#361 (6/17/2009) THE BEST FOOD ON THE PLANET!

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A fruit is a vegetable with looks and money.
Plus, if you let fruit rot, it turns into wine,
something Brussels sprouts never do.

P.J. O'Rourke

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The Best Food on the Planet

By Steve Edwards

As a trainer and nutritionist, I frequently get asked, "What's the best thing I can eat?" Or, "What's the best food in the world?" It's also a subject that easily makes its way onto the glossy pages of the assorted magazines you peruse whilst standing in line at your local market. And there's always an answer. "One food that will change your life!" Or, "Just eat this!" It's so simple, or so they'd have you believe. "If you'd only been eating this one thing you'd be slim, healthy, and look like that supermodel on the cover." You know, something like that.

Fresh Food

In this week's Nutrition 911 lesson, we'll take a look at the answer. So, class, just what is the best food in the world? Anyone care to answer?

No, Jack, I'm sorry. Red meat is not the right answer.

But to appease you, Carl, Stuart, and McClown over there trying to get the children's attention, let's look at red meat anyway. After all, most of us eat a lot of it, even though most modern science is showing us that eating too much will lead to health problems. Red meat is the best food choice you can make if you were only given one thing to eat. Therefore, boys, if you were living as an explorer in the 19th century, like Lewis and Clark, it would certainly be a superfood. Red meat has protein (of course), vitamins, and fat. Because you can live on fatty meat for a long time, it was prized in cultures where there were limited food options. Lean meat, which is better for us in the civilized world, wouldn't cut it for trappers who would sometimes die of "rabbit death" because their diets had insufficient fat.

In the modern world, we tend to get plenty of fat, especially the kind you get from meat. Therefore, diets high in red meat are often linked to heart disease and other assorted diseases. Red meat consumption should be limited in a modern diet. And you don't need any at all, as most of its nutrients are found in foods that don't have the same downsides. So now this ancient superfood should be far down on your personal food chain.

What was that, Moonbeam? I couldn't hear you over that guitar. Oh, spirulina.

Yes, spirulina does have a lot of nutrients and is considered a "superfood" by many, especially those who wear a lot of hemp clothing. It's an alga that is very rich in vitamins, has a lot of protein, and even contains some good fatty acids. For one food, it's awfully good. Well, at least nutrient-wise. Eating it is another matter. Its taste is, let's just say, challenging for many. But even if you can eat it as joyously as a plecostomus does, you're still missing certain vitamins, and amino and fatty acids that you need to find elsewhere. While it's a great food, it's not the answer.

BroccoliYou in the overalls, did you say broccoli?

More than any other, broccoli is referred to as "the best food in the world." It is healthy stuff for sure. It's loaded with vitamins, fiber, and even protein. But it lacks fat, and besides, while you can eat a ton of veggies without gaining an ounce, you can only eat so many before all of the fiber begins to have the opposite effect you desire on your digestive system. Fiber is great, to a point. It soaks up cholesterol and keeps you "regular." Too much and you'll become . . . too regular. A cyclist I know once decided to test just how much fiber he could consume. The results came while he was out on a ride, and I, for one, was glad I wasn't following him.

Yes, Siri, hempseed and flaxseed are great, but I think we should draw the line at listing combustible hemp as a possible superfood.

Leaves aside, these seeds are loaded with omega-3 and other essential fatty acids. They even have protein and vitamins, and have been linked with many assorted health benefits. But again, they only contain a portion of the nutrients you need each day. Plus, they are dense, meaning that you can't just munch on 'em all day long without consuming too many calories.

Raw Fish and ShrimpAnd speaking of fatty acids, fish is loaded with two very important ones, DHA and EPA, and even more protein. A superfood to a degree, it has a huge downside. We've polluted our oceans and waterways to the point that many of the things fish eat are toxic. As we rise up the food chain, we eat the fish that have more protein, more fatty acids, and more and more toxins. Whales and dolphins—fish make up nearly 100 percent of their diets—have very high levels of toxins in their fatty tissues, so much that these high levels exceed superfund cleanup standards. An altogether different problem addresses what we should do about this, but sticking to the subject, I would recommend that you somewhat limit fish consumption, unless you can get some data on fish contamination levels.

Yeah, Bugs, I know you think carrots are the be-all and end-all of nutrition. They're not bad. Loaded with carbohydrates, vitamins, and fiber, it's easy to see how you could outsmart Elmer Fudd all day, since he looks like he's been feasting on mom's apple pie in lieu of rabbit. While carrots are a great energy snack, they lack necessary protein and fats, making it unlikely that you could live on them exclusively, unless you exist in two dimensions.

No, it's the same for blueberries, Violet. They are loaded with antioxidants but are still mainly a sugary carbohydrate source. A good thing to eat, sure, but you shouldn't plan your entire diet around them.

I hate to burst everyone's bubble, but unfortunately, there is no single "best food on the planet." Your body is complex. To function properly, we need to eat from various sources. We consume trees, seeds, leaves, fruits, animals, bugs, weeds, etc., etc. And not just to get a variety of flavors. Different foods make you feel differently because they do different things to your body.

Results and Recovery FormulaOf course, this doesn't mean that one food is as good as another. There are superfoods out there. But they're all super for one thing. Beachbody's Results and Recovery Formula is a superfood for after a hard workout but would be a terrible food if you weren't exercising. Spinach was super for Popeye, and can be for you, but it would not be the best choice right before a contest of strength with Bluto. There are different foods that are super for different circumstances.

As a society, we've learned to eat for taste. However, there was a time when we ate for performance, which is probably how we began learning what we now call the science of nutrition. Added ingredients in junk foods, like flavorings, have messed up this process, and now we have a hard time distinguishing a food's performance value by taste. We do things like adding sugar to meat that create unnatural cravings. So we need to relearn to eat for performance. Once you begin doing this, you'll retrain your body to crave the right foods for the right circumstances.

Remember that you should eat to fuel your body for what you are going to do. Superfoods are only super if you eat them at the right time to support the right activity. So today's lesson is that there is no best food on the planet. But there are perfect foods for different situations. So next time, we'll talk about nutrient timing.

Related Articles
"7 Tips for Portion Control"
"8 Misleading Fitness 'Facts'"
"5 Ways to Keep the Scale Moving"

Got something to say? Chat with the writers and other readers this coming Monday, June 22nd, at 8:00 PM ET, 5:00 PM PT, in the Beachbody Chatroom!

Steve Edwards 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.

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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The Great Motivators: 14 Reasons to Keep Pushing Play

By Denis Faye and the Beachbody® Message Boards Community

Exercise is easy. Buy a video, pick up a weight, and you're doing it. Nutrition is easy. Buy good foods, eat them, and you're doing it. So why aren't we a world of the fit and the skinny? We'll tell ya why.

Healthy Lifestyle Sign

Because motivation is a killer. It's one thing to know how to eat right and exercise. It's another thing entirely to actually do it.

The trick is to find your magic button—that motivator that pushes you to blast out a P90X® Ab Ripper X session when you'd rather stay in bed, that motivator that makes you eat celery when chocolate cake is so much more delicious.

If you've found your motivator, more power to you, but for those who haven't, we asked the crew members on the Message Boards about their motivators. Answers ranged from wild to wonderful to weepy to just plain weird. If you see one that you like, grab it. It's on the house.

Here are a few of them

  1. Woman with Dumbbell"What motivates me is the high I feel a couple hours after a really good workout. Nothing can beat that!"—JLYNNFL01

    Exercise causes your brain to release endorphins, the body's natural painkillers. A nice side effect of these little hurt-masking hormones is that they can also induce euphoria, even with moderate exercise.

  2. "The thought of elastic waist bands keeps me pressing play." —Chelle Bean

    This is in no way a judgment, but the simple fact is that when you're fit, you have access to cooler clothes. And once you toss that muumuu away to make room for your skinny jeans, you won't want to go back.

  3. "I motivate myself by thinking about how wonderful it will feel to be my husband's trophy wife!"—shellyv

    Although your spouse will probably love you either way, it's always nice to make him or her drool a little. Remember, being fit makes you feel good about yourself, and when partners feel good about themselves, it makes it easier to feel good about the relationship.

  4. "Looking at my before pictures. If I ever start to feel like I don't want to exercise I just pull those gems out."—RyGuy

    Everyone seems to like their "after" picture so much more than their "before" picture. There was a lot of sweat and pain in the transition.

  5. Man Doing Push-ups"Even though the ex-wife did not leave because I was not ripped, I still can't wait to take my shirt off at the pool for our son's birthday and have her see all the things she is missing out on. His birthday is in August, so I have just enough time."—Puckmaster

    Here's an old quote: "Revenge is a dish best served cold." It comes from either Afghanistan or the Klingon language. We're not sure which.

  6. "Rock climbing alone isn't a key ingredient to a full life, at least not for me. Climbing with my kids, on the other hand, is another story. Spending time together, being able to keep up, starts to be even more promising. Ultimately, that is my big picture; my family, my kids, and my health are all intertwined." —Fitz62

    Being fit opens up a whole world for a parent. And technically, running around with your rugrats counts as exercise, so you get a bonus.

  7. "My 2-1/2-year-old son who asks, 'Daddy are you exercising today?' And afterwards puts my shirt in the laundry basket for me. I want to be here as long as possible for my family." —Sgpratt

    Here's an even bigger motivator when it come to exercising for the sake of your family. Not only will the quality of family time improve, but also, in the long run, you'll have lots more of it.

  8. Baby Girl"My daughter is my motivation. I do not want her to see me struggling with weight as I saw my mom."—Fufi28

    Here's the biggest motivator of all. Kids model their parents—the way they eat, the way they live their lives. If you live your life healthily and strongly, your kids will too.

  9. "My favorite motivational tool is to use some P90X workouts or other exercises to create unique challenges and do them for time."—Coach Marc

    Goal-oriented people fire themselves up with, wait for it, goals. If working through 90 days of grueling exercise isn't enough for you, create mini goals during that time. Increase sets or do things faster, whatever fires you up.

  10. "I make each workout an appointment . . . and I don't like missing appointments."—Blotman

    Most people like to live up to the commitments they've made. If you make a doctor's appointment, you don't miss it, do you? Well, you're just as important as your doctor, so if you make an appointment with yourself, honor it!

  11. "WOWY keeps me accountable, I may not know a single soul personally, but just knowing thousands of other people are putting their health first keeps my conviction strong!"—Maii Beloved

    Of course, if you're just not willing to give yourself the respect required to keep those appointments, maybe you'll respect the thousands of people who track you when you use the WOWY® accountability system.

  12. Woman Eating Grilled Meat"The more you work out, the more you can eat!"—j-ro

    This one is a slippery slope, but there's some truth to it. Just keep in mind that exercise isn't a license to pig out on junk because "junk in, junk out."

  13. "I enjoy seeing others' reaction when I wear a tank top. I get a kick out of them staring at the veins in my biceps."—Padstack

    It's always nice to get checked out and know that your hard work is paying off.


    Well, if you don't want to do it for yourself and you don't want to do it for your family, there's nothing wrong with doing it for the ladies, we suppose, or for the men, of course. Just don't go too crazy, Voltown.

Related Articles
"The Magic Number for Health and Beauty"
"6 Ways to Find the Time to Work Out"
"Why You Might Be Losing the Battle of the Bulge"

Got something to say? Chat with the writers and other readers this coming Monday, June 22nd, at 8:00 PM ET, 5:00 PM PT, in the Beachbody Chatroom!

Denis FayeIf 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 Summer Solstice IQ!

By Daniel V. Donatelli

SunOn Sunday, June 21, 2009, at 1:46 AM ET, summer will officially arrive. For many people, that means it's time to strip off the layers of clothing and show off the goods. For me, that means it's time to break out my binoculars and the long-distance zoom lens on my camera and head to the beach! How much do you know about this blessed day?

True or False?

  1. False: The word solstice's Latin roots translate to "ambitious sun." The Latin roots actually mean "sun stands still." As we all know, the sun has no ambitions. It just sits there all the time, doing nothing, like some sort of burnout. Hear me, sun? You're a bum! Get a job!

  2. False: The summer solstice is the longest day of the year. You're going to hate me for this, but technically, every Earth day is the same length (give or take a few wobble-based nanoseconds). The summer solstice is actually the day when the sun reaches its northernmost point in the northern hemisphere. There is an argument that the name should be changed to the "June Solstice" because of the fact that the same date marks the beginning of winter in the southern hemisphere. However, the name remains the same for one simple reason: the northern hemisphere RULES!

  3. True: The summer solstice was also the Ancient Egyptian New Year. Because it typically coincided with the flooding of the Nile, the Ancient Egyptians treated the time around the summer solstice as their New Year. I guess that makes sense. The Nile was incredibly important to their civilization, and they can be forgiven for celebrating the New Year later than we do now. After all, back then, Dick Clark was only a young boy.

  4. False: The summer solstice is when Earth is closest to the sun. In fact, Earth is 3 million miles farther from the sun during the summer solstice than it is during the winter solstice. It is the angle of Earth's rotational axis, with the northern hemisphere receiving more direct and numerous sunrays, that causes the summer heat. That and all the fine, fine ladies.

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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