Archive for November, 2008

Body Types: Endomorphs Monday, November 17th, 2008

Today I will talk about the endomorph, the opposite of the ectomorph. An endomorph is someone who has a natural disposition toward a high body fat percentage, always seems overweight (or big-boned), has a big body and finds it difficult to gain a toned physique.

The name of the game is burning calories for the endomorph. To lose excess fat, slim down, and expose the muscles underneath, you must be burning more calories than you are taking in on a day-to-day basis. This means cardio should be done regularly and for decent amounts of time. If you are just beginning, start with around 20 minutes of cardio three times a week, and then try to build up to an hour of cardio three to five times a week. Interval training is a great method for building up your level of fitness and endurance. Instead of going the same pace the entire time, change it up; spend some time doing fast, intense cardio, followed by doing less intense, moderate or light cardio. By constantly changing, the body is unable to sustain a rhythm which leads to muscle confusion and in the end, usually a more interesting workout as well as more calories being burned.

Weight training is also important for the endomorph just as it is for every body type. You need to have muscle before you can see muscle. While weight training, focus either on high volume or high intensity training, and you could even try a combination of both because everyone’s body responds differently to training. High volume training means using a higher rep range, around ten to fifteen reps per set, which will increase the amount of time you, spend lifting the weights and thus, the amount of calories being burned and it will also have more of a toning effect on your muscles. High intensity training does not necessarily mean a high rep range but just that the amount of time you rest in between sets is decreased to between thirty seconds and a minute, or even lower if you already have a high level of fitness. Of course you could combine these two methods by increasing the reps and decreasing the rest time.

Food is another component for fat loss, but one that is commonly misunderstood. I have touched on this briefly before, but the endomorph should not decrease the amount of meals eaten. That will actually drive your body to gaining weight and cannibalizing the muscle that you have. You should instead be eating an ideal five to six meals per day, the same for each body type. The meal portions should be controlled though and sugars and high levels of fats should be avoided. Eating small and eating often will allow your body to digest the food that you eat completely before being served another portion. This gives the body an opportunity to sort through the fat and sugar you ate and burn it instead of storing it.

So remember, if you are an endomorph, be aware of your body type and adjust your exercise accordingly. There is no reason you cannot have lean, defined muscle, it is a very real possibility with some time and effort. Keep your motivation up and believe you can get there; I also recommend getting a workout partner so that you can keep each other going and help each other stay committed.

Myths: Soft Drinks Monday, November 10th, 2008

I promised to dispel some more myths and that is my goal for this week. There is a lot of knowledge floating around about the topic of health and fitness, some of it is right, some of it is partially right, and some of it is simply wrong. Today I am going to cover sports drinks.

Sports drinks such as Gatorade and PowerAde are full of slogans trying to get you to buy their product. A common selling point is that they contain essential electrolytes; this is true, but is nowhere near reason enough to buy the product. These products contain high amounts of sugar, which creates more harm than good. Electrolytes are nothing more than salts usually; so if you think you are lacking this nutrient, put some salt in some water and call it good, there are then no negative sugar effects. This might not be the best tasting alternative, but for most people there is no reason to consume extra electrolytes anyway because there are plenty of salts in our daily eating habits.

People who are training upwards of five hours per day should keep a careful eye on their salt content and will probably need to get some added electrolytes to their bodies. This is an extreme lifestyle and is not going to be done by the majority of us, so stop worrying about electrolytes.

Sports drinks are also known for their corrosive properties to tooth enamel, the protective layer covering your teeth. Most dentists detest these drinks and for good reason, the excessive amounts of sugar and artificial colors and other chemicals can wreak havoc on not only your body but also your teeth.

Vitamin water is another popular substitute for heavenly nectar, aka water. Vitamin water is a joke, an utter waste of money, unless you prefer the taste and added calories and spending money. For the lousy amount of vitamins actually contained in the water, you are basically paying for flavored water. In my opinion there is no better tasting drink on the planet than fresh mountain water. Now I realize that many people have to put up with city water, but here in Colorado even city water is fine.

Stop wasting money on drinks that live off of their advertising and good flavor; do not get caught up in the fad of thinking you are doing your body good by consuming these drinks.

Weight Gain Thursday, November 6th, 2008

Today I will look at some different ways to bulk up for those of you who want to get huge! The main nutrient that builds muscle is protein; a common amount of daily protein recommended is one to one and a half grams of protein per pound of body weight. However, that does not mean you should avoid foods that do not offer a large portion of protein. To gain weight, and therefore muscle, you need to be eating more calories than you are burning; for this to happen, eat a lot of food- carbohydrates, protein, fats, everything. Take the advice I gave about fats and carbohydrates. Some people want to just gain weight without worrying about if it is mostly fat, and then after the weight has been gained, they will diet and burn off all the fat and keep the muscle gained during that “bulking phase.” I tend to avoid having any fat on my body at all, so I pay closer attention to the foods I eat, unlike people who perform this technique.

There are three different types of bodies, ectomorphs, endomorphs, and mesomorphs. It is important to know which type you are so that you can effectively know how to get huge and ripped. Ectomorphs are those people who have a naturally small and even somewhat frail frame. They cannot seem to gain weight no matter how much food they eat and are stuck in the land of the skinny. If this is you, the first thing I will say is stop most if not all of your cardio activities. Burning more calories is certainly not going to allow you to bulk up, so stop burning them. I understand the importance of staying in shape, but if you are serious about bulking up, you have to understand your body and that by doing cardio you will have to eat an outrageous amount of food. Another good tip for ectomorphs and all body types is to eat smaller meals every two to three hours; this allows your body to constantly consume nutrients throughout the day and will not start burning off muscle if all of your excess energy reserves have been depleted.

Another tip is to drink a lot of water, but also a lot of other liquids because water speeds up your metabolism, and this is not something you want. Also, try to get a little less sleep because sleep also speeds up metabolism. This is an initial mass gaining technique and should not necessarily be instituted long term. Sleep also allows your body to recuperate and heal after hard workouts which is necessary to build muscle. So if you are an ectomorph and are struggling to gain weight try some of these different tips, and remember to eat, eat, and eat. Next time I will define the body type mesomorph and look at some mass gaining techniques for them.

Fruit Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

Fruits are a tasty alternative to unhealthy snacks and provide many beneficial nutrients. Apples, bananas, oranges, grapes, and strawberries are common types of fruit that can be added to almost any meal. Many other types of fruit can be combined to form fruit salads or smoothies, both are very appetizing and nutritious. Most fruits contain phytochemicals, antioxidants, fiber, and a variety of vitamins.

Phytochemicals are contained by all plants and limit the growth of cancer cells. Some other benefits of phytochemicals are that they can aid in the treatment and prevention of high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes. Apples and cherries are specifically good for helping to fight tumor growth and to prevent blood clots.

The basic explanation of antioxidants, avoiding excessive chemistry, is that they neutralize free radicals. Free radicals, if not neutralized, create a detrimental chain reaction in the body and can lead to cancer and coronary heart disease. Apples and cherries are also great suppliers of antioxidants; many vegetables contain more antioxidants.

Vitamins are important for many different aspects of your body and are essential for a healthy diet. Some fruits that contain good amounts of vitamins A, C, B1, B2, B6, and E are apples, bananas, grapefruits, kiwis, oranges, peaches, pears, and strawberries.

Fiber contains no calories, is indigestible, and cannot be absorbed by the body, so you would think it would be fairly useless. That would be a wrong assumption because fiber helps out in digestion by making waste pass through the colon more quickly and also has some properties that help fight against cancer. Some good fruits for fiber consumption are apples, bananas, grapefruits, oranges, peaches, and pears.

A general layout of grocery stores is the fresh foods are on the perimeter and the processed foods are on the interior. So when shopping, stay by the outside walls and look for some colorful, fruity additions to your eating habits. Not only will they taste good, they will provide your body with beneficial, long term effects.

Dieting Monday, November 3rd, 2008

One of the reasons I dislike dieting is that many diets try to get rid of carbohydrates, this is a huge mistake. There are three types of carbohydrates: sugar, starch, and fiber. Sugar is the type of carbohydrate you should stay away from because it is a simple carbohydrate and is turned into glucose which is then turned into fat. Starch and fiber though are complex carbohydrate and are beneficial to your body. Carbohydrates are your body’s first form of energy, followed by fat and then protein. To lose fat you first have to burn off your carbohydrates, but complex carbohydrates blend with your fat meaning that you can burn off fat and carbohydrates at the same time.

Some good foods that contain complex carbohydrates and little sugar include pasta and bread, and really any food that has a lot of grain in it; grains contain starch and also some fiber. Beans are another good source of fiber and protein so I would recommend eating beans on a regular basis. Potatoes have come under scrutiny with some people who say that they contain too much starch but I personally love potatoes and do not think there are enough negative health effects to deter you from eating them. Fruits and vegetables are both great sources for carbohydrates and also include a plethora of other beneficial nutrients.

Fats are also a nutrient that is absolutely essential to your body and is not something that you can eliminate from your eating habits. Saturated fats are ones you want to stay away from but monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are good for you and also help reduce cholesterol. Fruits and vegetables are great sources for healthy fats as are cold water fish such as salmon, cod, and tuna. Nuts and seeds are also full of fats that will help your body.

So the next time you are shopping for food, do not immediately get rid of moderately high carbohydrate and fat containing foods. Look more closely at the labels; do most of the carbohydrates come from sugar, or do they come from fiber? Are there saturated fats in the food, or healthier, unsaturated fats? The key is to have a good balance, so do not take this article as a reason to go load up on carbohydrates and fats, you should still consume them in moderate quantities and make sure you are getting many other vital nutrients. Next time I will look at fruits and discuss the benefits and even disadvantages of the more common ones.