Triceps! Exercise of the Week – August 19th

Tricep Plank

tricep plank, tricep exercise, arm workout
This exercise will primarily workout your tricepts – yeah, that back part of your arm that jiggles when you wave… If you want toned arms this is the best place to start. Don’t be surprised if you feel your abs burning as well!

Start lying flat on the ground and raise yourself up into plank position. This means all of your weight will be on your toes and your forearms, keep your elbows at a ninety-degree angle and your palms flat on the floor. Make sure your legs and back are completely straight and in line. Engage your abdominal and leg muscles to keep tight and stable in this position. Push onto the ground through your palms and extend your elbow to straighten your arm. You should feel this in the back of your upper arm. Push right up into a push up position, remembering to keep your body completely straight and tight. Hold for a second and then very slowly allow your elbows to bend and lower yourself back into plank position – make absolutely sure this movement is under control. Keep your elbows tucked in to your sides during the whole exercises. You may feel your elbows naturally coming out and your hands turning in, if this happens stop and restart. Figure out how many of these you can do until fatigue and then subtract 2 or 3, so if you can do 8 at max, start by doing repetitions of 5 or 6. Do 3 sets of these twice a week for better arms. Make sure you also workout your bicep too to avoid muscle imbalance!

How to Boost Your Metabolism

metabolism, boost your metabolism, lose weight, improve metabolism, increase metabolism

How to Boost Your Metabolism

Did you know our bodies are constantly burning calories, even when we’re at rest? Life sustaining activities like breaking down food, keeping your heart beating and breathing all cost calories.  The sum of these calorie expenses is your metabolism, and while the rate at which we burn calories is mostly out of our control, determined by age, sex (lucky guys!) and genetics, there is still wiggle room for improvement.  Boosting your metabolism can be a huge aid for loosing weight, if you use more calories than you consume you’ll lose weight, if you consume more than you use, you’ll gain weight. Simple.  But back to the important part, by changing a few things you can increase your metabolism so you burn far more calories a day – this means you can lose weight without increasing exercise or decreasing the amount of calories you consume.  Boosting your metabolism is as close to a magic diet pill as you can get.

Start your day off right by eating breakfast

Eating a nutrient-rich breakfast gets your engine going so it can keep going all day. The National Weight Control Registry has found that 78% of people who have lost a significant amount of weight eat a substantial breakfast everyday.  If you don’t eat when you wake up your body has no sustenance, and your metabolism will start the day off at a snails pace.  A study in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that volunteers who ate breakfast gained only 1.7 pounds on average over four years, those who didn’t eat it gained nearly three pounds!

Eat… more???

You know that gnawing feeling in the pit of your stomach when you’re hungry? That’s bad.  It means your body is in ‘starvation’ mode and your metabolism has slowed right down.  Nibbling throughout the day rather than gorging at meals, and then going hours without food, is the best way to keep your metabolism at its optimum rate.  It will also help balance blood sugar levels, which will prevent the insulin spikes that can cause weight gain.  Additionally, if you graze throughout the day you’ll consume much less at mealtime, resulting in consuming fewer calories each day. So snack, snack, snack!! Here are some great low calorie snack foods.

A good way to make sure you’re eating enough to keep you metabolism at its peak is to consume enough calories to match your resting metabolic rate (or basal metabolic rate, BMR).  Your resting metabolic rate is the amount of calories your body needs to sustain normal life processes, such as keeping your heart beating, at rest.  Your BMR is determined by a number of factors including, height, weight, age and sex.  You can calculate yours here.   Divide your BMR by 6 and try to consume this many calories every 3-5 hours. 

Caffeine

Caffeine increases the amount of energy your body uses by stimulating the central nervous system, this increases your heart rate and breathing, resulting in an increased metabolism.   A study in the journal, Physiology & Behavior, showed that drinking caffeinated coffee increased metabolic rate by 16% compared to decaf coffee.  Energy drinks may have an even better effect on metabolism than coffee because they sometimes contain Taurine, an amino acid which can help burn fat and further boost metabolism.

Ice Water

Your body needs water to process calories, so when you’re dehydrated you can’t process them and your metabolism decreases.  If you ever feel thirsty it means you’re already dehydrated and your metabolism has already slowed down, drinking 8 glasses of water a day will guarantee this doesn’t happen.  In general, I’m a huge supporter of drinking plenty of ice-cold water every day, especially when you’re trying to lose weight.  A study at the University of Utah found that people who drank eight glasses of water a day had a higher metabolic rate than those who only drank 4.

Enjoy your post exercise boost

Intense aerobic exercise has a hangover effect on your metabolism, it can remain elevated even hours after the workout.  You really have to push yourself to achieve this though.  Engage in high-intensity exercise, the kind where you can barely think let alone talk while you’re doing it.  This sort of exercise will result in excess post exercise oxygen consumption, which will keep your metabolism at an elevated level for several hours.  Stepping up the intensity of your workout also means you’ll burn the same number of calories in less time.

Interval training is the easiest way to increase the intensity of a workout. Interval training also means you will use more oxygen and your mitochondria (the power plant of your cells) will have to work harder.  In response your body will produce more mitochondria, which will burn more calories throughout the day.  So how do you do interval training?  This can be done with any cardio workout – running, swimming, biking, and elliptical.  Start at your normal pace, after 5 minutes go flat out for 60 seconds, then go back to normal for 120 seconds and repeat.  You will not be able to workout for as long but your time will be much better spent.  As well as increasing the intensity of your workout, the bust of speed may stimulate a fat-burning response.

Try more protein

More protein = more lean muscle mass.  A pound of muscle at rest will burn around 35 calories a day.  A pound of fat will burn about 3.  Increasing the percentage of your body weight made up of muscle will increase your resting metabolic rate.   What’s a good amount of protein? Try 30 grams, about the amount in a small chicken breast, 2-3 times a day. Protein also costs more calories to digest than fat or carbs, so eating a high protein diet means you expend more calories consuming your food, increasing metabolism.  Great sources of protein include beef, turkey, fish, chicken, tofu, nuts, beans, eggs, and dairy products.

Slow Strength Training

Start lifting weights so you can convert all of that protein you’re eating into muscle weigh!  If you lift slowly (count to 3 for each exercise) you will increase the breakdown of your muscle.  Repairing this muscle costs energy so it will boost your metabolism for up to 72 hours! Lifting weights for 30 minutes twice a week can increase your metabolism by 100 calories a day (though it’ll take 4-6 months to get to this point). Weight training is a great weight to prevent your metabolism from slowing down as you age due to muscle atrophy.

Miraculous Green Tea

Green tea contains ECGC, a compound that promotes fat burning.  One study found that drinking 3-5 cups a day for 12 weeks reduced body weight by an average of 4.6 percent.  Green tea also contains catechin, which may boost metabolism by improving fat oxidation and increasing the amount of energy you use to digest your food.  A study suggests that 2-4 cups of tea a day may result in a 17% increase in calories burned during exercise.

Calcium

Calcium increases your ability to metabolize fats efficiently by increasing how much fat you excrete – yeh, that kind of excretion.  Having a calcium rich snack may help compensate for a fat filled binge earlier in the day.

Choose organic produce

Organochlorieds, chemicals found in pesticides, can accumulate in fat cells and disrupt your mitochondria and thyroid.  Your thyroid is incredibly important because it acts as a thermostat by determining how fast your body runs.  Disrupting your thyroid and mitochondria will inevitably lead to an inability to function correctly and slow down your metabolism.  Eating organic foods without the pesticides will circumvent this issue.

Spice it up

Capsaicin is the active component in chili peppers that gives them their spicy quality.  When you consume chili peppers the capsaicin activates your sympathetic nervous system, which increases heart rate, breathing and blood flow to your skeletal muscles.  All this activity costs calories, so eating spicy foods containing capsaicin can boost your metabolism by up to 23% percent.

Iron

Iron helps your red blood cells deliver oxygen around the body, keeping you energized and your metabolism running smoothly.  An iron deficiency can result in fatigue and a lack of energy, read: slow metabolism.  So if you’re someone who struggles with anemia, or a woman (you’ll lose iron for about a week every month…) eating beans, dark leafy greens and cereals containing iron will help keep your metabolism in tip top shape.

Fish Oil

A study in the journal, Obesity Research, found that when rats ingested fish oil while exercising they lost weight.  The Omega-3 fatty acids in the fish oil help balance blood sugar levels and reduce inflammation, which helps to regulate metabolism. They may also play a role in resistance to a hormone called leptin that has been linked to obesity.  A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that participants who took six grams of fish oil every day, and worked out 3 times a week, lost an average of 3.4 pounds in 12 weeks.  Participants who exercised but did not take the fish oil, did not lose any weight.  Look for daily omega-3 fatty acid supplements containing 1000 to 2000 milligrams.

Skip the trans fat

Trans fats have a unique shape that results in them binding to fat and liver cells which slows down your metabolism.  Consuming trans fats can also increase resistance to insulin and inflammations, which decreases metabolism and causes weight gain.  As if you needed another reason to avoid these guys…

Avoid Crash or Fad Diets

Many crash or fad diets involve consuming less than 1000 calories a day so you drop weight fast.  Most of the pounds you lose, though, are from muscle, which as we mentioned before burns far more calories than fat.  Reducing the percent of your body weight that is muscle will slow down your metabolism.  Additionally, eating so few calories will transition your body to starvation mode and you will hang onto every calorie you eat.

Transform yourself into a fat burning machine by drinking water and green tea, consuming caffeine, snacking sensibly, interval training, weight lifting, eating more protein, calcium, organic food, iron containing food, spicy food and fish oil, and finally, not participating in crash diets or eating trans fats … is that all?

As always, don’t forget to follow via wordpress, email, RSS feed or twitter —->

5 Killer Calf Exercises

calf workout, calf exercises, lower leg workout

5 Killer Calf Exercises

Toned calves are an essential part of having good legs but are often forgotten about in lower leg workouts. The calf is made up of the gastrocnemius muscle, which gives the calf its rounded shape and the soleus which is the flat longer muscle that runs underneath the gastrocnemius and down the leg. Here are 5 moves that isolate these muscles and will guarantee you have killer, sculpted calves.

Standing Calf Raise

Place the front half of your feet on a step so that your heel extends off the end of the step. Slowly raise yourself up and then back down by pushing on the ground will the balls of your feet. Let your heel come slightly lower than the step on the way back down. To make this more challenging try doing it one legged or while holding weights in your hands. To make it easier, ditch the step and do this from a normal standing position.

standing leg raises, calf workout, calf exercises, lower leg workout

Recommended: 1 min intervals at steady pace

Ski hops

These work your calf from a side angle while also working your inner and outer thighs, glutes and core. Start standing up on the balls of your feet, jump about a foot to your right, landing only on the ball of your right foot. Let your left foot swing behind your right leg. Jump from the balls of your right foot about 2 feet to your left and land on the ball of your left foot, allowing your right foot to swing behind your left leg. Repeat so you move left and right, switching your jumping leg.

Ski hops, calf workout, calf exercises, lower leg workout

Recommended: 1 min intervals as fast as possible

Hop

This exercise is particularly effective because jumping gets your calf from every area and burns calories at the same time. Bend one leg at the knee so all of your weight is on the second leg. Now lift you heel off the floor 2-3 inches so all of your weight is on the ball of your foot. Repeatedly jump several inches off the ground, landing only on the ball of your foot. To make this more challenging, place a sturdy object that’s 4-6 inches high in front of you and hop on and off of that. After 30 seconds switch to your other leg.

hops, calf workout, calf exercises, lower leg workout

Recommended: 1 min intervals as quickly as possible

Seated Calf Raise

Sit on a firm, sturdy chair with your feet flat on the floor, your knees aligned directly over your feet and your spine straight. Place some weight on your thighs (either gym weights or just something heavy). Push on the floor with the balls of your feet so your heels are lifted as high as possible. Then slowly lower your heels back to the ground and repeat.

seated leg raises, calf workout, calf exercises, lower leg workout

Recommended: 1 min intervals at steady pace

One legged jumps with arm raise

Start on the ball of your right foot (your left foot should not touch the ground for the duration of the exercise). Bend your right knee slightly and bend at your waist so you are touching your right toe with your left fingers. Push off the ground and jump as high into the air as you can. Open up your torso and arm and reach as high into the air as you can. When you land bend your knees and cushion your landing as best as possible. Immediately lower your left arm to your toes and repeat. After 30 seconds switch to your left leg.

Recommended: 1 minutes as fast as possible

See how many repetitions you can get in during the 1 minutes and then try to beat it next time. Rest for 30 seconds in between intervals.

100 Reasons to Exercise

Reasons to exercise, reasons to workout, benefits of exercise

Sometimes we all need a little motivation to workout, here’s 100 reasons why you should exercise TODAY!

  1. Look Better
  2. Feel Better
  3. Lose Weight
  4. Meet new people
  5. Bond with old friends
  6. Make new friends
  7. Fit into old clothes
  8. Receive a compliment
  9. Reduce your risk of diabetes
  10. Get out in the sunshine
  11. Accomplish something
  12. Reduce risk of heart disease
  13. More muscle
  14. Tone your body
  15. Boost immune system
  16. Stress management
  17. Release endorphins
  18. Reduced risk of heart attack fatality
  19. Can reduce headache pain
  20. Increase metabolism
  21. Improves bone density
  22. Improves circulation
  23. Increase your levels of good cholesterol
  24. May help beat addiction
  25. Reduces medical expenses
  26. Improves your ability to recover from illness
  27. Increases cartilage in joints
  28. Gives you more energy
  29. Increases your endurance
  30. Better sleep
  31. Better posture
  32. Better athletic performance
  33. Reduced risk of colon cancer
  34. Better control of blood sugar
  35. Increase stroke volume (better blood flow)
  36. Increase your self esteem
  37. Develop confidence
  38. Decrease your risk of coronary thrombosis
  39. Its relaxing
  40. Reduced risk of breast cancer
  41. Better mental cognition
  42. Improved flexibility
  43. Improves glucose tolerance
  44. Enhances your muscles ability to extract oxygen from blood
  45. Reduces risk of back problems
  46. Improves mood
  47. Increases overall health awareness
  48. Improves heat tolerance
  49. May protect against Alzheimer’s disease
  50. Increases pain tolerance
  51. Decreases short term appetite
  52. Reduces risk of endometriosis
  53. Can prevent migraines
  54. Helps alleviate symptoms of menopause
  55. Improves decision making abilities
  56. To feel comfortable in shorts
  57. To feel comfortable in a tank top
  58. To feel comfortable in a bathing suit
  59. You can eat more without gaining weight
  60. Improves balance
  61. Improves coordination
  62. Reduces risk of stroke
  63. Improves respiratory muscles strength
  64. Increases mental alertness
  65. Lowers resting heart rate
  66. Decreases menstrual pain
  67. Reduces symptoms of hypertension
  68. Can prevent substance abuse
  69. Increases blood volume
  70. Can relieve constipation
  71. Gets you out of your comfort zone
  72. Has been shown to boost creativity
  73. Helps overcome Jet lag
  74. Reduces blood viscosity
  75. Helps with blood pressure control
  76. Decreases anxiety
  77. Can help relieve pregnancy discomfort
  78. Helps maintain weight loss
  79. Improves short term memory
  80. To get stronger
  81. To get a better butt
  82. Because its always time to start getting in shape for summer
  83. It’s a great way to get ‘me’ time
  84. It makes clothes shopping more fun
  85. It will make your skin glow
  86. May increase lifespan
  87. Its fun
  88. It doesn’t cost anything
  89. It will get you out of the house
  90. Can improve life perspective
  91. You already spent all that money on workout clothes
  92. To get a more positive attitude
  93. To reduce belly fat
  94. You’ll age better
  95. To set a good example to kids
  96. It’s cheaper than therapy
  97. Self respect
  98. Respect from others
  99. To exceed your own expectations
  100. To be the best, healthiest version of you

Does FORCE™ TOTAL BODY OXYGENATOR work?

FORCE™ TOTAL BODY OXYGENATOR, oxygenator, workout supplement

Does FORCE™ TOTAL BODY OXYGENATOR work?

This blog comes at the request of a twitter follower and I will be writing about some more supplements in the near future, so feel free to contact me if there’s anything you’d like me to look into! For now lets focus on Force, a pre workout supplement by Limitless World Wide.

What does FORCE™ TOTAL BODY OXYGENATOR do?

Many professional athletes travel to high altitude locations to train. Training in an area with ‘thinner air’ means that their body must compensate for the decrease in oxygen. The body does this by producing more red blood cells and hemoglobin. Oxygen binds to the hemoglobin in your red blood cells and the cells deliver the oxygen around your body. So increasing these two components increases oxygen delivery to your muscles, allowing you to sustain aerobic respiration longer. Aerobic respiration is our most efficient means off creating ATP, or energy, so this means you can exercise longer before becoming fatigued. Altitude training has the same effect as blood doping – but is a hell of a lot more work and legal. More red blood cells = more oxygen to your muscles = better physical performance. Force claims to be a ‘total body oxygenator’ that has the same effect as high altitude training, allowing you to train longer or get through the day easier.

First, the term oxygenator generally refers to a device that exchanges oxygen and carbon dioxide. Surgeons use these during heart operations to make sure the patient is still receiving oxygen. They may also be used in fish tanks to make sure the oxygen levels in the water are high enough. However, a very general definition for the term oxygenator is something that causes the infusion of oxygen, which, I guess is what the marketers of this product were going for. So, does Force infuse your body with Oxygen?

Is FORCE™ TOTAL BODY OXYGENATOR an oxygenator?

In a study (presumably run by the makers of Force), 24 subjects were tested on an ergometer for 30 minutes. Pulmonary ventilation, peak oxygen intake and heart rate were continually monitored throughout the test. Pulmonary ventilation and peak oxygen intake significantly increased when the subject took Force one hour before hand. What does this mean? Pulmonary ventilation is just the rate at which gas enters and leaves your lungs. It is the sum of tidal volume, how much air is in each breath, and ventilation rate, the amount of breaths taken per minute. So, for pulmonary ventilation to increase, either the size of your breath must increase or the amount of breathes you take, or both.

Peak oxygen intake refers to the absolute most amount of oxygen an individual can transport and use, this is considered the best way to determine an individuals cardiovascular fitness. What factors affect peak oxygen intake? First is the supply and transport of oxygen into the mitochondria (where the energy is produced), and the second is how quickly the mitochondria can use the oxygen to produce energy. Generally the supply of oxygen to the mitochondria is the limiting step. Since a supplement cannot increase the volume of your blood or the amount of blood vessels in your muscles in one hour, Force most likely increases peak oxygen intake by increasing the diffusion of oxygen from the lungs to the blood or increasing the amount of blood the heart pumps each beat.

It is also worth mentioning here that when they claim there was a significant difference in pulmonary ventilation they say their p-value (a way of determining how statistically significant something is) is less than 0.07. The scientifically accepted p-value for significance is 0.05, meaning most scientists would not consider these results to be significant.

What is in FORCE™ TOTAL BODY OXYGENATOR that causes the increase in Pulmonary Ventilation and Peak oxygen Intake?

The makers claim the key component is notorious in Eurasia for increasing health and longevity and promoting wellness, though they don’t tell you what the component is. A look at the supplement facts shows that it contains Niacin (or vitamin B3), Rhodiola rosea root extract, Beta alanine and Cayenne fruit powder. The Rhodiola rosea, also known as golden root or rose root, is most likely the active ingredient. It is not currently approved by the FDA to treat any disorders and the FDA has actually forcibly removed some products containing it from the market. A study in 2000 showed that it reduced mental fatigue among physicians working a night shift. Similarly, another study in 2003 showed reduced cognitive fatigue. Finally, it caused a significant increase in blood oxygen saturation in men living at high altitude. So there is substantially scientific evidence that the active ingredient of Force does actually causes a similar effect to high altitude training.

So there you have it, there may actually be something to FORCE™ TOTAL BODY OXYGENATOR, but we really need someone outside the company to do a study on its effectiveness before we get too excited!

V line, lower ab exercise tutorial

Here are the exercises that correlate with the V line ab workout found here.  Remember to stretch properly before working out!

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Lie on your back with your hands by your side, keep your legs straight and raise them to a 90 degree angle with your body.  Then slowly lower your legs to the right, don’t let them touch the ground, hold for a second and then bring them back up and center.  Then do the same to the left side.

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Get in a standard plank position but take your right leg and bring it up as close to your right elbow as possible.  Keep your left leg straight and your body parallel to the floor.  Return to normal plank position and then bring your left knee to your left elbow.

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Lie flat on the ground, contract your abs so you raise your torso off the ground to a 45 degree angle, while also lifting your legs to a 45 degree angle.  Your legs and torso should make a 90 degree angle with each other.  Hold for a second and then return to the ground.

For Oblique V ups, lie flat on your back, lift your legs straight until they make a 90 degree angle with the ground.  Try to touch your toes with your right hand, relax so your back and legs return to the ground, repeat with your left hand.

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Lie flat on your back and bring your knees up, keeping your feet on the ground to a regular sit up position.  Let both knees fall to the right and begin doing crunches.  Look up at the ceiling and don’t pull on your neck, switch your legs to the other side half way through the set.

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Lie flat on your back and bring your knees up so you are in normal sit up position, lift your torso off the ground so that it is at a 45 degree angle from the ground (essentially you are in a crunch position) Raise your hands straight in front of you with your palms together. Move both arms across your body to the left as far as you can go, twisting your abs and shoulder blades with them.  Then move your hands back in front of you and then over to the right while remaining in the crunch position.

For Raised Leg Russian Twists, this is the same thing but now you will lift your feet off the ground and extend them straight in front of you, much like you were in the V ups.

V lines lower ab workout

V abs, V line, ab work out, sex lines, how to get V line abs

Here’s a workout to get that V line that everyone wants.

Diagonal Leg Raises
Start with leg raises.  Lie on your back with your hands by your side, keep your legs straight and raise them to a 90 degree angle with your body.  Then slowly lower your legs to the right, don’t let them touch the ground, hold for a second and then bring them back up and center.  Then lower them down to the left – do this 5 times on each side.  Rest for 30s and repeat twice.

Knee to Elbow Plank
Get in a standard plank position but take your right leg and bring it up as close to your right elbow as possible.  Keep your left leg straight and your body parallel to the floor.  Return to normal plank position and then bring your left knee to your left elbow – continue this for 45 seconds, rest for 30 seconds and repeat twice.

V ups
Sit on the ground with your legs straight out in front of you.  Lean back so your body is at a 45 degree angle from the ground and then raise your legs so they are also at a 45 degree angle from the ground – keep them straight.  Your torso and legs should make a 90 degree angle.  Lift your hands about your head and contract your legs and torso up so your fingers get as close to your body as possible.  Then relax back into the 90 degree angle between your legs and torso.  Do this 20 times, rest 30s and repeat twice.

Oblique Crunches
Lie flat on your back and bring your knees up, keeping your feet on the ground to a regular sit up position.  Let both knees fall to the right and begin doing crunches.  Look up at the ceiling and don’t pull on your neck.  Crunch 15 times and then switch your legs to the left – crunch 15 more times, rest for 30s and repeat twice.

Oblique V Ups
Lie flat on your back, lift your legs straight until they make a 90 degree angle with the ground.  Try to touch your toes with your right hand, relax so your back is on the ground, Now lift with your left hand and repeat 20 times, rest 30s and repeat twice.

Russian Twists
Lie flat on your back and bring your knees up so you are in normal sit up position, lift your torso off the ground so that it is at a 45 degree angle from the ground (essentially you are in a crunch position) Raise your hands straight in front of you with your palms together. Move both arms across your body to the left as far as you can go, twisting your abs and shoulder blades with them.  Then move your hands over to the right while remaining in the crunch position.  Do this 50 times quickly, rest 30 seconds and repeat twice.

Raised Leg Russian Twists
This is the same as the russian twists but now you will lift your feet off the ground and extend them straight in front of you, much like you were in the V ups.  Go to each side 25 times, rest of 30s and repeat twice.

Find tutorials for these moves here.

The Ultimate Guide to Cellulite: Part II How to get rid of Cellulite? Treatments and Preventions

Cellulite, Cellulite Cure, Cellulite Treatment, Cellulite Prevention, alpha-antagonists, amino acids, aminophylline, beta-agonists, cellulite cure, cellulite prevention, cellulite treatment, electrical stimulation, endermologie, ginkgo biloba, heat therapy, indian chestnut, magnetic therapy, methylxanthines, pentoxifylline, pneumatic massage, radio frequency therapy, rutin, ultrasound

The Ultimate Guide to Cellulite: Part II How to get rid of Cellulite? Treatments and Preventions

Here’s the second part to the Ultimate Guide to Cellulite, you can find Part I here.

First things first, if you’re overweight, losing weight healthily and steadily will absolutely reduce the appearance of cellulite, as will toning up the area.  However, there is no evidence to support that liposuction or losing weight actually reduces the amount of cellulite you have.  This is because this removes deep fat tissue, not the fat cells just below the skin that are causing the problem.  In fact, dramatic weight loss or liposuction may increase the appearance of cellulite because the skin will be loser.  Always lose weight slowly and healthily and pair it with reasonable exercise.  Eating a healthy, balanced diet, exercising and making sure you are properly hydrated may be your best bet when trying to tackle this subcutaneous fat.

“At this point, there is no outstanding treatment for cellulite.”  However, there are several techniques that some women swear by.  Bear in mind though, none of these treatments have ever been supported by scientific literature.

Physical or Mechanical Therapies for Cellulite

There are a variety of physical or mechanical therapies including; pneumatic massage, heat therapy, ultrasound, radio frequency therapy, magnetic therapy, endermologie and electrical stimulation. Whoa.  Those sounds scary, lets go through them one by one.

Pneumatic compression massages can reduce the appearance of cellulite probably by reducing fluid in the area.  However, the effect is very short-lived.  As you’d expect, heat therapy or thermotherapy, is when you use heat to stimulate blood flow to the area – it has never been shown to reduce cellulite.  Since ultrasound uses venous stimulation to improve circulation it is used for the treatment of cellulite.  While there may be individual claims that ultrasound works, again, there is no empirical evidence to support this.  Radio frequency therapy is a relative new attempt at curing cellulite.  It uses deep and controlled heating of fatty tissues and is supposed to tighten the tissue and promote draining of fat through the lymphatic system by increasing circulation.  Many people have claimed to see a mild, temporary improvement – but again, there is no significant scientific evidence that this works.

Your blood contains iron, so when magnets are placed on the skin it draws to blood to that area.  Magnetic therapy draws on this principle and believes that the increased blood flow helps oxygenize the area and flush out toxins, thereby reducing cellulite.  This seems to be one of the least popular cellulite techniques. Endermologie is a suction massage technique using two rollers that knead the skin as it is drawn into the machine using a low-pressure vacuum.  The technique is supposed to improve the architecture of subcutaneous fat, increase lymphatic draining and circulation.  There is evidence to show that the therapy changes the structure of connective tissue, but this doesn’t seem to have a significant effect on the appearance of cellulite.  Electrical stimulation consists of applying electrodes to the skin and stimulating the underlying tissue with electrical impulses, this is supposed to increase muscle tone, flexibility of the skin and blood flow, thereby reducing the appearance of cellulite.   There have been no published studies that provide evidence to support this.

Pharmacological Therapies for Cellulite

There are also drugs on the market that claim to reduce cellulite by acting on your fatty tissues.  These include; aminophylline, methylxanthines, pentoxifylline, beta-agonists, alpha-antagonists, amino acids, ginkgo biloba, rutin, indian chestnut and aminophylline.  These drugs can be administered in a variety of different ways, normally topically, orally or by injection, lets go through them individually.

Many cellulite creams contain aminophylline, a drug normally used for the treatment of asthema.  The apparent effect of this drug on cellulite may be due to narrowing blood vessels and dehydrating the skin.  This can be dangerous, especially for people with poor circulation and is definitely not a healthy way to reduce cellulite.  It may also cause dangerous allergic reactions.  Methylxanthines are found in many cellulite creams, most notably Neutrogena Anti-Cellulite Treatment.  Methylxanthines, such as caffeine and theophylline, supposedly break down fats below the skin when applied topically.  Some studies have found a very mild reduction in cellulite when using these creams.

Pentoxifylline is a drug that is supposed to increase circulation in specific areas, so it is marketed to reduce cellulite the same way as many of the mechanical techniques.  Beta-agonists, which mimic the affect of epinephrine and norepinephrine, increase heart rate and blood pressure, and have been thought to act on fatty acids to reduce cellulite.  Conversely, alpha-antagonists, or alpha-blockers, work in the opposite way to reduce epinephrine and norepinephrine.  Many creams also include amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, the idea being that they will help build new muscle and stimulate metabolic processes that break down fat.

Ginkgo biloba is a tree native to China with various applications in traditional medicine.  It is advertised to increase circulation and promote metabolism of fats.  There is no evidence that it helps break down fats and even though it may improve circulation, it does not do this locally, so has no effect on cellulite. Rutin is believed to be an antioxidant and is supposed to reduce cellulite by flushing out toxins – there is no evidence of this.  Finally, Indian Chestnut is also supposed to improve circulation locally, but again, no studies have proven it to be an effective treatment for cellulite.

Compression garments may be worn to reduce the appearance of cellulite and increase blood and lymph flow to the area.  While there is no evidence that these garments actually reduce cellulite or permanently reduce the appearance, if your cellulite shows through clothing then they will definitely help to smooth out your skin underneath while you are wearing them.

Mesotherapy as a Treatment for Cellulite

Another treatment is Mesotherapy, which was originally developed to relieve the pain associated with inflammatory skin conditions.  Mesotherapy involves the subcutaneous injection of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and enzymes.  The idea is this may break down the subcutaneous fat reducing the appearance of cellulite.  However, it may also cause swelling, infection and strange contours in the skin.

Lasers as a Treatment for Cellulite

Lasers are FDA approved for the treatment of cellulite, but again, there is no evidence that they work.  The theory behind using laser energy is that it can break up the fibers behind the skin so fat can smooth out.

The market for cellulite reduction treatments is over $60 million! But the best cure still seems to be to live a healthy lifestyle.  I really wish I could provide a miracle cure, but really, when is anything to do with health, exercise and physical appearance easy?  In order to prevent your cellulite from getting worse, eat healthy, low fat foods (fruits, veggies, fiber), exercise regularly, and avoid stress, dramatic fluctuations in body fat, smoking and … tight underwear!

Stay tuned for part III of the Ultimate Guide to Cellulite where I will talk about the future of cellulite treatment and prevention.

More Protein, More Muscle? Science may Disagree.

Protein Supplement, Protein Powers, Musclebuilding, big muscles

Check this out, the New York Times reported that, in 2008—amidst an economic recession—fitness supplements were still a $2.8 billion industry (Roosevelt)!

Well, what does this mean? Walk into any fitness supplement store, and one word in particular seems to jump out over the rest: protein.  As protein is a major player in the fitness supplements market, it’s worth taking a closer look at what consuming more and more protein—particularly in one sitting—does.  The benefits of taking protein have long been established: protein repairs the breakdown of muscular tissue caused by lifting, lengthens muscle fibers and, eventually, helps lead to increased strength.

When it comes to actually consuming protein, however, scientists aren’t sold on consuming excessive quantities—particularly at one time.  A recent University of Texas study suggests that “consuming 90 grams of protein at one meal provides the same benefit as eating 30 grams” (Steimen).  So then, what would happen if you were to take protein past this thirty gram-breakdown-threshold?

Think of it like this: your body has contracted union builders (your cells) to build a mighty, mighty brick house (or muscles).  These contractors are working hard, but they can only stack so many bricks (or proteins) before their coffee break.  The extra supplies just lie around (as extra calories), until they’re eventually tossed in the dumpster, burned off as energy, or stored for another project (as fat).

If that isn’t convincing enough, consider this: supplements aren’t cheap.  If a recommended serving size is three scoops at 60 grams, halving the intake will double the amount of time necessary between purchases.

This doesn’t mean 90 grams of protein per day is a bad thing—depending on your fitness goals, it may not be enough.  Sure, the CDC recommends an average adult male consume approximately 56 grams of protein daily . . . but that’s the average.

The National Strength Training and Conditioning Association recommend individuals that frequently lift weights consume about 1.5 to 2 grams of protein per kilograms of body weight daily (Ross).  Whoa.  Not a math guy? No worries.  Bodybuilding.com has an online calculator you can use to estimate your recommended protein consumption.

Got the number you’re shooting for? Great, now try breaking up when you take your protein over 3-4 hour periods.  Still have doubts? Hey, at the very least, it’s worth a shot.

The Ultimate Guide to Cellulite: Part I What is Cellulite?

Overview of Cellulite
The term cellulite makes it sound like a medical condition, but its actually completely normal and natural, affecting 80-90% of all women.  Unfortunately, however, that doesn’t mean women aren’t embarrassed by it and spend lots of time and effort trying to smooth out their skin.  Cellulite is the dimpled appearance of subcutaneous fat; many compare it to the appearance of orange peel or cottage cheese.  It is most common on the butt, thigh and stomach area and occurs even in the fittest, skinniest people.  While it affects almost all women, very few men experience it and those that do normally suffer from hormonal disorders.

What are the dimples in Cellulite?
Your body stores subcutaneous (beneath the skin) fat in packets just underneath the skin.  When these packets enlarge they push against the connective tissue that holds it all together.  The pressure on the connective tissue forces the fat up against your skin.  As the fat compartment expands against the skin it forms a bump, the area in between these bumps then looks like a dimple.

Think about your fat compartments as a room with an elastic ceiling, the walls are the connective tissue and the ceiling is the skin, and think about your fat cells as individual balloons.  Start with a room filled snuggly with a bunch of balloons.  Now lets say the balloons are all blown up to twice their size, this will cause a ton of pressure on all the walls of the room.  Like connective tissue, the walls are sturdy and don’t budge, so the pressure forces the balloons against the ceiling.  This would result in the elastic ceiling expanding and forming a hill much like the bump you get on your skin.  This is one of the reasons why fluctuating weight and crash diets can cause such bad cellulite.

Why don’t men have this problem as often? Men’s fat tends to be stored parallel to their skin while women’s forms perpendicular.  In the perpendicular orientation, when the fat cells swell they have no choice but to put pressure on the skin, causing the hills to form. When males fat cells swell they tend to form into one large blob of fat (think beer belly) rather than the compartmentalized women’s structures. Men also have a thicker epidermis (the outer layer of skin), which makes the skin much tougher and more resilient to the structural changes happening below.  Finally, tight women’s underwear can restrict blood flow to that area which may increase cellulite development.

What factors cause Cellulite?
Lets start with the big one, hormonal factors. Estrogen may play a role in initiating the formation of cellulite – although there is no clinical evidence to support this.  Other hormones believed to be involved include insulin, adrenaline, noradrenaline, thyroid hormones and prolactin.  Part of the evidence for hormone involvement is that cellulite rarely occurs prior to puberty.  Most women begin to develop cellulite in their late teens and early twenties and for most people it gets worse with age.

There are genetic factors that put an individual at risk for cellulite, if your mother has cellulite then chances are you will also develop cellulite and most likely in the same places.  Genes associated with gender, race, metabolism rate, how you distribute fat and circulatory insufficiency all play a role. For example, researchers have identified a polymorphism in the angiotensin converting enzyme and hypoxia-inducible factor 1A genes. To put that in English, they have identified different observable characteristics in cellulite of two genes, one to do with blood vessel dilation and constriction and the other to do with the amount of oxygen in the blood.  This suggests that blood flow plays a big role in the formation of cellulite.

High stress lifestyles result in elevated levels of adrenaline and noradrenaline, two of the hormones thought to play a role in cellulite development.  Overweight or obese individuals along with those whose weight dramatically fluctuates, will have more visible cellulite simply because there is more fat to cause the bumps.  In these cases, losing weight will reduce the appearance of cellulite.  There is evidence to suggest that smokers, people who rarely exercise and those who spend much of the day sitting down, have more cellulite.  Eating too much fat, carbs, salt or not enough fiber may also result in more visible cellulite.

You can find Part II of the Ultimate Cellulite Guide here where I will talk about treatments and preventions.  As always, I hope you enjoyed this blog, please follow postcollegefitness on twitter or the RSS stream!

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