How many of you have found yourself spending countless repetitions on the ab/adductor machines (aka inner and outer thigh machines) in hopes of losing fat around your hips and upper thighs? Or maybe this sounds familiar: you want to get rid of your “jiggly back arm fat” (this has literally been said to me) so you do tons and tons of triceps work? This form of “training” is known as “spot reduction” training, and unfortunately, it doesn’t work.
HIIT– What is it? What does it do? How do you do it? Should you do it? If you are curious about any of these questions, read below.
1. What is it? HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training. HIIT is essentially a version of interval training, whereby you alternate short periods of nearly all-out exercise with longer, lower-intensity recovery periods.
2. What does it do? Well, studies have shown that performing anywhere from 4-12 weeks of HIIT has all sorts of beneficial effects on the body. Some of the more notable and widely accepted effects include increased VO2 max (a measure of aerobic capacity) and improvements in body composition (i.e., muscle gain and fat loss). Importantly, these effects are seen above and beyond traditional endurance training.
3. How do you do it? Well, it’s actually fairly simple (but let’s not confuse simple with easy). The nice thing is, it can be done using whatever aerobic exercise you choose (e.g., biking, road or stationary, elliptical, treadmill, stair master, or running outside). What you’ll do is warm-up, then alternate short, nearly all-out bursts of exercise with longer recovery periods, followed by a cool down. So, how long are the short and long periods? Well, there are really two types of HIIT you can perform. We’ll call one of them SIT (sprint interval training) and the other AIT (aerobic interval training). SIT involves bursts of all-out effort of approximately 30 seconds, followed by 2-5 minutes of lower intensity exercise. So, if you were doing this outside, you’d warmup by jogging for about 3 minutes, then do an all-out sprint for 30 seconds. Then, either walk or jog for another 2-5 minutes (depending on how long it takes until you feel recovered). AIT is different in that you perform longer bouts (about 4 minutes) of high-intensity exercise (as hard as you can go and maintain for the entire 4 minutes) and then back off for about the same amount of time. So if you were doing this on a spin bike, you’d warmup again, then up the intensity to about an 8.5-9 out of 10 for about 4 minutes. Then you’d back it off to about a 6-7 (out of 10) for about 4 minutes. Either way, studies suggest doing about 4-6 cycles of these will help you lose/maintain weight and improve your cardiovascular health.
4. Finally, should you do it?? Well, for those of us who are looking to reduce our body fat, or improve our aerobic fitness, it’s not a bad idea. Plus, could be a fun way to switch things up. Why else? As you can imagine, this tends to be a much faster way to improve your aerobic fitness. Some studies comparing steady state cardio (45 minutes) to SIT (3 minutes of ACTUAL sprinting, not including recovery time) have shown that just 3 working minutes of SIT results in greater body composition and aerobic fitness improvements compared to steady state. BUT, fair warning, this isn’t for the faint of heart. Nearly all-out bursts of highly intense exercise can result in burning (QUADS), cramping (SIDE), and crazy shortness of breath! As always, we recommend you consult with your doctor prior to engaging in any new exercise regimen.
Hey Smart Fit Chicks Followers!
Are you ever short on time or don’t feel like going to the gym? Not to worry- we’ve got an at-home circuit workout for you! Not sure what some of the exercises are? We’ve got that covered too! Check out our YouTube video where Chrissy demos each exercise while Kellie cues.
Full Body At Home Workout #1:
Dive bombers- 12
Lunge Jumps- 12 each side
Wide band curls- 15
Mountain climbers- 30 seconds
Bicycles- 12 on each side- SUPER SLOW!
Split squats- 12 on each side
Staggered push-ups- 6 with each hand position (12 total)
Squat jumps- 20 total
Plank w/ alternating knee to elbow- 15 each side
Wide band rows- 15
Triceps pulldowns- 12 each side
We recommend doing this circuit 1-4 times. Move as quickly as possible from one exercise to the next, with as little rest as possible. As soon as you’ve gone through each exercise, take a 2-3 minute break to grab some water, and then try going through it again.
n two days, the majority of us will be surrounded by tempting/unhealthy snacks, all the while, sitting on our asses watching other people be active (i.e. football players). In an effort to keep you from being “that person” (who brings veggie dip in replace of chips and salsa), we’ve provided you with a DELICIOUS (but secretly really healthy) cookie dough dip that goes great with strawberries, animal crackers, and/or by the spoonful. Even Beasers likes it!
1. 1/4 cup Vanilla Almond Milk
2. 2 Tbsp PB2*** (or any nut butter if you don’t have PB2)
3. 1/8 Tsp baking soda
4. 2 Tsp Vanilla
5. 2 Tbsp oats
6. 1/3 cup stevia (or any other sweetener)
7. 1 can garbanzo beans (drained)
8. 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
***If you haven’t tried PB2….do it! PB2 is a dry version of peanut butter. Basically, the company extracts all the oil (where a majority of the fat and calories are) and creates a powder form. Simply mix 2tbsp of PB2 with 1 tbsp of water, and viola….you have a replacement for 2 tbsp of nut butter (45 calories in PB2 vs. 190 in regular nut butters). You can find PB2 at most health food stores or online at PB2. I’ve even recently seen it at King Soopers!
Using a food processor, blend all of the ingredients (with the exception of the chocolate chips) together. The “batter” should be well blended with no chunks. Pour mixture into a bowl and add chocolate chips. It’s as simple as that!
Nutrition Facts Per Serving (6 servings per bowl):
Calories: 120 kcals
Fat: 4 grams
Protein: 5 grams
Carbohydrates: 19 grams
Note: This Cookie Dough Dip recipe has been adapted from the original recipe found at chocolatecoveredkatie.com.
Yesterday, Chrissy and I had our first Venture Accelerator meeting, during which, we discussed each of our top 5 accomplishments. Completing this simple exercise allowed us to 1) realize just how successful we have been so far (seriously Chrissy Schaefer, what haven’t you done?) and 2) reflect on how we came about achieving these successes.
We quickly realized that our successes were a direct result of the care and support of loved ones around us.
One person, in particular, sticks out in our heads: Chrissy’s cousin Tanya. As many of you know, Chrissy and I competed in our first figure/bikini competition last fall. Tanya flew in from Arizona just to help “coach” us. She carried chapstick, helped us “pump up” before the show, fed us rice cakes, and at one point, even helped re-adjust our suit bottoms, where they had gotten unglued. I’m sure this was quite comical to see. The point is, we owe Tanya a HUGE thank you! Without her, we probably would have been one of those obnoxious girls, crying over her missing rice cake.
Hello SFC followers!
This month we’d like to highlight a fun, challenging exercise. The exercise shown below is a fitball chest press, which works primarily the pectoralis major (the biggest muscle in your chest). What you’ll need: 1) stability ball and 2) set of dumbbells (DB).
Sit on the stability ball (feet hip width apart) while holding the dumbbells. Slowly step your feet forward and roll backwards on the ball until your upper back and neck are supported by the ball. Your core should be engaged, and hips should be high (doing your best to keep a straight line from your head to your knees). Bring the weights into the starting the position (see below) and press up and together.
Important safety tips:
- Do you best to keep a neutral alignment in your wrist throughout the movement.
- Aim for full range of motion, allowing the DB to gently hit your chest on the way down. Similarly, try to fully extend the weight towards the ceiling/sky so that your arms have only a slight bend in the elbow (don’t lock your elbow joint).
- Breath. Try to exhale during exertion (upwards portion) and inhale on the “relaxation”/eccentric (downwards) portion of the movement.
Add this exercise to your routine for a fun, challenging way to switch things up! Shoot for 3 sets of 8-12, selecting a weight that will be challenging to perform by the 11th or 12th rep. If you can perform 12 DB chest presses without feeling fatigued at the end, switch to a heavier set of weights.
Keep up the good work and let us know what you think!
One of my favorite things to cook when it’s cold outside is soup. Homemade soup is wonderful because you get to choose what goes into it, and as a result, you typically end up with much healthier (e.g., lower sodium, lower fat) soup compared to the canned ones you find in the store. Here’s one of my favorite:
Butternut Squash, Carrot & Chicken Soup
- 2 large cooked chicken breasts (~6-8 ounces each) shredded
- 3 cups peeled, diced butternut squash
- 2 cups thinly sliced carrots
- 3/4 cup diced yellow onion
- 1 tbsp butter *try using real butter…the caloric difference is minimal compared to margarine, plus you can reduce your sodium a lot if you use unsalted butter!
- 28-32 oz chicken broth (~2 cans or 1 large box)
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/4 cup fat free half and half
- Cook chicken in chicken stock for ~15 minutes (or until fully cooked).
- While chicken is cooking (step 1), cook squash, carrot, and onion in hot butter in large covered cooking pot (~ 8 minutes).
- Remove chicken and let cool. Once cooled, shred and set to the side.
- Add chicken stock to squash, carrot, and onion mixture. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 25-35 minutes. Vegetables should be very tender.
- Place 1/2 of slightly cooled vegetable mixture to food processor or blender. Process/blend until almost smooth and then add remaining vegetable mixture.
- Return processed/blended vegetable mixture to cooking pot (mixture should be very smooth) and add nutmeg, fat free half, and half, and chicken.
- Enjoy. 🙂
Serves 4, nutrition facts per serving:
- Calories: 263
- Fat: 4 grams
- Carbohydrate: 28 grams
- Protein: 28 grams
So, I am usually very big on New Year’s Resolutions. I love taking the time to envision what I want to accomplish in the year to come. What I have come to realize, though, is that every year my resolutions revolve around the same things- stick with a budget, spend more time with family, get in shape, eat better, and the list goes on. What this made me realize is that perhaps I need to have a more concrete idea of who I am, what I stand for, and where I am going in life. Then I saw an awesome personal manifesto, and decided I ought to do the same thing. So what exactly is a manifesto, and what is the purpose of writing one? According to Merriam-Webster, a manifesto is
1. I take personal responsibility for my mood, actions and reactions.
2. I do not rely on anyone or anything, outside of myself, for happiness.
3. I believe in God, and I “Just Have Faith” everyday, during good times and bad.
4. I see failures and mistakes as opportunities for learning and growth.
5. I respect my body by fueling it with balanced, moderate nutrition.
6. I treat every person with whom I come into contact, with love and respect.
7. I allow myself to fall in love with, and be passionate about, as many things as I have the opportunity to.
8. I spend my time and money mindfully, in ways that are productive and good for my body, mind or spirit.
9. I always make important decisions from my WiseMind.
10. I rely on my DBT skills when anxiety and negative emotions arise.
11. I love and respect myself; and my thoughts, words and actions reflect that stance.
12. I take time everyday to disconnect from the digital world.
13. I start each new day as an opportunity for greatness.
14. I live authentically, and give myself permission to be me in all situations.
15. I act in a way that demonstrates the gratitude I feel for this life, and the people in it.
16. I am not a victim.
17. I cherish my close relationships with family and friends, and I do things daily to foster these relationships.
18. In the pursuit of my dreams and goals, I always act with courage.
Happy Friday everyone! I’m sure you all have fun, exciting plans for the weekend (go Broncos!), but,we want to remind you to Be the Best Version of You! There’s no doubt that you’ll be tempted to overeat or under exercise this weekend. How can you combat those urges? Pull up an old photo of yourself; one where you are healthy and happy. Post it where you’ll see it often, and use it as motivation and inspiration.
As an example, we’ve posted two photos of us during our competition. To answer your questions: no, we don’t look like this right now. Would it be nice to walk around this lean and tan all the time? Yes. BUT….I’m pretty sure our lower carb diet and sticky tans would ostracize us from all of our loved ones. Although we are currently living active and healthy lives, it’s nice to look back at photos when we were in our “prime”…just to give us an extra bit of motivation.
Are you motivated?
Earlier this week, we posted an article on New Year’s Resolutions where we asked the question “Is there a way to sit less and stand or move more?”. Recent literature suggests that high amounts of sitting cannot be compensated for with occasional physical activity (even if that amount is greater than the current minimum activity recommendations). In other words, even if you are an extremly active person, your risk of dying from all cause mortality is the same as someone who is inactive, but who spends only 1/2 the time sitting that you do. See…sedentary behavior is really a killer!
So, how can you decrease your sedentary behavior (time spent sitting)? We’ve included some fun examples below, but we’d love for you to comment and add your own favorite ways to be active!
1. During your kids sporting events, stand rather than sit. Even better, walk around the field or up and down the stadium stairs!
2. Shut off your TV. I’m amazed by how many people complain that they don’t have time for exercise, yet they spend 1+ hours a night watching TV. If you have a show (or football game) that you don’t want to miss, go to the gym and watch it. Trust me, you’ll end up spending more time doing cardio than you would have otherwise.
3. If you must sit while watching T.V., use the commercials wisely. During commercials, complete one or two sets of crunches, pushups, and squats. With the average commericals lasting between 2-3 minutes, you’ll sneak in a great workout!
4. Play a game. There are plenty of new high-tech video games that encourage you to move. BUT-I’m sort of old school. What about games like twister, spoons, tag, red rover, etc? These games are super fun and great for the entire family!
5. Be social. Join a community league. Think softball, running club, partner tennis, etc. There are plenty of ways to be social while being active at the same time. The next time you plan a girls night out, suggest a night on the town dancing. Just 45 minutes of moderate to vigorous dancing will burn 260-430 kcals (for a 150lb woman)! So get out there and shake your groove thang!
6. Park your car futher away from the store. Those extra steps really add up. Curious about how many steps you walk a day? Try using a pedometer or accelerometer…these devices are wonderful tools to keep you motivated and on track!
7. Take the stairs, not the elevator. Simple…but it works.
9. Walk your shopping cart back into to the store. Think about it……why have we converted to a society where the store hires employees specifically to move the shopping carts from outside to inside…..simply because we (the customer) are too lazy to do so? Ugh. Can you tell this is a pet peeve of mine?
10. Convert your office. If you can afford a treadmill desk, wonderful. If not, try making your own (it can actually be relatively cheap!). Or, simply raise your computer so you stand, rather than sit, while using the computer. Lastly, if you must sit, try using a fitball to sit on. You’re posture will improve instantaneously!
It’s a week from NewYear’s Day. Have you upheld your resolution?
Despite the 40-50% of the American Adults who participate in this annual tradition, it is estimated that less than 20% of them successfully adopt the behavior for good. The good news: we’ve got some tips to help you reach and maintain your resolution.
1. Be SMART about your resolution. By doing so, you can increase your success rate by ~10%!
2. Confront your barriers head on. By anticipating possible barriers, you will be able to proactively brainstorm strategies to overcome them (not to mention decrease the associated anxiety and stress)! For example, if time is a barrier that stops you from exercising, take 5 minutes to brainstorm some ways to add physical activity into your day-to-day routine. You’ve probably heard the common “park further away from the store” or “take the stairs, not the elevator”, but are there any other ways to increase activity levels? Start by critically analyzing your behavior. Is there a way to sit less and stand or move more? Stay tuned…we will be writing an entire article about this soon. In the meantime, if you have any unique ideas that work for you, send them our way; we’d love to hear from you!
3. Think outside the box. Many New Year’s Resolutions revolve around a number (ex: I want to lose 5 pounds by March, make X amount of money, read 2 more books a year, etc). Sometimes we focus so much on numbers that we forget about our feelings. If your original resolution was made to make you feel healthier, happier, stronger, etc., then focus your resolution on those feelings rather than an arbitrary number (which may make you feel worse in the end).
4. Involve those you love. By discussing your resolution with a friend, spouse, and/or your entire social network (blogging, Facebook, twitter, etc.), you become accountable for your actions. Even the strongest willed people benefit from a little accountability once in a while.
5. Believe in yourself. Remember, you make your destiny. If you are truly ready, and genuinely want to achieve your New Year’s Resolution, you will. Try writing down a few positive affirmations….you might just be surprised by how motivating they are!
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt
Hello all you SFC Followers!
Smart Fit Chicks would like to take this opportunity to say Merry Christmas to all of you. We hope you are surrounding yourselves with family and friends and enjoying the company of those around you. We would also like to thank all of you who have supported us during the past six months. We are so grateful for all the love and support we have received.
We know the holidays can be a challenging time to maintain the healthy habits you’ve created. Rather than giving you a list of ten tips to get through the holidays, we’d like to focus on one really important one. This tip can help you maintain a healthy mind, body and spirit throughout the holidays. What we’re talking about is MINDFULNESS.
Being mindful means really being present in the moment, whatever that moment may be. It means experiencing the moment with all your senses- what do you hear, smell, feel, see, and taste?
Unwrapping gifts? Pay attention to the colors of the wrapping paper and how it feels on your fingers, and pay attention the people around you who wait in anticipation. Watching others unwrap gifts? Really be present in that moment- watch the expressions on the faces of people opening gifts as well as those watching. Eating Christmas dinner? Pay close attention to the smell and taste of the food. Try chewing each bite 25 times before swallowing. How does the taste change as you continue to chew? How does the food smell? Think about the preparation that went into making the food.
What other ideas do you have for being mindful this holiday season??? Let us know what you think!
Happy Holidays, and we look forward to starting the New Year with you all!
It’s hard to walk through the juice or energy drink section of the grocery store, stroll through the supplement section, or even to turn on the TV without hearing about acai berry, blueberry, and other “superjuices” and their supposed antioxidant effects. The combined global sales of all antioxidant products- including green tea, chocolate, fruit juices and traditional vitamins- totaled $32 billion in 2009, exceeding the value of organic foods! But what exactly is an antioxidant? To answer this question, we must first understand what free radicals are.
A “free radical” is a term for a certain kind of molecule that exists within the body. They are produced continuously, and at low levels, act normally in cell processes. However, uncontrolled levels of free radicals have been shown to result in many human diseases, including cancer and heart disease, and are also thought to speed up the ageing process. This is where antioxidants really become important. Antioxidants scavenge and remove free radicals, therefore limiting their ability to damage the body. Antioxidant levels are high in the following: vitamins C, E, and beta carotene, and can also be synthetically produced (found in many energy drinks as NAC). Throughout the last decade, as scientists have begun to develop the understanding that free radicals are bad, the idea has sequentially developed that antioxidants must be good…. Right?
In 2007, the Journal of the American Medical Association published the first study that reported that antioxidants do not decrease disease risk like we thought they should, but instead increase overall mortality. Many studies have since followed that show that high-dosage vitamin supplementation, particularly with vitamins C and E, actually results in higher incidence of heart disease. How on earth could this be possible?? In high enough doses, it’s been shown that through some complicated chemical reactions, vitamin C acts as a free radical. (You can take my word for it, or you can click here http://www.fasebj.org/content/13/9/1007.full for a geeky explanation as to how this occurs). In addition, it’s recently been shown that some of these high doses of vitamins C and E may also blunt some of the really good stuff that occurs as a result of exercise. I’m not trying to paint the story that antioxidants are the new bad guys. In fact, the jury is still out on exactly why mega doses of antioxidants may increase disease risk, but, this data has certainly led scientists to start searching other avenues by which to boost antioxidant defenses.
You may be thinking: where do I go from here? Should I continue to take my antioxidant supplement? The truth is, a diet rich in fruits (ex: berries, grapes, and apples) and vegetables (ex: onions, beans, eggplant) will provide you with high enough levels of antioxidants. If you want to be really certain you’re getting enough, simply add one more serving of fruit to your diet. The second way to boost your antioxidant defenses shouldn’t be a huge surprise to all you savvy SFC followers: exercise! Doesn’t it seem like nearly every day, scientists come out with a new reason why exercise is good?? Trust me- the list is endless. So, you can add boosting antioxidant defense as one of the hundreds (or more) reasons to exercise. Not only does physical activity results in more antioxidant production, but those antioxidants work much better than the ones found in a supplement.
Despite what advertisements try to tell you, there is no magic pill when it comes to aging, disease, and health. If you want to live long and healthy (and be sufficiently good at scavenging those pesky free radicals), eat a well-balanced diet and exercise regularly.
This is a guest post, written by Nellie Reuland. She is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Health and Exercise Science Human Bioenergetics Program at Colorado State University. More importantly, she is a VERY close friend and SFC supporter. Thanks, Nellie, for the excellent post!
First and foremost: what the hell is a green coffee bean?
If you are like most people in this world, you probably didn’t realize that coffee beans actually come from a fruit/berry known as a “cherry” (not to be confused with the delicious cherries in my grandmother’s Cherry Dream Pie). Green coffee beans are composed of the seed (what we typically think of as a coffee bean) and the silverskin. So why is it that this rather ugly-looking fruit is the latest craze?
Recently, there have been claims (mostly from the media) about green coffee bean extract and its link to weight loss, decreased blood pressure, and antioxidant effects. What do green coffee beans have that roasted coffee does not? The major difference is that green coffee beans have a much larger amount of Chlorogenic Acid (CGA) per mg than roasted coffee. When we roast coffee, the beans are heated to an extremely high temperature and much (not all, as the media claims) of the CGA is lost during that process. CGA, which is also found in plums and other fruit such as berries, has been thought to slow the release of sugar in the blood stream and cause the body to burn sugar and fat stored in the liver. But, is green coffee bean extract the miracle drug we’ve been waiting for? Below we have listed the health claims linked to green coffee bean extract, and in bold, you will find our research backed rebuttal.
1. It will help lower your blood pressure. There is actually a substantial amount of literature to support this claim. HOWEVER, most studies only report a decrease of 1-5 mmHG in Systolic and Diastolic blood pressure. Guess what?!? You can get the same, if not greater, antihypertensive effects, by losing weight, exercising, and improving your diet (specifically, decreasing your salt intake and increasing your fruit consumption).
2. According to an article reference in the Dr. Oz show, green coffee bean extract can help you lose 18 pounds and decrease your body fat by 4.4%. Sorry friends, there DEFINITELY isn’t enough evidence to support this dramatic claim. Although there is evidence to indicate that the intake of green coffee bean extract can promote modest weight loss, results vary and the long term weight loss effects are unknown. Additionally, there are limitations to the current literature. First- there is no known effective dose. The current literature does not reveal any trend regarding what dosage is most effect, and more importantly, what effects that dosage has on the rest of the body. Safety of green coffee bean extract is not known, and thus, side effects have yet to be established. Second- the methodology of the current literature seems flawed. To date, only five human trials have been conducted. All of these were at a high risk of bias (two of the authors were affiliated with the company whose product they were testing) and were poorly organized (ex: small sample sizes and short intervention durations).
Bottom line: there isn’t enough research to support green coffee bean extract as a weight loss supplement. This area of research is still very new, so that miracle drug we’ve been looking for hasn’t quite been discovered yet (or if you were to ask us- it has been discovered. Hint- it has to do with HEALTHY EATING and PHYSICAL ACTIVITY). Even Starbucks isn’t jumping on that bandwagon. If you read their Q&A section about the benefits of green coffee beans, no where do they list weight loss as a possible benefit. Word to the wise: their new “refreshers” are wonderful if you are looking for a low-calorie (most of them have ~60-70 calories) slightly caffeinated (think the same amount of caffeine in two pieces of dark chocolate) non-coffee tasting drink. Our advice: save the $40 you would have spent on the green coffee bean extract and spend it on a new pair of running shoes or cute workout clothes!
1. We are proud to say that Smart Fit Chicks was accepted into the Venture Accelerator Program at Colorado State University, which means you can expect a lot of great things from us soon. 🙂
2. Stay tuned! Later this week we’ll be posting a blog about green coffee bean extract (the good, the bad, and the ugly).
3. Tis the season….to miss workouts and eat unhealthy food. As tempting as it is to skip your workout or have another cookie at your office holiday party, remember one thing: your behaviors determine your happiness. What makes you more happy: eating poorly and not exercising or choosing the healthy option and being physically active? I’m assuming (and hoping) that most of you would choose the latter.
As my silicon bracelet on my wrist says “Nothing great is given. Earn it”. Now get out there and Earn It!
Recently in one of my classes, we’ve been discussing the factors that affect our food choices. Research shows that the primary determinants of food choice for most people are taste, convenience and cost. Makes sense to me. We choose certain foods because they taste good, they’re convenient, and they’re affordable.
Some of us, though, would argue that isn’t the case. Some of us at least try to choose foods because we know they’re good for us (I don’t actually like raw broccoli all that much), or because we know that processed/packaged foods are filled with preservatives and fillers, oftentimes not even resembling real food by the time it’s on the shelf. I remember reading a book by Michael Pollin,In Defense of Food, where he provided some basic food rules. One of them that I’ve never forgotten was, “If your grandmother wouldn’t recognize it as food, you probably shouldn’t eat it.”
According to the Food Marketing Institute, the average grocery store contains over 38,000 items. So, it’s no wonder we as consumers are confused about what is really “good for us.” What does “good for us” even really mean? Low calorie? Low fat? Low carb? High fiber? Low sodium? High protein? Natural? Organic? How do we even begin to sort through this?
Some would say that the food label/ingredients list is the place to go to find out what to buy. But how many of us meticulously examine every label on every product we buy?How many of us even know what we’re looking for when we read the label?
So, I recently came across a short article in the New York Times about a new type of food label. I’d encourage you to check out this idea, and more importantly, I’d encourage you to let us know what components of this proposed label you’d most like to see (or not see).
Later this week we’ll post a poll on our Facebook page about the new label, so check out the article and let us know what you think!
t’s Thanksgiving. One of the most celebrated holidays in American culture, and, for good reason. Most of us are off work, spending time with family and friends, and overindulging. Typically, this overindulgence is associated with the over consumption of foods, but if you think about it, most individuals “overindulge” in sedentary behavior too-particularly on Thanksgiving. These behaviors remind me of my favorite quote:
“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him…we need not wait to see what others do.”
Many times in life, we allow our environment to change our behavior. Today, we challenge you to behave in a way that changes your environment. Be the person amongst your family and friends who initiates activity and healthy behaviors. Below are some fun ways to spend quality time with your loved ones while being active:
- Play a game. If you are lucky enough to live in warm weather (shout out to CA), bring the family outside for a game of touch football, 3 flies up, or to shoot some hoops. If you happen to be freezing, and therefore staying indoors, plug in the Wii or put on some great tunes and start your own dance party (you know you want to).
- Go for a walk or run. One of my favorite family traditions is getting up early Thanksgiving morning and participating in the Sacramento Run to Feed the Hungry race. Some of us run it, some of us walk it. Not interested in doing an organized race? That’s ok- just head outside before or after dinner and take a stroll with family or friends. Either way, it’s a wonderful way to bring everyone together.
- Clean the kitchen! You’d be amazed how many calories you can burn by staying in the kitchen after everyone eats and cleaning up (A 150 lb person burns over 150 calories per hour while washing dishes). Again-make this a family affair. Having the family help clean not only keeps them active (away from the couch) but it also allows for more time to socialize with one another.
- Play with your dog. If you have a dog, you know what it’s like to have them look up at you with those sad eyes, wishing you would play with them. So, rather than feeling bad and giving them a treat when they look at you like that (yes, we’ve all done that before), take them outside and throw the ball, go for walk, or simply stay inside and use their favorite toys to get everyone active.
Lastly, we’d just like to add how thankful we are to have such wonderful people around us. To our family, friends, and wonderful people who follow our blog, have a fantastic Thanksgiving. Remember, be the change you wish to see in this world!
We see it all the time: a fellow gym goer looking lost, not knowing exactly what to do next. A crunch here, a side plank there, but do we really know why we’re doing these exercises? As a follow-up to last week’s vlog, we’ve included a few tips on how to organize your own core routine:
1. Fit it in! First things first, you have to remember to actually do core exercises. Often times, these are the exercises that get ignored first. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends performing strength training exercises (including the core) at least two times a week. So, write it in your planner (or for those of you who are more technologically savvy, schedule it in your smart phone) and actually do them!
2. Incorporate all of the core muscles: rectus abdominis, obliques, transverse abdominis, erector spinae, and hip flexors. In order to protect yourself from injury (and to get the most aesthetically pleasing core), aim to exercise each of these muscle groups at least two times a week. For sample exercises that work each of these muscles groups, watch our most recent vlog. So, rather than doing three different versions of the crunch (which primarily works the rectus abdominis), do only one type of crunch and incorporate two or three other exercises (ex: bicycle crunches to work the obliques and hip flexors and plank to work the transverse abdominals).
3. Listen to your body. The technique behind core workouts is similar to that of the rest of your body: if you don’t lift heavy or frequent enough, you won’t gain muscle and if you lift too heavy and too frequent, you’ll overtrain and increase your likelihood of injury. In general, it’s recommended to do 12-15 repetitions at about 60-75% of your maximal effort (6-7.5 on a 1-10 scale of effort, with 1 being sitting on a couch and 10 being that obnoxious guy in the gym who grunts so loudly, you can hear it through your headphones). However, if that’s too complicated or confusing for you, we recommend lifting enough weight or doing enough repetitions until your body says “that’s enough”. Being in tune to how your body feels is a really important step in resistance training, so start listening-you’d be amazed by what your body tells you. And lastly…
4. Have fun with equipment. The BOSU ball has got to be one of my favorite pieces of equipment, but there is also so much more out there (ex: medicine ball, dumbbells, cables, etc.). Below are some fun exercises you can do to work your core muscles:
We’ve recently been asked by one of our followers to post a blog on simple, no equipment needed, core exercises. So, we decided to take advantage of another beautiful Colorado day, head outdoors, and film our second vlog.
In addition to the core exercises discussed in our vlog, below are some creative ways to incorporate the plank in your core routine.
We hear about it all the time, being overweight/obese puts you at risk for multiple chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol (to name a few).
But, for some of us, these risks are not an immediate enough of a concern to really do something about it. We may think we’re immune to these problems, or that we have plenty of time to make changes. But the truth is, the damage we do to our bodies now by carrying around excess body weight can be permanent. And sometimes, once these processes have started in your body, there’s no turning back, and the damage continues to worsen. So, today I’d like to describe for you some of the things that are going on, both inside and out, when we carry around excess body fat.
To start, here is the (shortened) laundry list of things that are associated with excess body fat:
Heart attacks, cancer (specifically breast, lung, prostate, colon, ovarian, liver, pancreatic, kidney, stomach and others), asthma, sleep apnea, reproduction (specifically infertility- any of you ladies trying to become pregnant?), menstrual disorders, complications during pregnancy, birth defects, stretch marks (no one wants to deal with these!), hirsutism (if you don’t know what that one is, I’d look it up!), acid reflux, stroke, migraine (my primary deterrent), carpal tunnel disease, dementia, MS, erectile dysfunction, urinary incontinence, buried penis (I realize many of you are female, but I’d check that one out anyway!), depression (specifically in women), low self-esteem, social stigma, arthritis (once this process starts, there’s not much going back), low back pain, and insulin resistance (this is bad for SO many reasons…in fact we’ll make a separate post dedicated solely to diabetes).
Whew…and that was the shortened list! When I look at that, I see more than a few things that resonate with me. Then when I add in a family history of multiple types of cancer and diabetes (putting me at an increased risk!) well that’s enough motivation for me to try REALLY hard to keep excess body fat off my frame.
Do you find yourself reading that list thinking “I definitely DON’T want to get __________”? Well, then my suggestion to you is to do what you can to either lose excess body fat, or simply prevent any unhealthy weight gain.
Need suggestions as to how to do that? That’s why we’re here. As always, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions/suggestions/ideas! We love to hear from you!
This post is in response to one of our follower’s questions: what are your thoughts on Vemma®? If you haven’t heard of Vemma® (don’t worry, we hadn’t either), it is a “nutrition” line that offers various liquid supplements including protein shakes, antioxidant drinks, and let’s not forget, energy drinks (because the world really needs another brand of energy drinks). In the past few years, many types of “healthy” drinks have been marketed. Most of them are fruit based and are marketed as “superfoods”. While some of them are OK in moderation, the majority of the western world doesn’t need to consume any more calories in the form of liquid. If we, as a society, are undernourished, I don’t believe these antioxidant drinks are the answer to our problems. In fact, I think they are part of the problem…providing another avenue for consumers to get lost in, only to find themselves right back where they started: lost, confused, and undernourished.
At first glance, Vemma® may seem promising. Like many other products out there, Vemma® seems to be scientifically proven. Mangosteen, the main ingredient studied within Vemma®’s products, has been thought to protect the body against free radicals, increase energy, and promote a healthy digestive system. The problem is, most of these studies have been methodologically weak. In other words, their study may not lead to the most reliable or valid results due to their small sample size and short duration. Additionally, most of the research on the antioxidant effects of mangosteen has been conducted in-vitro or in animal studies, which does not always translate to humans. To be clear, in-vitro is where scientists test an organism (usually cells) in an artificial environment rather than in its original environment. Vemma® is a classic case where the marketing claims overstate the significance of the findings, which can mislead consumers.
Lastly, we can’t ignore the obvious: every company wants a good looking ambassador (usually a celebrity of some kind) to market their product. Typically, this type of marketing is very successful. How else can you explain millions of people flocking to stores to buy shoes that literally make them walk as if they have some sort of abnormality with their gait? So Vemma® may not have Kim Kardashian by there side telling the world to drink their products, but they have Chris Powelle.
Some of you may recognize Chris as the trainer and “transformation specialist” on ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition”. According to Powell, Vemma® will “feed your body the nutrition that it needs, and it will go to work burning the fat that you no longer want”. When asked about Chris’ shake line of Vemma® products (Bode), he states: “it’s a meal…it’s practically a multi-vitamin infused into a shake”. Well Chris, if it is “practically a multi-vitamin”, why not just take the multi-vitamin and spare the extra calories included in the shake?
It’s frustrating to me when fitness “celebrities” endorse products that don’t belong in this world. Both Bob Harper and Jillian Michaels sold their souls to weight loss pills, and although this is not nearly as dramatic, Chris has basically done the same thing. By being an ambassador for a company which sells a product that essentially replaces fruits and vegetables, he is sending yet another mixed message to the average Joe (or Jane of course): why eat whole, real foods when you can drink your nutrients from a can? Vemma® argues that their product is more convienient, but please tells me, what is more convenient than grabbing a piece of fruit?
Lastly, at the very bottom of the page reads the following:
“These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.”
Last I checked….obesity was a disease. In which case, let’s not try to cure this disease by creating false hopes. Rather, let’s get back to a place where we eat nutritionally dense food thus eliminating the need for canned antioxidants/nutrients.
I’d like to start this out by having you all read an interesting article that came across my email. As many of you know, the population with whom I primarily work is children. More specifically, I measure their physical activity levels, and the lab where I work is trying to come up with novel ways to encourage more activity.
So go ahead and read this article…
Ok, now I want to know your thoughts.
This is a short (cursing removed) version of how my thought process went-
When are we going to start WAKING up and doing something about this?! It’s so unfair that children so young are already being setup for lifelong health and self-esteem issues at such a young age. The worst part is that most of the time, it’s through no fault of their own! Their WHOLE LIVES are going to be affected by something they had NO CONTROL OVER in the first place!!!
Ok, enough venting. Now here’s the difficult part. First of all, I wonder- Who is responsible? Is it parents? Fast food restaurants? Schools? Teachers, friends, family, society?
More, importantly, whose responsibility is it to change things? Yours? Mine? Parents? Teachers? Society? Do we all have a role to play in getting things to change? And HOW do we get things to change? Write letters to local school boards? Put a tax on junk food? Practice what we preach?
I am taking a fascinating class right now on diet and physical activity in a social ecological model. The take home message thus far- our behaviors are influenced not only on an individual level, but are also influenced by social, environmental and policy factors as well.
So, to get change to happen, ALL levels MUST get involved and be structured in a way that is conducive to making healthy behaviors last. If we’re talking about food in schools, for example, it would look something like this:
First, there is a policy in place that requires school lunch to include fresh fruit and a veggie everyday. Then, kids vote on which fruits and veggies to offer so they have a say in the decision. Kids are taught about the importance of healthy eating to fuel their bodies so they can play harder and longer. Then, teachers reinforce these behaviors through modeling. Teachers eat healthy foods for snack and lunch. They are active with the kids during recess, and encourage all kids to get moving. The school store starts selling healthy options as well. There is a no soda/energy drink/sweetened beverage policy, allowing only water and milk to be consumed during the school day. Class parties shift from cupcakes to make your own fruit and yogurt parfait, or away from food completely. Kids get to have a finger-paint party…or an extra recess. Again, the shift has to take place on the individual, social, environmental and policy level.
So, now I am curious…What do you think??? How do we go about changing other environments? How about your workplace? Your school? Your home?
Let us know your thoughts via facebook or leave a comment here:) You can always email us at email@example.com.
Chrissy- A (VERY FIRED UP) Smart Fit Chick
Have you ever taken a minute to think about why we eat what we eat? Why we eat when we eat? And/or the triggers that make us want to eat? Obviously hunger comes into play at some point, but for most of us, there are other environmental cues that trigger us to eat: boredom, depression, procrastination (this one’s my biggest downfall), happiness, etc. Being that it has been almost a month since our first bikini/figure competition, I’ve been spending a substantial amount of time analyzing my relationship with food. And that is what it is…..a relationship. In fact, I can’t think of a single person or thing I have thought more about in my life-which now that I’m typing this, is kinda of sad (but true).
So, as I was journaling (I’m pretty sure that’s a word in urban dictionary) the other day, I had an epiphany. Why is it OK for me to justify to everyone in my life the importance of exercise without being as consistent with my message regarding diet and nutrition? In other words, how is it that I make the time to squeeze in a 2 hour workout everyday while on vacation, yet all of a sudden forget how to eat properly? At that moment I realized something that I’ve never truly acknowledged: society more genuinely supports living an active lifestyle and exercising than eating correctly. Picture this….it’s post Thanksgiving dinner…It’s OK to take that walk afterwards because you are supporting your heart health, but if you choose not to eat the slice (or two) of pumpkin pie when you get back, you are looked at like some estranged person who “must be watching their weight”. In reality, aren’t we all, always, watching our weight? Truthfully, isn’t this something so important that we should be aware of it, just like we are aware of our finances (hopefully)?
Now please don’t get me wrong. I am, by no means, blaming my friends or family. I guess I’m just raising the question: why? Why is it OK for society to overeat during the holidays or while on vacation but it’s not OK to stop being active? Why do we get judged every time we order a salad (with dressing on the side of course) but congratulated when we step into the gym? Maybe we need to start looking at eating healthy in a positive, more supportive, light. Maybe, just maybe, we should reward one another for making the right eating choices rather than give them a hard time that they are eating healthy.
Those are my thoughts for now. If you’ve ever experienced this situation or have any other helpful thoughts or insight, click follow on our blog and/or leave a comment. We’d love to hear from you!!!
Last time I wrote about meal frequency, I said that in terms of your metabolism, it doesn’t actually matter when the calories are consumed, or how often. I talked about the TEF…anyone remember what that stands for? The Thermic Effect of Food. I told you that we tend to burn about 10% of what we eat in digestion. So, what matters is overall calories eaten, not how often.
However, I also alluded to the fact that maybe it does matter when it comes to other things like maintaining muscle mass, blood markers (things like cholesterol and insulin) and hunger. So, let’s take a brief look at what research has found regarding each of these:
1. Maintaining Muscle Mass- Simply put, each of our bodies is made up of fat and lean tissue. We all know what fat is. Lean tissue, then, is everything else, including bone, muscle, organs, etc. When we are dieting to lose weight, ideally we want to lose only fat. However, the reality is that we are losing some of both- fat and lean tissue (muscle). Some research has shown that, assuming we are eating enough protein, more frequent meals may help preserve lean tissue while we lose weight. What does this mean? It means that we’re more likely to lose weight in the form of fat instead of lean tissue (that’s the goal!). So, if you’re dieting for weight loss, you might consider eating more frequently (but be sure you’re getting enough protein, which is a topic for another day).
2. Blood Markers- Many studies have examined the effects of meal frequency on things like cholesterol, insulin and blood sugar. What have they found? Eating more often seems to have a positive effect on total cholesterol and LDL (it lowers them both). As a reminder, LDL is the bad cholesterol and HDL is the good. (In case it helps you, the way I remember this is we want the LDL to be Low and the HDL to be High.) So, if you struggle with high cholesterol, you might think about eating more frequently throughout the day. In terms of blood sugar, it doesn’t appear that eating more often has any effect on lowering blood sugar. However, it does seem to help lower insulin, which is a good thing for most people, with or without Diabetes. (Again, possibly a topic for later :))
3. Hunger- This one is interesting to me. Many studies show that eating more often helps with hunger and appetite control. However, it can also cause people to obsess about food a little bit, having to stay on a schedule, and worrying when a meal is missed. So, with regard to hunger, I’d encourage you to play around with it. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. If the way you eat now is working for you, no reason to change things. If you think you’d like to eat more or less often, try it out and see what you think!
So….What works for you??? Let us know how often you eat, and whether you’re planning to try switching things up!
We’ve seen them before: falsely inflated promises by some fitness or nutrition company, claiming their product will change your life. Unfortunately, our industry is flooded with ill advice, often confusing consumers of what is actually healthy. So…how do you know what to listen to or trust?
First: Read the fine print. At the bottom of almost every advertisement, there are some important details consumers should read regarding the product. If you haven’t already heard, there is a new weight loss system called SENSA®, “which was designed to work with your sense of smell to help trigger Sensory Specific Satiety”. Although they claim “the scientific principle behind SENSA® is remarkably simple”, they don’t want you to know the fine print they legally have to include at the bottom of the advertisement: “Some Sensa users depicted lost more than 30.5lbs by using Sensa longer than 6 months and/or following a sensible diet and/or exercise regimen.” The key here being, “and/or”…which implies that all individuals who lost weight did so by increasing their activity levels and improving their diet…NOT through Sensa alone.
Second: Listen/read carefully. A recent commercial was released for 5 hour energy, where they claimed that “Of the 500 online and 2,500 in-person [physician interviews], over 73% said they would recommend a low calorie energy supplement to their healthy patients who use energy supplements.” If you are like most people, and multitasking while watching TV, you may have missed the most important part of this statement: “who use energy supplements”. Of course the physicians are going to recommend the lower calorie option to their patients…figuring that if their patient is going to use energy supplements, at least they can buy the lower calorie options, making it a slightly “healthier” choice.
Third: Check their sources. Most companies have caught on and know that if they claim that their product is backed by research, they will be more profitable. You’ll commonly hear companies using catchy phrases such as “a recent university study showed”, which is unfortunately, a really good marketing tool. Most people will hear this and think, “if a University supports this product, I don’t see why I can’t”. The problem with most of those studies is the quality of the research. With a sample size of 10 and volunteers being made up of mostly young, healthy, college students, it’s hard to claim the results will be similar in other populations. Even worse, if a product doesn’t provide any research to support their claims, then that should tell you something (i.e. it may not be a good idea to use this product).
Fourth: Think critically. Simply put-if a product seems too good to be true, it probably is. The “shake weight” is a great, hilarious might I add, example of a product that is too good to be true. With claims such as “get results in just six minutes a day”, it’s no one people are interested in trying the product. Anytime a company offers a “quick fix”, the general public will be tempted to buy it. BUT….don’t be fooled. Good old fashioned weight lifting can give you the same results with half the embarrassment.
Hopefully we’ve given you a few tips on how to sift through the plethora of fitness information that you come across. If you’ve been following Smart Fit Chicks, you know that it is our mission to provide research based health and fitness information to the general public, with a particular focus on females. In other words, we want to help clear up an otherwise confusing field. With that said, any time you have a topic you’d like discussed or question you want answered, contact us-we’d love to hear from you!
As I sit down to write this blog post, there are SO many thoughts going through my head. As you know, Kellie and I competed in our very first Bikini/Figure Competition last weekend- The Warrior Classic. The experience was quite possibly one of the most exciting I’ve ever been a part of. There’s so much to say about it all, but I want to focus this post on the three most important things I learned throughout the process of training for this.
While I certainly gained a tremendous understanding about the human body, nutrition, and the mechanics of lifting, what I learned extends FAR beyond how to properly deadlift (although that’s important too:).
The first and most important lesson I learned was to rely on other people for support. Those of you who know me, know that for me to ask for help is like trying to get me to eat a steak…nearly IMPOSSIBLE. I tend to believe that I can do it all on my own, wanting to portray this idea of perfection to everyone I know. That’s a tough façade to constantly uphold. What I quickly learned through this journey was that it’s MUCH easier, and less scary, if you open up to people. Talking to people about my struggles was tremendously helpful. I realized that the things I struggled with were quite common. The challenges I faced IMMEDIATELY seemed surmountable when I told someone about them. An incredibly heavy weight (not just literally) was lifted.
The second most important thing I learned about was my relationship with food. When you have to be so disciplined with your diet, you quickly start to uncover things that you were able to hide from before. You’re forced to confront those bad habits we all have with regard to food. I realized that I eat when I’m overwhelmed, lonely, or procrastinating. If I have so much to do that I don’t know where to start, I procrastinate by eating (how backwards is that?!). I also eat to fill the void of loneliness. And the journey to competition can feel incredibly lonely at times (hence where relying on others for support comes into play:). I was forced to confront this emotional eating, and to try and find ways to deal with it. It’s a work in progress, but my relationship with food is SO MUCH healthier than it ever was before.
Finally, I learned, as silly as it sounds, that I am not perfect. There. I said it. And even better, I don’t have to be. Rather than constantly fighting to hide my imperfections from both myself and others, I’m learning to accept these things. It’s what makes me human. It’s interesting to me, too, that as soon as I accepted these imperfections, everything got better. I was in a better mood. I was able to make SO much progress with my physique. My body image improved. I was happier, and able to get MUCH closer to my friends and loved ones (you know who you are:). It was scary at first, to admit this, and it still is at times. But each time I share it, I feel better and better.
So why do I share this with you (aside from to make myself feel better:)? First, because I want you to know that everyone has their struggles and imperfections. (Even those of us who fight to keep them hidden). Second, because I believe that by accepting these imperfections, rather than sweeping them under the rug in shame, we are able to work on improving ourselves. And isn’t that what life is all about?
Who would have thought that standing on stage and flexing in a tiny green bikini with 5 coats of spray tan and heels would have taught me all this?
Happy Friday Everyone!!!
Over the past few weeks I’ve been experimenting with a few different protein pancake recipes. This one is by far the best!!! I’ve adapted this from everydaybelle.com. The recipe will make 4 really really LARGE pancakes, so I only eat two of them. You’ll see I also have a side of three egg whites scrambled with Mrs. Dash’s southwestern seasoning (delicious!). Thank you Chrissy Schaefer for that tip!
9 0z of plain non-fat greek yoghurt
1 egg + 1 egg white
~10 stevia drops (optional, but will make the pancakes a lot sweeter without any additional calories)
3/4 cup of whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp of baking soda
200 grams of strawberries
1/4 cup of sugar free maple syrup
Nutrition Information (for 2 of the pancakes with syrup (~1/2 the batter), NOT the scrambled egg whites):
Calories: 349 kcals
Carbs: 59 grams
Fat: 4 grams
Protein: 25 grams
Mix greek yoghurt with eggs and stevia drops until smooth. In a separate bowl, mix flour and baking soda. Combine dry and wet ingredients and mix well. Add 3/4 of the cut strawberries and save the rest for putting on stop of your pancakes.
I like to use medium heat for my pancakes, which helps avoid burning. After the griddle/pan heats up, spray with Pam (or some other non-stick spray) before putting batter on pan. I use about 1/3 cup of the batter for each pancake, but if you’d like more, smaller pancakes, just use less batter for each pancake (duh right). Wait for pancakes to start to bubble, then flip. I top my pancakes with sugar free maple syrup-so yummy Micah (my husband) almost wanted to try them! Ha! Enjoy!!!
5 Hour Energy, Red Bull, Monster, oh my…
So, did we all figure out how much caffeine we think we’re consuming daily? If not, head back to our post earlier this week to get an estimate.
So how do energy drinks work? Are they good or bad for you? In general, it depends on the ingredients. While entire review articles have been written on this topic, I’ll briefly discuss four of the most commonly found ingredients in these beverages: caffeine, taurine, guarana and the B vitamins.
Let’s begin with caffeine. Caffeine stimulates your central nervous system, which has the effect of decreasing drowsiness, increasing alertness and improving concentration. It has also been shown to increase performance in sprint, endurance and team sporting events. Finally, some newer (and quite exciting) studies have shown beneficial effects of coffee on Alzheimer’s disease. HOWEVER, you know what too much of a good thing can do, right? Too much caffeine, and you can overstimulate your central nervous system, causing difficulty sleeping, jitteriness and anxiety. You can also become dependent on caffeine, experiencing withdrawal symptoms such as headache and irritability. Finally, there is even evidence of caffeine toxicity, particularly in children, who are a growing group of energy drink consumers. So, how much is too much? One review conducted on caffeine concluded that daily caffeine intake of less than or equal to 400 mg/day (approximately three 8oz cups of coffee) in a healthy adult population was generally considered safe.
Next up- Taurine. Taurine is the most abundant amino acid (which is what proteins are composed of) naturally found in the human body. It is found in VERY high dosages in many brands of Energy Drinks. Some studies have shown it to enhance endurance performance, though not enough research has been done to understand exactly how it works. Additionally, there is concern about the effects of high doses commonly found in these drinks. Not enough research has been done to understand whether there are any interactions between taurine and the other ingredients commonly found in energy drinks. Until further research has been done, it’s difficult to say whether taurine has detrimental, beneficial or neutral effects.
Third on the list- Guarana: Originating in South America, the guarana plant is composed of 1-3 dark seeds. Each gram of guarana contains about 40 mg of caffeine. Guarana also contains antioxidant properties, and is believed to have more of a slow release effect compared to caffeine. Its effects are similar to caffeine, improving cognitive function and mental fatigue. At this point, there is no research on any toxic effects in either acute or chronic high doses.
The last commonly found group of ingredients I’d like to discuss are the B vitamins. This will be quick… Because B vitamins are water soluble, they are excreted in the urine when consumed in excess. The majority of Americans are not deficient in the B vitamins. So, while they do play a role in cellular energy, there is ZERO evidence that taking them in excess is beneficial. My opinion, it’s a waste to put these in energy drinks in such high doses.
Bottom line? Like many things in the health and fitness industry, it’s not black and white. Each individual is different, and it all has to do with learning about your body and how it responds to things. We can’t tell you what’s right for your body. Rather, we can simply report what other studies have found.
For specific citations or further information, please don’t hesitate to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As with anything we write or say, we always recommend you talk with your doctor before consuming these beverages.
Thanks to one of our followers for asking a GREAT question about energy drinks. It’s a VERY hot topic these days, especially given that in 2006 it was a $5.4 BILLION retail market. So, how do they work? Are they bad for you? What should you know before consuming them?
Later this week, we will be posting on Energy Drinks and how they affect your body’s physiology. In most of these drinks, the primary ingredient responsible for this “energy boost” is caffeine. So, in the meantime, check out the link below and start adding up how much caffeine you consume during a typical day. Then stay tuned later this week for our post on Energy drinks.