Monthly Archives: March 2008

What Do I Eat?

Anne wants to know what to eat before and after a training session.

But  first of all, the question that should be answered is "What foods should I eat no matter when I eat them?"

Here I assume that organic, non-hormone ridden, pesticide sprinkled, anti-biotic free, etc. foods are being chosen. It also assumes you are aware of your food allergies if you have any to the below foods:

Meat (Eggs, Fish, Foul, beef, pork, lamb, etc.)

Dairy

Vegetables that are non starchy, or low in starch.

Fruit in season

Nuts

Now, of these foods, you want to eat a combination of these foods (not necessarily all) at each meal focusing on the protein foods more than any other.

Prior to exercise, a meal that is rich in protein and low in carbohydrate is the way to go.

The same goes for after your workout but you can get away with a touch more carbs depending on the intensity of the workout. 

I like to eat steak and eggs with sliced grilled tomatoes before a workout and a grilled chicken kabob (chicken, onions, peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes) afterward.

If you are attempting to build large, bodybuilder type muscles you may want to add a baked potato after your workouts as well. Understand that genetics make the difference and don’t expect to become extremely muscular from strength training no matter how you eat.

But muscular hunter gatherer peoples rarely displayed the balloon like muscles of a body builder as their diets were naturally low in carbohydrates which helps the muscle to be filled with and store more water giving that pumped, artificial appearance.

Kettle-scam

Kettle bell training is a scam. No different then Pilates or the body bar.

But there’s one difference – kettle bells are cool looking.

Kettlebell1 

They look like they’ll work. (Therefore they will.)

A Pilates reformer looks like a bed – or an old style torture rack – or a reformed pool table. .

Reformer

The body bar? well….

Bodybar

Its a stick.

But what they all share in common is they offer resistance to our muscles. The question is, do they offer such as safely, as efficiently, or as effectively as possible.

It isn’t the device per se – it how you use the resistance they offer. But their advocates would have you think differently.

A kettle bell will not transform you into a Russian strength athlete.

A Pilates Reformer will not give you the dancer’s lean body of a Baryshnikov or Gillian Murphy.

A Body Bar will not give you…ah, forget it.

You get it.

Macs are better than PC’s. But I don’t know how to use a Mac very well, therefore…

Nah..that’s just lazy thinking.

You’ve got one body and one life – be active about it.

Whither Did I Go?

Last week starting on Sunday, I was viciously attacked by some nasty germs that defeated my immune system and made me feel like a ball of phlegm. This is rare for me.

I laid low for 2 days and sweated out the illness. And when I say sweated, I mean sweated.

My bed sheets became liquid. Eww I know.

What was interesting was I had an appetite. I ate, as usual, never missing a meal. Not one. I even craved pizza one day and ate three huge pieces that had added sausage, hamburger, cheese, artichokes and mushrooms.

I drank tea like it was going out of style but my body shivered and sweat gallons more than I could take in.

Stepping back: On Thursday of last week I had a great, hard, taxing strength workout. The week before I had one of the best body composition readings of my life. Here it is below (I left it big so you can see it better):

Bad_last_week

As you can see, rounding up or down, I had 158 pounds of lean tissue, and 22 pounds of body fat.

Here is my body comp reading today:

Bad_sick

UH oh – whither did I go? A mere week and a few days later it appears I have gained 3 pounds of fat and lost 7 pounds of muscle! Egads! Can this be possible?

In short, no. I bring this up because water loss can be quite deceiving and unnerving to those who don’t understand the inner goings on of weight loss.

As I mentioned earlier, being sick and sweating my sheets into liquid, I lost huge amounts of water weight. And look at the water differences. Before I had 53.2 litres of body water. (The machine is a bioimpedence machine that uses an electrical current to measure body water.)

After my illness I had a mere 48.6 litres of water.  A litre of water weighs ~2.2 pounds. If we do the math we see that I lost 10.2 pounds of water. Almost exactly the amount of lean mass lost. 

What I effectively did was shriveled my muscle mass into beef jerky – I dried it up but didn’t lose much if any actual muscle tissue.

The fat gain of 3 pounds (22 to 25lbs.) is the difference (in the scale weight). Since I lost 10 pounds of water and only 7.5 pounds on the scale, it had to make up the other 3 pounds somewhere and did so by adding fat weight. This particular reading baffles me a little as I clearly did not gain fat. But none of these devices are absolutely perfect.

The moral of this tale is the scale all by itself can be a booby trap. Water loss can make you lighter – a lot lighter – yet at the same time not really mean fat loss – or muscle loss.

So don’t depend on the scale alone to judge fat loss or gain. Always try and keep your water intake consistent and plentiful.

Buy a pair of skinny jeans (or slacks) – the ones you’d LIKE to wear and try them on every week. (If you stretch them, wash them back to tightness). This is one of the best ways to judge progress or lack thereof if the scale is your only measure of progress.

Scott Adams the Vegetarian Comic

Scott Adams is a funny comic writer. As a blogger, he’s really good too. But his recent post on eating meat had my incisors and canines bared.

He lists 2 points on meat eaters:

1.That we will argue to death that eating meat is healthy. Yes we will. And why? Because it IS.

If meat were unhealthy, there’d be no lions, tigers and bears. Could it maybe be the type of meat one eats that could lead to ill health? One would think there is a eeensy, weensy, teeny difference between a bison steak cooked by a native Sioux and Parker’s Brown and serve sausages.

2.The second point was funny – that if people were natural meat eaters, we’d salivate when we saw a cow. However I doubt that vegetarians salivate while looking at a picture of Christina’s World – or while standing in a field of filthy, dirty potatoes.

Anyway…

He goes on to say that he doesn’t understand why we cut our meat into steaks, cook it and cover it with sauces. Well, it’s hard to eat an entire buffalo (though boy I’ve come close), steak tar-tar is a favorite of mine as is sashimi. So we animal eaters do indeed like it raw.

And last I checked you couldn’t walk into a wheat field, snatch up a handful of wheat and eat. Many grain products are refined foods – unreal – processed. And did you know they can alter your DNA? Grain foods contain among the most destructive proteins known to mankind. Here’s a glimpse.

As for sauces? C’mon Scott – vegans and vegetarians slather everything they eat in some kind of soy/tahini/rice vinegar concoction. Some are good too!

I must admit I have salivated, as Scott has, at the sight of potatoes. But usually they are in the form of frites nestled closely to my rare and tender rib eye.

Thanks to my agent Lisa and to Seth for the heads up.

It’s a streeeeeeeeeeeetch…

Gina Kolata, the NY Times fitness expert has, over the years, amazed me with her behind the times reporting.

In her recent article on stretching ,she marvels at the lack of evidence to support it by saying:

"The truth is that after dozens of studies and years of debate, no one really knows whether stretching helps, harms, or does anything in particular for performance or injury rates."

Really? I beg to differ. Since years of debate and research have coughed up nada to support stretching for, well, anything, I think we know full well that stretching doesn’t do much. This process is, in fact, HOW we know that a thing is useful or useless. And in this case the verdict is ‘useless.’

But since Gina has trumpeted the benefits of stretching for years and Pooh-pooh’d people like me who have publicly and loudly stated that stretching  is unnecessary for health/fitness reasons (and perhaps only necessary of you engage in ligament lengthening sports like gymnastics, martial arts or Houdini-type escape feats), she’s in too deep to escape.

She can’t back out now and actually admit that stretching is and always has been useless. No, no – she must ride the fence in the direction it’s going. And in the case of stretching the direction is absolutely nowhere.

But maybe, just maybe after a few more years of research, something will pop. Let’s just hope it’s not your joints while we wait.

The interesting thing is that fitness pros still insist on stretching even though no one derives any real benefit from it, there’s no science to support it and much evidence against it. But like Mark Twain said:

"The truth is easy to kill but a lie well told is immortal."

Charles Kenny, MD an orthopod in Stockbridge MA said the following:

“If stretching was a drug, it would be recalled.”

Now them’s fightin’ words!

If there is no evidence that stretching prevents injuries, improves performance, enhances joint health or does anything good for that matter why in the world does the American College of Sports Medicine and every other fitness organization promote it? One wonders…

Why do physical therapists promote it? Doctors? Athletic trainers? More wonder.

From the article:

"While the stretching debate goes on, some researchers who used to believe in stretching say they have become disillusioned."

Whoa. Hold on a sec – believe in stretching? Aren’t these researchers scientists? (If they’re not, why are they doing research?) It’s a good thing exercise physiologists don’t work for NASA or Boeing or even construct toaster ovens on an assembly line. "No Jane – I believe the wires should be soldered this way."

And why is the debate still going on? Seems to me it should be as dead as a shoe by now. This reminds me of the book ‘Who Moved My Cheese?

And this one kills me:

"Her runners stretched but, Dr. Ingraham said, stretching “did not seem to do what we’d been schooled about all our lives — it did not prevent injuries.”

So for years she saw that stretching did nothing to help her athletes and yet kept doing it? Did the good doctor ever stop to think what might have been causing the injuries in the first place?

I’ll quote Mark Twain one more time:

"Be careful reading health books. A misprint just might kill you."

Or hurt you or just waste your time. And in the case of stretching, no misprint at all!


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