Stack the Nutrition Deck at Thanksgiving With This Super-Veggie

As long as you don’t overeat, a traditional Thanksgiving meal is healthy and nutritious.

If there is one holiday that is all about overeating, Thanksgiving is it. Though it is supposed to be a time of being grateful for everything you have, the day tends to center around the biggest meal most people eat all year, and many consider it a deal-breaker when it comes to diets and attempts to maintain or lose weight. The truth is that all in all, the traditional Thanksgiving meal is a healthy one. Turkey is lean and high in protein. A moderate serving is between 125 and 147  calories and delivers around 30 grams of protein. Plus it has a number of essential nutrients such as iron, zinc, and potassium, and is a great source of essential amino acids for building muscle.

The rest of the meal is pretty nutritious, too, as long as you go easy on the gravy and butter, and stick to moderate portions. Even the pumpkin pie contains essential nutrients. Pumpkin has a serious supply of vitamins A and C for improved immunity and enhanced eye health, and CNN reports that pumpkin increases the amount of insulin your body produces for reduced blood sugar levels.

Every Thanksgiving meal should include vegetables, and we suggest replacing the green bean casserole with nutritious but widely underappreciated Brussels sprouts. The much-maligned sprouts aren’t all that bad, as long as you know how to cook them. Instead of boiling the bejeezus out of them, try one of the delectable recipes Food & Wine offers up, including pairing them with escarole in a salad, caramelizing them with pancetta, or topping flatbread with Brussels sprouts for tasty hors d’oeuvres. Meanwhile, here is the skinny on the nutritional and health benefits of what should be your new favorite veggie:

Super-Nutritious

Brussels sprouts are jam-packed with vitamins, minerals, and even protein.

Brussels sprouts are jam-packed with essential nutrients. So much, in fact, that they land in the top five vegetables on the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index. They’re high in vitamins A, B-6, C, and K as well as minerals like folate, manganese, and potassium. Brussels sprouts also provide measurable levels of calcium, iron, phosphorous, and zinc. As for bonus vitamins, you’ll get thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin in a serving of Brussels sprouts.

Low-Cal, High-Protein

Brussels sprouts have a high nutritional content including fiber, and they’re low in calories–a perfect weight loss food.

 

True, you probably won’t be able to eat enough Brussels sprouts in one sitting or even one day to get the total amount of protein you need, especially if you are on a muscle building or weight loss diet. However, for a green cruciferous vegetable, the sprouts from Brussels are unexpectedly high in protein. The USDA says that 100 grams of Brussels sprouts (just over 1 cup) provides 3.38 grams of protein, which can count toward your daily intake. Also, considering how nutritious they are, that same cup of Brussels sprouts is only 38 calories.

Brussels Sprouts Benefits

Forget an apple a day–good for heart health, weight management, digestion, immunity, and cell regeneration, Brussels sprouts contribute to a clean bill of health.

 

With all those essential nutrients, Brussels sprouts provide some serious health benefits. In addition to the vitamins, minerals, and even protein, Brussels sprouts are high in fiber, which is important for heart health, weight management, and the digestive system. As a cruciferous vegetable, Brussels sprouts have compounds that contain sulfur, which research has shown to be effective in fighting cancer, according to Medical News Today. The vitamin K and calcium in Brussels sprouts improves bone health. Plus, the vitamin C the veggie provides protects your eyes against UV light damage to decrease risk of macular degeneration and helps minimize sun damage by encouraging collagen production and cell regeneration, which results in younger-looking skin.

Chain Reaction: Chain Training for Gaining Muscle Mass

If you’ve been hitting the gym trying to gain muscle, the sight of chains lying among the collections of weight collars, chalk blocks and other lifting accessories is a familiar sight. You may have seen them in action, too, clipped to a barbell for use during a bench press, deadlift or curl. To the average person, strapping a set of chains onto free weights during a workout might seem like a practice that’s too simple to be effective. Those who understand linear variable resistance, however, know that it is an effective, proven way to put on muscle mass and increase strength.

What is Linear Variable Resistance?

Linear variable resistance (LVR) occurs when the load increases as you lift, maxing out at its heaviest at the top of the exercise. As Jim Stoppani, Ph.D., and Rob Fitzgerald, N.S.C.A.-C.P.T1, explained, without chains, you never really get a chance to lift as much as you’re capable of because the beginning of any exercise is where you’re weakest. With chains, however, the bulk of the weight is piled on the floor so, as you lift the weight, the chain lifts with it, link by link, constantly increasing the amount of weight you’re moving until you get to the top of the exercise.

How You Gain Muscle With Linear Variable Resistance

Among the muscle gain secrets, LVR is one of the simplest to implement. It works so well because it gives you a break when you’re weakest during an exercise and loads you up to recruit additional fast-twitch muscles as you reach the top of the move. Those particular muscles are the important ones for gaining muscle mass and strength because they contract the strongest and fastest. They’re also the ones that, trained consistently and correctly, will grow the biggest.

Shake Off the Chains

Now that you know how to gain muscle mass with linear variable resistance, it’s understandable if you want to start hooking up the chains to activate some LVR. However, what if you could challenge your muscles even further to enhance your mass and strength gains faster using the same exercises? You can do exactly that if you use resistance bands to produce LVR. In an article for Muscle and Fitness, Jim Stoppani reveals that bands not only increase in resistance as you move to the top of an exercise, but they increase in speed as you move through the negative segment of an exercise. In order to stop the weight at the bottom of the move, you have to apply more force, engaging even more muscle fibers to maintain control of the weight.

Most gyms are equipped with bands, but if you’re serious about setting LVR in motion, you need resistance training equipment that’s designed around the concept. It’s useful to strength and muscle gains to chain up for exercises that will accommodate chains, but performing all of the exercises in your workout using bands will benefit those fast-twitch muscle fibers even more. With the capability to perform real gym exercises, the TargitFit Trainer is an essential tool for anyone who wants to gain muscle and strength — and with the latest accessories, the TargitFit can do all the exercises you do with free weights in the gym, including pull-downs, squats and standing crossovers. TargitFit will give you the “chain reaction” without the chains.

 

1Stoppani, Jim; Fitzgerald, Rob. “Chain of Command.” Muscle and Fitness. January 2010. Print.

“Diet” Doesn’t Have to be a Four-Letter Word

Food doesn’t have to be tasteless and unsatisfying to be considered healthy.

What you eat (or don’t) is essential for weight loss, muscle-building, and overall health. Unfortunately, we’ve been trained to view the word “diet” in a negative light. To most people, it’s synonymous with deprivation, bland food, and never enjoying a meal again. But what if eating healthy can taste just as good—or better!—than the junk food you think you crave?

Foods like lean meat and vegetables are good for you and including them in your diet will provide more culinary satisfaction as well as some awesome fitness and health benefits. For example, lean beef is a nutritional powerhouse that provides nutrients for building muscle which will, in turn, help burn fat. In fact, even the act of eating and digesting the protein in a slab of prime rib burns about 30 percent of the calories the steak contains, according to PrecisionNutrition. Plus, it’s chock-full of B vitamins as well as vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, and even the muscle-building all-star creatine. How’s that for justifying a gratifying gourmet meal?

We’ll even do you one better. How about serving up a beautiful prime rib dinner that includes a mouthwatering mound of pumpkin gnocchi? The pumpkin in the gnocchi gives the meal added weight loss and health benefits. First of all, WebMD reveals that it’s low-calorie but full of fiber, so it will help you feel fuller longer so you can say “no” to a high-calorie dessert after dinner. Plus, pumpkin boosts your immune system to help with recovery after working out as well as protect you overall from disease, and it boosts eye health, lowers the risk of cancer, and been shown to reduce blood sugar levels.

So Good, It Tastes Like You’re Cheating

You probably don’t need more convincing, but maybe you’re not exactly a gourmet chef. Good news, ravenous readers, Jen Miller over at Jen Reviews recently posted an easy-to-follow recipe for balsamic prime rib with pumpkin gnocchi. Delicious as it is healthy, it could very well be the perfect meal. Try it once and it’s guaranteed to become your go-to menu for special occasions or whenever you need a break from less-tasty diet fare without using up a cheat day.

Balsamic Prime Rib with Pumpkin Gnocchi

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 6

Ingredients

For the Prime Rib

  • 1 section of Prime Rib
  • 60 ml olive oil
  • 60 ml Balsamic vinegar
  • 5 ml fresh ground black pepper
  • 5 ml Himalayan salt

For the Pumpkin Gnocchi

  • 1 kg of cubed pumpkin
  • 220 gram of “00” Flour
  • 1 egg
  • 5 ml of sea salt
  • 125 ml grated Parmesan
  • 125 ml fresh cream
  • 250 ml chicken stock
  • 60 ml butter

Fresh parsley and your choice of vegetables to serve.

Equipment:

Heavy bottomed frying pan, oven tray, large pot, sharp knife, slotted spoon, cutting board, ricer or masher.

Instructions

For the Beef Prime Rib

  1. Preheat oven to 120 degrees Celcius / 248 degrees Fahrenheit / Gas mark 1/2.

  2. Season the Prime Rib with freshly ground black pepper and Himalayan salt.

  3. Lay the Prime Rib section in a dish and pour the olive oil and Balsamic vinegar over it. Flip it over and make sure that the marinade covers the whole surface.

  4. Put aside for at least one hour at room temperature or in the fridge overnight.

  5. Heat a heavy bottom frying pan over a high heat and seal the Prime Rib.

  6. Put in an oven tray and cook for one hour.

  7. Rest before slicing.

For the Gnocchi:

  1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celcius / 320 degrees Fahrenheit / Gas mark 3.

  2. Line an oven tray with aluminum foil. Spread the pumpkin cubes out in a single layer. Place in oven and bake until soft, but not mushy.

  3. While the pumpkin is still hot put it through a ricer or mash with a potato masher.

  4. Mix one egg and the flour until a dough forms. It should not be sticky, but not too firm.

  5. Set the Gnocchi dough aside to rest while you bring a large pot of water to the boil.

  6. Divide the dough into four pieces and roll each piece into a sausage about an inch thick.

  7. Cut into little thumbs.

  8. Drop into the boiling water and remove once the Gnocchi comes up to the surface.

  9. Fry in butter until the Gnocchi starts to brown.

  10. Stir in the half cup of grated parmesan followed by the cream and chicken stock.

  11. Adjust seasoning to taste.

To Serve:

  1. Serve with your choice of vegetables. Garnish with fresh parsley.

Step 1: Preparation

Read through the entire recipe and have all your ingredients together.  The real secret to a successful dish is preparing properly before cooking even starts.

When making Gnocchi be sure to familiarise yourself with the other steps of the recipes and prepare everything at the right time to make the process as enjoyable as possible.

Step 2: Marinade the Prime Rib

Remove the Prime Rib section from any packaging.  Season the meat thoroughly with freshly ground black pepper and Himalayan salt.  Place the Prime Rib in a dish and pour the Olive Oil and Balsamic vinegar over the meat, making sure to cover all of it.  Set aside for at least one hour at room temperature or leave overnight in the fridge.

Step 3: Prepare the pumpkin for making Gnocchi

Line an oven tray with aluminum foil and spread out the cubed pumpkin in a single layer.

Bake at 160 degrees Celcius / 320 degrees Fahrenheit / Gas mark 3 in a preheated oven until tender.  This may take up to two hours. You don’t want the pumpkin to darken too much so be patient.

Once the pumpkin is ready, put it through a ricer or mash it immediately.

You will have approximately 400 gram of mashed pumpkin.

Step 4: Preparing the Gnocchi

Stir the egg and flour through the mashed pumpkin to form a soft dough.  The dough should not be sticky. Add small amounts of flour at a time if necessary.  Allow to rest while a large pot of water is brought to a boil. Salt the water generously.

Divide the Gnocchi dough into four and roll into sausages about an inch thick.

Using a floured cutting board will make this easier.  Cut into thumb-sized pieces.

Use a fork press into each piece lightly to make shallow indentations.

Working in batches, drop the Gnocchi into the water.  Remove immediately with a slotted spoon when the pieces rise to the top.

Step 5: Cooking the Prime Rib

Heat a heavy bottomed frying pan until it is smoking hot.  Working quickly, start with the fat cap and seal all sides of the section.

Place the section in an oven tray and place in a preheated oven at 120 degrees Celcius / 248 degrees Fahrenheit / Gas mark ½ for one hour.  The outer strip of meat should now be a beautiful pink medium-rare. The different parts of the section will cook at different paces, with the meat closest to the bone taking longer to reach temperature than the outside layer.

Use a meat thermometer to be certain.  For Medium-Rare you need to reach 55 degrees Celsius or 130 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cover the tray with a piece of aluminum foil while it rests.

Step 6: Finishing the Gnocchi

Once the meat is resting heat the butter over a medium heat.

When the butter is starting to bubble add in the Gnocchi and fry until golden.

Stir in the half cup of grated Parmesan followed by the cream and chicken stock.  Adjust seasoning to taste.

If you choose to serve vegetables with the meal, ensure now that it is hot and ready to be served.

Step 7: Bringing it all together

Start by slicing the meat away from the bone.  Next portion off the outside layer meat under the fat cap.  The Ribeye may be cut in half for shorter slices. Proceed to slice the meat.

Portion the Gnocchi between six plates.  Arrange the sliced beef on top and garnish with freshly cut parsley.

Tips:

  • To prepare an entire standing rib roast marinade as per instruction. Instead of sealing off in the pan preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius or 428 degrees Fahrenheit.  Cook for 5 minutes before turning the heat down to 120 degrees Celcius / 248 degrees Fahrenheit until the internal temperature of 55 degrees Celsius / 130 degrees Fahrenheit has been reached.

This recipe first appeared on JenReviews.com.

Jen Miller is a former electrical engineer and product specialist with more than 20 years of product design and testing experience. She has lived in multiple countries around the world including the United States, France, Australia and New Zealand. She founded Jen Reviews to share her knowledge and critical eye for what makes consumers tick, and adopts a strict no-BS approach to help the reader filter through the maze of products and marketing hype out there. She writes regularly and has been featured on Forbes, Fast Company, The Muse, The Huffington Post, Tiny Buddha, and MindBodyGreen.

Fireproofing Your Life: How to Recognize and Escape Burnout

This week TargitFit is pleased to bring you an informative health article by Anna Kucirkova:

Have you ever felt fed up?

Tired and exhausted and completely done with it all?

Particularly at work?

Yes, we all have had the feeling.

Days, even weeks, when the stresses and strains of our professional (and in many cases, personal) lives build to a point when we must get away.

Even if it’s for just a few days to sip a pina colada on a remote beach, a nice little break is just the thing to help many of us recharge.

But what if there’s more to those stresses and strains than a simple want to decompress for a few days?

Something intense that not only pulls you down physically but mentally. Exhaustion so overwhelming that your performance suffers, and you’re always in a negative frame of mind and often depressed.

Where a four day weekend or a one or two-week hiatus would do little to raise your spirits and get you back in the groove?

If this sounds familiar, you very well may be struggling with burnout.

Fanning the Flames

So what exactly is burnout and who suffers from it?

A wide-ranging condition that often appears in the workplace, burnout occurs when we feel overworked, overstressed, and have difficulty coping with that sense of being overwhelmed.

As for those that might face the distress of burnout, it can honestly be anyone.

A study from early this year by the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and the Faas Foundation proved that burnout is not merely for the disenchanted or disgruntled.

Their findings revealed that one in five employees that were highly engaged in their jobs, meaning they were positively devoted to the work they were doing, were also highly burnt out.

This means that even if we’re at a place that provides fulfillment and positive feedback in our lives, we can suffer adverse consequences from its daily burdens.

High-stress, public-facing fields such as doctors and nurses, law enforcement, and teachers are obvious professions where burnout can take hold.

However, sales or office jobs, construction work or even stay at home parents deal with their own hardships and can succumb to the stress of day to day life.

Even though there is no clear-cut method to diagnose someone suffering from it medically, there are several telltale signs that can inform if you are near or at the point of burning out.

Exhaustion

Arguably the most recognizable symptom, fatigue can manifest itself in many ways; from a lack of energy to a feeling of constant tiredness or always being drained both physically and mentally.

No matter how much rest you get (when you’re able to sleep) it’s never enough, and its always a struggle to muster any effort even for the simplest tasks.

Stress

Though stress can be its own standalone concern, coupled with other factors, it’s a key indicator that burnout is upon you. With pressure, you’ll often feel you have too many projects and not enough time to accomplish what you need.

On its own, that’s relatively common, but with burnout, everything seems insurmountable. Minor problems are major issues, and major issues carry with them the weight of the world.

Performance

When you couple a lack of rest or energy with overwhelming stress, performance is bound to suffer. You can’t meet deadlines, you’re unable to focus in meetings, or your production or creativity suddenly drops off.

This symptom of burnout isn’t just isolated to your work environment either.

Tasks that once seemed comfortable and enjoyable at home, such as yard work, cooking and even playing with your kids are laborious.

Attitude

Sure we all get a little angry or upset from time to time, but for the most part, we move on from life’s little challenges.

However, if the anger festers and turns to cynicism or you feel yourself detaching from both your work and the people around you, it might be time to step back and understand why.

Technically, burnout does not classify as a form of depression, but they share similar traits.

Moodiness, poor self-esteem, or a general sense of hopelessness can all attach themselves to someone who has reached their breaking point.

Feeling the Burn

While one or two symptoms might indicate you simply need a break, more than that is cause for alarm.

How then can you recognize if what at first seems a need to decompress becomes a want to detach completely?

First, look for physical changes. As we noted, tiredness is one indication something may be amiss, but so too is a change in your general health.

Stomach ailments or nausea. Ongoing battles against the cold or flu. When we are unable to recharge or let go of what weighs us down, our immune system suffers.

Next, take stock of your relationships.

Are you detaching from co-workers with whom you’re ordinarily close?

Do you feel you’re not receiving enough credit for your work or acknowledgment in general?

At the office, positive relationships are vital to a productive, enjoyable working environment. If you feel cast out or you hold colleagues at arm’s length, it can add an unnecessary level of stress and isolation to your job.

This also proves true of your personal relationships, particularly if you bring the office home with you.

Distance from loved ones and lacking a want to engage in activities with them can throw your work-life balance off kilter, thereby feeding a recurring circle of stagnation and decline where you’re unable to find fulfillment at work or home.

Finally, gain a sense of where you are emotionally.

Understand that burnout impacts many different people in many different ways, depending on the line of work or outside influences (such as their home life) they must face.

Do you have a demanding boss or difficult clients that you are never able to satisfy?

Does your work require more of your time than you are reasonably able to give?

Is every day a burden where you often feel angry, sad, aloof, or hopeless?

As the saying goes, we’re only human, and part of that is dealing with the imperfections of everyday life. We face many hardships where a positive mindset is necessary to see us through.

If your mind continually drifts to negative spaces and you find little joy and satisfaction in things you once did, it might be time to uncover the source of all of that angst.

Dousing the Flames

The good news is you can live your life without that cloud of angst hanging over it. Burnout is not a mystery, nor is it an incurable disease.

We want to make clear that if you suspect your disengagement is due to a more complex, more profound set of concerns, we do recommend your seeking medical help.

However, burnout, from mild forms to more severe cases, can be treated. Often without medical attention.

Understand Your Environment

Knowing where your pressure points come from is paramount to maintaining an even keel.

Avoid negative people or situations. Keep yourself organized and account for delays or potential roadblocks in whatever project you may be tackling.

Take regular breaks at work to relieve the build-up of the pressures of the day. Step away from overly taxing projects often to regain perspective on your goals and ways to achieve them.

In addition, improving your lifestyle will put you in a better position, both physically and mentally, to take on challenges without them wearing you down.

Eat healthy meals and avoid junk foods that can sap your energy. Exercise to keep your energy levels up. Most importantly, sleep as much as possible so you can take on each day at full charge.

Awareness of where pitfalls may lie will help you prepare for them. Facing the known stressors with a game plan will ensure your anxiety levels remain low.  It will also provide you with more bandwidth to deal with the unknown dilemmas when they do come your way.

Open Up

If you find yourself isolated, actively engage with others.

Talk to your co-workers, and seek out those individuals who are both positive and outgoing.

Consider that a seven day week has 168 hours.

If you work between 40 and 50 hours a week and sleep an average of six hours per night, that means you spend 30% to 40% of your waking hours with your co-workers.

Having healthy, established relationships with them can de-stress even the most difficult of days. It allows you to converse with people who can relate to your burdens and in many cases help with sharing the load.

At home, it’s important to reach out to friends and family as well. Share the events of your day with a loved one, trade stories with friends and occupy yourself with people not related to the job.

Many times our stress and displeasure with our work build because we refuse to talk about it. Doing so, especially with those you trust, will deflate that balloon of fatigue.

Take Time For You

When you’re on vacation, be on vacation.

When you’re having lunch with a friend, have lunch with a friend.

And when you’re at home with your family, make sure work isn’t in the house with you.

Many of us work anywhere from eight to ten hours a day. Some a few more with even weekends tossed in to add to the exhausting schedule. Recognize that maintaining such a pace runs counter to what humans require to live a healthy full life.

Establish your work boundaries early and make sure those you work with and for know them. For example, you won’t view emails received after 7 PM  until the next morning. Or lunches are 100% your time, except in the case of real, actual emergencies.

Oh, and that pina colada we noted in the opening? It tastes far better without a smartphone in your opposite hand.

Find Balance

We’ve already discussed making time for friends and family as well as yourself, but to avoid or overcome burnout you need to find a healthy balance that works for you.

Many of us follow a schedule similar to this: Wake, work, home, sleep. Wake, work, home, sleep.

It’s highly monotonous. Even if you have friends at work and talk freely with loved ones, a schedule like that will drive you straight into a rut.

Finding yourself in a rut is many times the first stop on the way to burnout.

Give yourself purpose beyond generating income. Sure, money is a crucial component in providing life fulfillment, but it’s not the only one. It’s also not the most important.

Put as much or more into building a life in the world beyond the walls of your office or cubicle. Have hobbies. Take part in your community, whatever form that may be.

Be active. The Mayo Clinic reports that all forms of exercise relieve stress. Plus, reducing stress pre-empts burnout by lifting your mood, increasing endorphins, and getting your mind off work and all the problems that come with it.

Walking, jogging, cycling, weight lifting, tai chi, dancing—any of those physical activities qualifies as exercise that snuffs out burnout.

Know When To Say When

It may seem harsh or drastic, but sometimes to ensure our health and well-being we need to cut loose that which is negatively impacting our lives.

Perhaps you’re stuck in a job that is a dead end and is dragging you down with it.

Maybe work that you initially thought you were meant for or was an ideal situation when you started suddenly turns sour.

Even a job that you find fulfillment with may cost too high a price if it negatively affects your health and personal relationships.

We understand that switching jobs is difficult and many times impractical, but if the demands are crushing, then taking steps to change can breathe new life into you.

For one thing, it provides you an immediate purpose to focus on as you look for a new situation.

For another, sometimes a fresh start is necessary to indeed break from that which is dragging you down.

Final Thoughts

Every person has a limit.

Know yours.

Though we might sometimes see burnout approaching, for many, it’s a gradual process that slowly consumes us until we are a husk of a human, glassy-eyed and barely able to function.

It is avoidable. Even if you find yourself already at a place of burnout, you can turn things around.

At the office, maintain your perspective on what needs to be done and plan for potential problems or issues. Keep your head up and focused, reach out to your co-workers and realize that for the average person, our jobs are not life and death.

At home, fill your life with people and activities that satisfy you outside of the workplace. Take time out for you and the things you love.

And make time for exercise. The great thing about this step is that it can cross over into a hobby or other things you love. Enjoy martial arts? Take up kickboxing. Or turn your passion for ballroom dancing into a stress relieving outlet.

Most importantly, when it’s time to put the smartphone down, seriously, put it down.

Finally, if your situation has gone too far south and the only way to escape burnout is to start anew, do it.

You may have many jobs over the course of your career, but you only have one life. Be sure to live it.

This article first appeared on the Double Wood Supplements website.

 

Anna has worked as a copywriter for over 4 years. She speaks 3 languages, loves traveling, and has a passion for kids and writing. While she has been to many places in Europe and South East Asia, she still wants to explore the rest of the world.

Runners’ Supplements: A Comprehensive Guide From Training Through Recovery

This week TargitFit is pleased to bring you an informative health and fitness article by Nate Martins:

The goal of exercise is to break the body down. Yes, you read that correctly.

Looking back at our evolutionary biological roots, when we put our bodies through difficult situations, we wanted them to adapt–maybe to go for longer without food, maybe so we could detect a smell that told us certain berries were poisonous, maybe to jump higher to reach fruit in a tree.

Whatever the goal, we always had to fall short the first few attempts. Adaptation took failure, centuries of bodily breakdowns (and lucky DNA mutations) before our primordial ancestors developed the physical tools they needed to survive.

When we exercise, this happens on a much shorter timeline (hopefully). We put our bodies through strenuous activity with the goal of being stronger from it. In reasonable amounts, this cycle of stress and regeneration is normal and good and pushes our bodies to grow. But in high amounts, the stress put on our bodies through can be detrimental.

That’s where supplements come in. You’ve no doubt heard the long list of the best supplements and what they can do for overall health: whey protein for recovery, magnesium for bone health, branched-chain amino acid for muscle-building. Each supplement targets a different need and together, they can have holistic benefits in all aspects of training and recovery. Most target either acute performance boosts or long-term health benefits.

We’ve gathered some of the best supplements for training, race day and recovery to incorporate into your everyday training regimen.

A Word on “Feeling” the Benefits of Supplements

Scientific research is a good launchpad when choosing supplements. But it can be hard to find a definitive answer; sports studies are limited, and most are conducted on well-trained young men (so if that’s not you, it’s hard to conceptualize those results).

One of the most important considerations is the personal subjective experience when using a supplement: How do you feel? How are your training times? How are energy levels outside of training?

Of course, there are objective, numerical tests that aim to measure the effect of supplements. But many athletes rely on the subjective approach–those intangible feelings of motivation or energy–instead of tracking performance metrics to see if a supplement is working.

Science supporting supplement use is aplenty (and of varying quality), but remember some effects will be subjective.

A runner showcasing the different benefits of supplements on the body. Glucosamine aids in building cartilage, BCAAs help build muscle and Vitamin D supports bone health

Training Supplements

Training isn’t finished when those running shoes are untied. There are big gains in performance to be had by looking at training comprehensively, which should include considerations for diet and its impact on bone health and muscle mass.

In training, supplements help whole body health, working together to build a body on race day that’s ready for peak performance.

For Muscles: BCAAs

Muscle building isn’t usually a top priority for runners, but it’s essential for keeping those legs strong. Many runners enter a calorie deficit, which can trigger the loss of muscle mass–but BCAAs provide the body with building blocks to maintain muscle mass.1

Branched-chain amino acids, commonly referred to as BCAAs, are a type of essential amino acid, meaning the body cannot produce them–they must be obtained through protein-rich food or supplementation. BCAAs include leucine, isoleucine, and valine. Other essential amino acids include histidine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine and tryptophan.

The body produces non-essential amino acids; they’re “non-essential” because it’s not essential to consume them through diet–the body makes them. They include alanine, asparagine, aspartate, cysteine, glutamate, glutamine, glycine, proline, serine and tyrosine.

The body breaks down protein into amino acids, which are absorbed and transported throughout the body like bricks on a conveyor belt, sent to create new proteins and build houses of muscle.

Other benefits of BCAA include protein synthesis (from a study on rats)2 and alleviated skeletal muscle damage (from a study on humans).3

Many BCAA supplements combine the three types of BCAAs: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. Try the Do Vitamins BCAA Supplements, which are free of animal byproducts and fillers, or the Bulk Supplements BCAA powder.

For Bones & Joints: Glucosamine & Vitamin D

For runners, joints can be one of the first things to go after countless hours of pounding feet on pavement. Creaky knees are a familiar but unpleasant sound.

Glucosamine is the supplement of choice here; it’s a natural compound found in cartilage, the all-important tissue cushioning joints. Made from chains of sugars and proteins bound together, glucosamine can be made synthetically, but can also be harvested from the shells of shellfish.

Possessing a natural anti-inflammatory property, glucosamine is used to treat arthritis and osteoarthritis. The body needs glucosamine to help synthesize proteins and fats that form important tissues (chief among them cartilage) and helps form fluids that provide joints with lubrication. Glucosamine is like the body’s WD-40.

There are several kinds of glucosamine, but most supplements feature glucosamine sulfate. Over a three-year period, one study found that long-term treatment with glucosamine sulfate slowed the progression of knee osteoarthritis (osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis).4 Glucosamine sulfate also had a greater influence in reducing joint pain during function and daily activities, one study found.5

We suggest the Schiff glucosamine tablets, which contain MSM–a source of sulfur important in the formation of collagen in joints, vital for its support of structural cartilage; the Bluebonnet vegetarian glucosamine also contains MSM.

In conjunction with glucosamine, Vitamin D is a powerful supplement to improve bone health.6

Vitamin D and calcium have a complementary relationship: Vitamin D helps our bodies effectively absorb calcium and phosphorus, strengthening our bones and muscles. The easiest way to get Vitamin D is through sunlight, spurring our skin to synthesize the hormone (but remember to avoid too much sun); it can also be garnered via some foods like salmon, milk, cheese and egg yolks.

Vitamin D is important because runners’ bones take a beating, but interestingly for most, running actually builds bone health (one study found that impact and resistance training in female breast cancer survivors combatted bone loss).7

In healthy people, bones respond to stress by reforming to better handle that stress, in what’s called Wolfe’s Law. For runners, that means bones in the spine and legs, which are exposed to constant stress, should generally be stronger than in non-runners.

Kado-3, a super-charged omega-3 by HVMN, maximizes the effects of Vitamin D with Vitamin K, as they work together to protect bone health.

An image of a shot of espresso, illustrating caffeine provides a performance boost. Another image of a sweet potato, illustrating carbohydrates are the body's most readily-available fuel.

Race Day Supplements

Supplements consumed on race day should work acutely, giving runners quick performance boosts to hopefully shave seconds off their times.

For Energy: Caffeine & Carbohydrates

Caffeine is the classic runner’s supplement, providing quick energy in an easily consumable fashion. We have been using it since the Stone Age, chewing the seeds or bark or leaves of certain plants to affect fatigue and awareness.

Caffeine works like this: as countless neurons fire throughout the day, a neurochemical called adenosine builds up. The nervous system uses receptors to monitor the body’s adenosine levels, and as the day progresses, more adenosine passes through those receptors (making us tired). Caffeine is the same size and shape of adenosine; it attaches to the A1 receptor and when docked, adenosine molecules can’t enter.

Studies have shown that caffeine intake improves exercise performance while also decreasing the perception of pain.8 However, there’s a genetic split in response to caffeine: for some, it could actually make performance worse.9 Best try it before race day to ensure it’s right for you.

Along with caffeine, carbohydrates and carb-loading have been other race day staples for runners. Things like pasta, bagels, rice and other high-carb foods are often used as fuel before starting a race. During races, the most common are gels and energy drinks.

Carbs eaten pre-race are stored as glycogen in the muscles and liver, while carbs eaten during the race will be directly burned.

Glycogen is the body’s most readily-available fuel, powering racers through early miles. But when those carbs run out? Body–meet wall.

Ketone esters like HVMN Ketone can also provide an alternate fuel source for the body; your muscles will first burn ketones, saving glycogen stores for later in the race (more on this below).

But you can also produce ketones while on a ketogenic diet. Recently there has been more interest in training with a ketogenic low-carb diet to achieve a body adapted to use fat and ketones as a fuel. Runners following this diet showed a huge boost in fat burning capacity,10 and there were positive effects of a ketogenic diet on endurance in animal experiments. But there isn’t any conclusive evidence of increased performance in humans (maybe because other changes to metabolism cancel out the increase in fat burning capacity that occurs on the keto diet).11

For Buffering: Sodium Bicarbonate & Nitrate

Turns out baking soda isn’t just for baking–the supplement, called sodium bicarbonate, is used to provide athletes with a boost during sessions of intense exercise. Essentially, it protects the body against acidity.

We’ve discussed lactate previously; during periods of intense anaerobic exercise, lactate accumulates as a result of rapidly burning carbohydrate when the demand for energy is high, and oxygen availability is low. It’s often associated with muscle fatigue but it’s actually the acidic hydrogen proton attached to lactate that’s to blame. When our blood becomes acidic during intense exercise, the brain triggers nausea in the hope of decreasing activity level and thus allowing the body to recycle lactate and regulate blood pH.

Sodium bicarbonate is able to bind the protons that cause acidity, thus reducing overall change in blood pH during exercise. It can potentially provide resistance against fatigue caused by acid accumulation from intense exercise,12 especially for intense exercise lasting up to seven minutes.13

Sodium bicarbonate should be taken about 60 – 90 minutes before exercise, at about 200mg – 300mg. While it mostly comes in powder form, there’s also a gel (Topical Edge) you can use that helps to reduce the risk of stomach upsets caused by the salty sodium bicarb drink.

An image of baking soda illustrating sodium bicarbonate, which can reduce acidity in blood that accumulates during exercise. Also picture is beetroot for nitrates, which helps deliver oxygen to the muscles.

Also on race day, in the early morning darkness of warm-up hours, you might see fellow runners downing shots of beetroot juice. They’re trying to get nitrates–which were once villainized by association with processed meat in the 1960s.

Nitrates trigger vasodilation (the dilation of blood vessels), which allows more oxygen to be delivered to the muscles. It’s a molecule produced by the body in small quantities, but is mostly obtained by eating vegetables; chief among them is beetroot juice, but spinach, arugula, turnips and even dark chocolate (as this study in cyclists found)14 can also be good sources of nitrate.

The benefits of nitrate peak at about two or three hours post-ingestion,15 so a morning smoothie (with spinach, mint, arugula, celery and beetroot juice) on race day might be the best way to get the necessary nitrates before the race kicks off.

Research suggests that beetroot juice can also help reduce blood pressure,16 and taking about 5-8 mM of inorganic nitrate may positively influence physiological response to exercise.15

Recovery Supplements

Ever felt completely gassed hours after an intense workout? Maybe you aren’t approaching muscle recovery correctly.

The goal of any type of recovery is to put your body in the best possible position to accomplish more intense workouts in the following days. Exercise is cyclical; tending to those worn-down muscles can be the first step to fueling your next run.

For Replenishment: Protein–Whey & Casein & Soy

Protein is just for weightlifters, right? Absolutely not. Both runners and weightlifters seek to slow the catabolic process of muscle breakdown and kickstart the anabolic process of building muscle.

Post-exercise, muscle enzymes are like construction workers on standby–ready to build but needing the right tools to do it.

So in the two or three hours after a workout, protein can repair muscle damage, reduce the response from cortisol and speed glycogen replacement. High protein availability accelerates resolution of muscle inflammation and promotes muscle-building after training.17 But there are several different types of protein supplements (which usually come in the form of protein powders) to choose from. Whole foods chock-full of protein include: chicken, eggs, milk, yogurt, and beans.

“After challenging sessions when I know I’ve really worked my muscles, I make sure to have protein right away. Giving your muscles what they need to rebuild is key to locking in performance gains. For me and many others, protein makes me feel less sore in the days following a hard session, so I can get back out there and do it again.” Michael Brandt, HVMN co-founder and avid triathlete

Whey protein–which you may recognize from milk and cheese–is a great source of BCAAs, which can aid in muscle protein resynthesis (specifically, the BCAA leucine).18 What’s more, whey is also absorbed the fastest out of this list of proteins. It’s largely considered the most effective type of protein for muscle protein synthesis.19 There have also been studies showcasing the weight loss benefits of protein.20

We recommend Muscle Feast Grass Fed Whey Protein for its absence of additives and artificial ingredients. Also try Myprotein Impact Whey Isolate, which contains over 90% protein and 1% fat. For athletes or highly-active people who want to build lean muscle mass while attempting to lose body fat, about 1g of protein per pound of body weight per day is a good target. Less athletic / active people should aim for 0.45 – 0.69g per pound of body weight daily.

For longer-term recovery, try casein protein–it composes about 80% of the protein from milk, and takes hours to absorb. You can leverage both casein and whey protein but they should be used differently; whey for immediate recovery, casein for long-term muscle building.

One interesting use of casein protein is taking it before bed. Since muscles enter a catabolic state while you sleep (read: since you’re fasting, your muscles are eating themselves), casein can help lessen and delay this process because it takes longer to digest.

Casein protein releases a steady stream of amino acids that slow the digestive process; one study showcased consuming it before bed led to a 34% reduction in protein breakdown.21

The other type of protein isn’t milk-based; it’s soy protein, which is made from soybeans. A good source of amino acids, it’s the choice for many vegetarian or vegan athletes. There’s also protein made from peas, brown rice, and hemp for those allergic to soy.

Since the science of soy protein points to be less effective than milk-based proteins,22 we recommend staying away from this form of plant-based protein.

An image of a female runner on a bench. Her knee is highlighted, showing omega-3 and polyphenols can reduce inflammation. Her shoulder is highlighted to showcase protein can help repair muscle damage.

For Soreness: Fish Oil & Polyphenols

When people talk about taking fish oil, they’re seeking omega-3 fatty acids, hoping to prevent inflammation;23 they’re a key nutrient all runners should have in their diets. Inflammation can come in many forms, from muscle soreness, to joint pain, to heart disease to autoimmune diseases. While acute inflammation can be good for our bodies to encourage health, chronic inflammation can detrimental.

The two main fatty acids in omega-3 fish oils are docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). These can block inflammation pathways in the cell.

Studies suggest omega-3s can help alleviate inflammation. Research has also shown that fish oil supplementation helped subjects decrease airway inflammation (during exercise, airways can narrow and thus restrict airflow) and improve post-exercise lung function by 64%.24

The US Department of Health suggests about 250mg of fish oil daily, but in one study, the American Heart Association gave patients four grams daily and saw benefits in heart health.

Kado-3, by HVMN, is a supercharged krill and fish oil stack designed to assist daily brain and body metabolism. Ingredients in Kado-3 work together; like astaxanthin oil (a powerful antioxidant) to fight against the buildup of free radicals,25,26 and Vitamins K and D to protect bone health.27 Kado-3 compounds the beneficial effects of Vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids on the brain and body.

Hard training sessions can lead to sickness; bolstering the body’s immune system with polyphenol and antioxidants is important to keeping up training over the long-haul.

Polyphenols are another supplement for reducing inflammation, a category of chemicals naturally found in plants. While the idea of polyphenol benefits isn’t new, research has only begun to be conducted on the subject. Many of the health benefits associated with polyphenols are connected to these substances being antioxidants, which are known to combat cell damage.28

A great source of polyphenol is tart cherries. Animal tests suggest they’ve been effective in reducing inflammatory and oxidative stress signaling in rat cells.29 For athletes, the data is less conclusive; still, polyphenol supplementation can increase the capacity to quench free radicals.30 But it’s an exciting area of research, especially in regards to muscle micro-damage.

Look to things like cherries, blueberries, or green tea to help reduce the possibility of exercise-induced illness.31

HVMN Ketone: Superfuel for Training, Race Day & Recovery

Look at the list of supplements above; few traverse all situations for runners, from training day to race day to recovery day.

HVMN Ketone, the world’s first ketone ester, is being used by elite performers in sport and military. It’s so unique partially because its applications for endurance sport are so broad.

For Training & Race Day

Ketones are a fundamentally different fuel source from carbohydrates and fats that cells typically use for energy; in fact, your body will preferentially burn ketones over carbs.

Professional cyclist, Vittoria Bussi will be attempting to break “The Hour” record using HVMN Ketone as fuel.

“The first time I tried HVMN Ketone in training, a 50-minute time trial felt like 30 minutes. I was so focused and had much more energy in my legs. The combination of mental lucidity and extra physical energy was strong and effective.”Vittoria Bussi

When taken before or during exercise, D-BHB (the ketone body in HVMN Ketone) is 28% more efficient than carbohydrates alone, helping your body do more work with the same amount of oxygen.32 In one study, cyclists went ~2% further in a 30-minute time trial.33

For Recovery

Athletes of all levels can benefit from making improvements to their recovery protocol. Those using HVMN Ketone have seen a decrease in the breakdown of intramuscular glycogen and protein during exercise when compared to carbs alone.34

It also expedited the resynthesis of glycogen by 60% and boosted the signals for protein resynthesis by 2x when added to normal carb / protein post-workout fuel.35,36 D-BHB from HVMN Ketone acts as an anti-inflammatory recovery tool,37,38 helping reduce exercise-induced oxidative stress from the buildup of free radicals that can cause damage to the cells.

A chart showcasing the benefits of HVMN Ketone for both training and race day, and for recovery.

Supplements for Runners: A Holistic Approach

Everyone from ultramarathon endurance athletes, to speed specialists, to casual after-work 5k runners can benefit from introducing the right supplements into their diet.

While some supplements are still in the early stages of research, things like amino-acids, protein and caffeine have been decades-long staples for runners–but it’s always especially important to supplement nutrients the body needs but can’t produce naturally (looking at you, omega-3).

When there is more pressure on your training, mile times start going down, training volume goes up and recovery time gets shorter. Maybe then it’s time to begin introducing more advanced and targeted supplements and testing with newer, elite technology like HVMN Ketone.

We suggest researching and then testing out what works for you–everyone is different. Also don’t forget to pay attention to the macronutrient composition of your diet, sleep quality and other health barometers when introducing supplements. Start with some of the basics like BCAAs, protein, Vitamin D and fish oils, gauging how you feel. Remember, continued use of these supplements over a period of weeks often yields the best results; don’t expect to notice the difference from one Vitamin D pill.

This article first appeared on HVMN.com.

Nate Martins is HVMN.com’s Editorial and Communications Lead. He’s been featured in New York Times Modern Love, San Diego Magazine, and 7×7 and served as editor of Urbanist Guide. Nate now leads HVMN’s efforts to communicate why ketosis, fasting, and ketone esters are important for everyone and not just biohackers, soldiers, and athletes.

Scientific Citations

1. Stoppani J., Scheett T., Pena J., Rudolph C., Charlebois D. Consuming a supplement containing branched-chain amino acids during a resistance-training program increases lean mass, muscle strength and fat loss. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2009; 6(Suppl 1): P1. Published online 2009 Jul 31.
2. Yoshida T, Kakizawa S, Totsuka Y, Sugimoto M, Miura S, Kumagai H. Effect of endurance training and branched-chain amino acids on the signaling for muscle protein synthesis in CKD model rats fed a low-protein diet. Am J Physiol Renal Physiol. 2017 Sep 1;313(3):F805-F814
3. Fouré A, Bendahan D. Is Branched-Chain Amino Acids Supplementation an Efficient Nutritional Strategy to Alleviate Skeletal Muscle Damage? A Systematic Review. Nutrients. 2017 Sep 21;9(10)
4. Pavelká K, MD, PhD, Gatterová J, MD, Olejarová M, MD, Machacek S, MD; Giacovelli G, PhD; Rovati L, MD. Glucosamine Sulfate Use and Delay of Progression of Knee Osteoarthritis. Arch Intern Med. 2002;162(18):2113-2123.
5. Thie N M, Prasad N G, Major P W. Evaluation of glucosamine sulfate compared to ibuprofen for the treatment of temporomandibular joint osteoarthritis: a randomized double blind controlled 3 month clinical trial. The Journal of Rheumatology June 2001, 28 (6) 1347-1355;
6. Holick M. Vitamin D and Bone Health. The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 126, Issue suppl_4, 1 April 1996, Pages 1159S–1164S
7. Winters-Stone K M, Dobek J. Nail L M, Bennett J A, Leo M C, Torgrimson-Ojerio B, Luoh S W, Schwartz A. Impact + resistance training improves bone health and body composition in prematurely menopausal breast cancer survivors: a randomized controlled trial. Osteoporosis International May 2013, Volume 24, Issue 5, pp 1637–1646.
8. Souza DB, Duncan M, Polito MD. Acute Caffeine Intake Improves Lower Body Resistance Exercise Performance With Blood Flow Restriction. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2018 Jul 24:1-22.
9. Guest N, Corey P, Vescovi J, El-Sohemy A. Caffeine, CYP1A2 Genotype, and Endurance Performance in Athletes. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2018 Aug;50(8):1570-1578
10. Volek, J.S., Freidenreich, D.J., Saenz, C., Kunces, L.J., Creighton, B.C., Bartley, J.M., Davitt, P.M., Munoz, C.X., Anderson, J.M., Maresh, C.M., et al. (2016). Metabolic characteristics of keto-adapted ultra-endurance runners. Metabolism 65, 100-110.
11. Burke, L.M. (2015). Re-Examining High-Fat Diets for Sports Performance: Did We Call the ‘Nail in the Coffin’ Too Soon? Sports Med 45 Suppl 1, S33-49.
12. McNaughton LR, Siegler J, Midgley A. Ergogenic effects of sodium bicarbonate. Curr Sports Med Rep. 2008 Jul-Aug;7(4):230-6.
13. Peart D1J Siegler JC, Vince RV. Practical recommendations for coaches and athletes: a meta-analysis of sodium bicarbonate use for athletic performance. J Strength Cond Res. 2012 Jul;26(7):1975-83.
14. Patel RK, Brouner J, Spendiff O. Dark chocolate supplementation reduces the oxygen cost of moderate intensity cycling. J Int Soc Sports Nutr (2015) 12: 47.
15. Wylie L, Kelly J, Bailey S, Blackwell J, Skiba P, Winyard P, Jeukendrup A, Vanhatalo A, Jones A. Beetroot juice and exercise: pharmacodynamic and dose-response relationships. American Physiological Society Volume 115, Issue 3 August 2013, Pages 325-336
16. Siervo M, Lara J, Ogbonmwan I, Mathers J. Inorganic Nitrate and Beetroot Juice Supplementation Reduces Blood Pressure in Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 143, Issue 6, 1 June 2013, Pages 818–826.
17. Yang C, Jiao Y, Wei B, Yang Z, Wu JF, Jensen J, Jean WH,4, Huang CY, Kuo CH. Aged cells in human skeletal muscle after resistance exercise. Aging (Albany NY). 2018 Jun 27;10(6):1356-1365.
18. Rieu I, Balage M, Sornet C, Giraudet C, Pujos E, Grizard J, Mosoni L, Dardevet D. Leucine supplementation improves muscle protein synthesis in elderly men independently of hyperaminoacidaemia. The Journal of Physiology, 08 August 2006.
19. Tang J E, Moore D R, Kujbida G W, Tarnopolsky M A, Phillips S M. Ingestion of whey hydrolysate, casein, or soy protein isolate: effects on mixed muscle protein synthesis at rest and following resistance exercise in young men. American Physiological Society. 01 September 2009.
20. Westerterp-Plantenga M S, Lemmens S G, Westerterp K R. Dietary protein – its role in satiety, energetics, weight loss and health. British Journal of Nutrition. Volume 108, Issue S2 August 2012 , pp. S105-S112
21. Boirie Y, Dangin M, Gachon P, Vasson MP, Maubois JL, Beaufrère B. Slow and fast dietary proteins differently modulate postprandial protein accretion. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1997 Dec 23;94(26):14930-5.
22. Wilkinson S B, Tarnopolsky M A, MacDonald M J, MacDonald J R, Armstrong D, Phillips S M. Consumption of fluid skim milk promotes greater muscle protein accretion after resistance exercise than does consumption of an isonitrogenous and isoenergetic soy-protein beverage. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 85, Issue 4, 1 April 2007, Pages 1031–1040.
23. Mori T A, Beilin L J. Omega-3 fatty acids and inflammation. Current Atherosclerosis Reports November 2004, Volume 6, Issue 6, pp 461–467.
24. Ade CJ, Rosenkranz SK, Harms CA. The effects of short-term fish oil supplementation on pulmonary function and airway inflammation following a high-fat meal. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2014 Apr;114(4):675-82.
25. Barros MP, Poppe SC, Bondan EF. Neuroprotective properties of the marine carotenoid astaxanthin and omega-3 fatty acids, and perspectives for the natural combination of both in krill oil. Nutrients. 2014 Mar 24;6(3):1293-317.
26. Pashkow FJ, Watumull DG, Campbell CL. Astaxanthin: a novel potential treatment for oxidative stress and inflammation in cardiovascular disease. Am J Cardiol. 2008 May 22;101(10A):58D-68D.
27. Masterjohn C. Vitamin D toxicity redefined: vitamin K and the molecular mechanism. Med Hypotheses. 2007;68(5):1026-34. Epub 2006 Dec 4.
28. Machlin L J , Bendich A. Free radical tissue damage: protective role of antioxidant nutrients. The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. Vol. 1, No. 6 December 1987.
29. Shukitt-Hale B, Kelly M E, Bielinski D F, Fisher D R. Tart Cherry Extracts Reduce Inflammatory and Oxidative Stress Signaling in Microglial Cells. Antioxidants (Basel). 2016 Dec; 5(4): 33. Published online 2016 Sep 22.
30. Myburgh K H. Polyphenol Supplementation: Benefits for Exercise Performance or Oxidative Stress? Sports Med. 2014; 44(Suppl 1): 57–70. Published online 2014 May 3.
31. Ahmed M, Henson DA, Sanderson MC, Nieman DC, Gillitt ND, Lila MA. The protective effects of a polyphenol-enriched protein powder on exercise-induced susceptibility to virus infection. Phytother Res. 2014 Dec;28(12):1829-36
32. Sato, K., Kashiw.aya, Y., Keon, C.A., Tsuchiya, N., King, M.T., Radda, G.K., Chance, B., Clarke, K., and Veech, RL. (1995). Insulin, ketone bodies, and mitochondrial energy transduction. FASEB J. 9, 651-658.
33. Cox, P.J., Kirk, T., Ashmore, T., Willerton, K., Evans, R., Smith, A., Murray, Andrew J., Stubbs, B., West, J., McLure, Stewart W., et al. (2016). Nutritional Ketosis Alters Fuel Preference and Thereby Endurance Performance in Athletes. Cell Metabolism 24, 1-13.
34. Holdsworth, D.A., Cox, P.J., Kirk, T., Stradling, H., Impey, S.G., and Clarke, K. (2017). A Ketone Ester Drink Increases Postexercise Muscle Glycogen Synthesis in Humans. Med Sci Sports Exerc.
35. Stubbs, B.Cox, P.; Evans, R.; Santer, P.; Miller, J.; Faull, O.; Magor-Elliott, S.; Hiyama, S.; Stirling, M.; Clarke, K. (2017). On the metabolism of exogenous ketones in humans. Front. Physiol.
36. Cahill, G.F., Jr. (1970). Starvation in man. New Engl J Med 282, 668-675.
37. Haces, M.L., Hernandez-Fonseca, K., Medina-Campos, O.N., Montiel, T., Pedraza-Chaverri, J., and Massieu, L. (2008). Antioxidant capacity contributes to protection of ketone bodies against oxidative damage induced during hypoglycemic conditions. Exp. Neurol. 211, 85-96.
38. Youm, Y.-H., Nguyen, K.Y., Grant, R.W., Goldberg, E.L., Bodogai, M., Kim, D., D’Agostino, D., Planavsky, N., Lupfer, C., Kanneganti, T.D., et al. (2015). The ketone metabolite [beta]-hydroxybutyrate blocks NLRP3 inflammasome-mediated inflammatory disease. Nat. Med. 21, 263-269.

Benefits of an After-Dinner Walk

If you’ve been looking for places in your schedule to squeeze in a few minutes of exercise, there’s more than one good reason to pencil in a walk after dinner. Taking a stroll after any or all meals benefits physical and mental health as well as improving your fitness. Instead of vegging out in front of the TV or settling in front of the computer to dive into emails or update your social media accounts, hit the bricks. Make it a long-term habit, and you’ll be surprised at how good you look and feel.

Post-Meal Walks Help Digestion

A walk after eating gets things moving through your system so digestion is more effective–plus, you won’t feel like noshing later.

Walking after meals will help your system process the food you just took in. That’s an ultra-useful benefit, even if you don’t typically suffer from heartburn and indigestion. The sooner you get moving after eating, the better, but if you start walking at least within an hour, you’ll still see all sorts of positive changes. For example, if you over-ate, walking kick-starts the digestive process to get things moving and alleviate that overstuffed feeling. Interestingly enough, even though post-meal moderate exercise such as walking speeds up digestion, it also has the effect of improving satiety. That means you are less likely to crave a bedtime snack or an extra helping of dessert later on. In fact, if you can manage enough self-control to put dessert off until after the walk, you might find it easier to pass on that slice of cake or a bowl of ice cream altogether.

Walking Off Excess Weight

After-dinner strolls can help reduce belly fat and trim your middle.

Any kind of physical activity shifts your metabolism into a higher gear, so you’ll burn more calories. Naturally, an after dinner walk can count toward the weekly 150 minutes of aerobic activity that’s recommended for adults. However, if you’ve been battling belly bulge, walking after eating can help you win the war of the waist. Healthline reports on a study which showed that obese women who spent their 150 – 210 minutes per week walking reduced their waist circumference and lost 1.5 percent body fat after only 12 weeks. That may not sound like much, but the longer they stuck with the program, the more they lost—and the results were long-term for those who made walking a permanent part of their regimen.

Health Improvements

Timing moderate exercise for post-eating helps bring down cholesterol levels and blood sugar, too.

Losing weight with after-dinner walks will benefit your health in general, but walking post-eating targets a couple of very specific health issues. First, research has shown that walking for as little as 10 – 15 minutes after meals reduces blood sugar levels. Plus, even though the studies looked at walking in general for cutting blood glucose, the subjects who benefitted most were the ones walking after dinner. What’s more, a brisk walk has also been shown to result in lower triglycerides. Researchers even looked at walking after eating a high-fat meal and found that brisk post-dinner exercise helped keep triglycerides down.

Unplug and Unwind

Leave your devices at home, or at least switch on Airplane Mode, to get the most benefits of an after-dinner walk.

Computers and devices have taken over our lives, and the effects are starting to show. A study published in BMC Psychiatry linked sleep disturbance, stress, and depression to high and even mid-level computer use. Everyone feels the need to stay connected but leaving your tablet and mobile phone at home when you take your after-dinner constitutional increases the benefits of walking. Unplugging for the duration of your walk will help with de-stressing and unwinding. You’ll sleep better and feel better, too, and that will do wonders for your overall health. It’s OK to bring your smartphone along to listen to a book, music, or relaxing sounds while you walk, but download your choice of audio and then turn on Airplane Mode. That will keep texts, phone calls, and intrusive social media notifications from interrupting your walk and your peace of mind.

Trying to Lose Weight? Timing is Everything

When you eat can be more important to weight loss than what you eat.

There’s a time for everything, including a best time to work out. Scheduling fitness to coincide with your energy peaks improves results as well as making you more likely to stick with a workout program. If losing weight is one reason you’re exercising, it turns out timing your meals is a critical factor for that goal, too. People who struggle with dieting have found success when they started paying less attention to counting calories and focused on the clock instead.

The Science

The best news about TRF is that you don’t have to avoid certain foods or count calories. Eat pretty much whatever you want during your 10-hour eating window.

The concept behind what some are calling the Time Diet is that instead of restricting what you eat, you limit the hours during which you eat. A study published in Cell Metabolism found that overweight subjects who restricted themselves to a 10-hour eating window in each 24 hour period lost weight. What’s more, they didn’t count calories or cut out carbs. They simply cut themselves off from food at a certain time and didn’t begin eating again until after 14 hours had passed.

Maybe even better news is that you don’t have to adhere to time-restricted feeding (TRF) all the time. A similar study performed on mice showed that lean mice who were subjected to TRF during the week and allowed to free-feed, eating whenever they wanted over the weekend, were able to maintain their lean, fit physiques.

So, how is it that when you eat matters more than how much? The truth is that limiting your eating window may cause you to eat less overall, so there is an element of reduced calories with TRF. However, counting calories and measuring portions isn’t a part of this strategy, so you can eat pretty much what you want and until you’re truly full. That means you won’t feel deprived and, therefore, won’t be tempted to binge. The biggest factor, though, may be how your body reacts to the mini-fast. Your body goes through a repair process between meals, during which it breaks down toxins, produces cellular repair substances, and repairs damaged DNA. At around the 12-hour mark of a fast is when this process peaks, so allowing your body to do this vital work without interrupting it to digest and process more food allows it to work optimally. Additionally, your body will burn stored fat for energy to perform the repair process during the mini-fast.

Implementing a Time Diet

If you’re wondering what kind of results you can expect with TRF, they vary depending on the individual. One woman reported losing 6 pounds in 5 months and one man’s results were a loss of nearly 30 pounds. Physical activity and quality of diet have everything to do with how much you lose; the woman with the 6-pound weight loss is thrilled with her results because she says she’s eating more deserts now than before and doesn’t feel like she’s on a diet at all. It’s interesting to note that people using TRF also showed improved health by way of lowered blood pressure, more stable blood glucose, as well as cellular benefits associated with slowing the aging process.

It doesn’t matter what time of day you choose for a TRF eating window–only that you stick to just eating during your chosen 8 to 10 hours.

Putting TRF to work in your own life is relatively simple. Preliminary findings even suggest that it doesn’t matter what time of day you choose to open your eating window, just as long as you close it again after 8 to 10 hours. So, it can be from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. or 6:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.  Even starting with a 12-hour eating window can be beneficial, especially if you currently graze for 15 or more hours per day. Start off with 12 hours, then cut back an hour each week until you’re at least down to a 10-hour window each day. If you’re happy with your results after about 6 months, feel free to keep it there. If not, cut back some more until you’re down to an 8-hour window. A sample day of eating might look like this:

7 a.m.—coffee (cream and sugar if desired) or juice

10 a.m.—omelet, yolks and all, with cheese and veggie add-ins, if you like

1 p.m.—grilled chicken, salad, baked potato or rice, bread or roll and butter

3 p.m.—coffee with a small scone or two biscotti

5 p.m.—grilled steak with herb-butter pasta, roasted vegetables, or salad of leafy greens

6 p.m.—small dessert of your choice, if you want it—chia pudding, frozen yogurt, even a cupcake!

You’ll notice that the food choices are leaner, though not all of them are items you’d expect to find on a d-i-e-t. Naturally, if you want to see results with any eating strategy, the smarter choices you make, the quicker and longer-lasting results you’ll get. So, no, don’t fill your eating hours with doughnuts, triple cheeseburgers, and deep-fried everything. Feel free to have a few of those treats in moderation, but don’t overdo it.

Working It In With Working Out

You should be able to work in a work out whatever TRF eating window you choose.

Including exercise with a TRF eating plan will enhance your results and increase your fitness, which is always a bonus. However, you’ll want to make sure to schedule your workouts at optimal times for your personal energy peaks as well as after you’ve eaten. The TRF sample above is ideal for the most common peak energy time of 11 a.m. to about 2 p.m. You can have your 10 a.m. meal, work out at noon after digesting for 2 hours, then eat your midday meal at 1 p.m. Alternatively, work out in the afternoon at 3 p.m. and have a protein bar or shake around 2:30 p.m. in place of taking a coffee break. An evening work out after you’re finished eating for the day is yet another choice. Whatever works best for your schedule and energy peaks should be easy to work in with a TRF eating plan for optimal weight loss.

Be An Inspiration

Nobody likes a nag, but it’s amazing how many people slide so easily into lecture mode when it comes to their opinions on others’ health and fitness. Part of it is because when a person loses a significant amount of weight and starts feeling better, they want the rest of the world to feel that great, too. Kinda like the person in love who wants to set up every single friend they have on a blind date.

You want to shout to the world how great working out makes you feel and look–but that shout-out won’t inspire others to follow in your footsteps.

Sure, it’s a caring thing to be concerned about those close to you, but there is a better way to go about inspiring them to hop on the exercise train. As Behavioral Psychology Expert Dean Anderson points out to SparkPeople readers, you can’t force someone to want to lose weight and get in shape. If their own health isn’t enough motivation, there is nothing you can say to get them to the gym and working out consistently. You also can’t set goals for them. However, there are a few things you can do.

Inspire By Example

Actions speak louder than words–inspire by example. Image courtesy of Nick Youngson via Creative Commons

If you want to inspire anyone to start working out, most verbal motivation should probably be banned. Talk is cheap and actions and examples speak louder than words, especially when it comes to working out, and it’s even been scientifically proven. The American Council on Exercise reported what researchers discovered when studying the effectiveness of workout partners. Essentially, people were less inspired by partners who offered verbal encouragement and more inspired by working out with a partner who was fitter than they were by up to 40 percent and who did nothing more than workout with them.

That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t offer advice or share experience and techniques if you are asked. What it does mean, though, is that you’re more likely to inspire someone by just being fit and healthy yourself. If you’ve lost a significant amount of weight or gained some impressive muscle mass, people will notice. Seeing that you did it and are maintaining is some of the best inspiration you can give. Your success will be far more motivational than anything you can verbally say.

Display Consistency

Motivate others with the simple act of consistently working out to take weight off and keep it off.

A study published by the American Society for Clinical Nutrition showed that approximately 20 percent of people are able to keep from gaining back after weight loss. Since the same study also found that after 2 to 5 years, it gets easier to maintain weight loss, consistency is obviously the key. What does that have to do with you being an exercise inspiration to others? It means the longer you stay fit and healthy, the better testament you are to working out as a lifestyle choice. People who lose weight fast and rush to pressure their friends and family into trying their miracle diet or workout will look foolish if they gain back even a few pounds. Keep quiet, keep working out, and keep the weight off. Your consistency is what will be inspiring and motivational.

Have Some Fun

TargitFit class.2

Try something different like a TargitFit class or hiking to bring some fun into working out.

Yes, there are people who truly love working out, and they have fun doing it. It’s hard to convince others of the fun, though, when they end up so sore they can’t even tie their shoes. The thing is, you’re on the right track of trying to equate exercise with pleasure, you just have to go about it in a different way if you want to motivate someone else to work out. PopSugar suggests some fun motivational alternatives to traditional workouts friends can enjoy together including signing up for a different type of fitness class like a TargitFit or jiu-jitsu class, going on a bike ride outdoors instead of hitting the stationary bike, or hiking somewhere that offers fabulous scenery. If you can limit yourself to one glass or less of wine or beer, an evening at a dance club is a fun way to burn calories, too. It’s only after a person has started associating physical activity with pleasure that they can successfully move on to more traditional exercise and stick with it.

 

4 Hardcore Exercises for a Rock-Hard Core

Get the six-pack you’ve always wanted plus an indestructible core with these challenging exercises.

Building a washboard on your midriff is a nice benefit of core exercises, but strengthening your core is about more than that. Those central muscles that include your hip flexors, abdominals, and even your back work to stabilize your body, and they are the bridge that transfers energy between your lower and upper body. If you are new to fitness, you might be doing well to get through a few sets of sit-ups or crunches. However, if you want to take your core workout up a notch, these exercises are more difficult and will challenge you and your core.

Punishing Your Core With a Push-Up


What do you get when you cross basic planks with one-arm push-ups? You get a challenging move that’s the superstar of push-ups and one of the most difficult core exercises to perform. To give them a shot, begin on the floor and extend your arms so you’re in a basic plank position. Lift your right arm and left leg off the ground and hold for two seconds, then put your arm and leg down and return to the staring position. That’s only one rep! Next, lift your left arm and right leg, and hold for another two seconds. Continue lifting the opposite arm and leg in alternating sequences, completing a total of three sets of 10 to 12 reps for each side.

Sit-Ups That Make Your Core Take Notice

This unique sit-up utilizes a Roman chair, taking away the support that the floor would normally give you to alleviate tension at the bottom of the exercise. Start by sitting on a Roman chair with your ankles hooked under the top padded bar. Lean back while holding dumbbells or a barbell at chest-level. You should lower your torso until it’s almost level with your legs. Then, in a controlled, fluid move, sit up and press the weight up overhead, kind of like you would in a military press. Lower the weight back to chest-height and repeat, doing 10 reps and a total of 3 sets. The great thing about this exercise is that it pretty much works the entire core: hip flexors, ab muscles, shoulders, and back.

Blast Your Core and Improve Balance


Another vital function of a strong core is to help you keep your balance, so it’s great that one-legged single dumbbell rows, one of the most challenging core exercises, helps improve balance while working your back. Start in a standing upright position, holding a dumbbell in your left hand with your arms at your sides. Lift your left foot off the floor while bending both knees slightly. Then bend forward about 45 degrees at your hips. Keep your back straight and allow the dumbbell to hang down just below your knee. Bring the dumbbell up to chest level by bending your elbow in a rowing move before lowering it back to the starting position. Try to get through three sets of 10 reps on each side.

Split Squat Triple-Threat

Start with a Bulgarian split squat, but do it with the help of a cable machine to increase the benefits for your core. Image via joedefranco/youtube

The most effective but most challenging exercises are ones that work more than one body part at a time. According to “Surf Survival” by Andrew Nathanson, Clayton Everline, and Mark Renneker, modified Bulgarian split squats done while holding onto the sides of a cable machine will improve your core, legs, and balance all in one shot. Start by standing on the outside of a cable machine, arms length away from it, holding onto the frame for help with balance, and with a bench behind you. Bend your left knee and place the top of your left foot on the bench. Bend your right knee until your upper right leg is almost parallel with the ground. Simultaneously, press against the cable machine frame as if you were trying to push it down and to the left. You’ll really feel this part of the exercise in your core. Concentrate on keeping your back straight and holding your abs tense all the way through the exercise. Extend your right knee and stand back up to the starting position. Complete three sets of 12 to 15 reps, then change legs and repeat the exercise with your left leg, pressing down and to the right when you push against the machine frame.

Exercise Your Autumn Allergy Demons

Fall allergy symptoms are miserable but exercise can decrease or even eliminate them.

Everyone associates allergies with springtime, but they can hit any time of year. Fall is actually a high-allergy season, with the air drying out, mold growth increasing in in damp fallen leaves and compost piles, and the dreaded ragweed continually releasing pollen over the course of 2 to 3 months. Web MD says that one in five Americans suffer from allergies and/or asthma and that over half of the U.S. population is sensitive to at least one allergen, and often more than one.

Allergies are as miserable as colds. With your eyes uncontrollably pouring fluid and your nose constantly stuffed up not to mention the sneezing, it’s tough to get in the mood for a workout, but that is exactly the thing that could get you feeling better.

First, the Disclaimer

Allergy and asthma sufferers should check with their doctors to get recommendations on proceeding with exercise. Image by Vic/Flickr

We’d like to think that exercise is a one-size-fits-all solution for everything that ails everyone, but there are always the exceptions to the rule. A very small percentage of people with allergies or asthma might have a negative reaction during exercise. That is why it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor about your workout plans before beginning. Also, exercise and some medications don’t mix well. Both issues are very good reasons to get your doctor’s input and a green light before exercising to fight allergies.

Study-Backed Prescription

In most circumstances, doctors will actually encourage patients to work out to combat symptoms of allergies and asthma. That is because studies such as the one published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology have shown marked improvement for patients who exercise. Researchers have found that increasing exercise can play a big part in decreasing symptoms and severity, prompting them to recommend an “exercise prescription” as part of treatment.

How Exercise Helps

Getting your circulation going during a workout will ease your allergy symptoms, including alleviating congestion so you can breathe better.

Getting your blood flowing is as close to a cure-all as you’ll get for allergy symptoms. Increasing circulation draws blood to the parts of your body that are working hard and away from parts that aren’t a priority. In the case of allergies, that means redirecting blood from the vessels in your nose and causing them to constrict, resulting in clearing your airways. Plus, Fitness and Wellness News says that if your blood isn’t flowing well, allergens can accumulate in your body, but increased blood flow moves allergens out of your system.

Another benefit of exercise is that it strengthens the immune system and curbs stress-related hormones in your body. Everyday Health says that sets you up to withstand allergies better than others with weaker immune systems.

Things to Consider

Jump on the treadmill or other cardio equipment for your warm-up and cool-down during allergy season to get your blood flowing and open up your airways.

If you prefer an outdoor workout to hitting the gym, you may have to change your routine or at least become more vigilant during the fall pollen season. Web MD advises checking the weather and pollen levels each day. Pollen counts tend to be higher when the day is warm and the breeze is light, but windy days can wreak havoc with allergies, too. If the outlook seems questionable, move your workout indoors. Also, pollen levels tend to peak midday, so work out in the morning or the evening if you can.

Sometimes, even when you add exercise to your allergy-control plan, you still might need pharmaceutical help. You should always take medications as prescribed. However, in the case of 24-hour medicines that are taken only once a day, try taking them at night. That will allow you to sleep off the drowsy feeling antihistamines can cause so you won’t feel groggy all day, especially when it comes time to work out. Also, it’s extremely helpful for people with allergies or asthma to warm up and cool down aerobically. It gets the blood flowing before you start the actual exercising part of your workout so you can breathe through your nose as much as possible. And, it keeps things flowing while you ease your heart rate down afterwards.