A Workout Tip Coffee-Drinkers Will Love

A Workout Tip Coffee-Drinkers Will Love

Jillian Michaels said on her podcast recently that caffeine can help boost your athletic performance. Although, I should note that she doesn’t like the idea of getting your caffeine from coffee, but rather a supplement that also contains antioxidants and that helps slow the absorption of the caffeine in your system.

In the book, The Metabolic Effect Diet, the authors suggest that, for some people, a cup of coffee a half an hour before a workout can help improve workouts.

"Coffee" (c) 2005 by Timothy Boyd, under a CC Attributions: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en

“Coffee” (c) 2005 by Timothy Boyd, under a CC Attributions: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en

I will find any reason to have a cup of coffee during the day, so I wanted to know more.

But wait. Isn’t coffee dehydrating? That is a myth, according to Nancy Clark, M.S., R.D., who wrote an article, “The Facts About Caffeine and Athletic Performance,” for Active.com. So that’s good. But how does it help improve a workout?

In her article, she says there have been a lot of good studies on this topic, and that most of them conclude that caffeine helps improve athletic performance, and even makes the effort seem easier.

“The average improvement in performance is about 12 percent,” she writes, “with more benefits noticed during endurance exercise than with shorter exercise (eight to 20 minutes) and a negligible amount for sprinters.”

She also said more benefits have been noticed in athletes that rarely drink coffee. Darn.

By the way, coffee and caffeine react differently for everyone. Definitely experiment with caffeine in training, not on race morning. And use common sense when it comes to caffeine consumption, advises Clark. More caffeine is not better. Remember: If you choose to get your caffeine from coffee, steer clear of specialty coffees (i.e. lattes).

So, how much caffeine should you take if you want to enhance your workout?

“A moderate caffeine intake is considered to be 250 mg/day. In research studies, the amount of caffeine that enhances performance ranges from 1.5 to 4 mg/pound body weight (3 to 9 mg/kg) taken one hour before exercise. For a 150-pound person, this comes to about 225 to 600 mg.” (There’s about 200 mg of caffeine in a 16-ounce cup of Starbucks coffee, for reference.)

Let me know if you use caffeine in your workout? How has it helped you?

Brain Food – College Eating

Remember your college days?  Or better yet, are you in college right now!??  I remember mine and remember loving to grab food while running to class, stopping at the HUB for a juicy burger or freshly baked bagel.  I also remember late night stops at the fast food places after the bar closes and junk food binging while studying.   I never thought about food like I should have I guess.   That freshman 15 definitely caught up to me by junior year.

The organization, The Best Colleges, helps you “.. find information on hundreds of online programs…. and aim to bring you affordable options, so you know you’re getting good quality for your money, but not spending a fortune in the process.   They recently released a study about the best Brain Food for sleeping, studying and stress relief.  Seen below –

 attribution to TheBestColleges.org

If only I had known this – I would have eaten even more guacamole and Tiramisu!

The “Sitting Disease”: You Probably Have It – Even if You Exercise

Are you a lunch-time exerciser like me? Think a 30-minute run will balance out all the sitting you do at your desk job (like I do)?

A recent article by Selene Yeager in Runner’s World says it won’t. In “Sitting is the New Smoking – Even for Runners,” Yeager writes that sitting is an epidemic. In fact, sitting is linked to an increased risk of all kinds of diseases, including heart, diabetes, cancer and depression.

Travis Saunders is a Ph.D. student and certified exercise physiologist at the Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group at Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario. “Up until very recently, if you exercised for 60 minutes or more a day, you were considered physically active,” he says in the article. But now, he says, research suggests “that sitting increases your risk of death and disease, even if you are getting plenty of activity.”

People who spend most of their non-exercise time sitting face the same health risks as completely inactive people, according to Australian researcher Genevieve Healy, Ph.D., of the University of Queensland, who coined the term “active couch potato” to describe the former.

What’s really scary is the numerous studies cited by Yeager in the article that show how bad sitting is for your health. Sitting, and having inactive muscles, can cause the body to shut down. Circulation slows. You use less blood sugar. You burn less fat. These things can increase your risk for diabetes and heart disease. Even cancer research has shown long periods of sitting can increase the risk of breast, colon and other cancers.

The best way to combat this is to stand up. Stay active throughout the day.

Don’t think you are sitting that much? Go to JustStand.org and use the Sitting-Time Calculator. You may be surprised.

Watching TV? Stand up and watch for a bit or watch while you walk on a treadmill.

Eating? Why not stand at the counter and have your breakfast, lunch or dinner—especially if you will be or have been sitting at work all day.

On the phone? You don’t need to be sitting to talk.

But for all of us out there with desk jobs, what can we do?

“Even breaks as short as one minute can improve your health,” says Stuart McGill, Ph.D., director of the Spine Biomechanics Laboratory at the University of Waterloo.

Stand at your desk. Stretch. Walk to the kitchen in your office and fill up your water. Take your breaks. Get a standing desk at work if you can. Some people are even using treadmill desks now, and some employers will even help subsidize the cost (ask your HR department).

Need more ideas? The article “Do You Have Sitting Disease?” gives you 11 ways to combat sitting, including “Pretend it’s 1985” and walk down the hall to ask your co-worker a question. Click the link to see all 11 ideas.

Okay, now it’s time for me to stop writing and stand up…

Acai Berry Benefits, what’s the scoop?

acai-berryWe’ve all heard about the acai berry, but do we really know what it is? According to webmd, the acai berry is an inch-long reddish, purple fruit. It comes from the acai palm tree (Euterpe oleracea), which is native to Central and South America with possible antioxidant benefits. The local farmers harvest it, and when it’s pulp is quickly frozen it retains it’s nutritional value and can be shipped around the world. The main way that acai berry is sold to us is in juices, vitamins, and tea. And, if you haven’t tasted it, I have and it is very yummy.


So why the craze?

Acai Berry Benefits

According to acaiberry.org, the acai berry touts these benefits:acai-berry-bowl

  1. Weight loss – One of the most desirable benefits of Acai Berry supplements is weight loss. With Acai Balance you can flush up to 25 pounds of waste and toxins.
  2. Increases Energy- Our active lifestyles leave us drained of energy. Many of us don’t get enough sleep, and we walk around all day like zombies. This creates serious long-term medical conditions. Thankfully, Acai Berry helps improve your overall energy. You can rest better, and wake up more refreshed in the morning. Acai Balance is especially effective at boosting your metabolism.
  3. Improves Blood Flow- Poor circulation can lead to numerous medical conditions (clotting, balding, and heart issues.) Acai Berry supplements work to improve your blood flow, thus staving off many serious ailments. Improved circulation makes you feel better and live longer.
  4. Healthier Skin- The berry contains many unique properties that work to make your skin look and feel younger.
  5. Stronger Heart- Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in America. From lack of exercise to poor dietary habits, our hearts endure a lot of stress. Acai Berry supplements give your heart the nutrients it needs to work properly.
  6. Better Concentration- Another of the seemingly endless benefits of Acai Berry is the improved mental clarity it produces. In a way, this goes back to the circulation benefits. With better blood flow, your brain is able to operate more efficiently.
  7. Reduced Cholesterol- When you think of lowering your cholesterol, you probably recall images of eating healthy foods that taste terrible. Acai Berry supplements save you the trouble of eating tasteless oats. This berry will lower your cholesterol significantly over time.
  8. Detoxifies Body- Acai Berry contains several antioxidants that work to eliminate harmful substances from your body. Throughout our life, our body absorbs many damaging substances. Acai Berry works to eradicate them, and to make your immune system stronger than ever before.

Have you tried Acai Berries yet?  If so, let us know what you think about them and what benefits you have found!



How to (Really) Calculate Target Heart Rate

There has been a lot of talk amongst my running friends about heart rate training recently. Of course, the No. 1 thing we all want to know is how do you determine your  maximum heart rate in order to get your target heart rate?

Online, you’ll  find how to calculate target heart rate using calculators, like this one from Active.com. Just enter your age and what percent of your maximum heart rate you want to be at. For example, if you’re aiming for an intense workout, you’d want to be between 70 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. Click on this link to learn more about intensity levels from the CDC.

Target heart rate calculators are okay, but the numbers are very general. It is based on the old calculation: (220 – your age) x target heart rate percentage = target heart rate. If I go by this equation, my target heart rate (85% of my maximum) would be 157. I happen to know from past experience that there is no way this is 85% of my maximum. If I went by this formula, my training would be very off. Some even say that this equation was created with men in mind. (A PopSugar Fitness article shows a more recent and a little more accurate “general” equation for determining women’s heart rate zones.)

So, how do you really calculate target heart rate?

Well, the best way is to get a cardiac stress test done on a treadmill and monitored by your doctor. Unfortunately, we can’t all do that.

You can do your own test, although a doctor visit to make sure your heart is healthy before you do it, is advised. And go with someone just in case. Below, I’ve linked to a few different articles explaining ways to get your maximum heart rate. You’ll need a heart rate monitor and a friend for these.

At the Track

This short article in Runner’s World explains how to get your maximum heart rate by yourself using a heart rate monitor.

On a Hill

An article in CompleteRunning.com suggests maxing out your heart rate on a gradual hill, and with a heart rate monitor.

On a Treadmill

This article on Slowtwitch.com describes how to find your max heart rate on a treadmill with a heart rate monitor. (Definitely get a friend to help you.)

If you are really interested in training correctly, try finding your own individual maximum heart rate. The calculators could have you training 15-20 beats off where you should be!

What are the health benefits of Chia Seeds?

Whats the fuss about chia seeds?

It seems like every day research is finding new super foods that provide a ton of benefits.  One of these that’s been all the rave latelyare chia seeds. The really neat thing about chia seeds is that they really don’t have any taste, so they can be added to almost any food.  Some easy ideas are to sprinkle them over salad or cereal or add them to your protein shake.

Health Benefits of Chia Seeds

Chiaseedshealth.org shared a list of benefits:

  • Increases endurance levels
  • Increases energy levels
  • Helps with weight loss
  • Normalises blood sugar levels
  • Cleanses the colon
  • Gets rid of the toxins
  • Prolongs hydration
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Helps tone muscles
  • Helps to lower the blood pressure
  • Improves mental performance
  • Improves night rest and mood
  • Lowers the risk of heart diseases
  • Improves overall health
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Absorbs extra acid, helping to get rid of acid reflux
  • Helps thyroid conditions
  • Helps IBS
  • Helps celiac disease

I use chia seeds.   I just put a couple tablespoons into my protein shake every morning. They have no taste, so I really don’t notice them to much, but I do notice the extra energy.

Have you tried them yet?