How to Find a Bounce-Free Sports Bra + Could Yoga Make You Happier? #527 05/07/2013
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Could Yoga Increase Your Happiness?

By Sarah Stevenson

Haven't tried yoga yet? Wondering what all the hype's about? Trust me, it's not just about slipping on some yoga pants and checking out all the hot guys and girls as they down-dog. If you are looking for an all-around holistic form of exercise that will fix you up inside and out, then yoga is the thing for you. Here are just some of the benefits.

Woman in Yoga Class

  1. Lower Your Blood Pressure: Yoga is a marriage of movement and breath. Research has proven that exercise, meditation, and breath exercises can all help lower blood pressure without medication.1 With yoga, you're getting all three for the price of one.
  2. Clear Your Body of Toxins: Taking a one-hour yoga class is like getting a full body massage from head to toe. It's a belief in yogic practices that twisting asanas wring out the organs similar to twisting a sponge to rid it of water. This flushes your system of the toxins your body takes in from your environment, stress, and the food you eat. It's important to drink a lot of water after class to help purge these from your system.2
  3. Learn What Your Body Can Do: I will never forget the first time I was able to slip into the splits in yoga class. Until that moment, I had no idea I could do that! Yoga is a great way to learn what your body is capable of. If you keep up your practice you will be amazed at what your body can do.
  4. Massage Your Organs: As I mentioned earlier, a good yoga class gives you a full-body massage, inside and out. This keeps your organs young and supple. The body begins to deteriorate and actually rots when you live a sedentary life. All of that pressing, twisting, and turning you do in yoga keeps your organs in check and functional.3
  5. Give Yourself Body Awareness: In yoga, you are taught to listen to two feelings the body creates: a scream (which is anytime you feel sharp pain), and a whisper (a pleasing sensation). When you learn to listen closely to the body, you start to make better choices for it. Staying away from the screams that would eventually cause injury or illness and moving toward the whispers will bring you health and joy.
  6. Women Doing Yoga OutsideMeet Cool People: Yogis can be some of the most nonjudgmental, chill peeps you can hang with. These people tend to take responsibility for their bodies, minds, and emotions, so it really cuts back on the drama.
  7. Learn Discipline: By starting a consistent practice, you teach yourself the art of discipline. By gaining the ability to commit to something, you open yourself to a world of successful possibilities.
  8. Teach Yourself Physical Balance: Yoga helps you focus your mind with your breath and also helps you build muscles to balance on your hands, head, shoulders, and feet. This will make you quicker on your toes and in your head.
  9. Relieve Back Pain: One leading cause of back pain is having tight hamstrings. Jobs requiring lots of sitting only tighten those muscles all the more; pair that with gravity and you have yourself some serious back pain. Yoga stretches out those hamstring muscles. It pairs body positions with gravitational pull and voila! Back pain decreases if not ceases.
  10. Increase Your Happiness: Yoga increases the production of serotonin and decreases cortisol release. So you get an extra boost of happy chemicals and block the secretion of stressful chemicals. This can help you to be a happier, healthier person.4
  11. Man and Woman Sharing IdeasCreate "Aha" Moments: Yoga allows you to defocus. Scientists call this cognitive disinhibition. The conscious mind quiets so that all the wisdom and creativity that is sitting on the back burners of your mind can float to the surface.5
  12. Make Yourself More Flexible: Pair a calm mind with some serious stretching, and you can become more flexible than you ever thought possible.
  13. And Stronger: Yoga centers around a series of isometric poses. Most poses are held for upward of 10 long yogic breaths. Holding these poses can help build strong, toned muscles and denser, more resilient bones.6
  14. Decrease Mood Swings: Yoga helps regulate hormones, lowers your blood pressure, and connects you to your emotions with heightened mindfulness—so you are less likely to have negative emotions sneak up at you out of nowhere.7
  15. Decrease Anxiety and Stress: During yoga, you are encouraged to relax, slow your breathing, and focus on the present moment. This shifts you from the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight response) to the parasympathetic system (relaxation response). The result? A slower heart rate, decreased blood pressure, and lowered cortisol.8
  16. Couple KissingBoost Your Libido: We are sexual beings. Sometimes it's simply the chaotic chatter continually running through our heads that shuts out our connection to our sensual body. When you quiet your mind and learn to listen to your body's voice, you may find that you are hot and bothered more often! And, when you are under the sheets, you can improve your stamina by using the focus and yogic breath you've mastered in class. (Now you know how Sting does it.)
  17. Get Taller: Yoga improves your posture, so you gain back those extra inches that are typically swallowed up by slouching. So make your granny proud and get yourself a yoga mat so you sit up straight at the dinner table.
  18. Get a Better Night's Sleep: Exercise can help ward off insomnia because you wear yourself out enough to catch some Z's. But, yoga might be particularly effective as researchers have found that yoga increases the production of melatonin in the body.9 Melatonin helps give you a sense of calm and well-being so when you hit the pillow, you can drift off to dreamland.
  19. Regulate Hormones: Yoga balances out the endocrine system. When you slowly move through your asanas, you pressurize and release various glands—and glands secrete hormones. This brings them back to proper function and you can gain the benefits of lifted mood, weight loss, better sleep, more energy, and proper digestion.10
  20. Lose Weight: You can drop pounds by practicing yoga for three reasons. First, as I said above, yoga regulates hormones, including the stress-y ones like cortisol, which can get in the way of fat loss. Second, as I mentioned in #2, yoga helps your organs detoxify and function properly, which can impact your metabolism. Third, yoga helps you release trapped emotions, so you are less likely to emotionally binge.

These are only some of the many benefits a consistent yoga practice has to offer you. So what are you waiting for? Get yourself a mat, find yourself a teacher, and get started on transforming your life with yoga.

Sources:

  1. Grossman, E., et al. "Breathing-control lowers blood pressure." Journal of human hypertension 15.4 (2001): 263-269.
  2. Chopra, D. (2012). AARP The Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga: A Practical Guide to Healing Body, Mind, and Spirit. Wiley.
  3. Bailey, A. (1927). The light of the soul, its science and effect: a paraphrase of the Yoga sutras of Pantanjali. Lucis publishing company.
  4. McCall T. New York: Bantam Dell a division of Random House Inc; 2007. Yoga as Medicine.
  5. Simonton, D. K. (2012). The Science of Genius. Scientific American Mind, 23(5), 34-41.
  6. Patel, N. K., Newstead, A. H., & Ferrer, R. L. (2012). The effects of yoga on physical functioning and health related quality of life in older adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 18(10), 902-917.
  7. Woodyard, C. (2011). Exploring the therapeutic effects of yoga and its ability to increase quality of life. International journal of yoga, 4(2), 49.
  8. Arora S, Bhattacharjee J. Modulation of immune response in stress by yoga. Int J Yoga. 2008;1:45–55.
  9. Harinath, K., Malhotra, A. S., Pal, K., Prasad, R., Kumar, R., Kain, T. C., ... & Sawhney, R. C. (2004). Effects of Hatha yoga and Omkar meditation on cardiorespiratory performance, psychologic profile, and melatonin secretion. The Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine, 10(2), 261-268.
  10. Clennell, Bobby, The Woman's Yoga Book. Berkley, California: Rodwell Press, 2007.

Related Articles
"Flexy Plexy: 10 Crazy Yoga Poses That Will Tone Your Body"
"Saucy Sun Salutations: Why Yoga Is a Natural Aphrodisiac"
"Namaste A-Okay: 3 Surprising Ways Yoga Benefits You (Including Weight Loss!)"

Questions about your workout program, diet, the latest newsletter, or anything wellness related? Check the Team Beachbody Chat Room for the next impromptu video chat. Or, if you just can't wait, log onto the Information & Education section of the Team Beachbody Message Boards for questions, answers, and scintillating conversation.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com. We may even answer your question right here, for all the world to see!

And if you'd like to know more about Beachbody Director of Results Steve's views on fitness, nutrition, and outdoor sports, read his blog, The Straight Dope, named one of the Top 50 blogs covering the sports industry by the Masters in Sports Administration. You can also read a more scientific (not to mention snarky) take on many of the topics we discuss here at The Real Fitness Nerd blog.

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How to Find a Bounce-Free Sports Bra

By Kara Wahlgren

Having a good support system can make all the difference when it comes to your workout. And no, we're not talking about a motivated gym buddy. A good sports bra will protect your assets and can improve your stamina. "Studies show that less stress on your breasts increases lung capacity and allows you to utilize other muscles more efficiently," says Elisabeth Dale, a breast expert, founder of TheBreastLife.com, and author of bOObs: A Guide to Your Girls. The result? "Less pain and way more gain!" she says. Here's how to choose the best sports bra for your workout.

Woman Resting

  1. Know your type.
    There are a few important terms you need to know when shopping for a sports bra. Compression bras are the standard boob-smushing style—not so flattering, but super-supportive. Encapsulation bras keep breasts in separate cups, which can be more comfortable for those with bigger busts (and less sweaty!). And underwire bras offer an extra line of defense against jiggling, although some women find them too uncomfortable for working out. No matter what style you choose, make sure it's made from a moisture-wicking fabric such as COOLMAX® or DriLayer® to keep sweat away from your skin.
  2. Assess your assets.
    Every woman needs support, but different sizes call for different construction. If you're on the small side, you can probably get enough support from a basic compression bra. If your cups runneth over, look for an encapsulation bra with cup sizing (DD, HH, etc.). And don't be afraid to layer bras for extra support. Start with an encapsulation bra to keep 'em separated, then wear a compression bra on top to restrict movement. "Wear whatever combination allows you to be active without having to think about your sports bra," Dale says.
  3. Woman StretchingGauge your routine.
    "Intensity level dictates what type of bra a woman needs," says Yasmeen Anderson, a bra fit expert for Bare Necessities®, the largest online retailer of intimate apparel. Medium-control bras are fine for low-impact workouts like Pilates or yoga, but if you find that your boobs are getting in the way during a plow pose, you may need firmer support. "Fuller-busted women may feel more secure in a more structured garment," Anderson says. "And higher-impact activities like running and kickboxing require extra-firm control garments, irrespective of size."
  4. Take it for a test drive.
    Don't just grab your usual size and make a beeline for the cashier. You'll be spending untold hours in this bra, so take a few minutes in the fitting room to put it through its paces. "Jump up and down," says Danny Koch, fourth-generation owner of Town Shop, a NYC lingerie shop that specializes in bra fitting. "You should be comfortable, firmly held in, and well supported. Your breasts shouldn't be moving up and down or side to side." Jog, twist, and touch your toes to make sure nothing is swinging around or spilling out. Keep trying different sizes and bras by different makers until you find the one that's right for you.
  5. Check for snug straps. Your straps should fit comfortably. They shouldn't slip off your shoulders, but they shouldn't be painfully tight, either. "The straps do not take on the full support of the garment. The support comes from the band," Anderson says. "If your bra fits well, your straps will not dig." (By the way, this goes for your regular bras as well.) If you have problems with straps sliding down, opt for a racerback style which is more likely to stay put. Some sports bras also come with adjustable straps and multi-hook bands, so you can adjust them to fit your shape and tighten the straps when they start to loosen.
  6. Woman Putting Stuff in the Washing MachineHandle with care. Fabrics can break down over time, so to get the most support out of your sports bra; treat it like lingerie, not like workout gear. "Wash sports bras in cold water on the delicate cycle, with mild detergent," Dale says. "Hook up any loose hardware, and place them in a lingerie bag first. And don't put a bra in the dryer, because high heat destroys elasticity and breaks down the fabric." A little extra effort in the laundry room will go a long way. Take care of your sports bra and it will take care of you.

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Questions about your workout program, diet, the latest newsletter, or anything wellness related? Check the Team Beachbody Chat Room for the next impromptu video chat. Or, if you just can't wait, log onto the Information & Education section of the Team Beachbody Message Boards for questions, answers, and scintillating conversation.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com. We may even answer your question right here, for all the world to see!

And if you'd like to know more about Beachbody Director of Results Steve's views on fitness, nutrition, and outdoor sports, read his blog, The Straight Dope, named one of the Top 50 blogs covering the sports industry by the Masters in Sports Administration. You can also read a more scientific (not to mention snarky) take on many of the topics we discuss here at The Real Fitness Nerd blog.

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Myofascial MacGyver : Physical Therapy with 7 Household Objects

By Joanna Schafhausen, MS, ATC

Having trouble making it to enough physical therapy appointments and massages to heal your aching muscles? What if you could do many of the same healing exercises you receive in physical therapy with a few household items? The 7 exercises below will let you begin decreasing pain and priming the muscles for activity.

Woman Using a Band while a Man Rubs her Shoulder

Of course, it's important to keep in mind that the stuff you can get from a quick trip to Target® is no replacement for the expertise of a good PT, so if you have a serious issue, by all means, make an appointment today.

To get started, gather these items: a belt, hand towel, golf ball, water bottle, 2 tennis balls, Dixie® cup, and a can of soup (or another canned food of similar size).

Self-Myofascial Release Exercises
Self-Myofascial Release (SMR) uses "tools"—most commonly, the foam roller—to decrease pain by breaking up adhesions in the fascia or soft-tissue part of the connective tissue in the body, similar to the way deep tissue massage does, by putting pressure on trigger points that cause the neuromuscular receptors to release muscle tightness

  1. DUCT TAPED TENNIS BALLS: Tape two tennis balls together and you'll have the perfect shape for targeted SMR of your IT band and thoracic spine. Lie on your back and place them horizontally along the spine to improve posture and increase mobility along the spinal column. Or place them underneath your lateral thigh and roll from the top of your hip to the knee to relieve pain in your IT band.
Woman laying on two tennis balls.
 
  1. GOLF BALL: A golf ball is the ideal size for SMR of small muscles. For instance, you could roll the golf ball along the arch of your foot, stopping and putting pressure on the tender spots for 30 seconds at a time, to relieve pain from plantar fasciitis and shin splints.
Woman rolling the golf ball along her arch

Flexibility Exercises
Tight calves, hamstrings, and quadriceps are often the underlying culprits of overuse injuries in the lower extremities. They can cause injuries such as patellar tendonitis, IT band syndrome, shin splints, and plantar fasciitis. And a desk job can damage your posture and lead to back and shoulder pain.

  1. BELT: There are two great exercises you can do with a belt. For the first, lie down on your back. Thread the long end of the belt through the buckle and place the loop around the arch of your foot. Keeping your leg straight and your toes flexed so they point toward you and not the ceiling, pull your leg up toward your head as far as you can. You should feel a deep stretch through your calf and hamstring. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat twice for each leg.
Woman laying on her back holding a belt to her leg
 
  1. For the second, stand up and, using a chair for balance, loop the belt around the arch of your foot. Carefully bend your knee behind you, grasp the long end of the belt, and pull it over your shoulder. In this position you can gradually pull your foot closer to your butt, so you can get a deep stretch in your quadriceps. Be careful to keep your knees together while you hold the stretch for 30 seconds. Repeat 2 times for each leg.
Woman standing holding a belt to her foot
 
  1. HAND TOWEL: To stretch your shoulder's internal and external rotators, grasp one end of the towel firmly in your hand, raise your arm above your head, and then bend your elbow so the towel hangs behind your back. Then reach behind your back with the other hand to grab the bottom end of the towel. Alternate between gently pulling the bottom hand up your back to stretch your shoulder's internal rotator and pulling your top hand down your back to stretch your external rotators. You should feel a gradually deepening stretch, but not pain, in your shoulders. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds and repeat before stretching the other side.
Woman holding a towel behind her back vertically
 
  1. For a second stretch, bring the towel behind your back with both hands and lift your arms up off your back as far as you can. Hold this stretch for 10 seconds and repeat twice.
Woman holding a towel behind her back hortizontally

Strengthening Exercises
Strengthening weak muscles is the next step after stretching tight muscles. Physical therapy usually focuses on strengthening the smaller stabilizing muscles we forget about in the gym. Here are five exercises that you can do using a can and/or a hand towel.

  1. CAN OF SOUP: No lightweight dumbbells? No problem. A can of soup usually weighs about a pound (1 pound = 16 ounces, so take a look at the volume measurement on the can to find one that's closest to one pound). These "weights" can be used for strengthening the muscles of the foot and the rotator cuff.
Woman using a Can of Soup as a Dumbbell
 
  1. THE TOWEL SCRUNCH: To strengthen the muscles of your feet, sit on a chair and lay a hand towel down on the floor just in front of the chair. Place the can of soup at the opposite end of the towel. Now, plant your heel on the ground in front of the towel, grasp the towel with your toes, and scrunch the towel in toward your heel. Repeat until you have scrunched up the entire towel. Repeat this exercise ten times for each foot.
Woman scrunching her toes on a towel
 
  1. THE WINDSHIELD WIPER: Rotate the towel 90 degrees and place the can of soup at the far end of the towel. Place the heel of your foot on the floor and, like a windshield wiper, move your foot to one side of the towel and grasp it with your toes. Repeat this move in the opposite direction. Repeat the entire length of the towel 5 times in each direction on each foot. Note: It is easy to "cheat" by letting your hip rotate in and out. Be careful that the movement only occurs at the ankle.
Woman placing her foot on a towel
 
  1. SHOULDER INTERNAL/EXTERNAL ROTATION: To strengthen the tiny muscles of the rotator cuff, lie on your side with the hand towel rolled up and pinned between the elbow of your top arm and the side of your body. Keep your elbow at 90 degrees and, holding the can, rotate your arm toward the ceiling, keeping your elbow on the towel at all times. Lower your arm back down slowly and repeat 10 to 15 times. Next, place the can of soup in your bottom hand. Keep your elbow bent 90 degrees and tucked into the side of your body. Raise the can from the ground toward your abdomen and lower it down slowly.
Woman holding a can
 
  1. ALPHABETS: This third exercise for strengthening the rotator cuff muscles adds stability to the shoulder joint. Lie on your back, grasp the can in your hand, and lift your arm straight up toward the ceiling. Draw the letters of the alphabet in the air as if your thumb was a pencil. This exercise challenges all of the muscles of the rotator cuff to activate in random patterns and helps improve and maintain stability. Try this exercise using capital, lowercase, and cursive lettering.
Woman holding a can straight out

Cryotherapy**
After you've finished your strengthening exercises, you want to calm down your muscles and relieve fatigue using cryotherapy (ice). You could use an ice pack, ice bath, or even give yourself an ice massage using a frozen water bottle or Dixie cup. Ice massage combines the benefits of massage (reduced tension and inflammation) and ice (reduced pain and swelling) together in one 10-minute treatment.

  1. WATER BOTTLE: Using a similar technique to the golf ball exercise, place the water bottle on the floor with a towel underneath it and gently roll your foot on top of it for up to 10 minutes. This technique is great for tired feet, for decreasing the pain, and for breaking up the chronic inflammation associated with plantar fasciitis. Note: Before freezing a water bottle, make sure it is not filled to the top. Otherwise, it may burst.
  1. DIXIE CUP: Fill a Dixie cup two-thirds full of water and place it in the freezer. When it's frozen, peel the paper away from the ice. Wrap the base of the ice block in a towel and rub the block along the spot that is causing you pain. You may want to place an additional towel below the treatment area to catch the drips as the ice melts. The shin, IT band, and the patellar tendon are good locations for this type of cryotherapy because the injured tissue is close to the surface. Be careful to start with light pressure and increase pressure as you become numb. It is also important to keep the ice moving continually to avoid any ice burn. This treatment is very localized and should not be performed for more than 7 to 10 minutes.
Woman placing towel under her legs
  1. **Note: Some people are very sensitive to cold and may have an allergic reaction to ice being placed directly on the skin. This reaction is called Cold Urticaria and these treatments are not recommended for people with this sensitivity. If you aren't sure if you have this sensitivity, begin with a very small area, and discontinue treatment if you notice any irritation. Also, do NOT apply ice to any area that is already lacking sensation, as it is possible to cause further damage such as frostbite.

Sources:

  1. Arnheim, D.D., Prentice, W.E., Arnheim's Principles of Athletic Training: A Competency-Based Approach, 10th ed., McGraw Hill, San Francisco 2000.
  2. http://myofascial-pain-syndrome.org/self-myofascial-release/
  3. Houglum, P.A., Therapeutic Exercise for Musculoskeletal Injuries, 2nd edition, Human Kinetics, Champaign, IL 2005.
  4. http://www.sportsinjuryclinic.net/treatments-therapies/cryotherapy-cold-therapy/contraindications-cryotherapy
  5. http://www.my-physical-therapy-coach.com/ice-massage.html

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Questions about your workout program, diet, the latest newsletter, or anything wellness related? Check the Team Beachbody Chat Room for the next impromptu video chat. Or, if you just can't wait, log onto the Information & Education section of the Team Beachbody Message Boards for questions, answers, and scintillating conversation.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com. We may even answer your question right here, for all the world to see!

And if you'd like to know more about Beachbody Director of Results Steve's views on fitness, nutrition, and outdoor sports, read his blog, The Straight Dope, named one of the Top 50 blogs covering the sports industry by the Masters in Sports Administration. You can also read a more scientific (not to mention snarky) take on many of the topics we discuss here at The Real Fitness Nerd blog.

Submit a CommentTell A Friend Bookmark and Share

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Recipe: Frittata with Swiss Chard, Tomatoes, and Parmesan

(Makes 8 servings)


Frittata with Swiss Chard, Tomatoes, and Parmesan
In less than an hour, make Mom something for Mother's Day. Serve with a hug and a mug of freshly brewed coffee or tea.

Ingredients:

  • 10 large egg whites (1-1/4 cups)
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup nonfat milk
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Sea salt and ground black pepper (to taste; optional)
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cups chopped Swiss chard
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Combine egg whites, eggs, milk, cheese, salt (if desired), pepper (if desired), and nutmeg in a medium bowl; whisk to blend. Set aside.
  3. Heat oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat.
  4. Add onion and chard; cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until tender. Turn off heat.
  5. Lightly coat sides of skillet with spray.
  6. Add tomatoes and egg mixture to skillet.
  7. Place skillet in oven. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until puffy and set.

Tip: You can use spinach, kale, or other favorite greens instead of the Swiss chard. You can also mix the greens for a total of 2 cups.

Nutritional Information: (per serving)

Calories Fat Saturated Fat Cholesterol Sodium Carbs Fiber Sugar Protein
131 7 g 2 g 144 mg 273 mg 4 g 1 g 3 g 12 g


If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.


Body Beast and P90X®/P90X2® Portion Information

P90X/P90X2 Nutritional Information:

Protein Vegetable
1 1/2



Body Beast Nutritional Information:

Protein Vegetable
2-1/2 1


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