Recovery Done Right: 8 Ways to Prevent Muscle Soreness

Gym RecoveryAching after a brutal workout? Delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) can make you feel the burn while your muscles recover and rebuild. But, if you take the right steps after your workout, you can go hard without paying the price. Here are 8 easy ways to prevent postworkout pain.

Stretch. Stretching is your first line of defense after a good workout. “When you train, you contract the muscles, and the muscle fibers get shorter,” says Steve Edwards, Head of Fitness and Nutrition Development at Beachbody®. “Lengthening them after a workout promotes mobility, and can lead to a more thorough recovery.” While fitness experts can’t seem to agree on this strategy[1]—one Australian study[2] claimed that stretching had no impact on muscle soreness—it certainly won’t hurt, especially if your flexibility is limited.

Eat for rapid recovery. In a study on “nutrient timing,” researchers found that a postworkout drink with between a 3:1 to 5:1 carb-to-protein ratio reduced muscle damage and improved recovery times[3]. A tough workout depletes blood sugar, as well as the glycogen stored in your muscles. Restoring that supply within an hour of finishing your workout is your body’s top priority. P90X® Results and Recovery Formula® is optimized with the 4:1 ratio, but in a pinch, down a glass of grape juice with whey protein powder or a glass of chocolate milk. Denis Faye, Beachbody’s Nutrition Expert, explains. “When the sugar [from the drink] rushes into your muscles to restore that supply, the protein piggybacks to jump-start the recovery process.”

Ice it. Immediately after a tough workout, icing your muscles can stave off inflammation. “Inflammation is one of nature’s defense mechanisms, but it works like a cast—it immobilizes you,” Edwards says. “When you keep inflammation down, that area is free to keep moving, and movement promotes healing.” Like stretching, its effectiveness is up for debate—some researchers have claimed that ice is only effective for injuries and not for run-of-the-mill soreness[4], but it’s a simple and safe option that many top-level athletes swear by[5]. “Unless you ice so long that you give yourself frostbite, there’s really no danger,” Edwards says. “It seems to really speed up healing without any adverse effects.”

Change your diet. “When your muscles are sore, inflammation is a huge part of the problem,” Faye says. To help reduce this inflammation, add foods that are rich in omega-3s—such as salmon, free-range meat, flax, avocado, and walnuts[6]—to your diet. The natural anti-inflammatory properties[7] of these foods can help dial back the soreness after overexertion. Amino acid supplements can also help with muscle recovery after a high-intensity workout[8].

Massage your sore spots. A recent study found that massage can reduce inflammatory compounds called cytokines[9]. One type of massage that’s gaining popularity is myofascial release, which targets the connective tissue covering the muscles. You can hit these areas yourself using a foam roller—put the roller on the floor, use your body weight to apply pressure, and roll back and forth over the sore areas for about 60 seconds. But . . . before you do, make sure you’re rehydrated and your heart rate is back to normal. “When your muscles are hot and loaded with lactic acid, you might make it worse,” Edwards says. For a more detailed tutorial on foam rolling, check out the Beachbody Tai Cheng® program.

Get heated. While ice can work wonders immediately after a workout, heat can help once your muscles have returned to their resting temperature[10]. “Heat increases circulation, especially focused heat in a jacuzzi, where you can hit areas like joints that don’t normally get a lot of circulation,” Edwards says. Just don’t jump in the hot tub immediately after a workout, because the heat can exacerbate inflammation, and the jets can pound your already-damaged muscles. Edwards cautions, “When your body heat is already high and you have a lot of muscle breakdown, sitting in a hot tub with the jets would be counterintuitive.”

Move it. You may be tempted to plant yourself on the couch until the pain subsides, but don’t skip your next workout. Circulation promotes healing, so it helps to get your heart pumping—just don’t overdo it. “Active recovery” is low-intensity exercise that gets your blood flowing without taxing your muscles. What qualifies as low-intensity? It depends on your typical workout. If you know your training zones, you can use a heart rate monitor. But, Edwards says, the easiest way to engage in active recovery is to exert around 50% of your max effort, and keep your heart rate below 140 bpm or so. Most Beachbody workout programs include a recovery workout, but if yours doesn’t, a gentle yoga class or going on an easy hike are good options.

Pop a painkiller—if you must. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen can relieve pain, but many experts aren’t sure if they’re worth the risk. “A lot of athletes call it ‘Vitamin I,'” Edwards says. But he cautions that NSAIDs can cause nasty side effects and accelerate muscle breakdown. “The only time they might help is if you’re in so much pain that you can’t do low-level exercise—you can’t get off the couch,” Edwards says. In that case, meds might help, but be careful not to overdo it—because if you’re not feeling pain, you may push too hard and cause an injury.

Resources:

[1] http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/news/20071017/stretching-wont-prevent-sore-muscles?page=2
[2] http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071016195932.htm
[3] http://www.utexas.edu/features/archive/2004/nutrition.html
[4] http://www.upmc.com/Services/sports-medicine/newsletter/Pages/ice-after-exercise.aspx
[5] http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/20/really-the-claim-an-ice-bath-can-soothe-sore-muscles/
[6] http://www.webmd.com/diet/ss/slideshow-omega-3-health-benefits
[7] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16531187
[8] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20300014
[9] http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/06/how-massage-heals-sore-muscles
[10] http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/29108.php

Beachbody Grows Exponentially Thanks To Network Marketing

Shaun T. Insanity
There are not many companies these days that can do $400 million in sales and remain relatively anonymous.

Yet Beachbody, a private company, grossed nearly as much as Groupon did last year and very few people talk about the robust engine that is behind exercise workout programs like P90X, INSANITY and Turbo Jam.

Under the leadership of co-founder Jon Congdon and Carl Daikeler, the company has developed a business model that seems to be Teflon, turning successful converts of its programs into network marketers who ensure that the brands flourish.

Many multi-level marketing companies are based on building a network of sellers and distributors getting rewarded based on the size of their network.

Most often, the people who have gotten in on the ground floor reap the greatest benefits while those late to the game struggle to make money.

What makes Beachbody’s network of distributors, called coaches, so successful is that these people have done the programs and are often in incredible shape. Their testimonial and therefore their business relies on how good they look, not whether they tell friends that a certain superfruit drink helps them have more energy or cures their stomach problems.

It seems like, more often than not, network marketing thrives on results which can’t be verified, but if my fat friend shows up with a six-pack, I’ll be more likely to believe he was doing an intense workout program.

Since starting the network marketing program three and half years ago, Beachbody now has 51,000 coaches who take a cut of videos and nutritional products they sell. Beachbody coaches sell $1 million worth of nutritional shakes under the brand’s Shakeology name a week. And it’s not cheap at around $120 for a month worth of servings.

“We could have built this company’s sales a lot faster at retail by selling at Walmart and Target,” Daikeler said. “But selling it through direct television (infomercials) and through our network works better for us.”

Daikeler says that his coaches serve as walking billboards and salespeople who want to help their family and friends by helping them lose weight through the company’s exercise programs. This is unlike many other multi-level marketing companies that solely rely on building a network to make more money.

And Daikeler doesn’t have to pay for testimonials, a common practice in the infomercial business space he plays in.

“The standard network marketing doesn’t work with our model,” Daikeler said. “This is not a ponzi scheme where if you’re the last one in, you don’t have a chance to do well.”

While the average lifespan of a multi-level marketer is three months, Daikeler says his coaches remain in the system an average of 18 months. It’s why he’s confident that by the end of 2011, there will be 150,000 coaches.

“We don’t promise it will replace your every day job,” Daikeler said. “That has been the case with about 1,000 of our coaches. But what it does for others is it keeps them in shape. In order to continue to have credibility selling, you need to continue to keep up. And so, it allows the people who want to fight obesity, to be motivated by the fact that they have skin in the game.”

By continuing to have more and more videos – P90X led to a harder workout, INSANITY, and that program is leading to The Asylum, which will come out in a few weeks – I don’t see Beachbody slowing down any time soon. And the non-traditional, more patient route of using those converted to the brand by really using it is a smart approach that I think will pay off nicely down the road.

What and When You Should Eat

Clock
It’s not just what you eat but when you eat that matters. The perfect food for one situation may be horrible for another. Nutrient timing is a science that athletes use to try to get the most out of every calorie they consume. Not everyone needs an athlete’s level of efficiency, but all of us will benefit from a basic understanding of nutrient timing.

This is 911, need-to-know info only. To keep you focused on the big picture, I’ll begin with an example at the extreme end of nutrient timing. If the average Joe followed the same diet as an Ironman triathlete, he’d likely have type 2 diabetes in a matter of months. Conversely, if someone tried to complete an Ironman on even the healthiest version of a low-carb diet, that person would either be forced to quit or die. This is not just because either diet would mean eating too much food or too little food. Different foods cause the body’s metabolic process to react in different ways; and various activities should be fueled using various means.

Let’s begin by looking at our possible fuel sources:
Carbohydrates
Are fuel only. They aren’t stored in body tissue, only in the blood and liver as glycogen, which needs to be burnt off. They are essential for high-level functioning like running fast, lifting heavy things, and thinking. They are digested and put to use by your body very quickly. If you eat more than you burn, your body will convert them to be stored in adipose (fat) tissue.

Proteins
Called the body’s building blocks. Hence, you need them to rebuild tissue that breaks down daily. You digest proteins slowly, and at a certain point, your body just can’t assimilate them. Therefore, it’s important that throughout the day you eat foods that are high in protein.

Fats
Help regulate all of your bodily functions. They are dense and contain over twice the calories of proteins and carbohydrates. While they are vital for our health, it’s easy to eat too much of them, which will result in unwanted fat tissue on your body. You digest fats slowly, and fats will also help slow the digestion of anything else you eat. Fats are also your backup fuel source, though they can’t be put to use right away the way carbs can.

Fiber
Categorized as a carbohydrate, it is not a source of fuel as it has no calories. It’s the indigestible part of a plant and is of vital importance in your diet because it regulates the absorption of the foods you eat. It also helps us feel full. Most of us don’t eat enough fiber, and that’s a big part of the obesity problem.

Alcohol
Not really a food source but something we tend to consume. It has nearly twice the calories of proteins and carbs (though it lacks fuel) and digests rapidly. Its only healthy function is that it seems to make us happy. Studies indicate this is a good thing, as those who consume alcohol generally live longer than those who don’t, but from a purely nutritional standpoint, it’s not so hot because you’re getting calories without any upside. Its use should be strategic and regulated for best results.

Now let’s look at the various situations we face daily, at least on most days—hopefully.

Relaxing
This is when we’re sedentary both physically and mentally. In a relaxed state, you burn very few calories because your body is engaged as little as possible, hence the relaxing.

Sedentary work
When we’re at work or school. Our bodies aren’t moving, but our brains are engaged. The brain runs on glycogen, which is blood sugar fueled by carbohydrates.

Low-level exercise
Like mowing the lawn, cleaning the house, or going for a walk. This breaks down body tissue, so you’re burning calories, but it’s not intense work. Therefore, it can be fueled by your stored body fat. Your body tries to fuel its low-level outputs by mobilizing fat stores because this saves its limited glycogen for emergency situations.

High-level exercise
Fueled by glycogen. When you really have to get after it, all sorts of hormones go to work, and your body burns its blood sugar. Body-tissue breakdown is rapid, and your stored blood sugar (glycogen) won’t last much more than an hour.

Sleep
A very active time. Deep sleep is where your body works the hardest to repair itself. You need nutrients to make these repairs, but it’s better if you aren’t mucking up the process with digestion. This is why you hear that you shouldn’t eat too much at night. It’s best to eat early to allow most of the digestion to happen while you’re awake, thus allowing your body to use all its energy for recovery during sleep. It is worth noting here that it’s better to eat before bed if you need the nutrients—don’t skip them. Your body can’t repair itself without nutrients, and recovery from breakdown is why we eat in the first place. Next, let’s take a look at an important word you need to know: insulin.

Insulin
Wikipedia tells us that insulin “is a hormone that has extensive effects on metabolism and other body functions, such as vascular compliance. Insulin causes cells in the liver, muscle, and fat tissue to take up glucose from the blood, storing it as glycogen in the liver and muscle, and stopping use of fat as an energy source.” Okay, that’s a little scientific, but look at all the things we’ve already referenced: hormone, glycogen, metabolism, and fat as an energy source. Even if you don’t fully comprehend “vascular compliance,” you can tell that insulin is something important in today’s discussion.

Sure enough, it’s the only hundred-dollar word we need to know today. Your body’s insulin response is the main reason you want to eat certain foods at certain times, to do certain things.

Putting it all together
Now let’s take what we’ve just learned and put it to use. For most of us, nutrient timing is pretty simple. The next thing to consider is what you’re going to be doing or what you just did. As I said before, what you eat should be based on this. You’ve probably heard about the evils of sugar, or maybe even the glycemic index. Using the science of nutrient timing, you can turn sugar into something healthy because it’s the only thing that transports nutrients into your blood quickly enough to be of service during and after hard exercise.

Essentially, sugar or other easily digested carbs (the less fiber the better) promote an insulin release. This speeds the transformation of carbohydrates into glucose in your blood. As your glycogen stores are depleted during exercise, recharging them with sugar minimizes the damage done by the breakdown of tissue during exercise. Therefore, sugar, the oft-vilified ingredient, is actually your body’s preferred nutrient during times of excessive stress and tissue breakdown.

Pretty cool, huh? The bad news is that this miracle nutrient is not good for you when you’re not doing intense exercise, which for almost all of us is most of the time. In fact, sugar’s very bad for you because the insulin response that was so fabulous for you when you were bonking (glycogen depleted) is not so fabulous for you when you’re sitting in front of the boob tube.

Remember this from the Wikipedia definition of insulin, “stopping use of fat as an energy source”? That’s bad when you’re sitting around. Remember how one of dietary fat’s responsibilities is to fuel you during low-intensity exercise? Well, when sugar causes your insulin to spike, it cuts off that process. Now not only are you not burning body fat for low-level outputs, you’re trying to force your body to use its glycogen. Double bad.

Unless you’re exercising, sugar intake should be minimized. During these times—which is most of the time—your diet should consist of a mixture of proteins, fats, and complex carbohydrates. The latter are natural sources of carbohydrates that generally come with fiber, which regulates the insulin response. Whole fruit, a simple carbohydrate by definition because it contains fructose (a sugar), always contains fiber and, thus, can be treated as a complex carb. Fruit juice, and other such stuff, is processed; it, along with processed complex carbohydrates like white rice, can cause an insulin response, so these types of foods should be used more like sports foods than staples.

It’s also important to note that combining all these different nutrients slows sugar’s ability to incite insulin into action. Therefore, a little sugar like a dessert after a well-rounded meal is buffered by the meal. The calories and lack of decent nutrients (processed sugar is devoid of most nutrients, except for energy) still count toward your overall diet, but at least you don’t have to worry about an insulin spike.

So the main point of this article is very simple. You should eat small, well-rounded meals most of the time. These should include some proteins, some fats, some fiber, and some carbs. During (only if it’s a long workout) and after hard workouts, you should supplement your diet with sugar or simple carbohydrates. After this, you should go back to eating well-rounded meals again.

Sports nutrition has evolved this process even further. In nature, foods are generally slow to digest. Nature’s great sports foods are things such as bananas and figs. These are sugary but still contain fiber and other nutrients. Science has found ways to make foods that are even more efficient during sports. These basically manipulate pH levels and process the sugars to speed them into your system. Outstanding when you need it. Terrible when you don’t.

They’ve even taken this a step further by finding a ratio of other nonsugary nutrients (like protein) that can be transported by the sugar to give you a further benefit. Beachbody’s Results and Recovery Formula uses this science. When you’re bonking during a hard workout, it speeds nutrients that are essential for quick recovery into your system as quickly as possible.

I can’t stress how important it is that sports fuels be used for sports performance only. Gatorade, soda, and all sugar candies (hey, no fat!) all function as the poor man’s sports foods. Unfortunately, those perusing the Quick Stop generally aren’t trying to fuel up after doing Plyo X, and therein may lay our obesity trend.

In case the topic is still a bit fuzzy, let’s use the above logic on the examples in the intro: An Ironman athlete is doing intense exercise for 10 to 12 hours or more. During this time, that athlete is mainly burning glycogen, which is gone after an hour or so. The athlete burns stored fat, too, but this is limited in its effectiveness. To race, the athlete must replenish with sports foods because they contain the only nutrients that the athlete will digest fast enough to help. To complete an Ironman, especially at your physical limit, it may take 5,000 calories coming mainly from sugar.

This is a sports-specific diet only. Someone trying to eat that way during a viewing of the Lord of the Rings trilogy would be lucky to stay out of the emergency room. Conversely, if you tried to maintain a 25-mph speed for 8 hours on your bike while munching on raw spinach and lean steak, you’d bonk so hard you’d be praying to get yanked from the race at the first checkpoint. That should cover your 911 on nutrient timing. Next time, we’ll move on to the topic of supplements. Are they magic pills, overhyped placebos, or something in between?

Coffee, Tea, and Caffeine

Coffee, Tea & Caffeine
Today we discuss the most popular drink in the world: coffee. I don’t actually know where these statistics come from, but since we mainly want to discuss one ingredient, caffeine, I’ll lump coffee, tea, and other caffeinated beverages into the same discussion so that we’ll be sure to address something that’s pertinent to almost all of you. Coffee and tea have been around for the entirety of recorded history, so no matter what science tells us, we begin this edition with some time-tested knowledge that people don’t go around dropping dead over the stuff, nor will it get you banned for cheating when you win at the Olympics (unless it’s too much).

Coffee and tea are probably the most controversial substances we consume. Unlike, say, soda, candy, chocolate, and fast food—which we know are detrimental to our diets—studies swing both ways over the benefits and dangers of our morning cup of java. But whatever the outcome, we drink the stuff with an almost ritualistic glee. If you drink neither coffee nor tea, you’re an outsider in almost any culture on the planet.

Coffee, tea, and other caffeinated drinks
First off, let’s talk about the difference between tea, coffee, and other drinks laced with caffeine. Coffee and tea are both very simple products made from mixing ground-up plants with hot water. So they’re both 100 percent natural, contain approximately zero calories, and have a few nutrients. What they do contain is caffeine. A lot of it. Coffee has nearly twice as much caffeine as tea, but the amount varies by type and the brewing process. As a general rule, trendy green teas have less caffeine than black teas, which have less than coffee. Figure that for each cup of coffee or tea you consume, you’ll get between 50 milligrams and 200 milligrams of caffeine.

Both have other assorted nutrients, mainly antioxidants, all of which are quite healthy. The downside is that both are acidic to the point that habitual consumption can cause stomach problems in some people. But the main hit or miss with folks when it comes to coffee or tea is the caffeine. After this, their choices are usually made by taste, ritual, or the culture they live in. Caffeine gives you a jolt of energy, which we’ll discuss later, and because of this, many other beverages now come with a healthy dose of the stuff. Most sodas have some caffeine, but the big trend today is toward turbocharged “energy drinks,” a topic for another day. These are often nasty concoctions of sugar, caffeine, and other assorted legal uppers designed to amp you sky-high and provide the illusion that you’re having a good time. They may work, at least for a short time, but they are basically just time bombs of euphoria. When you crash, you crash hard.

Can coffee or tea make you fat?
There is one place we have a definitive answer on this subject, and it’s that neither of these drinks will make you fat. In fact, they should do the opposite. Caffeine is a diuretic, meaning that it affects your metabolic process at a heightened level. Translation: it makes you go to the bathroom more often. It also elevates brain activity, which, technically, should make you less hungry. This is why caffeine is often added to diet aids.

The only things in coffee or tea that can make you fat are the things you add to them. The menu at your local Starbucks contains stuff that makes coffee merely a side dish, if that. And traditional drinks such as Thai iced tea are only tea in name. Therefore, just because something calls itself “coffee” or “tea” doesn’t mean that’s all there is to the story. Like with most foods, reading labels is important. We’ll talk more about coffee drinks next time.

The latest research
Coffee has been in the headlines a lot recently. You may have caught the headlines a while back stating that it could give you a heart attack. Or maybe you caught the study touting it as a superfood, which came out at the same time! Certainly, you’ve heard that it’s a banned substance by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) due to its performance-enhancing qualities. But then why, you wonder, did you just see a headline saying you should avoid it prior to a workout? And what about that study stating that if you drank enough coffee, it would stave off the effects of all that alcohol you consume?

Coffee, tea, and caffeine are perhaps the most widely studied things we put into our bodies (over 19,000 recent recorded studies), yet no definitive stance can be found on the stuff. If this seems odd, we must consider the fact that studies need to be funded and a lot of money can skew a study to say this or that—a subject I touch on often in my blog. At any rate, let’s wade into some of the more recent headlines and try to make some sense out of them.

Will coffee give you a heart attack?
Apparently it will—if you’re “at risk for heart attacks,” according to a syndicated article that was all over the Internet a while back. But what does this mean? The article begins with the vague line about how coffee may trigger a heart attack in some people. If you delve deeper, the water becomes muddier, so, tired of sifting through their muck, I went to the source.

For over 4 years, a large Costa Rican study examined the relationship among 503 nonfatal heart attacks. The study found that most of the subjects drank coffee prior to having the heart attack. In the stats, it appeared that light coffee drinkers were at more risk than heavy coffee drinkers. This, as you might suppose, caused some confusion. Looking deeper into the abstract, we see that the researchers think that the coffee/heart attack relationship stems from a rare gene variation in some people. They also stated that their research was “far from conclusive.” The report on Yahoo!® made no mention of the gene variant and, instead, went with the more alarmist “those at risk” line because “who isn’t, right?” The study also clearly stated that most of the population was at zero risk from drinking coffee.

The bottom line of the study was that most of the population was not at risk, and the few that might be, also may not be. So, for now, I’ll side with Dr. Robert Eckel, former president of the American Heart Association, and remain “unconvinced.” Furthermore, a study done over 2 decades using 120,000 subjects concluded that there was no relationship between even heavy coffee drinking and heart disease. This study, done in part by the Harvard School of Public Health, showed that there was no link between heart disease and a daily intake of six or more cups of coffee per day. It also stated the risk was the same for those who consumed less than one cup of coffee or tea per month. This study also addressed the Costa Rican findings, stating they were “possible” but “require confirmation.”

Can you lose your gold medal?
Not anymore. In 2004, the IOC removed caffeine from its list of banned items. Prior to that, athletes could be busted for drinking about five or more cups of coffee. Certainly, this means that some highly regarded scientists once thought it was an ergogenic (a performance enhancer). But was it removed because it was found to be ineffective, as there are now better ways of “cheating,” or because the coffee lobby contributed to the IOC? Time may or may not tell, but one thing’s for sure: many people believe caffeine enhances performance.

A recent Swiss study, however, refutes it, at least in one sense. The study of 18 individuals showed that coffee prior to exercise restricted heart blood flow by 22 percent. Obviously, this would be a detriment to performance, but again, the research is far from conclusive. For one, the study used regular coffee drinkers, and participants were not allowed to drink coffee for 36 hours prior to the experiment, so their results may have had to do with a coffee-withdrawal effect. And two, no study of 18 people can be anywhere close to conclusive. But it’s interesting, for sure, and certainly much more will be done. I’d keep an eye out for more on this.

But again, there’s a lot more science showing that it has positive physical effects, even if they stem from better brain function. An Austrian study using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging to assess memory skills showed that there was a marked improvement in motor skills and memory after subjects ingested 100 milligrams of caffeine. The study cautioned that the progression was not linear (meaning that more is definitely not better). But the test concluded that caffeine was a a performance enhancer.

According to physiologist Terry Graham, PhD, of the University of Guelph in Canada, “What caffeine likely does is stimulate the brain and nervous system to do things differently. That may include signaling you to ignore fatigue or recruit extra units of muscle for intense athletic performance.” And as to whether this better aids strength or endurance sports he adds, “What’s amazing about it is that unlike some performance-enhancing manipulation athletes do that are specific for strength or endurance, studies show that caffeine positively enhances all of these things.”

Is coffee a superfood?
This would depend, I guess. We’ve seen some downsides, and I’ve yet to mention two others. One, it’s addictive, and two, it’s been linked to insomnia. Performance-wise, sleep is crucial for your body to recover and recharge itself. No matter its benefits, if coffee negatively affects your ability to rest, it’s not going to help you much.

Yet, analyzing data—of 126,000 people and gathered over 18 years—has led to an almost astonishing number of likely health benefits, including lowering your risk of diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and colon cancer; improving mood; appeasing headaches; and even lessening the risk of cavities. In some cases, even the “all things in moderation” cliché was put to the test. For example, drinking one cup to three cups a day reduced type 2 diabetes risk by single digits, whereas drinking six or more cups per day slashed men’s risk by 54 percent and women’s risk by 30 percent. Maybe it’s just because coffee makes you want to get up and do something; those participants who reduced their risk may have exercised more. These findings have been routinely backed up by further studies. At least six studies indicate that coffee drinkers are up to 80 percent less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease, with three showing the more they drank, the lower the risk. Other research shows that compared to not drinking coffee, at least two cups daily can cut your risk of gallstones in half, provide a 25 percent reduced chance of contracting colon cancer, and offer a whopping 80 percent decline in liver cirrhosis risk. So abundant is this research that caffeine is added to certain medications to treat headaches, mood, asthma, and now Parkinson’s disease.

So is it time to hit Starbucks?
Since, as I’ve said before, this isn’t Politics class, I won’t tell you not to, but I’m certain that your local organic, fair-trade, mom-and-pop coffeehouse with the open mic on Thursdays will have better coffee anyway (wink). Back to the subject, coffee or tea certainly don’t seem to be harmful as a part of your diet. The problem with them, I suspect, is more often what we add to them. So if you enjoy your morning or afternoon (maybe skip the evening) ritual, then by all means indulge. Just keep it traditional, pure, simple, and forget the word Frappuccino was ever invented.

Dirty Secrets of food processing Industry

Food ProcessingWe have always processed our food; this is an activity that is uniquely human. We chop, soak, cook and ferment our food – as well as grind and dry – these are all types of processing.

Traditional processing has two functions: to make food more digestible and to preserve it for use during times when food isn’t readily available. Nutritious, long-lasing processed foods including pemmican, hard sausage and old-fashioned meat puddings and haggis, as well as grain products, dairy products, pickles—everything from wine and spirits to lacto-fermented condiments. Farmers and artisans—bread makers, cheese makers, distillers, millers and so forth—processed the raw ingredients into delicious foods that retained their nutritional content over many months or even years, and kept the profits on the farm and in the farming communities where they belonged.

Unfortunately, in modern times, we have substituted local artisanal processing with factory and industrial processing, which actually diminishes the quality of the food, rather than making it more nutritious and digestible. Industrial processing depends upon sugar, white flour, processed and hydrogenated oils, synthetic food additives and vitamins, heat treatment and the extrusion of grains.

BREAKFAST CEREALS
Let’s look at the processing involved in the typical American breakfast of cereal, skim milk and orange juice. Cold breakfast cereals are produced by a process called extrusion. Grains are mixed with water, processed into a slurry and placed in a machine called an extruder. The grains are forced out of a tiny hole at high temperature and pressure, which shapes them into little o’s or flakes or shreds. Individual grains passed through the extruder expand to produce puffed wheat, oats and rice. These products are then subjected to sprays that give a coating of oil and sugar to seal off the cereal from the ravages of milk and to give it crunch.

In his book Fighting the Food Giants, biochemist Paul Stitt describes the extrusion process, which treats the grains with very high heat and pressure, and notes that the processing destroys much of their nutrients. It denatures the fatty acids; it even destroys the synthetic vitamins that are added at the end of the process. The amino acid lysine, a crucial nutrient, is especially damaged by the extrusion process.

Even boxed cereals sold in health food stores are made using the extrusion process. They are made with the same kind of machines and mostly in the same factories. The only “advances” claimed in the extrusion process are those that will cut cost, regardless of how the process alters the nutrient content of the product.

With so many millions of boxes of cereal sold each year, one would expect to see published studies showing the effects of these cereals on animals and humans. But breakfast cereals are a multi-billion dollar industry that has created huge fortunes for a few people. A box of cereal containing a penny’s worth of grain sells for four or five dollars in the grocery store–there is probably no other product on earth with such a large profit margin. These profits have paid for lobbying efforts and journal sponsorships that have effectively kept any research about extruded grains out of the scientific literature and convinced government officials that there is no difference between a natural grain of wheat and a grain that has been altered by the extrusion process.

THE RAT EXPERIMENTS
Unpublished research indicates that the extrusion process turns the proteins in grains into neurotoxins. Stitt describes an experiment, conducted in 1942 by a cereal company but locked away in the company’s file cabinet, in which four sets of rats were given special diets. One group received plain whole wheat grains, water and synthetic vitamins and minerals. A second group received puffed wheat (an extruded cereal), water and the same nutrient solution. A third set was given water and white sugar. A fourth set was given nothing but water and synthetic nutrients. The rats that received the whole wheat lived over a year on this diet. The rats that got nothing but water and vitamins lived about two months. The animals on a white sugar and water diet lived about a month. The study showed that the rats given the vitamins, water and all the puffed wheat they wanted died within two weeks—even before the rats that got no food at all. These results suggest that there was something very toxic in the puffed wheat itself! Proteins are very similar to certain toxins in molecular structure, and the pressure of the puffing process may produce chemical changes that turn a nutritious grain into a poisonous substance.

Another unpublished experiment was carried out in 1960. Researchers at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor were given eighteen laboratory rats. These were divided into three groups: one group received cornflakes and water; a second group was given the cardboard box that the cornflakes came in and water; the control group received rat chow and water. The rats in the control group remained in good health throughout the experiment. The rats eating the box became lethargic and eventually died of malnutrition. The rats receiving the cornflakes and water died before the rats that were eating the box! (The first box rat died the day the last cornflake rat died.) Furthermore, before death, the cornflakes-eating rats developed aberrant behavior, threw fits, bit each other and finally went into convulsions. Autopsy revealed dysfunction of the pancreas, liver and kidneys and degeneration of the nerves of the spine, all signs of insulin shock. The startling conclusion of this study was that there was more nourishment in the box than in the cornflakes. This experiment was designed as a joke, but the results were far from funny.

Most Americans eat boxed cereals today. Because these are fortified with synthetic nutrients, the USDA can claim that they are as healthy as the grains from which they are made. Many of these cereals contain at least 50 percent of calories as sugar. Those sold in health food stores may be made of whole grains and fewer sweeteners. However, these whole grain extruded cereals are probably more dangerous than their refined grain counterparts sold in the supermarkets, because they are higher in protein, and it is the proteins in these cereals that are rendered toxic by this type of processing.

THE EXTRUSION PROCESS
When we put cereals through an extruder, it alters the structure of the proteins. Zeins, which comprise the majority of proteins in corn, are located in spherical organelles called protein bodies. The scientific literature does contain one study on extruded grains, which investigated changes in protein body, shape and release of encapsulated alpha-zeins as a result of the extrusion processing. Researchers found that during extrusion, the protein bodies are completely disrupted and the alpha-zeins dispersed. The results suggest that the zeins in cornflakes are not confined to rigid protein bodies but can interact with each other and other components of the system, forming new compounds that are foreign to the human body. The extrusion process breaks down the organelles and disperses the proteins, which then become toxic. When the proteins are disrupted in this way, it can adversely affect the nervous system, as indicated by the cornflake experiment.

OLD FASHIONED PORRIDGE
There is only one way to put these companies out of business, and that is not to eat their food. So, what are you going to have for breakfast instead of cheerios and corn flakes? Eggs–any style–are always a good choice. As for grain, old-fashioned porridges made from non-extruded grains provide excellent nourishment at an economical price. Grains such as oats should be cut or rolled and then soaked overnight in a warm, acidic medium to neutralize the many anti-nutrients naturally occurring in grains, such as irritating tannins, digestion-blocking enzyme inhibitors and mineral-blocking phytic acid. This treatment can also gently break down complex proteins in grains. You soak the grains in warm water plus one tablespoon of something acidic, like whey, yoghurt, lemon juice or vinegar. The next morning, your grain will cook in just a few minutes. It’s best to eat your porridge with butter or cream, like our grandparents did. The nutrients in the dairy fats are needed in order for you to absorb the nutrients in the grains. Without the fat-soluble vitamins A, D and K2, you cannot absorb the minerals in your food. Furthermore, the fats in butter and cream slow down the release of glucose into the bloodstream, so that your blood sugar remains stable throughout the morning.

MILK
Milk is one of nature’s most perfect foods. Most of our milk comes from a sacred animal, the cow. Today, however, in the industrial system, we imprison cows indoors for their entire lives; we give them inappropriate feed such as soy, bakery waste, citrus peel cake and the swill from ethanol production, foods that cows are not designed to eat. The confinement environment and the inappropriate feed make these cows sick, so they need antibiotics and other drugs. We breed them to give huge amounts of milk, and give them hormones to increase milk production as well. These cows produce large quantities of watery milk with only half the amount of fat compared to milk produced by old-fashioned cows eating green grass. Then this milk is shipped to factories for processing.

Inside the plants, the milk is completely remade. As described by Emily Green in the Los Angeles Times, centrifuges separate the milk into fat, protein and various other solids and liquids. Once segregated, these are recombined at specific levels set for whole, lowfat and no-fat milks. Of the reconstituted milks, whole milk will most closely approximate original cow’s milk. What is left over will go into butter, cream, cheese, dried milk, and a host of other milk products. The dairy industry promotes lowfat milk and skim milk because they can make more money on the butterfat when used in ice cream. When they remove the fat to make reduced-fat milks, they replace it with powdered milk concentrate, which is formed by high temperature spray drying.

Then the milk is sent by tanker trucks (which are not refrigerated) to bottling plants. The milk is pasteurized at 161oF for fifteen seconds by rushing it past superheated stainless steel plates. If the temperature is 230oF (over the boiling point), the milk is considered ultrapasteurized. This ultrapasteurized milk will have a distinct cooked milk taste, but it is sterile and shelf stable. It may be sold in the refrigerated section of the supermarket so the consumer will think it is fresh, but it does not need to be. The milk is also homogenized by a pressure treatment that breaks down the fat globules so the milk won’t separate. Once processed, the milk will last for weeks, not just days.

Processing makes the milk difficult to digest and renders the proteins allergenic. Animals fed pasteurized milk exclusively develop nutrient deficiencies and become infertile after several generations.

Fortunately, Real Milk from pasture-fed cows, milk that is not pasteurized, processed or homogenized, is becoming more widely available. In fact, demand for Real Milk is growing rapidly. To find Real Milk in your area, visit realmilk.com

In order to make powdered milk, fluid is forced through a tiny hole at high pressure and then blown out into the air. This causes a lot of nitrates to form, and the cholesterol in the milk becomes oxidized. Contrary to popular opinion, cholesterol is not a demon but your best friend; you don’t have to worry about consuming foods containing cholesterol, except that you do not want to consume oxidized cholesterol. Evidence indicates that oxidized cholesterol can initiate the process of atherosclerosis.

Powdered milk is added to reduced-fat milks and milk products to give them body. So, when you consume reduced-fat milk or yoghurt, thinking that it will help you avoid heart disease, you are actually consuming oxidized cholesterol, which can initiate the process of heart disease.

ORANGE JUICE
Now, let’s turn to the orange juice, part of our “healthy breakfast” of cereal, lowfat milk and juice. An article from Processed and Prepared Foods describes a “a new orange juice processing plant is completely automated and can process up to 1,800 tons of oranges per day to produce frozen concentrate, single strength juice, oil extracted from the peel and cattle feed.” The new method of producing juice puts the whole orange in the machine. Another abstract states: “Various acid sprays for improving fruit peel quality and increasing juice yield are added to these processed oranges.” These compounds are added to extract as much juice as possible, as well as the oil out of the skin. The conventional orange crop is sprayed heavily with pesticides called cholinesterase inhibitors, which are very toxic to the nervous system. When they put the whole oranges into the vats and squeeze them, all that pesticide goes into the juice. Then they add acids to get every single bit of juice out of these oranges. So commercial orange juice can be a very toxic soup. This may be one reason that consumption of fruit juice is associated with increased rates of dementia.

What about the peel used for cattle feed? The dried, left-over citrus peel from orange juice production is processed into cakes, which are still loaded with cholinesterase inhibitors. Mark Purdey, in England, has shown how this practice correlates with mad cow disease. The use of organophosphates either as a spray on the cows or as a component of their feed, causes degeneration of the brain and nervous system in the cow, and if it’s doing it to the cow, there’s a possibility it may be doing it to you also.

The U.S. government tries to give the impression that pasteurization of juice is necessary to ensure our safety. However, it might surprise you to learn that researchers have found fungus that is resistant to pressure and heat in processed juices. They found that seventeen percent of Nigerian packages of orange juice and twenty percent of mango and tomato juices contained these heat-resistant fungi. They also found E. coli in the orange juice; it was pressure resistant and had survived pasteurization. So there is plenty of danger from contamination in these pasteurized juices.

In one study, heat-treated and acid-hydrolyzed orange juice was tested for mutagenic activity. The authors found that the heating process produced intermediate products which, under test conditions, gave rise to mutagenicity and cytotoxicity. In other words, there were cancer-causing compounds in the orange juice. In another study, gel filtration and high performance liquid chromatography were used to obtain mutagenic fractions from heated orange juice.

So if you want juice with your breakfast, avoid commercial processed orange juice. Instead, squeeze yourself a couple of organic oranges or an organic grapefruit–in other words, process the juice yourself! Mix that fresh juice with sparkling water and a pinch of salt for a delicious spritzer.

NATURAL NOURISHING BROTHS
In the past, many traditional cultures made use of animal bones to make broth. They recognized the health-giving properties of bone broth as well as wonderful flavors broth gave to soups, sauces, gravies and stews. Modern science has shown us that homemade bone broths are indeed the healing wonders of the food pharmacopia; they provide minerals in abundance, strengthen bones and sinews, heal the gut and help us detoxify. The gelatin in homemade bone broth is a natural digestive aid.

INDUSTRIAL SOUPS
Most commercial soup bases and sauces contain artificial meat-like flavors that mimic those we used to get from natural, gelatin-rich broth. These kinds of short cuts mean that consumers are shortchanged. When the homemade stocks were pushed out by the cheap substitutes, an important source of minerals disappeared from the American diet. The thickening effects of gelatin could be mimicked with emulsifiers, but, of course, the health benefits were lost. Gelatin is a very healthy thing to have in your diet. It helps you digest proteins properly and is supportive of digestive health overall.

Research on gelatin and natural broths came to an end in the 1950s when food companies discovered how to induce maillard reactions–the process of creating flavor compounds by mixing reduced sugars and amino acids under increased temperatures–and produce meat-like flavors in the laboratory. In a General Foods Company report issued in 1947, chemists predicted that almost all natural flavors would soon be chemically synthesized. Following the Second World War, American food companies discovered monosodium glutamate, a food ingredient the Japanese had invented in 1908 to enhance food flavors, including meat-like flavors. Humans actually have receptors on the tongue for glutamate—it is the protein in food that the human body recognizes as meat–but the glutamate in MSG has a different configuration, which cannot be assimilated properly by the body. Any protein can be hydrolyzed (broken down into its component amino acids) to produce a base containing MSG. When the industry learned how to synthesize the flavor of meat in the laboratory, using inexpensive proteins from grains and legumes, the door was opened to a flood of new products, including boullion cubes, dehydrated soup mixes, sauce mixes, TV dinners, and condiments with a meaty taste.

The fast food industry could not exist without MSG and artificial meat flavors, which beguile the consumer into eating bland and tasteless food. The sauces in many commercially processed foods contain MSG, water, thickeners, emulsifiers and caramel coloring. Your tongue is tricked into thinking that you are consuming something nutritious, when in fact it is getting nothing at all except some very toxic substances. Even dressings, Worcestershire sauce, rice mixes, flavored tofu, and many meat products have MSG in them. Almost all canned soups and stews contain MSG, and the “hydrolyzed protein” bases often contain MSG in very large amounts.

So-called homemade soups in most restaurants are usually made by mixing water with a powdered soup base made of hydrolyzed protein and artificial flavors, and then adding chopped vegetables and other ingredients. Even things like lobster bisque and fish sauces in most seafood restaurants are prepared using these powdered bases full of artificial flavors.

The industry even thinks it is too costly to just use a little onion and garlic for flavoring–they use artificial garlic and onion flavors instead. It’s all profit based with no thought for the health of the consumer.

Unfortunately, most of the processed vegetarian foods are loaded with these flavorings, as well. The list of ingredients in vegetarian hamburgers, hot dogs, bacon, baloney, etc., may include hydrolyzed protein and “natural” flavors, all sources of MSG. Soy foods are loaded with MSG.

Food manufacturers get around the labeling requirements by putting MSG in the spice mixes; if the mix is less than fifty percent MSG, they don’t have to indicate MSG on the label. You may have noticed that the phrase “No MSG” has actually disappeared. The industry doesn’t use it anymore because they found out that there was MSG in all the spice mixes; even Bragg’s amino acids had to take “No MSG” off the label.

HEALTH PROBLEMS
While the industry was adding MSG to food in larger and larger amounts, in 1957 scientists found that mice became blind and obese when MSG was administered by feeding tube. In 1969, MSG-induced lesions were found in the hypothalamus region of the mouse brain. Subsequent studies pointed in the same direction. MSG is a neurotoxic substance that causes a wide range of reactions in humans, from temporary headaches to permanent brain damage. It is also associated with violent behavior. We have had a huge increase in Alzheimer’s, brain cancer, seizures, multiple sclerosis and diseases of the nervous system, and one of the chief culprits is the flavorings in our food.

Ninety-five percent of processed foods contain MSG, and, in the late 1950s, it was even added to baby food. Manufacturers say they have voluntarily taken it out of the baby food, but they didn’t really remove it; they just called it “hydrolyzed protein” instead.

An excellent book, Excitotoxins, by Russell Blaylock, describes how nerve cells either disintegrate or shrivel up in the presence of free glutamic acid if it gets past the blood-brain barrier. The glutamates in MSG are absorbed directly from the mouth to the brain. Some investigators believe that the great increase in violence in this country starting in 1960 is due to the increased use of MSG beginning in the late 1950s, particularly as it was added to baby foods.

INDUSTRIAL FATS AND OILS
The food processing empire is built on industrial fats and oils, extracted from corn, soybeans and other seeds. Crude vegetable oil–which is dark, sticky and smelly–is subjected to horrendous processing to produce clean-looking cooking oils, margarine, shortening and spreads. The steps involved in processing usually include degumming, bleaching, deodorizing, filtering and removing saturates to make the oils more liquid. In the process, the nutrients and antioxidants disappear–but not the pesticides. Most processors also add a hexane solvent in order to squeeze the very last drop of oil out of the seeds. Caustic refining, the most widely used process for oil refining, involves adding very alkaline, chemicals to the oil.

In order to make a solid fat out of liquid oil, manufacturers subject the oils to a process called partial hydrogenation. The oil is extracted under high temperature and pressure, and the remaining fraction of oil is removed with hexane solvents. Manufacturers then steam clean the oils, a process that removes all the vitamins and all the antioxidants—but, of course, the solvents and the pesticides remain. These oils are mixed with a nickel catalyst and then, under high temperature and pressure, they are flooded with hydrogen gas. What goes into the reactor is a liquid oil; what comes out of that reactor is a smelly mass resembling grey cottage cheese. Emulsifiers are mixed in to smooth out the lumps, and the oil is then steam cleaned once more, to get rid of the horrible smell. The next step is bleaching, to get rid of the grey color. At this point, the product can be called “pure vegetable shortening.” To make margarines and spreads, artificial flavors and synthetic vitamins are added. But the government does not allow the industry to add synthetic color to margarine–they must add a natural color, such as annatto–a comforting thought. The margarine or spread is then packaged in blocks and tubs and advertised as a health food.

Saturated fat is the type of fat found in such foods as lard, butter and coconut oil. Saturated fat molecules are straight, so they pack together easily. That is why saturated fats are solid at room temperature. Unsaturated fats have a little bend at each double bond, with two hydrogen atoms sticking out on the same side. And when that molecule gets incorporated into your cells, the body wants those two hydrogen atoms to be on the same side of the carbon chain, forming an electron cloud; that is where controlled chemical interactions take place.

During the process of partial hydrogenation, one of those hydrogen atoms is moved to the other side, causing the molecule to straighten out so that it behaves chemically like a saturate—although biochemically it behaves very differently. The original, unsaturated molecule is called a “cis” fatty acid, because the two hydrogens are together, and then it becomes a trans fatty acid, because the two hydrogens are across from each other (“trans” means “across”). Your body doesn’t know that this new molecule is something that has never existed in nature before, and when you eat one of these trans fatty acids, it gets built into your cell membranes. Because of the chemical rearrangement, the reactions that should happen can’t take place. Enzymes and receptors don’t work anymore. The more trans fatty acids that you eat, the more partially hydrogenated your cells become and the more chaos that you are going to have on the cellular level.

All of the margarines, shortenings and even low-trans-fat spreads are made with these harmful ingredients. They’re used in chips and crackers, and most restaurants use them for cooking fries. Until the early 1980s, fast food outlets and restaurants cooked the fries in tallow, which is a very safe fat, but now they use partially hydrogenated soybean oil.

In the past, when you made desserts for your kids, at least the sugar they contained came with butter, eggs, cream and nuts—all good wholesome foods. Now manufacturers can imitate the butter, eggs, cream and nuts, so all you have is sugar, industrial oils and artificial ingredients in these instant puddings, pastries and other artificial desserts.

Many diseases have been associated with the consumption of trans fatty acids—heart disease, cancer, and degeneration of joints and tendons. The only reason that we are eating this stuff is because we have been told that the competing saturated fats and oils—butter, lard, coconut oil, palm oil, tallow and suet—are bad for us and cause heart disease. Such assertions are nothing but industry propaganda.

WESTON PRICE
Weston A. Price, DDS, discovered that as populations adopt processed foods, with each generation the facial structure becomes more and more narrow. Healthy faces should be broad. We are all designed to have perfectly straight teeth and not get cavities. When you are eating real, nutrient-dense foods, you get the complete and perfect expression of the genetic potential. We were given a perfect blueprint. Whether or not the body temple is built according to the blueprint depends, to a great extent, on our wisdom in food choices.

When primitive societies abandoned the traditional diet and began to eat processed foods, the next generation developed narrowed facial structure and many diseases. We know that if you continue this diet for three generations, reproduction ceases. This is the terrible price of the West, the Western Price. Civilization will die out unless we embrace the food ways of our ancestors. That means turning our backs on processed foods and getting back into the kitchen, to prepare real foods–containing healthy fats–for ourselves and our families.

OPTIMAL FOOD PREPARATION—MADE WITH LOVE
Food preparation is actually a sacred activity: According to esoteric lore, “If a woman could see the sparks of light going forth from her fingertips when she is cooking, and the energy that goes into the food she handles, she would realize how much of herself she imbues into the meals that she prepares for her family and friends. It is one of the most important and least understood activities of life that the feelings that go into the preparation of food affect everyone who partakes of it. This activity should be unhurried, peaceful and happy because the energy that flows into that food impacts the energy of the receiver.

“That is why the advanced spiritual teachers of the East never eat food prepared by anyone other than their own chelas (disciples). The person preparing the food may be the only one in the household who is spiritually advanced. An active charge of happiness, purity and peace will pour forth into the food from him, and this pours forth into the other members of the family and blesses them.”

To be healthy, we need to prepare our own food, for ourselves and our families. This doesn’t mean you have to spend hours in the kitchen, but you do need to spend some time there, preparing food with wisdom and love. If no one in the family has time to prepare food, you need to sit down and rethink how you are spending your time, because this is the only way to get nourishing foods into your children. We can return to good eating practices one mouth at a time, one meal at a time, by preparing our own food and preparing it properly.

5 Rules for Post-Workout Nutrition

Get the Most Out of Your Training!

After exercise, your muscles are completely depleted of the nutrients they need to begin the recovery process. But the good news is they are also highly receptive to take up nutrients, refill glycogen stores, and restore protein balance to kickstart muscle protein synthesis or muscle building once again. So if you are serious about building muscle tone and reaping the benefits of your hard work in the gym, then it is absolutely critical that you fuel your body with the right post-workout nutrition.

During a workout, there is an increase in oxidation or a breakdown of the critical components that drive muscle function and energy production, including glycogen and essential amino acids. Exercise causes muscle protein turnover, which is the rate at which protein degradation or muscle breakdown increases, and the rate at which skeletal muscle protein synthesis decreases— essentially resulting in catabolism of muscle mass. The aminos, more specifically the branched-chain amino acids, are involved in the exact pathways that stimulate muscle building and the recovery process. As glycogen is depleted and used up, the body will switch to using the essential aminos to maintain energy and make glucose, and even after a workout, breakdown will continue until the right nutrition is received. Therefore, in order to halt muscle breakdown and ensure all your hard work in the gym doesn’t go to waste, you need to get the right post-workout nutrition, and what’s more, you need to ensure you get the right mix of macro and micronutrients at the right time!

Some people call the time after the workout the “window of opportunity.” As time elapses, this window begins to close, ruining your chances for a full recovery. Research suggests that consuming your post-workout meal within 30 minutes to one hour of training will ensure you are getting the most benefit out of your time spent in the gym! Consider the following five rules for post-workout fueling to enable proper muscle recovery and repair for a lean and firm hard body!

Rule #1: Make it Liquid. The key to your post-workout nutrition is ensuring a fast delivery! Therefore, it must be liquid; this will ensure rapid digestion and delivery of the important hormones that are necessary to stimulate the muscle growth and repair process.

Rule #2: Pack it with Protein and BCAAs. Following an energy-draining, muscle-tearing workout, one of the most important nutrients you need to consume post-workout is protein. In terms of quality and bioavailability, whey protein isolate (WPI) or whey protein hydrolysate (WPH) are excellent choices. Both are extremely fast-digesting proteins and highly soluble, which means they can kickstart the repair process quickly!

WPI and WPH also contain a high concentration of branched-chain amino acids or BCAAs, which are considered the building blocks of muscle. They are critical for driving protein synthesis, reducing protein breakdown, and stimulating the release of insulin. Insulin is an anabolic hormone responsible for building various energy molecules in the body and preventing the breakdown of muscle following a hard workout.Several studies suggest that BCAAs can help delay fatigue and the onset of muscle soreness, as well as the markers of muscle damage associated with intense exercise. By ensuring that adequate amounts of the branched-chain amino acids are available to your muscles after training, you can delay fatigue, guard against training-induced muscle breakdown, and expedite recovery. WPI and WPH also contain a high proportion of the BCAA leucine, which is one of the most important because of its ability to directly stimulate muscle building by activating a major complex in the protein synthesis pathway called mTOR. Research has shown that leucine has a positive effect on protein metabolism, increasing the rate of protein synthesis, and decreasing the rate of protein degradation after intense training. Aim for a serving of 20 to 30 grams of whey protein that offers up a high concentration of essential BCAAs in every serving.

Rule #3: Become a Sugar Baby. Although you might be tempted to skip out on the carbohydrates, especially straight up sugar, it is actually necessary to drive protein and nutrients into your depleted muscles! Your post-workout meal should contain a source of high-glycemic carbohydrates, such as dextrose, sucrose or straight up table sugar! Sugar is easily digested and can quickly raise blood sugar and, hence, insulin levels. The elevated insulin levels will help to drive fuel into the muscles to help replenish lost muscle glycogen, and will also stimulate muscle synthesis and repair! Try a carbohydrate powder that can be easily mixed with your protein powder. Consume a 2:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein for best results.

Rule #4: Hold the Fat and Fiber. Simply put, fat and fiber slow down digestion. Therefore, if you combine fats or fiber with the two needed components of your post-workout meal as mentioned above, protein and simple carbs, you will only be slowing down their digestion— which, of course, is the exact opposite of what you want to happen.

Rule #5: Grab Recovery Essentials. Be sure to add glutamine and vitamins C and B to your post-workout recovery plan! Supplementing with glutamine can reduce the amount that is robbed from the muscles during training. It has also been found to decrease neutrophils, which cause cell damage, and preserve muscle tissue and have a direct effect on protein metabolism.

As for vitamin C, multiple studies have found blood and plasma levels of vitamin C to be diminished in those who exercise regularly. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect muscle cells from free radical damage by acting as an antioxidant itself and by helping generate other antioxidants.

B vitamins are highly involved in protein metabolism by aiding in the manufacturing of amino acids and are also involved in carbohydrate utilization. Research has shown that athletes have an increased need for B vitamins and that performance can be improved with supplementation. Supplement with 3 to 5 grams of glutamine, 500 mg to 1 gram of vitamin C, and stick to the daily recommended dose of  B vitamins.