Raising the Bar on Personal Training


Sports Nutrition

The Health Benefits of Almonds

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Need to change up your diet? Give almonds a try! Not only are they a delicious, healthy snack any time of the day, they are also available year round. When is fat good for you? When it's the good fat from Almonds and other nuts. Consuming the monounsaturated fats in almonds instead of an equal amount of saturated fats will lower your cholesterol by as much as 45%. Almonds also have 37% of the RDA for vitamin E, an important anti-oxidant needed by your body to ward off damage-causing free radicals!

Furthermore, almonds help reduce blood pressure by supplying a health dose of magnesium and potassium. Magnesium helps with the relaxation of your veins and arteries so less resistance equals less pressure. Moreover, eating almonds with a meal can help lower the glycemic index of the meal so almonds aid with the control of high blood sugar. Whole almonds provide the most benefit but some consumers find lots of benefits in almond milk and almond butter as well. Finally, if almonds aren't your thing, make sure to try other nuts like walnuts, chestnuts, and peanuts. Almost all nuts have plenty of anti-oxidants to keep your cells and heart healthy. As always, knowledge is power! Happy health!!

The Health Benefits of Garlic

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Garlic doesn't just keep vampires away...it also has many health benefits! It is one of the most popular cooking spices because of its strong smell and delicious taste. Furthermore, garlic has good amounts of manganese, vitamin B6, vitamin C, selenium, a little fiber, and a little protein. Some experts believe it can also prevent the common cold. One study showed that subjects who supplemented with garlic reduced the number of colds by 63% as compared to those subjects on a placebo.

Moreover, garlic can help against America's #1 killer...cardiovascular disease. In another study, those subjects who supplemented with garlic lowered their blood pressure and the risk of cardiovascular disease. Garlic also prevents cardiovascular disease by lowering LDL, the bad cholesterol. In addition, garlic contains antioxidants which many experts believe may prevent common brain diseases like Alzheimer's disease and dementia. Believe it or not, it is also believed that Olympians in ancient Greece would supplement with garlic to reduce fatigue! In conclusion, there are many health benefits obtained from garlic and it may also improve your cooking and your vampire slaying :) Happy Health!

The Healing Power of Cinnamon

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Cinnamon has been used for centuries, both as a spice and as an herbal medicine. There has been much debate on the healing power of cinnamon. Some experts believe that cinnamon may be used to treat a wide array of diseases. The most promising studies have been the use of cinnamon to treat type 2 diabetes. Results have shown that cinnamon increases insulin sensitivity and/or slows the absorption rate of carbohydrates in the small intestine. One or both of those effects will lower your blood sugar thus helping control type 2 diabetes.

Furthermore, there has been studies showing the effects of cinnamon as an antioxidant. The antioxidants in cinnamon appear to attack free radicals similar to the antioxidants in fruits and vegetables. Another study has even shown cinnamon to lower blood pressure, particularly systolic blood pressure. The evidence seems to indicate that adding cinnamon to your diet will improve your health. But more human studies are needed to establish better protocol and dosage amounts. Currently, most experts believe adding 2 to 4 teaspoons of cinnamon to your diet every day would be enough to benefit your health. This amount of cinnamon could easily be added to your tea, oatmeal, toast, cereal, etc. As always, Knowledge is Power! Happy Eating and Happy Health!!

Caffeine and Exercise

personal trainer certification school caffeine and exercise

Caffeine has been used in sports for many, many years. There have been many studies conducted aiming to prove or disprove the efficacy of caffeine in sports. Most studies have been done on endurance events with 200 to 400mg of caffeine. Ivy et al (1979) concluded that caffeine definitely increased lipid metabolism AND work production in 9 trained cyclists over a 2 hour exercise session. More recently, the research has been focused on combining carbohydrates with caffeine during sports performance. Ivy et al (2009) did a study on cycling performance after drinking Red Bull. The results once again showed improved performance with no increase in RPE (rate of perceived exertion).

Furthermore, another study by Gant et al (2010) showed that soccer players improved sprint performance and countermovement jumping after consuming a carbohydrate/caffeine sports drink. Even more interesting was a study conducted by Stevenson et al (2009) on golf performance. During a simulated round of golf, even skill movements like putting improved with the ingestion of carbohydrates and caffeine throughout the 4 hour period. It was concluded that the carb/caffeine mix must also improve focus. Thus far, little research has been done on caffeine and weight lifting but experts believe it must have a positive effect on weight training as well. At the very least, you'll be alert and focused when you are working out on a bit of caffeine. As always, be safe when it comes to consuming supplements including large quantities of caffeine. Remember, Knowledge is Power! Happy Health!

Glutamine and Muscle Building

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Is glutamine important? Heck yeah it is! Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid swirling around in your blood plasma and muscle cells. Glutamine has been proven to assist with protein synthesis by increasing muscle cell volume and raising HGH levels. Glutamine has also been proven to reduce protein breakdown which will further help your muscle building goals. Moreover, several studies have shown that glutamine depletion may occur after a strenuous workout; therefore, many sports nutritionists believe that glutamine should be part of your post-workout meal. In fact, a carbohydrate, protein, and glutamine post-workout meal will help replenish lost glycogen and also replace some of the glutamine released from the muscle during exercise.

Furthermore, a scientific review showed that athletes with low glutamine levels were susceptible to upper respiratory tract infections. In order to increase muscle and decrease bouts of illness, experts believe you should consumer at least 3 grams of glutamine per day. If you like beef, chicken, and fish, the great news is that each of those contain 2 to 4 grams of glutamine per serving. In conclusion, if you want to build muscle like Adam and Russell (pictured), making sure you consume adequate amounts of glutamine is a great start! Remember, Knowledge is Power! Happy Health and Happy Training!

Health Benefits of Cranberries

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Although most people only enjoy cranberries during the holiday season, this super food can provide an abundance of anti-oxidants year round. In fact, cranberries have more anti-oxidants than strawberries, spinach, broccoli, apples, cherries, and many other fruits and vegetables. Moreover, the only fruit that can provide your body with more anti-oxidants per serving than cranberries is blueberries. Cranberries also pack a punch when it comes to providing your body with vitamin C and dietary fiber.

Furthermore, you can add cranberries to your normal diet in a variety of ways. One way is to add dried cranberries to your favorite cereal or snack. Another method is adding a glass of 100% fruit juice that includes cranberries to your breakfast. Some shoppers buy fresh cranberries and store them in their refrigerator for up to two months! No matter how you like your cranberries, make sure you include them in your weekly shopping long after the holiday season is over! Happy Health!

An Apple a Day...

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Everyone has heard the phrase "an apple a day keeps the doctor away," but did you know that apples really do add a ton of nutritional value in your diet? Apples are high in fiber and very low in calories to aid in weight management. Fiber, as we all know, is important to reduce your blood cholesterol. Apples have zero cholesterol and only trace amounts of sodium which is perfect to maintain a healthy blood pressure.

Furthermore, apples are high in vitamin C, polyphenols, and other anti-oxidants which can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. One study even showed that people who ate apples on a regular basis lowered their risk of getting some types of cancer.

Finally, apples come in many different sizes and range in their sweetness. If you prefer a tart apple, you are going to love the popular granny smith apple. If sweet apples are more your style, try a fuji or kiku apple next time you are at the supermarket. Also, most of the fiber and vitamin C are at or near the skin so it's a good idea to eat the apple skin as well. Happy Health!

Should We Drink Ionized Water?

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Ionized water is another trend to hit the market the last few years.  Sellers of ionized water claim that the alkaline water promotes healthy weight loss, boosts the immune system, neutralizes free radicals, and slows the aging process. They claim that ionized water serves as an anti-oxidant very similar to beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E. Although sellers of ionized water claim to improve health benefits, there is no evidence thus far that any of the claims are true.

On the other hand, experts in the field of chemistry and physics rebuke their claims. Science has proven that your body prefers homeostasis, which means, your body makes adjustments all day long to stay at the preferred pH of 7.4. Also, experts claim that once the negative ions are ingested, they would quickly bind with positive ions thus neutralizing any effects that may have been theoretically possible. As with all supplements, it is "buyer beware" because supplements such as ionized water are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. In conclusion, the most important thing is that you are drinking enough water regardless of its source. Have a great workout and stay hydrated!

Artificial Sweeteners and Weight Gain

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Do artificial sweeteners cause weight gain? Let's look at what we know so far. Most artificial sweeteners have zero or close to zero calories so they can't, by themselves, increase your weight, but, they still get the blame. One theory is that the sweet taste may be make you crave real sugar which if consumed will make you gain real weight. Therefore, be mindful of cravings and avoid too many snacks between meals. Moreover, some experts believe that drinking a diet soda with zero calories gives people the false sense of freedom to consume as much food as they want. We need more education in schools to remind children and adults alike that diet drinks are just flavored water. Diet drinks don't allow you to eat more food with little consequence.

Furthermore, it's been written that even artificial sweeteners can cause an insulin spike which can lead to weight gain. This theory has NOT been proven and is 100% false. Scientists are 100% positive that your super human body can tell the difference between artificial sugar and the real thing! But again, diet soda with a big carb meal will give you an insulin spike which can lead to weight gain. In summary, enjoy your diet soda if you choose but remember to eat a healthy meal with your diet drink. Remember why you're drinking the diet soda in the first place! Lastly, if you already prefer water over diet drinks, then stick to water. Water will always be the preferred beverage of choice. Now whether they're good for you is a WHOLE OTHER BLOG!! Happy Health!

Supplementing with Beta-Alanine

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Beta-Alanine has been the latest buzz at the gym the last few years. Does it work? Is it as good as creatine? Can you use it with creatine? Is it for strength? Is it for endurance? Are there any side effects? The preliminary studies have been mostly positive. In several studies, beta-alanine has been shown to improve both strength and endurance by delaying fatigue. Hoffman et al. (2006) even showed improved strength performance when beta-alanine was used in conjunction with creatine.

Furthermore, studies are still being conducted on the amounts of beta-alanine one should consume. More studies are needed but preliminary research shows that 2 to 3 grams per day should increase your workout intensities by delaying the lowering of pH levels in your muscles. This mechanism allows your muscles to work harder and longer which should improve both strength training workouts and cardiovascular workouts. On the other hand, there has been one reported side effect: most subjects have reported a tingling sensation after consumption of beta-alanine. Most experts believe that the tingling sensation is probably due to an excessive amount being consumed in one serving. Therefore, most supplement companies advice a limit of 800mg beta-alanine at a time up to 4 times per day. As always, consult your physician or an experienced personal trainer about working out and consuming sports supplements. Happy Lifting and Happy Health!

Super Delicious Peanut Butter

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Do you love peanut butter? You're not the only ! Americans consume 700 million pounds of peanut butter each year or enough peanut butter to coat the floor of the grand canyon! A recent poll says there is a jar of peanut butter in 75% of homes in America. Is there one in your home? Are you one of millions of Americans that loves your peanut butter? If so, you'll be happy to read about all the wonderful benefits provided by a huge spoonful of peanut butter! First, peanut butter has a significant amount of protein. Many studies have confirmed that most athletes do not consume enough protein; therefore, adding peanut butter to your daily caloric intake will probably help you! Furthermore, the protein, fiber, and unsaturated fats will help suppress your appetite which could lead to weight loss if that is your goal.

Moreover, peanut butter is a good source of potassium and anti-oxidants like vitamin E which aid in the fight against high blood pressure and coronary artery disease. You can consume peanut butter in a variety of ways. Most people eat peanut butter in sandwiches but it's also become a staple in many protein smoothies. Although smoothies require a blender, peanut butter sandwiches are easy to carry in a gym bag and make great pre-workout and post-workout snacks. So the next time you're craving peanut butter, add some to your pre and post-workout snacks! You and your muscles will be happy you did. Happy Health!

The Health Benefits of Cheese

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June 4th is National Cheese Day! This delicious food is filled with many nutrients I don't know where to start; but, if I have to start somewhere, it's the superb mix of high quality protein with good fats. High quality, complete proteins are important in building stronger muscles among other things. Good fats are also very important to increase cell function and improve hormone productivity. Cheese is also a great source of omega 3s and omega 6s which are important for brain function! Furthermore, what most people think of when I say CHEESE...the great source of calcium! Your bones need calcium to become strong and dense. This calcium along with B-vitamins promote healthy bones and teeth.

In addition, cheese is currently being studied for it's stress reduction qualities. Maybe it's the taste...maybe it's the magnesium...we're not sure what it is but cheese has been observed to reduce panic and anxiety attacks. And finally some varieties of cheese are rich in zinc. Zinc plays an important role in not only keeping your muscles strong, but zinc also keeps your immune system strong. So in this new age of endless selfies, don't just say cheese...eat cheese! Happy Cheese Day and Happy Health!

The Health Benefits of Chia Seeds

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Did you know there are many health benefits to eating chia seeds? Many people enjoy this great tasting "super food" as an additive to their muffins, shakes, and drinks. You can also sprinkle Chia seeds on your oatmeal or yogurt. This super food will instantly add good fats, protein, fibers, vitamins and minerals to your diet without sacrificing taste!

Moreover, Chia seeds are high in calcium for stronger bones. One ounce of the seeds have 11 grams of fiber which will help to curb your appetite and control your blood sugar. Also, each ounce of chia seeds has 4 grams of muscle building protein; not bad for a few seeds mixed in with your protein shake. Health enthusiasts also rave about the "good fats" in chia seeds. Each ounce of the seeds has 5 grams of omega-3 fatty acids thus providing your body with the nutrients it needs to repair itself after a great workout! Adding chia seeds to your food and drinks is also another way of adding valuable anti-oxidants to your diet along with minerals such as magnesium, manganese, and zinc. You can find chia seeds at most super markets and health food stores. Good Luck and Happy Health!

The Health Benefits of Watermelon

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Most people already know that watermelons are a nutritious fruit. Watermelons are a great source of low glycemic carbs, zero fat, zero sodium, zero cholesterol, packed with vitamin C and vitamin A, and of course a good source of water! But did you know that watermelon seeds also have a high nutrient value? It's true! One ounce of watermelon seeds has 13g of good fat and 8 grams of muscle building protein! Plus, watermelon seeds are also a good source of calcium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium.

So what's the best way to eat watermelon and/or their seeds? Well, most people roast watermelon seeds similar to roasting pumpkin seeds. But if you don't have time for that, just throw the watermelon chunks into a blender, seeds and all, with your favorite protein powder for a pre- or post-workout snack. You won't even know you're drinking the seeds when they are chopped into tiny pieces by your blender. Remember, Knowledge is Power! Happy Health!

Water and Sports Performance

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It's easy to get dehydrated in the Texas heat if you exercise outdoors especially when the temperature rises to 100 degrees and above. Drinking plenty of water is essential to staying hydrated. Water is the most abundant and most important nutrient in our bodies. Also, muscle weight is nearly  75% water so it's imperative we drink plenty of water. We receive most of our water from drinking liquids but we do get some from food. On the other hand, we lose a lot of water through sweating which happens naturally when our body tries to stay cool. Moreover, we wake up most mornings feeling dehydrated; therefore, it is very important to start each day with at least one full glass of water.

In addition, dehydration starts at 1% body weight loss during activity. At that level, studies have shown sports performance begins to drop and an athlete begins to slow down. A person working out can lose as much as 3 liters of water per hour during a very strenuous workout. Most experts suggest that a sedentary person should drink at least 2.5 liters of water per day. Therefore an active person, should drink 5 to 10 liters per day just to stay properly hydrated and keep up their athletic performance! In conclusion, stay cool, drink plenty of water, and keep moving!! Remember, Knowledge is Power! Happy Health!!

Black Tea, Green Tea, and Lemons

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Are you drinking black tea or green tea? Great news if you are! Both are very beneficial to your body. According to research, green and black teas have as much or more antioxidants than some fruits and vegetables. These antioxidants scavenge for cell-damaging free radicals in the body and detoxify them. In some studies, it was been shown that rats that were given tea developed less cancer than the control rats. Although the antioxidant levels are nearly equal in both black tea and green tea, the amount of caffeine in black tea is usually more than that of green tea: about 70mg to 40mg of caffeine so choose your tea wisely.

Furthermore, adding lemon to your tea also has many health benefits. Lemons are high in vitamin C and flavonoids which help fight infections like the flu and the common cold. Although lemons are acidic to the taste, they are alkaline forming which help balance the pH in your body. Lemons also helps detoxify the liver which aids the liver with most other cleansing functions. Lemons also prevents scurvy, clean your bowels, dissolve kidney stones, and many other functions. Thus, an energy drink may seem to give you instant energy and gratification; but, reaching for a glass of lemon tea will have more benefits in the long run. Happy Health!

Health Benefits of Chocolate and Wine

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Happy Valentines' Day! Believe it or not, there are health benefits to having a little chocolate and drinking a little wine on Valentine's Day! First of all, chocolate tastes great! Your mood will definitely improve after just one bite. It also has been proven to lower bad cholesterol if eaten in moderation. Chocolate also improves memory in older adults by increasing blood flow in the brain. Moreover, chocolate has been shown to reduce the chances of heart disease and stroke. It also contains the very important minerals potassium, zinc, and selenium.

In addition, many experts have lauded the health benefits of wine for many years. Like chocolate, moderate wine drinking has been proven to lower the rate of heart disease and stroke in many studies; also, proved to slow brain decline. Drinking wine in moderation can lower the chances of developing type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, in a study conducted in Iceland, drinking wine lowered the risk of developing cataracts. In a study for colon cancer, moderate wine drinkers reduced their chances of developing colon cancer by 45%! One thing is for sure, eating chocolate and drinking wine can be beneficial if consumed in moderation! So enjoy a bite of chocolate and raise a glass to your health!