Big shocker here, right?
A recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed a link between higher consumption of fruits and vegetables and a 15% reduction in death throughout the duration of the study.
This results imply what we’ve all known for a while- fruits and veggies benefit our health and reduce risk of death and chronic diseases.
Still, the results may have been modified slightly by extraneous variables. Those who tend to eat more fruits and vegetables also tend to live healthier lives in many other ways, which could skew the results a bit.
However, it continues to be a good idea, from when Mama told you to eat your carrots through adulthood, to eat more fruits and vegetables for better health.
-Kevan Mellendick, MS Dietetics ‘11
So many people think that they must gain a lot of weight with lots of fat to gain muscle. This really isn’t necessarily true. Yes, in the end, you will gain some fat with the muscle tissue, but you can minimize this effect by timing foods properly, and avoiding certain types of foods throughout the rest of the day.
1. DO NOT EAT FAT BEFORE A WORKOUT- at least not much, especially when utilizing sports drinks or bars. Those sports drinks and bars have plenty of sugar, which spikes insulin, leading to fat storage. If you already have fat in your system, the blood sugar spike is more pronounced, and the sports drinks or bars won’t fuel your muscles as you intended. Plus, you’ll be more likely to store those foods as fat rather than burn those calories during your workout. Neither of these is good.
2. EASY-TO-DIGEST PROTEIN IS KEY- both before and after your workout, you need protein that is easy to digest to get to your muscles quickly and fuel the anabolic (this build-up) effect with minimal fat accompaniment. White fish is perfect before your workout (lower in fat than most meats), say an hour to two hours, followed by any form of whey after your workout. Whey can be found in basically any meat, including chicken, beef, pork, turkey, etc.
3. KEEP UP WITH PROTEIN THROUGHOUT THE DAY- you don’t need tons and tons like many bodybuilders would tell you, but small doses of protein regularly during the day is important to prevent muscle breakdown. This means you need protein at breakfast, lunch, dinner, and preferably with snacks. So try to incorporate various high protein foods in each meal, like meat, fish, beans, nuts, and dairy. Dairy protein can be especially useful because casein, making up about 80% of the protein in milk, takes longer to digest. This allows a more continuous feed of protein throughout the day. But, this also makes dairy a bad idea shortly before a workout.
4. CUT BACK ON SUGARY FOODS- very sugary foods should be enjoyed very sparingly when looking to add lean muscle. They spike blood sugar almost immediately, and very quickly promote fat storage. However, this effect can be mitigated if eating these foods at the end of a high-fiber, high-protein meal. So, cut back on the sugary foods, but if you want to eat them, it’s a good idea to incorporate them into a meal or as a dessert only. This also means that fruit juice should be avoided, and fruit should be eaten throughout the day or with meals, rather than large quantities in one sitting.
5. LOW FAT CHOCOLATE MILK- this is nature’s best sports drink. New studies have added to previous evidence that the combination of sugars, proteins, and sparse fat improve performance, stamina, and longevity in a workout. So, if you want to pack on the muscle, increase performance with 1% chocolate milk (and some water) as your sports drink, rather than drinks with nothing but sugar and salt.
Hope this comes in time for summer beach season.
-Kevan Mellendick, MS Dietetics ‘11
Squats work the whole legs, hamstrings, quads, adductors, calves and glutes. They build stronger knees, a stronger back and are quite possibly the best overall strength-building exercise there is. They are also one of the most unnecessarily feared excercises out there.
Many people are scared to death of the squat. There literally could be a gym disease called squataphobia because no matter what gym I’ve ever belonged to I have always found a number of people who just cringe at the thought of squatting.
Misinformation is pretty common. For the most part, people who fear squatting have either been misinformed by misinformed people, had a bad experience with squats, or are afraid of hard work. “Squats will ruin your knees,” “Squats will ruin your back,” “Squats are bad for you” and the like.
When performed correctly, squats do the exact opposite. Squats are rough. I will not hesitate to tell you that. They take ultimate mental and physical concentration. They are heavy, tedious and force you to push yourself to your absolute limits, and yes, very bad things can happen if you squat wrong. That’s why you should know how to squat correctly.
First of all, make sure you are using a sturdy squat rack. Always use collars on the barbell so as not to allow the weights to slide. Make sure you have a nice pad to put on the bar especially when the weight gets heavy, and never squat without a partner. When using very heavy weights you may even want two partners.
Get started by properly warming up. I usually do about five minutes on the exercise bike followed by five minutes of stretching. Then go to the squat rack and do a set using nothing but the weight of the bar. It helps if you can look in a mirror while you squat so you can check your form. Step under the bar, place your hands a little wider than shoulder width apart and rest the bar on your trapezius muscles. That is important. Never put the bar on your neck. The bar should rest about shoulder level across your traps. The traps can handle it, the neck can’t. Proceed to get ready to do your set. I keep my feet shoulder width and I don’t do any of that fancy toe pointing. I keep my toes pointed just slightly out. Now that you are in position, it’s time for the squat itself. Lower yourself slowly to a near sitting position. I do go below parallel, but I do not recommend it until you have reached an advanced level of training and can be shown by a trainer.
Your back should remain as straight as you can keep it (this will vary with the amount of weight you are shouldering). Do not lean forward. If you lean forward you are putting a great deal of strain on your back. Squats are an explosive movement so you don’t want to go up slowly like in most exercises. You want to explode upward. As important as it is to explode upward it is even more important to lower yourself slowly and in complete control. Going down too quickly and then using that momentum to bounce upward is what will cause knee injury. You should never, ever use ballistic shock to help propel the weight in squats.
As you squat, the calves help to stabilize your lower body while the abdominals and spinal erectors support the upper body. As you lower yourself the stress starts with the quads, shifts to the hamstrings and adductors as you go further down and then to the glutes. This process happens in reverse as you go up. Spend a good deal of time developing proper form and then begin adding on the weight. You will find that it does not take long to advance in the squat.
The squat is very intimidating and you need to realize that. Respect the weight. I’ve never needed a spotter to help me get the weight up, I find it vital to have someone to help me slide the weight back onto the rack safely when I am done doing my set however.
I myself do not use a weight belt. I find in too constricting, however, I would suggest it to most people. I also suggest squatting in sturdy high-top shoes to keep your ankles stable. I have never had a weight roll off my back. The only way that can happen is through carelessness. That is why you must always be completely focused while squatting. I have had the weight push me down onto the rack, but this isn’t really something to worry about. The squat rack keeps the weight from crushing you and will stop the weight at full squat level to the floor.
Remember, do it right, do it safely, start out slowly and work your way up, and you will find squats to be one of the most rewarding exercises you can perform. The best advice I can give you is not to be afraid and not to listen to misinformation. Hard work always results in big gains.