We all get tired of cooking sometimes.
The trick is to find a decent take-out place that won’t ruin your diet. And new evidence says this is trickier than you even thought. A study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics described the work of nutritionists from Tufts University who assessed the caloric content of more than 360 meals from non-chain restaurants (meaning their nutrition info was not published) across several major cities. The scientists felt that 92 percent of meal contained more calories than a person would require. On average, meals from Chinese, Italian, and American eateries contained the most calories. Meals from Greek and Japanese restaurants contained the fewest. They found that the difference between the average Italian meal and the average Greek meal was a whopping 500 calories. Time to say arrivederci to your local red-sauce joint.
Move over kale, acai, pomegranate juice, and coconut water: Beetroot juice is the latest bodybuilding superfood.
Unlike those others, beetroot juice seems to have relevancy to the gym and might be the next big thing when it comes to preworkout supplements. British scientists took a group of trained gym-rats and gave them either a couple ounces of beetroot juice or a placebo before having them bench press 60 percent of their one-rep max to exhaustion for three sets. The group who consumed the beetroot juice was able to perform 20 percent more reps than the placebo group, a significant difference in work output. The dose of beetroot juice was standardized to 400 milligrams of nitrates, the active ingredient in the red earthy-flavored beverage. Nitrates are an exciting new supplement category for athletes, as they have been shown to convert into nitric oxide and enhance exercise tolerance and performance.
Regular coffee consumption is linked to decreased death from cardiovascular disease, lowered incidence of certain cancers, and decreased risk of type-II diabetes.
It’s also great before a workout and is the only thing that gets many of us out of bed in the morning. If you’re a coffee snob who is trying to lean out, focus on dark-roast brews. A recent study published in the journal Nutrition found that darker-roasted coffee beans conferred greater metabolic benefits than lightly roasted beans, specifically in how they help the body manage circulating glucose levels. Common names for dark roasts are French, espresso, Italian, and Sumatra. In case you’re worried about overdoing it, the healthy male subjects who participated in the study consumed four cups of coffee a day.
From childhood on, we are constantly told to eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day.
It turns out, you’ll be much better off if you make all five of those servings vegetables. A study published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health followed the diet and life span of 65,226 British citizens. Those who ate four pieces of fruit a day had a 14 percent lower mortality rate than those who ate none. But Brits who ate three portions of vegetables a day had a 32 percent lower mortality rate than those who ate no vegetables, which was almost exactly the same as those who ate both fruits and vegetables. This is undoubtedly due to the higher sugar and caloric content in fruit. (Fruit juice had a nominal effect on mortality.) Try to eat more vegetables and choose low-calorie nutrient-dense fruits such as blueberries, raspberries, plums, grapefruit, and cherries.
New research from the Technical University of Munich sheds light on the fact that even a slight zinc deficiency has profound results, namely impaired digestion.
This is news because of how quickly it happens. A lack of zinc begins to hamper digestion after just one week of insufficient intake, which is far earlier than other symptoms of zinc deficiency appear. A more serious deficiency can lead to fatigue, decreased testosterone levels, and a depressed immune system. Zinc intake is especially important for young healthy physique athletes because two ways the body loses zinc is through sweat and ejaculation. Also, the main dietary sources of zinc are dark poultry meat, cheese, shellfish, and nuts, which aren’t often on the menu when filling 20 Tupperware containers on prep day. Make sure your multivitamin contains zinc or try taking a nighttime dose of ZMA. You can also have your doctor check your zinc levels with a simple blood test.
Curcumin, the active ingredient in the spice turmeric, has become popular among powerlifters and strength athletes for its ability to fight pain and inflammation as well as ease wear and tear on joints.
Now, an animal study performed at the University of Nigeria has shown that curcumin may dramatically raise levels of circulating testosterone. In the study, mice who were given curcumin for 30 days had testosterone levels that were 257 percent higher, as well as improved sperm quality, compared to the mice who did not consume it. The human equivalent of the dose used in the study is approximately one to one-and-a-half grams of curcumin, which is easy to get with a supplement. If you do take a curcumin product, use one that contains back pepper extract (piperine) which dramatically improves the absorption.
Live Long, Skip Soft Drinks
Most of us eat for our physique, but wouldn’t it be nice if the diet that helps us get abs also helps us live longer? It’s actually pretty close. Brand-new research published in Nutrition Journal compared the diets and DNA strands of 556 people (the longer the strand, the longer you have to live). The greatest correlations between healthy DNA and certain foods were with seaweed, legumes, fish, and nuts. A high-calorie diet was inversely proportional to a potential long life, and specifically the consumption of soft drinks had a very negative effect on DNA length. Unfortunately, diet sodas sweetened with non-caloric agents like aspartame had the same effect on DNA as sugary sodas.
A new study found that sleep deficiency undermines your performance in the gym in a big way, especially when it comes to high-intensity fat-burning exercise.
Scientists affiliated with the American Academy of Sleep Medicine found that endurance and peak power both decreased in subjects who were significantly deficient in sleep. More interestingly, these same subjects burned fewer calories during exercise than their counterparts who had plenty of sleep. Peak heart rate and submaximal heart rate also decreased in the sleepy group, meaning they burned fewer calories in the hours after the workout as well. If you’re burning the candle at both ends to fit in a high-intensity calorie-burning raining session, make sure you’re not doing it at the expense of getting some reasonable shut-eye.
The debate between the merits of the barbell bench press and the dumbbell bench press has raged for years, with the last word being something akin to, “If you can’t do both, then find what works for you.” However, one study put an interesting spin on the conversation. Norwegian scientists examined the differences in muscle recruitment between the barbell, dumbbell, and Smith machine bench presses on 12 trained college-age subjects. The barbell and dumbbells stimulated the pectorals and deltoids to an almost equal degree, and more so than the Smith machine. However, the dumbbells recruited far more muscle fibers in the biceps than the barbell, but the barbell elicited a stronger reaction in the triceps.
If you hate running but want to burn some calories through high-intensity interval training, try a bodyweight circuit instead.
A recent study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning examined the effect of two different high-intensity cardio workouts on a group of very fit athletes. On one occasion, the group ran on a treadmill for 20 minutes while maintaining 85 percent of their max heart rate (a very intense pace). On another occasion, they did the CrossFit workout known as Cindy, which consists of performing as many rounds as possible of five pull-ups, 10 push-ups, and 15 air squats in 20 minutes. While both workouts were matched for time and intensity, the bodyweight circuit placed greater demands on the cardiovascular system and represented a greater training stimulus.