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Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Intermittent Fasting

Fasting and feeding

My general position on the fasted phase is that it should last through the night and during the morning hours. Ideally the fast should then be broken at noon or shortly thereafter if you arise at 6-7 AM like most people. Afternoons and evenings are usually spent in the fed state.

However, the fast could also also be broken later in the day depending on your personal preferences and daily routine. I personally tend to break the fast as late as 4-6 PM since I work well into the night and rise later than most people with normal jobs.

The recommendation for fasting through the earlier part of the day, as opposed to the latter part of the day, is for behavioral and social reasons. Most people simply find it easier to fast after awakening and prefer going to bed satiated. Afternoons and evenings are times to unwind and eat. For adherence reasons during dieting, I've also found that placing the feeding phase later in the day is ideal for most people.

The protocols
I work with four different protocols depending on when my clients train. Depending on setup, one, two, or three meals are eaten in the post-workout period.

Fasted training

Training is initiated on an empty stomach and after ingestion of 10 g BCAA or similar amino acid mixture. This "pre-workout" meal is not counted towards the feeding phase. Technically, training is not completely fasted - that would be detrimental. The pre-workout protein intake, with its stimulatory effect on protein synthesis and metabolism, is a crucial compromise to optimize results. The 8-hour feeding phase starts with the post-workout meal.

Sample setup

11.30-12 AM or 5-15 minutes pre-workout: 10 g BCAA
12-1 PM: Training
1 PM: Post-workout meal (largest meal of the day).
4 PM: Second meal.
9 PM: Last meal before the fast.

Calories and carbs are tapered down throughout the day in the example above.

Early morning fasted training
Here's a sample setup for a client that trains early in the morning and prefers the feeding phase at noon or later. 

6 AM: 5-15 minutes pre-workout: 10 g BCAA.
6-7 AM: Training.
8 AM: 10 g BCAA.
10 AM: 10 g BCAA
12-1 PM: The "real" post-workout meal (largest meal of the day). Start of the 8 hour feeding-window.
8-9 PM: Last meal before the fast.

For the sake of conveniency, I recommend getting BCAA in the form of powder and not tabs. Simply mix 30 g of BCAA powder in a shake and drink one third of it every other hour starting 5-15 minutes pre-workout. Tabs are cheaper, but much more of a hassle (you're going to have to pop a lot of tabs). 

One pre-workout meal
This is the most common setup for my younger clients that are still in college or have flexible working hours.

Sample setup

12-1 PM or around lunch/noon: Pre-workout meal. Approximately 20-25% of daily total calorie intake.
3-4 PM: Training should happen a few hours after the pre-workout meal.
4-5 PM: Post-workout meal (largest meal).
8-9 PM: Last meal before the fast.

Two pre-workout meals 

This is the usual protocol for people with normal working hours.

Sample setup

12-1 PM or around lunch/noon: Meal one. Approximately 20-25% of daily total calorie intake.
4-5 PM: Pre-workout meal. Roughly equal to the first meal.
8-9 PM: Post-workout meal (largest meal).

Key points 

* No calories are to be ingested during the fasted phase, though coffee, calorie free sweeteners, diet soda and sugar free gum are ok (even though they might contain trace amount of calories). A tiny splash of milk in your coffee won’t affect anything either (½-1 teaspoon of milk per cup at the most - use sparingly and sensibly if you drink a lot of coffee). Neither will sugar free gum in moderation (~20 g).

* The fast is the perfect time to be productive and get things done. Don’t sit around, get bored and brood about food.

* Meal frequency during the feeding phase is irrelevant. However, most people, including me, prefer three meals.

* The majority of your daily calorie intake is consumed in the post-workout period. Depending on setup, this means that approximately 95-99% (fasted training), 80% (one pre-workout meal) or 60% (two pre-workout meals) of your daily calorie intake is consumed after training.

* The feeding window should be kept somewhat constant due to the hormonal entrainment of meal patterns. We tend to get hungry when we're used to eating and maintaining a regular pattern makes diet adherence easier. If you're used to breaking the fast at 12-2 PM and ending it at 8-10 PM, then try to maintain that pattern every day.

* On rest days, meal one should ideally be the largest meal, as opposed to training days where the post-workout meal is the largest meal. A good rule of thumb is to make meal one on rest days at least 35-40% of your daily calorie intake. This meal should be very high in protein; some of my clients consume more than 100 g of protein in this meal.

* When working with clients I am always open to compromising on the above rule. If your preference is to eat a larger meal in the evening instead of noon, or whenever you break the fast, it's no great harm. Some people prefer to save the largest meal on rest days for dinner with their family instead of having a large lunch and that's fine by me if it makes them enjoy and adhere to their diet better.

* Macronutrients and calorie intakes are always cycled through the week. The specifics depends on the client's ultimate goal: fat loss, muscle gain or bodyrecomposition. The details will be revealed in the book. Generally speaking, carbs and total calorie intake is highest on training days. On rest days, carbs are lower and fat is higher. Protein is kept high on all days.

* Here are the supplements I recommend everyone to take on a daily basis: a multivitamin, fish oil, vitamin D and extra calcium (unless dairy is consumed on a regular and daily basis).

* For fasted training, BCAA or an essential amino acid mixture is highly recommended. However, if this feels like too much micromanaging or simply questionable from an economic standpoint, you could also make due with some whey protein. The importance of protein intake prior to fasted training is outlined in this and this post.

* People sometimes ask me which protocol is best. I tend to look at things from a behavioral perspective first and foremost, so my reply to that is to choose the protocol best suited to your daily routine and training preferences. When dealing with clients I make the choice for them. If you work a 9-5 job and your only option is to train after work, training fasted is generally a bad idea and I always choose the one or two meals pre-workout protocol.

* Even from a physiological perspective, each protocol has it's own strengths and theoretical benefits. With "physiological perspective" I mean in terms of nutrient partitioning, fat loss and muscle growth. This deserves an article on it's own. I have some interesting and compelling arguments that I think are very unique.

Below I'll list some other resources that I think will give you an idea of what Leangains is all about.

Diet methodology

Calories, foods and macronutrient choices play an important role in the optimal diet. The following articles will give you an insight into my philosophy on this topic.

Scorch Through Your Fat Loss Plateau

Maintaining Low Body Fat

Intermittent Fasting, Set-Point and Leptin

Diet psychology

The right mental attitude is a crucial factor for a successful diet and training routine. This is an area that is all too often overlooked. I've explored this subject through many different perspectives.

The Secret Benefit of Being Lean

The Marshmallow Test

How to Look Awesome Every Day

How People Fail Their New Year's Resolutions

Regarding comments
Commentators often ask me if this or that is fine or how they should optimize things. I simply don't have time or energy for that any longer. Understand that a lot of factors need to be taken into consideration when determining calorie intake and macronutrient cycling; body weight, body fat, activity level, training routine, gender, insulin sensitivity and so forth. That's why I have clients - optimizing a diet plan requires time and reflection, and being a perfectionist by nature I simply can't "okay" something without having all the facts in front of me.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Estudos mostram que exercícios podem reduzir a inflamação do corpo

Que as atividades físicas são benéficas para a saúde de uma forma geral não é mais novidade. Além de conferir bem estar, a prática regular pode prevenir doenças como diabetes, obesidade, doença celíaca e fibromialgia. E um estudo recente comprovou ainda que exercícios podem ajudar a reduzir a inflamação no corpo.

Entenda como caminhar pode reduzir inflamação no corpo. 

Como os exercícios podem reduzir a inflamação do corpo?

Um estudo realizado por pesquisadores da Universidade da Califórnia em San Diego, nos Estados Unidos e publicado recentemente na revista científica Brain, Behavior and Immunity, mostrou que 20 minutos de exercício são capazes de reduzir a inflamação no corpo.
O grupo de pesquisadores desejava comprovar se a prática de atividades físicas ativavam o sistema nervoso simpático do cérebro. Essa parte é responsável por acelerar os batimentos cardíacos, elevar a pressão arterial e intensificar o ritmo respiratório. E eles acreditavam que ao disparar esse sistema, ele acionaria uma resposta anti-inflamatória. Essa teoria foi comprovada com o estudo.
Para isso, os cientistas convocaram 47 homens e mulheres, que precisaram caminhar em uma esteira em intensidade moderada por 20 minutos. Eles tiveram uma amostra de sangue coletada em dois momentos: antes e depois da prática desse exercício. O que os resultados mostraram é que houve uma redução de 5% no número de células imunológicas ligadas a processos inflamatórios.
A partir desse estudo, os cientistas pretendem conseguir desenvolver novos novos tratamentos anti-inflamatórios. E um outro lado positivo deste estudo é a comprovação de que apenas 20 minutos de atividade já é suficiente para se proteger. “A ideia de que o treino precisa ser exaustivo e longo intimida aqueles que sofrem com doenças inflamatórias crônicas e poderiam se beneficiar da atividade física”, comentou a cientista líder do estudo Suzi Hong.
Para quem sofre com alguma doença ou vive no sedentarismo, não há como mais fugir e deixar de praticar exercícios. Uma simples caminhada já pode fazer toda diferença para a manutenção da sua saúde. Vale a pena consultar o seu médico e um profissional capacitado em atividades físicas para que avaliem de que forma essa prática pode ser inserida na sua rotina, possibilitando que você consiga todos os benefícios disso.

Gostou de saber que a caminhada pode ajudar a reduzir a inflamação do corpo? Para outras notícias fitness, não deixe de acompanhar o Blog!

Thursday, 8 December 2016

The Definitive Guide to Probiotics for Your Diet

The Definitive Guide to Probiotics
for Your Diet.

From yogurt to youth-enhancing creams, probiotics seem to be the latest cure-all ingredient. But what is it? And how can they really help you?
In the most basic of terms, probiotics are microorganisms, such as yeasts and bacteria, that can be consumed to achieve positive effects on your digestive and overall health. In May of 2002, the World Health Organization (WHO) conferred with expert groups of academic scientists and representatives from the probiotic industry to create their “Guidelines for the Evaluation of Probiotics in Food”.
According to the WHO, the definition of a probiotic is as follows: "Live microorganisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host."1

What’s a Real Probiotic?

Beyond that, to be considered a true probiotic, the organism must be a defined microbe that has been identified and classified by genus, species, and strain level. This classification is critical. Regulation and control are critical for identifying the potential benefits of any particular type of probiotic. Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, probiotics must be deemed safe and tolerable for ingestion by the intended consumer.2
It’s understandable if the idea of eating bacteria doesn’t sound healthy or appealing. However, humans and animals are largely made up of bacteria. In fact, it’s believed we have the same amount of bacteria as human cells! It’s no wonder our bacteria in our body weighs more than our brain (3 lbs!).3
Because the body is full of both good and bad bacteria.

The good guy bacteria play a large part in many of the body’s functions and processes—including immune responses and digestion.4 Oftentimes, that desired effect is related to digestion. Probiotics have certainly made a name for themselves in recent years for their ability to regulate and assist with all things related to the belly’s business. Digestive health is a major contributor to overall good health. Naturally, probiotics have become a popular addition to many people’s personal health routines.5

How Can Probiotics Help Me?

To say that probiotics are used to aid consumers with their digestion is a generalized statement. In reality, there are numerous benefits from consuming probiotics. Many pluses associated with taking probiotics have to do with the digestive process, such as:
  • Reducing bloating
  • Relieving gas pressure and pain
  • Regulating bowel movements
  • Assisting with IBS symptoms
  • General reduction of gastrointestinal discomfort 6, 7
In addition to these digestive benefits, probiotics have been found to be useful in managing and preventing eczema, preventing and treating urinary tract and bladder infections and more.8
The effects of probiotics have been studied and documented for generations, but it was not until recently that probiotics reached the public consciousness. Now, they’re highlighted in mainstream media and product advertisements marketed for their gut-boosting benefits.
At this time, probiotics are available to consumers in a number of forms. Most commonly, they’re associated with dairy products, such as yogurt and kefir. Good natural sources of probiotics are also found in many fermented foods like kimchi, kombucha, miso soup, and sourdough bread. Commercially, probiotics show up in dark chocolate, pickles, snack bars, and certain kinds of teas.9, 10

The Journey of An Ingested Probiotic Supplement

Once you ingest a product that contains probiotics, the bacteria go through the digestive process. Ideally, the probiotics ultimately find their way to the lower gut, where they can contribute to the health of the host. Unfortunately, the digestive system is rigorous and often indiscriminate, so much of the “good” bacteria ingested are lost to the process. For the bacteria that survive the process and establish a presence in the lower gut, they can be distributed to the intestines, the kidneys, the liver, and anywhere else they can be utilized appropriately based on the particular strain.11

How can I ensure that my probiotics survive the
digestive process?

The body generally seeks to rid the body of both the good and the bad guys when it comes to bacteria. The digestive process is accomplished with stomach acid—which is incredibly strong and quite effective at breaking down compounds and expelling unwanted matter from the body. The stomach acid breaks down everything that finds its way into the stomach, including good bacteria.12, 13

So, what can you do to retain the good guys while continuing the expulsion of the “bad” bacteria?

According to some studies, there are actions that can be taken, such as ingesting the probiotic on an empty stomach or with a meal.14 Researchers continue to study this theory to determine whether this helps. Another approach is to eat a diet rich in fiber. The fiber, which your body can’t digest, feeds the bacteria in the large intestine. A lack of fiber can result in the good bugs starving, thereby minimizing their full potential.15

Who Discovered Probiotics for Health?

While most recognize that the popularity of probiotics came to be in the 21st century, the establishment of probiotics as an actual scientific concept was in 1907. The idea that that microbes and bacteria affected the internal workings of humans and animals was first proposed by Russian zoologist Élie Metchnikoff. He went on to become known for his research and studies in the field of immunology. In fact, he was awarded the 1908 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. After observing Bulgarian peasants living longer, healthier lives than other peoples from the region, Metchnikoff proposed the theory that the peasants’ custom of eating large amounts of yogurt may be linked.16
"The dependence of the intestinal microbes on the food makes it possible to adopt measures to modify the flora in our bodies and to replace the harmful microbes by useful microbes.” - Élie Metchnikoff, Nobel Prize winner.17

Ancient Use of Probiotics

Technically, the history of probiotics can be traced to the beginning of mankind’s understanding of the fermentation process, but the first time the applications or medicinal properties of the bacteria were considered is certainly a more relevant occurrence. Unfortunately, it is also just as difficult to pinpoint. There are mentions of using fermented milk to treat intestinal issues in the Bible and in other sacred books of comparable era. Many Middle-Eastern and Asian societies of the time have also been found to use fermented or “soured” milk for intestinal health.
There is also documentation from thousands of years ago in ancient Rome of widespread use of fermented dairy products for medicinal purposes. Pliny the Elder, a renowned naturalist during the Roman Empire era, allegedly recommended drinking fermented milk products to treat intestinal issues.18, 19
The therapeutic benefits of these products were recognized and accepted by many cultures worldwide—even though it was well before science could define and explain the benefits of good bacteria.20

Modern Day Probiotic Discoveries

A correlation between digestive tract bacteria and gastrointestinal health was found in 1899 by Henry Tissier, a French scientist. Tissier discovered a bacteria called bifidobacteria in the intestines of a number of infants in the study. Whenever he found an abundant supply of bifidobacteria in an infant, he found they had significantly fewer gastrointestinal problems and far fewer instances of diarrheal illnesses.21
Not long after Henry Tissier made his mark, Elie Metchnikoff’s work in the field of immunology started to get recognized. Metchnikoff, like Tissier, was a research scientist at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, France. He was allegedly seeking a biological “fountain of youth,” or compound that would grant eternal youth. This was a popular pursuit of scientists of the time. And despite the seemingly ridiculous theory, the scientific discoveries it led to made it worthwhile in the end.
At the time Metchnikoff was at work, it was already understood that certain “bad” bacteria existed in the digestive tract. Metchnikoff was studying lactic acid bacteria and came to believe that it actually produced a form of protection or reversal of a certain strain of bad bacteria. Metchnikoff soon began studying rural Bulgarian peasants and their propensity to live to very old ages—regardless of poverty and living in a terribly harsh climate.
He concluded that the fermented milk products they drank contributed greatly to their increased life expectancies.22
Metchnikoff published his findings in the book, “The Prolongation of Life: Optimistic Studies”. In the book, he makes the proclamation that ingesting microorganisms could have substantial health benefits in humans.23
For his studies on immunity, including how good bacteria can help, he was awarded the 1908 Nobel Prize. He was commended for essentially demonstrating that intestinal illness and the ill effects of harmful microbes can be neutralized by the introduction of beneficial microbes.24, 25 Today, Metchnikoff is considered the grandfather of modern probiotics.
Almost a decade after Metchnikoff’s work gained acclaim, German scientist Alfred Nissle began exploring the possible applications and benefits of probiotics. During his research, Nissle was able to isolate and identify a new bacterial strain, now known as Escherichia coliNissle 1917 (EcN). Nissle subsequently went on to use the bacteria in successfully treating intestinal diseases, including diarrhea, and it is still being used in similar capacities today.26, 27

Types of “Probiotics”

Indeed, the term “probiotics” is general. It refers to countless probiotic strains found in nature.
The human body alone houses more than 500 different known probiotic strains. 28
While it would be very difficult to become personally familiar with all of the strains that exist, it is important to be aware of as many as you can. Having a diversity of probiotic strains in your body has been linked to good digestive health and the prevention of obesity and other health issues.29, 30
Here are some of the most well-known strains of probiotics:

Using Certain Strains to Treat Specific Health Conditions

Obviously, it is not enough to just know the names of different strains. Each strain has very specific effects and applications for the human body and its functioning.
For example, Lactobacillus Rhamnosus gg is a “good” bacteria and has been proven to provide more than 44 health benefits.31 It is considered particularly effective at intestinal wall adhesion, which helps the body clear itself and cultivate other “good” bacterial strains. The end result of this cultivation is a stimulation and invigoration of the immune system.32
Similarly, another “good” bacterial strain, Bifidobacterium Lactis also has been proven to enhance immunity and improve digestion, and it has also been known to fight tumor growth and lower cholesterol.33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38
It is typically located in the intestines and colon and is tasked with processing and breaking down body waste and assisting with the body’s absorption of vitamins and minerals.
Bifido Infantis is, no surprise, an important bacterial strain for human beings during their infancy. In fact, it is one of the first probiotics a mother passes to her baby. Many physicians even recommend that pregnant women supplement their daily intake. As you get older, it continues to play a role in your body, as it helps improve digestion and contributes to the prevention of infection and illness. It also has been shown to increase production of certain acids in the digestive tract and vagina which protect against foreign bacteria and parasites. This actually helps prevent kidney stones and allergies.39
Lactobacillus helveticus is used throughout the world, but particularly in Switzerland, to reduce blood pressure, increase serum calcium levels in the blood, improve sleep patterns, and fight bone loss.40, 41, 42, 43
Perhaps the most well-known and thoroughly researched probiotic strain is Lactobacillus Acidophilus. This strain was first isolated by Metchnikoff, the Nobel Prize-winning scientist in the 1890s. Subsequent studies have found that Lactobacillus Acidophilus could be a critical element to human health and survival. This one probiotic strain alone has been shown to help not only with digestive functioning, but also to fight infections, reduce allergy symptoms, improve blood pressure and cholesterol, and assist in infant development.44, 45

The Criticism Against Probiotics’ Effectiveness

As is the case with most natural remedies, probiotics have been met with a fair share of cynicism. However, among the scientific community, including the National Institute of Health, probiotics are confirmed to help with digestion issues. Probiotics linked to treating other issues are still being researched but initial results are promising.46
Much of the controversy surrounding probiotics comes from questions about the regulation of probiotic products on the market. The general feeling is that the products and claims associated with the products have been developed too quickly for the existing regulatory processes to keep up and meet the minimum required regulatory needs of the consumer population.47, 48, 49
Finally, some cynicism has been generated by a few manufacturers of probiotic products. A small number of isolated high-profile incidents have occurred wherein companies have marketed their products using claims and descriptions that have not been fully substantiated by the medical and scientific community. These high-profile cases have, unfortunately, left an indelible mark in many consumers’ minds when it comes to probiotics.50, 51, 52
The fact is, many claims about probiotics have been verified and proven scientifically, but many others have not yet been. It would be a terrible misconception to believe that probiotic bacteria have no proven benefits, but it would also be irresponsible to believe every claim made by product manufacturers. Consumers should be vigilant in their research and attention to detail when considering any health or wellness product.

Natural Food Sources of Probiotics

As established, probiotic intake is critical to maintaining good gut health. The knowledge of this fact leads many concerned people to seek out supplements and products that boast the ability to provide extra probiotic strains to the body.
Interested in maximizing the probiotic potential in the foods you eat? There are a number of probiotic-rich foods you can add to your diet, such as:
  • yogurt
  • kefir
  • sourdough bread
  • sour pickles
  • sourkraut
  • miso soup53
Most of these foods contain different probiotic strains. It’s important to diversify one’s intake. Therefore, a diet complete with a variety of probiotic-rich foods is most effective. That being said, there are also benefits to considering adding more probiotics to such a diet with the use of safe, effective supplemental products.

Probiotics in Food 411

Plain yogurt

Perhaps the food most commonly associated with probiotics is yogurt. Some of the first and most prominent supplemental products were yogurts and yogurt-based, and they got the discussion started about the benefits of probiotics. Beyond those products, which typically have additional probiotics added, yogurt, in general, contains naturally occurring "good" bacteria.54
Yogurt has been shown to assist in the maintenance of gut health and can treat diarrhea, gas, and other digestive problems.55, 56
When many people hear that yogurt is packed with probiotics, they immediately think that perhaps cheese has similar properties. In reality, this is only somewhat true. While not every cheese is considered a significant contributor to one’s probiotic intake, there are a number of softer, fermented cheeses, such as swiss, gouda, Parmesan, and cheddar, which do have significant concentrations of the “good” bacteria. Not only that, but research finds that, while much of the probiotics consumed by a person are lost during the digestion process. However, some withstand and interact and potentially boost the immune system.57

Sourdough Bread

Another food commonly eaten in the western world that has a significant probiotic content is sourdough bread. Again, not every type of bread has probiotic qualities. Sourdough bread, in particular, is made with sourdough starter, a compound that functions much like yeast, which contains plenty of “good” bacteria.58

Pickled Vegetables

Pickles are another commonly consumed fermented product—particularly sour pickles. The fermenting process provides them with their beneficial qualities, but only natural processes, which utilize sea salt and water in lieu of vinegar, create the desired bacteria.
Similarly, pickled cabbage products, including sauerkraut and the Korean staple, kimchi, also have ample probiotic contents, which help with immunity and can fight infection.59, 60
In addition to kimchi, Southeast Asian cuisine has numerous products and foods that are rich in probiotic bacteria. For example, miso soup—a popular breakfast food in Japan—has become commonly consumed in the Western world, particularly in Japanese and sushi restaurants. This soup, made from fermented soybean paste, has been known to promote good digestion.61


Kefir is another probiotic-filled product that has become popular at U.S. supermarkets in recent years. Kefir is a fermented dairy drink from a grain that originates from Russia. It is a bubbly, thick, creamy, tangy beverage that is much like yogurt, but contains its own unique probiotic strains.62, 63


Another product that has also made progress in gaining public awareness in the west is tempeh. With high probiotic content and large amounts of non-animal protein, it is an excellent meat replacement. Tempeh is made from a base of fermented soybeans.
It is Indonesian in origin and has a nutty flavor. The probiotics in tempeh are a natural antibiotic and actually fight certain “bad” bacteria.

Key Differences in Probiotic Supplements?

Probiotics and bacteria in general are typically considered safe, but certain varieties and concentrations may cause unwanted bacteria-host interactions and side effects. Because of this, the WHO (World Health Organization) stresses that serious consideration be given to the testing and assessment of the microorganisms for their potential benefits, applications, and dangers. The factors most important to monitor include: detecting antibiotic-resistant patterns in the organism; recognizing side-effects in animals and humans; detecting the presence or stimulation of metabolic activity in the test subject; and making note of any adverse or negative reactions in the subjects.64
Lastly, testing is being conducted to determine how the reaction varies with increased concentrations of the probiotic. Additionally, it is possible for one strain to provide a variety of reactions or benefits to a host at differing concentrations.65

What Should I Consider When Buying Probiotics?

Research on the effects of probiotic use are staggeringly positive, so they should be included in your diet. But what type of probiotic supplements are best? Fortunately, the probiotic marketplace is rich and diverse, so there are many wonderful products out there. There are some ineffective products out there as well. It is important to know the basics of what you should look for when considering a probiotic product. Here are some tips:

Strain Diversity

The product should incorporate multiple types of strains, such as Lactobaccilus plantarum, Lactobaccilus acidophilus, Lactobaccilus brevis, Bifidobacterium lactis and Bifidobacterium longum.66

Live Bacteria

Most high-quality probiotic supplements either should be refrigerated or the bottle’s label should clearly indicate the bacteria will survive on your shelf without refrigeration. Unfortunately, if it’s been sitting on the shelf and the label says nothing about ‘no refrigeration needed’, it’s quite possible much of the bacteria has already perished. If you’re curious to see if a probiotic actually has live bacteria, you can do this simple milk test:

CFU Count

Look for CFU (Colony Forming Units) count on their labeling, which indicates how much of the probiotic bacteria will divide and create colonies of additional ‘good’ bacteria. A good range for daily supplementation is 10-30 billion CFUs.

Enteric Coated

Make sure your probiotics are encased in a capsule or enteric coated because stomach acid can zap the amount of CFU’s available.

What Probiotic Products Should I Buy?

With the many factors for comparison in mind, an educated consumer might start with a probiotic digestive health capsule. Probiotic products are also available in the form of fermented drinks, such as kombucha, which can substitute for unhealthy soda and other sugary drinks. Kefir is a popular drink in many parts of the world and can boast up to 40 strains of bacteria!
Another drink, Dong Quai, has been gaining a lot of notice for its use as a treatment to increase fertility and prostate health.
Perhaps the most popular probiotic product is yogurt. Since plain yogurt is healthy in its natural state, probiotic-enriched yogurt is an effective, tasty way of getting your daily dose of probiotics.

Why Probiotics’ Recent Popularity?

Since the success of a handful of early entries, the number of probiotic-enriched products available in the market has exploded in the past decade. The marketability of these products led to an increased interest in the field, which in turn led to a number of studies into the effectiveness of various bacterial strains.
In addition to the WHO’s studies and discussions, there has been a flurry of research on the effects probiotics have on the health of consumers. Studies on the effects and benefits of gut bacteria in particular have exploded in recent years, with scientists around the world racing to be the first to discover a heretofore unknown beneficial reaction between a strain of bacteria and its host.
In 2015, for example, a group of researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine were looking into a well-known microbe, a bacteria known as lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG). While it was known that LGG had many useful properties — specifically with weight loss, and the treatment of skin disorders, intestinal issues, and respiratory problems — scientists were still unsure of how it produced those beneficial results.
The researchers discovered that the LGG bacteria were actually acting as a facilitator and, in doing so, were effectively modifying or changing the actions of the other bacteria in the gut. This recent study could lead scientists to newer, more effective strategies for achieving gut health.67, 68
Why are more people using probiotic supplements now?
Due to increased stress, changes in lifestyle, and problems with modern diets, including excessive sodium, sugar and trans-fat consumption, the average person deals with significant gastrointestinal and digestive distress during their lifetime. Coupled with the increased consumer awareness of the benefits of probiotics and the huge amounts of money spent by companies advertising their specific probiotic-enriched products, there is a growing interest and adoption of the philosophies associated with the probiotic movement. In fact, the probiotics market is expected to grow greatly over the coming years. It’s projected to be generating over $64 billion in sales by 2023.69

Other Conditions Probiotics Can Help Treat

Probiotics are usually associated with the treatment of digestive and gastrointestinal issues, but they have been linked to positive outcomes when used to treat a number of other symptoms as well. For example, probiotics are often given to breastfeeding mothers to help prevent eczema in the child.70, 71
Here are a few more things probiotics seem to help as well, with a link to a study:
Slowing Growth of HIV
Helping with Spinal Cord Injuries
Clear Skin

What are Prebiotics?

Prebiotics are compounds found in food, like probiotics, that act in conjunction with probiotics to assist with digestive and overall health. Think of them like fertilizers for your ‘internal garden’ aka good bacteria.
They act as promoters or cultivators of the "good" bacteria.72, 73
Prebiotics include fructooligosaccharides and galactooligosaccharides.74 They can be found in significant concentrations in foods like onions, leeks, garlic, bananas, asparagus, soybeans, and artichokes.75


Every day, it seems that new uses and applications for prebiotics and probiotics are being discovered, theorized, and tested. Their existence and function is not in doubt, but the understanding the extent of how they help other ailments and exactly what they do is still a work in progress. However, with all the news about how important good bacteria in your gut is for health, it does confirm what Hippocrates believed thousands of years ago: “Disease begins in the gut.”

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Eggs Daily Dose

Three Eggs a Day for More Muscle and Strength

Hardly a day goes by where I don’t eat eggs – I’m talking whole eggs, not just egg whites. Eggs are a true superfood, a low-carb item that’s great for building muscle, boosting testosterone levels and staying lean. Whatever your goal (mass-gaining, leaning out, increasing overall health and wellness), this food supports it.

I recommend eating at least 3 whole eggs per day. A study from Texas A&M University found that subjects consuming 3 whole eggs per day while following a weight-lifting program for 12 weeks gained twice as much muscle mass and twice as much muscle strength as subjects eating no eggs or just one whole egg per day.

But whole eggs have all that fat in them, you may say. Yes, 3 whole eggs provide about 15 grams of fat and over 600 mg of cholesterol, but the fat and cholesterol in egg yolks may be critical factors in why the subjects in the A&M study made such dramatic gains in muscle mass and strength. Research shows that athletes getting in higher fat intake, particularly from monounsaturated and saturated fat, have higher testosterone levels than those getting in low amounts of fat. A whopping 80% of the fat in egg yolks comes from monounsaturated and saturated fat.

When it comes to cholesterol, you need to remember that testosterone is created in the body from, you guessed it, cholesterol. Plus, cholesterol is important for maintaining the integrity of cell membranes, such as those of muscle cells. This is important for muscle strength and growth.

One study from Kent State University found that subjects eating a higher cholesterol diet while following a 12-week weight lifting program gained five more pounds of muscle than those eating a low cholesterol diet. The higher cholesterol diet also led to double the strength gains as compared to the lower cholesterol diet.

But what about increased risk of heart disease from the cholesterol? I thought you might ask that question! It doesn’t appear to be an issue. In one study, University of Connecticut researchers found that men and women eating an additional 640 mg of cholesterol from eggs had no increase in the LDL cholesterol particles that are associated with cardiovascular disease. Many other studies support this claim.

Eggs can also help you lose body fat. Research from Saint Louis University has shown that subjects eating eggs for breakfast not only eat fewer calories throughout the day but also lose significantly more body fat than those not eating eggs for breakfast.

The take-home message to all of this: Eat eggs daily! Your body will thank you for it.

If you’re already an egg lover, you’re probably happy to scramble up three eggs or have them hard-boiled as your first meal of the day. 

Enjoy your eggs, everyone!

Friday, 22 July 2016

TRX Workout

Use a TRX Suspension Trainer to kick your own butt with a fat-burning workout that targets multiple muscles per move.
TRX Suspension Trainer is the perfect tool, as it allows you to perform over 300 exercises using just its straps and your own bodyweight.
For the best results, perform each for 45 seconds, rest for 15 seconds then repeat before moving to the next exercise.
1. TRX Jump Squats
TRX Jump Squat
A Face the midpoint of the TRX, one handle in each hand. Pushing glutes back and knees out, squat down until butt goes passes knees, arms raised above your head still holding handles.
B Jump up into the air, land and repeat.
"This is a real calorie scorcher because it gets the heart rate going and works the largest muscles in the body—the legs and glutes," says Bulvanoski.
2. TRX Single Leg Lunge
Single Leg Squat TRX
A Face the midpoint and grab both handles with slight bend in elbow. Step right leg behind you and lunge down so right hip is directly over right knee, left knee stacked over left ankle.
B Using legs, push back up to standing. Do 45 seconds, then switch legs.
Bulvanoski reminds you to be sure to use your legs to propel yourself up from the lunge so you really work the quads rather than relying too much on your arms to help you.
3. TRX Bicep Curl
Bicep Curl
A Face the midpoint, one handle in each hand, palms facing up, arms fully extended in front of you. Lean body back on a diagonal, keeping straight arms and straight legs still.
B Keeping core tight, bend at the elbows and curl hands towards shoulders. Lower back down.
"Keep your elbows in the same place the entire time—don't let them flare out," says Bulvanoski. "It makes for more of a challenge and will help to isolate the biceps."
4. TRX Tricep Curl
TRX Tricep Press
A Face away from the midpoint, one handle in each hand, arms extended overhead, palms facing down and body tilted toward the floor on a diagonal. Without moving the rest of your body, bend elbows and bring hands towards forehead.
B Without moving elbow position, straighten arms again.
"Try not to let the TRX bands sway," says Bulvanoski. "Only move your arms to really feel the work in those triceps."
5. TRX Chest Press
Chest Press TRX
A Face away from the midpoint, one handle in each hand, arms extended forward, walk your feet back until your in a high plank position, body in line from head to toe. Bend at the elbows and lower into a push-up, bringing the chest down to the same level as your hands.
B Push back up until arms are fully extended.
Again, it's important to keep your core tight and body in a straight line. "This will ensure you're isolating the chest, arms and back," says Bulvanoski.
6. TRX Plank
TRX Plank
Sit on the ground facing the midpoint and place both feet in the bottom loops of the TRX bands. Flip over so you're facing away from the midpoint. Place your hands on the ground shoulder width apart, and using your arms and legs, push your body off the ground so you're in an elevated plank, body in line from head to toe and hold.
"For an added challenge, lower down to your forearms, then back up to your hands while trying to keep your hips as still as possible," says Bulvanoski. You'll feel it in your abs!
7. TRX Atomic Pushup
Atomic Pushup
A Start in elevated plank position. Keeping legs together, raise your hips, bringing knees towards your face.
B Return to plank position, perform a push-up, then repeat.
"This move works the entire body, with special emphasis on the abdominals," says Bulvanoski.

Friday, 11 March 2016

Health Benefits of Kefir

Kefir is all the rage in the natural health community.
It is high in nutrients and probiotics, and is incredibly beneficial for digestion and gut health.
Many people consider it to be a healthier and more powerful version of yogurt.
Here are 9 health benefits of kefir that are supported by research.

1. Kefir is a Fantastic Source of Many Nutrients

Kefir is a fermented drink, traditionally made using cow’s milk or goat’s milk.
It is made by adding kefir “grains” to milk.
These are not grains in the conventional sense, but cultures of yeast and lactic acid bacteria that resemble a cauliflower in appearance.
Over a period of 24 hours or so, the microorganisms in the kefir grains multiply and ferment the sugars in the milk, turning it into kefir.
Then the grains are removed from the liquid, and can be used again.
This is what kefir (jar) and kefir grains (spoon) look like:
Kefir and Kefir Grains
So basically, kefir is the drink, but kefir grains are the “starter kit” that you use to produce the drink.
Kefir originated from parts of Eastern Europe and Southwest Asia. The name is derived from the Turkish word keyif, which means “feeling good” after eating (1).
The lactic acid bacteria turn the lactose in the milk into lactic acid, so kefir tastes sour like yogurt, but has a thinner consistency.
A 175 ml (6 oz) serving of milk kefir contains (23):
  • Protein: 6 grams.
  • Calcium: 20% of the RDA.
  • Phosphorus: 20% of the RDA.
  • Vitamin B12: 14% of the RDA.
  • Riboflavin (B2): 19% of the RDA.
  • Magnesium: 5% of the RDA.
  • A decent amount of vitamin D.
This is coming with about 100 calories, 7-8 grams of carbs and 3-6 grams of fat, depending on the type of milk that is used.
Kefir also contains a wide variety of bioactive compounds, including organic acids and peptides that contribute to its health benefits (1).
Dairy-free versions of kefir can be made with coconut water, coconut milk or other sweet liquids. These will not have the same nutrient profile as dairy-based kefir.
Bottom Line: Kefir is a fermented milk drink, cultured from kefir grains. It is a rich source of calcium, protein and B-vitamins.

2. Kefir is a More Powerful Probiotic Than Yogurt

Man Holding a Glass of Milk
Some microorganisms can have beneficial effects on health when ingested (4).
Known as probiotics, these microorganisms can influence health in numerous ways, including digestion, weight management and mental health (567).
Yogurt is the best known probiotic food in the Western diet, but kefir is actually a much more potent source.
Kefir grains contain about 30 strains of bacteria and yeasts, making it a very rich and diverse probiotic source.
Other fermented dairy products are made from far fewer strains, and don’t contain any yeasts.
Bottom Line: Kefir contains about 30 different microorganisms, making it a much more potent source of probiotics than other fermented dairy products.

3. Kefir Has Potent Antibacterial Properties

Kefir Grains in a Bowl and a Kefir Drink
Certain probiotics in kefir are believed to protect against infections.
This includes the probiotic Lactobacillus kefiri, which is unique to kefir.
Studies show that this probiotic can inhibit the growth of various harmful bacteria, including Salmonella, Helicobacter Pylori and E. coli (89).
Kefiran, a type of carbohydrate present in kefir, also has antibacterial properties (10).
Bottom Line: Kefir contains the probiotic Lactobacillus kefiri, and the carbohydrate kefiran, both of which can protect against harmful bacteria.

4. Kefir Can Improve Bone Health and Lower The Risk of Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis (“porous” bones) is characterized by deterioration of bone tissue, and is a massive problem in Western countries.
Older Male Doctor, Smaller
It is especially common among elderly women, and dramatically raises the risk of fractures.
Ensuring an adequate calcium intake is one of the most effective ways to improve bone health, and slow the progression of osteoporosis (11).
Kefir made from full-fat dairy is not only a great source of calcium, but also vitamin K2. This nutrient plays a central role in calcium metabolism, and supplementing with it has been shown to reduce the risk of fractures by as much as 81% (1213).
Recent animal studies have shown that kefir can increase calcium absorption by bone cells. This leads to improved bone density, which should help prevent fractures (14).
Bottom Line: Kefir made from dairy is an excellent source of calcium. In the case of full-fat dairy, it also contains vitamin K2. These nutrients have major benefits for bone health.

5. Kefir May be Protective Against Cancer

Kefir Grains in a Brown Bowl
Cancer is one of the world’s leading causes of death.
It occurs when there is an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the body, such as a tumor.
The probiotics in fermented dairy products are believed to inhibit tumor growth by reducing formation of carcinogeniccompounds, as well as by stimulating the immune system (15).
This protective role has been demonstrated in several test tube studies (1617).
One study found that kefir extract reduced the number of human breast cancer cells by 56%, compared with only 14% for yogurt extract (18).
However, take all of this with a grain of salt, as this is far from being proven in living, breathing humans.
Bottom Line: Some test tube and animal studies have shown that kefir can inhibit the growth of cancer cells. This has not been studied in people.

6. The Probiotics in it May Help With Various Digestive Problems

Kefir Drink in a Jug
Probiotics such as kefir can help restore the balance of friendly bacteria in the gut.
This is why they are highly effective for many forms of diarrhea (1920).
There is also a lot of evidence that probiotics and probiotic foods can help with all sorts of digestive problems (5)
This includes irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ulcers caused by H. pylori infection, and various others (21222324).
For this reason, kefir may be useful if you have problems with digestion.
Bottom Line: Probiotics like kefir can treat several forms of diarrhea. They can also lead to major improvements in various digestive diseases.

7. Kefir is Generally Well Tolerated by People Who Are Lactose Intolerant

Brunette Drinking Milk With Milk Mustache
Regular dairy foods contain a natural sugar called lactose.
Many people, especially adults, are unable to break down and digest lactose properly. This condition is called lactose intolerance (25).
The lactic acid bacteria in fermented dairy foods (like kefir and yogurt) turn the lactose into lactic acid, so these foods are much lower in lactose than milk.
They also contain enzymes that can help break down the lactose even further.
Because of this, kefir is generally well tolerated by people with lactose intolerance, at least when compared to regular milk (26).
Also keep in mind that it is possible to make kefir that is 100% lactose free, by using coconut water, fruit juice or some other non-dairy fluid.
Bottom Line: The lactic acid bacteria have already pre-digested the lactose in kefir. People with lactose intolerance can often eat kefir without problems.

8. Kefir May Improve Symptoms of Allergy and Asthma

Kefir Grains on a Brown Plate
Allergic reactions are caused by inflammatory responses against harmless environmental substances.
People with an over-sensitive immune system are more prone to allergies, which can provoke conditions like asthma.
In animal studies, kefir has been shown to suppress inflammatory responses related to allergy and asthma (2728).
Human studies are need to better explore these effects.

9. Kefir is Easy to Make at Home

Young Blonde Cooking
The last one is not a health benefit, but important nonetheless.
If you are unsure about the quality of store-bought kefir, then you can easily make it at home yourself.
Combined with some fresh fruit, it makes one of the healthiest and tastiest desserts I have ever come across.
You can buy kefir grains in some health food stores and supermarkets.
It is also available on Amazon (see here), with hundreds of reviews, testimonials and tips from real customers.
There are some good blog posts and videos on how to make kefir, but the process is very simple:
  • Put 1-2 tablespoons of kefir grains into a small jar. The more you use, the faster it will culture.
  • Add around 2 cups of milk, preferably organic or even raw. Milk from grass-fed cows is healthiest. Leave one inch of room at the top of the jar.
  • You can add some full-fat cream if you want the kefir to be thicker.
  • Put the lid on and leave it for 12-36 hours, at room temperature. That’s it.
Once it starts to look clumpy, it is ready. Then you gently strain out the liquid, which leaves behind the original kefir grains.
Now put the grains in a new jar with some milk, and the process starts all over again.
Delicious, nutritious and highly sustainable.