Thursday, July 29, 2010

Resting between workouts is as important as training. Read why.

We can never emphasize enough on how important it is, when planning a workout routine, the inclusion of rest days. This is Jungle Miami's subject today.

Including time for rest in a workout routine can help fitness goals

Thursday, July 29, 2010

By: Vicky Hallett and Lenny Bernstain, Fitness Columnists.

If you're like me, you may be looking at some upcoming vacation and thinking: I wonder how many extra workouts I can squeeze into all that free time?

Bad idea. Instead, stop and remember why you tear yourself away from work for a few weeks each year: to rest.

Rest, in its various forms, is critical to your fitness program. Skip your days off or easy days to cram in extra exercise, and you risk injury, burnout or setbacks in reaching your goals, experts say.

"Even God rested for one day," says my sister-in-law, Tamie DiNolfo,a physician and marathoner who'd rather face a malpractice suit than skip her morning run.

While you're vacationing, "keep the rest in there," says Pete McCall, an exercise physiologist for the American Council on Exercise, a nonprofit organization that promotes safe and effective exercise. "Use the time to take a few extra naps and get a little extra sleep."

Physiologically, you build strength while resting. The muscles you tore down by swimming a few more laps than last time, lifting a few more pounds or cycling just a little faster repair themselves and come back stronger when you give them a chance to recover. That's why, in most training programs, hard days are followed by easy days.

"Exercise is physical stress on the body. If you don't allow the body a chance to recuperate, you can overtax the body," McCall says.

Figuring out how much rest you need and how to go about it takes a little more, well, work.

Let's start at the far end of the spectrum. Competitive athletes -- from Usain Bolt to the students on the college swim team -- put in serious training time. For them, the risk is an identified, if ill-defined, problem known as "over training syndrome," or OTS. Although it sometimes can be difficult to get a handle on OTS, coaches, in particular, know it when they see it.

The athlete's performance declines, sometimes suddenly, and he or she may suffer from restlessness, unusual soreness, irritability, nagging injuries and that "stale feeling."

"We don't know what it is. It's where athletes lose their zoom," says Carl Foster, a professor in the department of exercise and sports science at the University of Wisconsin at La Crosse. "The thing that makes them magic goes away."

But we do know why some athletes develop OTS, Foster says: Instead of taking easy days or days off, they work harder.

"I think it's the Puritan work ethic, which is deep in the soul of our culture," he says. "And athletes are very motivated people."

In studies of runners, speed skaters, swimmers and basketball players, Foster and colleagues found a significant difference between coaches' and athletes' perceptions of easy days. Many athletes simply used a rest day built into a training schedule as an opportunity to work out more, defeating its intended purpose.

You don't have to be a competitive athlete to over train. Anyone working hard over time to improve performance can fall victim to the idea that more training will yield better results.

"A lot of people in our culture respond to failure with effort," Foster says. "That's a good thing about our culture. But that's a bad thing, too."

For all these athletes, a day of total rest and/or an easy workout day each week can stave off over training. On easy days, the trick may be to cross-train. Take a leisurely swim if you're a runner, ride a bike outdoors if you've been in the gym too long. Make sure you get seven or eight hours of sleep, and on vacation, see if you can do something completely different for a couple of days, McCall says.

"Change your routine up and get away from it," he says. "I would generally use the time off, do some hiking, go out and play with the kids."

Now let's say you've been completely sedentary or exercising infrequently, and you decide that vacation is the perfect time to adopt the fitness habit. Federal guidelines recommend that adults do at least 30 minutes of brisk walking every day to maintain their health.

Do you need to build a rest day into such a schedule?

It's not a bad idea, but probably less critical than it is for long-term, dedicated exercisers, Foster says. A day of cross-training instead of six or seven straight days of the same activity also would help, he says. As a general rule, you can safely increase your workout load by about 10 percent each week.

"Even if you walk half an hour a day and you [increase that to] an hour a day, you're going to feel it," he says.

Raising the intensity of your workout even more could lead to orthopedic or inflammatory injuries, Foster says, so build up gradually before you go on vacation. "Jogging or running is much more challenging orthopedically than walking," he says.

Above all else, experts say, regular exercisers should listen to their bodies. If your attitude toward a workout is, " 'I don't want to go to the gym, but I know I need to,' don't do it," McCall says. "You're not going to do yourself any favors."


© 2010 The Washington Post Company



Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Just get moving. You don't need much to reap the rewards.

We have heard stories of how different our parents or grandparent's lives were back in the day. People walked, rode bikes, took the bus. These types of everyday activities are not much in the picture today. Modern life dictates a different tune. We drive, watch TV and engage in very little physical activity, if any at all. At Jungle Miami we have known of the great benefits that simple physical activities can bring to you. We talk and preach about it. We also like to substantiate everything we say about fitness and health. So today, we publish this article on the subject. We hope you enjoy the reading. Let us know. We appreciate it.

Good News, Light And Moderate Physical Activity Reduces The Risk Of Early Death

25 Jul 2010

A new study by researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), Cambridge University and the Karolinska Institute in Sweden has found that even light or moderate intensity physical activity, such as walking or cycling, can substantially reduced the risk of early death.

The study, which was published this week by the International Journal of Epidemiology, combined the results from the largest studies around the world on the health impact of light and moderate intensity physical activity. It showed that the largest health benefits from light or moderate activity (such as walking and cycling) were in people who do hardly any physical activity at all. Although more activity is better the benefits of even a small amount of physical activity are very large in the least physically active.

The good news from this study is that you don't have to be an exercise freak to benefit from physical activity. Just achieving the recommended levels of physical activity (equivalent to 30 minutes daily of moderate intensity activity on 5 days a week) reduces the risk of death by 19% [95%confidence interval 15% to 24%], while 7 hours per week of moderate activity (compared with no activity) reduces the risk of death by 24% (95% CI 19% to 29%).

Lead researcher, James Woodcock said, "This research confirms that is not just exercising hard that is good for you but even moderate everyday activities, like walking and cycling, can have major health benefits. Just walking to the shops or walking the children to school can lengthen your life as well as bringing other benefits for well-being and the environment."


London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM)

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Public Health, Preventive Medicine



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Monday, July 26, 2010

Beware. Weight training injuries on the rise.

Here at Jungle Miami, we lift heavy Kettlebells. We believe both men and women should lift large objects because it is just good for you. It increases bone density, muscle strength, ligament and tendon strength, metabolism, and much more. But as much as it is vital to humans to regularly do strength or resistance training, it is as important to go about it very carefully, because if done improperly, some of the injuries resulting from this type of training could impair someone for a long period of time or land a person on a surgeon's table.

A friend once told me, "Quick feet are happy feet!" He was referring to when I drop the Kettlebell, and he was right. Read the post below and feel free to share your thoughts on this or any other subject that may be of interest to you.

Weight-Lifting Gains Bring Pains, Too

Published: June 14, 2010

More and more people are lifting weights these days — and sometimes dropping them where they shouldn't.

A new study finds that from 1990 to 2007, nearly a million Americans wound up in emergency rooms with weight-training injuries and that annual injuries increased more than 48 percent in that period.

About 82 percent of the 970,000 people injured were men, according to the study, which appeared in the April issue of The American Journal of Sports Medicine. (The researchers used information from a national injury surveillance database.) But the annual number of injuries in women increased faster — by 63 percent, compared with 46 percent among men — perhaps because weight training is growing more popular with women.

Women were more likely to injure their feet and legs, while men’s injuries were more common in the trunk and hands; men had more sprains and strains, and women had more fractures.

People were most often injured by dropping weights on themselves, crushing a body part between weights or hitting themselves with the equipment. Overexertion, muscle pulls and loss of balance accounted for about 14 percent of emergency room visits. More than 90 percent of the injuries occurred during use of free weights rather than weight machines.

Under 2 percent of the injuries resulted in hospitalization, but a few were fatal: the researchers estimate that 114 deaths nationwide were related to weight training over the 18-year period.

Estimates of the number of people who use weights vary, but according to the National Sporting Goods Association, a trade group, 34.5 million people participated in weight training in 2009.

“We want people to continue to use weight training as part of their physical routine,” said a co-author of the study, Christy L. Collins, a senior research associate at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. But, she added, they “should receive proper instruction and use proper techniques for their lifts.”

She added, “We want to learn more about these injuries so that we can develop targeted preventive measures.”


A version of this article appeared in print on June 15, 2010, on page D7 of the New York edition



Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Physical Education. Creating the habit for it.

At Jungle Miami we are always stressing the importance of exercise in our kids. Today we publish this interesting article on the subject. We hope you enjoy reading it and share your thoughts with us.

Physical education is key to improving a child's confidence, brainpower and long-term health

by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger.
Editor of

August 2nd, 2006

One of the most important things parents can give to their children is a physical education or involvement in organized sports activity. Physical education has slipped in priority over the last few years, especially in our public schools. Some schools don't even have recess anymore. They're producing children that can (sometimes) pass standardized tests at the academic level, but who are obese, diabetic, predisposed to heart disease and likely to live a relatively short life with high medical costs and lots of pain and suffering to boot. But what good is an education program that educates children on academics if those students won't live a productive, healthy life using their academic skills?
That's why I think physical education needs to be put back into our public schools as a top priority. Ten minutes of recess a day is not enough. Beyond recess, parents would do well to get their kids involved in additional physical education programs, like after-school programs or organized sports -- anything that involves moving the body, whether it's running track, playing soccer, playing basketball, practicing gymnastics... you name it. These are all excellent for children.

Healthy body, healthy mind
Why are these activities so beneficial? They not only physically help the child's body be healthier in terms of immune system function, circulation, strength, flexibility and hand/eye coordination, they also greatly enhance the child's self-image. Participation in sports can dramatically boost children's self-esteem.
When I was in grade school, we had something called the Presidential Physical Fitness Program. As I understand it, that program no longer exists, but it was an excellent program. It tested each grade school child in a few basic areas, such as doing pull-ups, situps and running, and it awarded them badges for various levels of physical achievement. One of the program's mottos, as I remember from the badges I earned, was: "A sound body, a sound mind."

That program was right on the mark. Being physically fit is more than just physical. It also delivers benefits to your mind. It alters your personality in a positive way. It changes a person for the better, and being involved in an organized social sport gives a child social skills, teamwork skills and many other socially-oriented skills that will be a huge benefit to that child as he or she progress into adulthood.

Silly parents
Amazingly, I've heard some parents come up with the most unbelievable excuses for not involving their children in physical activities or organized sports programs. One parent told me she didn't want her daughter, a seventh-grader, to play soccer because she thought all women who played soccer end up with bulky-looking legs, and she didn't want her daughter to have ugly, bulky legs. Unbelievable, huh?
This is a case where a parent, who greatly misunderstands what physical fitness does to the physical beauty of a person, has made a decision that will impair her child's development in an important way. That child wants to play soccer, but the parent is more worried about the cosmetic appeal of her daughter's legs than in actually giving her daughter an opportunity to be physically fit and participate in a sport that she enjoys. That kind of ignorance plays out millions of times a day across our country and around the world, as parents who lack good information on the benefits of sports and physical fitness make poor decisions about the activities of their children. These poor parenting decisions negatively impact the potential of those children for the rest of their lives.

Afraid to risk losing at a sport
Other parents say they don't want their children participating in sports where there are losers. They want everyone to be a winner, and they're afraid to have their child ever lose a game, miss an award or appear as a loser. This attitude is based on some kind of bizarre overprotection syndrome, I suppose. In the real world, there are winners and losers. There are consequences for doing a poor job, whether it's in sports, business, real estate, personal relationships or anything else that you choose to pursue.
It's essential that children learn early on that the investment and dedication they put into some effort will pay off in terms of winning versus losing, or in terms of being awarded the gold medal instead of the bronze medal.

Interestingly, not everybody has to be a winner to gain benefits from physical activity. In fact, all that's required is participation. You could come in last place on the track team every single time and yet still be way ahead of the other children who don't exercise at all. You could be the worst free-throw shooter in basketball and still derive physical, mental and nervous system benefits from playing that sport.

Exercises boosts intelligence and mood
Along those lines, a lot of parents don't realize that children who participate in physical activity have healthier brains and nervous systems. They are far less likely to ever be diagnosed with depression, Attention Deficit Disorder or any other so-called mental disorder. Children who participate in sports are all around healthier -- mentally, physically, emotionally and socially. Some of those benefits come from the training itself and the chemical changes that take place in the brain in response to such training, but other benefits are derived from simply receiving the sunlight and fresh air.
I've frequently talked about natural sunlight and the tremendous benefits of exposing your skin to sensible levels of ultraviolet radiation. Those benefits include the prevention of various cancers, depression, osteoporosis, diabetes and the enhanced absorption of calcium, which makes stronger bones. If you want your child to have strong bones, then he or she needs to get some sunshine and physical activity, along with decent nutrition that includes calcium and magnesium. Organized sports are a great way to expose your child to these elements so that he or she can develop strong bones. (And that's why sports involvement actually reduces the risk of injury overall.)

Don't poison your children with fluoride
Speaking of strong bones, when I was in grade school, I had a friend who broke at least one bone every year. All through school, it was sort of a running joke that this guy had weak bones. It didn't occur to me until years later why he had weak bones. The answer was fluorosis. He was being overdosed with fluoride.
He had the classic signs -- most notably the discoloration of the front teeth and the broken bones. Excessive exposure to fluoride will cause both of these effects. Parents have been brainwashed into exposing their children to way too much fluoride by the dental industry, which is so far behind on safety that it still actually promotes putting mercury into the mouths of children and expectant mothers through the use of dental fillings. If you have a child who has been breaking bones too easily, you might want to check out their fluoride intake. Too much fluoride will cause weakening of the bones and, of course, dental fluorosis.

Sports are worth the time, effort and cost
Getting back to physical education, I believe that involvement in sports or regular physical activities is one of the greatest gifts any parent can give their child. So parents, even if it costs you money, even if it's an inconvenience to pick up your child after school or take them to soccer practice, do it. It is worth it for the future of that child -- not only for their physical health but also for their mental health. Whatever money and effort you put into sports today will be more than made up for in the future by your child's lack of medical bills and prescription medications, thanks to the fact that he or she is far healthier than other children who participated in no physical activity.

Be an example of physical fitness
What about children who say they don't want to participate in any physical activity? Should you force them to do it? Well, to answer that question, let me pose another question: What are you, the parent, doing with your level of physical activity?
Children will mimic parents. If you smoke cigarettes, they're likely to smoke cigarettes. If you do drugs, they're likely to do drugs, and if you avoid physical exercise and sit on the couch for six hours a day watching television, guess what? They're going to end up doing something similar. For them, it might be playing video games on the XBox instead of watching TV, but it's still time spent sitting, doing nothing physical.

As a parent, you need to be the example. You need to get off your own butt and start engaging in physical activity if you want to encourage your child to do the same thing.

Many obese adults have obese children; it's not genes, it's called parental modeling
Some misinformed doctors say obesity is genetic because they look at parents and their children, and they draw the incorrect conclusion that, because both are obese, it must be genetic. The truth is, they're both obese because the parent refuses to exercise, and the child mimics the parent. Plus, they both follow the same obesity-promoting diet. It has nothing to do with genes and everything to do with something called parental modeling.
Children will model their behavior on those around them, especially those in positions of authority, which, of course, includes parents. If you want your child to be physically active, the most important thing you can do is set an example. If you refuse to be physically active, and yet you demand that they participate in sports, you're sending an incongruent message, which is, "Do what I say, not what I do." It's just like parents who smoke cigarettes and then punish their child for taking up smoking. It's an incongruent message, and it confuses children. It makes them frustrated, angry or rebellious, and chances are that your efforts to get them involved in physical exercise programs are going to fail unless you set an example first.

So find a way to work on a mini-trampoline in your own living room, do jumping jacks, take walks around the block, go swimming or biking, or play Frisbee golf. When you stay active, you're going to create an environment in which your child is far more likely to be interested in physical exercise.

Don't send a short kid to the high jump
Finally, I have one last bit of advice for parents looking at getting their children involved in physical exercise or sports programs: Look at your child's body, and take a minute to assess what he or she might be good at. If you have a son who is short and stocky, he's built to be good at wrestling, not the high jump. If he's tall and lanky, he might be much better as a distance runner on the track team. If he has incredible upper body strength, he might be great at football, but if he has a weak upper body but strong lower body, he might be a great sprinter, or he might be really good at soccer.
If he has incredible cardiovascular endurance, he might excel at soccer or basketball. If he's tall, basketball is an obvious choice. The same things hold true for younger girls as well. If your daughter has long legs and is in good cardiovascular shape, she'd be good at soccer or basketball. If she is a fast runner, she'd be great at track. If she is very thin and tall, she might be a great distance runner. Great flexibility and core strength lends itself to gymnastics or dancing. If she's stocky, there's always the shot put on the women's track team!

Look at your children's bodies and compare those bodies with professional athletes who are good at particular sports. You will notice that each professional athlete has a specific body proportion. Great cyclists, for example, tend to look very similar in terms of lower body strength versus upper body strength, leg length and so on. Great football players also have particular body proportions based on their field positions. Wide receivers are usually tall and thin with great cardiovascular endurance. Fullbacks are usually short, stocky and possess impressive leg strength combined with lightning-fast speed.

Body proportions and strengths make each child more suitable for particular activities. As a parent, it's a great idea to help assess the strengths of your child and steer them toward the sports for which they are best suited. If they're in the wrong sport -- let's say there's a really short child attempting to play basketball, for example -- then they could get discouraged very easily, whereas that same short child could do an outstanding job in gymnastics, for example.

In other words, don't try to fit a square peg in a round hole. We all are given a body, and we have to make the best of it. That means that no matter what our body size or shape, there are some sports and activities that we're going to be poor at, and there are others that we're more suited for and in which we can excel, and those are the ones that I hope you will guide your children toward. If you make the wrong choice, or if your child happens to be interested in a sport for which he or she is not well-suited, don't discourage them; let them play anyway. Do everything you can to keep them active. Maybe they'll play for one semester or one year, and they'll decide to change sports on their own. Maybe they want to do baseball instead of track, or perhaps they want to study martial arts outside the school or they want to go to a gymnastics camp. Any of these things will be greatly beneficial to the health of your child in the long-term.

Remember, one of the greatest gifts you can give to your children is getting them involved in sports programs or physical exercise programs. Just remember to keep it fun, keep it safe and set the best example yourself.

And what about academics? Obviously academics are important, but health must be the higher priority in my opinion. What good is a brain stuffed full of math and science facts if the heart can't pump oxygen to it? You can create the best test-taker in the world by cramming a child full of facts and formulas, but if he's obese and can't climb a flight of stairs without running out of breath, chances are that child will die of a heart attack before age 45. And then all that academic achievement is lost (because dead brains don't think very well).

Want to know where I learned self discipline and the rewards of hard work? I ran track for four years in high school. And my coach, Robert Parks, taught me more about life than any academic teacher. I am healthy today because of the habits I learned (and eventually rediscovered) running in circles around a football field.


About the author

Mike Adams is a natural health researcher and author with a passion for teaching people how to improve their health He has authored and published thousands of articles, interviews, consumers guides, and books on topics like health and the environment, reaching millions of readers with information that is saving lives and improving personal health around the world. Adams is a trusted, independent journalist who receives no money or promotional fees whatsoever to write about other companies' products. He is the writer and singer of 'I Want My Bailout Money,' 'Don't Inject Me' and other popular hip-hop songs on socially-conscious topics. He also launched an online retailer of environmentally-friendly products ( and uses a portion of its profits to help fund non-profit endeavors. He's also a veteran of the software technology industry, having founded a personalized mass email software product used to deliver email newsletters to subscribers. Adams is currently the executive director of the Consumer Wellness Center, a 501(c)3 non-profit, and regularly pursues cycling, nature photography, Capoeira and Pilates.

You can find more articles at


Monday, July 19, 2010

Altitude training. A hardly touched but important subject indeed.

It's been a long standing idea that prolonged training in altitudes could improve one's game. There are some new research that indicates otherwise. This is Jungle Miami's post today. Very interesting subject.

Prolonged Training at Altitude Could Decrease Athletes’ PerformanceScienceDaily (July 14, 2010)

New research suggests that athletes and footballers may want to limit the time they spend training at altitude to improve their performance. An Oxford University study has found that people with a rare condition that mimics being at high altitude for long periods show metabolic differences that actually reduce their endurance and physical performance.

The study is published in the journal PNAS and was funded by the British Heart Foundation and the Wellcome Trust.

Athletes from many endurance disciplines use altitude training as part of their yearly training programme. England footballers, as with many of the teams in the World Cup, spent time at altitude acclimatising for the competition in South Africa.

The body reacts to the low levels of oxygen at high altitude, first of all by breathing harder and the heart pumping more blood, but then through producing more red blood cells and increasing the density of blood vessels in the body's muscles. All of this serves to get more oxygen and fuel to the muscles.

However, an extended stay at altitude can bring a loss of the muscle's ability to use oxygen to carry out work. The number of mitochondria, the oxygen-using powerhouses of the cell, falls with a prolonged stay at high altitude.

'It is the higher capacity to deliver fuel to muscles that athletes are interested in,' explains lead author Dr Federico Formenti of the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics at the University of Oxford. 'However, it's not clear how long they should train at altitude or how high up they need to be to get the optimal benefits.

'A protein called hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) is central to the body's response to high altitude. It is stimulated by low levels of oxygen and sets many of these processes in train.

The Oxford University researchers set out to study the metabolism of people with a rare genetic change that leads to continually high levels of HIF, even when levels of oxygen are normal. The increased levels of HIF mean that the condition -- called Chuvash polycythemia or CP -- is a good model for changes that occur in people who stay at high altitude for long periods.

CP can also offer insight into the fundamental processes where oxygen supply in the body is limited, such as in lung disease, heart disease, vascular disease and cancer.

Only around 20 people in the UK are known to have this mild condition. It is typically only diagnosed when a standard blood test shows increased numbers of red blood cells and further tests are done.

The team compared the performance of five people with CP with five matched controls. In an exercise bike test, in which study participants were asked to keep a constant pedal rate against a steadily increasing resistance, those with CP had to stop exercising earlier. The maximum work rate they achieved for their weight was 30% less than controls.

Studies of metabolites present in calf muscles under light exercise also indicated that CP patients experienced greater fatigue. Finally, there were differences in expression of metabolic genes in the CP patients' muscles. This could suggest their metabolism makes less efficient use of the fuel available and may explain their reduced exercise capacity.

We found that the metabolism of CP patients is different and leads to poorer physical performance and endurance,' says Dr Formenti.

'Although this is a small study -- necessarily so because of there are so few people with the condition -- the results are striking. The differences seen in those with Chuvash polycythemia were large, and five patients were more than enough to see this effect,' he says.

'With the help of our volunteers with Chuvash polycythemia, we now understand these fundamental processes better. This understanding should eventually lead to better medical care in the many conditions where oxygen supply in the body is limited, such as heart disease and cancer,' says principal investigator Professor Peter Robbins of Oxford University.

'There may be an optimum time for athletes to train at altitude,' suggests Dr Formenti. 'More work is needed to find out how long athletes should spend at low oxygen levels to get the most benefit.

'I don't think it's likely that England footballers will have spent too much time at altitude in the Alps before the World Cup, however,' he adds, removing that potential excuse if England go home too soon.

Story Source:

The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by University of Oxford.

Journal Reference:

Formenti et al. Regulation of human metabolism by hypoxia-inducible factor. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2010; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1002339107

More at:


Saturday, July 17, 2010

Brain games anyone?

At Jungle Miami we like to post on subjects we hope may inspire you somehow. Today at Jungle Miami we are proposing a little brain challenging. Dip into and enjoy some of their brain games.
Have a fun BUT safe weekend friends and hopefully you will get energized and hit the gym back, come Monday.


Friday, July 16, 2010

Do you exercise irregularly? Not a good idea.

Everyone skips the gym at one point or another, thinking that "getting back" to it at a later time will be enough to receive the same benefits health and fitness wise, just like if they had not stop training. Not exactly. At Jungle Miami we enphasize in the importance of consistency when it comes to exercise, for over and over, research shows that "dodging" the gym, even for shorts periods of time, is actually a terrible choice to make.

Irregular Exercise Pattern May Add Pounds

By Paul Williams

BERKELEY, CA — The consequences of quitting exercise may be greater than previously thought, according to a new study from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory that determined that the weight gained during an exercise hiatus can be tough to shed when exercise is resumed at a later date.

The study, conducted by Paul Williams of Berkeley Lab’s Life Sciences Division, found that the key to staying trim is to remain active year-round, year-after-year, and to avoid seasonal and irregular exercise patterns. Most of all, don’t quit. Failure to do so may be a contributing factor in the nation’s obesity epidemic.

“The price to pay for quitting exercise is higher than expected, and this price may be an important factor in the obesity epidemic affecting Americans,” says Williams, whose study is published in the February issue of the journal Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise.

The study should prompt people to think twice before taking a break from their exercise regimens, despite the pressures of family and work obligations, or waning motivation.

Using data collected from the National Runners’ Health Study, Williams found that the impacts of increasing and decreasing vigorous exercise aren’t the same among all runners. At distances above 20 miles per week in men and 10 miles per week in women, the pounds gained by running less were about the same as the pounds lost by running more. At these exercise levels, the effects of training and quitting training are comparable, and the weight gains and losses associated with changes in exercise levels are probably reversible.

However, Williams found that people who didn’t run as many miles per week face an uphill battle if they want to lose the pounds accumulated during an exercise hiatus. At these less intense levels, an interruption in exercise produces weight gain that is not lost by simply resuming the same exercise regimen.

“At lower mileages, there is asymmetric weight gain and loss from increasing and decreasing exercise, leading to an expected weight gain from an exercise hiatus,” says Williams. “In other words, if you stop exercising, you don’t get to resume where you left off if you want to lose weight.”

Specifically, Williams compared 17,280 men and 5,970 women who decreased their running distance with 4,632 men and 1,953 women who increased their running distance over a 7.7-year period. He found that runners who decreased their distance from five to zero miles per week gained four times as much weight as those who decreased their distance from 25 to 20 miles per week. He also found that people who started running after an exercise layoff didn’t lose weight until their mileage exceeded 20 miles per week in men, and 10 miles per week in women.

Williams says his findings suggest that an effective public health policy for preventing weight gain may need to include a strategy to keep physically active people active. His study also underscores the importance of avoiding start-stop exercise patterns. Exercise designed to prevent obesity may fall short of its benefits if the exercise is irregular, seasonal, or often interrupted.

“We are getting fat because we don’t exercise sufficiently and consistently. The real solution to the obesity epidemic is getting people to exercise before they think they need it, and to stick with it,” says Williams. “The ounce of prevention is indeed worth a pound of cure.”

A study by Williams published in the same journal in August, 2007, revealed that middle-age weight gain is reduced by one-half in runners who ran 30 or more miles per week, compared to runners who ran less than 15 miles per week. These results, in conjunction with this more recent study, suggest a new way of tackling the obesity problem.

“Many scientists attribute the obesity epidemic to excess calories rather than exercise, because dieting has been shown to produce more weight loss than exercise,” says Williams. “My findings suggest that calorie intake and body weight may be self regulating in active individuals.”

The study, "Asymmetric Weight Gain and Loss From Increasing and Decreasing Exercise" is published in the February 2008 issue of the journal Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise. It was supported in part by grants from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute.

Berkeley Lab is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory located in Berkeley, California. It conducts unclassified scientific research and is managed by the University of California.

Scientific Contact: Paul Williams, (510) 486-5633,

Media Contact: Dan Krotz, (510) 486-4019,

Additional Information

More information on this and related research can be found at



Thursday, July 15, 2010

Oats a La Carte.

Oats. They are recommended by just about anyone who knows what is good for you. Today, Jungle Miami publishes the scoop on Oats.

A Brief History of Oats - And How You Should Eat Them

By John K. Williams, Ph.D.
First published at, Sept 5 2003.

Despite their widespread praise by nutritionists and bodybuilders alike, oats have a humble origin. They were the last of the major cereal grains to be domesticated, around 3,000 years ago in Europe, and apparently originated as weeds that grew within cultivated fields of various other crops.

Part of the reason why people were slow to embrace oats is because they go rancid very quickly, due to the presence of natural fats and a fat dissolving enzyme present in the grain. As a result, they have to be processed immediately after harvesting. The fats in oats are relatively healthy, with a lipid breakdown of 21% saturated, 37% monounsaturated, and 43% polyunsaturated.

Greeks and Romans considered oats to be nothing more than a diseased version of wheat. Oats were a lowly horse food for the Romans, who scoffed at the "oat-eating barbarians", or those pesky Germanic tribes who eventually toppled the West Roman Empire. Come to think of it, the Romans were never able to conquer the Scots. Big oat eaters, those Scots. Oats 2, Romans 0.

Even today, less than 5% of the oats now grown commercially are for human consumption. The chief value of oats remains as a pasturage and hay crop, especially for horses. Thousands of years and several empires later, most people still haven’t caught-on.

Oats, What’s So Good About Them?

Oats contain more soluble fiber than any other grain. Soluble fiber is the kind that dissolves in water, so the body turns it into a kind of thick, viscous gel, which moves very slowly through your body. One of the benefits is that your stomach stays fuller longer, providing satiety. Soluble fiber also slows the absorption of glucose into the body, which means you're going to avoid those nasty sugar highs and lows. Last but not least, it inhibits the re-absorption of bile into the system, forcing your liver to get its cholesterol fix from your blood. This serves to lower your blood-serum cholesterol. See what the Romans were missing?

Oats also have anti-inflammatory properties, and have been clinically shown to help heal dry, itchy skin. Oats are also highly absorptive, hypoallergenic, and help to soften skin, if you’re into that kind of thing. They have the best amino acid balance of all the cereal grains, and thus can be used as water-binding agents in skin care products. Oat grains and straw appear in shampoos, dusting powders, moisturizers, cleansing bars, breast implants, and astronaut suits. OK, maybe those last two are figments of my imagination.

Varieties of Oats

From least to most processed:

Oat groats, or whole oats: These are minimally processed, only by removing the outer hull. They are very nutritious, but need to be cooked and/or soaked for a long period of time to so you don’t break your teeth on them.

Oat bran: This is the outer casing that is removed from the groats. The bran is particularly high in soluble fiber. Oat bran is very versatile, and can be used with groats or alone, and as an addition to baking recipes, or even raw in shakes.

Steel-cut oats, or Irish oats: These are groats that have been chopped into small pieces. They have a firmer texture than rolled oats, and people in the know often prefer them for hot oatmeal cereals and muesli. A tip on purchasing steel-cut oats: some of the name brand varieties are prohibitively expensive, so search for them in bulk, where you can fill an entire tub of protein powder (empty it first!) for $5 US.

Rolled oats, or old-fashioned oats: These are oat groats that are steamed and flattened with huge rollers so that they cook quicker, in about 5 to 15 minutes.

Quick oats: These are groats that have been cut into several pieces before being steamed and rolled into thinner flakes, thus reducing the cooking time to 3-5 minutes. While they cook quicker, any oat aficionado will tell you that they lack the hearty texture and nutty flavor of the less-processed varieties.

Instant oats: These are made by chopping groats into tiny pieces, precooking them, drying them, then smashing them with a big roller. They need only be mixed with a hot liquid. They usually have flavorings and salt added. All of this processing removes all traces of the original texture and rich flavor of the groats.

Oat flour: Oat flour is made from groats that have been ground into a powder, and contains no gluten so it does not rise like wheat flour. It can also be made at home by grinding rolled oats into a powder in a blender.


Enough rambling-on about fallen empires and baby-soft skin, it’s time for the lowdown on how to cook these little miracle grains. I’m always baffled when I hear people say how much they despise oats. Maybe they’re not so good if you use the quick oats, plain, cooked in the microwave, with dishwater, while being whipped by giant fish heads. I’ve never met a person who wasn’t impressed with the taste of my blueberry oatmeal. And I’ve introduced it to a lot of people. Roommates, parents, friends, friends of friends, girlfriends, roommate’s girlfriends, family and friends of girlfriends; nary an unsatisfied consumer, yet.

By the way, all of these recipes are compatible with John Berardi’s dietary advice outlined in his Massive Eating and Don’t Diet plans. In other words, protein is included with every meal, and large amounts of carbs and fat are avoided in the same meal. In case you weren’t paying attention earlier, the oat is a grain, thus making it a carbohydrate source. So all of the following recipes are for P+C meals.

Blueberry Oatmeal

Here it is, the breakfast that fulfills your every nutritional want and desire. A little warning: once you go steel-cut, there’s no going back. This recipe makes a large bowl of oatmeal, which I usually eat during Massive Eating phases. You can reduce the ingredients if you want fewer carbs and overall k/cals during dieting phases.


1/2 cup steel-cut oats
1/3 cup oat bran
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
1.5 scoops chocolate whey protein powder
Water, as directed
¼ teaspoon salt
Dash of cinnamon (big dash)
Dash of Splenda (big dash)


Add steel cut oats into 3 to 4 cups of water at night before you go to bed. Bring to a boil, simmer a couple of minutes, then remove from heat, cover the pot, and hit the hay. The longer you simmer and/or the more water you use, the larger the bowl of oatmeal, as the oats tend to soak up water like a sponge.

In the AM, bring the oats to a simmer once again on medium-low heat, adding the salt, cinnamon, and raw oat bran. Continue stirring and simmering for 5 minutes, or until you get the desired thickness (you may have to simmer for longer to boil-off some of the water). Turn off the heat, then add the frozen blueberries and some Splenda.

Stir until the blueberries are melted, thus cooling the oatmeal and allowing the protein powder to be added. The consistency should be fairly thick, especially after the oat bran has been added and cooked a bit. You might need to add some water in the AM, depending on how much was boiled-off the night before.

Macronutrient Profile:

k/cal: 699
Fat (g): 13 (2.5s, 4.7m, 4.6p)
Carbs: 111 (20 fiber)
Protein: 54

Strawberry-Banana Oatmeal

Given that you will probably never tire of the blueberry oatmeal, you might be tempted to neglect this recipe. But give it a try; variety is good!


1/2 cup steel-cut oats
1/3 cup oat bran
3/4 cup frozen or fresh strawberries
1 medium banana, sliced
1.5 scoops strawberry or vanilla whey protein powder
Water, as directed
¼ teaspoon salt
Dash of cinnamon (big dash)


In the evening, prepare the oats in the same manner as the Blueberry Oatmeal recipe. Again in the morning, bring the oats to a simmer and add the banana, salt, cinnamon, and oat bran. Keep stirring and simmer until you have the desired consistency (10 minutes or so), remove from heat, and stir-in the strawberries and protein powder.

Macronutrient Profile:

k/cal: 696
Fat (g): 11 (2.3s, 3.9m, 3.7p)
Carbs: 116 (19 fiber)
Protein: 50

Baked Apple-Cinnamon Oatmeal

If you’re in the mood for a hearty meal to feed that insatiable P+C demon inside of you, this one might just appease the beast.


3 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup oat bran
1 large apple, chopped (I prefer Macintosh)
4 scoops vanilla or strawberry protein powder
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup pitted dates, chopped
4 cups water
1 tsp vanilla extract


Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and mix well. In a separate container combine water and vanilla. Combine all ingredients, stirring gently. Pour into 8" x 8" baking dish, coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees F for 35 minutes, or until the liquid has been absorbed and the oatmeal is tender. Over baking will result in dry oatmeal.

If you really want to make it special, put it in a bowl and pour a little milk over it. The two go hand in hand.

Makes 4 servings

Macronutrient Profile, per serving:

k/cal: 520
Fat (g): 9 (2s, 3m, 4p)
Carbs: 85 (15 fiber)
Protein: 35

Apple Cobbler Protein Bars

I took great pains to create a P+C protein bar that is not as dry and chewy as Fido’s rubber bone. These bars provide a multi-layer gooey goodness that appeases even the most finicky of eaters. Just leave out the “protein bars” in the title if you’re feeding them to a disbeliever.

1 cup oat flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
6 scoops strawberry or vanilla whey protein powder
2/3 cup nonfat plain yogurt
1 jumbo egg white
1 cup oat bran
1 cup granulated Splenda
1 cup applesauce, unsweetened
2 tbsp honey
1 large apple, chopped
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
1 tbsp olive oil


Preheat oven to 350-degrees F.

Combine these in a large bowl: oat flour, whole wheat flour, salt, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and most of the Splenda, leaving a couple of tablespoons for later. Stir these dry ingredients together.

Put the yogurt, egg white, vanilla extract, and olive oil in a blender, and turn it on low. Add the protein powder 1 scoop at a time, until thoroughly blended. Pour this mixture into the bowl, and stir together until it has the consistency of dough.

Coat a 8X12 inch baking pan with cooking spray, then pour the mixture into the pan, flattening it up to the edges.

Next, mix the applesauce, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, chopped apple, and honey together, and pour over the top of the dough mixture in the pan, spreading evenly.

Sprinkle the oat bran over the top, until thoroughly and evenly covered, then sprinkle the remaining Splenda over the top.

Bake for 15 minutes at 350-degrees F, and then switch to broil for 3-4 minutes, just until top is slightly browned. Be careful not to overcook.

Makes 12 bars.

Macronutrient Profile (each serving)

K/cal: 183
Fat: 3 g (1s, 1m, 1p)
Carbs: 27g (4 fiber)
Protein: 16 g

Cranberry Oat Brownies

These are simple, quick, and delicious, combining nutritious ingredients that all compliment one another.

1 ½ cups rolled oats, ground into a powder in a food processor
1 cup whole wheat flour
5 scoops chocolate protein powder
1 cup granulated Splenda
1/3 cup dried cranberries
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
2/3 cup nonfat plain yogurt
1/3 cup applesauce
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp olive oil

Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl, mixing briefly. Add the yogurt, applesauce, and oil to a food processor, and mix on low.

Add the protein powder into this mixture, while blending, one scoop at a time, until thoroughly blended.

Pour this mixture into the dry ingredients, add the honey, and stir together until everything is mixed well.

Pour the dough into a 8X12 inch cooking dish, and bake at 350-degrees F for 10-12 minutes (don’t cook it too long or it will lose it’s chewy texture and moisture).

Makes 8 brownies.

Macronutrient Profile, per brownie:
k/cal: 253
Fat (g): 4 (0.8s, 2.2m, 0.9p)
Carbs: 37 (4 fiber)
Protein: 18

Cranberry-Orange Whole Grain Loaf

If you want to surprise your family with a tasty side dish at Thanksgiving, throw one of these on the table. Or make a loaf any other time of the year to fulfill those macronutrient requirements.

1.5 cups rolled oats
1 cup whole wheat flour
½ cup nonfat dry milk powder
4 scoops strawberry or vanilla whey protein powder (for the love of God, don’t use chocolate, ech!)
0.5 cups water
Juice from 1 orange
Grated peel from 1 orange (don’t go overboard on the peel, or it gets bitter)
½ cup applesauce
½ tbsp canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp baking powder
Dash of ground nutmeg (small dash)
½ tsp salt
¾ cup dried cranberries
2 teaspoons whole flax seeds*
½ cup granulated Splenda


Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl, and mix with a large wooden spoon.

Add the water, applesauce, oil, vanilla, and mix thoroughly. Using a fine grater, shave the outer skin from an orange, until obtaining about 2 tablespoons of grated peel. Add the grated peel, and squeeze the orange into the mix, removing any seeds.

Divide the mixture into two loaf pans, coated with cooking spray. Cook for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees.

*Whole flax seeds are not digested, unless you spend 20 minutes chewing every bite. They are added to this recipe more for texture, so don’t worry about the chewing thing. For the nutritional information, half of the given seeds were included in the macronutrient profile, which is based on the assumption that half of the seeds will pass straight through you.

Macronutrient Profile, per 1/3 loaf:

k/cal: 327
Fat (g): 5 (1s, 2m, 2p)
Carbs: 53 (7 fiber)
Protein: 22

Ginger Apricot Scones

Well, well…aren’t we fancy with our homemade scones? Don’t worry, if the guys in the gym ask you what you’re eating, you can just call them “protein pucks”.

1 cup whole-wheat flour, plus ½ cup of wheat flour, set aside
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup oat flour
6 scoops strawberry whey protein powder
¾ cup dried apricots, chopped
½ cup applesauce
2-inch cube of fresh ginger root, peeled and chopped
¼ cup granulated Splenda
1 ¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
¼ cup nonfat dry milk powder
½ cup water
½ tbsp canola or olive oil


Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl (except the ½ cup whole wheat flour). To make the oat flour, process 1 cup of rolled oats in a blender on high, until transformed into a fine powder.

Add the applesauce and water, and mix until a soft dough is formed. Spoon-out 1/3 of the dough and place on a floured surface. Sprinkle flour over the top of the pile, and flatten into a 3/4 –inch thick circular patty. Cut the circle into four wedges (twice crosswise). Place each wedge on a cookie sheet coated with cooking spray. Repeat for the remaining 3rds of the dough.

Cook for 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees F.

Makes 12 scones

Macronutrient Profile, per scone:

k/cal: 189
Fat (g): 3 (0.5s, 1.5m, 1p)
Carbs: 27 (4 fiber)
Protein: 14

Savory Oatmeal Recipes

All right, there are enough recipes above to satisfy the sweet tooth of your average Krispy Kreme junkie. But don’t be fooled into thinking that oats are synonymous with the adjectives “fruity” or “sugary”. The versatility of oats is endless, and the following savory recipes will put to rest any misperceptions of some schmaltzy sucrose addict feverishly devouring a tray of oat brownies. Here are some recipes that hark back to the time of the “oat-eating barbarians”.


You won’t find many Levantines eating a sugary bowl of cereal for breakfast. Shakshuka, a seasoned mixture of tomatoes and eggs, is a common breakfast in the Eastern Mediterranean. Here is a version with the added goodness of oats.

1/3 cup steel-cut oats
2 large tomatoes, chopped
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 large egg, whole
¾ cup raw egg whites
salt and pepper, to taste


Bring the oats, tomatoes, and tomato paste to a boil in 2 cups of water. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer for 25 minutes.

Sauté the onion and garlic in a skillet coated with cooking spray and add these to the pot when the oats have finished cooking. The consistency should be thick, but a little soupy. More water may need to be added at this point to achieve the desired consistency.

Spread the whole egg and egg whites over the surface, stirring gently to break the yolk. Cover and simmer for an additional 3-4 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve it up.

Macronutrient Profile:

k/cal: 516
Fat (g): 10 (2.3s, 3.2m, 2.5p)
Carbs: 71 (13 fiber)
Protein: 40

Oat-Chicken Salad

This recipe is light and refreshing, for those hot August days when a steaming bowl of oats is the last thing on your mind.

Chicken breast, 6 oz cooked
½ cup steel-cut oats
1 large tomato, chopped
1 large cucumber, chopped
2 scallions, diced
1/3 cup fresh mint and/or parsley, chopped
Juice from 1 fresh lemon
Dash of salt
2 large romaine leaves


I usually grill a few pounds of chicken breasts and store them in Ziploc bags in the fridge for a quick protein fix. Slice one of these chicken breasts and put aside for later.

Place the oats in a pot and cover with boiling water. Allow to sit for 20 minutes, then drain. When well drained and slightly cooled, mix the oats with the tomato, cucumber, scallions, mint/parsley, lemon juice and salt. Cover and refrigerate until cool.

Serve over the romaine leaves and top with the sliced chicken breast.

Macronutrient Profile:

k/cal: 700
Fat (g): 13 (2.9s, 3.9m, 3.7p)
Carbs: 77 (15 fiber)
Protein: 72

Stuffed Bell Peppers

Here is a hearty recipe that combines the goodness of oats, good quality protein, and plenty of antioxidants from the veggies and spices.

12 oz ground turkey breast (98% lean)
1 cup whole groats, or steel-cut oats
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large tomatoes, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 whole green bell peppers
1 tsp ground cumin
1 dash dried red chili pepper
Salt and pepper, to taste
3 cups chicken broth, from bouillon

Preheat oven to 325-degrees F.

Sauté the oats and garlic in a nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray on medium high heat for about 5 minutes, until they start to brown. Begin adding the chicken broth to the skillet ½ cup at a time, until 2 cups of broth have been absorbed. Set the oats aside in a large bowl.

In the same skillet, stir-fry the ground turkey with the onions until the turkey is cooked throughout, and then add the chopped tomatoes, cumin, ground chili pepper, and salt/pepper. Add this turkey mixture to the oats, and stir together.

Cut the top off each bell pepper and scoop out the seeds and membrane, being careful not to break the peppers. Fill each pepper with the ground turkey-oat mixture and place in a baking dish. Add the remaining 1 cup of chicken broth to the baking dish, and cover first with plastic wrap and then tin foil (the plastic wrap will not allow the tin foil to stick to the peppers). Bake the stuffed chili peppers for 30 minutes at 325 degrees.

Makes 2 servings.

Macronutrient Profile, per serving:

k/cal: 709
Fat (g): 11 (2.3s, 2.9m, 3.8p)
Carbs: 95 (18 fiber)
Protein: 61

Tex-Mex Chicken-Vegetable-Grain Medley

If you’re short on time and need a quick fix, this one’s easy to prepare and is tasty to boot. If you really want to decrease your cooking time, you can make the oats in bulk at the beginning of the week.

Chicken breast, grilled, 6 oz. cooked weight, cubed
Whole groats or steel-cut oats, ½ cup dry
Frozen vegetable mix (corn, peas, and carrots), ½ cup
1 stalk celery, chopped
Red bell pepper, ½ medium, chopped
2 tbsp barbecue sauce

Boil the oats in 2 cups of water for 30 minutes, or until most of the water is absorbed. When the oats are cooked, it’s very simple: just stir all of the ingredients together in a pot on medium-low heat, until everything is warm. It can also be nuked.

Macronutrient Profile:
k/cal: 770
Fat (g): 13 (2.3s, 4m, 3.5p)
Carbs: 91 (14 fiber)
Protein: 71

These recipes should provide plenty of opportunities to turn those oats into something much more than a mushy, tasteless breakfast. Now it’s time to go out and buy enough of these grains to fill all of the empty protein powder tubs that litter your house. Bon appetite!


John Williams is an archaeologist by training but his free time is occupied with eating well, training hard, and learning more about fitness and nutrition. John can be contacted at

© 2002 - 2005 Science Link, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

For More On Oats.


Monday, July 12, 2010

The importance of recovery after training.

Here at Jungle Miami overtraining is a drag. You don't sleep well at night, and you're grumpy all day. At the gym you just keep feeling weaker and weaker. Most people just need a couple days of rest. However, for athletes, sometimes you can't always rest if you have a competition looming. The only thing to do then is nutrition. Read below for what you can do to keep on doing.

By Dr. John M Berardi

My elite athletes have branded me "the recovery specialist" since my main focus lies in helping athletes perform the maximum amount of training with the minimum amount of rest while avoiding or minimizing over training.

I've been fascinated with recovery for the last few years. However, recently I have spent considerable time designing detailed research protocols to answer some relevant questions dealing with CNS recovery, recovery of protein balance, recovery of muscle glycogen and recovery of the ATP-PC system. My focus in these areas has been the interaction between the exercise and nutrition/supplementation. In fact the dissertation project that is going to earn me a PhD has been designed to examine the recovery of skeletal muscle biochemical parameters (ATP, Creatine Phosphate, Free Creatine, Fiber Type, PH, etc.) after very intense weight lifting. And as a follow-up I will be testing several old and several new supplements for their impact on recovery of the ATP-PC system after a single exercise bout and after chronic exercise training. It's exciting stuff that can be applied to all sorts of trainees at every level.

Below I will discuss some "secrets" that I use with my athletes. Remember, however, although there are nutritional and supplemental strategies listed here, there is no substitute for a comprehensive nutritional program in terms of promoting progress and recovery.

When talking about recovery from training and competition, there are basically 5 areas to focus on.

1) Replenishment of muscle glycogen stores

After many types of training, muscle glycogen levels are depleted. Rapid replenishement of muscle glycogen stores has a favorable impact on the prevention of muscle protein catabolism, on cellular rehydration, and on subsequent exercise performances within the same day or on subsequent days. Basically, if you don't replenish glycogen rapidly, your performance will suffer next time you train and you may even lose some muscle along the way. Achieving the most rapid replenishment of muscle glycogen stores is especially important to my endurance athletes because they often train several times per day. However this can also help those training for bodybuilding as bodybuilding training (9-12 reps) often can deplete muscle glycogen.

In terms of glycogen replacement, the main difference between the two types of athletes is that endurance athletes usually need more glycogen replacement than do weight trainees. With endurance exercise the athlete should consume more carbs over the 4-6 hour period after the workout than the weight lifter. In endurance athletes, I usually recommend consuming a liquid meal immediately after training that contains 0.4g protein and 0.8g of carbs per kg of body mass. Then I instruct them to consume food meals in similar proportions every 2 hours for 3 subsequent meals. This means that there will be 4 total meals in the 6 hours following training that conform to the 0.4g protein and 0.8g fat recommendations. Some fat may be included in these latter meals but since carb intake will be high, fat intake should be modest. In weight lifters, I recommend the consumption of an identical meal after training however there should only be 1 follow up meal (about 60-90 minutes later) that consists of the same macronutrient profile. Then the next meal beyond that should conform to the lifter's particular meal plan and should be eaten somewhere around 3 hours later.

So why protein and carbs in these meals to promote glycogen storage? Well there is some literature to suggest that the synergistic insulin response promoted by carbs and protein will enhance muscle glycogen storage. While some studies have disputed these findings, I continue to recommend the inclusion of protein in these meals due to the second area of recovery...protein balance

2) Recovery of protein balance

Protein balance is calculated as the difference between protein synthesis (protein anabolism) and protein breakdown (protein catabolism). As I've written before in my Solving the Post-Workout Puzzle articles (which can be found at, after training, protein synthesis tends to go down in endurance trainees while it may stay the same or minimially increase in weight trainees. However in both types of athletes, protein breakdown goes way up, thus creating a negative protein balance and a good potential for muscle loss. Although this eventually rebounds and the body goes into an anabolic state, in the time immediately following training, muscle can be lost. Since no athlete can afford muscle loss, this is an important focus for recovery and subsequent muscle gain. While weight trainers jump for joy at even the slightest prospect of a weight gain, endurance athletes aren't so excited about the possibility of any weight gain. However, the endurance athletes have nothing to fear. Since endurance athletes have a predomination of slow twitch fibers, the recovery of protein balance in these athletes is designed to prevent muscle loss as a result of intense training. These types of fibers just don't grow very well so there is no big danger of packing on the pounds. But in bodybuilders, the fast twitch fibers respond quite differently than the slow twitch fibers. You will grow when a positive protein balance is initiated with nutrition and supplementation. And this means you get big.

So how does one initiate the recovery of protein balance after training?
Conveniently, the best way to do so is to consume the nutrient recommendations from the last section (glycogen replenishment). By consuming the mentioned ratios (with the addition of some individual amino acids like glutamine, bcaas, and phenylalanine in the first post-workout drink) you will quickly create the optimal anabolic environment by minimizing protein breakdown and increasing protein synthesis.

3) Recovery of the CNS (neurotransmitter balance)

Neurotransmitters are responsible for many functions in cell signaling and play a big role in the communication between different brain areas and between the brain and the rest of the body. Research on these regulatory chemicals and their effects in exercise training has just recently begun to get the attention it deserves. But this field is still in its infancy due to the fact that it's difficult to study the brain and central nervous system.

Some evidence exists showing that when neurotransmitters like acetylcholine, dopamine, and norepinephrine get depleted, physical and cognitive performance suffers. Since these neurotransmitters can be depleted from intense repeated bouts of strenuous exercise, this is bad news. I believe that certain types of fatigue with endurance training as well as many of the symptoms of over training (altered appetite, inability to sleep, etc.) are a result of this type of depletion of neurotransmitters. In addition to this evidence, there is research showing that even the ratio of tryptophan to BCAA in the blood can increase 5-HT (serotonin) levels in the brain. This is due to increased tryptophan uptake in the brain. Tryptophan is a precursor for the fatigue promoting neurotransmitter, serotonin.

Since neurotransmitters can be depleted during exercise and this depletion can cause fatigue and over training, nutritional strategies may offer some support. Supplementation with 1-2 g of phosphatidylcholine (lecithin) per day may prevent the depletion of acetylcholine seen with training. Since acetylcholine is active in promoting muscular force, memory, and awareness, this would offer both cognitive and performance benefits. In addition, 6-8 g of tyrosine supplementation per day may help with dopamine and noradrenaline depletion. Depletion of these neurotransmitters may lead to CNS fatigue, reduced motivation, poor memory, loss of motor control, and poor mood. Finally, supplementation with 5g of BCAA during training may prevent serotonin increases during and after training due to the fact that BCAA compete with tryptophan for uptake into the brain, thus reducing the precursors for serotonin production.

Since the research in this area is so new, I recommend that most endurance athletes try the supplements I mentioned to see if they impacts performance. If not, we simply eliminate them from the program. There is simply not enough evidence to know if the neurotransmitter alterations seen in training have that much of an impact on performance and whether or not supplements can help in this regard.

4) Maximizing the anabolic to catabolic hormone ratio

In very intensely trained athletes, the anabolic hormones (testosterone) tend to decrease while the catabolic hormones (cortisol) tend to increase. This phenomenon is present in most endurance athletes and can manifest in weight trainers who do a high volume of exercise. This imbalance can lead to muscle loss, performance decrements, depression, and fat gain.

Several supplement strategies can be employed in an attempt to correct this. In a study done by Steve McGregor, Tribex supplementation increased the free testosterone to cortisol ratio in elite cyclists. This indicates it may be useful in balancing the anabolic and catabolic hormones. In addition, supplements like vitamin C, phosphatidylserine, and plant sterols may help prevent exercise induced increases in cortisol levels.

5) Recovery of the ATP-PC system

The ATP-PC system is responsible for repeated muscular contractions at the start of all exercise. It is also extremely important for brief, all-out bursts of maximal effort. ATP (the best energy source for muscular contraction) is broken down during such efforts and PC comes to the rescue to resynthesize the ATP that was broken down. This system is usually very efficient. However when you really challenge the system with high intensity muscle-damaging contractions, the ATP is broken down faster than it can be resynthesized and some of its degradation products are lost from the muscle. This means that for each ATP that is lost, that's one less ATP to be resynthesized for further work. Over the next few days following an exercise bout, ATP levels can be lowered by about 20% due to this. Sure, a few days later it will be back to normal. But most athletes don't train once every 3 days or so but every day. So they need more rapid recovery of ATP.

Creatine supplementation and ribose supplementation may come in handy here. High starting levels of muscle creatine before the exercise bout may be beneficial in preventing the overwhelming of the system and therefore the ATP loss. In addition, ribose supplementation has been shown (in vitro) to increase the rate of ATP resynthesis after exercise-induced depletion. So the creatine-ribose combination may be beneficial in partially preventing ATP depletion with exercise and may help lead to more rapid recovery of ATP to previous levels.

With the knowledge of these 5 areas essential to recovery after training, athletes can target their weakest areas. Proper identification of what system may not be recovering will help to target nutritional strategies for maximizing performance and minimizing symptoms of over training.

© 2002 - 2005 Science Link, Inc. All Rights Reserved

For more about Dr. Berardi's work go to:


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Coconut water. Do you like it? So do we.

Here at Jungle Miami we recommend things that are a little outside of the box. Not because they are outside of the norm, but because science points to them being the best, but no one can really make that much money off of it. So, in our evil attempt to put the supplement industry out of business, we are going to talk about how the best sports drink you can have... is plain old natural coconut water. 

We believe in it so much, that we sell it here.  In fact, we go a step above, and sell coconut water with no preservatives or additives whatsoever direct from Jamaica, the way Mother Nature intended... straight from the coconut.  (And yes, it was really hard to find a supplier who didn't use preservatives, but our hard work is your gain.  We only keep a weeks worth in stock, so, first come, first served.  Oh, and by the way, we've had a lot of requests, but, we don't ship it.  It has no preservatives, and by the time it get to you, well, it's gone bad.  You must get it here.)

Coconut water benefits and nutrition

Coconut water is the juice of young tender coconuts and is a natural energy drink. It is delicious, refreshing and very nutritious and has tremendous health benefits. The water of tender young coconut, technically is the liquid endosperm. It is one of the purest, most nutritious wholesome waters and beverages with which nature has provided us. The people in tropical regions and countries have been enjoying this drink for centuries. They have used the all-natural coconut water to refresh, refuel, re-hydrate, feed and maintain the proper nourishment and fluid levels in their bodies. The natural water has a caloric value of 17.4 per 100 gm. The benefits of coconut water are endless and should be an essential part of any healthy diet.

Coconut water is naturally sweet, ingratiating, promoting proper digestion, and naturally helps clearing our urinary paths, and lubricating our body systems. India is one of the leading producers of coconuts in the world producing 13 billion nuts per annum.

India has 3000 years' tradition in coconut cultivation. A large number of coconut products are manufactured in India which have both domestic and export market. Vinegar and soft drink are manufactured in the country from coconut water. Tender coconut water concentrate is another product which is manufactured and marketed successfully.

Coconut water health benefits

Young tender coconut water has the following benefits and medicinal values:

-Low in Carbohydrates
-Low in Fat 99% Fat Free
-Low in natural occurring sugar
-Keeps the body cool and at the proper temperature.
-Effective in the treatment of kidney and urethral stones.
-Natural drink for feeding infants suffering from intestinal disturbances.
-Excellent oral re-hydration medium, an all natural isotonic for all ages.
-Presence of saline and albumen makes it an excellent drink in cholera cases.
-Maintains the human body's natural fluid levels.
-Aids in the quick absorption of drugs and makes their peak concentration into the blood stream easier because of its electrolytic effect.
-Found as a blood plasma substitute because it is sterile, does not produce heat, and does not destroy red blood cells and is readily accepted by the body.
-Kills intestinal worms.
-Excellent all natural water to drink while Relaxing, Meditating, Driving, Eating,Running, Aerobics, Working, Skiing, Mountain Biking, Exercising, Body Building, Surfing, Fishing, Snow Boarding, Working Out, Surfing, Physical Activities, or Exertion of any kind.
-Aid the body in fighting viruses that cause the flu, herpes, and AIDS
-Helps prevent osteoporosis
-Helps control diabetes
-Promotes bowel movements
-Promotes healthy thyroid function
-Helps eliminate pinworms
-Used in cancer therapy
-Helps kill the parasite Giardia Lamblia
-Improves digestion
-Provides quick energy
-Relieves stress on pancreas and enzyme systems of the body
-Helps in gallbladder disease
-Helps eliminate Candida yeast infections
-Inhibits the growth of mycoplasma
-Helps eradicate eczema
-Helps keep skin soft and smooth

As you can see, Coconut water has amazing health benefits. It should be an integral part of any healthy diet. Coconut water is a natural energy drink. No need for drinks like Gatorade or Powerade. Replace them with the healthy alternative that is coconut water.



Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tai Chi and Qigong, its benefits.

According to the researchers, Tai Chi is a form of traditional Chinese exercise that purports to improve health by changes in mental focus, breathing, coordination and relaxation. The goal of Tai Chi is to “rebalance” the body’s own healing capacity. Tai Chi has been practiced in China for hundreds of years and is now widely practiced throughout the world. It has been estimated that over 100 million people regularly practice Tai Chi in China alone.

Previous studies have shown that Tai Chi can help to improve balance and prevent falls in the elderly, improve musculoskeletal conditions, lower hypertension, enhance cardiovascular and respiratory function, improve mental health, and enhance endocrine and immune functioning. This is Jungle Miami's subject today.

Tai Chi, Qigong Good for Body, Mind

Studies Finds Tai Chi and Qigong Have Physical, Mental Health Benefits

By Kathleen Doheny

Reviewed for WebMD by Laura J. Martin MD. July 2, 2010

The ancient Chinese wellness practices known as tai chi and qigong provide many physical and mental health advantages, including helping the heart, immune system, and one's quality of life, according to a new analysis

Linda Larkey, PhD, of Arizona State University, and her colleagues combed the medical literature, finding 77 published reports of scientific studies that looked at the two wellness practices and compared them to other exercises or to a sedentary state. The studies, published between 1993 and 2007, looked at tai chi and qigong and their effects on various outcomes, such as health, physical function, falls, quality of life, one's feeling of self-efficacy, immune system functioning, psychological symptoms, and other factors.

The 77 studies included 6,410 participants.

Both forms of activity incorporate a wide range of physical movements and slow, meditative, dance-like movements, Larkey writes. Both also include meditation postures and gentle or vigorous shaking of the body. They emphasize regulation of breath and mind coordinated with body regulation.

The new review, Larkey says in a news release, provides a ''stronger evidence base'' for the activities and their positive effects on bone health, cardio-respiratory fitness, physical functioning, balance, quality of life, fall prevention, and psychological health.

Although it was not possible to combine all the study results statistically and come up with a number describing the effect, the evidence of benefits is consistent, she says.

Exactly how do tai chi and qigong impart their benefits? "This combination of self-awareness with self-correction of the posture and movement of the body, the flow of breath, and mindfulness, are thought to comprise a state that activates the natural self-regulatory (self-healing) capacity," Larkey writes. That, in turn, helps trigger beneficial brain hormones and "a wide array of natural health recovery mechanisms.”

The study is published in the American Journal of Health Promotion


Friday, July 2, 2010

They help keep people of all ages and all sports smiling, experts say. They are the mouth guards.

Even in Non-Contact Sports, Mouth Guards Are Essential

Robert Preidt

FRIDAY, June 11 (HealthDay News)

It is just a small, basic piece of safety gear, but a mouth guard is essential for anyone participating in organized sports or recreational activities, the American Dental Association advises.

One study found that people who wear a mouth guard are nearly two times less likely to suffer an injury than those who don't wear a mouth guard.

"But you don't have to be on the football field or in a hockey rink to benefit from a properly fitted mouth guard," American Dental Association (ADA) consumer advisor Dr. Matthew Messina, a Cleveland-area dentist, said in an ADA news release.

"Findings in sports dentistry show that even in non-contact sports, such as gymnastics, mouth guards will help protect participants, and many experts recommend that everyone -- from children to adults -- wear a mouth guard during any recreational activity that might pose a risk of injury to the mouth, including practice and training sessions," Messina added.

Custom-fitted mouth guards are considered by many to offer the best protection, but other mouth guards -- such as mouth-formed "boil-and-bite" types -- can be effective if they fit well, are worn properly and stay in place, the experts say.

A mouth guard should be durable, tear-resistant, comfortable, easy to clean, and not restrict speech or breathing. Most mouth guards cover only the upper teeth, but mouth guards can also be made to protect the bottom teeth, according to the news release.

In time, mouth guards wear out, so it is important to check their condition and replace them before they become ineffective. They should also be replaced if they develop holes or tears, are too loose, or irritate the teeth or mouth tissues, the ADA suggests.

More information

The American Dental Association has more about mouth guards.

SOURCE: American Dental Association, news release, May 27, 2010

Copyright @2010 HealthDay. All Rights Reserved.


Thursday, July 1, 2010

Is physical activity a matter of life? You bet it is.

Why Physical Fitness?

Although the most opportune time for developing lifelong fitness habits is in the childhood years, it is in the late teens and early twenties that men and women develop a fitness consciousness. At this stage in life you have reached physical maturity; your body is at its natural peak of physiological efficiency and health. However, observe friends in their late twenties and early thirties. In many of them this natural fitness has begun to disappear. Lack of exercise is beginning to show its effect. An increase of body fatness, a loss of muscle tone, and a lessened breathing capacity are some of the obvious signs of physiological deterioration. These middle-aged characteristics begin to reveal themselves in many Americans in their mid to late twenties. Unfortunately, our bodies are not programmed to stand the stress of sitting or of being inactive.

Our modern life-style fosters unfitness. Many technological advances are intended to eliminate physical exertion from everyday activities. The automobile and television are key contributors to our sedentary lifestyle, and we have become accustomed to other automated energy savers: elevators, riding lawn mowers, motorized golf carts, snow blowers and various remote control devices. The eighties brought us the home computer. Such advances enable us to carry out our everyday chores more easily. Microcomputers not only enable us to keep our home or business records in order but also provide hours of enjoyable play with computer games of many kinds. Or just surfing and chatting. However, the rapid repetitive movements required in manipulating the controls and/or keyboard does little for physical fitness.

Overeating, addiction and laziness are other detrimental characteristics of a sedentary life-style. At the same time, we live in a competitive society characterized by pressing domestic problems, business obligations and deadline tensions. All of these have an impact on the physiological systems of the body and appear to affect our state of health. Your emotions, nerves, glands, and mental state along with your heart, lungs, and muscles are all fused into a complex, wonderful organism -- your body. Thus, there is a dire need, more than at any time in the history of humankind, to seek out stimulating exercise that will offset the perils of modern living. In fact, working out regularly to maintain a high level of fitness enables you to enjoy the privilege of all our modern gadgets and our computers.

Many men and women feel that their daily work provides them with enough exercise for fitness. Running up and down stairs or standing all day at a job seems to be physical exertion. It is exertion, of course, but such limited activities do not use the lungs fully or provide adequate stimulation for the heart to produce a training effect. If normal, day to day activities leave you fatigued at the end of the day, then you need the increased energy and vitality that comes from regular physical exertion. You must use energy to gain energy. In other words, regular stimulation of the total body through vigorous exercise produces increased strength and endurance, characteristics associated with good health. These attributes cannot be acquired from sitting at a desk all day, watching sports on television, riding elevators, or snacking.

Now that inactivity has been recognized as a threat to physiological well being, some authorities have suggested that exercise may be the cheapest preventative medicine in the world. Researchers in medicine, nutrition, psychology, physiology, and physical education agree that exercise, properly performed, is necessary for maintaining functional physical fitness. No responsible health educator will ever suggest that exercise is a panacea. But it is clear that, just as we need food, rest and sleep, we need daily exercise for the maintenance of our physical capacities. Physical fitness is not an end in itself but a means to an end. It provides the basis for optimal physiological health and gives us the capacity to enjoy a full life.

Detriments to Good Health

Improper nutrition
Poor management of stress
Excessive use of alcohol
Drug abuse