Whether you were one of those kids who never ate your vegetables, or have become convinced as an adult that carbohydrate foods make you fat, there’s a lot to like about regular vegetable consumption — especially for active adults who are working hard to diet down for swimsuit season. Most garden vegetables are naturally low in calories and typically don’t contain a lot of sugar or fat either. Even though vegetables aren’t considered energy dense, most contain abundant amounts of micronutrients in the form of vitamins and minerals which can help your body more effectively process protein, carbs and fat.
In addition, vegetables tend to contain lot of dietary fiber and digesting all this bulky food forces your body to burn more calories. This quality makes fresh vegetables and excellent choice for any dieter, as long as you hold the salad dressing and other condiments to a minimum.
Most strength athletes focus their carbohydrate consumption on complex carbs like oatmeal, brown rice, whole grain bread and sweet potatoes. Broaden your selection to include broccoli, green beans and a colorful assortment of raw vegetables for salads, and you’ll benefit from low calorie nutrients along with plenty of filling fiber.
Among the many benefits of exercise is the way it helps you beat stress. But does that mean people who make a point of staying fit can handle stressful situations better? A study published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise suggests there may be some truth to that assumption.
Researchers assigned 8 subjects with a below average level of fitness and 8 very fit subjects to cycle on a stationary bike for 37 minutes at 60% of capacity. For the next trial, these same volunteers were given complex metal problems to solve while cycling for 20 minutes. Not only did the dual task increase anxiety for the less fit subjects, compared to their in-shape counterparts they produced greater amounts of the catabolic hormone cortisol.
True Strength Moment: Why are active adults who exercise regularly better able to handle difficult situations? These are the kind of people who are used to setting and achieving ambitious goals, so that could be a factor. Whatever the reason, their hormonal response to exercise makes it easier to recover and come back for more.
The most common excuse for not getting regular exercise is there’s just not enough time left in the day. While it’s true that you have to set aside some time to work out, you have a couple of very effective training options for quickly getting in and out of the gym.
Work In Supersets – A superset is two exercises performed consecutively without a break. You can use supersets with exercises for different muscle groups or for the same muscle group. A popular method is combining exercises for opposing muscle groups such as chest and back, biceps and triceps or quads and hamstrings. Supersets increase the intensity of your workout while shortening the training session.
Decrease Rest Periods – Another method that ramps up intensity while getting you out of the gym faster is decreasing the amount of time you spend resting between sets and different exercises. A standard workout would consist of a set (series of repetitions) followed by a rest period of 2-3 minutes before beginning the next set. If you cut that break in the action to 60 or 90 seconds, the workout will be completed faster and your muscles will have to work harder.
Increase Resistance — Volume is one thing, but sometimes less is more. Instead of performing 4 or 5 sets of multiple exercises for each muscle group, try loading down the bar with heavy resistance and banging out reps to failure. This approach can help you accomplish a similar end result while saving you plenty of time in the weight room.
Pretty much anyone who’s into endurance exercise realizes the value of carbohydrate energy. But like strength athletes and their protein, there’s always the question of how much and what type produce optimal results. A study published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exerciseput different amounts of different carbs to the test using 51 cyclists and triathletes.
Trials started out with a 2-hour ride at 95% of capacity and finished up with a 20 km time trial. Subjects were told to post the fastest time possible. Carbohydrate drinks contained equal parts glucose, fructose and maltodextrin. Over 160 minutes of performance, researchers estimated that the optimal rate of consumption was 78 grams for every hour of effort.
True Strength Moment: To help your muscles recover from a cycling event like this one, you might consider ‘stacking’ that carbohydrate performance beverage with powdered protein. The relatively high BCAA concentration found in whey could help minimize the breakdown of muscle tissue during intense exercise.
Now that the holidays are over, it’s time to focus on getting into your best shape yet. Increasing your metabolism will help to burn excess body fat as you work hard in the weight room to build muscle. Here are some tips to help get your metabolism going strong:
Increase Training Intensity – Changing the look of your body requires more than fat loss. Developing muscle mass will play an important role in attaining this goal. To help the process along, try increasing your training intensity. This can be accomplished by adding more weight to the barbell or dumbbells, spending less time resting between sets or doing more reps.
Eat the Right Amount of Macronutrients — Your kitchen based efforts to lose fat and gain muscle will have to go well beyond cutting calories. It’s vital to eat the right amount of protein, carbs and fats. Getting enough protein (at least one gram for each pound of body weight) helps active adults recover from weight training. Balancing carbs and fats is also important for fueling exercise performance. Sticking to a low fat diet will allow for a moderate amount of complex carbohydrates.
Using Cardio Correctly – Adding moderate amounts of cardiovascular effort to your training program will help to reduce body fat, but it’s important not to overdo the cardio. Too much time on the treadmill or stationary bike can work against your efforts to build muscle. A good starting point is 3-4 days a week, beginning with 20-30 minute sessions.
Running on a treadmill for 90 minutes at 70% of your capacity is going to generate a hormonal response. How can you elevate that response after a second 90 minute run at the same intensity? A study published in theInternational Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism suggests consuming a carbohydrate-rich beverage containing whey protein isolates.
Researchers had some subjects consume a drink containing 0.8 grams of sucrose and 0.3 grams of whey protein isolates per kg of body weight (52.8 grams of carbs and 19.8 grams of protein for a 145 pound person) during a 4-hour rest period between time trials. Others got a drink containing either 0.8 grams or 1.1 grams of carbs per kg of body weight (52.8 grams or 72.6 grams of sucrose for that same 145 pound person). The protein containing drink elevated levels of growth hormone and testosterone while suppressing the catabolic hormone cortisol.
True Strength Moment: Muscle mass is important to all types of athletes, not just bodybuilders and power lifters. Whey protein isolates are a rich source of essential amino acids including the branched chain amino acids known to play a significant role in muscle building. If this pure form of whey protein can help trigger natural anabolic hormones, it might help put more spring in your step for the next endurance run.