?

How about the Body Saw?

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Link to Video

This one is said to be an ‘anti-extension’ core movement where the dynamic movement (shifting your body forward and backward) places greater tension on your core to maintain your proper position. You don’t need the sliders as shown in the video, even the small rocking you can do with your elbows and toes is enough for a great burn!

Or what about the RKC plank?

This lil number comes from the Russian Kettlebell Challenge and is simply a few lil shifts in your positioning BUT those few little shifts do a lot of damage!

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I feel like Brett Contreras (glute masstta!) really spoke about it well so here is his thoughts and description:

Basically, he had me get into my normal plank position and then made adjustments. First, he had me place my elbows slightly further out in front of me and closer together to increase the lever arm length and reduce the width of the base of support. He then had me forcefully lock out my knees by contracting my quads.

Finally, he had me contract my glutes as hard as possible to the point where my pelvis posteriorly rotated [rotated backwards]. These adjustments left me quivering like a school girl. I highly recommend experimenting with this new variation as it blows away the core activation of a normal plank. (In fact, I suggest you stop reading right now, drop down to the floor, and try it for yourself.) Chalk up another one for the kettlebellers!

So there you have it! Go right now and try one of these babies out if you have ever said planks are a cake walk. I promise, you will be eating your words.

What’s your favourite type of plank variation?

-Chelsea


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Shots, Shots, Shots…Fitness Friday 23

But not of alcohol…

We touched that last week

This type of shot is great for your body but may burn a bit going down if you’re not like me and actually can stand drinking this stuff straight.

So what am I recommending you take shots of you ask?

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Before you turn your noses up at the thought of taking a shot of straight acid vinegar, hear me out. Take a look at all the great benefits:

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While we are at it, here’s some studies to check out to back up some of these claims:

Weight loss. Take this one with caution, it is inconclusive as of yet. There is suggestion that it delays gastric emptying, which than may play a contributing role to eating less because of increased duration of satiety.

Blood lipids and Cholesterol. This study found that after 8 weeks of taking ACV, there were significant reductions in LDL cholesterol, triglycerides and total cholesterol. Furthermore, there was a trend towards increased levels of HDL

Glycemic Control. Some studies have found antiglycemic responses (controlling glucose levels in the blood) when taking even small doses of ACV with a meal.

This review also provides insight into studies looking into cancer, cholesterol, inflammation and antioxidant effects.

Ones that I can personally attest to..

Allergies and Sinuses. I told my Mom to start taking it in the morning and it immediately cleared her sinuses. This has helped to a degree for her migraines, which can be triggered by the pressure associated with mucus build up in the sinuses.

Digestion. My coach has me taking a shot of this before all my main meals (that or lemon juice) and boy does it help! You body uses hydrochloric acid to break down food that you ingest, so by incorporating other natural acids along with meal, you can help aid in digestion. This has really helped me with digestion of higher fats as they are more difficult for the body to break down and used to upset my stomach a lot more. Bloating and heartburn be gone!

Less Yeast. Sorry, TMI for some, but us females tend to be prone to yeast and potential candida infections, so by taking ACV or other natural acids, you can help your body rid itself of these lil nasties. This is because ACV acts as a prebiotic which then leads to growth of healthy flora in the gut to combat invaders. Also, as shown in this study, ACV also acts as an anti fungal. 

So I know the last question you will have is how the hell do you get that stuff down?

Well, if you’re like me, you can just shoot it back straight. If not, you can dilute it with a bit of water OR add a bit of honey if that helps.

It’s only a few tsp (don’t go nuts mmmkay?) so plug your nose and just get’er back, I mean why not? Do it for 2 weeks and see what you notice.

Oh and one final note

You need to buy the raw, unpasteurized one WITH THE MOTHER…

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The mother is where all the good stuff is! It contains the living enzymes and nutrients! Cheaper, processed ones are stripped of this vital part so you have to fork out a bit more for these benefits. Heres a lil something quoted from the Bragg’s webpage:

The presence of the mother shows that the best part of the apple has not been destroyed. Vinegars containing the mother contain enzymes and minerals that other vinegars may not contain due to overprocessing, filtration and overheating. [Source]

So if anyone is brave enough to try it out for all these benefits, comment back to me and tell me what you thought or your experiences!

Happy Friday! 

-Chelsea


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Boozing My Gains Away…? Fitness Friday 22

Does alcohol really make you fat?

This video inspired this post, yes another one from Jeff Nippard because I’m obsessed with all his research focused training and nutrition talks.

Jeff does a great job of summing up to the answer to the above question so I didn’t really need to add much. I recommend you watch the clip but if you really don’t want to, heres the highlights:

~Physically, the alcohol itself doesn’t not lead to weight gain. Just like other macronutrients (which, no, alcohol is not a nutrient), alcohol does contain calories that need to be accounted for. It has ~7kcal to be exact. So, if we are talking calories, if you take in enough alcohol on top of your food intake to go over your nutrient needs, then yes you can gain weight. But it’s not specifically the alcohol itself, its the fact that you went over your intake.

Remember how much additional calories come from the drink mixes themselves!

~If fat loss is your goal and you want to learn how to ‘factor in’ alcohol to not go over your caloric needs, then Jeff states that it is best to reduce your fat intake (rather than carbs, which some do) to compensate for the alcohol. This swap is easier if your are tracking, as you can simply swap the calories, but if you are like most who don’t track, than just keep in mind to eat a lil bit less fat throughout the day. This doesn’t mean starve yourself! Just go for more filling and voluminous foods that are lower calorie.

~Why fats rather than carbs? Jeff said this nicely, but basically alcohol is treated in the body like a poison and, because of that, it is given top priority for metabolic processing. With that being said, lipid (or fat) oxidation than decreases substantially while the liver is busy with the alcohol, which than makes the fat that you consume more likely to be stored. NOTE it’s the calories from fat being stored, not the calories from alcohol. Carbohydrates are not as easily stored as fat (more so used when they are consumed, unless is excess), and therefore it’s best to focus on fat for caloric compensation.

This is of course not necessarily a big issue if you are in a deficit as then storage is not an issue. 

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~While alcohol doesn’t seem to affect testosterone significantly, it does in fact negatively affect protein synthesis. If you are considering recovery from training, Jeff gave a percentage of about 37% from a study looking at the effect of alcohol on post training muscle protein synthesis. That same study did find that if you supplemented with protein shortly after training that this effect is somewhat stunted (down to 24%), but it is something to keep in mind for effective recovery.

Disclaimer: Jeff provided all of the studies in his video for the things and papers he discussed, so if you want references, see his video

So what does all this say?

Alcohol doesn’t technically make you gain weight any easier than another macronutrient, provided you don’t go into a caloric surplus due to your consumption. It can affect your recovery the next day if you were to train via affecting muscle protein synthesis to a degree. He also commented on the other factors of recovery that may be negatively affected such as cognitive function which would impact your performance.

What I take from that is the fact that you will probably go into your workout and have a crappy lift because you lack concentration, are probably dehydrated and most definitely just aren’t feeling on par. If you cannot push as hard or reach the same intensity, your overall session will not be optimal. That’s just the way it is.

That being said, once and a while you really don’t have to worry. It’s not going to affect you in the long run. However, you may want to think about it more if you happen to go drinking all weekend long starting Thursday night and are wanting to ‘make gains.’

Another paper to take a peek at is this one by Suter and Tremblay (2005) as they discussed the associations between the degree of consumption and weight gain. They talked about the alcohol vs. alcohol calories point in addition to the fact that it appears that alcohol creates a potential for positive fat gain due to reduced fat oxidation and thus causing excess fat calories to than be more likely to be stored. This stored was also notably more in the abdominal area.

Hope you enjoyed this post and I have a very happy Friday friends!

-Chelsea


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Caffeine-Free Buzz…Fitness Friday 16

My friends!

Welcome back to another round of Fitness Friday! Last week I had mentioned that we were going to discuss something erotic, but of the natural variety and, well, here she is. The star of the discussion today is…

Maca Powder.

This ain’t no one trick pony though, oh no! She doesn’t just help with sexual health, but she may help with a whole host of other things..

BUT before we get into those, lets first explain what the heck this powder is.

What is Maca exactly?

As taken from this book,  Maca is found in South America, Peru specifically, and is a root vegetable that comes from the same family as many coniferous veggies such as cauliflower, turnips, cabbage, and broccoli. It looks very much like a beet in shape (as you can see from the image above). It grows in extremely harsh conditions and apparently the volcanic soils in this environment are very mineral rich, which then lends itself to the superior ‘powers’ of this vegetable.

What was it used for?

Traditionally it was used by the Peruvians for food and medicinal purposes with one of the main uses being a fertility supplement for both men and women. As a food supplement, maca is rich in antioxidants, minerals (such as magnesium, phosphorous, iron, calcium) and fiber and it very easy for the body to digest. This last part made it great for helping to treat those who were malnourished, were elderly or very young (Source).

Random facts from the book once again for this nutrition powerhouse:

~Taking size into perspective, maca actually has more calcium than milk

~Due to the fiber, it helps to keep people regular

~It contains almost 60 different phytonutrients (compounds found in plants that promote good health)

What do we know about it now?

Maca has been found to have quite a number of important properties! Here are some of the major ones that have been identified and actually looked into:

Adaptogen

Very generally speaking, adaptogens are those that support your body’s ability to adapt to stress. A 2008 study by Brook’s and colleagues found that when post-menopausal women were supplemented with 3.5g of maca per day (that is less than a tsp), their psychological scores related to anxiety and depression were significantly lower then the placebo group.

Libido Enhancer 

Sexual desire has also been something that maca appears to enhance. In a study by Stone et al (2009), male athletes were supplemented with maca root or given a placebo and than assessed for changes in sexual desire. Following a 14 day period, those who were supplemented with the maca had significantly higher desire compared to their initial assessment while also being significantly higher then those given the placebo

Fertility 

The Peruvians noticed that not only did maca increase the number of offspring in their cattle, but the same boost in fertility also seemed to show in humans. Although most of more recent studies looking into such effect are in animals (for example here, showing higher sperm counts in male mice, here for increases in litter sizes in females mice), there are a few human studies that show positive effects of maca use in both females and males. A nice review was done of both animal and human studies here.

Other potential benefits?

Help with osteoporosis, used as a natural stimulant, contributes to balancing hormones, possible link to cancer fighting properties, and many more. See here

Of course, we must talk about fitness here, SO what about it’s properties in athletes?

Endurance

Maca has been found to increase stamina and endurance in human subjects. Looking back at the study on male athletes (they were cyclists) by Stone and colleagues, when supplemented with maca, the males significantly improved on their 40km time compared to their baseline testing.

So as you can see, maca has gotten quite a lot of attention for many potential benefits in humans. Although it’s still heavily in the research stage, anecdotal evidence suggests that it does promote well being in people who use it. Completely not necessary for good health, but perhaps something to try as a natural boost to stamina, attention and sexual health.

As to how you use it…

It is strong stuff guys. Most tend to throw it in a smoothie or something to that nature as it’s strong flavour and smell will be more manageable. Otherwise, if you’re willing to take a risk like me and just throw in a shot glass with your other morning concoction ingredients, be my guest. Just start in slow is all I can say.

So that’s that for this week friends. Have a great weekend!

Ever tried maca before?

How do you use it?

-Chelsea

 


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Down She Goes…Fitness Friday 12

Happy Friday friends.

I have a bone to pick with the ladies out there who choose not to eat before they workout

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Okay so IF (intermittent fasting) is a whole other topic to discuss later, but I wanted to bring up the idea of a pre-workout meal because of something that happened earlier this week.

I had just arrived at the gym and saw one of the trainers running over to her client, who was on the floor, with a juice and a protein bar.

Well that ain’t looking good.

After about 15 minutes of them chatting, her nibbling and drinking, she got up and walked out of the gym.

Of course me being too curious and nosey spoke to the trainer afterwards (I didn’t just go right up to her and ask, I know her and she was training beside me) and asked her if her previous client was okay and she mentioned that yeah, she didn’t eat much before she came in…

#AsIPredicted

She also mentioned that she was pre-diabetic

Further #FacePlant moment…

If you’re diabetic you need to talk to your doctor about how to eat if you’re working out! That is potentially life threatening!

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Now, I talk more so about women here because that is who is most doing this. Men on there other hand typically have no issue fueling their bodies before they lift. Why is this? Perhaps it’s an attempt to limit calories. Maybe they have heard that the “fitchicks” workout fasted and obviously they look good so it must be right. Or maybe it’s just a lack of education on how the body responds to training in the absence of fuel.

I dunno.

But whatever the reason is, it needs to be addressed and changed.

Please note that what I’m referring to here is working out first thing in the morning on empty or going hours upon hours without food and then training. 

Saving my calories.

This is something we definitely need to get out of our heads. If any time is a time for eating, it’s pre and post workout. What are you thinking is going to fuel that workout? If you think that working out without eating automatically leads to your body using your own fat stores as fuel, I’m sorry, but that’s not true. #BroScience

So, not only does it not speed up fat loss, but for most people, you will just end up leaving you tired, weak and having a bad workout because you just can’t give it everything you have.

Or in the case of the poor woman mentioned above (well almost)…

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Lets avoid that mmmmkay?

But the fit girls on Instagram do fasted training?

First off, that’s most often fasted, LOW INTENSITY cardio first thing in the morning NOT HIIT or weight lifting. Cardio is a funny thing, some people feel sick doing it with anything in their stomach, while others are fine. So often the best suggestion is to say “go on how you feel.” Also, I have already addressed before that fasted cardio is not a means of effective weight loss as opposed to non-fasted.

So, once again, no weight loss gains from not eating for cardio.

As far as lifting on empty, just don’t do it. Lifting weights really requires fuel. Them Intermittent Fasters may argue all they want with me but from personal experience (which, actually I don’t think I have every thought to even lift without food as I pass out easy) and other knowledgable people (listen to a few podcasts by Dolce, whom I mentioned in an earlier post) it’s just not a good idea and leads to sucky and unproductive workouts.

Most people just cannot focus and give a workout all they have if their stomach is growling at them. Very generally, weight lifting tends to use carbohydrates as the main fuel as you are working in an anabolic state (without oxygen) during a lift.

….Provided you are working at a good intensity…

Carbs are a fast and easy fuel to get at to energize those quick bursts of activity (ie. lifts) effectively and so if you don’t have much in the tank, your lifts will suffer.

Plus, did I mention how distracted we all tend to get when we’re hungry.

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So if there are no benefits to training fasted and it ends up messing up your workout, why do it?

Lack of education.

Now it’s entirely possible that many don’t even think to eat in a closer proximity to their training because it just doesn’t occur to them that that working out is an additional energy expenditure and, thus, needs more fuel. Maybe they think that if they’re not hungry now, then all is good.

This is not always the case. If it has been hours since your last meal and you’re looking to hit the weights soon, I would suggest giving it something. It doesn’t have to be huge, especially if it’s mid day, but just something that has some carbs and protein in it.

Fats are often dependent on timing. If it’s right before, they may not be the best choice as they take long to digest and your energy will go to digestion rather then to your workout. Also, they may fill you up too much for your liking. 

Consider this, if you’re body doesn’t have the fuel it needs, it may start to search for itself for fuel…and often that is your own body protein (ie. muscle). We don’t want that do we? So avoid the tummy grumbles and self-eating process all together.

So here’s a few scenarios to consider.

Morning lifters. DEFINITELY EAT! You have been fasting already for upwards of 8-9 hours and now you’re expecting your body to give you enough energy to lift weights. Uh no. Give yourself enough time, eat something with good sustainable fuel and power through that workouts. Suggestions? If you have a little bit of digestion time (1-2 hours), aim for a balanced meal of protein, complex carbs and some fat. A common staple is oatmeal. Whip in some egg whites or add a scoop of protein powder, throw on some cool toppings (fruits, nut butter, etc) and enjoy. If you need to be out the door quickly, oats may not be the best as the fibre takes too long to digest. Think faster digesting carbohydrate and protein sources and minimize the fats. Consider a smoothie of sorts perhaps?

REALLY EARLY morning lifters. If you’re one of those people who have to train at some gawd awful hour and you just can’t even fathom eating something, I would still say to try to have something. Your body will adjust but I just don’t think it’s a good idea to go in with nothing. A rice cake with protein powder ‘icing’ or peanut flour and banana could be something small with some carbs and protein. If you can stand drinking half of a smoothie that could work too. Just try something.

Afternoon and evening lifters. The need to eat is less of a immediate cause of concern here as you have already got a few meals in you. That being said, if you haven’t eaten for more then 3-4 hours, perhaps think about a snack or plan you workout about an hour or two after a meal (depending on it’s size). Say you eat lunch around 1, get off work at 4:30 and hit the gym for 5, try to sneak in a snack on your way to the gym. Again, think some carbs and protein but the amount will depend on how you feel and how long you have before hitting the gym.

Cardio only. If your focus is just cardio, then it may be a bit different. If you’re doing HIIT (high intensity) follow the same protocol as lifting. If endurance is your thing, if it’s first thing in the morning, reach for something small but packed with energy. Often I see runners using dates with a bit of nut butter just for a quick burst of energy that won’t weight heavy in their stomach. If you’re an afternoon runner/cardio goer, go with how you feel and what makes you feel best. Once again, I don’t recommend going hours without food as your body will compensate in ways you won’t like, but you also don’t want to eat so much that your puke mid run either.

So yeah, no research this week, but just my thoughts and experience to share here. You don’t save calories by not eating before hand. Most often you will actually just ruin a potentially good workout by performing at a sub par level because you’re inadequately fueled. You can’t build muscle without food. Sorry you just can’t. Your body is smarter then you are as I always say, so don’t try to fool it.

I hope you enjoyed and if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, fire away in the comments 🙂

Have a great long weekend all! 

-Chelsea