Category: Health Blog

Health articles on diet, supplements, and exercise based on the proven science and research

Why Most Diet Pills are Either Illegal or Ineffective (1 of 3)

I was teaching at my biology class the other day and one of my students asked about what is the diet pill I would recommend. My answer is basically in the title. To be fair, for people that have imbalanced diet, some supplements might help their weight loss. Some natural supplements can also help when combined with exercise. But the active ingredients for these items are usually very cheap and once its packed and branded by the big brands (cough.. cough… G*C), then it would be priced way above what it should be. Below are my list of common effective but illegal drugs in most western countries. It is meant as a warning when you look at the product ingredient so you can avoid them, not the opposite.

The Illegal Ones

DNP (2,4 Dinitrophenol)

Other names: 1 Hydroxy-2,4-dinitrophenol, Solfo Black, Nitrophen, Aldifen, and Chemox

Yes, it actually works. Basically we consume food mainly as a source of energy in the form of ATP. And this substance lowers the efficiency of converting food to ATP. It is so effective that a person weighing 100 kg can loose 5 kg in 10 days. This product has been banned by the FDA since the 1940’s. So if its so effective, why is it forbidden? Basically use it too much (and depending on your bodyweight, effective dose could be less than 200 mg) and you could ended up increasing your metabolism so much that you will fry your internal organs. It is so hazardous that its other usage are insecticide, wood preservative, herbicide and explosive.

Sibutramine (chlorosibutramine)

Other names:  Reductil, Meridia, and Siredia

If you can’t increase the “cost” of converting the food to energy, what do you do? You suppress the appetite. And this drug actually works. Except that this drug also increase your chance of getting heart disease and stroke, along with possible side effects as  dry mouth, paradoxically increased appetite, nauseastrange taste in the mouth, upset stomach, constipation, trouble sleeping, dizziness, drowsiness, menstrual cramps/pain, headache, flushing, or joint/muscle pain. Hence this drug has been banned and taken out of the market since 2010.

Ephedrine

Other names: Bronkaid, Primatene

Mammals such as rats have “brown fat” which unlike “white fat” commonly found in humans, continuously burn calories. Ephedrine mimics this effect in the skeletal muscle, along with slowing down gastric emptying (makes you feel full longer). This product was widely used for a long time until piling evidence of increased risk of stroke and heart disease along with common side effects such as trouble sleeping, anxiety, headache, hallucinationshigh blood pressurefast heart rate, loss of appetite, and inability to urinate leading it to be banned from most advanced countries by early 21st century.

Rimonabant

Other names: Acomplia, Zimulti

Another appetite suppressant drug that was introduced in EU in 2006, never approved in US and Canada, and was withdrawn from EU market in 2008. Why? Because it increases suicidal and depression tendency along with common risk of developing gastroenteritis, anxiety, irritability, insomnia and other sleep disorders, hot flushes, diarrhea, vomiting, dry or itchy skin, tendonitis, muscle cramps and spasms, fatigue, flu-like symptoms, and increased risk of falling.

Fen-Phen

Other names: Fenfluramine (Podimin) combined with Phentermine

Both drugs are proven effective on weight loss and the combination of both further increases its effectiveness. Problem is that both drugs have well known harmful side effect and the combination of both have the potential to cause fatal pulmonary hypertension and heart valve problem. As of 2005, Wyeth Pharmaceutical, the manufacturer and marketer of this product had to settle billions of USD in court over the damages.

Clenbuterol

Other names: Dilaterol, Spiropent, Ventipulmin

Word on the street is that this is the drug of choice for Holywood stars to gain muscle mass and loose body fat. Unlike synthetic testosterone (a.k.a. steroids), Clenbuterol will not cause women to develop male secondary sexual characteristic. And testing on animals have shown that the effects are real. Sounds too good to be true right? well, it is.

Short term side effect of clenbuterol ingestion that was recorded due to human ingestion of clenbuterol tainted meat ranges from muscle crams, hypertension, increased heart rate, dry mouth, insomnia, vomiting, tremors, sweating, etc. Long term side effect of the drug includes heart abnormalities and decrease in bone mass. Worse yet, your body developed resistance to the drug over the long run which will cause weight gain on the user. Currently this drug is only legally allowed to be used to treat horse asthma. And once the horse has been treated with it, it can no longer be slaughtered for human consumption.

Conclusion

Yes, these drugs do work as advertised. They do so either by:

  1. Increasing your metabolism that will increase your body temperature and quite possibly either fry your internal organs, or make your internal organs behave in uncertain ways such that it ended up damaging them.
  2. Lowering your appetite or making your stomach feel fuller. Of course drugs that alter your nervous system related to the digestion system also have a chance of affecting other nervous system in your body, including your brain.

Both kinds of weight loss drug does work, but it comes with its own risk, either it will risk killing you in the long run,  due to overdose, or turn you into suicidal. There’s a reason why these drugs got banned in the first place.

Stay tuned for part two on the currently legal drugs that might not be as efficient as advertised.

Do You Really Need That Spine Surgery?

First and foremost, I’m neither a doctor nor a surgeon.

Having said that, I was blessed to had training encounter with Dr. Stuart McGill, the man that has successfully rehabilitated the backs of many Olympic gold medal winning athletes and salvaged their careers again. I also used to have spine injury in the form of L5/S1 disc bulge that pinches my sciatic nerve and caused sciatica. Basically if I cycle for too long, then I would feel incredible pain along my right buttock, to my right hamstring and my right calf. I was lucky to met Dr. McGill and through his training, regained my athleticism and became stronger than I was prior to my injury. I’m 36 by the way, so I’m no spring chicken.

110 Kg paused squats after my back recovered using McGill Method, no surgery, painkiller, belt or wraps. 100% natural

Fortunately, or rather unfortunately, low back pain is a rather common problem especially among the 25 – 55 year old crowd. That is because the spine, just like any other organ you have, requires “optimal loading” for it to be healthy. And the modern sedentary lifestyle simply increase the risk of people having low back pain.

So what happen if you already have low back pain? Does this mean that you are stuck with it? Do you need a surgery to fix it?

If the pinched nerve is on L5/S1 or L4/L5, then congrats! you got sciatica!

Basically it depends on your injury. Not all low back pain are caused by disc bulge. And it also depends on the severity of the injury. Back Mechanics does an excellent job at describing the types of back injuries that could happen. As I have mentioned previously, most of the times surgery is not the answer. Problem is, most people wanted instant solution and surgery seems like the fastest solution. What most people do not understand is that lumbar surgery is not instant. Dr. McGill already showed that based on his 30 years of research and clinical practice that not only would lumbar surgery risk damaging your nerve and fascia tissues, without change in the patient’s movement pattern, the patient run the risk of developing future problems in 5 years (which means good business for the surgeons themselves).

Take the case of Tiger Woods, the most successful young golfer of the previous decade that had his back damaged by wrong training method and repeated back surgery. During my training years ago, Dr. McGill foretell that Tiger Woods will never play professional golf again. And his most recent DUI arrest pretty much showed that even though he had the resources to pay the words best surgeons, these surgeons simply made him dependent on pain killers.

Of course, having said all of these, there are legitimate cases where spine surgery is warranted. And most of those cases are due to high impact trauma.

Conclusion

If you or anybody you know is struggling with low back pain, I highly recommend reading Dr. McGill’s book back mechanics to learn more on your particular injury and if surgery is really for you.

Keep in mind, to successfully implement McGill Method and regain a pain free life, the patient need to be disciplined in doing “Spine Hygine” on their daily life. The healing process might take months if not years. But I find it to be totally worth it, especially if world’s best surgeons could ended up making you dependent on opoids like Tiger Woods. Last but not least, should you experience spine disk bulge and implement all of McGill’s Methods, then over time, your injured spine disk will harden and stiffen your back. You will loose some spine mobility (something spine surgery will also get you) but in return, you will be pain free, this is why Dr. McGill emphasized on hip mobility instead, so you will not loose your athleticism.

Lifting Straps and Grip Strength

Importance of Grip Strength

“In the old days, Olympic athletes are amateurs. So they still need to work in the fields or factories, handling odd shaped objects. Nowadays, most Olympic athletes are professionals, simply used to only deal with small handles on dumbbells hence they lack the neural drive to their finger tips.” laments Dr. Stuart McGill, one of the most respected figures in the field of strength and conditioning. Pavel Tsatsouline, former USSR Spetsnaz trainer and subject matter expert for US special forces also emphasized the importance of neural radiation from tight fists for athletic power. Dan John, former US Olympian and coach echoes this sentiment.

This is the reason why both on my own training, and as I train my clients, I always emphasize on grip strength, using variety of handles such as fat grip and rope.

How NOT To Use Lifting Accessories

120 kg paused deadlift with no straps or weightbelt

Hence it is a shame that with the rising popularity of lifting accessories, increasing number of people are using them where they shouldn’t. Many times I walked into a commercial gym and see big muscular guys using lifting straps and lifting belts for everything including lats pull down! This is one of the causes of a modern day disease where seemingly big muscular men can hardly lift as heavy as a construction worker half their size. Those big muscles are just for show!

Its indeed an irony that although these accessories are originally developed for strength athletes, most of these same athletes do not rely on them as much as these cosmetic guys. Take a look at Dimitriy Klokov, noted Russian Olympic weightlifting medalist that only selectively use lifting straps and weight belts on his training videos.

How To Use Lifting Straps Properly

Lasso Type Lifting Strap

Having said the above, it doesn’t mean that there is no proper use of lifting straps. For example, if you are doing deadlifts and you are lifting at 95 – 100% your max, then the use of lifting straps could be justified if you want to prevent your callouses from peeling off.

If you are doing Olympic weightlifting and you are doing the hang and pull variations of your lift for reps, then the use of lifting straps would actually be ideal to make sure your grip position stays the same.

So yes, if you are serious in either powerlifting or olympic weightlifting, then you do need a lifting straps and for hygiene reason, having your own is ideal. If you are interested in finding the right lifting strap for you, you should read more about it here.

Should You Finally Ditch Artificial Sweeteners?

Long time readers might already know my distaste towards artificial sweeteners due to its strong association with higher chance of developing obesity, type-2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome (basically means your resting metabolic rate is very low). This is the main reason why Magnus Performance developed our own whey protein product line, besides  glucose consumption prior to exercise actually helps your body burn fat.

Over the past week, health news headlines has been dominated by recent studies that indicates artificial sweeteners consumption are linked with stroke, alzheimer and dementia. Great, more reason to avoid artificial sweeteners right? Unfortunately, we need to peer deeper to see that sometimes, life is not as easy. Let us dig deeper.

The Two Studies

As always, when mainstream media put the big headlines, what you must first do is read the actual studies. One which is published in the journal stroke, and another done at Boston University and published by Alzheimer & Dementia. On both studies, the methodology is self report from the study participant and there was no mention about the racial make up of the participants. Self report is highly unreliable as it depends on the participant’s memory and how the questionnaire was worded while people from different genetic make up has different body reaction from nutrition input. For example, Asians have far higher incidence of lactose intolerance than Caucasians . Hence, I would take this study with a grain of salt.

On the Boston University study, there was no mention of the participant’s genetic predisposition, exercise, dietary habit, or income level. And as we all know these 4 factors do have an effect on memory and brain volume. The study published on Stroke journal was of higher quality as it does take into account most of these factors. And although the Boston University study showed association between normal sugary beverage consumption and dementia, the study published at Stroke journal failed to replicate that. What it showed though is the association between artificial sweetener consumption with stroke and dementia. And the increased risk to the average population is only 3 percent.

Conclusion

If you are non-diabetic to begin with, of course its better to simply control your cravings, do adequate exercise and indulge in real sugar every once in a while. After all, those percentage points do add up. However, if you are diabetic, and you just need to indulge to satisfy your sweet tooth, then artificial sweetener every once in a while is still acceptable.

Fitness Trackers and The Promise of Health

Technological innovation, and the promise of making manual jobs obsolete. Including jobs like personal trainers that is. There is no doubt that some time in the future, technology would have advanced so far that a machine can scan your body, then device the most optimal diet and training regimen for you at that particular moment to ensure you reach your optimum fitness goal. That day has not arrived yet.

Its interesting that when the “fitness revolution” was first launched by fitbit and the likes, early data was very promising. Promising enough that even insurance companies would give discounts for people that uses fitness trackers. However, more recent studies have showed that on average, people that wore fitness trackers actually lost less weight than those who don’t on an average basis. So what happened?

Garbage In, Garbage Out

pedometer

As my statistics professor once said, if you feed bad data in, you will only get bad data as result, i.e. “garbage in, garbage out”. In this case, the early generation fitness trackers, these devices can only count on how many steps you take. I.e. they are basically high tech pedometer, no different than what our parents used.

In the 1960’s the Japanese company that invented the modern pedometer basically made this theory that if you took 10,000 steps a day, then you would be healthy. No actual solid research was used to draw this conclusion, it was simply something they used to market their product. Although modern research does prove that higher level of mobility (anywhere from 5000 to 8000 steps depending on your gender and age) is good for you, the comparison has always been with those that have sedentary lifestyle.

Hence it seems that the early positive result could be due to mostly health conscious people using the earlier generation product or getting people that are very sedentary to start becoming more mobile.

Joint Damage

918_Knee_InjuryMostmay not realize this, but overweight people that spent most of their lives sitting should not be forced to suddenly take too many steps. The additional weight they have will simply cause their joints to wear out faster. The lifelong habit of sitting also tend to make some overweight people to have inefficient walking gait. Due to these two concerns, forcing them to suddenly walk certain distance will increase their risk of developing joint damage on the knees and ankles, and once these joints are damaged, the wearer will inadvertently walk less, hence loosing the initial gains from more mobile lifestyle.

Metabolic Conditioning

sprint

Qualified personal trainers all knows that there are two ways for you to burn calories, one while you exercise, and the other is while you do everything else. The everything else part of the equation is more than three times that of what you burn while exercising. Hence it makes sense that you should concentrate more on the later part. You could increase your base line metabolism level (i.e. basalt metabolism) by either developing bigger muscles, or by doing High Impact Interval Training (i.e. HIIT). Both methods will increase your basalt metabolism level anywhere from 24 to 48 hours after you train. And neither of them can be detected with previous generation fitness device.

Any Hope For Future Generation Fitness Trackers?

Even the previous generation fitness generation can function as a glorified interval counter that will remind you to stand up and do a little bit of stretching if you have been sitting for too long. And as an advocate for Dr. McGill’s spine hygine, this is a very good function. Newer generation fitness trackers can already measure your heart beat, hence it can be used as an accessory while you do your HIIT training. Of course, when you do HIIT, be mindful on your joint alignments, having rest days and your choice of activity as you will be subjected to higher risk of injury otherwise.

Conclusion

Fitness trackers can definitely be used as part of the larger solution to make people be more active and healthy. However, its still just part of the equation and it should not be used as the main solution to your problem.

6 Training Myths that Should Go Away

Once you hung around at the weight room long enough, its unavoidable that you will start hearing some “tips” that many people believed in. Some sounded more scientific than others. But not all of these are true. The following are 6 myths circulating at many gyms that you should totally ignore.

Wear Weightbelts to Protect Your Back

curved deadlift

Seriously, this is a myth long proven to be false by Dr. McGill that you can read on his book Ultimate Back Fitness. Its not about how thick or tight your belt is, its about how you keep it in neutral position and use all your core muscles to stiffen it. The image above is definitely NOT something you should be doing with or without any weight belt.

Situps, Crunches and Russian Twists are your essentials for 6 pack abs

russian twist

More like essentials for bad backs. There’s a reason why US Army and Canadian Army finally listened to Dr. McGill’s research and do away with the speed sit up requirements, namely its true that its best for some people to avoid them. I for one haven’t done a single sit up for over a year and still keep my 6 pack abs. Back Mechanics will be a good place to start if you want to do away with these bad exercises and still maintain a strong core.

Machines are Safer than Weights

legextensionmachineexercise

This is a rather convenient myth to keep especially among lazy personal trainers that don’t really want to bother coaching proper technique to their clients. Fact is among serious, injury free lifters, machines are only useful for assistance lifts after they have done the big lifts (squat, deadlift, benchpress and Overhead press) and explosive lifts (Snach, Clean and Jerk and their variations) with free weights. And there’s a reason for that, namely that big and explosive lifts requires balance and multiple muscle coordination, hence have less risk of developing muscular imbalance or movement pattern dysfunction compared to machines.

You Must Confuse the Muscle for Gains

balance

This is a trend that started out with the bodybuilders and later expand to those trainers that believed in a perverted form of “functional training”. Interestingly, these are the very same people that do not have actual athletic performance as their benchmark. Fact of the matter is powerlifters and olympic weightlifters only focuses on limited number of exercises and yet are the strongest class of athlete strictly on the sagital plane of movement. Joint, muscle and bones becomes stronger by adaptation of progressive loading. If you keep on changing the method of loading every time you train, you will not get stronger any faster.

You Must Train to Failure for Absolute Gains

lean-muscle

Yet another myth from the bodybuilding circle. If you train for looks, not for absolute strength, and use lots of steroids, insulin and HGH, then this might be the case. But there’s a reason why real athletes have a motto “no ego lift”. If you struggle to get the weight up, then either there was too much repetition or too much weight in that set for you at the moment. Its not just for safety reason, but also to make sure that your “neural drive” i.e. your capability to activate as much muscle fiber as possible in a single contraction remains intact.

You Must Feel the Burn Before Your Muscle Will Grow

Campfire

OK, maybe not that type of burn, but you get the idea. This is yet another misguided thinking that started in the bodybuilding circle. Except that real lifters knows that you should first get your technique right first when you are starting. And even once you get into intermediate level, you must have volume days along with recovery days and intensity days to ensure a steady gain instead of a steady joint pain.

6 Horrible Carbs You Should Avoid

So moving on from the 6 ideal sources of carbs for you to enjoy is the 6 sources of carbs you should avoid if you want to get 6 pack abs.

Sugar

spoon-sugar

It is a naturally occurring substance that has been used as a preservative for centuries. So it should be good right? Except that centuries ago, sugar was not as abundant as today and most people must engage in calorie burning manual labor to earn a living. Nowadays, you just need to look at the label of your instant coffee, sneakers or coke to find sugar as the main ingredient. Combined this with our sedentary lifestyle and you got yourself a recipe for health disaster. The key is moderation and if you need to satisfy your sweet tooth, to have it before a gym session where it will be used for fuel.

Artificial Sweeteners

PepsiLight2009

Aspartame, acesulfame potassium ( or simply written as acesulfame K), sucralose, saccharin…. you see them on the ingredient list of many products labeled as “healthy” on the market, including most protein supplements. Although these products are not chemically classified as carbs, but they are widely used as sugar (carb) substitute, hence earned their spot here.  For sure they contain no calories hence on the surface it seems to help those that wants to loose weight. But multiple independent studies have linked it to anything from obesity, type 2 diabetes, to kidney damage. Hence if you really crave for sweets, stick to the natural ones and do it as part of your pre-workout.

White Wheat Flour

All-Purpose_Flour_(4107895947)

You see them everywhere. From biscuits, bread to noodles. Other than sugar, you can say that its the building block of modern society as we know it. And just like sugar, things would have been fine several centuries ago when white wheat flour was a luxury and most bread were made with whole wheat flour (i.e. contains more fiber and minerals). The modern version we consume these days are simply too refined and will lead to spike in blood sugar upon consumption. Hence this is one type of carb consumption you should reduce. Not only that, some people have varying level of intolerance towards gluten that is abundant in wheat. Hence if you feel bloated after eating cakes and noodles, it might be best to avoid this type of carb.

Beer

beer

Sad to say, my favorite beverage is not something you should be drinking if you are aiming for a 6-pack abs. Hence I only indulge myself whenever I travel. Problem no. 1 with beer is that it is very high in carbohydrates (and lets face it, “light” beers don’t taste as good as full bodied beers). Another problem is that the alcohol in the beer suppresses lipid oxidation, hence the typical beer belly you see among regular alcohol consumers.

Flavored Instant Oats

instant oat

Yes, oats are high in fiber so it should be good for you. The problem is the convenient flavored single servings you typically see in supermarket aisle is jam packed with sugar. Thick rolled oats are filled with complex carbs that are slow to digest. Instant oats however, already had those carbs cut down to make it absorb water at much faster rate, they ended up getting digested much quicker by the body too. So if you want to get all the health benefits of oats, stick with the thick rolled ones.

Fructose

fruit juice

Oh dear, so classic coke is bad for you. Diet coke and coke zero is bad for you. Better to just stick with the good ole fruit juice right? Wrong. Fruits are high in fructose, and if you enjoy it the natural way, you would be consuming plenty of fiber along the way. These fibers slows down your metabolism, making sure that there would not be a sudden spike of fructose in your blood. When you just drink the juice, you skip all the fibers, significantly increasing the fructose absorption in your body, and over time, this has been proven to cause insulin resistance. So the good old fruit juice is not innocent either.

Bottom line: The modern consumer must be extra careful with what is being consumed. The supermarket aisle is filled with promises of healthy and convenient food. But most of those products contain more lies than anything else. Hence you must educate yourself and make sure you know what you buy.

6 Best Conditioning for 6-pack Abs

First and foremost, I hate jogging for long periods. I think the word “conditioning” has been misused that led people to believe that its with either hour long jogging or hour long cycling and is usually reserved for fat people. The problem is that training for extended period triggers the release of cortisol, the hormone that triggers muscular protein breakdown. Hence why its very hard for long distance runners and cyclist to gain muscle mass. Not only that, long steady-state, low intensity cardio is not very efficient at burning your spare tire. So below are 6 forms of conditioning that works the whole body, does not require you to spend long period of time to get your heart rate up, increases your athletic performance, and best of all, help loose that spare tire:

Farmer’s Walk

Farmer_walk

This is probably seems like the least sexy of all exercise. You basically grab the heaviest pair of dumbbells or load the hex bar as heavy as you can, then start walking around with it. It will train your grip, shoulders, core and legs. Mind you, your core consists more than just your rectus abdominis (6-pack muscle) and obliques (the sides), it also consists of your QL (Quadratus Lumborum) that is usually neglected but essential for spine health. The farmer’s walk will help you train your QL and be more athletic. The issue I have with doing this exercise at commercial gyms are that they usually have neither a hex bar nor dumbbells heavy enough for me to use, and those that aren’t familiar with this exercise might give you a weird look. When you want to try this exercise, make sure that your shoulders are pushed all the way down (no shrugging) and your spine is in neutral position.

Sled Push

sled push

This is also a great exercise for those that wanted to loose weight as efficient as possible. If you want to increase your running speed, use less weight and push faster. If you want to increase your pushing strength for your rugby/American football game, load more into the sled. This training will build your shoulders, core and legs real fast and you will be gasping for air in minutes. One thing you must keep in mind is again, keeping the spine in neutral position and your knees in proper alignment, otherwise you will be visiting the physiotherapist real soon. No sled at your gym? Use your car!

Sled Rope Pull

So the first two exercises focused on gait and pushing, the third exercise will now focus on pull and stop-twist. Simply tie a thick and sturdy rope to the loaded sled or car, walk about 10 – 15 meters away, plant your feet and start pulling your weight. The key is to use your body twist to pull the rope instead of using your arms. Make sure your spine remains locked and the twisting is generated from the hips. If you pose like the image above, don’t blame me for the subsequent back problems. This conditioning will do wonders to your grip, lats, obliques and glutes.

Rope Slam

rope slam

A great full body conditioning for those with lower body issues (knee or ankle problem, obesity, etc). This training will do wonders to your grip, arms, shoulders, core and legs. Of course just like the great three training above, the main issue with this exercise is stupid trainers who don’t know how to do them properly, demonstrating improper technique to their clients. If you do this exercise with shrugged shoulders, or drive the energy from flexing your spine, be assured that you will be visiting a GP or physio soon.

Boxing

090814-N-1245S-007 PACIFIC OCEAN (Aug. 14, 2009) Aviation BoatswainÕs Mate (Handling) 3rd Class Hector Castro and Aviation BoatswainÕs Mate (Handling) 3rd Class Roman Vasquez train on a punching bag aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68). Nimitz and embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 11 are underway on a scheduled deployment to the western Pacific Ocean. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Gregory A. Streit /Released)

OK, so just hitting the punching bag in this case. Hitting the bag is a great way to work up your cardio and working the whole body. And the greatest knock out artists know how to use their stiffened core to fully transfer the hitting power from the hips to the knuckles. If your have pinched shoulders or weak wrist, your trainer should probably address your weak points first before allowing you to go at it.

Sprint

sprint

No, I’m not talking about a slow jog. I’m talking about a fast sprint with vigorous swinging arms. Run like you just stole something. Only by running like this would you be able to work the whole body and feel the pump in no time. Now you might say that the previous 5 conditioning exercises involved equipment you or your gym don’t have. But surely you can afford a pair of sneakers right? And compared to other forms of training above, a sprint is much safer and easier to do.

So there you have it folks, my favorite forms of conditioning that will help you loose weight, get more toned, and build whole body strength. After all, if you want to loose your belly fat, you must loose your body’s overall fat. Doing 1000 sit-ups a day will only get you spine disk herniation while these exercises above will burn far more calories in shorter time.

6 Best Source of Carbs for a 6-pack abs

Happy New Year Everyone! I’m sure some of you made a new year resolution that involves loosing some spare tires. And part of getting a 6 pack abs does lie in the kitchen. So here’s the article I hope will help you get into a better shape. One thing I must emphasize is that if you are into paleo diet, a lot of cultures started eating carbs even during the hunter gatherer phase (the one that is considered as the model life style for the paleo crowd), they just happen to eat tubers (yam, potatoes and sweet potatoes) instead of grain. Some Papua tribes technically still living in hunter gatherer phase and they consume lots of sago pith which is 99% carbs (wheat and barley contains more protein, fat and fiber).

So without futher ado, here’s my top 6:

Brown Rice

brown-rice

Asians simply eat lots of rice. Brown rice is simply rice that still has its edible hull and endosperm while white rice already had the edible hull and endosperm removed. Compared to white rice, brown rice has more than 3 times as much magnesium in it (important nutrient) and almost 5 times as much fiber. And because of the high fiber content, your digestion system will ingest it at much slower rate, preventing sudden spike in blood sugar. Of course some people cannot tolerate the texture of cooked brown rice, hence I highly recommend mixing 3 parts of brown rice with 7 parts of white rice on your first trial.

Potatoes!

potato

Anybody that has watched the martian probably knows that potatoes almost has all the nutritional content the body needs. Its almost a perfect food. Even Adam Smith (The Adam Smith that wrote “Wealth of Nation” and pretty much started the theory of economics) praise it for its nourishing qualities. You can boil it, bake it, steam it, or turn it into mashed potatoes to suit your taste buds and it will still be healthy. Just make sure you use the right type of potatoes for your type of cooking and don’t fry it because fried potatoes are simply bad for your health.

Quinoa

red_quinoa

Food of the American Indians! This pseudo-cereal (its technically not a cereal) is probably the closest thing we have to a perfect food. One cup of serving contains 5 grams of fiber, more than double the fiber content of brown rice and 8 grams of protein. its has one of the lowest glycemic index among the cereals, perfect for both people with diabetes, and those that wants to loose weight. Unlike most plant based proteins, the protein composition of quinoa has all the essential amino acids, hence comparable to animal protein. And even boiled egg only contains 6 grams of protein. Last but not least, its also very easy to cook, just throw it to the rice cooker.

Barley

barley

Another one of my favorite grain. Barley is highly nutritious and widely used as drink in multiple culture, and if you are on a diet, I would recommend adding it to your rice mix. A serving size of 200 grams will get you a whooping 31 grams of fiber and 20 grams of proteins! It is also a good source of Manganese and Selenium. The added protein and fiber will help keep you fuller for longer.

Rye

rye-bread

Yes, I know a lot of people go gluten free because its trendy although they are not really gluten intolerant. But there are also plenty of people that eat lots of noodles or bread and got bloated afterwards. Should that be the case, then rather than consuming food that has been chemically processed to separate the gluten, I would highly recommend them to replace the wheat with rye instead. Rye has been used instead of wheat in bread for centuries in Scandinavian countries and Russia. And unlike wheat, rye very low in gluten, hence more suitable for those with gluten intolerant. 1 cup of rye (128 gr) contains 29g of dietary fiber and 18g of protein, manganese, phosphorous, and magnesium.

Yam

purpleyamphoto

Probably one of the most affordable food widespread in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and Oceania. Although yam is quite low on protein, it still has a low glycemic index, i.e. takes a while to digest, hence suitable for people on a diet. And since its cheap, it won’t break the bank.

In the end, I personally think diet is not something a person must do to an extreme in order to get an extreme result in short amount of time. This sort of method will only lead people crashing out in the long term. Diet should be a gradual change you can maintain over the long run. Hence if a particular diet is too emotionally taxing for you, don’t do it. If its too expensive for you to maintain in the long run, don’t do it. If it leads you feel lethargic, don’t do it. Best of all in 2017!

Why is Sitting Painful?

If sitting creates back discomfort you have a highly sensitized back, or tissue damage, or both. Avoiding this pain trigger will reduce the pain sensitivity. Avoidance of the pain triggers is part of the documented strategy to de-sensitize back pain throughout the day as evidenced in Back Mechanic.

Sitting causes the low back to flex which is normally not an issue. But modern life has increased sitting time at work, on the road, and at home. Soon sitting at the computer becomes uncomfortable. We call this the flexion intolerant back. Specific low back tissues become stressed and sensitized, in particular the spine discs and ligaments. Sitting upright to restore the natural curves to the spine relieves this stress. But it “costs” in terms of muscle work resulting in those muscles to tire and allow the spine to slouch. This increases disc and ligament stress. The link between prolonged sitting and disc pathology is well established. Reducing stresses in the back associated with sitting not only makes sitting more comfortable, but it helps build more capacity for pain-free movement throughout the day.

The objective is make sitting a dynamic activity with frequent posture change and support the natural curve of the low back.

Reduce the pain. Make sitting a dynamic task.

The ideal sitting posture is one that continually changes. The EmbraceAir  dynamic sitting supports (shown below) use the latest science to ensure minimal stress on the low back tissues, and to provide for posture change. Using an inflatable bladder the user increases or decreases the lumbar support. This measurably reduces stress. The inflation/deflation pump facilitates easy pressure change to create regular posture change. (Evidence and explanations are in Dr. McGill’s textbooks). Static back rests simply cannot provide these advantages.

Even with the dynamic sitting supports, those who have back pain exacerbated from sitting generally are able to reduce disc annulus stresses with the following exercise (shown below, source: Back Mechanic ). Stand up out of the chair, reach for the ceiling, then push for the ceiling with the hands, then fully and deeply inhale. This process should take about half a minute. Gentle and progressive extension of the lumbar spine is achieved dispelling the accumulated stresses.

For use at work, in the car, watching TV…

The EmbraceAir was designed to provide more support for watching TV, and in helping those with shorter thighs to achieve more comfort and support. The pneumatic bladder support is strategically adjusted within the frame to fit all body types.