Monday, August 30, 2010

The Best Exercises in Life are Free.

If you thought that getting in shape meant joining a gym, then you would be dead wrong. In fact, some of the best  exercises for our body do not require any fancy gym equipment. Our body is all that we need.

As I progress towards increasingly more difficult exercises, I find that the best and the toughest exercises are the ones where you use your body for generating explosive power & strength.

Here are some of my favorite exercises that do not require any fancy equipment.

1. Walk/Jog/Run: All you need is a pair of good shoes and you are good to go. It does not matter where you run or what time you run. As long as you   can make the time to do it, it can be done.

Make it Harder: Incorporate Interval running into your workout. Interval running is a great way to boost your metabolism and finish your workout in a shorter time.

2. Push-Ups: The push-up, is most likely, the single most comprehensive workout for your upper body. The push-up works the chest muscles, the back, and the triceps. It is no wonder, that the U.S. Army uses it as a key indicator of physical fitness of its personnel.

Here's a video demonstrating the correct way to do a push-up.

Make it Harder: Mix it up with these different versions of the push-up
   1. Walk-Out Push-Ups.
   2. Medicine Ball Push-Ups.
   3. One Arm Push-Ups.
   4. Clapping Push-Ups.

3. Squats: If the Push-Up is the king of the upper body exercise, then the Squat has to be the king of the lower-body exercise. Squats can be done in any place where you can stand.

Here's a video demonstrating the correct way to do squats.

Make it Harder: Just like the push-ups, you can do squats in a variety of ways.
   1. Frog Squats.
   2. Weighted Squats.
   3. One-Legged Squats (The most difficult).

4. Sit-ups: The Sit-ups take care of the mid-section of your body. The Abs. Sit-ups is probably one of the most misunderstood exercise. Many people think that by doing a lot of sit-ups, they will get ripped abs in a few weeks. Nothing could be further from the truth. You build abs by losing the fat around your mid-section through diet and cardio workouts. Sit-ups will only assist in the process of getting ripped abs by building muscles around the core. But sit-ups on their own cannot give you ripped abs.

The Sit-ups is the second exercise of the U.S. Army physical fitness test (the first being the push-up and the third being the 2 mile run).

Here's a video demonstrating how to do the full military Sit-up.

Make it Harder: Just like the previous 2 exercises, you can do the sit-up in a variety of ways.

1. 8-Minute Abs: This 8-minute abs workout shows 9 different variations of the sit-ups. If you can do the full 8-minute workout, you are in great shape.

5. Jump Rope: Skipping rope is a great way to burn massive amount of calories in a short amount of time. Most people will have a hard time doing 1 minute of continuous jump rope.

Here's a video demonstrating jump ropes.

Make it Harder: You can mix up jump ropes with intervals and double-unders.

1. Interval Jump Ropes: Do this 10-minute workout that changes from walking in place to jumping ropes for every 30 seconds.
2. Double-Unders: This exercise features heavily in the Crossfit Workout. I think I have a long way to go before I can do a double-under.

6. Pull-Ups and Chin-Ups: Both are very similar exercises and all you need to do this exercise is a pull-up bar. You can find pull-up bars in any sports shops that you can easily attach to a door-way. Chin-ups target your biceps, while the pull-ups target your back and triceps.

Here's a video demonstrating how to do pull-ups.
This video demonstrates correct chin-ups.

Make it Harder: You really can't make the pull-ups any harder as they are already very hard to do. There is a variation of one-hand pull-up but if you can do that, you don't really need to read this blog.

Incorporate these exercises in your daily routine and you won't have any excuse for not staying in shape.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Avoiding Common Running Injuries.

Running is a high-impact activity, so it is inevitable that we will suffer from some form of injury during or after running. Since injuries cannot be completely avoided, all we can do is understand what is in store for us when we start running seriously - and take precautions to lower the risk of injuries.

Not all injuries are bad though. For example, every time we run, our bones suffer micro-injuries due to the impact of our body hitting the hard ground (similar to how our muscles get micro-injuries when we lift heavy weights).

But these micro-injuries are good for us because it causes our body to counter the effect of the injuries by healing the bones and making them stronger. This results in higher bone density and eventually helps us overcome the effect of Osteoporosis.

What we should try to avoid is major injuries that can cause disruptions in our daily activities. The following are some of the injuries that I have gone through - and something that I could have easily avoided if I had read this article first.

1. Blisters: Blisters can be painful and will force you to take a break from running.

How to avoid Blisters? Blisters can be avoided by wearing proper footwear. The usual cause of blisters is wearing shoes that are too tight or too loose. Shoe is the most important item in your running inventory so make sure you choose the right footwear. You also need to break-in new shoes till your feet are adjusted to the new shoe. If you buy new shoes, don't wear them for your next long-distance run. Instead, wear them for walks or short runs till the shoe becomes comfortable.

2. Muscle Cramps: If you start running for the first time, or re-start your running activities after a long break, this is something you are bound to encounter in the early stages of your running. It is your body protesting against the sudden onslaught.

How to avoid Muscle Cramps? Muscle cramps can be avoided by doing proper warm-up and cool-down. Warm-up should be brisk walk or light jogging while cool-down should be stretching exercises.

3. Knee Joint Injuries:  Knee joint injuries happen due to over-training. Each of us have a injury threshold. Once you reach the threshold, joint injuries are inevitable. Trick is to find your threshold and make sure you don't cross it.

How to avoid Knee joint injuries? Don't be the Hare. Be the Tortoise. You need to take it easy in the beginning and increase the distance and pace very very slowly till your body gets adjusted to running. Going overboard is the usual reason for knee joint injuries. When I first re-started my running, I was so excited that I could run 5K, I would try and see if I could push myself to 10K. That was not the correct approach (and something I learned the hard and painful way). We need to increase our distance in small increments. Also, listen to your body. When you feel tired or feel any pain, don't run through the pain. Stop and rest. We are not competing for the Olympics. The objective is to get into shape. Of course, if you are actually competing for Olympics, this blog is not for you.

4. Black Toenail: Black toenail injury is related to long-distance running (more than 10K) and usually happens if you increase your running distance unexpectedly. For example, if you are used to running 5K and suddenly decide to run half-marathon, you have an excellent chance of getting a black toenail.

How to avoid the Black Toenail? The solution is similar to the knee joint injury. Increase your distance gradually. This excellent article describes the black-toenail injury in detail and recommends solutions in case you do end up with one.

5. Nipple Chafing: Yeah. When I first read about nipple chafing, I did not believe it either till it happened to me. Nipple chafing usually does not happen to women since they use sports bras. However, for men, it can happen - especially during long distance runs. The constant movement of the shirt (especially if the shirt is loose) against the nipple results in chafing and is very painful. The problem is that you don't realize the injury until the next day, when it is too late to do anything about it except to nurse the injury.

How to avoid nipple chafing? Wearing proper running shirt (preferably the newer "technical" shirts) will solve the problem. Whenever I plan my half-marathon runs, I take a much simpler preventive route and put band-aids over both my nipples (don't laugh). You can also get specialized nipple guards, but I don't think they are available here in Kuwait.

So there you have it. Run sensibly and avoid these injuries.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Ultimate Post-Workout Drink.

Several weeks back, I wrote about "The Chocolate Milk Diet" and how it was both a great pre-workout and post-workout recovery drink - delivering a healthy dose of protein and quick-absorbing carbs to help with the workout and also to recover from a hard workout.

While chocolate milk is a great pre-workout drink, you may want to add some extra proteins in your post-workout recovery drink. Adding a scoop of Whey protein powder to your chocolate milk will result in a potent combo. The extra proteins from the protein powder help the muscles in long-term recovery, while the quick carbs from the chocolate drink help in short term recovery.

I mix 1 scoop of Whey protein powder to 1 packet of chocolate milk (250ml) and vigorously shake the whole thing with ice. The blended drink is both deliciously tasty and very healthy. The nutritional data for this drink is shown below:

Protein Powder1201.02.025.0
Choco Milk 250ml1582.526.18.1

The great thing about protein powders these days is that they come in so many flavors. Once you get tired of one flavor, you can just jump to the next flavor as the protein content in all the flavors is almost identical.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Keeping an Exercise Log.

Exercise data recorded in an EXCEL spreadsheet.
When I do any running, my Nike+ system automatically logs all the details of the run (distance covered, pace, calories burned etc.), and uploads all the data neatly into the Nike+ website. The website allows me to analyze the total distance run, my progress, my target goals etc.

But running is not the only exercise I do. I do almost an equal amount of resistance workout. The problem is there is no system to record the progress made in the resistance workout. Our gym does have specialized equipment for resistance workout that is linked to an unique key given to each subscriber. You insert the key into the machine and start your workout such as chest extension, leg raises etc. The machine records the workout on the key, which can then be reviewed on a separate computer. I did not subscribe to the service because I prefer doing free-weights (dumb-bells, squats etc.) instead of using assisted machines.

This means that if you are serious about sticking to a scheduled workout and ensuring that you progress increasingly to heavier weights, you need to keep a log. Many dedicated members in my gym carry a small notebook in which they record their activities. The notebook is also a great way to plan out your workout so that you do a specific set of exercises and then compare the actual results to what you had planned at the beginning of the day.

Initially, I tried carrying a small notebook and a pencil but found it annoying to write down the activity after each exercise. I then tried recording the workout details on my iPhone using a spreadsheet application that I downloaded from the iTunes app store. Even that seemed to get in my way so I finally opted to log all the details in an EXCEL spreadsheet on my laptop immediately after I reached home. I found this the most convenient method since the workout details are still fresh in my mind. It does not matter how you log your data as long as you do it.

Putting all the exercise data in an EXCEL spreadsheet allows me to easily analyze my progress and plan for improvements in my weight-lifting capabilities.

Convert exercise data in a graph.
Use the built-in functionality of EXCEL to graph your exercise data into a visual representation of your daily progress, and plan for your next increase in weight. For example, once I find that I can do 12 reps of a given exercise, I then increase the weight by a factor of 5-10 pounds. I usually find that once I increase the weight, I can do around 6-8 reps with the increase weight. I will continue trying to reach 12 reps over the next 2-3 weeks, and once I hit 12, I again raise the weight.

Logging your exercise data is both a good way of keeping track of what you have done - and a great motivation to do better.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Dressed to Run.

In my previous article, I stressed the importance of shoes in running. While the shoe may be the most important item in your running inventory, it should not be the only one. There are couple of other items that you should pay particular attention in order to have a fun and enjoyable run.

1. Shirt: The shirt play an important role in determining whether your run will be comfortable or not. If you wear cotton shirt, it will get drenched with your sweat which essentially means you are running with wet clothes. Running with sweat-drenched clothes makes you cold and miserable and the sticky clothes makes you feel like ending your run as soon as possible.

What you need is a t-shirt/shirt that is designed for running. These shirts are made from special fabric that pulls moisture from your body - keeping your cool and dry during your run. Also the fabric is light, which makes them less bulky. You will find running t-shirts in sports shops. Though they are expensive, they are worth the investment.

2. Shorts: Wear comfortable shorts. The material of the shorts is not so important because you don't sweat in the lower part of your body. As long as you are comfortable in the shorts, you should be fine.

3. Socks: The sock complements the shoe by adding an extra layer of protection between the hard surface and your body. Always go for thick cotton socks that are made for running.

4. Music: This is especially important if you are running on a treadmill. It helps to manage the monotony of the running so that you focus on the music instead of the run. Compile a playlist with upbeat music with a tempo that matches the tempo of your run.
Playing music while running is advisable only if you are running on a treadmill. Outdoor running with music on can result in dangerous situations since you cannot hear what is going on around you.

5. Sports Bra: For ladies, make sure you wear a proper sports bra.

6. Sports Drink: If you plan to run for less than 30 minutes, you can sip on a bottle of water to keep yourself hydrated during the run. However, if you plan to run longer than that, it is important that you have a sports drink such as Gatorade to replenish not only the fluids that your body loses, but also essential salts. When I run for 1 hour, I can finish a 600ml bottle of Gatorade - taking a sip every 5 minutes.

That's about it. Enjoy your run.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Can Running cure Asthma?

My inhaler in case of asthma attack.
The answer to the question "Can Running Cure Asthma?"
The Short answer is "No".
Long Answer: See Below.

Asthma (meaning gasp) is a chronic inflammatory disease of the airways that results in airflow obstructions resulting in wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath.

I suffer from asthma from childhood and I am told that I gravitated between life and death on a number of occasions when I was a baby. As is common with asthma, it sort of disappeared during my youth and I completely forgot about it. That is..until I came to Kuwait. The extreme climate and the desert dust acted as a "trigger" for my asthma and I started getting the asthma attacks. At first, it was just continuous coughing or wheezing twice a year  (when the weather changed from summer to winter and vice-versa). I used to manage it with strong antibiotics and inhalers. However, the disease progressed and the asthma attacks changed from coughing to life-threating attacks where I could not breathe for an extended period of time.

I remember a few occasions when I got the attack while at home, and my wife and children watched in horror and helplessness as I stopped breathing, desperately gulping for air. I started carrying the inhaler everywhere I went and my wife made sure that it was always in my pocket before I left the house.

Asthma, as a disease, cannot be cured. Once you have it, you will carry it with you to the grave. All we can do is understand the trigger points (i.e. what causes the asthma?) and then try to manage it. Different individuals have different trigger points. Mine is dust and cold.

I had resigned myself to a life of inhalers, and uncontrollable coughing through the remainder of my life. That is..until I started running.

Asthma was not on my radar when I started my fitness journey. I started running and resistance workouts because I wanted to get in shape. However, after a few months into workouts, I realized that I was not getting any asthma attacks. I also realized that I could drink cold water or iced drinks and not end up gulping for air.

What exactly happened?

According to research, increased physical activity such as running causes your body to pump more oxygen into your body. This causes the congested air-ways to expand effectively making it easier to breathe and reducing the impact of asthma when the triggers such as dust and cold travel through your body.

It is now 2 years since I last had my asthma attack. I am aware that I am not cured of it - and it will always be there. I am also aware that as long as I keep running and doing other fitness activities, I will be able to get control of my life and not be at the mercy of this disease wondering when and where it will strike - and whether that strike will be fatal or not.

This does not mean asthma patients should put on their shoes and start running. Asthma attacks can occur after physical activity, so whatever activity you decide to do (whether running or resistance training), you should approach it cautiously and slowly to build your strength and stamina. In the initial stages, you may face difficulty as the physical activity itself will act as an attack-trigger. However, by slowly building on your stamina, you will ensure that your airways expand and the asthma attacks should gradually subside. Again, your doctor will advice you on your specific condition and whether physical activity is suitable for your condition or not.

So in summary, the question I should have asked was not whether running can cure asthma, but rather:

"Can you manage asthma with running and other physical activity?"
The empathic answer to that is: "YES"!!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The "Surviving Ramadan" Breakfast.

Canon firing to indicate end of fasting.
Ramadan is the Islamic month of fasting. During this period, Muslims refrain from eating and drinking from dawn to dusk. Many Islamic countries go one extra step by imposing this as a law and prohibiting anyone (Muslim or otherwise) from eating or drinking in public during the day. This can play havoc with anyone who is on a carefully controlled diet.

Once nice thing about the month of Ramadan is the shorter working hours. While the usual working time is 9 hours, most people (including myself) work for only 6 hours during this period. So in reality, we (non-Muslims) need to manage the fasting for about 6 hours only.

Protein-heavy breakfast with eggs, lean meat & Milk
If there is one thing I have learned during my research on diet and nutrition, it is that eating proteins keeps you feeling satiated longer since proteins take longer time to break-down.

Keeping this fact in mind, my Ramadan-month breakfast is basically a protein-heavy breakfast consisting of scrambled eggs, lean meats (chicken or turkey), cheese and milk along with some carbs.

Here's the nutritional data of my ideal breakfast that will keep the hunger pangs away for 6 to 7 hours.

1 Scrambled Eggs1007.416.8
Whole Wheat Bread1381.823.27.2
Low-Fat Milk1224.811.48.1
1 Kiri Cheese Cube 18g585.60.31.4
3 Turkey Slices600310.5
1 Apple72019.10.4

I sometimes drop the apple and replace it with an extra scrambled egg (2 scrambled eggs for breakfast). This will drop the carbs, and increase the proteins. However, the calories remain almost the same.

With this breakfast, I can complete my days work without feeling irritable or anxious for my next food fix.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Three Day Per Week Workout Program

I came across this awesome workout routine on and have been following it religiously for the  past few weeks with great results.

The workout is designed for building mass and includes detailed instructions on how to perform the workout and additional notes on nutrition plus basic theory behind why this particular workout is effective.

Prior to this routine, I used to work on specific muscles groups each day. For example, I would work on Biceps+Chest on Day 1, Legs on Day 2, Shoulders on Day 3, Back+Triceps on Day 4, and Abs on Day 5. Then take a day or 2 off and repeat.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with working on specific muscle groups each day. Almost all body-builders work on specific muscle groups and I will also go back to working specific muscle groups after a month or so. But the "Three Day Workout Program" is a refreshing change.

Here are some of the key elements of this workout:

1. You work on the whole body each time: The 13-exercises in this workout work the full range of muscles in the body. Nothing is left out. Legs, Chest, Biceps, Triceps, Abs, Shoulders. You work them all.

2. You only do 1 set of each exercise:  The normal body-building routine is to do 3 sets of each exercise but in the "Three Day Workout Program", you do it just once. Of course, you need to do one warm-up set of 4 to 6 reps (with 50% weight) before doing the main set, but that's it. You hit the weight once for 10-12 reps and then move on to the next exercise. The only exercise I am currently falling short is the pull-ups. When I first started, I could do just 6 but I have slowly progressed to 9. My target is to do 12-15 pull-ups without stopping.

3. It gets over fast: You hit the gym, do 5 minutes warm-up and then complete your routines in less than 40 minutes and you are done. Well, 40 minutes may not exactly fall under the "fast" category, but since you are doing so many variety of exercises, It seems like the workout finished very fast.

4. A training partner is essential: All the exercises need to be done to absolute failure. i.e. If I am doing 12 squats, the 12th squat should be the absolute maximum I should be able to do. However hard I try, I should not be able to do a 13th squat. Obviously, that can be quite tricky when doing bench press because if you fail on the 12th rep, and there is no spotter to assist you, you are in big trouble. Since I currently don't have a training partner, I make sure the gym trainers are around while doing these type of workouts.

5. Increase the weights each time and keep a log: Since the premise of these exercises is "absolute failure", it is only natural that once your body rebuilds your failed muscles, you should be able to lift more than what you did the last time. So increasing the weight each week is essential. To ensure you are capable of increasing the weight, keep a log of each days workout. The log will help you to analyze your progress. I use a simple EXCEL spreadsheet to log details of each exercise. I will update my blog with the log data after a month of so.

6. It's effective: As long as you follow a sensible nutrition plan and include some extra protein in your meals (either though lean meats or protein supplements), you should see your muscles bulking up in 4-6 weeks.


Want Something? Say it or Write it Down.

Few months back, I was in India to celebrate my parents 50th anniversary, and I came across a family friend after more than 20 years. She is a widow who raised 3 children all on her own and now the children have become successful adults. The thing is, she looked just as I remembered her 20 years back. Young, energetic and full of life.

Somehow the conversation turned to setting objectives and she had this very simple advice for me:
"You can do anything you set out to do - but you must say it for it to become real"

I thought those were very powerful words. And they are - especially when it comes to fitness. In his book "The Body Fat Solution", Tom Venuto writes:

"An idea, wish, or fantasy becomes a goal the instant you put it in writing. The act of writing helps put it on your brain's important list faster. Having your goals in writing also helps you use the power of repetition because you can read them repeatedly so they don't slip out of sight and out of mind"

I can relate to both my family friend as well as Tom Venuto. I decided to write down my objectives on this blog and follow them through by posting about my progress towards those objectives (NOTE: my objective is to get a six-pack. haha).

Many times, I feel tired or want to take a break from my regular training but this blog helps me to keep focused on what I want to achieve. The idea of writing my next blog entry with an update encourages me to plan my next days activities. In a way, I guess this blog is more for me - as MY motivator.

Finally, I'd like to share this very powerful words by Ross Enamait.

"Somewhere along the line people have been fooled into believing that life is supposed to be easy. I often work 12+ hour days, and there are weeks when I work 7 days. I perform my own workout at the crack of dawn. Do I enjoy waking up at 4AM? Not really, but I get it done. I have a wife and son, with another on the way next month. I also have dogs, house work, work in the yard, etc. I’m beyond busy. Oh well, that’s life. I won’t cry about it and feel bad for myself. I won’t rush to the local fast food restaurant. I cook much of my food ahead of time. I make time. I find a way. Most people aren’t trying to make time. They aren’t making an effort.

We need to stop making excuses for others. People need to stop feeling bad for themselves. Life is tough. That’s a fact. There are good times and bad times. There are action takers and action fakers. There are ultra busy professionals who make time for fitness, while others don’t. We all have options, and we all make our own decisions. If someone has made poor decisions, I won’t sugarcoat it and console them with more excuses."
- Ross Enamait

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Activia Challenge

Activia yogurt by Danone.
Few weeks back, I happened to mention to a friend of mine that my daily diet includes Activia yogurt. He seemed puzzled because he always felt that Activia was meant for women.

Activia is basically a yogurt (a nice tasty yogurt, I must admit) that has a special culture called "Bifidus ActiRegularis" added. This "good bacteria" is supposed to reduce digestive comfort.

The yogurt is heavily promoted here in the middle east and most of the advertisements do seem to be focused on women but I never paid much attention to that. After all, most of the body soap that I use is advertised by semi-naked to naked women yet that has not stopped me from using body soap.

Even their website seems to target the product for women. I got the following blurb from their website.

"Don't just take our word for it: 82% of WOMEN with digestive discomfort said they felt better after eating one or two pots of Activia® a day**." Source.

It is strange that even the manufacturer seems to target the product for women. After all, it is basically a yogurt. I wonder why they would choose to exclude 50% of their potential customer base?. Of course, their FAQ clarifies this by indicating that Activia is not just for women.

"Yes, Activia is suitable for the whole family, including children age three and older, who are looking to eat a healthy, balanced diet." Source.

Activia yogurt that is available in the middle-east is not low-fat, so people who are looking to cut down calories will need to look elsewhere. There are about 100 calories in one pot of Activia plain yogurt and around 125 calories in the flavored version. 

While doing my research, I found this very interesting article from Slate,com that questions the science behind the so called "good bacteria". If the author of the article is to be believed (and he cites sources), there is no clinical proof that Activia does what it says it does. i.e. reduce digestive discomfort.

I started taking Activia yogurt because the change in my diet started causing discomfort for me. Since I was very confident of my diet choices, I needed something to reduce the discomfort and thought I'll give Activia a try. If it works, then fine. If it does not work, then no harm done since I would have taken some other yogurt anyway.

After about 2 weeks or so (The Activia marketing material claims you need to take it for 14 days to get results), I started feeling better. I don't know if it is a placebo effect or if my body got adjusted to the new diet or whether it is a result of the Activia yogurt.

All I know is that I love the taste of the yogurt and it will now become an integral part of my long-term diet plan.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Running? The Shoes are Important.

Nike Bowerman Zoom Series.
If you decide to start running, make sure you choose the right running shoes. The shoes are critical to the success of  your running plans because it is the only thing that separates you from your body and the hard surface of the road or the treadmill. Shoes that fit snugly and comfortably to your feet will make running fun and prevent injury.

Each of us run differently, depending on the type of feet that we have. Some of us have high arch, while others have a low-arch. Accordingly, we must choose matching shoes. The term "one-size-fits-all" does not apply when it comes to running shoes. We must wear shoes that suit our feet

This article gives excellent advice on how to determine your feet type and then choose the right shoes for your running needs.

After experimenting with different brands, I have settled down with the "Nike Bowerman Series". They are light and comfortable, and most importantly for me, they are compatible with the Nike+ Running System.

In recent years, there has been a momentum (based on research and scientific data) towards running barefoot.  Barefoot running involves running without any shoes and changing the style of how we run. Normally, when we run with shoes, we land on our heels and shoes are accordingly designed so that the heels absorb the shock of our body hitting the hard surface. If we remove the shoes out of the equation, our body automatically compensates by landing on the toes (to act as a shock absorber). Research done on barefoot running claims that this form of running is more beneficial to our bodies (especially our joints) in the long run - compared to running with shoes.

Running barefoot is not really practical for me. Even if I wanted to experiment with barefoot running, I would have a hard time explaining it to the gym management, as most gyms prohibit entering the gym area without proper shoes. However, if you need more information on barefoot running, this site is a good resource.

Even shoe manufacturers are getting into the barefoot running action. The Vibram Five Fingers are designed for barefoot runners by providing basic protection. Nike has also released their Free Run shoes that are supposed to simulate the barefoot running experience. Of course, hardcore barefoot runners will scoff at putting any shoes but those who want to start slowly might want to give them a try.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Power Food: Nuts

Nuts play a very big role in my daily nutrition plan. I find that a serving of mixed nuts 1 hour before workout keeps me satiated and gives me the energy to complete a hard workout session.

I usually mix a variety of nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans, and cashews) and throw in some black raisins to give a sweet taste to the mix.

I also find nuts are a tasty addition to my morning breakfast. Take Muesli or cornflakes and add the mixed nuts and pour in some cold milk. Yummy and keeps you full for the whole morning.

Nuts are high in both calories and fats, but that should not stop us from eating them.

The calories from the nuts are loaded with essential proteins, vitamins, fiber and antioxidants.

The fat in the nuts is nothing to be scared of either. The fat in the nuts is the mono-unsaturated and the poly-unsaturated (omega-3) type. Also known as the "good fats" that is beneficial to our body.

Avoid the salted variety of nuts. Though they may be tastier, the sodium from the salt will cause water retention in your body - making you feel bloated.

So next time you are sitting on the couch and feel like popping some French fries or salted crisps, reach out for some healthy nuts instead.