Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Thursday, February 23, 2006
Power Up (My) Diet
An extract from MensHealth.com Phillip Rhodes
The age-defying, libido-lifting, bone-toughening, cancer-beating, eyesight-saving, heart-strengthening, fat-fighting, decade-by-decade nutrition plan
(Or, how to fix everything with food)
The Beat-Stress Decade
The average guy marries at 27. And although we're sure it's a coincidence, most episodes of major depression start around the same time. Perhaps the cause is a culmination of twentysomething stressors -- the kind that come with 70-hour workweeks and late nights on the pub circuit.
But it's not just your mind that pays the price. A busy, high-stress lifestyle often leads to a diet of convenience -- one that's lacking in vitamins and minerals, and overloaded with sugar, fat, and calories. The result: a body that never realizes its full potential.
See, this is the decade when your levels of muscle-building hormones -- testosterone, DHEA, and growth hormone -- hit their peak, making it the best time for you to pack on muscle. It's also your last chance to lay down new bone; by the time you're 30, your skeletal system is set. Poor nutrition not only inhibits your ability to do both, but also increases your risk of disease, weight gain, and mental breakdown -- now, and for decades down the road.
But you can fight back with food; start today and you'll build a body that will last a lifetime.
THE PROBLEM: Undetected Depression
A Starbucks Chantico may boost your mood temporarily, but it won't improve your long-term outlook.
THE FIX: Eat 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed daily. It's the best source of alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA -- a healthy fat that improves the workings of the cerebral cortex, the area of the brain that processes sensory information, including that of pleasure, says Jean-Marie Bourre, Ph.D., a nutrition researcher at Hospital Fernand Widal, in Paris. Find ground flaxseed online at drugstore.com or in the health-food section of your grocery store. To meet your quota, sprinkle it on salads, vegetables, and cereal, or mix it in a smoothie or shake.
THE PROBLEM: Cancer is incubating
Every hour, your body replicates 6 billion cells, creating copies of your DNA. But if you don't consume enough folate -- a B vitamin that helps construct those cells -- your body could produce irregular DNA, which can eventually cause cancer, says Ann Yelmokas McDermott, Ph.D., a nutrition scientist at Tufts University. Trouble is, folate is hard to come by. The best natural food source is chicken liver, and few men get the folate their bodies require from fruits and vegetables.
THE FIX: Have a cup of folate-fortified cereal 4 days a week. Choose a brand -- such as Total Raisin Bran or MultiGrain Cheerios -- that provides at least 400 micrograms (mcg) of folate per serving. Then top it with ½ cup of blackberries, raspberries, or strawberries. Berries aren't just a good nonliver source of folate; they're packed with antioxidants, which help thwart cancer by neutralizing DNA-damaging free radicals. They also offer a fringe benefit. Fructose -- the sugar found in fruits and berries -- can help you recover from another twentysomething problem: hangovers. That's because it speeds the rate at which your body metabolizes alcohol by up to 25 percent.
THE PROBLEM: No time to eat healthy
A recent study at the University of California at Berkeley found that nearly one-third of the average guy's diet is pure junk -- foods that provide no nutritive value, just calories.
THE FIX: Try vegetable-and-lean-meat combination meals, such as Birds Eye Voila! and Stouffer's Lean Cuisine Skillets; each takes just 10 to 15 minutes to go from freezer to plate. Eat an entire bag as a single portion (about 600 calories) and you've found the easiest way to down three full servings of vitamin-packed vegetables.
Bonus: Harvard scientists found that every one-serving increase in daily vegetable intake decreases your risk of heart disease by 4 percent.
THE PROBLEM: Fast-Food Addiction
In a study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, researchers discovered that men consume 1,000 calories each time they visit a fast-food restaurant. And, on average, men eat 500 more total calories on the days they drive-thru instead of drive past. Indulge just twice a week and that's 15 pounds of extra weight in a year.
THE FIX: Limit yourself to one "single" burger or sandwich, and make it the only food item you order. (Choose water, diet soda, or unsweetened tea or coffee as your beverage.) This damage-control strategy ensures that you won't overeat. For instance, if you use this approach at McDonald's, the fewest calories you'll down is a filling 260; the most is a manageable 730. And even an occasional Big Mac falls in between, at 560 calories.
THE PROBLEM: Untapped muscles
Your 20s are your brawn-building years. But to maximize muscle growth, you need the right raw materials.
THE FIX: Beef. It's the perfect muscle food because it's packed with protein, zinc, and creatine. Down a hefty portion of each with this taco-salad recipe from Men's Health cover model Gregg Avedon: Brown 1/2 pound of extra-lean ground beef over medium heat. As it cooks, sprinkle it with black pepper, 2 teaspoons of chili powder, and a couple dashes of Tabasco. Place the cooked beef, one diced tomato, and 2 tablespoons of low-fat cheese over a bed of lettuce, and top with salsa.
THE PROBLEM: You're becoming more injury prone
Bones are a lot like reclusive coworkers; until one snaps, you aren't likely to give them much thought.
THE FIX: Drink two 8-ounce glasses of vitamin D*fortified low-fat milk every day. This provides your body with 600 milligrams (mg) of calcium and 5 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin D, the perfect combination of nutrients to build break-resistant bones. Plus, in a 20-year study, U.K. researchers determined that men who drink more than 6 ounces of milk a day have half the risk of stroke of men who drink less.
Go on to the next page to find out what you should eat in your 30's...
The Melt-Fat Decade
The metabolic rate that allowed you to burn through super-size burritos in your 20s is slowing -- dropping by 1 percent every 4 years. And even if the number on your scale isn't rising, it's likely you're getting fatter. In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, scientists found that men who managed to maintain their weight for 40 years still gained 3 pounds of fat each decade -- while losing 3 pounds of muscle.
The likely reason: After you pass 30, your testosterone levels decrease by up to 1 percent a year. This means it becomes harder for you to build -- or even maintain -- metabolism-boosting muscle. (See the connection?) Another side effect: By 40, more than half of men develop some degree of erectile dysfunction.
But sagging testosterone levels aren't your only health hazard. Starting at age 30, your systolic blood pressure rises 4 points per decade, and joint degeneration begins to occur.
Here's how to turn back your biological clock -- and keep midlife years in front of you.
THE PROBLEM: Corroding joints
Even though arthritis doesn't usually set in until your 50s, the damage that causes it is happening now.
THE FIX: Eat three 6-ounce servings of cold-water fish weekly. Specifically, have salmon, mackerel, trout, halibut, or white tuna -- each packs more than 1,000 mg of fish oil. A U.K. study found that regularly consuming this amount of fish oil appeared to halt cartilage-eating enzymes in 86 percent of people who are facing joint-replacement surgery. Fish oil slows down cartilage degeneration and reduces factors that cause inflammation, says lead researcher Bruce Caterson, Ph.D.
THE PROBLEM: Rising Blood Pressure
Some men are always close to their boiling points. And new research from the Netherlands may explain why. The scientists discovered that besides the obvious factors -- obesity, lack of physical activity, and high salt consumption -- diets containing too little potassium were the primary cause of hypertension. In their analysis, the scientists used 3,500 mg daily as the cutoff for defining a low potassium intake. The average intake for a man in his 30s? Only 3,100 mg.
THE FIX: Add ½ cup of beans, a banana, or a handful of raisins to your daily diet. Each will increase your potassium intake by about 400 mg a day, boosting you above that 3,500 mg benchmark.
THE PROBLEM: Waning Sex Drive
Don't wither away down under.
THE FIX: Munch on two handfuls of walnuts, peanuts, or almonds every day. Research shows that men with diets high in mono-unsaturated fat -- the kind found in nuts -- have higher testosterone levels than those who don't eat enough of the healthy fat. Nuts are also the best food source of arginine, an amino acid that improves bloodflow throughout your body -- including below the belt.
THE PROBLEM: Your metabolism is slowing
By snacking on the right foods -- those that are low in sugar but rich in protein -- you'll keep your metabolic furnace stoked, and be less likely to binge between meals.
THE FIX: Have one slice of hard or semihard cheese -- for instance, Cheddar, Swiss, or provolone -- two or three times a day. Cheese has 7 grams of protein per slice and contains no sugar. That means it doesn't raise blood-sugar levels, so your body stays in fat-burning mode. Want an alternative? Opt for a cup of low-fat plain yogurt or a stick of beef jerky, or multitask with a handful of almonds. (See "Waning Sex Drive," above.)
THE PROBLEM: You can't lift as much weight
As testosterone levels start to drop, it takes longer for your muscles to return to full strength after each workout.
THE FIX: Eat broccoli and bell peppers. Together, they're packed with vitamins C and E, two nutrients that fight free radicals -- rogue molecules that slow the repair of exercise-induced muscle damage, impeding recovery. Try this 15-minute meal from resident "Muscle Chow" columnist Gregg Avedon. It's infused with the most effective ingredients for speeding muscle recovery after a hard workout -- vitamins C and E, high-quality protein, and slow-digesting carbohydrates. In a deep saucepan, sauté 1 tablespoon of chopped onion, ¼ of a red bell pepper (cut into long, thin strips), and a pinch of black pepper on medium heat for 2 minutes. Next, add ½ pound of turkey-breast strips and 1 teaspoon of sage. Brown the turkey for 2 minutes, then add 1 cup of chicken broth and 1 cup of broccoli florets. Bring to a boil for 1 minute, then stir in ½ cup of plain, uncooked couscous. Cover the pan, remove it from the heat, and let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
THE PROBLEM: Every Lunch Is A Business Lunch
Dining out means restaurant megaportions -- and, most likely, a mega-gut.
THE FIX: Trade that grilled-chicken sandwich for a grilled-chicken salad. U.K. researchers found that men who ate a low-glycemic lunch -- one without bread, rice, or pasta -- burned more fat for 3 hours after eating than those who ate a high-glycemic meal, even though both groups consumed the same number of calories. More smart choices: chicken stir-fry, fajitas sans the tortillas, or even a 6- to 8-ounce steak with a side salad or steamed vegetables.
Go on to the next page for more healthy eating tips...
The Fight-Disease Decade
Baldness, wrinkles, and back hair are the least of your worries; your body may be a walking time bomb. That's because approximately 30 percent of men in their 40s have asymptomatic prostate cancer, according to research from the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute. That is, the cancer is there but nearly undetectable. It's a terrifying prospect, but a reality in your 40s, which might be labeled "the decade of disease."
The reason: Until age 44, accidents are the most likely cause of death in men. But once you reach 45, heart disease becomes your number-one threat, killing 36,000 fortysomething men every year.
And scientists at the University of California at Irvine discovered that men over 40 were up to twice as likely to develop melanomas than were women of the same age.
There's also an elevated risk of nonfatal diseases, such as macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness. And don't forget about obesity: Even if you managed to sidestep it in your 30s, keeping your waistline in check doesn't become easier with age.
The solution? A preemptive attack on your body's natural enemies. Your weapons: a knife and fork.
THE PROBLEM: A fat expense account
Eating on the company is a fast way to inflate your gut.
THE FIX: Adopt a point system. Assign these values to menu items: 2 points for a salad; 3 points for an appetizer; 2 points for an entrée; 4 points for a dessert; and 2 points for an alcoholic beverage. Order whatever you want, but limit yourself to a total of 6 points. To follow this system, choose from a category only once.
THE PROBLEM: Cancer-prone skin
Mutating moles are scary, but food can help: National Cancer Institute researchers determined that people with the highest intakes of carotenoids -- pigments that occur naturally in plants -- were as much as six times less likely to develop skin cancer than those with the lowest intakes. "Beta-carotene is an internal sun protector," says Regina Goralczyk, Ph.D. That's because the vitamin plants itself in your skin, where its imperceptible orange and yellow pigments help deflect sunlight.
THE FIX: As a preventive, eat two sweet potatoes every week. This will provide you with the same amount of weekly beta-carotene as in men who demonstrated the lowest skin-cancer risk. Other top sources are carrots and cantaloupe.
THE PROBLEM: Shrinking muscles
The average guy loses 6 pounds of muscle by the time he's 50. But, in addition to lifting weights, you can protect your hard-earned muscles by feeding them a steady supply of high-quality protein.
THE FIX: Tuna. Ounce for ounce, it's one of the best sources of protein -- and contains zero saturated fat. To grill your way to a better body, follow this muscle-building recipe from Men's Health cover model Gregg Avedon. Brush a 6-ounce tuna steak with olive oil, lightly season it with freshly ground pepper, and place it on a preheated grill. Grill until medium-rare to medium, for 7 to 10 minutes on each side. Meanwhile, mix 3 tablespoons of peanut butter, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, 1 teaspoon of brown sugar, and 2 tablespoons of water in a bowl, and microwave the ingredients for 30 seconds. When the tuna is ready to eat, drizzle a small amount of the warm sauce on top. For a perfect complement, pair the tuna with ½ cup of wild rice.
THE PROBLEM: You're a workaholic
Don't let long days at your desk undermine your healthy eating habits.
THE FIX: Order an inexpensive minifridge and have it shipped directly to your office. (We like the GE Spacemaker Compact Refrigerator; $130 at homedepot.com.) Stock it with food you won't be ashamed to carry into a meeting: pints of milk; individual packets of string cheese; a few ounces of turkey; and a couple of in-case-of-emergency microwave meals, such as Healthy Choice, Smart Ones, and South Beach brands.
THE PROBLEM: Elevated risk of prostate cancer
Sex probably won't kill you, but your sex gland can. Fortunately, Harvard researchers found that men with the highest levels of selenium had a 48 percent lower incidence of advanced prostate cancer than those with the lowest intakes.
THE FIX: Eat three Brazil nuts every day. That'll provide you with 200 mcg of selenium, the exact amount you need to keep your prostate-cancer risk at rock-bottom levels. Mushrooms help, too: A half cup of the cooked fungi -- specifically, brown and portobello -- contains more than 35 mcg, or nearly 20 percent of the amount you need daily.
THE PROBLEM: Worsening Vision
You were first warned about going blind as a teen; this time, the threat is real. Thankfully, the National Institutes of Health found that people who consume the most lutein -- a carotenoid found in plant foods -- are 43 percent less likely to develop macular degeneration. Lutein helps filter blue light, preventing it from damaging retinal tissues.
THE FIX: Eat two servings of greens each day. Consider one serving to be 1/2 cup of cooked spinach, broccoli, or brussels sprouts.
THE PROBLEM: Narrowing arteries
High cholesterol is a killer.
THE FIX: Grab a handful of grapes every day. Antioxidants in the skin of red grapes have been linked to lowering LDL cholesterol and preventing clogged arteries. A glass of red wine is also beneficial. In a recent Spanish study, scientists found that red wine reduced markers of arterial inflammation by 21 percent. Alcohol also thins your blood, just as a daily aspirin does.
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Wednesday, February 22, 2006
I've been to the gym
After the children had gone to bed I returned to the gym and did 45 mins on a flat, slow (10km/h) treadmill whilst watching the second half of the Real vs Arsenal match.
This morning I decided to do the spinning class at the gym which I preceded with some abs exercises for 20 minutes. Good old Alan pushed us hard as usual. My thighs felt like they'd been used by the end of the session.
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Monday @ the Slug & Lettuce
- Br: BF Whey Protein
- Sn1: BF Whey Protein
- Lu: Slimfast shake
- Sn2: Salt & Vinegar Crisps
- Sn3: BF Whey Protein
Sunday, February 19, 2006
I'm really hefty now
Saturday was busy. I went for a nice run with Sara first thing. Trust us to pick the day that it was below zero. 3 miles around Damflask Reservoir. We both needed to walk at times but Sara did well as she hadn't run since May 2005. My knee was a bit stiff later on.
Dave kindly said yes to taking Thea to Sarah's birthday party and with Nathaniel being taken to Alistair's swimming party I was able to get to Anfield with Richard to see the Reds take on Liverpool. Their support were throwing plastic bottles and coins at us at the end even though they'd won the game. Nasty injury to Alan Smith.
I'm still eating junk. On the way home I bought a KFC variety meal. Not content with that I had a bag of macadamia and cranberries.