≡ header

Top 5 Superfoods

First, let’s get something out of the way – the term, ‘superfood’ is more or less marketing vocabulary – a term used to help sell certain nutrient dense products. Of course, there is some truth to the word – these so called superfoods do actually have extremely high levels of nutrients and are known to be very beneficial in terms of promoting health and reducing the risk of disease.

Here is a list of 5 top superfoods to include in your diet.

1. Watercress

Watercress, courtesy of Wendell Smith https://flic.kr/p/esvCfS

Watercress, courtesy of Wendell Smith https://flic.kr/p/esvCfS

Watercress tops the CDC’s list of nutrient dense foods. Watercress is packed with Vitamins A and C and contains plenty of Calcium, Iron, B-6 and Magnesium. Watercress is also a good source of Protein, Folate, Pantothenic Acid and Copper. Additionally it contains Vitamin K, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Phosphorus, Potassium and Manganese. Wow! Watercress is absolutely loaded with green goodness.

2. Red Bell Pepper

Image courtesy of Pin Add

Image courtesy of Pin Add https://flic.kr/p/uZoBY


A fruit or a vegetable? I always consider pepper to be a vegetable, but it does contain seeds, so… It doesn’t matter. This sweet tasting pepper contains Vitamin K, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Folate, Niacin, Potassium and Manganese, Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, C, E and Vitamin B-6. In fact, a Red Bell Pepper, gram for gram, has more antioxidant rich Vitamin C than an orange! The fact that Red Peppers hang out on the plant longer than Green Peppers may be the reason they are so substantially more nutrient dense. Blend them up in a tomato sauce or with chickpeas for hummus. Grill or fry them to increase the level of sweetness. They work particularly well with coconut oil. Or just think of Red Pepper as a fruit and eat raw like an apple. Your body will love you for it.

3. Coconut

Image courtesy of Hafiz Issadeen https://flic.kr/p/79fwBN

Image courtesy of Hafiz Issadeen https://flic.kr/p/79fwBN

Speaking of Coconut Oil, the Coconut is one of the more popular superfoods in recent years. And for good reason. While containing nearly 87% saturated fat, it’s made up of the good kind of saturated fat – that is MCT’s or Medium-Chain Triglycerides (also referred to as MFCA’s or Medium-Chain Fatty Acids). And the bulk of the Triglicerides in Coconut Oil is Lauric Acid (C12) – a powerful antimicrobial. But the massive amount of saturated fat found in Coconut is extremely beneficial for brain function. It can also curb hunger and raise energy consumption levels. It’s all the “good” saturated fat that also helps increase HDL cholesterol and reduce the bad LDL which is great for a healthy heart.

4. Pistachios

Image courtesy of THOR https://flic.kr/p/7w6YgY

Image courtesy of THOR https://flic.kr/p/7w6YgY


This is the kind of superfood that is nearly too good to be true. But Pistachios contain high levels of nutrients, healthy saturated fats that reduce LDL cholesterol and are extremely antioxidant rich. Studies have shown that diets that included high amounts of Pistachios were great for cardiovascular wellness. They are also fairly low calorie, compared to other nuts. This is good news for many of us, who would snack endlessly on Pistachios given the opportunity.

5. Strawberry

Image courtesy of Fried Dough https://flic.kr/p/bDcqKE

Image courtesy of Fried Dough https://flic.kr/p/bDcqKE

When thinking “superfood”, one can’t help but think about berries. Berries, in general, are full of vitamins and antioxidant goodness. Plus they are super tasty. But it may be that no berry compares to the sweet red Strawberry in terms of truly being a superfood. In the CDC list of Powerhouse Fruits and Vegetables, the Strawberry ranks higher than the only other berry in the list – the blackberry (blueberries didn’t even make the list). Like Red Peppers, Strawberries surprisingly contain more Vitamin C than Oranges. They are also super rich in antioxidants, support cardiovascular health, they are packed with anti-inflammatory phytonutrients and have shown to help regulate blood sugar.

{ 0 comments }

I Found the Code!

A few years ago, I created a little app called WOD Timer for iPhone.  It was back in the early days of the first iPhone.  To my surprise, it actually had a few downloads and to this day, it continues to be purchased and used (Thank you!!!)

Along with this WOD Timer iPhone app, I also created a supplementary website called www.wodtimer.com (surprise).  The site was primarily for marketing the iPhone app, but I also created a Flash interval timer and threw it up on the site.  Amazingly, the Flash WOD Timer also had a fair number of users and, like the iPhone app, continues to have users.

I have received all sorts of comments about the online Timer app, but the most popular comment asks why the “Quickstart” timer function of the app only goes for around 9 minutes.  I always thanked people emailing me, but I usually failed to mention that I’d love to fix the issue but somehow lost the code.  DOH!!  Yes, I lost the WOD Timer code (online Flash version).

But…..

We are expecting our second child in April and I’ve been trying to find some time to clean up the house – get rid of junk we don’t need.  I actually went through all my burned CD’s and DVD’s as an exercise in consolidation and clean-up and do you know what I came across?  The code for WOD Timer!!!  I was so freakin’ ecstatic.

This evening, I found the bug where Quickstart stops at 9 minutes, fixed it and uploaded the new version.

Yay!!!

So if you used WOD Timer online before and stopped because the Quickstart option was broken, why don’t you go check it out again!

www.wodtimer.com

{ 1 comment }

Stay Healthy

Whenever I go to the gym, I look around at everyone there, working out.  I see people of all shapes and sizes on machines, lifting weights, running on the treadmill, using the rowing machine…  And I wonder, are they healthy?  Clearly many of them look great.  Clearly many of them are muscular.  But I can’t help but wonder if they are healthy.  Does training implicitly identify health?  I don’t know.  But I do know that exercise is a key component of keeping healthy.  It isn’t the only piece of the puzzle though.

What You Eat

The food you put in your mouth is arguably even more important than hitting the gym 5 times per week.  All the weight lifting and running in the world won’t help if your sodium and sugar intake is excessive.  And perhaps sodium is the main one to watch out for.  Keeping your heart in good shape has a bit to do with exercise and a whole lot to do with what you eat  - sodium being the most evil (despite so yummy) food.

And keeping sodium levels low isn’t easy at all!!!  Late last year, I tried to keep sodium as low as possible in my diet and it was super difficult.  Eating out was virtually impossible.  Have you looked at the sodium levels in every single menu item at Boston Pizza!?!

How You Sleep

Exercise and Food is only two parts of the health triumvirate (so to speak).  The third pillar, in my humble opinion, is inescapable yet so often overlooked – SLEEP!  Yes, getting too little sleep is like shaving days off your life, one by one.  In recent years, study after study have indicated the importance of sleep to a healthy body.  And please don’t forget how sleep makes us feel incredibly less grumpy.  Sleep cleanses the mind, rebuilds muscle, helps the immune system and gives us good dreams.  Get your 7.5 hours or preferably more every night and watch your kids have children and then watch your grand children have their own…

So Exercise for sure, but please stay healthy… Eat healthy… Sleep healthy.

{ 0 comments }

A study recently came out from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology concluding that,

The main finding from the present study was that a single bout of exercise that consisted of 1×4 min at 90% HRmax (1-AIT) increased VO2max to a similar extent as 4×4 min at 90% HRmax(4-AIT), when both protocols were performed 3×/wk for 10 wk in healthy overweight middle-aged men. Both interventions also induced similar improvements in submaximal work economy, blood pressure and fasting plasma glucose, but 4-AIT was more effective in reducing blood cholesterol and body fat.

The full article can be found here

And now there are a load of articles all over the net that take these results and say, “yay, we only need 12 minutes of exercise per week to be in shape”.  Don’t get me wrong – I’m a fan of the “Get in, get out” workout that takes as little time as possible, and I’m also a huge fan of high intensity intervals that increase VO2max.  But 12 minutes of exercise per week is not going to get you where you want to be.

Where you want to be is in a happy place that requires a bit more effort.  I’m not suggesting doing Crossfit 5 days per week, but if you’re going to get up and do air squats or whatever for 4 minutes 3 days per week, throw in another 10 to 15 minutes each workout and do some pushups, situps, add some pull-ups or if you got weights around, lift them.  Seriously.  Even Crossfitters who brag how the Fran workout only took 4 minutes to complete, will be seen hanging around the gym for another hour, practicing double unders and working on muscle-ups.

Yes, maybe you can lose weight doing 4 minutes of working out 3 times per week over 10 weeks.  Yes, maybe you decrease health risk factors and decrease the chance of heart disease and stroke.  That’s awesome.  But maybe you also want to build some muscle and get actually stronger.  All the VO2max in the world won’t help you lift furniture.

So let me be the first to say, with the caveat that this is just my opinion, 12 minutes of exercise is a great start, but it aint good enough.

{ 0 comments }

The Fit Blog Was Hacked This Morning

Looks like this site was hacked earlier this morning and a bunch of pages were compromised.  I’ve fixed everything, addressed the issues and contacted Google to remove the warning page.

Stupid hackers…

{ 0 comments }

Wicked Busy, But Still Keeping Fit

Wow, it’s been a while since I last wrote an article here. Life has gotten hectic and is about to get even more hectic as my wife and I are expecting a baby in October (yikes!).

Despite the hectic schedule lately, fitness continues to be a prime interest mine. Although to be honest, I haven’t been getting to the gym much lately, but have fortunately been continuing to exercise and eat properly.

In fact, I’ve been finding that, from a maintenance perspective, a regular simple workout combined with healthy, properly clean eating can work wonders for maintenance.

In the last month, my fitness can be broken down as follows:

Food

I continue to stay (mostly) off the grains (with the exception of the occasional patio/deck beers). BBQ meat is one of my main foods, lately supplemented with home-grown garden salads. For snacks I’ve been sticking primarily with yogurt and gorp (good ol raisins and peanuts) and almonds. When I’m in a rush in the morning, I’ve been opting for a protein shake and a handful of nuts.

Exercise

Daily – One of:
An interval routine of pushups, situps and pullups
Lots of burpees (around 100 quickly)
About 3 hours per week of Beach volleyball
About 2 hours per week of baseball
Lots of stretching (nightly)

Finally

Getting lots of sleep – one of the most important (yet incredibly under-appreciated) elements of maintaining a healthy body.

While the Summer months make me think of relaxation and margaritas, it’s actually a season with lots of activity and things that need to get done. For me, anyway, it means prioritizing and spending less time on some things. Exercise and maintaining a healthy body can fortunately be done with little time and don’t require a gym. In fact, in the Summer, maybe it’s best just avoiding the gym as much as possible. The last place you may want to be during the sunny days and warm nights is cooped up all sweaty indoors.

{ 7 comments }

Going Paleo 101 – What is Paleo?

Paleo is Paleolithic

Once upon a time ago there were humans who didn’t have smart phones, didn’t have books, heck – didn’t even have a written language. In fact, these humans were a vague (although genetically equal) version of us. These were our ancestors – the first of our kind – the first to inhabit our genetic makeup. And their genes had been developed for great lengths of time for specific reasons – to enable upright walking and complex thinking, emotion and survival instincts. Genetically, our ancestors were primed for hunting and gathering – survival, and their diets consisted of gathered vegetation and hunted animal meats. Sugar was unknown for the most part – as was bread and pasta. Many days these people would go without eating much at all. A successful hunt would bring back a nice meaty meal that would be quickly devoured before spoiled… It was an “eat to live” mentality. And diseases like we encounter today were nonexistent.

Their existence may have been a long time ago, but in the context of evolution, it was only just a moment ago – a moment in which nothing has changed in our genetic makeup. Cell for cell, we are identical to the humans of our hunter and gatherer past. However, technologically we are light-years away. Our technology has brought about many new things – much of which has enabled the massive success of our civilizations. But when it comes to food, there has been a giant separation between what (and how) humans used to eat and what (and how) humans eat today.

The Paleo Diet

And this is fundamentally what Paleo is all about. Our bodies evolved to consume a hunter-gatherer diet. Yet the modern world consumes a diet based on mass production. Human technology gave way to food processing and subsequently wheat based and sugary products – concentrated high calorie foods that although were particularly viable and useful for an exponentially growing population, were a far cry from the meats and vegetation days.

The Paleo diet is nothing more than ditching today’s processed food habits and switching to high quality (preferably raw) foods that our digestive systems were meant to consume. By doing so, the argument is that our bodies begin to run in a best state. Anecdotally (and scientifically), reports are all saying the same thing about this type of diet – that multitudes of health problems go away, digestion operates efficiently, migraines go away, excess weight is lost, sleep disruption and anxiety problems decline and energy levels become optimum.

And it’s exceptionally simple! Following a Paleo diet involves no measuring or calorie counting (if you aren’t interested in quick weight loss anyway). All you need to do is remember this mantra:

Meats and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, a little starch and NO SUGAR!

You can get a little more complicated than that by also avoiding legumes and nightshade type foods or consuming everything (including meat) raw, but in a nutshell (pun intended) the simple sentence above is all you need to keep in mind when eating.

The basic theory is that food should only be eaten as they were by our ancestors – as food should be eaten, given how our bodies and organs operate. So some of the things that should not be eaten include dairy products, sugar or sugar substitues and wheat based products or high glycemic veggies such as corn. Animal fat is fine (and actually encouraged).

A Day in the Life (of Paleo)

A nice Paleo friendly day of meals, for example, could look like this:

Breakfast: 2 eggs, an apple and a handful of almonds
Snack 1: homemade beef jerky (low sodium) and some berries
Lunch: Salad with chicken, lettuce, cucumber, snow peas and an oil based dressing
Snack 2: Some trail mix – dried berries (no sugar added) and nuts
Dinner: BBQ’d Salmon filet with a spinach salad (with sesame seeds and strawberries)
Snack 3: Some pistachios and pumpkin seeds or maybe a bit of chicken or some more jerky

Paleo diet friendly foods are low glycemic and have minimal effect on blood glucose levels. As such, those of us with blood sugar related problems (that are generally related to food) often find that episodes of hypoglycemia, for example, are more or less gone while on a paleo diet. Similarly, Paleo diets tend to keep hunger at bay and as such, it is possible to maintain a calorie restricted diet more easily on a Paleo diet.

For liquids, water, tea (unsweetened, no milk), coffee (black) are the basic drinks. Alcohol is unfortunately a no-no (although many Paleo dieters tend to disregard that in a social setting).

Keep in mind that it’s very difficult to maintain a strict Paleo diet along side a social life. When engaging in social situations, don’t feel overly guilty for falling off the bandwagon temporarily. Keep prepared, however, and try to consume protein with drinks and try as much as possible to avoid the sweets.

Remember – No Sugar

If you’re finding that the newest and greatest diet isn’t working for you or if you simply don’t have the time to measure out your portions and count calories, try out the Paleo way. It’s simple – just eat high quality foods as your body is meant to and remember: meats and veggies, nuts and seeds, some fruit, a little starch and NO SUGAR!!

{ 2 comments }

Awesome Nutrition Blog – Raw Foods SOS

Raw Foods SOS is an awesome nutrition blog by Denise Menger, a nutrition fanatic, freelance writer and raw foods evangelist with an obvious lot of knowledge and food smarts. Not only does she take great effort debunking studies and mainstream nutritional thinking, she does so with a incredibly appealing writing style. Her article titled “The China Study, Wheat and Heart Disease” goes into brain exploding detail on why wheat should be avoided at all costs. Denise takes all the data from the study and puts her own numerical analytics genius to work, pulling truth from the numbers and reflecting thoughtfully on her conclusions.

I was going to simply highlight that sole article on the evils of wheat, but instead I recommend that anyone at all interested in nutrition should take a read of Denise’s many articles.  Definitely great writing worth reading.  Possibly the best nutrition related blog I’ve seen outside of Robb Wolf’s Paleo blog.

On a related note and plugging two separate blogs in one single post, Robb Wolf’s Paleo Solution Quick Start Guide is a fantastic super quick guide that highlights some key points about the Paleo diet.  Anyone interested in weight loss or eating “clean” should take a look.

{ 0 comments }

Here’s a collection of a few exercises I used while in Vegas the other weekend. I didn’t like the hotel gym so decided to mostly use body weight exercises to keep in shape during my stay.

These 4 exercises really target some major muscles and doing them in a circuit style would be a great hotel room workout that can be done in minutes. These exercises could also be used for at home workouts.

{ 1 comment }

This video demonstrates a number of incredibly great bodyweight workouts – some of which I’ve never seen before, but will definitely be adding to my own routines. Never even thought about doing a hop after a one legged squat (pistol). And the L-sit on the balance tape is seriously wicked.

The two man partner exercises might also be good for a class (although I did go to a Crossfit class in San Fran once where someone took a serious header during a fireman lift/walk team WOD – ugh… that was aweful). The two man squat reminds me of these donkey calf raises (lol).

Granted, some of these exercises are somewhat advanced and/or require an urban landscape appropriate for them, but trainers take note – the gentlemen from Norther Parkour have a lot of great exercises that can be incorporated into your programs.

{ 0 comments }