- Summer Readin', Had Me a Blast! Three New Book Reviews
- BEACH ALERT: SUMMER IS HERE!
- Night Becomes Morning: A Beachbody® FAQ for the Dreaded Hangover
- Body Gospel® Is Here!
- Saying No Can Be a Beautiful Thing
- Test Your BBQ IQ!
Water is the only drink for a wise man.
Summer Readin', Had Me a Blast!
By Denis Faye
Three New Book Reviews
Summer is upon us. Presumably, you've got your "beachified" body all in shape, and you're ready to hit the sand, relax on your towel, and do a little summer reading. Sure, you'll be poring through the latest Janet Evanovich novel, but between potboilers, why not take the opportunity to educate yourself on nutrition a little bit? There's a huge, healthy world out there beyond Michi's Ladder. Here are three new reads that mix recipes and education to help you explore the food you eat every day.
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The 10 Things You Need to Eat by Dave Lieberman and Anahad O'Connor (William Morrow, $19.99)
Spoiler alert! The ten foods are tomatoes, avocados, beets, spinach, quinoa, lentils, cabbage, "super fish," nuts, and berries.
If you're thinking I just saved you 20 bucks, you're wrong. Any dope knows those foods are good for you, but do you know why? What I like about this book is the way the authors take each food and completely explore it. You'll learn about the cultural significance of each item as well as the what, how, and why of its nutritional value. For example, we all know the value of spinach, or "the captain of leafy greens," as the Spanish call it. But did you know that a 2007 study by the National Cancer Institute on half a million people showed that spinach may prevent cancer? Or are you aware that spinach has two to three times the antioxidant value of most veggies? Take that, cauliflower!
After fully briefing you on each food, the book lists several delicious recipes interspersed with practical preparation and storage hints. And while the recipes are largely healthy, they don't skimp on taste. True, the Baked Kale and Mushroom Ragout with Parmesan Bread Crumbs includes sugar, bacon, Parmesan cheese, and a baguette among the ingredients. At first glance, that may seem a little decadent, but you're getting a whole heap o' kale for a relatively small amount of indulgence, so it's not such a bad thing.
So if you're looking for a few tasty recipes and a lot of food knowledge, this book is a great investment.
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I Can't Believe It's Not Fattening! by Devin Alexander (Broadway Books, $19.99)
Less informative but equally appetizing is The Biggest Loser® chef Devin Alexander's latest book. While everything here sounds delicious, I'm not as crazy about this cookbook. It's less about being healthy and more about being quick and not fattening. But admittedly, a book like this fills an important role in many people's lives. Some of us may be Food Nazis, but most of America isn't, so they need tools to help them to get to where they want to be. To me, the Kick-Butt Kahlua Sundae may be an aberration with its fat-free ice cream, chocolate syrup, and "whipped topping," but at 155 calories, 4 grams of protein, 33 grams of carbs, and no fat, it's a huge step up from the mini-tub of Chunky Monkey® some people might normally polish off for dessert.
And, to her credit, Alexander does specify which recipes are "all-natural." The book also includes a chart explaining how to substitute organic or natural foods for some of her more decadent ingredient choices, but it's fairly useless. (Don't want to use chocolate chips? Substitute organic chocolate chips!)
So if you're scrambling to lose weight and figure out how to eat, this might be a good book for you, but if you're a seasoned P90Xer steeped in extreme fitness, I say pass it by.
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Drink This, Not That! by David Zinczenko with Matt Goulding (Rodale, $19.99)
I have a Love This, Hate This relationship with the Eat This, Not That! series. On one hand, they offer unparalleled intel about the increasing convoluted array of "foods" Americans find at their local restaurant and grocery store chains. On the other hand, although you'll find solid nutritional advice in the fine print, the bulk of the guidance falls along the lines of, "Cutting off your whole hand is a bad idea. Why don't you try cutting off your thumb instead?" Drink This, Not That! is no exception.
For example, the 11th worst drink in America is Starbucks® Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha with Whipped Cream, checking in at 660 calories, 22 grams of fat, and 95 grams of sugar. The book compares the beverage to 8-1/2 scoops of coffee ice cream, and if you read the tiny print at the top of the page, you'll see, "If you want a caffeine buzz, stick to the regular joe, an Americano or a cappuccino."
But you're probably not going to read that 8-point type. Instead, your eyes will be drawn to the bright yellow circle in the bottom right-hand corner suggesting you swap it out for a 260-calorie Cinnamon Dolce Latte with Sugar Free Syrup. (Several pages later, and in a much less sexy font, the book does discuss the evils of artificial sweeteners, but that doesn't stop it from recommending them repeatedly.)
That said, this book lists absolutely everything you've ever wanted to know about every drink ever, including coffee, beer, wine, and spirits. It also offers several great drink recipes, including The Caffeinated Banana, which sounds great to me except for the pointless tablespoon of agave syrup, which also rears its prickly head in the Margarita recipe. News flash, boys: There's no need to add any kind of syrup to a real Margarita. It's tequila, lime juice, and triple sec or Cointreau®, end of story. I don't care if you're the editor of Men's Health, Zinczenko. I'm going to have Hemingway come back from the grave and give you a good slapping.
So I do think the book is worth investing in, but I'd disregard most of the Drink This! advice. Much like I Can't Believe It's Not Fattening!, this book may serve as a bridge to healthy eating, but I don't think it quite crosses the chasm. Liquid calories are a huge reason for America's weight problem, so stick to water, coffee, and tea—iced or hot—and you'll be fine.
Questions about your workout program, diet, the latest newsletter, or anything wellness related? Chat with the overseer of Beachbody's fitness and diet development, who also serves as your Fitness Advisor on the Message Boards, Steve Edwards, on Tuesday, June 15th, at 7:00 PM ET, 4:00 PM PT. Go to the Beachbody Chat Room.
Night Becomes Morning: A Beachbody® FAQ for the Dreaded HangoverBy Omar Shamout
"Dear God, if you'll only get me through this day, I promise to NEVER drink again." Many of you out there have uttered this phrase at some point in your lives. Depending on when you're reading this, maybe you said it this morning. Unfortunately, giving up everyone's favorite social lubricant for good might not be realistic for you, and once the pain, nausea, and vomiting go away, you're more likely to remember the good times you had out with your friends than the time you spent praying to the porcelain altar. Contrary to popular belief, fitness enthusiasts are, in fact, only mortal, and even some of us have succumbed to a hangover, or thirty, at some point. We feel your pain, and are here to provide a little insight into the science behind the booze and its effect on the body, as well as to uncover the truths and myths behind some so-called remedies.
What is a hangover exactly? Believe it or not, no one really knows. The science is still unclear, but a prominent theory held by many scientists is that the main trigger for hangovers are chemicals called congeners. A Brown University study noted that congeners can "interfere with cell function and leave some lasting physical marks." The same study identified that darker drinks have more concentrated levels of congeners, and can therefore lead to more severe hangovers, so it's probably best to avoid spirits such as brandy, red wine, and rum. Alcohol also blocks the release of an antidiuretic hormone in our bodies, which causes us to urinate more and lose water—hence the dehydration. It also prevents kidneys from absorbing water effectively.
We know for a fact that symptoms such as headaches, dry mouth, nausea, sleep abnormalities, and dizziness are signs that you are doing actual physical damage to your brain, stomach, liver, and kidneys through the consumption of alcohol, but the actual culprit for the hangover has not been identified to a satisfactory degree of medical certainty. As we get older, our liver also produces lower amounts of an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase, which is used by the body to break down alcohol into a harmless chemical as it enters the bloodstream. This is what leaves many feeling like their hangovers worsen with age.
What can I do to prevent a hangover? There is a lot of confusion out there about what so-called miracle hangover cures actually do. While genetics do play a part in some people's resistance to hangovers, the truth is, the only 100 percent effective way to avoid a hangover is to abstain from drinking in the first place. You can't prevent alcohol from being absorbed by your body in much the same way that there is no cure for the common cold, so all you can hope to do is lessen the symptoms. Compare alcohol to a cold virus invading your bloodstream. You can take medicine to ease the cough and congestion it causes, but not to kill the virus directly. Only time can do that.
Another cause of hangovers is low blood sugar; eating a large meal before drinking will raise your levels, and cause the alcohol you're about to consume to be absorbed at a slower rate. Many people believe that eating a large meal while already drunk will prevent a hangover the next morning, but at this point, the alcohol is already in your system, and the damage has been done.
As we've discussed, dehydration is a side effect of alcohol consumption, so interspersing your drinks with glasses of water will slow down the rate at which this occurs. It might also be prudent to drink a glass of orange juice before bed to raise your blood sugar, and give your immune system an extra boost of vitamin C to battle the onslaught of toxins it's just received. If you're prone to headaches, popping an ibuprofen before you crash could be beneficial. Unfortunately, if you damage your body with enough toxins, you're going to get a hangover, no matter how many measures you take to lessen the blow.
Oops! I already have a hangover. What do I do? Alcohol is a drug, and as with any other narcotic, your body goes through withdrawal symptoms when that drug leaves your system. This phenomenon is what leads many people to the conclusion that a Bloody Mary is the only thing that will set you straight the morning after a big night out. While giving your body more of the drug that damaged it in the first place will provide a temporary "fix," you wouldn't tell a heroin addict that the best solution to his withdrawal is to take another hit, now would you? Obviously, this is a drastic comparison, but the logic holds up. So let's look at four steps you should take to get your body back to feeling its best:
- Hydrate - Dehydration is the reason behind pretty much all of the worst hangover symptoms. Although alcohol makes us sleepy, it is often short and unrestful sleep, because your body wakes you up as a way of telling you to give it water and/or release it. A lack of proper REM sleep means you don't produce enough serotonin, leaving you cranky and irritable. Drink as much water as you can.
- Rest - After you drink said water, go back to bed. As with any form of sickness, your body needs rest more than anything to restore your energy levels. If you must get up, avoid strenuous activity in the morning, and give your body the chance to recover.
- Eat - Many people believe that a big plate of fried food is the best way to get rid of a hangover. The truth is, your body never needs unhealthy things, and you would be far better off eating a balanced meal of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats without the grease, because that might just irritate your stomach even further.
- Combine 1 and 3, the Beachbody way - As always, we've got you covered. If eating is the last thing on your mind, you can hydrate your body and restore vital nutrients at the same time with Results and Recovery Formula™. Designed for use after workouts, it works just as well during a hangover to replenish your body with electrolytes and nutrients to get you back to your best. It tastes great, too!
Moderation is the key to enjoying your night out, and the day after. A little bit of foresight and self-control will go a long way toward helping you enjoy alcohol in a safe and healthy way.
Questions about your workout program, diet, the latest newsletter, or anything wellness related? Chat with the overseer of Beachbody's fitness and diet development, who also serves as your Fitness Advisor on the Message Boards, Steve Edwards, on Tuesday, June 15th, at 7:00 PM ET, 4:00 PM PT. Go to the Beachbody Chat Room.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 email@example.com.
Body Gospel® Is Here!
This first-of-its-kind video combines fitness and faith to get incredible results. Fitness icon Donna Richardson Joyner has created Body Gospel, a program that combines workouts set to inspirational gospel music with a complete nutritional plan to transform your body and your life. It's a "party with a purpose." Check out this preview now.
Saying No Can Be a Beautiful Thing
Just as you schedule time for exercise, your "me" time needs to be reserved, too. Learning to say no can be a powerful tool in maintaining your beauty—and your sanity. Don't let regular haircuts turn into twice-a-year salon visits, or abandon your weekly face masks. If you make yourself your last priority, your needs may fall off your schedule completely.
Test Your BBQ IQ!By Joe Wilkes
True or False?
- False: If you can hold your hand over the charcoal for 10 seconds, your grill is ready for cooking. After 10 seconds, your hand may be ready for the burn unit. Actually, if you can hold your hand above the coals for 3 seconds, the grill should be ready for cooking. If the grill is hotter than that, you run the risk of your food being burned on the outside and raw on the inside. A common misconception is that searing meat over a hot flame seals in the juices. In fact, cooking meat more slowly over lower heat produces juicier results.
- True: Julius Caesar introduced pork sausages to Rome. Around 48 BC, Julius Caesar returned from Gaul, bringing the latest in sausage-making technology with him. While the early French may have been responsible for inventing the sausage, many would argue the Italians perfected it.
- False: Hot dogs are the most popular grill item. Actually, hamburgers are number one. Hot dogs come in at a lowly number four, according to the Hearth, Patio, and Barbecue Association. Steak is number two and chicken clucks in at number three.
- False: Barbecuing and grilling mean the same thing. Americans, especially northerners, often use these terms interchangeably. But anyone who's had real 'cue from the Southern U.S. knows that barbecue is something totally different. Grilling means cooking quickly over high heat. Barbecued meat is cooked or smoked for hours until the juicy meat practically melts in your mouth. And true barbecue artists don't rely on sugary sauces to mask the flavor of the meat. Most purists prefer a good dry rub of peppers and spices for the best barbecue—and it's healthier, too!
- False: Drumsticks (for drums, not from chicken) are made from mesquite wood. Drumsticks are actually made from hickory wood, which is also the most popular hardwood for smoking in barbecue cuisine, according to the Hearth, Patio, and Barbecue Association. Mesquite is the runner-up, though as far as we can tell, it has no musical applications.
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