Monthly Archives: May 2015

May 2015
Sugar's killing you!

Sugar: the sweet poison. Studies confirm this substance is what contributes most to the staggering obesity problem in the US – so are you addicted? Take this short Q&A to see where you stand.




1. Do you struggle to walk past a sugary treat without taking ‘just one’?

2. Do you have routines around sugar consumption – for example, always having pudding, or needing a piece of chocolate to relax in front of the television?

3. Are there times when you feel as if you cannot go on without a sugar hit?

4. If you are forced to go without sugar for 24 hours, do you develop headaches and mood swings?


If you answered ‘YES’ to one of the questions above, you are addicted. Like it or lump it, few of us get through the day without adding sugar to our daily diet. We are a Pavlovian population made up of sugar, treacle and toffee addicts, drawn to the taste of sweetness like bees to honey. So ingrained is our desire that even writing about sugar now is sending my salivary glands into overdrive as my brain reacts to the very thought of it, whizzing neurotransmitters around to prepare my body for some serious glucose action. Perhaps you, while reading this, are reaching – almost unwittingly – for a chocolate Hobnob?


But that’s not a problem, is it? We could stop and eat a piece of cheese instead – any time we wanted. Or could we?


Maybe not. It seems that our desire to load up with sugar regularly may not be the cheeky reward-cum-energy boost we think it is. Increasingly, experts believe we can be truly addicted to sugar. French scientists in Bordeaux reported that in animal trials, rats chose sugar over cocaine (even when they were addicted to cocaine), and speculated that no mammals’ sweet receptors are naturally adapted to the high concentrations of sweet tastes on offer in modern times. They worried, in a paper published in 2007, that the intense stimulation of these receptors by our typical 21st-century sugar-rich diets must generate a supra-normal reward signal in the brain, with the potential to override self-control mechanisms and thus to lead to addiction.


So if you feel like you are craving a chocolatey treat, that craving is more than just a figure of speech. You may be one of the world’s most common dependants: a sugar addict.


But take heart. Around the world, a growing body of expert opinion – the ‘No Sugar’ movement – is leading a global fightback and warning that our sweet habit is completely out of control, leaving a nasty taste in the mouth of the body public. Sugar, whether added to food by you or the manufacturer, is the greatest threat to human health, bar none, they say. And unless we wise up and quit en masse, we don’t just risk personal obesity and disease, but national bankruptcy and collapse as the toll our ill health takes on our countries’ economies threatens to destabilise the modern world.


The movement is led by Robert Lustig, professor of paediatric endocrinology at University of California, San Francisco, author of Fat Chance: The Bitter Truth About Sugar, numerous scientific and press articles, and presenter of “Sugar: the Bitter Truth”, a YouTube clip viewed more than 3,300,000 times. But ‘No Sugar’ proponents also include Australian writer David Gillespie, author of Sweet Poison and the new Sweet Poison Quit Plan, just out in the UK, as well as actress Gwyneth Paltrow, who reveals in her new cookbook It’s All Good that her family are not permitted to eat any refined carbs (let alone sugar), and even Andy Burnham, the Opposition Health Secretary, who called in January for high-sugar children’s foods such as Frosties and Sugar Puffs to be banned by politicians.


Lustig leads the field with his warning that not all calories are equal, because not all monosaccharides – the simplest forms of sugar, the building blocks of all carbohydrates – are equal.


At a basic level, sucrose, or table sugar (which is made up of equal molecules of the monosaccharides fructose and glucose) is not metabolised in the same way that a carbohydrate such as flour is.


He explains: ”An analysis of 175 countries over the past decade showed that when you look for the cause of type 2 (non-insulin dependent) diabetes, the total number of calories you consume is irrelevant. It’s the specific calories that count. When people ate 150 calories more every day, the rate of diabetes went up 0.1 per cent. But if those 150 calories came from a can of fizzy drink, the rate went up 1.1 per cent. Added sugar is 11 times more potent at causing diabetes than general calories.”




Read this article in its entirety at

May 2015
Make it yourself!

Here’s how to produce a healthy, electrolyte-rich, invigorating drink free of artificials all in the comfort of your own kitchen in under 5 minutes!


Sports drinks are designed to replenish fluids and energy lost during vigorous exercise, but many commercial products contain artificial flavors, colors, and sweeteners. And unless you’re working hard and long, you probably don’t need them.


Athletes who work out at a higher intensity for more than 60 minutes and in extreme temperatures (hot or cold) are the most likely to benefit from sports drinks. Those participating in a moderate-intensity exercise program in a climate-controlled environment probably won’t. And, if you’re trying to drop body fat, those extra calories could negate some of your efforts.


Exercise physiologist Mike Nelson, MSME, CSCS, PhD, says an effective sports drink contains water for hydration, carbohydrates for fuel, and electrolytes, particularly sodium and potassium. This combination can help stave off dehydration and overheating while improving performance. Want to make your own? Here’s the recipe:

4 Cups of Water
1 Cup Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice
2 Tablespoons of Raw Honey
1/4 Teaspoon of Sea Salt
A Few Drops of ConcenTrace Trace Mineral Drops (optional)

Mix all ingredients, and store in your refrigerator for up to five days.



May 2015

How does your sport rank?

There is a longstanding debate among men over which sport is the most demanding. In making the argument, different men will consider different physical characteristics. For example, certain sports rely heavily on the cardiovascular system, and measures like VO2 Max are valid indicators of performance capability. In contrast, other sports won’t rely as heavily on cardiovascular measures but will require more significant displays of speed, agility, strength, or overall durability, all of which place an incredible physical demand on the body.

With consideration to the multi-factorial physical demands of various sports, let’s dive into the top 10 most physically demanding sports. Each sport is ranked on a scale from 1-10, based on the demand placed on four physical attributes or systems: muscular strength and power, speed and quickness, cardiovascular endurance, and overall durability.

10. Swimming

Swimming can be incredibly exhausting, as the continuous nature of the sport doesn’t leave much time for recovery. Since the lower and upper body are constantly active in producing motion, and the core functions to stabilize the trunk and transfer force throughout the process, there’s not a second of rest. But swimming loses points in our rating because it is not ground-based and, therefore, is less stressful to the musculoskeletal system than the other sports on this list.

Muscular Strength/Power: 3
Speed/Quickness: 6
Cardiovascular Endurance: 9
Overall Durability: 2

Total: 20

9. Tennis

Tennis matches involve short-duration bursts of all-out energy in the form of quick sprints, transitional movements and hitting the ball. All of these movements require a great deal of strength, speed, power, and control. The interval nature of tennis requires the body to operate at higher intensities than more continuous sports. Add in the fact that tennis is frequently played under the heat of a blazing sun, and tennis creates a unique, incredibly taxing experience.

Muscular Strength/Power: 3
Speed/Quickness: 8
Cardiovascular Endurance: 6
Overall Durability: 4

Total: 21

Find the rest of this top 10 list at!

May 2015

Experts agree that keeping your chest workouts well rounded makes for the best results – and here’s three other lifts to help you do just that.


A well-sculpted chest can give you an imposing physique as well as improve your overall posture. Of course, to get such a chest, you may have to put in a lot of hard work in the gym and keep your body fueled with muscle-building foods such as proteins and carbohydrates. If you have the will, patience, and desire to improve your physical appearance, here are 3 chest exercises to perform at least once every week:


1. Twisting Dumbbell Bench Press

The twisting dumbbell bench press is a variation of the popular bench press exercise. It is one of the most effective workouts for building upper body strength and parts like the chest. Furthermore, it is easy to master making it the ideal workout for beginners who want to improve their upper body physique fast.


2. Weighted push-ups

Another common and popular exercise that you can change a bit to build a bigger chest is the push-up. In this case, you perform push-ups while carrying extra weight on your back. It is advisable to have a training partner around to help you position weights onto your back though this is not mandatory.


3. Dips


Unlike the other two exercises described above, most people tend to shun dips while working out in the gym. This is largely because they can be tough to perform for beginners. Nevertheless, they are great exercises for sculpting and enhancing the size of the chest. Furthermore, you can perform dips anywhere provided there are bars or beams to hold onto with both hands.


Find step-by-step instructions for these workouts at!

May 2015
Get you gone!

Hiking is fun, sure – and a great way to explore the beauty of the great outdoors; but did you know that its benefits go far beyond just physical activity?


Hiking is great way to enjoy the beauty and wonder of the outdoors. One of the main advantages of hiking is that it is an activity that is highly adaptable to many individual circumstances, such as fitness level, free time, monetary constraints, and length of travel desired.


In fact, this sport is one of the easiest physical pastimes to begin enjoying. Aside from providing a great source of physical activity and exercise, this fun hobby also has many hidden benefits that you will enjoy as you explore the hiking opportunities available in your locality.


Fight Stress With Each Hike


The modern world is demanding and nearly everyone must adhere to hectic work and family schedules. Taking time out to relax is important, and most people are already aware of the stress relieving properties of exercise.


Hiking not only provides the physical relief of other exercise options, but spending time outdoors and in nature has been shown to be a powerful stress and anxiety reliever. People who spend more time in outdoor green spaces exhibit lower levels of a stress hormone called cortisol, which translates into a happier, healthier and more relaxed state of mind. Hiking perfectly combines exercise with time in nature.


Improved Quality of Sleep


Sleep deprivation has almost become the norm in today’s society. Whether you’re kept awake from stress, a constant flow of emails or an inability to shut off the TV, computer or mobile device, you’re not alone.


Nearly 20 percent of Americans report getting 6 hours or less of sleep a night. Most people need, on average, about 6-7 hours of sleep nightly to be adequately rested. Hiking, along with the benefits of aiding relaxation and reducing anxiety, can also help people to achieve a higher quality of sleep.


Regular physical activity has been shown to improve sleep by over 50 percent in those who engage in a regular schedule of exercise. Thus, hiking can be an important part of getting a better night’s sleep.


Bonus Sleep Benefits of Camping


If you choose to take your hike to the next level and decide to spend an entire night in nature, or a few nights, you are helping your sleep cycle tremendously.

Most of us in the modern world have gotten so used to the artificial lights, noises and distractions of modern technology that our bodies have forgotten how and when it’s time to sleep. A night under the stars is a good way to reset that.


Your body will be in complete darkness at night and teach itself to wake up with the sun, as you’re meant to naturally. Just remember to not bring any electronic gadgets that you don’t absolutely need. Having a phone and GPS for emergencies is the only one I’d suggest, and only turn them on when you need them.


Hiking Helps to Build Stronger, Healthier Bones


Not only does hiking strengthen your muscles and increase flexibility, it also helps to build stronger bones. Exercise that is weight bearing, meaning that you are on your feet and supporting your entire body weight with your legs,causes new bone tissue to form.


Adding to your bone mass helps to avoid accidental breaks or fractures, reduces the risk of developing osteoporosis and strengthens your entire body. Hiking is a low-impact weight bearing exercise, making it appropriate for nearly any age group or level of fitness.


Hiking – A Whole Body & Mind Workout


Hiking requires that you utilize every part of your body, improves your balance and coordination and helps to build overall core strength. It also stimulates your senses as you bask in the beauty of nature, improves your mental capabilities as you maintain your trail route and creates an increased awareness of your surroundings.


Hiking lets you take full control of your workout, because you can go as fast or slow as you want and can control the level of intensity you experience. Because of the adaptability of hiking, both beginners and seasoned fitness aficionados can benefit from and achieve a satisfying workout.


You don’t need any special equipment other than a sturdy pair of shoes, you don’t need to pay for a fitness club membership and you don’t have to deal with the anxiety of learning how to operate exercise machines.


Hiking is good for your body, mind and soul.



May 2015
2 Steps Back, 5 Steps Ahead

Are you a cyclist looking to break a plateau, or even to shave a few minutes off your best time?  A new study demonstrates that taking some time to work on your backwards pedaling skills could do just that.


Spinning class is one situation in which forward progress could be all about moving backwards, according to a recent study published by the American Council on Exercise (ACE).


It might sound a bit to the contrary, but the research team says that pedaling backward could be beneficial for cyclists. It could change the way the leg muscles are stimulated, just as marathoners benefit from working sprints into training sessions and weight lifters benefit from minute changes in barbell grip.


In the study, the research team selected the Cascade CMXRT recumbent exercise bike ($2,195) because its design makes for a ride that closely resembles the feel of outdoor cycling.


Working with 16 healthy volunteers, of which eight were men and eight were women, the research team conducted two experiments.


In the first, they set out to evaluate how pedaling backward affected heart rate (HR), oxygen consumption (VO2) and calories burned compared with pedaling forward.


They started out by a practice session to introduce volunteers to the bike. Then in the first experiment, volunteers completed six five-minute intervals of submaximal exercise — meaning that intensity usually does not exceed 85 per cent of maximum heart rate.


Half of the intervals involved pedaling forward and the other half involved pedaling backward and a two-minute rest was permitted between intervals of the same direction; the research team monitored HR and VO2 continuously.


Half of the volunteers pedaled forward first and then switched to backward after a ten-minute rest, the other half did the opposite and everybody’s workload progressed from baseline.


The second experiment followed the same format of the first, yet it was designed to determine whether pedaling direction engages different muscles or the same and volunteers were attached to electromyography (EMG) machines.


Backwards could put you ahead of the game


Cycling backward produced a significantly higher HR by eight beats per minute, on average, and VO2 and calorie expenditure increased significantly when volunteers pedalled in the reverse sense.


EMG data says three frontal quadriceps muscles were significantly more active by as much as 17.5 per cent when pedaling backward, although other muscles observed — in the calves, backs of the thighs and buttocks — showed no significant differences in activity.


No differences were observed between male and female volunteers for either experiment.



May 2015


That sun be harmful!

After this most recent study by Consumer Reports, you should be taking that SPF number on your sunscreen with a grain of salt (pun intended)


The 11 tested sunscreens that didn’t stand up to their claims are:


  • Hawaiian Tropic Sheer Touch Ultra Radiance SPF 50 (delivered SPF 28)
  • Babyganics Mineral-Based SPF 50+ (delivered SPF 25)
  • Well at Walgreens Baby SPF 50 (delivered SPF 25)
  • Vanicream SPF 50+ (delivered SPF 17)
  • Yes To Cucumbers Natural SPF 30 (delivered SPF 14)
  • Coppertone ClearlySheer for Beach & Pool SPF 50+ (delivered SPF 37)
  • Banana Boat Sport Performance Clear UltraMist with Powerstay Technology SPF 50+ (delivered SPF 24)
  • EltaMD UV Aero SPF 45 (delivered SPF 22)
  • Coppertone UltraGuard SPF 70+ Lotion (delivered SPF 59)
  • Banana Boat Sport Performance with Powerstay Technology SPF 100 Spray (delivered SPF 36)
  • CVS Baby Pure & Gentle SPF 60 Lotion (delivered SPF 18)


The SPF measurement focuses not on the strength of protection at a given moment, but rather the length of time at which a person is well-shielded from the UVB rays that cause sunburn and contribute to skin damage that can lead to skin cancer down the road. Sunscreens with 30 SPF or higher are said to block 97 percent of these harmful rays for two hours (it’s recommended that people reapply any sunscreen choice every two hours).


Read the full article at Huffington Post

May 2015
A Feast to Remember

Think that food you’re eating is healthy? Guess again – here’s a breakdown of the most commonly perceived healthy foods that turn out to be more like junk food.


Beware: Just because it seems healthy doesn’t mean it is!  Check out Jennifer Cohen’s list of 14 “healthy” foods that are actually bad for you before you go on your next shopping trip, or out to pick up a quick bite. These are some common mistakes that people tend to think are healthy. Remember, the most powerful tool for nutrition you have is knowledge of what you’re eating.


1. Wheat Bread

You can add wheat to literally any carbohydrate and label it as a wheat product. These days, you can get Whole Wheat Lucky Charms – do you really think that makes them healthy? If it isn’t 100% whole wheat, bread can contain enriched flour, which gives you a sugar spike and crash without any nutritional value. Basically, enriched flour means nutrients are stripped from the bread.


Swap it for: Fiber-rich breads that are 100% whole wheat. Other breads like multigrain and sprouted are good options too, as long as those are the first ingredients on the package. Better yet, if you want to cut 200 calories, try wrapping your sandwiches with romaine lettuce.


2. Dried Fruit

Sure, it’s got fiber. It also has tons of added sugar and sulfur to keep it preserved longer. YUM! Since the fruit is dried, it has at least 3 times more calories per volume than its fresh counterpart. A bag of banana chips has three times as many calories as a banana and 20% more fat.


Swap it for: Fresh is ALWAYS best with fruit! It will keep you feeling full longer, and you get all the nutrients that weren’t sucked out in the drying process.


3. Trail Mix

If you’re not on the trail, skip the trail mix. Packed with salted nuts, sugar covered raisins and even M&M’s, even a small handful can contain 300+ calories. Trail mix is a quick energy snack to people on the trail who need those extra calories to burn, but not a good option for healthful snacking. In your everyday life you don’t need that ton of sugar and salt.


Swap it for: A single portion serving of unsalted nuts. Measure it out from the bag so you know exactly how many to eat. A small handful of almonds can satisfy your hunger and give you a great nutrition boost until your next meal.


4. Flavored Soy Milk

Yes, soy can be a source of protein and potassium. But drinking the vanilla or chocolate flavors adds 10 grams of sugar and 50 calories per cup. No thanks!


Swap it for:  regular soy milk, or you could try almond milk or hemp milk. If you’re staying away from dairy these are two great options.


5. Fat Free Flavored Yogurt

Say it with me: fat-free foods are NOT health foods! I always say fat doesn’t make you fat, sugar makes you fat. Most flavored yogurts pack 15 grams of sugar in 6 oz., and yes, even if they’re flavored with fruit they’re not healthy.


Swap it for: Greek yogurt with fresh cut fruit. Raw blueberries are my favorite – they have the highest antioxidants of all fruits, and taste great. If you want that added sweetness, add a drizzle of honey or agave.


6. Reduced Fat Peanut Butter

One of the biggest benefits of peanuts is that they’re full of monounsaturated fats, aka good fats. Take that out of the peanut butter and what do you have left? Tons of sugar and the same amount of (now empty) calories. Typically whenever you see reduced fat in any product, it means that the fat was replaced with sugar or salt.


Swap it for: Just stick to the real thing and have less of it. Get natural peanut butter with no added sugar. It’s the best way to go for nutrition, and just a little bit will help fill you up.


7. Fruit Cocktail

You may think that anything with fruit in it is healthy for you. But it’s how fruit is preserved that can make a huge difference. A cup of fruit cocktail may be around 110 calories, but has 26 grams of sugar. That is your entire daily value!


Swap it for:  After this article you know that real fruit is ALWAYS better!  A banana or an apple is just as portable as a little plastic cup.


8. Pretzels

While they have 1/10 the fat of potato chips, pretzels have just as much sodium and are nutritionally empty. They’re also made with white flour, which spikes your sugar and just makes you hungry soon after. Look at the back of the bag: Pretzels have a ton of ingredients (a big red flag) and are incredibly calorie dense because the number one ingredient is enriched flour, followed by salt, corn syrup and corn oil. Doesn’t sound too healthy anymore, does it!


Swap it for: Kale chips. For fewer calories, you will get protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals to keep you going. Kale chips will satiate you for way longer than pretzels, without the sugar crash, and they’ve becoming increasingly popular lately for just this reason.


9. Protein Bars

Read. The. Label. Too many protein bars are just processed bricks of artificial ingredients and fillers. Most of them end up being not much more than a candy bar with protein sprinkled in it. You do not want to grab these as snacks, and if it has over 200 calories and more than 8 grams of sugar, leave it on the shelf!


Swap it for: If you’re looking for a protein boost try beans in a meal, damage, or humus and vegetables for a snack. These options will have protein from the source instead of being added on to a candy bar, like many protein bars end up being.


10. Frozen Yogurt

No matter what mix-ins you choose there is absolutely no nutritional value in frozen yogurt. You’re not doing yourself a service by eating fro-yo instead of ice cream. It’s a sugar treat that needs to JUST be a treat!


Swap it for: Just have the real thing in a smaller portion. Half a cup of real ice cream is more satiating, you’ll feel more full and you’ll be eating the real thing. It’s a treat – nothing more, nothing less.


11. Organic Snack Foods

I was shopping with my mother at an upscale grocery store when she picked up a box of organic toaster pastries and started laughing. “Organic or not, a pop tart is still a pop tart!” she said, and she’s right. It’s very popular these days to use the words organic or gluten free, and people think these are synonymous with healthy – they’re not.


Swap it for: A snack that will love you back. Instead of sugary cookies, try fast-baked apples – microwave apple slices with a pinch of cinnamon. Instead of greasy potato chips, try a handful of shelled, unsalted pistachios.


12. Granola Bars

If it’s a choice between a granola bar and skipping a meal, granola bars are useful.  However these bars are packed with sugar, sodium and saturated fat. If you thought a granola bar was healthy as a snack, you might as well have a Snickers! Doesn’t sound all-natural anymore, does it?


Swap it for: Sliced mango and a small piece of dark chocolate. For a fraction of the calories and sugar, you can eat something delicious, nutritious and still satisfy your sweet tooth and snack cravings.


13. Sushi Rolls

Fish, rice & seaweed – why isn’t this healthy? A regular salmon or tuna roll can be a good treat, but it’s the westernized versions you have to watch out for. For example, a salmon rolled with rice and seaweed is 120 calories per serving. A Philadelphia roll with salmon, cream cheese, spicy mayo and house sauce can add up to 500 calories per serving. You might as well have a McDonald’s Big Mac!


Swap it for: Sashimi!  It’s usually accompanied with radish and ginger, and arranged beautifully. Avoid ordering anything spicy or crunchy, as these typically add 300+ calories to your otherwise healthy dish.


14. Veggie Omelette

Like sushi, this food isn’t inherently evil – if you know how to order it. The extras that get added in are what needlessly raise the calorie level. The veggies in your omelet are often cooked in a sea of oil to begin with. Combine that with the oil and butter in the pan and cheese, and you’re looking at over a cup of oil in your seemingly healthy breakfast.


Swap it for: a dry omelet – restaurants know this means no oil in the pan. Ask for steamed veggies, and hold off on the cheese. Remember, the devil is in the details so keep that in mind next time you choose to be healthy!



May 2015
Rucksack much?

“Rucking” has been around since the American Revolution – and is slowly but surely emerging as a solid trend among fitness buffs.


The task involving rucking is simple. You’re only required to walk for miles carrying a weighted backpack.


The term “rucking” is from “rucksack,” a carrying device developed in the mid-19th century, which the military refers to as their “backpack.”  Filled with gears and necessities and weighing almost 200 pounds, soldiers carry these around while walking 25 miles and more,according to Men’s Health.


Rucking has built, toned and strengthened bodies of the NAVY Seal, but the activity can also work for the average person.


“It’s simple, and it delivers a lot of health and fitness benefits,” said Doug Kechijian, Doctor of Physical Therapy at Peak Performance in New York. Kechijian is also a former soldier in the U.S. Special Forces.


Doing a 30-minute walk with a rucksack can burn up to 325 calories, three times more than an regular morning walk. The activity also helps relieve and prevent back pain, as the weighted backpack can strengthen the back muscles. This is particularly helpful for gym buffs who have developed a disc bulge.


Continue Reading at Headlines and Global News

May 2015
Got cholesterol?

That cholesterol in your food is no big deal, so sayeth the scientific advisory panel for the 2015 iteration of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. If the recommendations are adopted, it would signal a major about-face in governmental dietary advice.


For 50 years, government agencies and mainstream medical establishments have advised Americans to lower their intake of dietary cholesterol — despite growing research that disputes its reputation as the primary culprit behind heart disease.


“Cholesterol is not considered a nutrient of concern for overconsumption,” stated the panel after its review of current scientific literature and medical knowledge.


“It’s the right decision,” Steven Nissen, MD, chair of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, told USA Today. “We got the dietary guidelines wrong. They’ve been wrong for decades.”


This doesn’t mean that health warnings about cholesterol in your bloodstream are changing, just that experts now believe the cholesterol in food is not at fault.


The dietary guidelines are updated every five years and have broad reach, including school-lunch programs.