6 Muscle-Friendly Fruits

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

In bodybuilder circles fruit often gets a bad rap. That’s because many trainers consider any food with high amounts of sugar ought to be treated as if it were sprinkled with Agent Orange. However, the following fresh choices can provide the physique-minded person with a serious edge over those who go without.

banana

As bananas are among the most carbohydrate-dense fruits, eat them with your breakfast to help restock muscle glycogen level and put a halt to muscle breakdown. Or blend one into your post-training protein shake to help replenish muscle energy stores. Bananas are also a fabulous source of potassium, an electrolyte necessary for proper muscular contraction.

Wild berries

Wild berries

Food scientists at Cornell University (Ithaca, NY) found wild blueberries pack a huge antioxidant payload. Harvested at peak ripeness, frozen blueberries are flash-frozen after picking to lock in those antioxidants. Many supermarkets stock subzero wild blueberries in their frozen-food section. Add them to shakes, oatmeal and yogurt.

Kiwi

Kiwi

Ask 10 bodybuilders which fruit packs in the most vitamin C, and the majority will name the orange. In fact, kiwi fruit possesses higher levels of this potent antioxidant, which could help you trim fat off your frame. Scientists at Arizona State University (Mesa) found poor vitamin C status can hinder fat burning during exercise because vitamin C is necessary for the synthesis of carnitine, a molecule required for the proper oxidation of fatty acids.

Grannie Smiths

Grannie Smiths

An apple a day may keep Buddha-belly at bay. Preliminary research data suggests a compound in apple peel called ursolic acid can rev up fat burning as well as increase skeletal muscle mass. With a lower glycemic index than many other fruits an apple is ideal before a workout. Consider splurging for organic if you’re noshing on the peel. The Environmental Working Group found apples harbor more pesticide residues than other fruit.

Haas

Haas

This fruit (yes, it’s a fruit) is packed with dietary fiber — a whopping 13 grams per avocado. Bodybuilders on a high-protein diet may be coming up short in the fiber department, but seeing as a high-fiber diet has been shown to help whittle the middle (likely by reducing spikes in blood sugar and discouraging fat storage), adding fiber where you can is key. Avocado is also a leading source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. Spread avocado on rye crackers or add slices to your dinner salads.

Watermelon

Watermelon

Watermelon is a good source of citrulline and amino acid involved in the production of nitric oxide (NO). Bodybuilders rave about NO since it improves blood flow to muscles, allowing for a greater delivery of recovery nutrients and anabolic compounds. Want to ignite some fireworks in your love life? Research suggests citrulline can also relax and dilate blood vessels, much as the little blue pill does.

You may want to take some time and research other fruits that contain other sources of nutrients that’s great for you muscles. Also, there are a number of great supplements out there that are packed with these and other  nutrients as well.

Pros and cons, to morning, afternoon and evening work out time frame.

Lets just get right into it. You can read my opinion here for a little more detail if you would like.

what time is good for you

Morning exercise pros 

Exercising in the morning can:

  • Get our metabolisms off to a flying start helping us burn more calories throughout the day
  • Promote more fat burning because our depleted glycogen stores force our bodies to turn to fat
  • Produce endorphins that stimulates us and helps us get off to a positive start to the day
  • Act like a cup of coffee and wake us up
  • Help us exercise more consistently by minimizing distractions
  • Can create time for exercise by forcing us to get up a bit earlier
  • Improve energy levels for the rest of the day ahead
  • Improve our mental sharpness for hours after
  • Allow us to exercise unaffected by summer heat
  • Minimize our exposure to air pollution exercising outside
  • Make it easier to get on machines in the gym without waiting and when time limits don’t apply

Morning exercise cons 

As well as having many positives, morning exercise also has some negatives.

Included in these are the facts that morning exercise can:

  • Force us to workout with less than optimal energy levels
  • Promote injuries by forcing us to workout with cold, stiff muscles
  • If exercising before eating, muscle (as well as fat) can be used as a fuel source
  • Make it difficult for us to form a habit for exercise (if we are not “morning people”)
  • Put some of us at higher risk for heart attack (research suggests a generalized increased risk) Continue reading

When is a good time to work out?

“Vince, when is the best time of day to work out, morning, noon or evenings?” This is what a colleague of mine asked when I told him I was

Timing isn’t everything.

headed to the gym after work. It was about 3:30 pm. Of course I gave him my two cents on the subject. I said to him, “it all depends on you and your schedule. I also said that’s like asking when is a good time to schedule an appointment or when is a good time to eat breakfast, lunch or dinner, when is the best time to go grocery shopping. Of course there are experts out there that say mornings are the best time, but for me, it just depends on the person”.

I go when I can and when I feel like it. And if I have a work out partner (which I highly recommend) I go when we both are free. (Just as long as I get it in).
I do more weight lifting than cardio which is terrible. I hate cardio. I get better results when I fix my mind about 2 or 3 hours before going in the late afternoon. My muscles are at their best around this time because of my “internal clock” since I am use to going at that time. And there is no interference with my workout. We all have distractions and life is happening all the time that may cause us to leave the gym or where ever we work out, that may prevent us from finishing our exercises.
On the weekends I may go in the mornings. I don’t set an alarm to get up and go. I’m not a morning person. But after I crawl out of bed, get to moving around, see what’s on the calendar, do my bathroom activities, I may jump in the car and be there before 10:00 am.
I will even grab a protein shake or a bite to eat before I go. It’s not good to work out on an empty stomach because your body needs fuel. You will burn muscle and some healthy fats if you’re doing this.

The bottom line is that it is more important that we workout than when we workout. If we can’t workout in the morning, or don’t want to, but can work out in the afternoon or evening, that’s cool. Just get it in.
If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it. If you currently have an exercise time and routine that is working for you, stick with it. Like Nike says, “Just Do It.”
Regardless of what the research says, every individual is unique, and as such, each person’s body chemistry, mentality, physical readiness and inner clock is different. What works best for one person may not work for another. In fact, what works best for us today may change in a couple of months or years.
The difference between working out in the morning, afternoon or evening is likely to be negligible at best. Just my two cents. Decide the best time for you to exercise based upon your personal goals, schedule and lifestyle. Ideally, you will pick a time that you are able to stick with consistently and make it a part of your daily or weekly routine.

Check out some of the pros and cons here if you like. I would love to hear what time works best for you. Just to see the differences. It will be a learning experience for us all. Please feel free to leave a comment or a reply.

    

Zinc Magnesium Benefits Beyond Strength

Zinc

Zinc (Photo credit: AJC1)

Zinc and magnesium combinations offer many more tangible health benefits than the marked increases in muscular strength and size so familiar to explosive strength athletes. From a heightened immune system to liver protection, zinc is a wonder mineral. Magnesium is essential to muscle and heart function, and is now regarded as playing a critical role in preventing a number of illnesses.

Bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts were quick to borrow the zinc and magnesium mineral mixtures to reach their own goals. The combination uses the aspartate forms of the 2 major ingredients and adds a little vitamin B-6 to increase their absorption. The supplement is available in a number of brand names.

Its initial popularity two years ago was due to a study that detailed the effects of the supplement on college football players in an 8-week training period. All athletes in the study were experienced lifters.

The results were spectacular. The athletes taking the mineral combination posted an average 11.6% increase in leg strength, compared to 4.6% in the placebo group. The group taking zinc and magnesium also had a 30% increase in free and total testosterone levels, compared to 10% decreases in the placebo group.

While these gains alone are enough to prompt many athletes to take the mix, other values of the two minerals for the general population — whether or not they train with weights are enormous.

Zinc
Zinc is essential to numerous chemical reactions in the body, including protein synthesis and cellular energy. Its immune system values begin with zinc’s ability to regulate the production of T cells. Zinc also helps provides critical protection to the liver, assists in deterring enlargement of the prostate gland, and is essential in maintaining reproductive organ health.

Zinc’s most popular application has been zinc lozenges, which have been shown to reduce the length and severity of common cold symptoms by 45-50%. Lozenges without an acid base (like orange, lemon, or others with flavorings that have citric acid or vitamin C) are markedly more effective. Take your vitamin C four hours later or earlier than your zinc. The suggested Daily Value for zinc is 15 milligrams, and these mineral combinations usually contain twice that. If you take that amount continually you’ll need additional supplemental copper.

Magnesium
Magnesium is essential for normal heart function, transporting neurochemicals essential in muscle function and mood regulation, and in the critical balance of sodium and potassium within our cells. Despite its vital contributions, the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that 74% of people take in less than the recommended Daily Value of 400 milligrams (for men). The zinc and magnesium formulations usually contain 450 milligrams.

Remember to take zinc-magnesium formulations on an empty stomach just before going to bed. The test results were based on following those protocols.

C’mon…Get Pumped!

Whether you call it weightlifting, pumping iron, or bodybuilding – lifting weights both light and heavy has long been a great way to get in shape and stay in shape. Weightlifting or weight training has many health benefits for both men and women. There are weightlifting and weight-training routines appropriate for men, woman, even children of any age, any size, and any body type. If you want to build muscle mass, increase stamina, improve cardiac function, even stave off the symptoms of osteoporosis – you can accomplish all of that and so much more by adding a good weight training routine to your regular workout. 

To get the most health benefit out of lifting weights, you need to combine your weight training with other exercise. If you are not already doing some kind of aerobic or cardio workout everyday, you must do this in addition to weight lifting. It is not healthy to just begin to lift weights without a proper warm up. Of course before starting any workout routine, check with your doctor. Prior to starting your weight lifting workout you need to “get the blood moving” and your muscles primed for some heavy lifting. Just before hitting the weights, do a good ten minutes on a bicycle, take a short jog, or jump rope. Do a few legs and arm stretches as well. The key to successful weight training involves what are called repetitions. In lifting it is not so important how much you lift, but how many times you can lift the weight. A proper weight lifting routine will be designed to work out all of the major muscle groups of the body, which include: The Shoulders, Neck and Back, Biceps, Triceps, Quadriceps Chest, Abs, Hamstrings, Calves, and of course the Gluteus.

The next question on your mind is likely to be “should I use free weights or machines?” and “how much weight should I work out with?” You can use free weights or machines or maybe a little of both. If you are working out in a gym, of course they will have both and will likely be able to recommend a “circuit” of weight lifting exercises for you. If you intend to lift weights in the home, it all depends on your budget and physical space to determine of you want to buy a “Home Gym” type resistance trainer such as Bowflex – or a good set of free weights and barbells – or both. Weight machines are great for beginners because they have been designed to work a specific muscle or muscle group, and will insure that you are seated or standing in the right position to target that group when you lift. Free weights are the traditional barbells and dumbbells that have been around for centuries, and they work great. In fact some would argue that once you learn how to use them properly you get a better workout than machines because it is only the force of your muscles and your ability to balance the weight that keeps the weight and your muscles moving properly. There is no aid from the machine, so you are effectively using more muscle with free weights.

Lifting weights improves your strength and stamina. Lifting weights builds muscle and confidence, improves cardiovascular health and can actually help prevent other sports injuries. And lifting weights can help you lose extra pounds and keep them off – so what are you “weighting” for. Come on get pumping!