Sunday, December 28, 2008

Keeping Kids Active

Christmas brings lots of toys — including those that make the players very sedentary.

Remember to take a break and get the kids up and playing — and keep exercise fun for the children.

Throw a ball, take photos while they ride their new bikes (or join them yourself on your new bike!), play basketball, take them to the playground and make sure they run their energy off.

When the weather becomes less accommodating, remember that malls have play areas that let them jump, dash about and play on soft, safe "toys" (such as oversized breakfast food, like the one in my neighborhood).

For those who have gym memberships, take the tykes with you. Most gyms have special programs for younger members. For those who are too young to play "big kid" games, make sure their babysitters provide activities that will help them burn off their energy.

At the end of the day, everyone will sleep well.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Supplements: Glutamine

Sixth in a series

If you are considering using supplements, make sure to conduct thorough research before beginning your new regimen.

I recently read an article about glutamine in the magazine Fitness Management that adds interesting information to our discussion on supplements.

Written by exercise physiologist and dietary supplement investigator Joe Cannon, "Meet the Experts: Supplement FAQs" (Fitness Management, August 2008), reveals how glutamine is used for healing.

Cannon, who also is a personal trainer, noted that glutamine is used to speed up recovery after an intense workout. Clinical studies have proven this to be true. What you need to be aware of, according to Cannon, is that clinical tests use injections to deliver the glutamine to the test subjects.

It's time to do some research:
  • What is the concentration difference between the injections and supplement powders?
  • Is there a difference between oral delivery versus an injection?
If you have some thoughts on this subject or can shed some light, please let us know.

Next: energy drinks

Monday, December 15, 2008

Supplements: Creatine

Fifth in a series

Let's start with creatine, a natural amino acid found in the body.

The main purpose of creatine is to aid in muscular energy. Some studies have suggested that with more energy in the muscles, we can have greater workouts — thus receive better results.

Because this a natural compound, there is no evidence of side effects.

For more information on creatine, visit

Next: Glutamine.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Protein Shakes, Part Two

Fourth in a series.

On our last blog, we talked about the criteria for the use of protein shakes. We discussed protein requirements based on our training.

I need to add one more point to this before we move on: remember, along with the contents of the shake itself, you also are consuming more calories. Depending on serving size and what you mix it with (milk or water), you can take in anywhere from 150 to as much as 300+ calories.

If you are trying to lose weight, my recommendation is to stay away from protein shakes.

Here is my experience with protein shakes as a 48 year old male who is 6 feet tall, weighs 205 pounds and works out almost everyday. I have experimented with shakes on three separate occasions. The shakes I used did have more to offer than just protein, but there is not enough space on this blog to list all ingredients, benefits and side effects.

I was lifting almost every day and doing 30-60 minutes of cardio three or days a week. I was consuming shakes after weightlifting sessions that I knew to be hours before my next main meal. Despite the fact that I continued to watch my calorie intake, I put on weight — and it was not muscle because I got bigger around my middle.

The second time I used shakes, I was taking them before my workouts because I figured the carbs would help fuel my workout and the BCAAs (amino acids) would help to preserve muscle mass while I lifted. Also, ideally, we should consume our biggest meal of the day 30-90 minutes before a workout. My results were the same: I put weight on across my middle.

The last time I used protein shakes, I was only taking them when I felt I just did not get enough calories through the course of my day. Guess what? Same results: weight across my middle.

This does not mean I definitely don't recommend using protein shakes. However, I do recommend taking a careful look at the label. Before purchasing or consuming any supplements — and protein shakes are supplements — go online and research the supplement in which you are interested. Look up all ingredients on the shake label, weigh the benefits versus the side effects (if any), then decide if that protein shake is right for you.

Here is my final thought: if your metabolism is naturally fast and calories are not a concern, you may want to try a shake in order to put on some extra muscle.

If that does not work for you, remember: there are other excellent sources for protein "supplements." Back in the day before shakes, weightlifters ate cottage cheese to fulfill their protein requirements.

Next Creatine