Archive for July, 2012

Muscle Cramps: How to Overcome

Ever endure the pain of a muscle that involuntarily tightens (and doesn’t go away)?  That’s a muscle cramp (a.k.a., “a charley horse”).  Figuring out why you get them can be tough since there are all sorts of reasons for it (dehydration and electrolyte imbalance is a common one, along with overuse of a muscle or not enough blood being shunted to muscles).  How to overcome:

  • DRINK FLUIDS: water with every meal and 1-2 cups in between meals
  • DILUTED GATORADE: with exercise, try a diluted sports beverage for extra electrolytes
  • STRETCH & MASSAGE: relieve the pain pre and post exercise
  • WALK IT OUT: stop the exercise and try to walk out the cramp (if in arms: massage the area)
  • SODIUM: try to pre-load the exercise with a saltier food addition (like a pickle or a side of chips)
  • KEEP UP YOUR FITNESS: Maintain fitness all year round to prevent cramping as often



JPMCC Challenge Race Tips

TIP #1 – Unexpected Hills: continue with the same level of exertion, even if it means slowing a bit going up the hill (versus sprinting up the hill – unless this hill is at the end of the race).  TIP #2 – Unexpected Adrenaline Rush: adrenaline surges during a race; as a result, runners might start out faster than anticipated.  Use your playlist to your advantage: try softer music to start and save your heart-pumping thunder power for later (when you need it).  Strategize the split for the first mile (kilometer) and stick to it (use the first mile/km as your warm-up).  TIP #3 – Arm Power: legs are half the battle; use arm a full arm swings that correspond to your gait in order to add extra power to your step. TIP #4 – Chance of rain: embrace it!  Running in the rain should not present any problem.  If it’s a light rain, you do not need to adjust pace.  If heavy or cold rain, slow down a little to prevent sipping.  TIP # 5 – Keep hydrating throughout the race (every mile, take a swig of water from the stands or bring your own bottle.  TIP # 6 – Runner’s Etiquette: as you would driving a vehicle, signal when you want to pass, don’t stop dead in your tracks at the water station, and don’t run in a pack of Next Jumpers (check out previous Runners Etiquette posts for more – post 1 and post 2).

A Calorie is a Calorie – Or Is It?

The NY Times published a recent article about, “what really makes us fat.”  Aside from the author’s agenda (Gary Taubes is a HUGE proponent of low-carb diets), let’s look at the question objectively.  The article contends a controversial topic in the nutrition field: is a calorie a calorie.  Why this is important for the discussion: when it comes to fat loss do calories matter more or is it the diet’s composition?  Short-term: Calories are king.  Long-term: diet quality is more important for sustainable, healthy weight loss.  Excess refined carbohydrates contribute to obesity more than say, a handful of calorically dense nuts.  The insulin response is what distinguishes fat calories from carbohydrate calories, but it is an important distinction (with regards to satiety and fat deposition).  What to take away from this – focus on the types of foods you are consuming and their respective portions.  When it comes to weight loss, it’s about improving the nutrient density (quality) of the diet.  Read on for further discussion.

Do extra calories make us gain weight?

Yes.  No matter what the composition of the diet (healthy or unhealthy), eating more calories than your body needs will cause weight gain.

But the goal of weight loss is to keep it off.  A very low calorie diet to get there is not sustainable and has myriad negative side effects, such as a slowed metabolism and increased protection of fat cells. This is because when you drastically reduce calories, the body is in a starved mode.  Constant hunger is usually the result, which is why those on low calorie diets for weight loss can’t sustain it and thus tend to gain back any accrued weight loss (and sometimes subjects have even gained more weight than from baseline).

Can I eat a low calorie diet of Twinkies and Coke for weight loss?

As mentioned above, refined carbohydrates (added sugars versus those found naturally in foods) does increase fat deposition on the body when eaten in excess (and by, “in excess,” this is much is less than what people would think).  “In excess” is more than 150 calories of discretionary spend (for men) and 100 calories (for women).  This means, for men, if a food has around 9 teaspoons of sugar (1 teaspoon weighs around 4 grams and so 9 teaspoons weighs 36 grams) they’ve had their limit for the day.  To put this into perspective, one 12 fl oz can of regular Coke has 40 grams of sugar J   More on sugars and carbohydrates at the American Heart Association website.

Best way to eat for weight loss?

Those who eat more lean protein, healthy fats, complex carbs and whole foods and less refined carbohydrates and processed foods lose weight quicker and don’t have a hard time keeping it off.  This is because there are many factors when it comes to weight reduction.  The reduced caloric plan is not sustainable and metabolism slows down to protect the fat it has on the body so as not to starve to death, etc).  With regards to what really helps us lose weight, fussing over caloric quantity is less effective than focusing on quality foods.