AP Mobile: Obesity very high in 13 states; many in the South

A story from AP Mobile:

Obesity very high in 13 states; many in the South

thumbnailATLANTA (AP) – Adult obesity still isn’t budging, the latest government survey shows.

The national telephone survey found 13 states with very high rates of obesity last year. Overall, the proportion of U.S. adults deemed obese has been about the same for years now.

“A plateau is better than rising numbers. But it’s discouraging because we’re plateauing at a very high number,” said Kelly Brownell…

Read Full Story

app icon

Download the free AP Mobile for iPhone and iPad from the App Store today! or visit getapmobile.com for support on Android, Blackberry, WP7 and other devices.

Phys Ed: Can Pickle Juice Stop Muscle Cramps? – NYTimes.com

I’ve talked a number of times about the enduring mystery of muscle cramps. No real knowledge exists as to why they occur; only educated and uneducated guesses that have absolutely no research to rely on. Until now.

It’s been a highly accepted bit of exercise lore that pickle juice can reduce the duration of cramps, and I’ve suggested it to a number of clients and “spinners” over the years. Everyone assumes its the electrolytes, potassium and salt that helps, though I’ve repeatedly pointed out that the exercise science literature shows that perfectly hydrated people with excellent electrolyte profiles cramp with the same frequency as everyone else statistically.

Why it helps no one could say. Until now. Pickle juice has been specifically studied as to its efficacy in combatting cramps, and been found very effective. This, in and of itself, also gives compelling clues as to why muscles actually cramp, as well.

Of course, further studies need to be done. Read the interesting New York Times piece below.
.
http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/06/09/phys-ed-can-pickle-juice-stop-muscle-cramps/

Gluten-Free for the Gluten Sensitive – NYTimes.com

To eat, or not to eat (gluten), that is the question.
The article linked at the bottom is talking about wheat products. All wheat based products contain gluten, and depending on your health sources you should avoid it at all costs or not worry about it at all.

This NY Times piece is quite balanced and discusses the issue from each side of the divide, as well as from the point of view of real medical scientists. Keep in mind, that according to this story, the most recent study; conducted with scientific double blind placebo controls, had a sample size of 34 people. 34? Not 34,000. Not 3,400. Not 340. 34. Well, so much for conducting a definitive study.

I’ve personally never seen a reason to cut wheat glutens from my diet. Consuming wheat has never appeared to have a negative impact on my past performance as a pro racquetball player, a body builder, a runner, or a cyclist. I’ve never had a problem with energy levels or bloating. Those who are most vociferously aligned against wheat gluten seem to take it on faith and dubious pseudo science, or have an actual diagnosed case of celiac disease. The amorphous new “symptoms” newly medically recognized as “gluten sensitivity” seems to be growing, but whether its growth is legitimate or mass hysteria based on marketing is still up in the air. Many body builders and other physique minded people have been claiming for 2 decades that glutens cause bloating and negatively affect abdominal appearance.

Prior to the 1990’s, NO ONE seemed to have a problem with glutens (outside sufferers of celiac disease) and physique athletes didn’t seem to have a problem developing the sculpted bodies made of dreams. Arnold Schwarzenegger himself can be seen wolfing down an entire pizza pie immediately after winning his final Mr. Olympia title in the documentary Pumping Iron, and amid all the conversations the body builders have about nutrition in the film, no one mentions gluten sensitivity.

On the other hand, according to this article, the gluten content of breads has increased dramatically in recent years, and perhaps more people’s systems are unable to cope. It certainly deserves way more comprehensive study.

Do any of my readers have a gluten sensitivity related story to share?

Amino acid supplements and high intensity strength training

The critical role of proper nutrition with intense exercise use regimens cannot be overstated. The fitness industry is rife with myths, misinformation, faith based beliefs, inconclusive studies, and real hard science.

The role of protein supplements for strength and muscle building adherents is very well researched, and the abstract linked below published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning is further evidence that if your exercise routine places you in the above categories, you should supplement.

The human body is a giant chemical factory. Whatever you consume is broken down into its simplest chemical components before it can be absorbed and used by the body. All carbs are turned into simple glucose before they can be used. Pasta, bread, rice, apples, and broccoli, are all turned into glucose, and whatever micronutrients they contain (vitamins and minerals) before they are usable by our bodies.

Likewise, proteins are broken down, but instead of glucose, proteins are turned into amino acids (plus whatever micronutrients are present) before they can be absorbed. Some proteins can be broken down more quickly than others, just like some carbs can be broken down faster than others. Sugar is so close to glucose its almost instantly absorbed. Whey is so close to digestible form it to is rapidly broken down into amino acids and absorbed. Taking amino acids directly that the absorption, like sugar, is almost instant, allowing for precise timing for maximum benefit. With this introduction by me, read the science:

http://mobile.journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/_layouts/oaks.journals.mobile/abstractviewer.aspx?year=2010&issue=04000&article=00033

Body Building: beyond aesthetics

I’ve been lost with my workouts lately.  I haven’t had a clear-cut goal, instead basing my workouts on  general health, some notion of (obsolete) athletic needs, and boredom.  Without some competitive outlet, I find my workouts to be aimless and somewhat pointless.  General health and fitness is so uninspiring to me.  None of these has kept me training at the level of consistency and intensity I ought to be maintaining for both optimal physical fitness and professional reasons.

Since I really don’t pursue any specific athletic avocations at this point in my life, training athletically is not only pointless, but also counter productive considering the physical impairments I keep exacerbating: sciatica, arthritic pain in my ankle and left hand digits, shoulder pain from years of over-use and abuse, to name a few.

The level of exercise I need to accomplish to maintain general health is likewise so easy for me to achieve I don’t feel like I’m accomplishing anything.

And boredom leads to demotivation and general lack of interest in my own personal fitness.

To remedy this I’m going to begin a good, old school, body building routine.  Nothing fancy.

Nothing overly athletic or complex.  Just basic body building and strength training, done with gradually increasing intensity over a period of weeks.  I’ll target different parts of my body on different days, using a three-day split routine.  The same exercises every week till I reach a strength and development plateau, and then I’ll redesign the routine to reach a new plateau, and so on.  The goal is simple: get specifically strong in certain exercises, and to generally strengthen every skeletal muscle as much as possible.  In addition to my other posts, I will log these workouts here, and post them, so that all my readers can see what I’ll be doing, and the challenges that I either overcome or succumb to, just like everyone else in the exercise community.

My split will be as follows:

  1. Chest & Back Monday and Thursday (DB bench press, Incline DB press, cable fly’s, Pull-ups, cable rows/long pull, cable high row)
  2. Lower Extremities Tuesday and Friday (squats, dead lifts, jump step ups, leg extension, prone leg curl)
  3. Shoulder, Arms, cardio Saturday (standing military press, db lateral raise, Standing e-z bar biceps curl, db incline biceps curl, dips, cable triceps pulldown, spin 30-45 minutes)

Light to moderate cardio will also be done on chest and back days, depending on energy levels, and on any other day energy, motivation, and time permit.  Abdominal and core work will be done at the end of every workout, depending on soreness.

Hopefully, you will find this log of my own workouts to be motivating, and heartening to see that we all face similar challenges, regardless of which direction we come from in this exercise community of ours.

NSCA

What is the best possible protein supplement, who needs to take it, and when?

Any athlete, or those training like one, aught to ingest extra protein about 30 minutes after training, and it should come from whole foods, in a low fat, ratio of 4/1 carbohydrate/protein. The perfect post exercise recovery drink as it turns out is most likely low fat chocolate milk!

Cows milk contains 8 grams of protein and 12 grams of sugar (in the form of lactose), And 8 grams of fat, per serving (1 cup). The protein is a mix of two main types: whey protein (20%) and casein protein (80%). The chocolate syrup provides another 15-20 grams of sugar. I’m going to discuss the difference in those proteins, then get into carbohydrates, and nutrition in general.

As the article states, whey is a “fast acting” protein that is quickly absorbed into the blood stream for use by the body, while casein takes a little longer to be digested and used. Post exercise, this naturally occurring combo in milk provides the best option for immediate and overnight recovery.

But how much? All protein, when separated from its original source regardless of its chemical composition, works out to 4 calories per gram. Fish protein=4 calories. Steak protein=4 calories. Milk protein and peanut butter protein and soy protein; all 4 calories/gram. Depending on what you do in terms of exercise, an adult diet should consist of 20-30% protein.
An adult sedentary male should eat around 2000 calories a day to maintain a healthy weight. 20% protein would = 400 calories of protein; or 100 grams of protein per day. That 400 calories leaves this imaginary person with 1600 calories left to eat. 1600 calories that must come from carbohydrates and fat, the only other sources of calories a person can eat.

A carbohydrate is anything that can be turned into glucose easily during digestion. This includes sugar (in all its forms from refined table sugar to honey, agave, molasses, maple syrup, etc) to grains, fruits, and vegetables. Now, like protein, some sugars are fast acting (digest rapidly) and others less fast acting (digest relatively slower). This is not a value judgement on good and bad anymore than it was with the proteins. It’s a question of proper timing on your part. Fast digesting sugars help energize the body in the moment, and can aid in recovery immediately after exercise, while slower digesting carbs can help the body recover quickly, stay active over the long day, and continue to recover during sleep. That’s why chocolate milk is such a good post exercise recovery drink. The sugars and whey help with immediate recovery while the casein and the (low) fat content help with the longer term recovery.

All carbs are 4 calories/gram when separated from their parent source. Carbs from sugar, carbs from lettuce. Carbs from yellow peppers, potatoes, or rice, are all 4 calories. And 40-60% of imaginary mans 2000 calories per day should come from carbohydrates. Because our mystery man wants to eat as low fat a diet as possible like most health conscious people (though not me), lets say 60% carbs out of
the remaining 1600 calories for the day. thats 960 calories or 240grams of carbs.
That means our sedentary male has consumed 1360 calories from protein and carbs. 640 calories to go! But where can we get them?

Fat. Fat is a dense energy source containing 9 calories/gram. A calorie is simply a measure of energy, so 1 gram of fat has a drop more than twice the calorie (energy) of either protein or carbohydrate. All fats are comparatively slow to digest, and can aid in long term recovery (overnight) if properly timed during a day with exercise. You realize that there are “good” fats like fish and olive oil (unsaturated) and “bad” fats like those found in red meat (saturated). But regardless of whether a fat is “good” or “bad” (a different argument and blog post on that controversy) they are all 9 calories/gram. That means the remainder of this persons calories must come from fat; 71 grams of fat for the day to be precise; to get to a healthy calorie total. This person might tweak the carbs and protein up a bit to cut down the fat content, but either way, it’s a 2 for 1 exchange. He must add two grams of either protein or carbs for every 1 of fat he cuts. And there are definite downsides to that, as well.

There are nutritional exceptions: water and alcoholic drinks. Water has 0 calories, while alcoholic drinks are like super carbs, and possess 7 calories per gram (a chemical change that takes place during fermentation). So every serving of beer, wine, brandy, or scotch requires a reduction of calories. Two servings of carbs or proteins for every 1 serving of alcohol, or about an even exchange of fat for alcohol. The problem with alcohol is the more you drink, the less you’ll pay attention to making smart eating decisions!

The link below talks about protein supplements for athletic recovery, but lacks the context for the layman that I’ve sought to provide above.

http://nsca.com/Education/E-learning/Whey-Protein-vs–Casein-Protein-and-Optimal-Recovery/

“ Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see. ” – Arthur Schopenhauer

Why I eat Organic

Sometimes, I truly hate the New York Times. Their tag line runs the heading: “All the news that’s fit to print”. I wonder how many people today know the source of that tag line. I sometimes wonder if the editors remember the source of it. Let me tell you, in case you don’t know. Back in the 1890’s competing newspapers were more concerned with sensational headlines to move sales, and they weren’t above making stories up, or blowing small stories up into national epics by exaggerating it out of all proportion (think about news organizations that continue to publish stories about “birthers”).

The Times would stand above all that and it’s reputation for integrity has allowed it to become the 3rd most widely read newspaper in the nation, and the only local newspaper with a national following (USA Today and the Wall Street Journal are 1 & 2, respectively) and garner 108 Pulitzer prizes in its history; more than any other news organization in the world; an award created by a rival newspaperman, but judged by a panel of national writers.

Unfortunately, this “newspaper of record” has experienced steadily declining readership (as have all print newspapers), and feels the need to print things, I’m guessing, that create a bit of sexy controversy.

The NYT recently published the results of a Stanford university study that cast doubt on the value of organic fruits and vegetables compared to non organic. They compared three vitamins; A, C, and E, and concluded their was no statistical difference in the content. The Times offered the conclusions of this one study; with out of context quotes by the lead researcher; and no other analysis. There was no discussion of method, other studies, why only those three micronutrients were compared, or any of the other reasons someone might choose to eat organic, that have nothing to do with nutrition yet still profoundly affect health.

To be fair, the NY Times did follow up on their “Well” blog and did a much better job of going into the details and nitty-gritty (click this sentence).

How many of you actually knew that? My point is, if the story didn’t merit a full examination in the print edition, it was not worth publishing at all. It merely confuses and muddies the thoughts of a public already too overwhelmed with information overload to follow-up with further investigation on their own,  and that’s why they purchase The New York Times in the first place!

Here’s my take.Some people eat organic foods under the erroneous belief that they automatically are getting more nutritious products. There are dozens of factors affecting the micronutrients content of produce that it’s very difficult to compare. The soil it was grown in, the water used to irrigate, and the ripeness when it was picked all affect the nutritional content. So if I can’t be sure my organic produce is more nutritious, why spend the extra money? Well, I know what won’t be in my organic produce: poison. Pesticides are poison. Skull and crossbones poison. Dont believe me? Go to your local home and garden section at Home Depot and look at the warning labels on any pesticide you find. Poison. Plain and simple. Imagine seeing this warning on produce at the market: “this produce has been repeatedly sprayed with deadly poisons”. See what they tell you to do in case of accidental ingestion of pesticides.

Multiple studies have shown that Pregnant women who consume the most pesticide laden diets give birth to children whose elementary school I.Q.’s are 4-7% lower than average. Childhood cancers, autism, learning deficiencies of all kinds, MS, MD, and a host of other once rare disorders are becoming all too common in our society, and the constant ingestion of *poison* would seem to be a logical place to start looking. But instead, the popular myth that childhood vaccinations, which save 100’s of millions of lives every year ( there is actually a historical record, you know), is somehow the cause of every childhood disease and disability, while the **poisons they ingest daily** somehow remain free of blame or even suspicion.

When “mad cow” disease swept Europe, livestock farmers who used organic feed were unaffected. No cattle on organic farms had to be destroyed, while upwards of 80% of all the other livestock around the continent had to be destroyed because of the infection.  Read this if you want to learn more on this:  Click

Other reasons I eat organic is because organically grown produce doesn’t last as long. It tends to be locally grown and locally sold. In other words, I’m supporting the local economy; the farmer next door, who’s making an extra effort, at considerable expense in time and money. And by the way, the local can buy personal training sessions with me if they are earning a good living, the farmer in Idaho can’t support me at all.

There are concerns with organic farming when looking beyond the local and personal level.  Repeated studies have shown that organic farming techniques produce significantly lower crop yields compared to modern industrial farming.  With 7 Billion people in the world, is it possible to feed everyone organically?  I have my doubts, and I’m not about to start saying we should allow 50% of the world population to die of starvation.  Starving today or possibly getting a deadly cancer in 20 years isn’t a hard choice to make if you’re the starving person or the parent of a starving child.  Click this sentence to be taken to a great article in Scientific America.  My advice, on a personal level, is anyone who can afford to eat organically should do so, as much as possible, without becoming sanctimonious.  Then we should be encouraging agricultural scientific research to produce safer, better approaches for industrial farming to make food, and the environment, safer.

C’mon NYT’s. We have so few reliable media sources left. You charge 100% more per edition than any other local daily. If we buy your paper at that price, don’t we deserve the whole story and all the details, too.

“ Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see. ” – Arthur Schopenhauer