Extreme Newsletter—Diet and fitness tips, recipes, and motivation

Issue #063 01/11/11 RETURN OF THE SUPER FRUITS!

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Tropic Plunder II: More Super-Healthy Exotic Fruits

By Denis Faye

Just when you thought it was safe to sit back, peel a banana, and put the whole exotic fruit rigmarole behind you, we're back with a new list of six more little bundles of sweet, exotic fruity goodness. Maybe you've heard of them, maybe you haven't. Either way, they're delicious and nutritious, and your friends will think you're, like, totally fancy if you bust them out at your next shindig.

Tropical Fruits

  1. PomegranatePomegranates. Although the name is Latin for "seeded apple," pomegranates have about as much in common with apples as they do with liverwurst—except maybe that they both grow on trees and they're both fruit.

    Pomegranates have a hard, inedible red and yellow skin. Inside, you'll find clusters of seeds protected by sweet, pulpy little deep-red pouches called arils. (Does this sound anything like an apple to you? I have no idea what the Romans were thinking.)

    Arils are the part you eat, seed and all. Despite their alien appearance, the chance that they'll sprout in your stomach and take over your consciousness is slim.

    Half an average-sized pomegranate (about 4 inches in diameter) has 117 calories, a gram and a half of fat, 2 and a half grams of protein, 26 grams of carbs, and a respectable 5 grams of fiber. It has 24 percent of the RDA for vitamin C and 13 percent of the RDA for folate. You'll also find vitamins E, K, and B6, and thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and pantothenic acid. For minerals, you get 9 percent of the RDA for potassium and 11 percent of the RDA for copper, as well as calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, manganese, and selenium.

    There are a host of studies showing that pomegranate consumption can potentially help with everything from heart disease to dental plaque to cancer to the common cold. I'd take these studies with a grain of salt, but at the same time, there sure are a lot of them, and until someone figures out their accuracy, it's not going to hurt you to eat pomegranates.
  2. Kumquats. Despite the questionable name, kumquats are fun for the whole family. These citrus fruits come from south Asia and resemble tiny oranges. Unlike other citrus, you eat them skin and all.

    If you choose to eat a kumquat, prepare yourself for an experience. The outer skin is tasteless, but once you bite into it, the bitter juice explodes in your mouth and your face distorts into a pucker the likes of which no lemon could ever match. At this point, if you spit it out, you'll have that taste in your mouth for a while, so commit to your kumquat. After a couple of seconds, the bitterness gives way to the taste of the sweet pulp and skin and you're fine.

    Ready for another?

    Most people settle for getting their kumquats in the form of jams and jellies, but in my opinion, that's the gutless option. Real men and women eat their kumquats whole.

    Surviving an eight-kumquat odyssey will earn you 104 calories, 1 gram of fat, 2 grams of protein, 24 grams of carbs, and 9 grams of fiber. You'll get 112% percent of the RDA for vitamin C, as well as a little riboflavin, vitamin A, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, copper, and manganese.
  3. Asian PearsAsian pears. You may know this fruit by many other names, including sand pear, nashi pear, or—if you're feeling all scientific—pyrus pyrifolia. They come from (obviously) Asia, and they basically look like big, firm apples with pear-like skin. Their flesh is crispy, grainy, and juicy. They're pear-like in taste, but not texture. They're very nonconfrontational, a great new fruit to introduce to fussy eaters.

    One medium-sized fruit (about 2 and a half inches in diameter) has 51 calories, 1 gram of protein, 13 grams of carbohydrates, and 4 grams of fiber. Asian pears aren't exactly micronutrient powerhouses, but they're better than a stick in the eye. That one piece of fruit contains 8 percent of the RDA for vitamin C and 7 percent of vitamin K. You also get some vitamin E, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, and pantothenic acid. For minerals, there's 4 percent of the RDA for potassium and manganese, as well as some magnesium, phosphorus, and copper.
  4. Kiwifruit. Kiwifruit only became kiwifruit in 1962. Before that, these brown, fuzzy little fruits went by a variety of monikers, two of my favorites being the Chinese gooseberry and the hairy bush fruit. (I have no further comment on those names.)

    A ripe kiwi will be firm with just the slightest give. While the skin doesn't seem all that welcoming, it's actually completely edible and loaded with fiber. That said, it's hairy and chewy, and it's understandable if you decide to skip it. Just cut your fruit across its equator and spoon out the yummy green flesh within, seeds and all.

    One medium skinless kiwifruit (about 76 grams in weight) has 46 calories, 1 gram of protein, 11 grams of carbohydrates, and 2 grams of fiber. It packs a real vitamin C wallop, with 117 percent of the RDA. It also has 38 percent of the RDA for vitamin K, as well as lesser amounts of vitamin A, vitamin E, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, and pantothenic acid. For minerals, you'll get 7 percent of the RDA for potassium, and lesser amounts of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, and manganese.

    I don't have the nutrition facts for the a kiwifruit consumed with the skin on, but suffice it to say you'll get everything listed above plus a bunch more fiber.
  5. FigsFigs. While just about everyone has had Fig Newtons® at some point in their life, few people have tried the fresh version of the fruit they come from. Surprising, considering that every year, more than a million tons of this fruit are produced internationally. While dried figs (and Fig Newtons) are available year-round, fresh figs are in season in summer, sometimes into autumn. There are more than 150 varieties of these weird, dangly-looking things, and they're highly perishable, so eat them within a day or two of buying them. Keep them refrigerated. A good fig is plump with a little give, but not mushy. If they smell sweet, that's also a good indication that they're ready to eat.

    One large raw fig has 47 calories,12 grams of carbohydrates, and 2 grams of fiber. You'll also get small amounts of pretty much every vitamin and mineral around, except vitamins E and B12, selenium, and sodium.

    Figs also have a laxative effect, so if you decide they're the fruit for you and you go on a little binge, try to do so close to a restroom.
  6. Persimmons. Another colorful contribution to the fruit rainbow from Asia, persimmons are commercially available in two varieties. The most readily available is the hachiya, which is shaped a little like an acorn. You need to wait until they're super-ripe and soft before they become edible.

    Conversely, fuyu persimmons resemble tomatoes in shape and are slightly orange in color. They're edible (and delicious, I might add) while still firm.

    Both varieties are typically autumn fruit.

    And here's a little fun fact for you: Persimmons, like tomatoes, are technically considered berries. Who knew? They also contain small amounts of lycopene, an essential phytochemical thought to decrease the risk of cancer.

    One hachiya persimmon has about 118 calories, 1 gram of protein, 31 grams of carbohydrates, and 6 grams of fiber. It'll give you a hearty 55 percent of the RDA for vitamin A and 21 percent of the RDA for vitamin C. There's also 8 percent of the RDA for vitamin B6, 6 percent for vitamin E, and smaller amounts of vitamin K, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and folate. On the mineral front, there's 30 percent of the RDA for manganese, 9 percent for copper, 8 percent for potassium, and lesser amounts of everything else but sodium.

It may take a little searching, but most of these six exotic fruits are available at your local grocery store. If you're lucky, you might even find a few of them at your local farmers' market. So put down that apple, get your exotic on, and enjoy!

Related Articles
"Tropic Plunder: 6 Super-Healthy Exotic Fruits"
"4 Smelly Superfoods"
"11th Law of Exercise: Food and Supplements"

Questions about your workout program, diet, the latest newsletter, or anything wellness related? Chat with Steve Edwards, the overseer of Beachbody's fitness and diet development (who also serves as your Fitness Advisor on the Message Boards), in the Beachbody Chat Room on Monday, January 17th, at 8:00 PM ET, 5:00 PM PT.

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, recently named one of the Top 50 blogs covering the sports industry by the Masters in Sports Administration.

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Customizing P90X for Specific Goals: Part I

By Steve Edwards

"Bigger, stronger, faster" is a great slogan, but from a training perspective, you don't want to try to achieve them at the same time. The P90X training system addresses mass, strength, and speed together. This is fine for most of us, but if your objective is to target only one of these areas, you'll want to customize the program. This is the first in a series of articles discussing how to customize P90X for different goals.

Man Holding Weights

One of the beautiful things about P90X is its versatility. It can be molded into different things. The program offers you three training options: classic, lean, and doubles. These training schedules target different end goals. If you've been to our Message Boards, you've also seen us design programs for other objectives like skiing, triathlons, or gaining muscle. This series will teach you how to create your own specific training plan.

To understand how we've created P90X you must first have a basic knowledge of how all training programs are created. The principles discussed today will be used no matter what the goal of your program will be. So make sure you save this article, because it's the basis of everything that will follow. Note that this is the most technical article in this series.

Your foundation

No matter what your goals are, I always recommend a full round of P90X as designed because it builds such a solid foundation. No matter your objective, simultaneously conditioning all of your body's energy systems improves your capacity for targeted fitness. A quick explanation of why will help you understand all the other principles we'll discuss later.

"Energy system" is a term for the various physical functions that your body engages in. You've heard of these referred to as Vo2/max, anaerobic threshold, and so forth. While understanding them is important, we'll skip them for now except to note that training them separately reaps larger improvements than training them together. This is true even if you're training for a sport that uses multiple energy systems at once. However, it's important that your basic fitness foundation is up to snuff prior to this specialization; otherwise, your fitness level will never reach its potential.

Man Sweating After WorkoutThe reason for this is your body's capacity for improvement. The goal of a foundation phase is to improve each area of the body to a baseline fitness level before embarking on a targeted program. You may not care how your aerobic system functions, but if it's conditioned properly, it will allow you to train more effectively in your anaerobic system. Failure in building your foundation will lead to one of two things: either you'll lack the fitness to train to your potential and you'll plateau quickly, or you'll create a fitness imbalance that will lead to injury. Therefore, a foundation phase of training should be the base of any fitness program regardless of your overall goals.

In all my years in the fitness industry, I've yet to see one program that builds as strong a foundation as P90X. It targets your aerobic and anaerobic systems equally. You work on hypertrophy (muscle growth), power (strength), stabilizer- and core-muscle strength, as well as balance and flexibility. No matter what your end goals are, working off of an X foundation stacks the odds of success in your favor.


Periodizational training came about when we figured out how long your body could continue to make improvements in one realm or another. It's all based around a progression curve where three things happen. First, you adapt to training (the adaptation phase). Next, you make rapid progress once your body masters the style of training (the growth or mastery phase). Finally, your body no longer makes improvements because it's too good at the chore you've given it, rendering your training too easy. Your progression curve then levels off, which is called a plateau.

There are many different ways to periodize a workout program, which we'll get into as we start to specify. For now, just know that periodization is vital to get the most out of any program. Whether a foundation program or a specialized program, all physical training follows the above progression curve example.

Progressive overload

To keep your body from hitting a plateau, you must overload your system during each workout. Adding weight or intensity over time is referred to as progressive overload. In the simplest sense, each workout should be slightly harder than the last. When you can no longer achieve this, you've hit a plateau. Progressive overload is not a phase of training, but it's essential for each phase to work as planned. It's something that happens from exercise to exercise and workout to workout.


Yoga WorkoutFollowing the above progression will eventually lead to a plateau, no matter how precise your training is. When this happens, your fitness will only improve if you let your body recover or, more appropriately, do exercise that promotes recovery.

A recovery phase of exercise generally consists of low-level workouts to help your body rebuild itself. Sometimes, depending on the plan, this can be more intense exercise that is focused on a different energy system (such as P90X's "recovery week"). Regardless, the phase should continue until the body is rested, at which point a new block of training should start.

Putting it all together

When you design a program, you want to use a periodized approach. Always begin with a foundation phase, during which you can assess your ability to do the program you've designed. P90X gets you ready for high-level training, but some of you may still need to get ready for the X. Most of Beachbody's programs are foundation phases for P90X, especially Power 90®. And most of our entry-level programs have an easy phase to build your foundation, like Start It Up! for Slim in 6®.

Beyond the foundation, you want to schedule something that is targeted. P90X is trying to improve many energy systems at the same time, so it is structured differently than, say, a program that is designed for you to run 100 meters at your fastest, squat a personal record, or run a marathon. We will get into how you'd structure a program for different purposes, but the point of today is to understand that there should be a targeted structure.

Finally, no matter what your program is, you should design it so that it gets progressively harder and includes recovery periods, and even cycles, so that you avoid hitting a plateau and continually get fitter.

Every workout program you design will touch on each thing we've covered today, whether you plan for it or not. Knowing these principles helps you design around the inevitable, resulting in more improvements, shorter plateaus, and fewer injuries. These are your baseline principles for customizing P90X.

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Paid Her Dues

Check out tkbi1 on YouTube® as she shares her 90-day X results. It's an amazing transformation, and you can do it, too! Just don't forget to take your "before" photos today to see how far you've come. Check out her 90-day transformation below.

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Female Fitness Myths and P90X

By Stephanie S. Saunders

There's a lot of pressure on women to look, in a word, hot. Sure, for a chosen few, curves in the right places come naturally, but the rest of us seem to spend all our time snatching up the latest fitness fad, be it the Abs-o-matic 3000, Cucumber Colon Cleanse, or Low-Cholesterol All-Bacon Diet, desperately hoping we'll discover the new us. Instead, we usually walk away—or occasionally limp away—feeling confused, dejected, and as if we've missed out on the genetic lottery.

Woman Working Out

As it turns out, the answer's much simpler than you thought. From housewives to rock stars, there's a growing group of female followers who trust in the proven science of P90X. The truth is, hard work and clean eating are the ways to change your body forever. And P90X is the fastest and most effective program to get you a fitter body. But what about all the other options out there, the spot training, the fad diets? Let's take a look at some popular exercise myths and how P90X can help you dispel them.

Small MealMyth #1: If you want to lose weight, you must have an incredible metabolism; otherwise, you'll need to starve yourself.

If most of us had the choice between winning the lottery and having a perfect metabolism, the decision would be tough. For many people, the ability to eat whatever they desire seems a gift beyond price. The reality is that only a tiny percentage of people are so blessed, and that number decreases as people age, get pregnant, and experience various health issues. So when a Hollywood starlet claims she can eat whatever she wants and still look great, she's probably lying.

At the other end of the spectrum, there's severe caloric deprivation. The problem with depriving yourself of calories is that you can only sustain it for so long, and it can often lead to overeating and a slower metabolism. The longer you try to exist on a reduced-calorie diet, the greater the likelihood you can slow down how quickly your muscles repair themselves, as well as suffering psychological problems—or even brain damage. Of course, the answer is to eat, but you have to eat healthy foods that fuel your workouts. The P90X program includes a very specific nutrition plan you can tailor to your goals, but the nutrition plan requires a lifestyle change. This means not fad diets, but a plan that's going to require that you eat more food than you imagined possible. What's truly great is that the nutrition plan can be maintained for the rest of your life. So start eating—correctly—and watch the change begin.

Tony CoachingMyth #2: Doing hours of cardiovascular exercise is the only way to burn fat.

Hours of anything, besides sleep, can be redundant and boring. The idea of spending hours on a StairMaster® makes me want to fall asleep right now. Although a necessary component of any workout routine, cardiovascular exercise is definitely not the most effective way to lose weight. In fact, doing more than an hour of it without some type of fuel can cause your body to break down muscle mass and slow down your metabolism. And when you do the same repetitive motion every day, your body can become used to the motion, which can slow or even halt your progress.

P90X is effective in helping you lose weight because of the enormous variety it offers. Your body doesn't get used to the stimuli, because the stimuli are constantly changing and becoming more difficult. Plus P90X helps you build muscle, which turns your body into a fat-burning machine. And P90X is fun and entertaining, and doesn't take 3 hours a day to complete. The singer Pink was recently quoted as saying she does an hour of P90X 6 days a week and has seen incredible results. An hour a day for amazing results is a relatively small investment for such a great return.

Myth #3: Weight training builds bulky muscles.

Perhaps the greatest myth out there is the "bulky muscles" myth. Here's the reality: muscles do one of two things—increase (hypertrophy) or decrease (atrophy). But they don't just "bulk up." For a woman to create a bodybuilder-type physique, she'd need to overstimulate her muscles with very heavy weights, constantly training to failure with very short repetitions. And frankly, even then, unless she had a great amount of testosterone in her body, it might be impossible.

P90X effectively uses resistance training to increase muscle, thereby increasing your metabolism and helping you burn fat. And although you'll work to exhaustion, your muscles won't bulk up if you keep the repetitions at 12 to 15. P90X also keeps you moving, so your heart rate stays high, simulating the effects of a cardiovascular workout. You will build muscle but still maintain a sexy, feminine physique.

Kristy M. Before and AfterMyth #4: You shouldn't build muscle until you lose all excess fat, as building muscle will push the fat out and make you look larger.

This myth is particularly funny, as it was probably perpetuated by a fitness trainer telling a client there was a six-pack hiding underneath a layer of fat that just needed to be uncovered. Yes, we all do have a six pack in there, and possibly buns of steel, but muscle building doesn't happen under that layer of fat. Building muscle actually changes your body's composition, and eventually the fat becomes less a part of the picture.

No amount of sit-ups, push-ups, lunges, or squats will push any layer of excess tissue out. In fact, P90X is so effective at totally transforming your body, you'll soon forget there was a layer of fat to be concerned about.

Myth #5: You should only work out the specific areas where you want to shed fat.

It's been said again and again: spot training doesn't work. And yet every month, the fitness magazines print a slew of new, specific exercises for lifting the booty, flattening the stomach, or tightening dangling upper-arm flab. Yes, if you work a specific muscle group, it will become more toned, but that has nothing to do with the fat on top of the muscle group in question. The most effective way to change your body is to work large muscle groups, consistently altering the stimulus, and sticking to a sound nutrition plan. No amount of leg lifts alone will give you the thighs of your dreams.

P90X will attack every muscle in your body and create visible changes in your appearance. There are specific workouts for all your areas of concern, but there are many more for every other area, to give you a beautiful, proportioned body.

There's no magic pill, combination of foods, or even surgery that can give you the body of your dreams. An enviable physique comes from hard work, dedication, and a lot of sweat. P90X is the most effective way for a woman to shape her body because she has to work hard to get there. And as lovely as it would be to naturally have the metabolism of a 12-year-old boy, there's something truly satisfying about creating such great change in your own life and controlling your own outcome. We can often feel at the mercy of others. Our health and fitness are areas we completely control. So even if you dedicate 23 hours a day to your relationship, job, and/or children, one hour in your own living room can truly create transformation. And no diet book, magazine article, or silly celebrity statement can refute the thousands of P90X Success Stories out there. So make a decision to put down the fad exercise magazines, put in the work, and watch your life begin to change.

Related Articles
"Customizing P90X for Specific Goals: Part I"
"From Baby to Buff"
"Stay-at-Home Mom Brings It with the X!"

Got something to say? Chat with the writers and other readers this coming Monday, March 15th, at 8:00 PM ET, 5:00 PM PT, in 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 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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Recipe: Honey-Mustard Salmon

Recipe: Honey-Mustard SalmonHere's a tasty last-minute dish that's easy to prepare and even easier to clean up (especially if you remember to put aluminum foil in the broiler pan first). Just 7 minutes in the oven, and voilà!

  • 4 salmon fillets, about 6 oz. each, with skin
  • 2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)
  • Small bowl

Preheat broiler. In a small bowl, mix together mustard, honey, salt, and pepper with a fork. Place salmon skin-side down on broiler pan and brush with honey-mustard mixture. Broil about 5 to 7 inches from heat source for about 7 to 8 minutes or until fish flakes with a fork. Serves 4.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 7 to 8 minutes

Nutritional Information (per serving):

Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total Saturated Fat
259 40 g 0 g 4 g 8 g 2 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.

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