Did you know that what you eat directly after exercising – typically within two hours – can have a significant impact on the health benefits you reap from your exercise?
Consuming sugar within this post-exercise window, will negatively affect both your insulin sensitivity and your human growth hormone (HGH) production.
A recent study in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that eating a low-carbohydrate meal after aerobic exercise enhances your insulin sensitivity. This is highly beneficial, since impaired insulin sensitivity, or insulin resistance, is the underlying cause of type 2 diabetes and a significant risk factor for other chronic diseases, such as heart disease.
In addition, as HGH Magazine explains, consuming fructose, including that from fruit juices, within this two-hour window will decimate your natural HGH production:
"A high sugar meal after working out, or even a recovery drink (containing high sugar) after working out, will stop the benefits of exercise induced HGH. You can work out for hours, then eat a high sugar candy bar or have a high sugar energy drink, and this will shut down the synergistic benefits of HGH.
If you miss reaching HGH release during working out, you will still receive the calorie burning benefit from the workout. However, you'll miss the HGH "synergy bonus" of enhanced fat burning for two hours after working out.
This is an extremely important fact to remember if you want to cut body fat and shed a few pounds.
The University of Virginia research team demonstrated that carbohydrates are burned during exercise in direct proportion to the intensity of training. Fat burning is also correlated with intensity. However, the actual fat burning takes place after the workout, during the recovery.
This makes the "Synergy Window," the 2 hour period after a workout, very important in maximizing HGH, once it's released during exercise.
If you are middle-age and want all the benefits from exercise induced HGH, then apply this strategy."
Fitness expert Phil Campbell, author of Ready, Set, Go! further explains how you can maximize your HGH production by limiting sugar intake for two hours post exercise, in this article on HowToBeFit.com.
Exercising one hour a week and getting the same results as traditional strength training might sound impossible. However, University of Florida orthopedics researchers have developed a system that may do just that, and as you will read in my comment below, the kind of exercise you perform can dramatically reduce the time you spend in the gym while still getting better results than you did before.
The system created by University of Florida researchers uses eccentric (negative) resistance training, which capitalizes on the fact that the human body can support and lower weights that are too heavy to lift.
According to UF Health Science Center:
"Through a system of motors, pulleys, cams and sensors it adds weight when a person is performing a lowering motion, and removes that weight when the person is lifting. As a result, the body starts seeing loads, resistance, and forces that it doesn't normally see".
Other scientists have found additional clues that explain how exercise reshapes and strengthens more than just your muscles.
It changes your brain too.
In the late 1990s, researchers proved that human and animal brains produce new brain cells, and that exercise increases the process. But precisely how exercise affects the intricate workings of your brain at a cellular level remained a mystery.
However, a number of new studies have begun to identify the specific mechanisms, and have raised new questions about just how exercise reshapes your brain.
In some studies, scientists have been manipulating the levels of bone-morphogenetic protein (BMP) in the brains of mice. The more active BMP becomes, the more inactive your brain stem cells become and the fewer new brain cells you produce. Exercise reverses some of the effects of BMP.
According to the New York Times:
"BMP signaling was found to be playing a surprising, protective role for the brain's stem cells ... Without BMP signals to inhibit them, the stem cells began dividing rapidly, producing hordes of new neurons."
UF Health Science Center February 23, 2010
New York Times July 7, 2010
PloS One October 20, 2009; 4(10):e7506
Cell Stem Cell July 2, 2010; 7(1):78-89
Journal of Applied Physiology December 31, 2009
The Best Foods For Your Body
Carrots are loaded with vitamin A, which helps balance the pH of your skin's surface, making it just acidic enough to fend off harmful bacteria. Plus National Cancer Institute researchers found that people with the highest intakes of carotenoids—pigments that occur naturally in carrots—were six times less likely to develop skin cancer than those with the lower intakes.
Low iron levels can lead to baldness, according to a Cleveland Clinic review. Researchers looked at 11 studies on the relationship between iron intake and hair loss, and concluded that treating iron deficiency may help regrow hair. Feed your mane iron-packed foods such as lean red meat, turkey, egg yolks, dried beans, dried fruit, whole grains.
The National Institute of Health found that people who consume the most lutein—a carotenoid found in plant foods—are 43 percent less likely to develop macular degeneration. Lutein helps filter blue light, preventing it from damaging retinal tissues. Eat two servings of greens each day. Consider one serving to be ½ cup of cooked spinach, broccoli, or brussels sprouts.
Cornell University researchers found that eating one Red Delicious apple a day can block LDL oxidation, resulting in an 8 percent drop in levels. Bonus: Apples (and their skins) contain soluble fiber, the kind that scrubs artery walls clean. Cut one up and mix it into your oatmeal, another top source.
To maximize muscle growth, you need the right raw materials. Beef is the perfect muscle food because it's packed with protein, zinc, and creatine.
Drink two 8-ounce glasses of vitamin D-fortified low-fat milk every day. This provides your body with 600 milligrams (mg) of calcium and 5 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin D, the perfect combination of nutrients to build break-resistant bones. Plus, in a 20-year study, U.K. researchers determined that men who drink more than 6 ounces of milk a day have half the risk of stroke of men who drink less.
Have one slice of hard or semihard cheese—for instance, Cheddar, Swiss, or provolone—two or three times a day. Cheese has 7 grams of protein per slice and contains no sugar. That means it doesn't raise blood-sugar levels, so your body stays in fat-burning mode. An alternative a cup of low-fat plain yogurt.
When it comes to keeping your sex sessions going long and strong, a certain amino acid L-Arginine works like Viagra by increasing nitric oxide to help relax blood vessels and allow more blood flow to the penis, says Marrena Lindberg, author of The Orgasmic Diet. Some studies suggest that getting three grams a day could make for better erections. Many foods high in good-for-you omega 3s are also high in L-Arginine, such as free-range game, seafood, walnuts, and sesame seeds. Plus, omega 3s help your body better absorb L-Arginine, according to a study in Nutrition & Metabolism. There are no RDA guidelines for how much L-Arginine you should have, but Lindberg recommends getting your daily fix by eating omega-3 packed protein such as free-range beef and chicken, or fatty fish like salmon.
Energy Bars May Not Have as much Protein as You Think!
Baylor University researchers found that when men with at least 6 weeks of weight training experience were given a whey-casein mixture before their workouts, they built 50 percent more lean muscle mass over 10 weeks than men who took only whey.
Some meal-replacement bars may not have as much protein as you think. You won't find pig's feet or cattle hide listed in the fine print, but that's because they're hidden behind names like gelatin, hydrolyzed collagen, or hydrolyzed gelatin. Both collagen and gelatin lack an essential amino acid required to make them a complete protein. That means the quality of the protein is inferior to products that lack gelatin or collagen.
Look for a bar that lists whey or casein protein or a blend of both as the first or second ingredient. These milk proteins contain all the essential amino acids your muscles need.
“All-natural protein” is often code for soy, which research shows may cause gynocomastia—the abnormal enlargement of the mammary glands in men. When you consume soy protein, you’re actually courting the Mr. Hyde side of two organic compounds: genistein and daidzein. Both act so similarly to estrogen that they’re known as phytoestrogens (plant produced estrogen). Eat enough of the stuff, and you open up the potential for hormonal havoc.
Many allegedly healthy bars contain high fructose corn syrup, which quickly raises blood sugar and cancels out any of the potential benefits you might otherwise get from healthy ingredients like oats. Take Health Valley Low Fat Chocolate Chip Granola Bars, for example. The main ingredient is brown rice syrup—a euphemism for sugar. You’re better off snacking on good old-fashioned cheese and crackers to swap out sugar and calories for protein and fiber.
If you’re tied to the convenience of a bar, look for labels with no more than five ingredients. “The longer the list and the more unpronounceable the words are, the farther it is from real food,” says Jonny Bowden, Ph.D, CNS Board Certified Nutrition Specialist.
Food companies out to make a buck capitalize on “energy’s” double meaning. Most consumers expect an “energy bar” to make them feel energetic or like they could hammer out an extra set of reps at the gym. But to nutritionists, “energy” simply means calories. “Boosting energy is a completely bogus claim,” Bowden says “It’s a weasel use of the word energy.” Unless you’re recovering from a grueling workout or running a marathon, opt for nutrient-packed snacks.
Reduced-sugar and sugar-free bars appeal to carb-conscious consumers because they have little impact on blood sugar—but not without a price. Sugar alcohols like malitol and sorbitol can cause uncomfortable side effects such as gas, bloating, and diarrhea when taken in large doses like you might get in an energy bar. What’s more, “reduced sugar” does not necessarily mean reduced calorie—at least, not reduced enough to matter. Malitol, for example, has 75 percent the calories of sugar, and since it’s not as sweet as the real thing, more must be used to achieve the same taste.
8 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat)
4 g protein
21 g sugars
4 g fiber
Made from exactly 3 ingredients: dates, almonds, and cherries. Larabar is the closest thing to real food in the bar section of the gocery store.
Atkins Advantage Peanut Butter Granola Bar
7 g fat (1 g saturated fat)
17 g protein
1 g sugar
6 g fiber
Great postworkout meal.
Don't use These Bars
PowerBar Energize Berry Blast Smoothie
3.5 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat)
6 g protein
24 g sugars
<1 g fiber
Besides the fact that it doesn’t contain a single gram of fiber, this bar lists evaporated cane juice (sugar) as its first ingredient.
Quaker Oatmeal to Go Apples & Cinnamon
4 g fat (1 g saturated fat)
4 g protein
22 g sugar
5 g fiber
High-fructose corn syrup and margarine pollute this package.
From Hollywood stars to your yoga teacher, it seems that everyone swears by a detox diet. But does it actually work? And is it even healthy? Cardiologist and weight loss expert James Beckerman, MD, weighs in
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