Wednesday, September 5, 2012

8 Ways to prevent Muscle Soreness

Recovery Done Right: 8 Ways to Prevent Muscle Soreness

By Kara Wahlgren
Aching 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.
Gym Recovery
  1. 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,"  "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.
  2. 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.  In a pinch, down a glass of grape juice with whey protein powder or a glass of chocolate milk. Denis Faye,  "When the sugar [from the drink] rushes into your muscles to restore that supply, the protein piggybacks to jump-start the recovery process."
  3. Ice ItIce 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. "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."
  4. 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].
  5. 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," 
  6. 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,"  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.  "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."
  7. Knee Brace RunningMove 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, 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 workout programs should include a recovery workout, but if yours doesn't, a gentle yoga class or going on an easy hike are good options.
  8. 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,'"  But 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," 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.

Friday, August 3, 2012

7 Colors of the Phytonutrient Rainbow: How Eating a Variety of Colors Can Keep You Healthy

By Elisa Lenox
Why is it that advice on healthy eating usually seems to center on what not to put in our mouths? With the endless ways we're taught to limit calorie intakes and watch out for "bad" fat and carbohydrates, it's almost easy to forget that there's a whole world of foods out there that don't threaten to give you heart disease, diabetes, or an expanded waistline.
Various Fruits and Vegetables
Rather than focusing on what you shouldn't eat, let's take some time to focus on a few beautiful, flavorful, and health-building foods you should eat—specifically, foods rich in phytonutrients, the naturally occurring pigments that lend color and chemical protection to the plant kingdom, while also offering astounding health benefits.
The study of phytonutrients ("phyto" meaning "plant" and "nutrient" meaning, well, "nutrient"), also known as phytochemicals, is a relatively new field in nutrition, with more research unfolding on these substances than can be covered in one article. However, it's fair to say that what is currently known lends powerful credence to that ageless maternal advice "eat your vegetables."
Scientists have categorized classes of phytonutrients that offer different properties and benefits and it just so happens that many of these classes are represented by their colors. So read on and discover why becoming a connoisseur of the plant-based nutrient spectrum is a brilliant strategy that will help to preserve both your health and physical charm.
Blue/Purple FruitsBlue/Purple – Anthocyanins are flavonoids that act as powerful antioxidants, neutralizing free radicals that cause aging and degenerative disease. There's even a connection between this phytonutrient and decreased visceral (abdominal) fat! A 2008 study from Chubu University in Japan found a link between anthocyanin intake and reduced incidence of metabolic disorders, including abdominal weight gain, hypertension, and impaired glucose and insulin metabolism. True, blue anthocyanin sources include red cabbage, blueberries, blackberries, acai berries, cherries, grapes, blue potatoes, eggplant, and radicchio.
Orange/Yellow – Multiple studies indicate that diets rich in beta-carotene lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and some types of cancer. This amazing phytonutrient falls into the carotenoid class that (along with the flavonoid group) has been credited in a 2010 Tufts University study for providing photo protective and antioxidant action in the skin. In short, these inflammation, wrinkle, and cancer preventing nutrients protect your skin from the inside out! To get a bit of beta-carotene, try sweet potato, carrots and carrot juice, winter squash, pumpkin, and cantaloupe.
A GuavaRed – Lycopene has been in the news a lot lately for its positive influence on prostate health, but it’s also thought to prevent cervical dysplasia in conjunction with other carotenoids. In other words, it's also good for the uterus, making it an equal opportunity nutrient. In addition, a 1996 University of Minnesota study found a significant increase in longevity based upon the blood lycopene levels of nuns living the same lifestyle, in the same conditions. If you're ready to get into the red, try tomato and tomato products, watermelon, pink grapefruit, guava, and papaya.
Yellow/Green – The light absorbing properties of lutein are associated with eye health involving a decrease in cataract formation and macular degeneration. Mellow, yellow lutein sources include spinach, kale, collards, mustard and dandelion greens, summer squash, and pumpkin.
SpinachGreen – Chlorophyll's abilities to bind toxins and decrease oxidative stress make it a powerful bodily detoxifier and explain how it can actually reduce body odor. You'll be seeing green with chlorophyll sources like spinach, kale, Swiss chard, arugula, green beans—any green vegetable. The darker, the better.
Green/White – Another detoxifier, sulphoraphane is part of the isotheocyanate class of phytonutrients that has been cited in multiple studies as a cancer preventative and detoxifier of carcinogens. Some super sulphoraphane sources include broccoli, brussels sprouts, broccoli sprouts, cabbage, bok choy, cauliflower, and watercress.
White – The anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial qualities of allicin lend to its reputation as an inhibitor of heart disease and gastric cancer as well as a potent immune booster. All-around awesome allicin sources include garlic, onion, leek, shallot, and chives.
The possibilities are endless when it comes to polychromatic eating. Use a food processor to quickly shred red cabbage and brussels sprouts into an easy chopped salad with pomegranate seeds, blanched almonds, and a homemade lemony dressing, or gently wilt kale or Swiss chard in olive oil with garlic, onion, and thinly sliced yellow bell pepper. Spiced sweet potatoes or winter squash bake in less than 40 minutes for a simple, energy-boosting carbohydrate serving. Fruit and leafy green packed smoothies are a fantastic way to throw together a quick, nutrient dense breakfast and don't forget the most convenient, and superfood-packed meal on the go is a whey protein shake.  There are many that will give you over 20 phytonutrients and antioxidants in one delicious and easily portable package?
How can you ensure that you're drenching your system in these healthful, beauty-boosting nutrients every day? Make it a personal mission to sample from a wide variety of fruits and vegetables daily and get as innovative with your recipes as your imagination and nature's color palette will allow. Get creative and, before you know it, you'll be benefiting from the phytonutrient rainbow!

Urban Gardening Part Two: It's All in the Herbs
7 Steps to Planting a Container Garden

By Lisa Palac
It's spring, the time when everything starts to, literally, spring up. And every year, urban dwellers the world over have the same reaction: this is it! This is the year I finally plant that veggie patch and spend autumn feasting on homegrown produce. Then they look around their third-story walk-up with nothing but a fire escape for outdoor space and realize that's just not going to happen.
Or is it?
Even if you've never grown anything before, but have always wanted to take part in this rite of spring, a container herb garden is a perfect way to begin. Here's how to get started:
  1. Woman GardeningA place in the sun. Herbs basically need three important things: full sun, lots of water, and good drainage. For best results, herbs must be grown outdoors. If you live in a seasonal climate, make sure the last frost has come and gone before planting. If your plants aren't doing very well as the season progresses, they might need a sunnier spot or perhaps, a bit less sun. This is one of the essential truths about plants: they've got to have their "spot" to flourish.
  2. The easiest herbs to grow. "If you want to see if you have a green thumb, start with mint," says Cassy Aoyagi, co-owner of FormLA, a team of Los Angeles-based landscape architects specializing in sustainable practices. "Mint just takes over," she says. Mint is a perennialherb, which means that it lasts from season to season, and there are many varieties of mint including spearmint, peppermint, and even chocolate mint.

    The next bulletproof perennial herb, according to Aoyagi, is rosemary. Incredibly hardy and fast-growing, rosemary can tolerate full sun, but can do with much less. It can withstand over-watering and also survive a drought. It's a hard one to kill. If you choose an upright woody variety of rosemary, says Aoyagi, you can use the fragrant stems as skewers for grilling vegetables. Stems of rosemary can also be used to infuse olive oils and marinades. Other easy-to-grow classic perennials include thyme and oregano.

    Basil, cilantro, and parsley are annual herbs, which means they only last one season and are replanted annually. They can absolutely be planted alongside perennial herbs in the same container. If you want to make, say, fresh pesto, however, you'll need more than a single plant. In fact, you'll need at least five or six. If this is the case, you may want a separate pot for large groups of single-variety herbs.
  3. Planting in soilChoosing the best soil. Fish emulsion, worm castings, bone meal, and bat guano hardly sound appetizing, but they are used in organic soil to fertilize the most delicious things. Most organic potting soils available for sale already contain all the ingredients you need to grow lush, healthy plants. For a container herb garden, you don't need additional fertilizer. Organic potting soil is preferable to the mix known simply as potting soil, because commercial soils often contain low-release fertilizers and other chemicals that could potentially be unhealthy.
  4. Container size and shape. All herbs can be planted together in the same container. For example, a 12-inch round ceramic pot can hold four or five herbs. Here's an ideal container size: a wood rectangle that measures 36 inches long by 12 inches high by 12 inches deep. If you can go 18 inches deep, even better, as the more room you give the roots, the larger and healthier the plants will be. Also, make sure there are holes in the bottom of whatever container you choose, so the water can drain out.
  5. Buying the plants. Although you could start from seeds, it's much easier to buy a mature plant. Plants are generally sold by the size of their container. Starter herbs are usually sold in 4-inch pots. Some vendors will sell several individual plants of the same variety in one 4-inch pot, knowing that the plants will be repotted. You can visit a plant nursery or farmer's market to buy your plants, or order online if you're looking for a particular heirloom variety.
  6. The planting. Let's say you're going to plant five herbs in a 12-inch round pot. First, fill the pot about three-quarters to the top with the organic potting soil you've purchased. Next, take the starter herb out of its plastic container by turning the plant upside-down and gently removing the plastic container. Using your fingertips, gently dig in and separate the roots just a little bit, so the roots are no longer compressed in the plastic pot shape. Then, make a little hole in the soil where you intend to plant the herb. Allow 3 to 4 inches between herbs. Set the herb in the soil and cover with more soil. Instead of patting the soil completely flat, try to build a slight mound on the top of each plant, as this little "hill" often helps with drainage.
  7. A Couple GardeningCare and Watering. One of the fundamentals of plant care is this: the more you trim your plant during the growing season, the more new growth you get. So the more leaves you pinch off your basil plant, or the more sprigs of rosemary you clip, the fuller and more leafy your herbs will be. At the end of the season, many perennials will appear fairly dormant. At this stage, you could cut the plant way back, and it will spring back as the weather warms up. Here's another fundamental: the only way to really know if the soil is moist enough is to stick your finger deep in the dirt. For plants that require full water, it should feel damp but not soaking wet. Signs of overwatering and underwatering can seem very similar to a novice, such as leaves yellowing and dropping, but if you test the soil with your finger, you'll have a good idea of which direction things are going.

    Now it's time to reap the fruits—or leaves, anyway—of your labor. A sprinkle of chopped basil on a salad makes it exponentially more delicious, especially if you've grown it yourself. Plus, look at all you can do with fresh mint: cilantro mint chutney, cucumber mint soda, mint ice cubes, chilled peach mint soup. Not to mention that both parsley and cilantro are high in antioxidants. Growing your own herbs is also a really fun and extremely satisfying way to get just a little more green in your day.

Summer Snack Attack! 23 Easy, Beach-Friendly Snacks Under 150 Calories

By Rebecca Swanner
No matter what body of water you're heading to this summer—beach, lake, your local pool—or even some neighborhood kid's Slip 'N Slide®—you'll be glad you packed these 23 delicious, nutritious snacks, each of which is 150 calories or less. If you're looking to get a balance of protein, fat, and carbs for each snack, halve the portions and combine nuts, cheese, or lean meats with the fruit-forward treats!
Summer Snack
Not only will these keep you from craving that double scoop of mint chocolate chip, they'll help keep your hunger at bay while you're in and out of the water or soaking up the sun. Just don't forget the sunscreen.
Got a cooler? If you're packing an ice chest, try these refreshing treats that will cool you down when it feels like you're about to melt in the afternoon sun.
  1. Frozen grapes. With a taste just like sorbet, frozen grapes are the snack that got me through the dog days of many a New York City summer. Just rinse some grapes, toss them in a plastic bag, and throw them in the freezer. Hours later, you'll have a chilly, low-calorie snack. 1 cup of grapes equals 62 calories.
  2. Jicama Salad Jicama salad. Chop 1 cup of jicama and add a splash of lemon juice and a pinch of salt for a tangy, crunchy salad. Those 50 calories will give you a blast of energy to get back in the pool for one more round of Marco Polo.
  3. Mediterranean salad. Go Greek and dice 1 medium tomato, half a red onion, and 1 cucumber. Top with 1 ounce of low-fat feta cheese and a pinch of salt. Trust me, it tastes way more decadent than its 146 calories.
  4. Dates and prosciutto. If you want something with more of a savory flavor, wrap 1 piece of prosciutto around a date for a bite that combines sweet and salty. Your taste buds will love you for it. Each one is approximately 50 calories.
  5. Watermelon twist. Even on its own, watermelon is such a great summer food. It's low in calories, full of water, and high in vitamin C. To add some protein and fat, top 1 cup of watermelon with 1 ounce of crumbled feta for a treat less than 100 calories.
  6. Caprese. The Italians know what they're doing when it comes to eating healthy. Moderation, moderation, moderation! For this savory snack with a little bite, top 1 ounce of fresh mozzarella cheese with 1 cup of cherry tomatoes and 1 tablespoon of your favorite balsamic vinegar.
  7. Shakeology®Why not bring the Healthiest Meal of the Day® to the beach? Just mix half of a serving of your favorite flavor with water for a nutrient-packed snack that's 70 to 85 calories.
  8. Stuffed tomatoes. Tomatoes are packed with cancer-busting antioxidants, and when they're stuffed with this vegetarian-friendly recipe for olive and quinoa salad from Cookie + Kate, they've also got the protein and fat to keep you going all day. The easy-to-make snack is just 112 calories a serving.
  9. Berries. Feeling the heat? Munch on 1 cup of strawberries, raspberries, or blueberries for an antioxidant-friendly, refreshing treat that's under 100 calories. Simple and delicious!
  10. Tabouleh Tabouleh. This classic Middle Eastern salad is made from bulgur, tomato, parsley, lemon juice, mint, garlic, and salt. Make your own or pick up some from your local deli. A cup is approximately 150 calories or less.
  11. Gazpacho. This tomato-based soup is like a soup version of V8®, only without the preservatives and sodium. It's jam-packed with tons of vegetables and will help you feel hydrated even on the hottest of days. Follow this recipe and you'll have a low-cal soup in less than 30 minutes.
  12. Pickles. Want a practically calorie-free snack? Munch on some pickles! They're sweet and salty, and their delectable crunch makes them a fun snack to eat while you're sitting on the shore or lounging poolside.
  13. Gelatin dessert. For a sweet treat, enjoy the jiggle of a gelatin-based dessert like JELL-O® without adding extra jiggle to you at 80 calories or less. Though many products on the market have artificial ingredients, you can find better versions at natural food stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joe's®.
Going cooler-free? These snacks will keep your hunger at bay for when you're not planning to bring a cooler.
  1. Cinnamon apple. Sprinkle an apple with cinnamon for a treat that tastes like apple pie, but with only 70 tiny calories and no added sugar.
  2. Summer Fruit Juicy fruit. Try 1 cup of unsweetened applesauce with a hint of cinnamon for a 100-calorie snack. Just make sure to read the ingredients, as many applesauce brands contain added sugar or high-fructose corn syrup.
  3. Nuts. A handful of 40 pistachios or 20 raw almonds will provide you with the protein and fat your body needs to fuel your fun in the sun.
  4. Olives. Get some healthy fats into your system by munching on 16 olives! Choose pitted ones to leave yourself with less to clean up.
  5. Peanut, almond, or cashew butter. For a super quick snack, grab a spoonful of nut butter. This protein-rich treat will give you energy. Even the all-natural versions have that great blend of salty and sweet for just 95 calories.
  6. Roasted chickpeas. Mix together olive oil, spices, and chickpeas on a baking sheet, roast them in your oven for 35 minutes, and you'll have a guilt-free snack high in fiber and antioxidants that's approximately 150 calories per quarter-cup serving.
  7. Tempeh. I first discovered this weird-looking food at the farmer's market when I bought it on a whim. It's made from fermented soy, so it's high in protein, probiotics, and calcium. It's less processed than tofu and has a nutty flavor that makes it yummy on its own. A half-cup is approximately 150 calories.
  8. Bell pepper with balsamic vinegar. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar over sliced bell peppers for a treat high in vitamin C and low in calories. 1 marinated bell pepper is equal to about 40 calories.
  9. Avocado toast. Mash 1/4 of an avocado onto 1 slice of whole wheat or sprouted-grain toast and sprinkle it with Espellete pepper for a 120-calorie omega-3 friendly snack. 
  10. Water Water. Don't forget about hydration! If you're going to be in the sun, it's critical to make sure you're replenishing your water supply whether or not you're splashing around in the waves. Unless you want a midday headache, that is. Drink iced cold water, iced tea, coconut water, or sparkling water to