SOOTHE SORE MUSCLES AND TRAIN YOUR BRAIN TO CRAVE GOOD FOODS #508 08/15/2012
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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," 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.
  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. 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."
  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," 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."
  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," Edwards says. For a more detailed tutorial on foam rolling, check out the Beachbody Tai Cheng® program.
  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," 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."
  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, 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.
  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,'" 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:

Related Articles
"Knee Pain—Part 1"
"What's Going Wrong With These Aching Knees? Cheng on Knee Pain—Part 2"
"Foam Rolling: Your Tight Muscles' Best Friend"

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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Break Your 5 Bad Summer Habits

By Denis Faye
"Summertime and the livin' is easy."—George Gershwin, Porgy and Bess

There's truth in that classic song lyric. Long hours in the sun. Staying up late. Drinking one more brewski by the pool.

But autumn is just around the corner, and that means the rules change. That extra hamburger might have been okay after a day of playing beach football, but when you're on the couch watching the NFL®, it's your worst enemy. Add to this the fact that you're returning to work after a long vacation and the kids are heading back to school. With that, our stress levels tend to skyrocket.

Double Picture of Hungryman Meal

But they don't have to. The weigh station between those hot August nights and the cold November rain is a great time to get back on track. You might want to take this opportunity to do a transformation program like the Beachbody Ultimate Reset® to help you kick some of those bad summer habits and get yourself ready for the excesses of the upcoming holiday season.

  1. Backyard BBQ binging. We eat like pigs in the summer. Fried chicken, funnel cakes, macaroni salad, perhaps if you've gone really off the rails, fried butter.

    But you're probably also spending a lot of time outside, so you're burning off some of those calories. As the temperature drops and you retreat indoors, you'll likely be moving around less. And, unless you adjust your diet, you're probably going to pack on the pounds.

    That's where the Beachbody Ultimate Reset comes in. The 21-day program is designed for just such a situation. It helps you reduce your calories and fill your diet with foods and supplements that cleanse, revitalize, and train your body and mind to function better while consuming less. It will help stabilize your blood sugar so you're craving fewer sweets. You'll also find that by eating less, your stomach will shrink, and you'll feel fuller faster.

    Doing the Reset now can prepare you for the holiday onslaught of goodies. Avoiding candy and calorie-rich foods is much easier when your system is already acclimated to eating healthy foods in smaller portions.
  2. People DrinkingPartying all night long. Odds are, you didn't get your 7 to 8 hours this summer and you probably didn't miss it. With less stress, lots of sunshine, and more outdoor time, you were unwittingly avoiding telltale signs of exhaustion such as depression, lethargy, and illness. Once you're housebound, it's a different story. The kids will be bringing home heaven-knows-what from school (and you from the office) where those germs cycle around and around in the closed environment of your home.

    A great way to fight cold and flu season (besides opening the windows sometimes) is to stay rested—and the best way to stay rested is to sleep. While Western and Holistic medicine disagree on plenty, they're universally agreed on the way a night's sleep recharges the immune system. So make a point of missing the late show. Turn off the tube and hit the hay.
  3. Having a lazy brain. Summer is a great time for physical activity. When you're out and active, odds are that your chess game probably suffers.

    Take the opportunity of the approaching cool weather to find a class to enroll in for the fall. Take an arts course. Learn a new language. Learn how to make new healthy dishes at your local cooking school. Make a habit of playing chess or doing the crossword daily. Reengage your brain and you may not only help ward off brain diseases such as Alzheimer's1, you'll also discover fun new activities that you may fall in love with for a lifetime!
  4. Bad time management. All that sunshine does wonders for your mood. But what happens when the days get shorter and cooler and the bad weather hits? And, if you're in school or have kids who are, couple that with the stress of a tighter schedule.

    Here's some ways to get a grip on stress before it takes ahold of you.

    • Get a Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) lamp to help combat the blues that can come on when you're getting less sunlight every day.
    • Meditate every morning or evening for 10 to 15 minutes. A recent UCLA study showed that subjects practicing Kirtan Kriya Meditation for 12 minutes daily experienced a reduction in overall inflammation—the body's response to stress2.
    • Schedule at least 10 minutes every day in your calendar just for you. Take this time to do something that gives you pleasure. Drinking a cup of tea, watching the sunrise (or sunset), taking a walk, reading, or listening to music are just some ideas you could try. It may not seem like much, but these 10 minutes of peace will probably gain you 30 minutes of productivity.
  5. Man Measuring AbsExercising. Wait, what? Actually, this is the summer habit you don't want to break. Just because you might not be wearing a bathing suit for the next eight months doesn't mean you should stop exercising.

    You should avoid most exercise during Beachbody Ultimate Reset (except gentle exercise such as Tai Cheng®, restorative yoga, and walking), so use that time as a recovery phase to let your muscles experience some deep healing after all those summer activities.

    Once you're done, maybe consider giving yourself a fall or winter challenge. Try a Beachbody® program that you haven't mastered yet. Join a soccer or basketball league and make some new friends. Try a sport or activity you've never attempted before.

What bad summer habits do you want to break? Email us at mailbag@beachbody.com and let us know!

Resources:

  1. Landau, S. M., Marks, S. M., Mormino, E. C., Rabinovici, G. D., Oh, H., O'Neil, J. P., Wilson, R. S., et al. (2012). Association of Lifetime Cognitive Engagement and Low B-Amyloid Deposition. Archives of Neurology. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22271235

  2. Black, D. S., Cole, S. W., Irwin, M. R., Breen, E., St Cyr, N. M., Nazarian, N., Khalsa, D. S., et al. (2012). Yogic meditation reverses NF-KB and IRF-related transcriptome dynamics in leukocytes of family dementia caregivers in a randomized controlled trial. Psychoneuroendocrinology. Elsevier Ltd. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22795617

Related Articles
"Top 10 Seasonal Foods to Summer-Proof Your Body"
"Spring Cleansing: 5 Great Reasons to Do a Detox"
"10 Ways to Get Your Butt Off the Couch This Winter"

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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The Surprising Benefits Weight Lifting Can Have for Women

By Collette DeBenedetto

As a former female bodybuilder, I've always loved the weight room. It's my sanctuary—my place to strengthen and build the muscular temple of my dreams. Getting physically stronger makes me mentally stronger—and the aesthetic benefits aren't too shabby either.

Female Bodybuilder

But the thought of having a "bodybuilder" physique, complete with massive biceps and bulky thighs, sends many women running straight for the elliptical, which is sad considering how beneficial a proper lifting regime can be. In this article, I'll address the concerns you might have about weight lifting and help you answer whether or not Body Beast™ is the right program for you.

Q. Can women do Body Beast?

Female BodybuilderA. Absolutely. Body Beast is designed to promote muscle growth with limited cardio. That doesn't mean you won't burn calories or reduce your body fat. The program uses a technique called Dynamic Set Training that maximizes your muscular pump, caloric burn, and testosterone-filled hormonal cascades in order to create rapid changes in your body composition, whether you are male or female.

Q. How does a woman benefit from weight lifting?

A. As you age, you lose muscle mass. Through weight lifting, you can help offset this and increase your bone density. Women who lift weights during their teen and young adult years benefit as adults. Stronger muscles and denser bones make walking up stairs, carrying the groceries, and lifting your children easier. But that's not all. When you weight train properly, you can improve your balance and build muscles that protect your joints, which helps ward off injury.

Weight training also has a positive effect on disease control and prevention. According to the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Diabetes Association, people with diabetes can experience "improved insulin sensitivity, improved glucose tolerance . . . and a lower risk for heart disease." To see results, they recommend strength training at least 2 to 3 times a week.

Q. Will I become huge and burly?

A. No. Women simply don't have enough testosterone to build bulk like men do. If you're worried about bulking, focus on how many calories you're eating. That includes calories from protein. Contrary to another fitness myth, excess dietary protein is stored as fat. Unless you're supplementing your diet with a testosterone-enhancing hormone cocktail and overeating, it's almost impossible for a woman to get bulky.

Q. Can I use it as a weight loss program?

A. Body Beast is designed to increase muscle mass. Almost every workout targets muscular hypertrophy (growth). It is not a weight loss program. However, if you use Body Beast in conjunction with a cardio-focused weight loss program such as INSANITY®, TurboFire®, or INSANITY: THE ASYLUM®, you can easily lose weight. Combining a cardio-centric program with a muscle-building program is an ideal way to build a rock-hard body and a strong athletic foundation.

Q. What is the difference between the Huge and the Lean Beast?

A. There are two different Beast training schedules: Huge and Lean, both of which come in the Body Beast kit. If you are solely focused on getting big, follow the Huge Beast schedule. It focuses on building muscle with heavy weights and little cardio. If you choose the Lean Beast schedule, you'll do more cardio and spend additional time shredding in the third phase of the program, the Beast phase.

Q. Why would a women need testosterone?

A. A woman's body produces testosterone, just not at the level of a man's. Testosterone strengthens the libido, provides a sense of well-being, and improves muscle tone. The training in Body Beast increases your testosterone levels so that you benefit from all of the above. Beachbody® does not recommend taking synthetic forms of testosterone as these can shut down your natural testosterone production.

Q. Do I have to eat all that food?

A. If you don't want to gain mass, use a caloric calculator from a different Beachbody program: P90X®, P90X2®, INSANITY/THE ASYLUM, TurboFire, etc. After you've calculated your caloric content, use the portions and recipes in the Body Beast guidebook. The Beachbody Extreme nutritional supplements will also work in your favor as long as you time them correctly (see the answer to the next question).

If you're looking to be a Huge Beast, stick with the Body Beast guidebook and supplements. Some women want to gain as much mass as possible, and the crux of becoming an Amazon is eating enough.

When I was bodybuilding, I wanted to add muscle to all areas of my body. I did, but I also found that I was dropping clothing sizes as I trained. My plan was similar to the Beast plan in that I ate multiple times of day and my meals were composed of complex carbohydrates, protein, and vegetables. The Beast supplements were not around when I was bodybuilding, but I did supplement with protein bars and protein shakes to help my muscles grow.

Q. Do I have to take supplements? Will they make me too big?

Fuel ShotA. If you want to gain muscle and get big, it helps to add a little something extra to your diet. Body Beast offers four supplements to help boost your performance, your recovery, and your results: Fuel Shot, Hardcore Base Shake, M.A.X. Creatine, and Super Suma. They can work for women as well as men.

Fuel Shot and Hardcore Base Shake contain a mixture of protein and electrolytes as well as carbohydrates to restore glycogen. If you are following a nutrition guide from another program, you probably won't need to supplement with these unless you're trying to gain mass or you're a vegetarian. In the case of the latter, I recommend supplementing with Hardcore Base Shake protein to ensure you're getting enough protein.

M.A.X. Creatine isn't necessary for women looking to lose weight, but it is a great supplement if you want to increase your strength gains for short burst and explosive activities. When I've supplemented with creatine in the past, I've bloated a bit. This is a common side effect. If you're not comfortable with the extra bloat, cut back on the supplement.

Suma, also known as Brazilian ginseng, is an adaptogen that, according to the Tropical Plant Database, "increases the body's resistance to adverse influences." It also normalizes the cardiovascular system, the central nervous system, and acts as an immunostimulant. If you're a competitive athlete, suma may be on your banned substance list, so please check with your governing body before taking this supplement. Otherwise, it is completely healthy for both men and women to take.

While not all women will be interested in Body Beast, if done correctly, it can add effectiveness to almost any exercise program. But if you're someone who has always envied Xena's physique, Body Beast might just be the program to release your inner warrior princess.

Resources:

Related Articles
"Mr. Big Stuff: A Q&A with Body Beast's Sagi Kalev"
"Can You Build Muscle as a Vegan? (And 9 Other Questions About Going Meatless)"
"Muscles in a Tub: A Beachbody® Creatine FAQ"

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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Recipe: Fruit Jelly Dessert

(Makes 9 servings, 2 oz. each)

Fruit Jelly Dessert
Jiggly, jelly-like desserts are tasty and low in calories, but they're usually filled with weird chemicals. They aren't vegetarian friendly either, because gelatin is typically derived from pig or cow collagen. So the next time you want your dessert to shimmy, make it using agar. Made from seaweed, this product is odorless, tasteless, and practically calorie-free.

  • 2-1/2 cups 100% fresh-squeezed fruit juice (orange, watermelon, cantaloupe juice, or other)
  • 1 tsp. powdered agar
  1. Combine fruit juice and agar in medium saucepan. Stir to dissolve.
  2. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly; boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Pour into molds.
  3. Let cool for 30 to 40 minutes at room temperature. Place in refrigerator for 1 hour or until fully set.

Tip: Powdered agar can be found at almost any gourmet grocery store or Asian food market.

Preparation Time: 5 minutes

Cooking Time: 1 minute

Total Time: 7 minutes

Preparation Difficulty: Easy

Nutritional Information: (per serving)

Calories Fat Saturated Fat Cholesterol Sodium Carbs Fiber Sugar Protein
32 0 g 0 g 0 mg 1 mg 7 g 0 g 6 g 1 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

Body Beast Nutritional Information: (per 2 servings)

Carb Liquid
1



P90X/P90X2 Nutritional Information: (per 2 servings)

Snack
1/2


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.

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