Study: Exercise For Better Sexlife.

gay_kiss_by_joseljl-d6tm8peThere are a lot of reasons to exercise. And a healthier sex life is certainly among them.

Researchers at Harvard examined 31,742 men ages 53 to 90. Physically active men, according to the researchers, had a 30% lower risk of erectile dysfunction (ED). And the more you exercise, the more that risk goes down.

It makes sense. A leading cause of ED are clogged arteries that steal blood and oxygen away from your organs and tissues. By engaging in regular exercise, you enjoy the benefits of a healthier heart and cardiovascular system. This keeps the blood flowing… to all areas of your body.

But the sex-related benefits of exercise don’t end there.

A lack of physical activity and increased TV viewing has been linked to decreasing semen quality. Not to mention, if you workout regularly, you’re more able to handle the physical challenges of sex. No one wants to stop because they’re too tired, sore or winded.

With people often struggling to find the motivation to hit the gym, the promise of improved or better sex can be the kick-in-the-butt that some of us need.

The bottom line: Exercise for your health, heart and… for better sex.

5 Worst Nutrition Tips EVER!

badideaThe only thing more astonishing than the amount of misinformation about nutrition the willingness of people to follow it. Over the years, there’s been no shortage of terrible nutrition advice – and these are some of the biggest offenders.

  1. Don’t eat egg yolks. Why this advice sucks: It’s no secret that eggs are high in cholesterol and that most of the cholesterol is contained in the yolk. But dietary cholesterol tends to have a fairly low impact on the cholesterol levels in blood. Some people with high cholesterol diets have low blood cholesterol and some people with low cholesterol diets have high blood cholesterol. Beyond cholesterol, the yolks are packed with other important nutrients that are essential for your diet. Unless you have high blood cholesterol, eating the egg yolk is a actually nutritional benefit.
  2. Eliminate fat. Why this advice sucks: Decades ago, reduced fat diets and low-fat foods became extremely popular. Unfortunately, much of the low-fat hype and low-fat foods have survived through present day. In reality, fat doesn’t make you fat. Consuming more calories than you burn results in weight gain. Our bodies need healthy, essential fats – like those found in avocados and nuts and extra virgin olive oil. While fats are very calorie dense and should be consumed in moderation, opting for low-fat foods won’t do much to help the cause. In addition, many reduced fat foods are loaded up with sodium or sugar to help replace the favor. And that’s definitely not a good thing.
  3. Don’t eat carbs. Why this advice sucks: Carbohydrates, as it turns out, are crucially important to proper bodily function. Instead of reducing or eliminating all carbohydrates, it’s much wiser to eliminate simple carbs (i.e., sugar, candy, white rice, white bread, etc.) in favor of complex carbs (i.e., brown rice, whole wheat bread, etc.). By eliminating carbohydrates entirely, you won’t have the energy to power through your workout or any other physical activity. In addition, a lack of blood sugar from a low-carb diet can severely slow and limit brain function. Opt for complex carbs.
  4. Don’t eat after 7PM. Why this advice sucks: Science just doesn’t back this claim up. Studies have found that what you eat – and how much of it – is far more important in determining weight gain than meal timing. There’s nothing wrong with eating late at night. If you are eating late at night, pay special attention to what you’re eating. It’s not a green light to mindlessly snack on a bag of chips. Instead, continue to make smart nutritional choices all hours of the day.
  5. Detox your body regularly. Why this advice sucks: Detox diets are a marketing gimmick, plain and simple. Your liver and kidneys detoxify your body naturally. This isn’t accomplished by a packaged juice product that’s devoid of the essential nutrients your body needs. Not only are detox diets unhealthy and counterproductive, but they’re also downright miserable.

What’s the worst piece of nutrition advice that you’ve ever heard? Let me know in the comments below!

 

Is A Raw Diet Healthier?

rawdietI get a lot of questions about raw diets – and if they’re a health alternative or simply over-hyped.

As with most things in the health and fitness world, the answer isn’t cut and dry or black and white. If you’re looking for a simple yes or no, you won’t find it.

It’s accurate to say that there are aspects of a raw diet that are very healthy. Most raw diets are heavily plant-based – and most of us aren’t getting enough fruits and vegetables. Diets that include plenty of nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables are associated with a number of health benefits.

Raw diets also eliminate most processed foods. As such, raw diets tend to have lower amounts of sugar, sodium and trans fats.

It’s also true that some foods are healthier when eaten raw. Heat can destroy some nutrients and reduce the benefits of certain foods. For example, the benefits of extra virgin olive oil are greatly reduced once it’s heated beyond 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Moreover, by eating raw foods, you never have to worry about charring meats – and the carcinogens created by that process.

However, not all foods are healthier when consumed raw.

David Katz, M.D., who is director of the Yale Prevention Research Center, notes:

Raw food advocacy ignores the fact that some foods are more nutritious when cooked. The nutrient lycopene makes tomatoes red. It is a potent carotenoid antioxidant, long thought to reduce prostate cancer risk, although that effect per se is in doubt. Lycopene is fat-soluble, and much more “bioavailable” – that is to say, available for absorption and making contributions to our health – when tomatoes are heated in combination with an oil. Tomato sauces with olive oil are ideal, and raise blood lycopene levels far more effectively than eating raw tomatoes.

There’s another reason we cook food. To kill harmful bacteria and thus prevent us from getting sick. Uncooked and unpasteurized foods are more prone to illness; as such, raw diets aren’t recommended for young children, pregnant individuals or the elderly. If you have a weak immune system or chronic illness, then a raw diet probably isn’t a good fit.

Nutritional deficiencies can also become problematic. Protein and calcium, for example, are commonly deficient in raw diets. While it’s possible to get a balanced diet while eating raw, the reality is most people are ill-equipped or lacking the time and effort to formulate a proper nutrition plan.

For most of us, it makes more sense to incorporate those aspects of raw dieting that are healthy and sustainable rather than following the diet fully and completely.

But what do you think? Have you ever tried a raw diet?

Fitness Is Like A Boyfriend…

jessieFitness, in many ways, is like having a boyfriend.

Both fitness and relationships are matters of priorities. If you want your relationship to work, then you need to make an investment of time, energy and effort. In the same way, you’ll only see results on the gym if it’s a priority in your life. None of us have time to work out; we make time to work out. And sometimes, that means making sacrifices and not doing some of the other things we might want to do – like watching Game of Thrones.

When someone said that there are no shortcuts to any place worth going, he or she may have had relationships in mind. In many ways, arriving at a fruitful relationship isn’t something that happens overnight. It can be a long journey. Similarly, there are no shortcuts or quick fixes at the gym – despite all the marketing gimmicks you might see along the way. It’s about exercise, nutrition and building a healthier relationship with your body.

You can’t cheat on a relationship and expect it to work. Being deceptive poisons a relationship and builds a wall between you and your partner. When it comes to fitness, cheating comes in many forms. It can be skipping workouts, not using a full range of motion in your exercises or not following a proper nutrition plan. When you cheat on fitness, don’t expect it to work. It builds a widening gap between you and the results you want.

Sure, the gym won’t hold your hand or kiss you goodnight…. But just like a relationship, the gym can change your life. It can help shape your character and teach you that you’re far stronger – both physically and emotionally – than you ever thought possible. Creating the body you’ve always wanted can inspire you and others and it helps enable you to live your best life.

Eat Your Fruits & Vegetables… Or Die!

happy-fruit-and-vegetable-face-rosemary-calvertWhen your mom told you to eat your fruits and vegetables, you probably didn’t realize it’s a matter of life and death. And according to a new study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, it is. Sort of.

For the study, researchers examined 65,000 English adults at least 35 years of age. For an average of 7.7 years, the dietary habits and health status were monitored for each participant. Variables that could affect the outcome – like age, sex, BMI, alcohol intake, physical activity, smoking, etc. – were all taken into account and controlled.

The findings were striking.

According to researchers, individuals who ate seven or more servings of produce were 42% less likely to die from any cause during the study. Specifically, these individuals were 25% less likely to die from cancer and 31% less likely to die from heart disease when compared to people who ate fewer fruits and vegetables. Moreover, the decrease in mortality risk was linked more strongly with vegetables than with fruits.

Eating healthy – and getting your servings of fruit and vegetables – isn’t just about looking good in a bathing suit. It’s also about living a long and healthy life. After all, you can’t wear a bathing suit… if you’re dead.

 

How Much Should You Be Able to Bench Press?

Bench-Press“How much can you lift, bro?”

We’ve all heard that question. And we’ve all rolled our eyes when it’s asked. Regardless (and for better or worse), the bench press has become the gold standard in comparing levels of physical fitness.

Go to the gym. Enlist the help of a spotter. Add a comfortable amount of resistance to the bench press. Perform one repetition. With a rest in between, keep adding additional resistance until you reach your limit. When you can’t lift anymore, that’s your one rep max. And when someone asks you how much you can lift, you’ll have your answer.

But how much should you be able to lift?

Screen Shot 2014-04-02 at 11.56.40 AMAccording to data, an untrained 165-pound man can bench press 119 pounds. See chart (at right) for additional data points.

You’ll quickly discover that most untrained or novice exercisers aren’t able to bench press their own bodyweight. Though it’s not necessarily the best measure of physical strength, the ability to press one’s own bodyweight is a common goal for exercisers. Though it doesn’t have a direct implication, it’s a bragging right to which many men and women aspire.

So how much weight should you be able to bench press? There’s no short answer. It depends on your weight, fitness level, goals and a variety of other factors. Though the chart will provide some very guidelines, know that each person is different. And that all of us are at different points on our fitness journey.

The bottom line: If you’re not satisfied with your current level of strength, set a goal and work towards it.

Eat Healthy: Find a CSA!

20080127_img_2633As I’ve said before, people tend to eat what they buy. What you put in your kitchen is a pretty good indicator of what you’ll put in your body. As such, it’s important to buy healthy and nourishing foods.

Of course, supermarkets are full of unhealthy choices. When we shop, we’re bombarded with sugary treats, packaged foods and heavily processed items. It can be difficult to resist temptation and stick with wiser choices like whole foods, fruits and vegetables.

Moreover, most of us tend to get into a culinary rut; we end up selecting the same foods week after week. However, a healthy diet is a varied diet. By eating a variety of colorful, healthy foods, we ensure a broader range of nutrients and minimize the risk of deficiencies.

That’s why I love CSAs.

CSA stands for community-supported agriculture. It’s a locally-based economic model of agriculture and food distribution in which a network of individuals supports one or more local farms through a financial pledge. In exchange, members of the CSA receive boxes of produce throughout the season.

Because CSAs are local (unlike supermarkets where produce is flown in from around the world), the boxes of fruits and vegetables reflect the local growing season. From week to week, the produce changes depending on the harvest.

The variety of produce isn’t just beneficial from a nutritional perspective. It also lets you experiment with new recipes and try new flavors. It’s actually a lot of fun… and, because you’ll never get a box full of candy, it becomes very easy to eat healthy.

I’ve already signed up for a CSA here in Los Angeles. But they’re literally all over the entire country. Use this website to find one in your area.

Lifting To Fail: You’re Stronger Than You Think.

strong-smurf-713x534When we talk about failure, it’s usually not a good thing. An important exception is your strength training program. In fact, training until the point of failure is crucial if you’re looking for gains in strength and size.

As I’ve said before, your body is an incredibly efficient machine. It’s not going to build new muscle mass unless it’s really necessary; doing so would be a waste of energy. So… in order to stimulate new muscle growth, you have to prove to your body that you need it.

How do you do that?

By demonstrating that your current muscle mass isn’t enough for the job. When you train to the point of failure, you send a very clear signal to your body that more muscles are needed. Provided other elements – like adequate rest and proper nutrition – are in place, those muscles will grow.

Here’s the problem: Most people don’t train until failure… even though they think they do.

When training for muscle growth, most individuals will target a range of less than 10 – 12 repetitions. On the last rep, you should be completely unable to do another rep without compromising form or reducing the resistance. You might think that you’re doing that and training to failure, but you’re probably not.

Perfect case in point. The other day, I was working out with a friend. We were doing shrugs. He usually uses 75 pound dumbbells for the exercise. I reached for the 90 pound dumbbells and he decided to give them a try. To his surprise, he was able to complete the set. In fact, he probably could have done more.

My point is that you really need to push yourself to find your limits. You’re probably a lot stronger than you think. Opt for heavier weights and more resistance. Give it a try. Sure, it will make your workout harder and more intense. But it will also get you the results you really want.

Is Saturated Fat Good For You?

ButterFor decades, we’ve been told that unsaturated fats are healthy – and that unsaturated fats should be minimized. In the 1960s, studies showed that unsaturated fats raised LDL cholesterol levels. LDL is the bad type of cholesterol that clogs your arteries. Because saturated fat raises LDL cholesterol, the assumption was that this type of fat must increased the risk of heart disease.

However, research is showing that this assumption might not be true. The link between heart disease and cholesterol is, according to researchers, much more complicated.

Over the past 40 or 50 years, researchers have tracked saturated fat intake and followed individuals to examine their risk of heart attack or stroke. After all these years, researchers haven’t been able to prove a clear correlation between the two.

The latest theory holds that an individual’s ratio of good cholesterol (HDL cholesterol) to bad cholesterol is a clearer indicator. In terms of heart disease risk, saturated fats may actually be neutral.

Of course, this isn’t a free pass to load up on bacon and ice cream. Indeed, many products high in unsaturated fat are calorie dense and often lack other important nutrients. But this latest finding does illuminate a broader, more complicated approach to nutrition that doesn’t focus on just one nutrient.

When dieters focused on low fat foods in the 1980s and 1990s, for example, we got even larger than ever. A reductionist approach to nutrition just doesn’t seem to work.

Instead of focusing just on fat or just on calories or just on carbohydrates or so on, a wiser approaching is to eat a balanced and colorful diet that focuses on whole foods like vegetables, nuts, fruits and some lean meats like fish or chicken.

 

 

Eat With a Purpose!

kale-benefits-1When we talk about fitness, exercise is only part of the equation. To get the fantastic results you really want, you’ll need to spend as much effort in the kitchen as you do in the gym. Though often neglected, nutrition is absolutely crucial.

The elevate the importance of nutrition, I follow a simple rule: Eat with a purpose.

When I eat with a purpose, it isn’t just to titillate my taste buds or to fill my stomach, it’s to fuel my body with the nutrients it needs.

Consider this. Depending on your goal, you probably aim to consume somewhere between 1,750 – 3,000 calories per day. That’s not a lot, especially when you consider the amount of nutrients we require on a daily basis. There’s calcium and protein and vitamins and healthy fats and so on…

In other words, each of those calories is precious – and so it makes sense to spend them effectively and productively. You want to get the most bang for your buck. Sucking down an 18-ounce bottle of soda with 200 calories will take a serious bite out of your daily caloric allotment… and yet won’t provide any of the nutrients your body needs. When you eat with a purpose, soda just isn’t a wise choice.

The bottom line: Just about everything you eat (except for the occasional treat) should have substantive nutritional value and serve your fitness goals. Eat with a purpose.