Tagged: Risk

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It’s official: You really don’t have to run to train for a half marathon


Metro

It’s official: You really don’t have to run to train for a half marathon
Metro
The best way of preventing running injuries? Weights (it’s thought that weight training can decrease your risk by up to 30%). So I devised myself a little training plan which revolved around weights, spin and HIIT – and with one long run thrown in a

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10 pumpkin recipes to get to you ready for the fall

This fall favorite may be better known for making Jack O’ Lanterns, but pumpkin tastes darn good in a lot of healthy fare, too.

But making something like your own pumpkin puree takes time and effort. You can purchase 100% pure pumpkin puree at your local grocery store (Libby’s is one of the more popular brands, and pumpkin is the only ingredient.) This is different from the pumpkin pie filling, which is brimming with sugar[1]—so forgo those cans.

Pumpkins are a type of squash and oddly related to watermelon and cucumbers[2]. They are low in calories, fat, and carbs—and packed with flavor and fiber.

A half cup of pumpkin puree contains 50 calories, 0.5g of total fat, 10g of carbohydrates, and 3g of fiber. It also has a bit of protein and twice the daily recommended amount of the antioxidant vitamin A. This orange-hued fruit—yes, it’s a fruit—also contains the antioxidant lutein, thought to help reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration (a loss of vision as you age.) Lutein has also been linked with heart health, helping to prevent plaque buildup in the arteries.

References

  1. ^ brimming with sugar (www.mensfitness.com)
  2. ^ related to watermelon and cucumbers (www.mensfitness.com)
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No time to hit the gym? Just 1 or 2 workouts a week can be enough to stay in shape.

We get it: Sometimes a workout just isn’t in the cards.

Distractions creep in—a long meeting keeps you from the pile of work you’ve barely dented, a food- and booze-filled vacation saps your return-to-real-life motivation—and before you know it, it’s the end of the week and you’ve literally done squat…as in, not a single squat.

Well, don’t sweat it. Or, more accurately, do sweat it, but just once or twice a week, and you’ll still be able to keep yourself in the healthy lane, says a new study out of the University of Sydney[1] in Australia. 

Scientists at the school analyzed a mass of data on more than 60,000 people and discovered that active adults—including those who exercised only once or twice a week—had about a 30% lower risk of death from all causes than adults who pretty much never got off their asses. As long as they hit at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week, their health was measurably better.

By that criteria, just two nice, long runs or one gritty lifting session would meet the standard. And who can’t manage that?

“It’s very encouraging news that being physically active on just one or two occasions every week is associated with a lower risk of death,” said associate professor Emmanuel Stamatakis, Ph.D., in a press release[2].

Of course, he added, if optimal health is your goal, you’ll need to exercise considerably more than the minimum amount recommended—but we’re pretty sure you knew that already.

So don’t despair if you miss a few days; just try not to end any week without squeezing in a solid workout or two. And the next time you can’t manage one of the long, leisurely gym sessions you’re accustomed to, try one of these super-efficient routines to get your heart pumping and muscles firing fast[3].

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Why L-Arginine Isn’t Such a Great Pre-Workout

We know – the world of fitness supplements can be confusing.

You probably know that protein powder is an easy way to reach your calorie and macronutrient goals and that creatine[1] is a safe and effective way to increase power and anaerobic capacity.

That’s roughly where the consensus ends when it comes to fitness supplements, and for those of us looking to improve workout performance, it can be hard to know what else meets the approval of the scientific community at large.

Enter L-arginine[2], (also just called “arginine”) an amino acid that’s been linked to everything from better workouts to stronger erections. Can it improve your PRs, or is it just another well-packaged bottle of powdered snake oil?

The Claims

As a conditionally essential amino acid, the body does a decent job of producing arginine on its own, but there could be some situations where it’s useful to supplement it.

The most common claim surrounding arginine is its purported abilities of vasolidation, meaning that it “opens up” veins and arteries and makes it easier for blood to flow freely throughout your body. This would be because it is a precursor to nitric oxide[3], a known vasolidator.

Following on from that claim, arginine should be able to improve workout performance and decrease the odds of experiencing hypertension, deep vein thrombosis, erectile dysfunction, and other problems that are related to blood flow.

That is, if it’s true.

The Evidence

“L-arginine tends to be marketed towards any physical activity, since the theoretical increase in nitric oxide should benefit anything related to blood flow,” says Kurtis Frank, the research director of the independent nutrition research organization, Examine.com. “For the most part, it seems to favor CrossFit®-style activities; things that involve muscular contraction in a moderate rep range. It doesn’t seem to provide any major benefit to long distance stuff nor maximal power activities like sprinting and heavy lifting.”

When it comes to nitric oxide supplements, there’s something of a “Big Four”: L-arginine, L-citrulline, agmatine, and nitrates. Antioxidants also indirectly aid nitric oxide and are often used alongside the Big Four.

The problem, in Frank’s own words, is that arginine is the “shittiest” nitric oxide supplement of the bunch. It’s not even worth taking it with the other NO supplements, since they’d be competing for the same mechanism. If taken side by side, he explains, it’d end up being a one-plus-one-plus-one equals one-type scenario.

The question, then, is what’s the smartest way to boost nitric oxide?

 “I’d recommend L-citrulline or agmatine over L-arginine any day, for workouts and for the general health benefits,” says Frank. “Agmatine could be seen as the healthiest, since it has other mechanisms in addition to the NO production, like neuronal health.”

Focusing on L-citrulline or agmatine is also likely to benefit your wallet, since dedicated nitric oxide supplements are notorious for trying to increase profits by adding twenty somewhat relevant ingredients, while they usually only have a couple of ingredients that are truly effective. (Frank likens NO supplements to “fat burners” in that regard.)

Arginine, it turns out, is a weak pick for the benefits a buyer is probably after. The link it has to actually boosting nitric oxide is weak, and the initial belief that it’s a solid NO supplement is sometimes known as “The Arginine paradox.”

“L-arginine was initially thought to increase NO because it’s a precursor – you need some arginine for the enzymes that make NO,” says Frank. “But when you put more arginine into a system, NO doesn’t necessarily increase. It turned out that’s because it’s not just a substrate, it works mostly through the A2-andrenergic receptor. Agmatine is a lot more potent in the way it acts on this receptor, and L-citrulline, while it works in a more similar manner to L-arginine, does a much better job of absorbing through the intestines. By the way, that’s why a lot of people get ‘pre-workout’ shits; they combine caffeine with L-arginine, both of which can go right through you.”

But Doesn’t L-Arginine Increase My Muscle Size?

Finally, L-arginine is also thought by many to increase the body’s production of the anabolic human growth hormone[4] (HGH) and creatine.

But arginine doesn’t do anything for your creatine production unless you’re already deficient in arginine, and it’s extremely unlikely that you are. (Remember that the body can make its own arginine, plus it’s present in most sources of protein.)

And as far as growth hormone goes, arginine and creatine do technically increase its production after a workout, but for such a small time frame that it’s doubtful it’ll have any practical effect on your body. So don’t turn to L-arginine to give you Stallone-like[5] HGH levels.

The Takeaway

This science is a little dense, but here’s the take-home lesson.

First, if lowering your risk of hypertension by improving your blood flow, you’re better off talking to your doctor and considering pharmaceuticals and ACE inhibitors. Supplements, after all, aren’t medications.

But, if you’re interested in a nitric oxide-boosting, blood vessel-opening pre-workout supplement, you’re better off turning to L-citrulline or agmatine, the latter of which might be the better choice. About three grams per day of either is a safe and effective dose.

Featured image via @_king_tunde_[6]

Comments

References

  1. ^ creatine (barbend.com)
  2. ^ L-arginine (examine.com)
  3. ^ nitric oxide (examine.com)
  4. ^ human growth hormone (barbend.com)
  5. ^ Stallone-like (www.vanityfair.com)
  6. ^ @_king_tunde_ (instagram.com)