Tag Archives: Nutrition

Would I be healthier if I quit drinking? My quest to understand the real tradeoffs of alcohol consumption.

The after-work gin and tonic. The bottle of wine over dinner. A few beers on the weekend. Before long, the alcohol adds up.

Is that a problem? Can drinking stand in the way of your health and fitness? Do you need to quit drinking to change your body? Or could it actually be good for you?

In this article we explore the question in a personal way.

“Should I take a break from booze?”

Have you ever asked yourself this question?

I’ve asked it, as have many of our Precision Nutrition Coaching clients.

At the same time, like many of our clients, I’ve never really felt like I needed to quit drinking. My consumption is normal by most accounts, as is theirs. It’s “moderate.”

But boozy beverages seem to show up a lot in my life — and I know I’m not alone in that.

Maybe we like having a beer to mark the end of a work day. Maybe on Friday we get fancy with a cocktail.

Something to celebrate? Pour a little champagne. Crappy day? That Chardonnay or Cabernet will soften the edges a little bit.

The drinks can start to add up.

If we consider ourselves healthy people, alcohol is easy to justify. We exercise. We try to eat nutritious food. If we’re getting coaching, we know we’re working on our stuff.

But still. Some of us wonder…

Are we OK?

Are we justifying something we shouldn’t?

Are we ignoring the elephant in the room who’s currently dancing with a lampshade on its head and laughing a little too loud while telling off-color jokes?

Are we pretending craft beer or red wine is a health food because it’s artisanal or full of antioxidant something-something?

If we want to be healthy, fit, and functional, how does alcohol factor in?

As I discovered, the answer isn’t straightforward. (It rarely is.)

For one thing:

You may have heard that drinking is actually good for you.

Moderate alcohol intake is associated with a lower risk of diabetes, gallstones, and coronary heart disease.

Light to moderate drinking seems to be good for the heart and circulatory system, helping reduce your risk of cardiac arrest and clot-caused stroke by 25 to 40 percent.

And there have been several studies indicating that drinkers — even heavy drinkers — actually outlive people who don’t drink.

We see headlines like this every time a new study comes out, which seems fairly often, judging by my newsfeed.

An important point that seems to get buried:

If you don’t already drink, health experts recommend you don’t start.

Wait, what? If drinking is so good for you, then why not add that antioxidant-rich red wine to MyPlate — a nice goblet right where the milk used to be?

Because no one knows if any amount of alcohol is actually good for all of us.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you not to drink.

That’s not what this article is about.

But, despite all the headlines and pro-drinking studies:

Most of the research on alcohol’s potential health benefits are large, long-term epidemiological studies.

This type of research never proves anything.

Rather than showing that X causes Y, it simply says that X seems to be correlated with Y.

So even though many studies suggest that light to moderate drinkers have lower rates of the above-mentioned health problems than non-drinkers, that doesn’t mean drinking causes those benefits.

Sure, it could be that alcohol consumption raises HDL (“good”) cholesterol. Or it could be that moderate drinking reduces stress.

Or it could be that drinking doesn’t cause any health benefit.

Rather, it could be that people who drink a light to moderate amount also have something else going on in their lives, unrelated to alcohol consumption, that keeps them healthier, such as:

  • robust and resilient genes
  • a lower-stress personality
  • a particular lifestyle
  • good social connections and support

We just don’t know for sure.

Any physiological effects would vary from person to person.

The amount of alcohol that may help your heart health might harm your friend’s — for instance, if they have a history of high blood pressure.

And most of the research indicates that you’d have to be a light to moderate drinker with no heavy drinking episodes (even isolated ones) to see a heart benefit.

OK, given that…

What is “moderation”, anyway?

Definitions vary around the world, but according to the United States Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, “moderate drinking” means, on average:

  • For women: up to seven drinks per week, with no more than three drinks on any single day.
  • For men: up to 14 drinks per week, with no more than four drinks on any single day.

And here’s a guide to health-agency classified “drinks”:

Sure, you might know you’re not a binge drinker (that’s five or more drinks for men, or upwards of four for women, within two hours).

But when was the last time you poured wine in a measuring cup, or tallied your total number of drinks at the end of the week, or calculated your weekly average in a given month, or adjusted your tally to account for that sky-high 9.9% ABV lager you love?

Studies show that people routinely, sometimes drastically, underestimate their alcohol consumption.

It’s easy to edge into the “heavy” category without realizing it.

For example, if you’re a woman:

That’s a big problem, since heavy drinking comes with a much higher risk of major health problems.

Risks associated with moderate and heavy alcohol consumption

Moderate Heavy
Heart Arrhythmias
High blood pressure
Kidney disease
Heart disease
Stroke
Brain Disinhibition
Altered judgement
Poor coordination
Sleep disruption
Alcoholism*
Chemical dependence
Depression
Alcoholism
Neurological damage
Epilepsy
Dementia
Damage to developing brains
Immunity Infection / illness / lowered immune response
Cancer (mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, breast)
Damaged intestinal barrier
Increased inflammation / flare-ups of autoimmune disorders
Hormones Breast cancer Hormone disruption
Impaired sexual function
Impaired reproductive function
Thyroid disease
Liver Worsening of existing conditions such as hepatitis Fatty liver
Alcoholic hepatitis
Fibrosis / cirrhosis
Hepatocellular
Liver cancer
Metabolism Weight gain or stalled weight loss**
Interference with some medications
Loss of bone density
Bone fractures
Osteoporosis
Anemia
Pancreatitis
Changes to fat metabolism
Muscle damage

*Particularly if there’s alcoholism in your family
**If drinking causes you to eat more food or opt for energy-dense meals

In young males especially, even moderate drinking increases the risk of accidental injury or death, due to the “Hey y’all, hold my beer and watch this!” effect, or simply the dangerous equation of youthful exuberance combined with less impulse control, combined with more peer pressure, combined with things like motor vehicles and machinery.

All drinking comes with potential health effects.

After all, alcohol is technically a kind of poison that our bodies must convert to less-harmful substances for us to enjoy a good buzz relatively safely.

Through a series of chemical pathways using the enzymes alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) and aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH), we convert ethanol to acetaldehyde, then to acetate. The body breaks acetate down into carbon dioxide and water.

A second system for processing alcohol, the microsomal ethanol oxidizing system (MEOS), involves cytochrome P450 (CYP), an enzyme group that chemically affects potentially toxic molecules (such as medications) so they can be safely excreted.

In light to moderate drinkers, only about 10 percent of ethanol processing is done by the MEOS. But in heavy drinkers, this system kicks in more strongly. That means the MEOS may be less available to process other toxins. Oxidative cell damage, and harm from high alcohol intake, then goes up.

The biochemistry doesn’t matter as much as the core concepts:

1. We have to change alcohol to tolerate it.

2. Our ability to process alcohol depends on many factors, such as:

  • our natural individual genetic tolerance
  • our ethnicity and genetic background (for instance, many people of East Asian ancestry have a genetically-linked aldehyde dehydrogenase enzyme deficiency, which affects their ability to properly metabolize alcohol)
  • our age
  • our body size
  • our biological sex
  • our individual combinations of conversion enzymes
  • etc.

3. Dose matters. But all alcohol requires some processing by the body.

So what’s the “sweet spot”?

What amount of alcohol balances enjoyment (and your jokes becoming funnier) with your body’s ability to respond and recover from processing something slightly poisonous?

The moderate-vs-heavy guidelines are the experts’ best guess at the amount of alcohol that can be consumed with statistically minimal risk, while still accounting for what a lot of people are probably going to do anyway: drink.

It doesn’t mean that moderate drinking is risk-free.

But drinking is fun. (There, I said it.)

In North America, we tend to separate physical well-being from our emotional state. In reality, quality of life, enjoyment, and social connections are important parts of health.

So let me say it:

I enjoy drinking.

So do a lot of other people.

In the U.S., for example, 65 percent of people say they consume alcohol. Of those drinkers, at least three quarters enjoy alcohol one or more times per week.

The wine flows at lunchtime in continental Europe (for Scandinavians, it’s the light beer lättöl). Hitting a pub or two after work is standard procedure in the UK and Japan. Northern Europeans swear by their brennivin, glögg, or akvavit (not to mention vodka). South America and South Africa alike are renowned for their red wines.

Thus, for much of the world’s population, alcohol — whether beer, wine or spirits — is something of a life staple.

And if you’re doing it right — meaning tasteful New Year’s Eve champagne toasts are more common in your life than shot-fueled bar dances to “Hotline Bling” — there are some undeniable benefits to be gained:

  • Pleasure: Assuming you’ve graduated from wine coolers and cheap tequila shots, alcoholic beverages usually taste pretty darn delicious.
  • Leisure: A bit of alcohol in your bloodstream does help you feel relaxed. And like a good meal, a good glass of wine should offer the opportunity to slow down for a minute.
  • Creativity: There’s evidence that when you’re tipsy, you may be more successful at problem-solving thanks to increased out-of-the-box thinking.
  • Social connection: Drinking may contribute to social bonding through what researchers call “golden moments” — when you all smile and laugh together over the same joke. This sense of community, belonging, and joy can contribute to your health and longevity.

If you’re going to drink, drink because you genuinely enjoy it.

Drink if it truly adds value and pleasure to your life.

Not because:

  • you’re stressed
  • it’s a habit
  • other people around you don’t want to drink alone; or
  • it’s “good for you”.

With confusing alcohol consumption categories and contradictory news headlines, many people give up trying to decide whether drinking is healthy or not.

A new study shows alcohol may be harmful? Whatever.

Or:

Drinkers live longer? I’ll hop on that horse and ride it straight to the bar!

So forget about the potential health benefits of alcohol.

There are plenty of (probably better) ways to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease — like eating well, exercising, and not smoking.

Wanting the enjoyment of a perfect Old Fashioned or a rare sake is a legitimate — probably the best — reason to drink.

As with what you eat, what you drink should be purposeful and mindful. And delicious.

Drinking or not drinking isn’t about “healthy vs. not”. It’s about tradeoffs.

Alcohol is just one factor among many that affect physical performance, health, and fitness.

Whether to keep drinking or cut back depends on how much you drink, what your goals are, and how you want to prioritize those things.

Only you know what you are, or aren’t, willing to trade.

It may be a simple “yes” or “no”.

  • Saying “yes” to Friday happy hour might mean saying “no” to your Saturday morning workout.
  • Saying “yes” to marathon training might mean saying “no” to boozy Sunday brunches.
  • Saying “yes” to better sleep (and focus, and mood) might mean saying “no” to your daily wine with dinner.
  • Saying “yes” to moderate alcohol consumption might mean finding a way to say “no” to stress triggers (or human triggers) that make you want to drink more.

Or it may be where you’re willing to move along the continuum.

  • Maybe you’re willing to practice drinking more slowly and mindfully, but you’re not willing to decrease your total alcohol intake.
  • Maybe you’re trying to lose weight, so you’d consider drinking a little less. Like 2 beers instead of 3, but not 0.
  • Or, maybe you’re willing to stay sober during most social situations, but you’re not willing to endure your partner’s office party without a G&T on hand.

Maybe there is a “best” answer for how much alcohol is okay for everyone. But we don’t know what it is yet.

At least not for certain.

That’s OK.

You can write your own “Owner’s Manual” for YOU as a unique individual.

Guidelines for drinking don’t tell us who YOU are or what effects alcohol has on YOU.

So let’s forget about “expert” advice for just a moment.

Instead, let’s try letting your body lead.

Read its cues. Observe yourself carefully, gather data, and see how alcohol is — or isn’t — working for you.

Here’s how.

What to do next:
Some tips from Precision Nutrition

1. Observe your drinking habits.

Keep track of all the alcohol you drink for a week or two (here’s a worksheet to help you).

You don’t need to share it with anyone or feel like you need to change anything. Just collect the info.

Next, review the data. Ask:

  • Am I drinking more than I thought? Maybe you hadn’t been taking the couple of casual beers with Sunday NFL into account.
  • Is my drinking urgent, mindless, or rushed? Slamming drinks back without stopping to savor them can be a sign that drinking is habitual, not purposeful.
  • Is alcohol helping me enjoy life, or is it stressing me out? If you’re not sleeping well or feeling worried about the drinking, the cost can outweigh the benefit.
  • Does alcohol bring any unwanted friends to the party? Binge eating, drug use, texting your ex?

If any of the answers to these questions raise red flags for you, consider cutting back and seeing how you feel.

2. Notice how alcohol affects your body.

Use Precision Nutrition’s “how’s that working for you?” litmus test. Ask:

  • Do I generally feel good? Simple, but telling.
  • Am I recovering? How’s my physical performance after drinking? If I were to hit the gym on Saturday morning after a Friday night social, how would I feel and perform?
  • What happens afterwards? Do I get a hangover, upset stomach, poor sleep, puffiness/bloating and/or other discomfort?
  • How does the extra energy intake work for my goals? Is alcohol adding some calories that I don’t want? Am I trying to lose weight, for instance?
  • What do my other physiological indicators say? What did my latest medical tests suggest? How’s my blood work? My blood pressure? Any other physiological indicators that I’m watching?

If you’re unsure about whether your alcohol use is helping or hurting you, talk to your doctor and get a read on your overall health.

3. Notice how alcohol affects your thoughts, emotions, assumptions, and general perspective on life.

Again: How’s that working for you?

  • Do you feel in control of your drinking? Are you choosing, deliberately and purposefully… or “finding yourself” drinking?
  • What kind of person are you when you are drinking? Are you a bon vivant, just slightly wittier and more relaxed, savoring a craft beer with friends? Or are you thinking, Let’s make that crap circus of a workday go away, as you pound back the liquid emotional anesthetic through gritted teeth?
  • If you had to stop drinking for a week, what would that be like? No big deal? Or did you feel mild panic when you read that question?

4. Play “Let’s Make a Deal”.

To pinpoint which goals and activities in your life are the most important to you, ask yourself:

  • What am I currently saying “yes” to?
  • What am I currently saying “no” to?
  • What am I willing to say “yes” to?
  • What am I willing to say “no” to?
  • What am I prepared to say “yes” and “no” to? Why?

There are no right or wrong answers.

Just choices and compromises.

You’re a grown-up who can think long-term and weigh options rationally. Whether you drink or not is your call.

5. Disrupt the autopilot.

One of the keys to behavior change is moving from unconscious, automatic reactions to conscious, deliberate decisions.

To experiment with decreasing your alcohol intake, try these strategies:

  • Delay your next drink. Just for 10 minutes, to see if you still want it.
  • Look for ways to circumvent your patterns. If you usually hit the bar after work, try booking an alcohol-free activity (like a movie date or a yoga class) with a friend instead. If you stock up on beer at the grocery store, skip that aisle altogether and pick up some quality teas or sparkling water instead.
  • Savor your drink. Tune into the sensations in front of you. Here’s an idea: try tasting wine like a sommelier. Look at it, swirl it, sniff it, taste it.
  • Swap quantity for quality. Drink less, but when you do drink, treat yourself to the good stuff.

6. Call on the experts.

Change almost always works better with support. It’s hard to change alone.

  • Talk to your doctor about your drinking patterns and your health.
  • Consider genetic testing. Many commercial genetic testing services can tell you about your alcohol tolerance, or your risk of other chronic diseases (such as breast cancer) that are linked to alcohol intake.

7. If you choose to drink, enjoy it.

Savor it. Enjoy it mindfully, ideally among good company.

 

For full article by Camille DePutter please visit http://www.precisionnutrition.com/quit-drinking

Create the perfect meal with this simple 5-step guide. Hundreds of healthy meal combinations made easy.

You know you need a good balance of proteins, carbs, fats. But how do you turn that knowledge into healthy meals that taste delicious? Just mix and match these ingredients, flavor profiles, and cooking methods to create the perfect meal every time. Seriously, this guide could change your life.

At Precision Nutrition, it’s our mission to help clients develop healthy eating habits for life. That means:

  • Eating fresh, minimally-processed food as often as possible.
  • Including a balance of protein, veggies, smart carbs, healthy fats.
  • Adjusting portions to meet health and body composition goals.

That all sounds great. But the trick is to do it all in a way that’s super-easy and tastes awesome.

That’s where Precision Nutrition’s all-star chef, Jennifer Nickle, comes in.

Jen’s been chef to UFC legend Georges St-Pierre and to tennis pros like Sloane Stephens and Eugenie Bouchard. She’s taught some of the best athletes in the world how to eat.

And now it’s your turn.

Behold the Perfect Meal cheat sheet.

For the past few weeks Jen and I have been working together to create a cheat sheet that helps clients build amazing meals that pack in maximum flavor with minimal effort. And it’s finally ready.

Using the simple instructions in this infographic, you’ll be able to mix and match ingredients and flavor profiles to come up with literally thousands of easy, delicious, health-supporting meals.

Warning: This guide could change your life.

Download the infographic for your printer or tablet. Keep it in your kitchen or bring it along on your next grocery shopping trip. And be sure to share it with your friends.

 

For full article by Dr. John Berardi, please visit http://www.precisionnutrition.com/create-the-perfect-meal-infographic

This is Your Brain on Exercise

This is Your Brain on Exercise

Getting fit is often seen as a way to get body-wide benefits inside and out — from a leaner and stronger physique to better cardiovascular health. But another organ surprisingly also sees plenty of advantages when you work up a sweat: your brain.

“Your brain is wired to respond positively to exercise,” says Loretta Graziano Breuning, PhD, author of “Habits of a Happy Brain.” “When you exercise consistently, your brain gets even more efficient at making and releasing the natural chemicals that keep you upbeat, like serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin.”

That means by working out, you’re basically creating your own anti-depressant. But that’s just the start. Here’s a look at some of the ways exercise can literally change your brain, plus the benefits you might see as a result.

BETTER MULTITASKING

Cardiovascular exercise has been associated with better cognitive function and studies note that when people do high-intensity activity, they tend to increase brain volume. With more volume comes a better ability to complete complex tasks, according to Matthew Capolongo, a NASM performance enhancement specialist and a coach at New York-based Professional Athletic Performance Center. He notes that this can include problem solving, information processing and multitasking.

Consider taking a HIIT class before your next big, multitask project at work — it could make your brain operate better as a result.

IMPROVED MEMORY AND LEARNING

According to a recent study, it only takes about six weeks of aerobic exercise to increase the size of your hippocampus, the part of the brain that’s largely responsible for memory formation and learning activity.

In addition to increasing the size of the hippocampus, exercising can also change what’s happening in this area. The hippocampus has the unique capacity to generate new neurons every day — up to 700 of them, according to neurologist Majid Fotuhi, MD, chairman of Memosyn Neurology Institute. Unfortunately, most of these neurons don’t survive unless they have support from the body to grow.

Exercising not only increases the production of neurons, Dr. Fotuhi notes, but also helps those young neurons thrive. That can be a significant boost for memory. In fact, he adds that somestudies have suggested that walking just a mile a day might lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by nearly 40 percent.

SLOWER BRAIN AGING

Like the body, the brain ages and can show signs of deterioration along the way. But exercise can slow the process, according to a recent study.

Researchers asked 1,228 men and women about their exercise habits, then tested their cognitive abilities, including reasoning, thinking speed, memory and organization. They followed up five years later with the same tests on about half the study group.

They found those who did more physical activity during the five-year period scored higher on the cognitive ability tests than those who were more sedentary. One possible link, the researchers suggested, is exercise can lower risk factors that impair blood flow to the brain, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease.

Not only does staying physically active lower the chances you’ll deal with those other chronic issues, but it also confers brain benefits along the way.

EXERCISE = BRAIN POWER

The advantages of exercise in terms of brain health may be helpful to keep in mind — no pun intended — if you’re struggling to stay on track with your goals or hitting a plateau. Remember that even if you’re not seeing physical results right now, your brain could be bulking up in the background and making huge improvements that will serve you well into the future.

For full article by Elizabeth Millard, visit https://blog.myfitnesspal.com/this-is-your-brain-on-exercise/

The real (and surprising) reasons healthy movement matters. It’s not about busting your butt to get a gym body. It’s about being capable, confident, and free.

To most people, healthy movement = exercise. As in cardio, crunches, and fitness models. But moving your body is about so much more, like improved thinking, stronger relationships, and expressing your purpose in life. 

When most people hear healthy movement, they think exercise or fitness or looking better or weight loss.

Sometimes, vanity.

Often, fitting into social norms.

“The man” telling you what to do (or how to be).

Moral righteousness packaged as 6am Hot Detox Spin-Late Pump class or an entire weekend of Instagram-worthy self-punishment.

But healthy movement is actually more interesting, liberating, and, frankly, crucial than all that.

In my years as a health and fitness coach, here’s the most important thing I’ve discovered: Developing a body that moves well is the ticket to a place where you feel — finally — capable, confident, and free.

We are all, literally, born to move.

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It’s no secret: Human life has become structured in a way that makes it very easy to avoid movement.

We sit in cars on the way to work. At work we sit at our desks for much of the day. Then we come home and sit down to relax.

That’s not what our bodies are built for, so creaky knees, stiff backs, and “I can’t keep up with my toddler!” have become the norm.

Sure, if you can’t move well, it may be a sign that you aren’t as healthy as you could be. But the quality and quantity of your daily movement — your strength and agility — are actually markers for something much more important.

In my line of work, you watch a lot of people lose a lot of weight. The results would shock you — and I’m not talking about how they look on the beach in their bathing suits (although there is always a big celebration for that).

Most often, the thing people are most excited about after they go from heavy and stiff to lean and agile is this feeling that they’re now living better. They notice they’re:

  • more energetic and young-feeling,
  • able to do things they’ve been putting off for years,
  • empowered,
  • proud of their lifestyle, and
  • free from many of the anxieties and limitations that held them back for so long.

They’re happier, but not just because they wanted to look better, and now they do. They’re happier because their bodies now work like they’re supposed to. They can now do things they know they ought to be able to do.

As humans, we move our bodies to express our wants, needs, emotions, thoughts, and ideas. Ultimately, how well we move — and how much we move — determines how well we engage with the world and establish our larger purpose in life.

If you move well, you also think, feel, and live well.

It’s proven that healthy movement helps us:

  • Feel well, physically and emotionally
  • Function productively
  • Think, learn, and remember
  • Interact with the world
  • Communicate and express ourselves
  • Connect and build relationships with others

We don’t need “workouts” to move.

Shocking secret: There’s nothing magic about a resistance circuit, the bootcamp class at your gym, or the latest branded training method.

Our ancestors didn’t need to “work out” when they were walking, climbing, running, crawling, swimming, clambering, hauling, digging, squatting, throwing, and carrying things to survive. Nor did they need an “exercise class” when they ran to get places, danced to share stories or celebrate rituals, or simply… played.

“Working out” is just an artificial way to get us to do what our bodies have, for most of human history, known and loved — regular movements we lost and forgot as we matured as a species.

We may not hunt for dinner anymore, and we may opt for the elevator more often than not.

We may move less. But movement is still programmed into the human brain as a critical aspect of how we engage with the world.

Therefore, to not move is a loss much, much greater than your pant size.

What factors determine how your body moves?

While there are universal human movement patterns, our specific movement habits are unique to us, and to our individual bioengineering.

Basically, the human body amounts to a sophisticated pile of interconnected levers:

  • Muscles are attached to bones with tendons.
  • These tendons connect to two (or more) bones across a joint.
  • When a muscle contracts, or shortens, the tendons pull on the bone.
  • That contraction and pull causes the joint to flex (bend) or extend (straighten).

precision-nutrition-illustration-01

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How you move is determined by the size, shape and position of all of those parts, along with anything that adds weight, like body fat.

If you’re a tall person with long bones it may be harder for you to bench press, squat, or deadlift the amount of weight your shorter buddy can, because your range of motion is much bigger than your friend’s, so you have to move that weight a longer distance with much longer levers.

(This is why there aren’t many super-tall weightlifters or powerlifters, and why great bench pressers usually have a big ribcage and stubby T-Rex arms.)

But you can probably spank your short friend at swimming, climbing, and running.

If you’re bottom-heavy and/or shorter, you may not be able to run as fast as your taller friend. But you may have exceptional balance.

If you’ve gained weight in your middle (or if you’re pregnant), you may have back pain. That’s because the extra belly weight pulls downward on the lumbar spine (lower back).

precision-nutrition-illustration-03

When the lumbar spine is pulled down and forward (“lordosis”):

  • The pelvis also tips forward (“anterior pelvic tilt”), which pokes the tailbone back and the belly forward — aka Donald Duck Butt.
  • The upper/mid back may round to compensate (“kyphosis”).

The downward pull can also affect all the joints below (the pelvis, hip, knee, and ankle).

Conversely, it also works in the opposite direction, where, say, ankle stiffness can affect movement in the lower back.

If you have wider shoulders (“biacromial width”), then you have a longer lever arm, which means you can potentially throw, pull, swim or hit better.

If you have longer legs, then you have longer stride, which means you can potentially run faster. This is especially true if you also have narrower hips, which create a more vertical femur angle (“Q-angle”), allowing you to waste less energy controlling pelvic rotation.

precision-nutrition-illustration-04

Some variations in movement, we are given by nature and evolution. Other variations, we learn and practice.

If you’re a woman who’s top-heavy, you may have developed a hunch in your thoracic spine (upper and mid-back), whether from the physical weight of your breasts or from the social awkwardness of being The Girl With Boobs in middle school.

Or, if you got really tall at an early age, you may have developed a habitual hunch to hide your size or communicate with hobbits like me.

Yet the structural engineering remains important. Especially if we understand how our structures and physical makeup affect our movements.

For instance:

Body fat and weight change how we move.

This is especially true if you don’t have enough muscle to drive the engine.

At a healthy weight, your center of mass is just in front of your ankle joints when you stand upright.

However, the more mass you have, especially if you have extra weight in front, the harder your lower legs and feet have to work to keep you from tipping forward.

This puts additional torque (rotational force) on ankle joints.

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Once you start walking — which is, essentially, a controlled forward fall — you have to work even harder to compensate.

Any unstable or changing surface (stairs, ice, fluffy carpet, a wet floor), requires your lower joints to adjust powerfully and almost instantaneously — literally millisecond to millisecond.

As a result, obese children and adults fall more often.

Human bodies are amazingly adaptable and clever, but nevertheless, physics can be an unforgiving master.

The good news is that this is generally reversible.

No matter where you’re starting, the more you move, the better your body will function.

When we move:

  • our muscles contract;
  • we load our connective tissues and bones;
  • we increase our respiration and circulation; and
  • we release particular hormones and cell signals.

All of these (and a variety of other physiological processes) tell our bodies to use its raw materials and the food we eat in certain ways.

For instance, movement tells our bodies:

  • to retrieve stored energy (e.g. fat or glucose) and use it;
  • to store any extra energy in muscles, or use it for repair, rather than storing it as fat;
  • to strengthen tissues such as muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones; and
  • to clear out accumulated waste products.

And improved body functions ensure you’ll be able to move well and:

  • climb stairs or hills
  • step over obstacles
  • carry groceries
  • stand up from sitting down, or get up from the floor
  • grasp and hold objects like a hammer
  • pull or drag things like a heavy door or garbage can
  • walk an excitable dog

The more we can do confidently and capably, the fitter we’ll be. Even better, that means we’ll do more. That leads to more fitness. And this virtuous cycle continues.

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Movement does more than just “get us into shape”.

Despite eyeglasses and iPhones, humans are still animals. We’re meant to move with the grace and agility of a tiger (or a monkey). And movement offers us a tremendous number of (sometimes surprising) benefits.

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Movement is how humans (and other animals) interact with the world.

As babies, we immediately start grabbing things, putting things in our mouths, reaching for things, and clinging to our (now less furry) primate parents.

We are tactile, kinesthetic beings who must directly interact with physical stimuli: touching, tasting, manipulating, moving ourselves around objects in three-dimensional space.

Movement helps us connect and build relationships with others.

Movement is a sensor for the world around us.

In one study, when people’s facial muscles were paralyzed with Botox, they couldn’t read others’ emotions or describe their own. We need to mimic and mirror the body language and facial cues of one another to connect emotionally and mentally.

From the puffed-chest posturing of drunken young men outside a bar, to Beyonce’s fierce dance moves, to the mating rituals like close leaning and eye contact, to the laser stare your mom gives you when she knows you’re up to no good:

Movement gives us a rich, nuanced expressive language that goes far beyond words, helping us build more fulfilling and lasting relationships, with fewer misunderstandings, disconnections, or communication bloopers.

Movement helps us think, learn, and remember.

You might imagine that “thinking” lives only in your head.

But in reality, research shows we do what’s called “embodied cognition” — in which the body’s movements influence brain functions like processing information and decision making, and vice versa.

So “thinking” lives in our entire bodies.

But even if thinking were limited to our brains, there is evidence that movement and thought are intertwined.

It turns out that the cerebellum — a structure at the base of the brain previously thought to only be used for balance, posture, coordination, and motor skills — also plays a role in thinking and emotion.

Also, movement supports brain health and function in many ways, by helping new neurons grow and thrive (i.e. neurogenesis).

Every day, our brains produce thousands of new neurons, especially in our hippocampal region, an area involved in learning and memory. Movement — whether learning new physical skills or simply doing exercise that improves circulation — gives the new cells a purpose so that they stick around rather than dying.

Thus, movement:

  • helps maintain existing brain structures,
  • helps slow age-related mental decline,
  • helps us recover if our brain is injured or inflamed,
  • lowers oxidative stress, and
  • increases the levels of a substance known as brain-derived neurotrophic factor, or BDNF, which is involved in learning and memory.

Move well, move often, get smarter.

Movement affects how we feel physically and emotionally.

People of all shapes and sizes say they have a better quality of life, with fewer physical limitations, when they are physically active.

If you exercise regularly, you probably know that kickass workouts can leave you feeling like a million bucks. (Personally I think of mine as anti-bitch meds.)

Research that compared exercise alone to diet alone found:

People who change their bodies with exercise (rather than dieting) feel better — about their bodies, about their capabilities, about their health, and about their overall quality of life — even if their weight ultimately doesn’t change.

(Now… just imagine if you combined the magic of exercise with brain-boosting and body-building nutrition!)

Find out what “healthy movement” looks like for you.

Not everyone has to be (or can be) a ballet dancer or Olympic gymnast. As a 5-foot, 40-something woman who can’t run well nor catch a ball, I’m fairly sure the NBA and NFL won’t be calling me.

But I’m also not saying that, “Well, guess I shouldn’t climb the stairs because of my Q-angle” is the way to go.

I’m saying: Today, pay special attention to how you move.

Be curious.

As you go through the mundane activities of your day, notice how your unique body shapes your movements.

How do you move… and how could you potentially move?

In our coaching programs, we work with a lot of clients who have physical limitations, such as:

  • chronic pain or movement restrictions — say, from an injury or inflammation.
  • too much body fat and/or not enough lean mass.
  • too many or too few calories/nutrients to feel energetic.
  • age-related loss of mobility.
  • a physical disability.
  • neurological problems.

You may have some body configuration that makes it easier or harder for you to do certain things.

We all have structural or physical limitations. We all have advantages. It all depends on context.

Regardless of what your unique physical makeup might be, there are activities that can work for you, and help you make movement a big part of your daily life.

Ask yourself:

How can I move better — whatever that means for MY unique body? And what might my life be like if I did?

And finding someone who can help you if you think that’s what you need.

What to do next

1. Pay attention to how it feels to move.

“Sense in” to your body:

  • When you walk or run: How long is your stride? Do your legs swing freely? Do your hips feel tight or loose? What are your arms doing? Where are you looking?
  • When you stand: How does your weight shift gently as you stand? What does that feel like in your feet or lower legs?
  • When you sit: Where is your head? Can you feel the pressure of the seat on your back or bottom?
  • When you work out: Can you feel the muscles working? What happens if you try to do a fast movement (like a jump or kick) slowly, and vice versa?

2. Consider whether you’re moving as well as you could.

Do you feel confident and capable? Ninja-ready for anything?

Do you have some physical limitations? Do you have ways to adapt or route around them?

When was the last time you tried learning new movement skills?

What movements would you like to try… in a perfect world?

3. Think about other ways to move.

If you’re working out a certain way because you think you “should”, but it’s not fitting your body well, consider other options.

Or, if your current workout is going great but you’re curious about other possibilities, consider expanding your movement repertoire anyway.

Everything from archery to Zumba is out there, waiting for you to come and try it out.

Remember: You don’t have to “work out” or “exercise” to move. And you don’t need to revamp your physical activity overnight, either.

Take your time. Do what you like. Pick one small new way you can move today — and do it.

4. Help your body do its job with good nutrition.

Quality movement requires quality nutrition.

And just like your movements, your nutritional needs are unique to you.

Here’s how to start figuring out what “optimal nutrition” means for you:

If you feel like you need help on these fronts, get it.

A good fitness and nutrition coach can:

  • help you find activities that suit your body.
  • review your nutrition and offer advice on how to improve your diet (even if your life is hectic).
  • help you identify any potential food sensitivities that could be causing or worsening inflammation and thus restricting your movements.
For full article by Krista Scott-Dixon, please visit http://www.precisionnutrition.com/healthy-movement

COULD POT MAKE YOU FITTER?

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Long distance runners are on board; our experts discuss the implications for gym-goers.

In an age of legalization, edibles, and medical marijuana cards, pot’s pushing its way into the health and wellness space: Runners are preaching the powers of pot and professional athletes are endorsing its use in recovery. It seems everyone knows someone who tokes and takes fitness seriously.

Scientific literature on the topic of marijuana and exercise, however, is slim. Since the U.S. government still classifies marijuana as a schedule I drug, it’s hard to study; and only in the past few years have some of weed’s positive health implications become more widely accepted and reported.

But there actually are anecdotal reports that weed can enhance athletic performance, says Arielle Gillman, a researcher at the University of Colorado–Boulder who recently co-authored an article on the topic. “These reports come from all kinds of exercisers—including endurance runners, rock climbers, weight lifters, and hikers.” Of course, the opposite is true, too: “There are plenty of people who state that marijuana makes them feel tired or lazy, and thus, makes workouts more difficult.”

We asked the experts how a marijuana habit could impact an average workout session. Their thoughts, below:

(1) A high could tune you into your body.
The cognitive effects of cannabis include lower anxiety, changes in how you estimate time passing, and shifts in focus (you “tune into” your body or focus instead on your surroundings), says Gillman. When it comes to exercising high, researchers tend to extrapolate: “We can speculate based on what we do know about how marijuana impacts people psychologically in non-exercise contexts.” And a large part of exercise performance is psychological, says Gillman. So, she notes, it’s fair to assume that feeling a little less stressed, a little more focused, and like time is flying by could all help with performance.

(2) Cannabinoids might boost motivation.
It’s often believed that the runner’s high is caused by endorphins. But scientists have more recently discovered that that ‘feel-good’ feeling from movement also comes from your body’s version of cannabinoids (which are in pot), called endocannabinoids. Since these receptors in your brain interact with the brain’s reward pathways, exercise becomes rewarding, many researchers agree.

To this extent, it’s possible that cannabinoids (like those in marijuana) may have beneficial effects on exercise motivation, says Gillman. But it’s too soon to suggest toking as a technique for never missing a workout: Cannabis could also interfere with your body’s endocannabinoids, making you less likely to make that a.m. run, says Gillman.

(3) Buzzkill: Smoke will (still) hurt.
“We know that smoke can be detrimental to performance,” says Gillman. That could be why athletes who do use may be more likely to turn to a vaporizer or choose edibles, she notes. It makes sense: One study in The Harm Reduction Journal found that those who vaporize instead of smoking report fewer respiratory symptoms.

(4) Pot could help your DOMS.
In the states where medical marijuana is legal, one of the intended conditions is pain. And to this extent, it’s certainly possible pot could be a part of a healthy cool down, says Gillman. That’s because there is a good amount of research that shows cannabis can reduce pain, inflammation, and muscle spasms in humans. If you’re going to try it, look for a potent pain-relieving cannabinoid called cannabidiol (CBD), says Gillman. “It’s possible that anti-inflammatory properties of some forms of cannabis could help with sore muscles.” CBD is truly therapeutic: It’s non-psychoactive, so it won’t make you high.

To view full article by Cassie Shortsleeve, please visit: http://furthermore.equinox.com/articles/2016/04/exercise-and-marijuana?emmcid=emm-newsletter&utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email-member&utm_campaign=0420&cid=-Furthermore0420_B4202016

How intense workouts (and overtraining) can ruin your results. Here’s how to know what’s TOO MUCH when it comes to exercise.

In the fitness industry, everyone’s obsessed with “more”. More cardio. More squats. More gym time. More calorie restriction. But if you’re not careful, “more” can lead to overtraining, injury, and illness. Here’s how to know what’s TOO MUCH when it comes to exercise.

I’ve been coaching clients for nearly 25 years and I’ve seen many of them treat their bodies like teenagers learning to drive a car.

Vroom.

Full speed ahead on killer workouts! Max effort each time! Add another hour of cardio!

Errrt!

Get hurt. Get sick. Feel discouraged.

Vroom.

Cut calories! Weigh and measure everything!

Errrt!

Lose control. Feel even more discouraged.

We see this cycle of alternatively slamming the gas, then brake, then gas, then brake with our Precision Nutrition Coaching clients.

When they decide to get moving, they go hard.

They throw everything — energy, time, resources — at their their weight loss, strength gain, or health goals. They feel invigorated and energized, high on their new workout drug.

Have you tried Workout X? they ask their coworkers.

Feel my quads, it’s amazing!

This full throttle approach seems to work for a little while.

Until… it doesn’t.

One day it’s hard to get out of bed. Shoulders and knees ache a bit. They get a bit of a cough or feel run down.

A week later they miss an easy lift. They reach for the ice pack. No big deal.

The week after, they’re dialing their chiro or physio’s office. Or lying on the couch with a back spasm that feels like giving bellybutton birth to a sea urchin.

What happened? Where did it all go wrong?

The problem isn’t the exercise, or even the intensity.

The problem is not balancing stress with recovery.

Training vs. straining.

Exercise is a stressor. Usually a good one. But a stressor nonetheless.

If you exercise intensely and/or often, you add stress to a body that may already be stressed from other life stuff like work, relationships, travel, late nights, etc.

This isn’t a bad thing. Exercise can indeed help relieve stress.

But in terms of a physical demand, we still need to help our bodies recover from all the stress we experience.

How well you’ll recover (and how much extra recovery you might need) depends on your allostatic load — i.e. how much total stress you’re under at any given moment.

In other words, those days when you were late for work and your boss yelled at you and you spilled ketchup on your favorite shirt and you were up all night caring for a sick child — and then you went to the gym and tried to nail a PR?

It’ll take longer for you to recover from that workout than it would have if you’d done it on a day you slept well, woke up to sunshine, and had a terrific breakfast.

The right amount of exercise, at the right intensity, and the right time:

We train. We learn. We get healthier and stronger.

Too much exercise, with too high an intensity, too often:

We strain. We stress. We shut down. And break down.

Mission Control: Our bodies.

Overtraining isn’t a failure of willpower or the fate of weak-minded wimps. Our bodies have complex feedback loops and elegant shutdown systems that actively prevent us from over-reaching or pushing ourselves too hard.

Two systems are at play:

  • Our central nervous system (CNS) acts like a car engine regulator. If the engine on a car revs too high for too long, it shuts down. Similarly, if we exercise too much, our brain tries to protect our muscles by reducing the rate of nerve impulses so we can’t (or don’t want to) move as much. And we certainly can’t work as hard.
  • Local fatigue, the result of energy system depletion and/or metabolic byproduct accumulation, makes your muscles feel really tired, lethargic, and weak. Using our car analogy, this is sort of like running out of gas.

Training too frequently and intensely — again, without prioritizing recovery — means that stress never subsides.

We never get a chance to put gas in the tank or change the oil. We just drive and drive and drive, mashing the pedals harder and harder.

If we “lift the hood” we might see:

  • Poor lubrication: Our connective tissues are creaky and frayed.
  • Radiator overheating: More inflammation.
  • Battery drained: Feel-good brain chemicals and anabolic (building-up) hormones have gone down.
  • Rust: Catabolic (breaking-down) hormones such as cortisol have gone up.

As a result, you might experience:

  • Blood sugar ups and downs.
  • Depression, anxiety, and/or racing thoughts.
  • Trouble sleeping or early wakeups.
  • Food cravings, maybe even trouble controlling your eating.
  • Lower metabolism due to decreased thyroid hormone output.
  • Disrupted sex hormones (which means less mojo overall, and in women, irregular or missing menstrual cycles).

Here’s the thing.

You don’t get to decide if you need recovery or not.

Your body will decide for you.

If you don’t build recovery into your plan, your body will eventually force it.

The more extreme your overtraining, the more you’ll “pay” via illness, injury, or exhaustion. The more severe the payback, the more “time off” you’ll need from exercise.

That’s a bummer. Now your car has stalled, or worse — gone backwards. Argh.

What drives people to overtrain?

Some folks in our Precision Nutrition Coaching program worry that the prescribed workouts and daily habits won’t be enough. So they add more exercise and subtract food.

What’s driving them?

1. Some depend on intense exercise to feel good about themselves.

They might tell themselves it’s “for their health” or “to get the perfect body”.

But, the truth is, many people depend on their extreme exercise regimen to feel good about themselves.

Take this client story from Precision Nutrition Coach Krista Schaus:

Early on in the program, a client’s weight went up a few pounds on a particular measurement day. I went on high alert.

I called her and could hear the treadmill rolling in the background. “Uh, what are you doing… right now?”

Turns out she was into her 40th minute of a 60 minute “post-measurement day guilt workout”.

I yelled, “Get off the *&%! treadmill… Now!”

Right then and there we made each other a promise: No more extra work. PN training program only.

She was terrified of eating more and doing less. But, after her first week of “eating more and doing less”, she lost 3 pounds.

(Before, she had been doing “everything right” and not losing a pound.)

A few months later, she’d lost 10 pounds and 6% body fat. She looked healthy, fit and amazing. People would ask for her secret.

Those intense, laborious workouts can feel good. Almost… too good.

Strenuous exercise releases chemicals that kill pain and make us happy… temporarily.

By the way, these chemicals are also released when your body thinks you’re in big trouble and about to die. Their evolutionary job is to help us float away in a happy painless haze as the saber-toothed tiger is eating our arm off. So in a sense, they’re stress-related chemicals.

For some people, these chemicals become a “hit”.

Pushing their bodies to the limit and working hard becomes their drug.

2. Intense exercise gives you a sense of control over your body and life.

It’s drilled into people’s heads via popular media: If you want control over how your body looks, hit the gym (and then hit it again).

Here’s another client’s story, in their own words:

I ran 7 marathons over the course of about 10 years, each time hoping that this training round would be the one that got me thinner.

But the harder I worked, the more frustrated I got. Which I used to propel myself harder, over more miles.

The more I trained, the hungrier I was. It was a massive battle against appetite, all day long.

I never got thinner. Sometimes I gained.

I got stressed out, cold after cold after random infection, and increasingly unhappy with myself.

For me, what I needed to finally drop those last 5-10 pounds wasn’t exercise for 1-2 hours a day, it was to go harder for shorter periods of time, and give myself enough downtime to recover.

It became so much easier to achieve a slight energy deficit when my body felt more at-ease, less pushed to the limits all the time.

Muscles stayed and got stronger. Fat shrunk away.

People who overtrain often want to try hard and do their best to reach their goals. They think they’re “doing what it takes”.

If some exercise is good, more must be better, right?

3. Most people don’t know that overtraining can work against them.

Precision Nutrition clients who are overtraining are often shocked to learn they’re doing too much. Nobody’s ever told them that there’s a “sweet spot” for exercise that balances work and recovery.

Usually, people learn about the risks of overtraining the hard way — like this client from our men’s coaching program:

Last week I injured my ribs and back. Not enough to put me out of commission, and it’s not serious, but it was a real pain in the a$s.

Certain positions and actions (like sneezing) felt like a knife in my side. I had to cut certain exercises out (e.g. push-ups), and I couldn’t jump rope or sprint, either.

I still did the workouts every day, but I had to cut back on the weight (I used about 80% of what I typically use), and for the intervals, scale back the intensity.

Now here’s the interesting part: When I was done with the workouts, I felt really good, as opposed to the fall-on-the-floor wiped out feeling I usually have. And I wasn’t sore the next day either.

In fact, I’ve been really looking forward to these workouts.

I thought: Hey, this is fun!

But then I had this other nagging thought: Am I just a wimp?

Anyway, all this got me thinking: What the hell am I working out so hard every day for? Should I be killing myself?

I’m not a competitor. Nobody knows or cares how fast I run or how much I squat.

I’m starting to think I should be ending a workout feeling like “I could do that again right now if I had to.” I call that “training”.

The opposite would be pushing myself to the limit frequently, feeling completely pooped after a workout. I call that “straining”.

It seems pretty obvious I won’t make a lot of fast progress by “training”, but on the other hand, I gotta wonder: How long can I keep going if I am “straining”?

Notice that this concept of training vs. straining is a true revelation to him!

Sometimes, less is more.

Putting in a consistent good effort over the long haul is much more sustainable than cycles of “crash and burn”.

This client’s slow and steady efforts paid off — he lost 20 pounds and 10 percent of his body fat in 6 months.

More importantly, he recovered, stayed uninjured, and kept having fun.

Do what truly works.

Look, if “pump till you puke” and hours of treadmill torture worked, we’d make our clients do it.

But it doesn’t work.

So we don’t do it.

Exercise should make us feel, look, perform and live better… not crush us.

Movement should help us function freely… not incapacitate us.

What if you could leave the gym feeling energized, not exhausted?

What if, instead of doing more, you could do better?

Recovery: Overtraining antidote.

Here’s your first tip: “Overtraining” isn’t exactly the problem.

The problem is more like “under-recovering”.

Your body can actually handle a tremendous amount of work… if you recover properly and fully from that work.

Your stress-recovery pattern should look like rolling hills: For every up (training or life stress) there’s a down (recovery).

For every intense workout, there’s an equally intense focus on activities that help your body repair and rebuild.

This doesn’t mean you need to retreat to your dark and quiet blanket fort and get massages every day… although that does sound awesome.

Check out our recovery tips below.

Free your mind, and your body will follow.

When you factor in recovery as a crucial part of your training regimen, a funny thing happens.

You start to think of training completely differently.

What if you could “exercise” on a continuum — where every movement “counts”?

What if you could balance high with low, heavy with light, work with play in a natural, organic rhythm?

Here are some ways to find balance.

An effective physical activity routine incorporates:

  1. Resistance training
  2. Intervals
  3. Active recovery
  4. Fun

You can do that no matter how much time you have to devote to physical activity.

Here’s what the balance looks like in Precision Nutrition Coaching:

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Precision Nutrition Coaching clients who have the most success aren’t usually the ones who do the biggest, most challenging workouts.

Instead, they’re the ones who find small ways of getting movement whenever and wherever they can.

That includes real-life functional movement, such as:

  • Biking or walking to work (or running to catch that damn bus)
  • Walking to the grocery store and carrying your groceries home
  • Washing the car
  • Giving the walls a fresh coat of paint
  • Teaching your kids how to fly a kite
  • Shoveling snow, raking leaves, planting a garden, or mowing the lawn

When you think of movement this way, it stops becoming “a workout” (i.e. a chore, or a gauntlet you have to psych yourself up for) and starts becoming “your daily life” (i.e. something that is easy, seamless, and always with you).

What to do next.

If you’re feeling some of the symptoms described in this article, here are a few steps you can take to start feeling better.

1. Do a little self-assessment.

For some of us, skipping a workout is no biggie.

For others, taking a day off requires effort. Doing less can make you feel uneasy.

If spending more time away from your self-imposed bootcamp freaks you out, ask yourself:

  • What are you doing this for? What are your actual goals, and why?
  • How do you feel? Are you constantly in pain, tired but wired, hungry, etc.?
  • How is what you’re doing working for you? Are you getting results?

If you’re beating yourself up and not getting anywhere, maybe it’s time to take a different approach.

2. Trust your body — and listen to it.

What’s really going on under the hood?

Do a mind-body scan: Lie quietly for a few minutes and bring your focus slowly from your feet to your head. What do you feel?

Practice becoming more aware of your body cues.

What does your body feel like when it’s well-rested? How do you know when it needs a break?

If you’re feeling:

  • achey and creaky
  • run-down and blah
  • un-motivated
  • anxious or depressed
  • fatigued or annoyingly sleepless…

…consider changing up your workout routine.

3. Make time for recovery.

Recovery won’t happen by accident. Plan it, prepare for it and hunt it down.

Schedule that massage. Tell your friends to save the date for the citywide scavenger hunt. And block off Sunday afternoon for guilt-free goof-off time.

Whatever you do, remember that your recovery — what you do between workouts — is just as important as training.

Some ideas:

  • Go for a walk, preferably in a natural, outdoor setting. Put away your phone. Observe what’s around you.
  • Meditate. It’s easier than you might think.
  • Do yoga. Remember: it doesn’t have to be ‘hot yoga’ or ‘power yoga’ to count.
  • Go for a swim. Finish it off with a relaxing sauna.
  • Chill out in the park. Lie back on the grass and stare at the clouds.
  • Get a massage. Give the body a little help de-stressing.
  • Get it on. Yep, sex counts too. (Thanks, Precision Nutrition!)

4. Achieve the balance.

There’s time for tough workouts and time for taking it easy. There’s time for long runs, and there’s time for throwing a frisbee around.

Doing the same thing over and over again isn’t doing your body any good. Mix up your exercises, and the intensity.

If you’re not sure how much of each you’re getting, try keeping a workout journal for a week or two.

What could you use a little more of?

Where could you ease back?

Find some new ways to get active without being in the gym.

Incorporate some silly, goofy play time into your routine. See how it feels.

5. Have fun.

And there’s a reason why kids naturally run, jump, roll, and wiggle their bodies around: Fun is a huge part of how we learn to move and interact in the world. Continuing this process keeps us healthy and young.

Laughing activates the recovery system, as does even just smiling. Lighten up and loosen your white-knuckle grip on life, Sergeant Hardcore.

Here are some ideas for good old-fashioned fun:

  • Play a sport you love. Or discover a new one.
  • Actively play with your kids. Run around with them on the playground, swing from the monkey bars, climb trees, chase a frisbee, etc.
  • Dance. Have a night out with friends, or just goof off with the music cranked up in your living room.
  • Pay your pet some extra attention. Give your dog an extra run for his money at the dog park. Try some kitty yoga. (This is a thing. I’m not even kidding.)
  • Go for a hike or take a walk in the city. Explore a new neighborhood.

6. Get driving lessons.

The only message you’ve likely ever gotten about staying fit is: put the pedal to the metal. Now it turns out you’re actually in overdrive?

If you’re feeling frustrated or confused (or exhausted or stressed) — team up with someone.

Find an active friend, an interested spouse, a parent you want to spend more time with, or a local trainer/coach/sensei. Together, experiment with a fun, balanced approach to your physical activity.

Your “car” will thank you.

For full article by John Berardi please visit: http://www.precisionnutrition.com/are-you-overtraining

ARE YOU (REALLY) HUNGRY?

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Society may be losing touch with a human basic instinct.

Blame the world we live in. Even for the health-conscious, outside factors can dictate when (a set lunch break), why (a client in town), and how much (a to-go container) to eat, says Ryan Andrews, R.D., C.S.C.S., a nutritionist at Precision Nutrition. At some point down the line, we started listening to those factors more than our bodies.

“Most people are aware of the extremes—when they are extremely hungry or extremely full,” says Andrews. But distinguishing subtler signs—a slightly rumbling stomach, a hollow feeling in the gut; and as you grow hungrier, shakiness, irritability, short-temperedness, light-headedness, or a headache—is important, too.

It’s not a bad thing to let your body go there. For healthy people, being hungry isn’t an emergency: “It’s a necessary and normal physiological signal that will return again and again just like getting tired, thirsty, or having to go to the bathroom,” says Andrews. (You just don’t want to let it take over, since going into a meal famished can lead you to overeat.)

Your goal is a reasonable sensation of true hunger, which can make eating more enjoyable, says Andrews. To find it, follow Andrews’ suggestions: 

 
  • IDENTIFY WHICH FOODS SATISFY YOU.

    Some breakfasts leave you full till lunch, others leave you craving more. “If I have a bowl of oatmeal with soy milk, fruit, flax, and walnuts, I’m satisfied until around lunch. I know that about myself,” says Andrews. Finding patterns that work for your body is an important factor in allowing hunger to do its job, he says.

    Look for foods and amounts that keep you full for three to five hours. “If you’re hungry after an hour, you probably didn’t eat enough of the right foods at the previous meal. If you aren’t hungry after three to five hours, you probably ate too much.”

    Junk food is never a good bet, either: “The pleasure they can bring during the eating process can overrun any natural body cues that are saying ‘stop eating!’.”

  • KEEP GOOD FOODS IN SIGHT.

    What we see and smell can fool our bodies into thinking we’re hungry even when we’re not, says Andrews. At home, keep groceries stored away. And make sure the food you can see is good for you. Cornell research shows that we’re more likely to eat what we see—for your health’s sake, it’s better to have a fruit bowl than a candy jar.

  • DIFFERENTIATE BETWEEN EMOTIONS AND HUNGER.

    Comfort food: The idea that certain foods make us feel good. Unfortunately, if you always eat when you’re feeling a certain way (like stressed), your body might confuse that emotion with hunger, says Andrews. Connecting with a dietician or counselor to troubleshoot the issue is well worth it, as the habit can take a toll on your overall health, he notes.

  • SLOW DOWN.

    If dinner takes you less than 15 minutes or so to finish, you’ll likely still be hungry. “This is because you didn’t give your body enough time to register the original feelings of fullness,” says Andrews. It takes some time for that to set in, sometimes 20 minutes or more. Slowing down can help you pick up on signs of satiety.

  • EAT WHAT YOU WANT (IN MODERATION).

    Splurging every now and then is okay. In fact, not doing so could just leave you craving what you’re really after. If someone wants a cookie, but doesn’t eat it because it’s a ‘junk’ food—and opts for a protein bar instead—“they didn’t scratch their itch,” says Andrews. “They end up eating the cookie anyway.”

  • THINK HIGH-VOLUME, LOW-CALORIE.

    “Volume isn’t the only factor that triggers fullness, but it’s a piece of the puzzle,” says Andrews. Case in point: One pound of spinach has the same number of calories as one slice of bacon, he says. “Obviously, one slice of bacon isn’t very filling for most people, but one pound of spinach is.”

  • CHECK YOUR THIRST.

    Your body can confuse hunger with thirst. Try a glass of water, give yourself a few minutes, and reassess.

    For full article by Cassie Shortsleeve, visit http://furthermore.equinox.com/articles/2016/02/are-you-hungry?emmcid=emm-newsletter&utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email%20member&utm_campaign=0210&emmcid=EMM-0210Furthermore2102016

HOW NUTRITION PROS SURVIVE THE HOLIDAYS

nutrition pros, healthy holiday tips, holiday eating habits, holidays, holiday food, stay healthy during the holidays, q by equinox, nutrition, diet, health, body

Enjoy indulging (even more) with eight expert-tested tricks.

The holidays can present something of a conundrum for the hard-working athlete: Fitness devotees want to be able to relax and celebrate, but don’t want to set themselves too far back when a new training year is days away.

And according to experts, these concerns have merit when the holiday season is lengthy. “We often think in 24 hour periods of eating, but if you have a huge meal and eat an excess of calories on a certain day like Christmas, you’re not going to wake up the next day overweight,” says Ryan Andrews, R.D., a fitness and nutrition coach with Precision Nutrition. “However, if you do this continually over a month or more—some people start with Thanksgiving and end with New Years—well, that can add up to weight gain.”

Who better to ask about how to stay on track (and still have fun) than pros who make a living helping clients stay lean? Here, 10 tricks they rely on to survive the season:

1

Prioritize protein and veggies at breakfast.

“I always do this to make sure I’m not absolutely ravenous. A lot of people don’t eat before the big meal and then go overboard thinking they can have 4 pieces of pie instead of one.”

– Brian St. Pierre, R.D. a fitness and nutrition coach with Precision Nutrition

2

Halve your sugar content, and add some cinnamon.

“You’ll be surprised to see how good—and sweet—desserts still taste when you cut sugar by a 1/4 to a 1/2. Another trick is to add cinnamon. It enhances the sweet flavor and it improves sugar metabolism.”

– Jeffrey Morrison, M.D., Equinox Health Advisory Board member, founder of the Morrison Center in NYC

3

Alternate alcohol drinks with water and lime.

“The vitamin A in the lime will help your liver process the alcohol more efficiently.”

– Haylie Pomroy, nutrionist and founder of The Fast Metabolism Diet

4

Go vegan with some of your dishes.

“Then the choices on the table won’t all be full of creams, cheeses, and butters, plus it’s hard to overeat plant-based foods because they’re filling. Last year I took a cooking class and learned to make quinoa-stuffed acorn squash with crispy sage and a balsamic glaze—now it’s one of our holiday favorites.”

– Ryan Andrews

5

For dessert, choose an option with fat and sugar, rather than one with just sugar.

“The fat actually slows the rate of delivery of sugar into the bloodstream. Sugar spikes are what get us into trouble because the body naturally shuttles it out of the bloodstream and into the fat cells.”

– Haylie Pomroy

6

Mix a coconut-based egg nog.

“Trade the heavy cream for 1 part coconut cream and 1 part coconut milk. Coconut is full of medium chain triglyercides, a type of fat that’s more easily burned than others.”

– Jeffrey Morrison

7

Make pumpkin pie with almond milk and ground flax.

“Sub an equal amount of almond milk for evaporated milk and use an egg replacer. For each egg called for, just mix 1 tablespoon ground flax with 3 tablespoons warm water, then let it sit for 15 minutes. It acts as both a binder and an egg substitute.”

– Ryan Andrews

8

Detox the day after a big holiday meal by sipping 1-3 cups of  Bieler Broth .

“It contains adrenal-healing vegetables like parsley that help your liver process the toxins from alcohol as well as excess sugar so that it can be burned as fuel. The ingredients also aid in the production of bile salts, which help break down excess fats.”

-Haylie Pomroy

To view full article by Wendy Schmid please visit http://q.equinox.com/articles/2014/12/pro-holiday-tips?emmcid=emm-newsletter&utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email%20member&utm_campaign=1214&emmcid=EMM-1214QWeekly12142015

HOW TO (REALLY) PREVENT A HANGOVER

how to prevent a hangover, hangover, drinking, alcohol, health, body, lifestyle, life, Q by Equinox

These expert tips will help you stave off post-party suffering.

New Year’s Eve has a striking contradiction: We stay up late to welcome the new year with buoyant toasts and our optimistic resolutions, only to squander our fresh start in bed with a headache and a case of the shakes. There’s only one way to completely avoid a hangover (hint: put down the bubbly and pick up the seltzer) and almost nothing you can do once you wake up and the damage is done. So, we talked to experts about what to do now to curtail the hangover pains and start 2014 off on the right track.

1

Choose Light Over Dark

The Expert: Alex Zimmerman, T4 National Manager at Equinox
The Tip: Stick to vodka and white wine and avoid dark spirits like bourbon, scotch and brandy.
The Science: It’s more than an old wives’ tale: Dark spirits have higher levels of congeners, the by-products of alcohol fermentation, which have been known to intensify hangover symptoms. You won’t be able to ward off a hangover entirely by drinking lighter booze (most of the symptoms are thanks to the ethanol, not the congeners) but you might feel just a bit better the next day.

2

Chase With Water

The Expert: Cassie Kipper, Fitness Manager, Tier 4 Coach and Registered Dietitian
The Tip: Have a glass of water between every alcoholic drink and, before you go to bed, chug a big glass of H20 with an electrolyte tablet.
The Science: Staying hydrated is the most important move you can make to help combat soreness and headaches that come with a hangover. Your secret weapon? Electrolytes, minerals that break into small, electrically charged particles when dissolved in water. These particles help regulate your body’s fluids and give your hardworking liver and kidneys a helping hand when it comes to cleaning out your blood stream.

3

Plan A Pre-Snack

The Expert: Marissa Lippert, nutritionist and founder of Nourish Kitchen + Table in New York City
The Tip: Have a green juice and a handful of nuts before you go out and, if you come home really tipsy, eat a piece of whole grain toast with peanut butter before you hit the sack.
The Science: A green juice will help you hydrate and get antioxidants to give your body some love before you start drinking, and almonds will fill you up so you’re not drinking on an empty stomach (hello, headache). The toast with peanut butter has a balance of carbs and fat that can stabilize blood sugar to help avoid the shakes and headaches that come with alcohol’s sugar crash.

4

Pop Vitamin B

The Experts: Jeffrey Morrison, M.D. and nutritional health coach Melissa Wood of The Morrison Center in New York City
The Tip: Take B vitamins before you hit the town.
The Science: Your body works on overdrive to metabolize alcohol, a process that can deplete essential B vitamins and make it tougher to recover. Take a vitamin B complex with B-12 and B-6 that day to help avoid the fatigue and bad mood that can kick in the morning after.

5

Sweat Before You Sip

The Expert: Justin Jacobs, T4 Manager at Equinox Tribeca
The Tip: Hit the gym for a high-intensity workout this afternoon.
The Science: High-intensity training leads to a post-exercise metabolic boost, says Jacobs, which means your metabolism is working on overdrive for up to 24 hours after your workout session. This can help your body metabolize the alcohol in your system faster – even as you sleep – to make the next morning feel a bit better.

 

For full article by Merritt Watts please visit http://q.equinox.com/articles/2013/12/hangover-tips?emmcid=emm-newsletter&utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email%20member&utm_campaign=1214&emmcid=EMM-1214QWeekly12142015
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