#311 Cooling Off

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Tips to Stay Cool: Avoiding Heat Exhaustion

By Steve Edwards

Power 90®As summer nears, the lure of sunshine, warmth, and poolside idleness becomes tempting. This is especially true if you've just spent the spring working on looking good in your bathing suit. But, keeping your toned physique through the summer months involves another challenge. As the temperatures soar, heat exhaustion becomes more a likelihood than a concern. Let's take a look at how to stay cool so you can ramp up your workouts, whether it's P90X® or Power 90®, even as the mercury rises.

What is heat exhaustion?

Heat exhaustion is one phase of hyperthermia, a condition that occurs when the body produces or absorbs more heat than it can dissipate. In its advanced state, heat stroke, medical attention is absolutely necessary because of the threat of death. Minor cases aren't life threatening and occur regularly, especially in warm weather, but should be treated seriously because heat exhaustion can quickly turn into heat stroke if allowed to progress.

SunThe weather needn't be hot for hyperthermia to occur. Heat can be created artificially by drugs or medical devices or naturally through exercise or improper fueling of the body. But as the weather gets warm, your margin for error decreases, because your body temperature will increase without you doing anything active. This is especially true early in the year when you aren't used to the warm weather. Those coming off of a cold winter are particularly vulnerable.

By the numbers, it looks like this: Normal body temperature is around 97� to 98�F (36� to 37�C). Anything above 104�F is considered life threatening. At 106�F, brain death begins, and by 113�F, death is nearly certain. Since anytime you "feel hot" your body temperature is edging its way over normal, it's not hard to see that you don't have a large buffer before your condition may become serious.

Signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion

SweatingSweating is your body's response to overheating. The process pulls heat from inside the body and pushes it out, where it will evaporate on the skin and cool the body further. So sweating is the first sign of overheating and should indicate that proper hydration strategies be adhered to in order to keep this process working.

When you're hot and stop sweating, your body is in serious trouble and aggressive measures (see daily strategies below) should be initiated. Prior to this, you would likely experience other warning signs. The most basic is feeling hot. This means that your sweating mechanism is being overworked or is not doing its job properly. The skin will then become red or flush. Headaches, stomach upset, feeling faint and/or an increased heart rate are all indicators that your condition is getting worse.

Person with a HeadacheIf not treated, your condition will decline further. Dizziness and/or nausea will likely follow. Your skin will change from red to pale or blue-ish. Feeling hot will be replaced by feeling chilled. Convulsions are a possibility. In this state, the body begins to fail and all priority should be placed on reversing the situation.

Thousands of people die from hyperthermia each year. A study, reported in the Annals of Internal Medicine, followed the progress of patients admitted to intensive care units for heat stroke and found that nearly half of the patients died within a year—28 percent died after their release from the hospital. This shows that the effects of heat stroke put long-term stress on the body. But it also shows, most likely, that those who experience hyperthermia probably do so by making daily mistakes on the prevention side. So let's look at how to avoid hyperthermia on a daily basis and what to do when we slip up.

Daily strategies

Drinking WaterHydration is the key. A properly hydrated body will not be hyperthermic. But hydration can be tricky, especially as outside conditions change. Reacting to weather changes requires more than consuming your recommend 6 to 8 glasses of water per day. This is because water is only one side of the equation. Body salts, called electrolytes, are the other side. The primary electrolyte is one of the more misunderstood nutrients on the planet: salt.

Staying hydrated requires that you keep a balance of water and salt. As we heat up, our requirements for both of these increase. The standard requirement of 6 to 8 glasses of water per day can change to per hour under extremely hot conditions when you're exercising. Salt can be even more confusing. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for sodium is 2,500 milligrams per day. But a person sitting inside in cool temperatures may only need 500 milligrams per day, whereas someone exercising in the heat may sweat out 2,000 milligrams in 1 hour! This means that the RDA is a random number based on an average. How much salt you need is directly related to your lifestyle and the weather. The more you sweat, the greater your need for salt.

Rising TemperatureToo much salt and not enough water is a deadly condition that most of us are aware of, but too much water and not enough salt will kill you even more quickly. Since most of us have plenty of salt in our daily diets (and millions of us too much), we tend to focus mainly on water intake for staving off dehydration. But ensuring that you have a balance of water and electrolytes becomes vital as the temperature rises.

While confusing, this dilemma isn't all that hard to sort out. There is a great margin for error when it comes to hydration, and it's not vital to get it perfect, unless you're competing in a sport. For most of us, just being aware that we're drinking extra water and getting some salt in our diets as demands on hydration increase is enough. Sweating is an easy way to tell that you're getting this right. If you're sweating in the heat, you're doing something right. Beginning to cramp is a sign that you're out of balance one way or another and a simple solution is to add more of the one you've been consuming the least, be it water or salt. For most of us, it will be water, but if you exercise a lot or eat a low-sodium diet, it may be salt. This unscientific protocol is perfectly adequate to keep most of us functioning fine through the summer.

When it gets hot

We're pretty good at adjusting to heat over time. By far, we're at most risk when the weather initially changes. It takes around 5 to 7 days to adjust to living in elevated temperatures. During this period, your body undergoes a series of changes that makes continued exposure to hot conditions more endurable. If you handle the adjustment carefully, you're most likely set for the season, save for those times you choose to put yourself in an exposed situation.

Obviously, hydrating well during these periods is vital, but other methods of staying cool should also be considered. Covering exposed skin with light-colored, loose-fitting clothing is helpful, as is using sunblock liberally on all exposed areas. Nothing makes this transition more challenging than allowing your skin to get burnt on your first day in the sun. This is also hat season. Your scalp is susceptible, even if you have a lot of hair.

Applying Suntan Lotion and Baby Wearing a Hat at the Beach

If you do get burnt, keep your skin bathed in lotion and out of the sun. If you're forced outside for hours on end, especially doing something physical, consider dumping water over your head or on your neck every so often. Continually exposing your body to something cold will keep your body core temperature low and cardiac drift (a state wherein you heart beats faster to keep up with a climbing body temperature) from occurring.

Dealing with acute situations

Once you've become overheated, you want to reduce your body temperature as quickly as you can. This has been debated over the years. In fact, during the 19th century, public pumps had warning signs stating that drinking cold water during excessive heat could kill you. Modern and recent studies have shown the opposite. First, that "it's quite difficult, if not impossible" to kill someone by cooling them quickly when they're overheated, and second, that the quicker you can cool someone off, the faster they will recover.

Cooling OffCold-water immersion is the most effective way to lower a high body temperature. Of course, it's not always practical or possible but any step in this direction will help alleviate the situation. If nothing cold is accessible, use whatever is available. Warm water on the skin, or almost anything damp, will still create convection with the air and mimic sweat. Getting to the shade or covering all exposed skin helps, too.

If the situation is dire, or prolonged exposure to heat has occurred, medical advice should be sought out, even if the situation seems under control. Excessive exposure can cause trauma that's not always apparent, and some amount of medical support, like an IV drip of electrolyte solution, can keep the body from incurring any long-term damage.

Maurice Ndukwu, of the University of Chicago Medical Center, warns that heat stroke is more serious than it's often given credit for. In the Annals of Internal Medicine he states, "Classic heat stroke is a deadly disorder, more complex, more often fatal, and more permanently disabling than the literature on this order would predict. This [study] drives home the crucial importance of prevention and rapid diagnosis and treatment."

Source: Casa D. J.; McDermott, B. P.; Lee, E. C.; Yeargin, S. W.; Armstrong, L. E.; Maresh, C. M. "Cold Water Immersion: The Gold Standard for Exertional Heatstroke Treatment." Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews: July 24, 2007.

Related Articles
"Salt: Taste Bud Thriller or Silent Killer?"
"Should You Drink Bottled Water?"
"The Sweatiest Thing"

Steve EdwardsIf 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.

Check out our Fitness Advisor's responses to your comments in Steve Edwards' Mailbag on the Message Boards. If you'd like to receive Steve Edwards' Mailbag by email, click here to subscribe to Steve's Health and Fitness Newsletter. And if you'd like to know more about Steve's views on fitness, nutrition, and outdoor sports, read his blog, The Straight Dope.

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11 Tips for Cooking Out Without Pigging Out

By Joe Wilkes

It's almost summertime, which means you should fire up the grill and enjoy the great outdoors. It all sounds pretty healthy, until somebody shows up with a bowl of mayonnaise and potatoes, which, without a trace of irony, they'll announce as a salad. It's like calling a stick of butter a nutrition bar. A few side dishes like this, combined with some fatty hot dogs, hamburgers, potato chips, and ice cream, and bathing-suit season can become caftan season before you know it. But if you only invite the neighbors over for celery sticks and tofu kabobs, you can count on getting the stink eye from everyone next time you're out mowing the lawn. The secret to throwing a great barbecue is to find ways of eating healthily without making it seem like last call at fat camp. Fortunately, with so many great foods available during the summer months, it's easy to plan a menu that will taste great and let you keep your figure.


Here are some tips to keep in mind when planning your outdoor culinary excursions, so you can picnic without the pounds, still enjoy good food, and keep you and your family and friends healthy.

  1. Grilled Vegetables Veg out. The cookout doesn't need to be a celebration of the weather being so good that we can now eat the unhealthy foods we used to eat in front of the TV in the backyard. It's summer, after all—the time of year when all the best fruits and vegetables peak. And grilling vegetables is a great way to get tons of flavor without adding tons of calories. Delicious on their own or as complements to another dish, grilled veggies are must-haves for a healthy cookout. Use them in salads, on burgers, or by themselves. Check out what's fresh at your local farmers' market.

    Good veggies for grilling include peppers, asparagus, artichokes, eggplant, zucchini, squash, scallions, and onions. Just brush them with a little olive oil, some fresh herbs, and a pinch of salt and pepper, and you're serving something healthy that you and your guests can load up on—guilt free.

  2. HerbsHerbal remedies. Only the worst chefs need to rely on fat and salt for seasoning. Now's the time to stock up on fresh basil, oregano, tarragon, dill, rosemary, thyme, cilantro, etc. Or even better, grow your own. Oftentimes, a pot of living basil from the nursery costs less than a handful of leaves from your produce section. Use fresh herbs liberally in all of your recipes, and you can replace fat with flavor.

  3. Macaroni SaladHold the mayo. Nothing lays waste to the best-laid plans for a healthy barbecue like mayonnaise. A main ingredient in such picnic staples as potato salad, macaroni salad, and coleslaw, mayo loads up enough fat and calories to make the fact that the dishes stay out in the sun long enough to cause salmonella poisoning your only hope of weight loss. Try substituting healthier ingredients like yogurt or low-fat ricotta cheese for mayonnaise, and adding fresh herbs and other ingredients. Instead of mayonnaise, use yogurt and fresh dill in your potato salad. Make a whole-grain pasta salad with cherry or grape tomatoes, fresh basil, and balsamic vinaigrette.

  4. SaladDon't be so starchy! There's no law that says every picnic "salad" needs to begin with potato or pasta. There are plenty of salad recipes out there that are so delicious, no one will miss their starchy, fatty counterparts. How about making that old-time favorite, three-bean salad? Or if you want something a little heartier, lentils, mixed with a light vinaigrette, a little onion or garlic, some fresh herbs, and a sprinkling of feta cheese, will fill you up and give you enough energy to play more than horseshoes and lawn darts later.

    Make some simple fresh vegetable salads. Slice up some tomatoes or cucumbers, and toss them with a bit of vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, fresh herbs, and onions or garlic. You'll have a refreshing side dish that will fill you up without filling you out.

  5. MeatKnow your cuts of meat. It's not just a game on Letterman. While of course, substituting your rib eye with skinless chicken or fish would be the BEST nutritional decision, we know you're not made of stone. Sometimes it doesn't feel like a barbecue without the scent of grilled steak or pork in the air. But not all cuts are created equal. For beef, the best rule is to look for cuts with the word loin or round. Other great lean cuts are flank steak, skirt steak, tri-tip, and London broil. With pork, the leanest cuts are the tenderloin and loin chops.

    With both pork and beef, try to avoid anything involving the ribs, which have the fattiest cuts of meat, including rib eyes. And those baby back ribs will make you look like you're having the baby. Because of their low fat content, most of the lean cuts will need to be marinated for a couple of hours before grilling. Read on for marinade ideas.

  6. SauceLay off the (store-bought) sauce. One of the main ingredients in most store-bought barbecue and teriyaki sauces is high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Even the most casual Beachbody reader knows how we feel about HFCS. Instead, bust out those herbs you bought or grew in tip #2, and make some gourmet marinades and sauces that won't send your blood sugar into a tailspin. By using ingredients like fresh herbs; citrus juices; olive, sesame, and canola oils; wine; low-sodium soy sauce; and various vinegars, you can liven up your meat dishes and save the sugar for dessert. And when you're planning your marinades . . .

  7. KabobsGo global. Since the U.S. is one of the most obese nations in the world, maybe it's worth checking out what those in slimmer nations are grilling. How about a Cuban marinade with citrus juice and garlic for your chicken or pork? Or Indian tandoori-style skinless chicken thighs marinated in yogurt and spices like turmeric, curry, or cardamom? Try making your own Japanese teriyaki with sesame oil, ginger, soy sauce, and honey, and skip the corn syrup of the store brands. Try out Greek kabobs, Korean barbecue, or Jamaican jerk-rubbed meat—whatever catches your eye or your taste buds. And throwing a barbecue with an international theme sounds a lot more appetizing than a barbecue where the recurring theme is "we're watching our weight."

  8. Hot DogsGood dogs. Of course, not everyone is going to be keen on vegetables and treats from foreign lands. Kids, for example. So you're probably going to need some kind of hot dog for these less adventurous eaters. Pretty much anything can end up in a hot dog; but in most cases, hot dogs are tubes full of fatty meat and carcinogenic nitrates—yum! This is where it really pays to read the label. A regular hot dog runs over 200 calories and 18 grams of fat. A turkey frank has half of that. The fat, calorie, and sodium contents of numerous brands and types of dogs vary wildly, so choose carefully. For the less fussy, there are also several varieties of chicken and turkey sausages with gourmet ingredients that are delicious and low in fat and calories.

  9. BurgersBetter burgers. A friend of mine who is highly phobic of meat-borne illnesses like E. coli and mad cow disease had a great idea of asking the butcher to grind up a piece of sirloin or top round that she selected from the meat case for hamburgers. This limits your exposure to contaminants, as there's only one cow involved in the making of a steak, where there could be hundreds involved in the making of a package of ground beef. This also allows you to control the fat content that's in your hamburger. If you have a decent food processor, you could even grind your meat at home and blend in spices, garlic, or onion to enhance the flavor.

    If all this talk of cows and contaminants has put you off beef, you might give a turkey burger a try. But again, read the label. Many packages of ground turkey contain ground skin and other fatty pieces, resulting in a fat and calorie content not much better than ground beef. Try looking for extra-lean or all-white-meat ground turkey. And if you're worried about the bird flu, it might be worth giving veggie burgers another try. If you haven't had one in a few years, you may remember them as I do—some sort of reconstituted cardboard patty that smelled like feet. But there have been great strides in veggie burger technology. In fact, there are a couple of brands a vegan friend of mine refuses to eat, because they taste too much like meat. Try a couple of different brands. You may be surprised.

  10. ToppingsTopping it off. When you're putting together the topping trays for your grilled delights, you can also save a few calories. The traditional lettuce, tomatoes, and onions are great, but skip the cheese, mayonnaise, and corn-syrup-laden ketchup. Instead, try using some of those same grilled veggies from #1 on your burger or chicken breast. Or add a slice of avocado if you miss the creaminess of melted cheese. Put out a variety of mustards, hot sauces, and salsas, which are low in calories, fat, and don't usually contain corn syrup. Don't forget to look for whole-grain buns for your dogs or burgers, or try eating them open-faced or bunless, if you're trying to cut carbs.

  11. Fruit SaladJust desserts. Well, you've behaved admirably during the rest of the barbecue, so you deserve a little summer treat. Have a little bit of ice cream (although frozen yogurt would be even better, and plain yogurt better yet!), but heap a bunch of fruit on it instead of a dollop of fudge or a side of pie. After all, what we said about vegetables goes for fruit too. This is the time of year during which you can get your hands on the best fruit, at the lowest prices. Indulge in berries, peaches, oranges, melons, and all your favorite seasonal fruits. Make a huge fruit salad, or blend fruit with yogurt and ice for a smoothie. Or for those with ambition and an ice-cream maker, try making your own fruit sorbet. You may decide to skip the ice cream after all!

Hopefully, these suggestions will help make your summer barbecue a huge success. And in the worst-case scenario in which you end up being forced to partake in your neighbor's annual Salute to Mayonnaise, you can always use Beachbody's 2-Day Fast Formula® to minimize the damage before the next pool party! And, of course, you can also use Hip Hop Abs®, Turbo Jam®, Slim in 6®, or one of our varied programs to suit your post-mayo pounds.

Related Articles
"5 Ways to Make Over Your Veggies"
"4 Hearty and Healthy Dips"
"7 Substitutes for Picnic Diet Killers"

Joe WilkesIf 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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Test Your Seasonal Fruits and Veggies IQ!

By Joe Wilkes

Summertime . . . and the living is easy—and so is the shopping, if you know what to look for. There is a bounty of delicious, not to mention affordable, fresh vegetables and fruits in season available at your local farmers' market. What do you know about these summer favorites?

  1. Apricots What fruit is named after the Latin word for "precious"? The word "apricot" is believed to be derived from the Latin word praecocia, so named because it ripens earlier than its cousin, the peach. Apricots are good sources of vitamins A and C as well as beta-carotene. The apricot is also considered to be an aphrodisiac and, especially in its dried form, is often used for its laxative properties, due to its high fiber content.

  2. Is chard just a fancy name for beet leaves? Pretty much. Chard is cultivated by farmers more for its leaves than its beet roots; but both chard and beets come from the Beta vulgaris plant that we commonly regard as the beet. The beet contains high amounts of vitamins A and C as well as dietary fiber and many antioxidants.

  3. BroccoliWhat vegetable has as much calcium per ounce as milk? Good news for the lactose-intolerant, broccoli has just as much calcium as a glass of milk and far fewer calories and almost no fat. Broccoli also contains large amounts of vitamins A and C, potassium, iron, and fiber. It also contains many cancer-fighting phytochemicals.

  4. What popular produce was once thought to cause madness? The eggplant, so named as early varieties were usually white, was considered to be a dangerous plant that caused cancer, leprosy, and various other maladies, including madness. For centuries, the eggplant was only grown ornamentally and rarely eaten. It is actually not considered a vegetable; rather, it is classified as a berry. Thomas Jefferson is believed to have introduced the eggplant to America.

  5. TomatoesWhat is the world's most popular fruit? While currently it is getting press as the world's most popular salmonella delivery system, the tomato is the most popular fruit in the world. Sixty-million tons are produced every year—way more than the runners-up, the banana and apples; oranges; and watermelon, which round up the top 5.

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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