Search This Blog

Friday, 31 October 2014

Lubrication, penis envy and big boobs: 10 things no one tells women before they run a marathon

By Helen Coffey

Having completed two marathons in as many years, I finally feel qualified to call myself that most noble of titles, a Lady Runner. (Or Woman Who Runs. Or Running Girl. I haven’t decided which I like best yet.)
Those two marathon experiences couldn’t have been more different. Paris 2013 dawned a bright, clear day; the crowd was cheering, I had done all the training and set off with a spring in my step, high fiving small children and grinning at my adoring fans as I went. You know, generally behaving like a bit of a tool.
Cut to Rome 2014, and it was sheeting it down. The Italians who had bothered to turn up watched quizzically from the side-lines, uncomprehending as to why anyone would run 26.2 miles by choice (I was struggling with that question myself). By the time I started I was soaked to the skin and shivering, with no confidence in my ability to finish the race after a calf injury the month before had curtailed my training at a crucial stage.
I did manage to finish it (yay!), but only after breaking down in tears, shouting at my mother and almost throwing up some neon orange Gatorade in the street.
After experiencing the full rollercoaster of long-distance running emotions – joy, sorrow, self-loathing – here are some of the things that no one tells women about running a marathon

1. You will think you're Beyoncé

For the first 13 miles – before you start seriously questioning whether what you're doing actually constitutes self-harm – you will feel like a rock star. People are cheering for you! They're chanting your name! You will find yourself blowing kisses to the crowd and high fiving small children, and this will seem like totally normal behaviour. By mile 22, you will remember that girl you once were and hate her.

2. You will happily “lube up”

By mile 24 your whole body will hate you regardless, but never underestimate the negative effects chafing can have on one’s psyche. The skin on skin/skin on material rubbing dynamic will slowly but surely bring you to your knees like nothing else, unless you take preventative measures. Before you embark, lubricate like it’s going out of fashion – Vaseline up every bit of your body that might touch another bit of your body or clothing, including breasts, bum and inner thighs. If it helps, pretend you are doing it in preparation for a misogynistic music video, or a Maxim cover shoot.
Also, remember to wear trousers:

3. You'll wish you had smaller breasts

The glorious female form, while very good at lots of things – like looking quite nice in an oil painting – is not particularly well designed for, to use the technical term, jiggling. Running involves a great deal of jiggling. In fact, a marathon is pretty much one long jiggle-fest from start to finish. And the more voluptuous you are, the more problematic this is. As no one has as yet found a way to detach their breasts and leave them at home during a run, it really is worth shelling out for a decent sports bra; you are never going to regret investing £40 to get the girls rounded up and under control.

4. You might lose your s***

However “together” you are in real life, striding around in an independent, feminist, having it all-type way, after 35km of running you will have become a highly emotional, unstable and irrational wreck. You may break down into inconsolable sobbing when it turns out your mother is 2km further along the course than she had promised. Which may lead to you screaming at her in the street about how she has let you down (sorry again, mum).

5. You'll get penis envy

Men have it a lot easier when it comes to long distance running, purely because they can take a whizz just about anywhere. Look around during any marathon, and there will be guys weeing up against trees, parked cars, statues, bollards, dogs – you name it, someone will be relieving themselves on it. Women, on the other hand, have no choice but to queue for 10 minutes to use one of the world’s worst portaloos when nature calls. (Picture Glasto and then imagine everyone there has a dodgy tummy from too many energy gels. That.)
Tip: Be prepared. A generous length of bog roll tucked in a back pocket goes a long way.

6. You will become a running bore

In the weeks leading up to the race, you will undoubtedly find yourself in the pub on a Friday night, talking to a friend with intense zeal about how you “really need to work on speeding up your splits”, or you’ve “been experimenting with a combination of electrolytes and gels”. STOP. Take a breath. Go and take a long, hard look in the mirror. And ask yourself why you have turned into a wanker.
Running has a tendency to take over your life when training for an event, but try to remember that most people won't be anything more than vaguely interested. This is particularly true when on a first date – just watch their eyes glaze over as you bang on about techniques to avoid “hitting the wall”…

7. You will not look good

Contrary to fitness adverts depicting toned, fresh-faced girls running while looking better than you did on your wedding day, your body simply is not going to look good during or after a marathon. Your skin may be spotty after all that sustained sweating has played merry hell with your pores. If you are anything over an A cup, you may end up with welts or sores from where your sports bra has rubbed. You may have, against all common sense, put on weight.
People will say things like: “You must be losing loads of weight now you’re training for a marathon”. Don’t count on it – those long runs are going to be fuelled by a shed load of carbs so that you avoid burning fat, as converting the latter into energy is a far more tiring process.

8. Your toenails will drop off

As bad as the rest of your body looks, your feet will look even worse. Cracked heels, hard skin, calloused, bulbous toes – and all just in time for sandals season. And, of course, you can look forward to your toenails turning black and dropping off. Yes, you heard me: your toenails might fall off. And yes, it does look as disgusting as it sounds.

9. You will voluntarily enter a wet t-shirt competition

Well, strictly speaking it's not a competition – there are no prizes for a start. But as things hot up, and you see basins of water and people holding out wet sponges stationed in front of you, you will be drawn to them. You will be enticed by the cool, watery goodness. And you will, against all your previously held attitudes, pour water over yourself while making orgasmic noises like you're auditioning for a Herbal Essences ad, because it feels SO GOOD. Just go with it.

10. You will want to do another one

Running a marathon is a bit like childbirth. You will hate parts of it, it will be immensely painful and you will swear to yourself NEVER AGAIN. Six months later, the agony all but forgotten, your brain will trick you into thinking it’s a good idea to do another one.
You can protect yourself against this masochism posing as athletic ambition by telling a broad selection of friends immediately after the race that, should you ever enthuse about doing a marathon in future, they are to prohibit such foolhardy optimism and channel it in a safe, healthy way. Like suggesting a karaoke night instead. Or that you buy a sports car. Or go out with a 20 year old.
You will then ignore them and do it anyway.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

3 Ways Cottage Cheese Can Help You Lose Weight

In order to lose weight, eating low-calorie protein is a must. Protein offers sustained energy, satiates your hunger, and can help curb sugar cravings. Choosing low-calorie, low-fat protein sources is a must, and while Greek yogurt has gained a lot of recognition for attributes, don't leave out the unsung hero of the protein world — cottage cheese. Here are some ways this simple food can help you drop pounds.

Breakfast: High-Protein Addition

You know how after you eat a bagel for breakfast it's tough to shake that sluggish feeling all morning? Protein has the opposite effect. It offers you energy for hours, so you feel bright-eyed and ready to tackle the day. Eggs and yogurt are popular choices, but for something a little different, whip up a smoothie and you guessed it — add low-fat cottage cheese to the blender. For just 81 calories, four ounces will add a whopping 14 grams of protein to your glass. The blender purees the cottage cheese into a smooth consistency, so you won't even know it's in there. Not into smoothies? Enjoy cottage cheese spread onto a slice of whole-wheat toast.

Snack: Low-Calorie Swap

If you're a huge fan of veggies and dip, skip the high-calorie dips made with sour cream. Swap it for cottage cheese and save over 150 calories, 20 grams of fat, and 45 mg of cholesterol, yet gain over 10 grams of protein. Here's what to do: take a four-ounce serving of one-percent cottage cheese and mix it with a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice, one teaspoon of chopped fresh dill, one finely chopped clove of garlic, and top with salt and pepper. If you prefer a creamier consistency, add two tablespoons of skim milk and puree it with a hand blender.

Dessert: Creamy, Sweet, and Low in Calories

Obsessed with hitting the freezer for spoonfuls of ice cream? The high-fat and high-calorie bites won't help your waistline, and the sugar overload will just have you craving more. Whip up this dessert alternative — creamy fruit popsicles — that's much lower in calories but still satisfies your sweet tooth. Here's how: put one cup of low-fat cottage cheese in a blender and add one banana, six strawberries, half a cup of crushed pineapple or peaches, and one teaspoon of vanilla. After mixing to a smooth consistency, divide it into four popsicle molds (or kid-size cups lined with foil), insert popsicle sticks, and freeze. After four hours or so, you'll enjoy your guilt-free, low-calorie treat without affecting the numbers on the scale.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Nutrient Dense Foods and the Copper-Zinc Connection

by Kayla Grossmann

A glistening ring of oysters plucked from the ocean, a slice of liver atop a bed of tender onions, a savory beef stir fry tossed with butter, a heap of sprouted pumpkin seeds enjoyed from the palm of your hand: what do these foods have in common? Not only are they wonderfully, perhaps even flawlessly, delicious- but they are also beautifully balanced in the trace minerals zinc and copper. In an era where our foods are far too often factory manipulated, and low-fat, low-calorie dieting praised as the pathway to "health," many people are not receiving the proper amounts of these vital nutrients. Discover how a zinc-copper mineral imbalance may be effecting your day to day activity, and what you can do about it.

Understanding Mineral Balance

The body has sophisticated systems for keeping trace mineral levels in a state of steady harmony and at fine-tuned ratios that promote the optimal function of the cells. If levels of certain minerals like zinc, copper, iron, manganese, selenium or chromium dip for example, the body is stimulated to absorb those nutrients more fully from the diet, thus correcting the imbalance. Conversely, if the blood and cells are sufficiently overloaded, the liver is prompted to excrete unneeded minerals. On an even more intricate level, a deficiency in one mineral often creates an surplus in another as the body makes internal shifts in an attempt to self-regulate.

Generally these elegant processes work in concert to successfully modulate the inherent biochemical swings that occur with our daily activity, keeping the body in a state of homeostatic stability and vigor. However this graceful system is easily interrupted by the ravages of disease, stress, and toxins, as well as by the consumption of nutrient deficient foods that lack the critical mineral content to build preliminary stores. Given these overt disruptions, these systems simply cannot compensate and the body becomes overloaded, resulting in destructive and evasive mineral imbalances. Left undetected, such subtle nutrient disparities can have devastating and chronic impacts on health.
Zinc-Copper Ratios

According to leaders in the field of functional medicine, one of the most commonly observed mineral imbalances in clinical practice is the pairing of insufficient zinc with excess copper. Research suggests that these dynamic minerals are most compatible when hovering in the range of an 8:1 to 12:1 zinc-copper ratio. For example, someone consuming about 15 mg of zinc per day would require around 1.5 mg of copper. In nature this correlation is almost flawlessly observed in sources of animal protein, where levels of zinc and copper occur in balanced quantities. Yet due to the inherent variability of our modern world, these minerals are not always experienced in such perfect harmony.

While copper and zinc work synergistically to promote such fundamental life-sustaining processes as immune response, nervous system function and healthy digestion, they are also antagonistic in character. This means that as levels of one decline, the other will rise. Therefore if one nutrient falls out of balance, both levels shift- confounding symptoms and making this dynamic relationship quite troublesome. The relatively common occurrence of excess copper with deficient zinc can thus lead to such diffuse and overlapping symptoms as:
severe PMS
learning disabilities
impaired memory
behavior changes
loss of appetite and taste perception
slowed sexual maturation
sensitive skin
hair loss
delayed wound healing
Where Has All The Zinc Gone?

Experts estimate that 1 in 10 Americans have diets that are overtly deficient in zinc, although many more are believed to struggle with insufficiencies. Zinc is actually present in a wide variety of protein containing foods from animal products- such as red meat, egg yolk, organ meats, and seafood- to certain nuts, seeds, beans and cereal grains. The recommended daily allowance for zinc is currently set at 8-11 mg, which is certainly achievable from food sources. Yet, the issue lies not simply with crude zinc intake, but also in how accessible the sources are by the body. Plant sources of zinc are bound by anti-nutrients like phytic acid and therefore not easily absorbed. While irritating phytates can be neutralized by the processes of soaking and sprouting nuts nuts, legumes and grains (as was practiced in many traditional cultures), your average handful of granola, slice of bread, or dollop of hummus have certainly not been prepared with such virtuous care. Beef/lamb liver and oysters are by far the best sources of this powerful mineral, with four times the absorption rate of their plant counterparts, and a balanced ratio of other trace minerals. However in our fat-phobic, grain-chomping society, people have been wrongfully shooed away from incorporating these sacred, zinc-rich foods. Some experts even estimate that during the paleolithic era humans consumed an average of 50 mg of zinc per day from whole food sources. What's more, all-too common struggles such as excess sugar intake, alcohol, stress, heart disease, and infection further suppress levels of this critical nutrient.
An Era of Copper Dominance

Zinc insufficiency is truly just one piece of the puzzle. Because of the dramatic zinc-copper interplay, efforts to nibble away at zinc containing foods can be easily thwarted by an excess of copper. Overall, copper is not a sweepingly bad nutrient- in fact it is critical to the formation of many essential enzymes and is necessary for normal metabolism, neurotransmitter synthesis and red blood cell formation. However, copper is highly reactive and needs to be consumed within a relatively narrow range and balanced by zinc intake- else it easily becomes dominant and suppresses the levels of other trace minerals. Because grains and other plant-based foods tend to have a higher copper to zinc ratio, those judiciously following a Standard American Diet can be unknowingly driving copper levels up if intake is not properly balanced with adequate zinc-rich meats, organ meats and seafood. Another element that often goes unrecognized is the multiplicity of inorganic copper sources existing in our environment, which can contribute to toxicity when experienced in excess. For example, although not commonly discussed, chemical-treated water flowing through copper pipes causes a low-level erosion that releases copper into our drinking water. There is also copper found in such unassuming places as in multivitamins, medications, dental fixtures, cookware, birth control, fungicides, and pesticides. Thus while copper-containing foods are certainly not hazardous in and of themselves, the cumulative sources can become problematic if not properly balanced.
Regaining Zinc-Copper Balance

Minerals are complex and function in delicate patterns throughout the body- many of which we don't even fully understand. Thus when working towards regaining a state of nutritional balance, it is important to do so slowly and collaboratively, finding the full support that you need. Everyone has a unique situation and intricate physiological patterning that can be difficult to navigate on one's own. Here are a few preliminary steps to get you started on the way to regaining an optimal zinc-copper balance:

1. Test Mineral Levels

If you suspect that you have copper-zinc imbalance it is best to work with a provider to get a comprehnsive picture of your mineral status.
Have mineral status tested by serum, urine or hair mineral analysis. Because mineral balance is so delicate, this will allow you to make appropriate supplementation decisions based on your unique situation.
To get started you can also try the Zinc Assay Test- a taste test I have written about before. Keep in mind however that while popularly used, there has only been one study on its efficacy.

2. Limit Exposure to Copper

Complete a brief review of your environment and lifestyle to assess if there are unneeded sources of copper in your life. For example:
Limit copper cookware
Get a good water filter that removes leached minerals and pesticides
If you take a multivitamin, check to see that it doesn’t have copper

3. Increase Zinc Intake

If possible, increase whole food sources of zinc to get a balance of synergistic nutrients.
Consume red meats, organ meats, and seafood. Desiccated Liver capsules are a great source of balanced zinc for those who do not have such items in their diet.
Soak and sprout nuts, seeds, grains and legumes. Learn how in the cookbook Nourishing Traditions, or enjoy from trusted vendors such as Better Than Roasted Nuts.
If you decide to supplement with zinc, try a form of ionic zinc or liquid zinc sulfate as they are tend to be more easily absorbed than tablets and capsules.

4. Heal the Adrenals

Stress triples the rate of zinc depletion. The adrenals must also be working properly in order to stimulate the liver to remove excess copper.
Practice techniques to build resilience to stress
Learn how to manage your cortisol levels


The Perfect Health Diet by Paul Jaminet, Ph.D & Shou-Ching Jaminet, Ph.D

RHR: Could Zinc-Copper Imbalance Be Making You Sick? by Chris Kresser, L.Ac

The Diet Cure by Julia Ross, M.A.

Primal Body, Primal Mind by Nora Gedgaudas, CNS, CNT

Addiction by Pam Killeen

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

8 Signs of Overtraining That Most People Don’t Know


Are your workouts dragging? Feeling fatigued all the time? Having trouble sleeping? These are all signs of overtraining.

Overtraining is an insidious trap because it goes against our natural instincts.
In most endeavors in life, you can expect to receive rewards in proportion to what you give in time and effort.
Work more and harder in your career, and you’ll usually grow your business or wind up getting promotions and raises. Spend more time with friends and family, and you’ll usually build stronger, more fulfilling relationships. Practice longer and more diligently on your golf swing, and you’ll usually shave strokes off your game faster.
Exercise, and weightlifting in particular, is a bit different, however.There’s a point where exerting more effort actually becomes counter-productive. Most people are aware of this concept, but they aren’t aware of how easy it is to overtrain, and how to spot it.
You see people overtraining all the time.
The guys that spend 2+ hours working a single muscle group, doing set after set after set, are overtraining without realizing it, and don’t understand why they don’t get bigger or stronger despite their long, grueling workouts. The more effort they put into growing their chest, they figure, the more it will grow.
That’s not how it works, though. Your body can only take so much before it becomes afflicted with what’s known as “overtraining syndrome.”
Overtraining is simply an imbalance between work and recovery. When you put too much stress on the body and don’t give it the proper amount of rest, various undesirable things happen.
The common side effects cited clinically are a state of chronic fatigue, depression, and underperformance despite rest, but it’s not always that extreme or obvious. There are other, subtler signs of overtraining that you should know and watch for.
What follows is a list of signs that you may be overtraining. If you’re only experiencing one of the symptoms, it may not indicate overtraining.

8 Signs of Overtraining

1. You simply can’t finish a proper workout.

When your body is overtrained, you won’t be able to lift the weights you normally can, you won’t have the energy to do as many sprints, you won’t have the stamina to run your normal route, and so forth.
Even though you’re hitting the gym each day, you’ll feel progressively weaker, slower, and more lethargic. I’ve had it so bad before that I couldn’t stop yawning in the gym and simply couldn’t push myself to do another set.

2. You’re getting fatter despite training hard.

When hormones are normal, losing fat is simply a matter of increasing energy output over caloric intake, but when you’re overtraining, this no longer holds true.
Because your hormones get thrown out of whack. Testosterone levels plunge and cortisol levels rise, which causes catabolism (the breakdown of muscle tissue), and increases insulin resistance and fat deposition. The end result? You train harder and watch your diet closely, but you get fatter.

3. You’re training hard every day of the week.

I’ve yet to meet someone not on drugs that can lift heavy, sprint hard, or engage in otherwise intense training every day of the week and still adequately recover.
Unless you have Wolverine’s gift of regeneration, it’s absolutely vital that you take at least two days off weights per week, and at least one day of absolutely no exercise.
What I like to do is lift weights Mon – Fri and do cardio Sun – Weds. Saturday is a full rest day.
You can intersperse your rest days throughout the week too, such as the following routine:
Day 1: Weights
Day 2: Weights & cardio
Day 3: Cardio only
Day 4: Weights & cardio
Day 5: Weights & cardio
Day 6: Weights
Day 7: Full rest
You can play with this however you want so long as you take two days off weights, and give yourself one day of no exercise whatsoever. If you want to give your metabolism a little boost, don’t take two full rest days in a row.

4. You’re restless at night and are having trouble sleeping.

If you do a lot of aerobic exercise and are overtrained, your sympathetic nervous system can remain excited at all times and you’ll feel restless and unable to focus, and your sleep will be disturbed and broken.

5. You feel overly fatigued and sluggish.

If you’re a weight lifter and are overtrained, your parasympathetic nervous system becomes overly stimulated, leading to a decrease in testosterone, an increase in cortisol, a crushing fatigue (mental and physical), and a stubborn tendency to hang onto body fat.

6. You have odd aches and pains in your joints, bones, or limbs.

This is one of the first things that I notice as I approach the point of overtraining. My shoulder will start to ache. Then my wrist. Then my knee. Then my forearm.
It’ll usually take 8 – 10 consecutive weeks of intense training before these things turn on, and I just take a week off or “deload” for a week to let my body recover. They’re always gone by the end of the rest period.
(These things can also be signs of poor form, but that’s easy enough to diagnose. If you’re lifting heavy weights for the first time, you can also expect various aches like these right off the bat.)

7. You’re getting sick more often than usual.

You can throw a wrench in your immune system in many different ways. Increasing sugar can do it, as can a lack of vitamin D/sunlightpoor sleep habits, and even mental stress.
But if you’re all good on these fronts and are getting inexplicable little coughs, sniffles, congestions, or headaches, you may be overtraining. Take a rest week and let your immune system build back up.

8. You feel drained and crappy after what normally would be a good workout.

The post-workout feeling of general well-being is one of my favorite things about training. The rush of endorphins just calms your entire body and mind and can last for hours. It’s great, isn’t it?
Well, if it never comes, and if you feel irritable and uncomfortable after working out, you may be overtraining. Exercise should elevate your mood. If you’re feeling negative instead, it might be time to take a rest.

How to Handle Overtraining

Fortunately, handling overtraining is very simple. Once you stop it, all you need to do is take some time off the gym.
What has always worked for me is a week off weights, with nothing more than a few sessions of light cardio.
Getting a proper amount of sleep is also a key part of preventing overtraining–7 – 8 hours per night is generally considered optimal–as is a proper diet that fully provides your body with everything it needs to repair itself.
You’ll know the overtraining is gone simply by how you feel. After 3-5 days of rest, you’ll feel rejuvenated and ready to train again.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Something to chew over: Eating fast makes you fat


If you're wondering why your waistline is expanding, don't watch what you eat. Watch how you eat.

Those who wolf down dinner apparently treble their risk of being overweight.
Scientists suggest the modern manner of eating too quickly - and until absolutely full - is a significant factor in the obesity epidemic.

Such eating habits pile on the pounds much more than expected, even taking into account the amount of calories consumed, the scientists found.

They suspect the joint impact of eating fast and until full overrides signals in the brain which would normally encourage a little more self control.

A study published today in the British Medical Journal Online First blames the couch potato lifestyles of fast food, larger portions, TV dinners and the demise of family mealtimes for contributing to the problem.

Professor Hiroyasu Iso and colleagues from Osaka University, Japan, carried out a study involving 3,200 Japanese men and women aged 30-69 years between 2003 and 2006.
Those participating were sent a diet history questionnaire. Half of the men and 58 per cent of the women said they normally ate until they were full.

Just under half of men and a third of women said they ate quickly.

The group of participants who said they ate 'until full and ate quickly' had a higher body mass index or BMI, the scoring system that measures obesity levels.

They also had a higher total energy intake than those who did not 'eat until full and did not eat quickly'.

Both men and women in this group were three times more likely to be overweight than those who said this was not the way they ate.
Professor Iso said the combination had a 'supra-additive' effect on the risk of being overweight - more than would be expected if each eating habit was examined in isolation.

'If you eat slowly then there is some feedback from the brain that this is enough, and this helps stop you eating before you are full,' he said.
'It's speculation at the moment but it is worth pursuing and fits with modern lifestyles.'

Dr David Haslam, GP and clinical director for the National Obesity Forum, said: 'These kind of studies are very helpful because they're not about genetic causes of obesity, which people feel they can't do anything about, but human behaviour.
'The great dietary gurus of a century ago stressed the importance of chewing food for a long time and eating slowly, and those messages are even more important today.'

7 easy tips to reduce insulin and lose belly fat

Try these foods and supplements to improve insulin sensitivity, lower your blood sugar and lose love handles.

f the thought of the weather getting warmer, and clothing options getting lighter or more sparse has you dreading the change in temperature, you aren’t alone. Hormones influence not only how much body fat you have, but also where you carry it. If your trouble areas are your love handles, then you can be certain that your insulin levels are too high. Too much insulin not only encourages your body to store unused glucose as fat, but also blocks the use of stored fat as an energy source — a double whammy for any waistline. Implement the following suggestions to reduce your insulin in as little as three days to six months.
1. Have a blueberry smoothie  reduce insulin by 22 percent: 
Could eating blueberries help get rid of belly fat? According to a groundbreaking study published in the Journal of Nutrition, a daily dose of the bioactive ingredients from blueberries also increases sensitivity to insulin and may reduce the risk of developing diabetes in at-risk individuals. Researchers discovered that obese, non-diabetic and insulin-resistant participants who consumed a blueberry smoothie daily for six weeks experienced a 22 percent change in insulin sensitivity, compared to only 4.9 percent in the placebo group.
2. Take 4000IU vitamin D – improve insulin balance in six months: 
The sunshine vitamin can help you get a better midriff, not to mention boost your hormones. A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, showed women who were given a daily dose of 4,000 IU of vitamin D3 showed improvements in their insulin resistance after 6 months of supplementation. You may wish to have your blood level of vitamin D3 tested by your doctor at some point; the participants whose vitamin D levels reached 119nmol/L had the biggest improvements. This is not surprising to me – an optimal blood value of 125 nmol/L is ideal for insulin balance and carb sensitivity.
3. Add one tsp cinnamon – improve insulin balance in 20 days: 
Just a little cinnamon in your smoothies can go a long way towards balancing your insulin levels. Just a teaspoon a day for 20 days is enough to improve your insulin response and lower blood sugar by up to 20 percent. A research group from the Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center found that cinnamon reduced blood sugar, total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol in subjects with type-2 diabetes after just 40 days of consuming 1 to 6 grams per day.
4. Have a tablespoon of nuts – improve insulin balance by 30 percent: 
A prospective cohort study of women found that the frequency of nut consumption had a substantial and highly significant inverse association with risk of type-2 diabetes. The reduction in risk of developing type-2 diabetes was 30 percent lower in those consuming nuts five or more times per week and 20 percent lower in those consuming nuts 1 to 4 times a week compared to those that almost never ate nuts. I recommend having nuts (almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts – simply vary it) as a fat source once daily.
5. Take zinc daily – improve insulin balance in 8 days: 
Zinc is involved in more than 200 enzymes in the body – it is also one of the most common mineral deficiencies I find in clinical practice. In fact, according to a study published in American Physiological Society, rats who were fed a zinc deficient diet demonstrated a peripheral resistance to insulin within just eight days of feeding! A quick way to detect a zinc deficiency is to crush a zinc tablet to powder and mix with ¼ cup of water. Slosh the mixture around your mouth but don’t swallow. People who notice no taste at all or who notice a mineral-type taste are likely to be deficient in zinc. Those who notice a strong, unpleasant taste are not likely to be deficient in this mineral. Dosage is 15mg to 25mg a day with food.

6. Get active – improve insulin balance in three days: 

Three days of being a coach potato will not only drop your mood and make you feel lethargic; it will have a dramatic effect on insulin sensitivity. One study took a young healthy population that averaged 12,956 steps a day and reduced their activity to 4,319 steps a day (as measured by a pedometer and confirmed with an accelerometer). This simple change resulted in a 30 percent drop in insulin sensitivity and reduced glucose response. It definitely pays to get active daily, and for an even faster transformation, be sure to include 30 minutes of strength training 3 times a week.

7. Snack on tart cherries – improve insulin balance in 90 days: 

Researchers have found that tart cherries have significant health benefits in animal models, including reduced belly fat. In the study, rats that received whole tart cherry powder mixed into a high-fat diet didn’t gain as much weight or build up as much body fat as rats that didn’t receive cherries. And their blood showed much lower levels of molecules that indicate the kind of inflammation that has been linked to heart disease and diabetes. In addition, they had significantly lower blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides than their counterparts. As an added bonus, these berries are high in melatonin and can improve your slumber. Add to your smoothies or enjoy a snack with ½ cup Greek yogurt, ¼ cup tart cherries and a tbsp of nuts mixed together.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

14 Tips To Naturally Increase Your Testosterone Levels


Testosterone has gotten a bit of a bad name in recent times. Most people seem associate it with the stuff that is considered bad – such as an overly aggressive nature, steroids, anger, violence and even general acts of douche-baggery.
Now, while some men who happen to have high testosterone levels may exhibit these characteristics, this really has to be attributed to the fact that they are, in no uncertain terms, arseholes, rather than due to them having high testosterone levels.
In fact, exciting new research is now showing us that anybody has the ability to be an arsehole, regardless of what their hormonal profile looks like**.
It’s kind of like me saying that all NFL players are mentally unstable all because Plaxico Burress went and shot himself in the foot in a night club.
So let me preface this article by saying that having high testosterone levels, or seeking to increase your testosterone levels, doesn’t make you a bad human being – in fact, it would probably make you a better one.
This is because men with low testosterone counts often present with symptoms ranging from emotional problems such as irritability (having a short fuse), depression, a lack of confidence, to physical problems such as difficulty in falling asleep, low energy levels, loss of strength, higher fat storage, and perhaps the worst of all, a loss of sex drive – all symptoms that seem to disappear once testosterone levels are normalised.
In short, if you’re a guy (or a girl for that matter), you don’t want low testosterone levels!
Now, before we go on, I should make it clear that our testosterone levels naturally decline steadily from the age of 27, and then more rapidly after the age of 35. So if you’re over the age of 35, you in particular need to pay attention to the natural fixes contained within this article.

What Is Testosterone, & Why Should I Care?

Testosterone is a naturally occurring hormone that plays a vital role in both men and women – although it does present itself in higher concentrations in men.
It’s the predominant male sex hormone, and also plays a significant role in optimizing a number of sought-after traits, or qualities, of the modern-day man, including –
  • Higher muscle mass
  • Higher energy levels
  • Improved cognition
  • Decreased risk of osteoporosis
  • Increased libido
  • Better insulin management
Sounds pretty fucking cool, right?
On the flip side, however, if your testosterone levels aren’t optimized (or are low), you get the privilege of rocking a completely different set of characteristics, including, but not limited to –
  • Lack of confidence
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Low energy levels
  • Loss of desire to have sex
  • Higher fat storage
Sounds like a nightmare, right? Well now that I’ve got your attention, let’s get into the crux of this article.

 So How Do You Find Out If You’ve Got Low Testosterone?

Well, it seems simple, but you get them checked by a doctor. There really is no other way around it. You can display the symptoms of low testosterone, yet have levels that are completely normal, and have it be that those symptoms are being caused by something completely different.
In fact, I feel so strongly about the need for testing, and diagnosing, low testosterone levels that I think that everyone reading this, if you haven’t already done recently, should get their levels tested.
Normal levels of testosterone in men are between 230-1000 ng/dL, although some parties (myself included), seem to think that if even if you’re within the norm ranges, but on the low end (below 350 ng/dL), then you still need to shift your focus to getting that number up.
If you’re within the medium to high end of the ‘normal’ ranges then there is no need to start implementing the ideas below, because you’re sweet (and with hormones, being overly active is just as bad as being underactive).
If your levels are on the low-normal, or below the norms, however, you need to start making changes to your lifestyle – stat!

14 Ways To Naturally Increase Your Testosterone Levels

1) Get lean and stay lean, because the more body fat that you have, the more likely that your hormones are going to be out of whack. In fact, there has actually been a lot of research done in this area, with many studies showing that the more fat you carry, the lower your testosterone levels will be.
So it’s definitely worth getting your eating under wraps, and starting an exercise program aimed at burning through some of that excess fat.
2) Get 7-8 hours of sleep each and every night, and try to nap during the day if you can. Getting adequate sleep has a strong correlation to optimal testosterone levels, and should be high on your priority list if you’re serious about correcting them.
In fact, a study published in the University of Chicago showed that men who averaged just 5 hours of sleep or less experienced a drop in testosterone levels of 10-15 percent.
So your goal is to get at least 6 hours a night of solid sleep, but 7-8 seems to be what’s optimal.
3) Ensure that you’re getting an adequate intake of healthy fats such as fats from coconut oil, raw olive oil, nuts, avocado, fish oil and lean animal meats. This will ensure that there are high enough levels of cholesterol to support proper testosterone production functioning.
But wait – fats and cholesterol?
Yep, that isn’t a typo. There is actually a strong correlation between consuming a diet that is higher in healthy fats, and testosterone production. So eat up!
4) Limit your intake of alcohol (especially beer) as alcohol consumption definitely has a negative impact on testosterone levels, not to mention your waistline.
Now, while it’s true that short-term alcohol consumption probably won’t affect your testosterone levels too much, I’m of the opinion that you’re better safe than sorry, and trying to minimize drinking as much as possible (that’s not to say that you can’t enjoy a drink or two every once in a while).
5) Reduce your exposure to environmental estrogens. Xenoestrogen is a chemical that imitates estrogen in the body. When we are exposed to too much of this estrogen-imitating chemical, our testosterone levels can drop significantly.
The scary part of this is that Xenoestrogens are everywhere – in our plastic, toothpaste, on our foods (that’s why it’s important to eat organic wherever possible), shopping bags, cleaning products, and even in our water.
Now, while reducing our exposure to these may sound like a huge task, you can start by following the advice outlined in THIS article.
6) Start your day with a high protein/medium fat/low carbohydrate meal like eggs or steak, along with some green vegetables and avocado/nuts. Most people who I’ve seen switch from a carbohydrate-dominant breakfast, to a high protein/moderate fat breakfast immediately report increases in energy, satiety (the feeling of fullness), and almost always end up leaner from that one change.
As you’re about to find out (in the next point), carbohydrates temporarily drop our testosterone levels, and seeing as our testosterone levels are at their highest in the mornings, we don’t want to disrupt that by eating some carbs.
7) Control your carbohydrate intake because immediately following any high-carbohydrate meal there is a temporary drop in testosterone levels.
While this drop is only temporary, if you are eating 3-4+ carb-dominant meals per day, this will lead to lower testosterone levels overall.
In order to control your carbohydrate intake all I want you to do is to limit your consumption of starchy or simple carbohydrates to the 2-3 hour window after your training session for the day. This will ensure that your body is adept at handling the insulin spike a little better, and will also limit your consumption of these types of carbs to one meal per day – leading to better testosterone levels.
8) Eat lots of vegetables, especially cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage. Cruciferous vegetables contain indoles, which have been shown to remove the bad estrogens from our body.
In general, vegetables also help to support alkalinity, and keep inflammation down (kale and spinach are great for this, as are blueberries), which will help promote a lean body, as well as overall health – both of which can indirectly help with testosterone levels.
9) Keep your training sessions to 45-minutes, or less, of intense work, such as the ones in THIS program. Once you start getting beyond 45-minutes of intense training, you cortisol levels start to elevate significantly, causing there to be a decrease in testosterone.
Beyond that, you’re a busy father, and if you’re taking longer than 45-minutes to get through your sessions, then you’re probably not optimizing your time as best as you can be.
10) Make sure you do your big, compound lifts frequently – squats, deadlifts, rows, bench presses, chin ups, shoulder presses and lunges have been staples in many successful programs for decades for a reason.
It’s because exercises that are associated with larger muscle groups have been shown to result in increases in testosterone.
11) Be mindful of your stress, and be sure not to let it get out of control.  A high level of stress increases cortisol (sometimes chronically), and when cortisol is high, then testosterone is low.
Putting some stress-management processes in place will help you keep this under wrap, as well as improve your mental focus and well-being – because no matter how ripped or muscular you are, nobody likes a crazy son of a bitch – am I right?
As a side note, although it probably won’t be a problem, overtraining has been showing to severely decrease testosterone levels.
12) Have sex more often, preferably with a partner. This one goes without saying, right? More sex = more testosterone.
Beyond that, having sex more often will lead to an increase in confidence, as well as a decrease in stress. The combination of these factors can mean that having more sex becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy in that the more sex you have, the more sex that you want to have.
13) Keep your conditioning (fitness) work to higher intensity stuff, such as interval sprints, strongman training, or cardio finishers.
HIIT style training has been shown to have a positive correlation to testosterone levels, at least according to a study contained within the British Journal Of Sports Medicine.
14) Don’t restrict calories by too much (no more than 20% below base needs) when trying to lose fat. Yes, your low calorie diet is not only bad because it’s driving you insane, and making you feel like crap everyday, but it can also be lowering your testosterone levels.
By ensuring that you don’t cut calories too far from your maintenance levels, you can be sure that you don’t suffer from the side effects of low testosterone (and other hormones, for that matter).

[Bonus] 5 Supplements That Can Boost Testosterone Levels

While I’ve done my fair share of research when it comes to supplements, I have to do my due diligence in saying that if you want to really delve into this subject, then do yourself a favour and head over to my friend Sol Orwell’s site,, for what is the best database of summarized research on the Internet. For information specifically on Testosterone, use this link.
DHEA – DHEA is a naturally occurring hormone that is very effective in increasing testosterone levels, especially in those who are older in age (40 years+). The reason for this could be because our DHEA levels naturally drop as we age beyond 30, and so we need a little bit of external help when it comes to getting our levels up.
The effective dose of DHEA seems to be between 25-200mg/day, although the research is mixed. Personally, I’m about to experiment with taking 100mg/day, and adjust it as I see fit.
Magnesium Oil – I’ve spoken about the benefits of magnesium in a previous post, but know that, along with its other benefits, it will definitely help testosterone levels, particularly is you’ve found out that you have a magnesium deficiency.
Considering that magnesium is a mineral that’s used mostly when we’re stressed, there is a good chance that you might be low if you haven’t been supplementing with it.
I use magnesium oil, and take it as per the directions on the bottle.
Zinc Citrate – a deficiency in zinc levels can most definitely result in low levels of testosterone; in fact it’s one of the most crucial minerals for optimal test functioning.
In fact, there is research out there showing that a zinc deficiency can lead to as much as a 50% reduction in testosterone levels. Again, this is something that you can easily check with a blood test, and when you go to get your testosterone levels checked, I recommend getting them to do vitamin D, zinc, and magnesium at the same time.
My magnesium oil contains zinc within it, so I don’t supplement with any oral form of zinc, outside of my food, of course.
Fish Oil – as we’ve covered already, an optimal intake of healthy fats plays a significant role in producing optimal levels of testosterone. Fish oil is the cream of the crop in regards to healthy fats.
The effective dose for fish oil is around 2-3g of the active ingredients (EPA/DHA) per day, so be sure to find a high quality fish oil supplement, otherwise the amount of capsules that you have to swallow can become ridiculous.
Vitamin D – vitamin D is another nutrient that can play a role in decreasing testosterone should the body be deficient in it. While our bodies should get a lot of our vitamin D from the sun, given that the majority of the population works in indoors nowadays, this simply isn’t the case anymore.
Research has shown that supplementing with anywhere from 3-5000IU of vitamin D per day can help fix this deficiency, and as a result, increase testosterone levels.
Beyond that, there are some tribulus and bulbine-based products that could help with natural testosterone levels, but I haven’t looked into them enough to recommend them one way or another.
Regardless, the list above is extensive enough for you to go and make some changes to your nutrition and lifestyle habits so that you can get a little extra kick start to your training, recovery, and sex life!
*Unless your doctor is an ignorant twat, and only wants to solve your low testosterone problem by drugging you up with prescription medication.
**Research may not actually exist. In fact, I made it up to grossly exaggerate a point that I was trying to make.