If you have been to your local health food store lately you might assume that Chia Pets are making a comeback. Unfortunately, or fortunately as the case may be, those terracotta figurines and their fur like sprouts are still around. They even have a SpongeBob version now. Little did we know back in 1982 when they were first introduced, that chia seeds would one day labeled a “superfood.”
Chia, as it is commonly known (its scientific classification is Salvia hispanica), is an herb indigenous to central and southern Mexico and Guatemala and comes from the mint family of flowers. The appeal of chia seeds comes from the fact that they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, including alpha linoleic acid, protein and fiber. One ounce of these seeds contains 4g of protein, 9g of fat and 11g of fiber not to mention antioxidants, calcium and other minerals. However, as CNNHealth expert Dr. Melina Jampolis suggests, there is no actual definition of a “superfood.” This is a marketing gimmick used to describe foods that contain above average amounts of health promoting nutrients. It is suggested that chia seeds:
Help you lose weight. When exposed to water chia seeds become gelatinous and increase in size and weight. This gel is hard to remove from the stomach making you feel full longer.
Help balance your blood sugar. The presence of soluble and insoluble fiber combined with the gelling action of the seeds will help slow the conversion of starch into sugar. Sprinkle seeds on your meal and your food will become a constant steady energy.
Help keep you regular by ensuring adequate daily consumption of insoluble fiber. This will have the added benefit of helping prevent diverticulitis.
Help fortify your diet with essential fatty acids usually found in fish or supplements.
Help provide you with more natural energy all day long due to its higher protein content.
Help prevent the signs and symptoms of aging due to its high antioxidant concentration. These antioxidants will combat free radical damage in your body.
Help hydrate you. Due to the difficulty the body has separating the water from the chia gel it allows for the water to irrigate the system as it passes through.
In 2009 PubMed published results from systematic review of the health benefits derived from chia seeds. It was concluded that there was little scientific evidence supporting the efficacy of chia seeds on cardiovascular risk factors or weight loss. Another study from PubMed dated 2011, found that chia loading appears to be a viable option for enhancing performance in endurance events lasting longer then 90 minutes. This study also concluded that chia loading allowed athletes to reduce their dietary intake of sugar but conferred no performance advantage.
Superfood or not, since they have little to no flavor you could make a case for including them in what you already eat. Just make sure to keep portions under control, calories in check and eat a balanced diet overall.
One overriding question prevails in fitness: What’s the best exercise? It does not matter what the goal is or who is asking the question, everyone assumes that there must be one best exercise to get them in shape. Fitness professionals are bombarded with queries such as, “What is the best cardio to do?” or “What is the best exercise to get a six pack stomach?” The answer to all of these questions is quite simply the squat. If you want to get stronger, improve flexibility or change your body composition then squat. If you want to run faster, jump higher or just maintain the highest quality of life, then squat.
The squat can and should be officially crowned as the king of all exercises. It is fundamental and essential to everything we do in life. If you sit into a chair only to get up later on then you have done a squat. If you use the bathroom then you have done a squat. If you want to maintain your independence then you must be able to squat. If you cannot pick yourself up after you fall then you certainly cannot live by yourself.
In a nutshell the squat includes the basic ability to raise and lower one’s center of mass. It is a motion essential to all of life’s pursuits. Couple that with the simultaneous expression of posterior chain strength and flexibility and you have an incredibly functional and intense movement both with and without added weights. Include the need to stabilize the spine during execution and you have found the perfect movement to challenge all of the body’s systems.
Performing a perfect squat can be years in the making but it is worth its weight in gold. The benefits gleaned from squatting are manifold. It helps increase bone density and it trains the core muscles to eliminate unwanted movement (this is actually the intended use of the core but that is a whole other topic)) and it allows for large loads to be moved quickly. Finally, the squat prompts a strong nueroendocrine response that releases hormones essential to growth, strength and metabolism.
Start by making sure you can perform a proper body-weight squat. This will strengthen your glutes and hamstrings while stretching your hip flexors which will allow for proper range of motion. Make sure you keep your knees from buckling and use your hips to develop torque and power. Train your midsection and spinal erectors to ensure an organized midline. If these muscles are weak you will not be able to support significant loads on your spine. Train heavy some days and train for speed on others. Use different versions of the squat including high-bar, low-bar and box squats. Augment your training with Olympic Weightlifting and or plyometrics when possible. Always allow for proper recovery.
Want to get strong and ripped at the same time, all while trouncing your peers on any performance metric? Get off your chair, that’s rep number one, and start squatting.
Cover as much distance rucking (40lbs) for 2 hours as possible:
-Every 15 minutes: 25x push ups with ruck on.
*To carry the forty pounds it is suggested to use a backpack and add either sandbags or bricks to make up the weight. A weight vest may also be used if you have one.
WOD DATE AND TIME: Due to the Father's Day Weekend and the fact that the weather forecast looks amazing this WOD will be done on your own and can be done at anytime over the weekend. If you need to use the gym for this then we ask that you do so during regular class times either Saturday or Sunday.
Due to the intensity of CrossFit workouts people often make impressive improvements in their fitness very quickly. The overweight become lean, the weak find new strength and the de-conditioned become resilient. Of equal importance, hesitance is replaced by competence and confidence. Novel challenges become fun opportunities to express fitness rather than obstacles. Along the way people often come to the realization that limits are more mental than physical. The mind will often limit one’s potential before the body’s capabilities are fully taxed.
To truly succeed in CrossFit one must balance self-preservation versus self-annihilation. This is analogous to redlining the engine in your car. If you push your car too hard and too fast the engine will blow out rendering your car unusable. If you push your body too hard, too fast, and too often, it too will break down. To become an elite level athlete you must push yourself hard enough to improve but at the same time be cautious enough to avoid injuries.
Too often experienced athletes start managing their workouts and become guilty of “sandbagging” -- performing below maximum capacity in the name of self preservation. Interestingly enough this does not happen with less experienced CrossFitters as they have yet to learn what 100% effort really feels like. With experience comes the realization that maximal efforts are associated with physical discomfort. If working out is comfortable then the stimulus is insufficient for improving fitness.
Humans are hard wired to avoid pain for survival purposes. However, the pain referenced in this case is different. In CrossFit we are asking athletes to endure the pain in order to improve their lives and limit subsequent suffering. On a short term basis this requires over-riding the same signals in our brain typically associated with danger. Your brain is largely responsible for keeping you alive. It collects internal and external stimuli and formulates an appropriate response, sometimes known as “fight or flight.” Unfortunately, the brain has a tendency to over-react and err on the self-preservation side and this can be detrimental in CrossFit. To truly reach the upper echelons of athletic performance you must be able to ignore this signal to hold back or quit prematurely. Most athletes are nowhere near their breaking point and have plenty of room to grow and perform.
During intense exercise the brain tends to be blank and receptive. While there is often little conscious thought there is ample room to focus on the task at hand. Such focus will prevent the brain from registering potential discomfort. Try counting repetitions out loud as this will keep you focused mentally on overcoming key thresholds during your workout. Count the number of breaths you take during rest breaks to avoid prolonged pauses in the middle of your workout. Try limiting the number of breaths to five or ten at time and get right back into the mix, every repetition done is one less to go before the pain ends. Set your sights on the finish line and hold yourself accountable to your own fitness.
PERHAPS THE MOST IMPORTANT SUPPLEMENT YOU CAN TAKE
Fish oils come from fatty fish, also known as oily fish, specifically the tissue of fatty fish, such as trout, mackerel, tuna, herring, sardines, and salmon.
Fish oils are of interest to nutritionists and health care professionals because of two main ingredients: DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) - both types of Omega-3 fatty acids.
The fillets of oily fish contain up to 30% oil; this figure may vary. White fish, on the other hand, only contain high concentrations of oil in the liver, and have much less oil. Apart from omega-3 fatty acids, oily fish are also good sources of vitamins A and D. Whitefish also contain these nutrients, but at much lower concentrations.
Health experts commonly tell people that oily fish have more health benefits than white fish. However, their recommendations have never been compellingly proven scientifically in large population studies.
Many health authorities around the world advise people to consume either plenty of oily fish or to take supplements, because of their supposed health benefits. Studies over the last ten years have produced mixed results regarding the benefits of the dietary intake of fish oils.
Some people confuse fish oils and cod liver oil - they are different. Fish oils are extracted from the tissue of deep sea oily fish such as tuna, mackerel, herring and salmon. Cod liver oil, by contrast, is extracted solely from the livers of cod. Fish oils contain higher amounts of omega-3 fatty acids than cod liver oil, but lower amounts of vitamins A and D.
Possible health benefits of fish oils
Over the last ten years, there have been dozens of studies on fish oils and omega-3 oils. Some have backed up these claims, while others have not.
Fish oils are said to have a number of health benefits if they are included in a human diet, including:
1) Multiple sclerosis (MS)
Fish oils are said to help people with MS, specifically by minimizing the progression of this disability and by limiting relapses.
Fish oils may reduce the risk of developing cancer by combating inflammation and by reducing tumor cell growth.
3) Post-natal (post-partum) depression
Fish oils consumed during pregnancy may help protect mothers from post-partum depression - Dr. Michelle Price Judge, of the University of Connecticut School of Nursing, said after carrying out a study in 2011 "DHA consumption during pregnancy at levels that are reasonably attained from foods has the potential to decrease symptoms of postpartum depression."
4) Mental health benefits
A pilot study carried out in 2007 suggested that fish oils may help young people with behavioral problems, especially those with ADHD. The eight-week study demonstrated that children who consumed between 8 and 16 grams per day of EPA and DHA (the long chain omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil) showed significant improvements in their behavior (rated by both their parents and the psychiatrist working with them).
5) Memory benefits
Omega-3 fatty acid intake can help improve working memory in healthy young adults. This is due to DHA's impact on the cerebral cortex in the brain. Keeping this region healthy will improve memory and other brain functions as well. These cerebral benefits will likely carry over into older adults as well as they combat potential cognitive decline.
6) Heart benefits
Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oils may protect the heart from stress. A study study published in the American Journal of Physiology - Regulatory, Integrative, and Comparative Physiology revealed that people who took fish oil supplements for over a month experienced less stress in measurements of cardiovascular health than those who did not.
7) Protection from Alzheimer's disease
Claims were made for many years that regular fish oil consumption would help prevent people from developing Alzheimer's disease. A study published in Neurology in 2007 reported that a diet in fish, omega-3 oils, fruit and veggies reduces dementia and Alzheimer's risk.
8) Protection from vision loss
Adequate dietary consumption of DHA protects people from age-related vision loss, due to its effects on the retina specifically.
A 2014 study published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry claims epilepsy patients could reduce seizure frequency by consuming low doses of omega-3 fish oil every day.
The research team at the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Medicine, says their findings may be particularly useful to epilepsy patients who no longer respond to medication
10) Schizophrenia and psychotic disorders
In what was believed to be the first study of its kind, research has revealed the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil may be effective for reducing the risk of psychosis.
The study, published in Nature Communications, details how a 12-week intervention with omega-3 supplements substantially reduced the long-term risk of developing psychotic disorders.
11) Benefits for the fetus
Omega-3 consumption may help boost fetal cognitive and motor development. In a study published in 2008, scientists from L'Université Laval Laval found that omega-3 consumption by the mother during her last three months of pregnancy improved her baby's sensory, cognitive and motor development.
12) Recovery from strenuous activity
Omega-3 consumption can prevent and combat the inflammatory response associated with the aftermath of strenuous exercise. Although some inflammation is healthy and necessary to prompt cellular improvements, minimizing some of the damage and aiding in a speedier recovery can be beneficial. This is especially true for athletes.
What are Omega-3 fatty acids?
Omega-3 fatty acids are types of fat commonly found in plant and marine life oils. There are two types which are plentiful in fatty fish:
1) Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) is an Omega-3 fatty acid that is found in fatty fish. When we talk about omega-3 fatty acids in fish, we are usually referring to EPA.
EPA is a precursor to prostaglandin-3, a platelet aggregation inhibitor, thromboxane-2 and leukotriene-5. Fish do not produce EPA, they obtain it from the algae they eat.
2) DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is an omega-3 fatty acid that is a main component of the human retina (in the eye), sperm, and cerebral cortex (in the brain).
40% of all the polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) in the brain consist of DHA. DHA makes up 60% of the PUFAs in the retina. Half of the neuron's plasma membrane weight is composed of DHA. Breast milk is rich in DHA.
Do fish oil supplements offer heart benefits?
Experts and members of the general public believe that a high consumption of omega-3 oils has heart benefits.
Heart benefits found - a 2011 study carried out by researchers at Michigan Technological University, found that fish oil consumption can improve blood flowby reducing triglyceride levels, as well as slowing down the growth rate of atherosclerotic plaques.
Fish oils help patients with stents in their arteries. People with stents in their heart who took two blood-thinning drugs as well as omega-3 fatty acids were found to have a lower risk of heart attacks compared to those not on fish oils.
Are low Japanese heart disease rates linked to high fish oil consumption?
Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health set out to determine why the incidence of heart disease in Japan is much lower than in the USA, Canada, Western Europe and Australasia.
They reported in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology in April 2008 that omega-3-rich fish consumption in Japan is much higher than in other developed nations. The authors believe that the greater consumption of fish oils in Japan is a main contributor to its relatively lower heart disease rates.
The scientists explained that the difference cannot be explained by genetic factors. Third and fourth generation Japanese-Americans have either the same or higher rates of hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) than the rest of the US population. Atherosclerosis is a major risk factor for heart disease.
Study lead author Akira Sekikawa, M.D., Ph.D., suggested, "Our study suggests that very high levels of omega-3 fatty acids have strong properties that may help prevent the buildup of cholesterol in the arteries. Increasing fish intake to two times a week for healthy people is currently recommended in the U.S. Our study shows much higher intake of fish observed in the Japanese may have strong anti-atherogenic effect."
Japanese adult males consume approximately 3.75 ounces (100 grams) of fish each day. Their US counterparts eat fish no more than twice a week.
North American diet deficient in omega-3 oils
Americans and Canadians eat too much meat and not enough fish, researchers from the University of British Columbia reported in the American Journal of Nutrition in 2008.
The authors added that the North American lifestyle means people are not getting adequate amounts of dietary omega-3 fatty acids. They emphasized that pregnant and breastfeeding women particularly need to make sure they consume plenty of omega-3 oils.
They found that North American women's babies did not do as well on eye tests if they were deficient in omega-3 fatty acids while they were pregnant.
The following foods are rich in omega-3 fatty acids:
Spinach is rich in omega-3.
Oily fish - anchovies, herring, sardines, salmon, trout, and mackerel.
Eggs (especially the ones that have "high in omega-3 written on the shell)
Raddish seeds, sprouted raw
Leafy dark green vegetables, such as spinach
Lastly, if you are unable to consume adequate amounts of these foods then fish oil supplements provide a final source of omega-3 to fill in these dietary gaps.
How can vegans make sure their omega-3 fatty acid intake is sufficient?
Without proper planning, vegans and vegetarians have a much higher risk of being omega-3 deficient than humans who eat animal-sourced proteins.
A vegan consumes no animal-sourced protein at all, not even honey, while a vegetarian may include eggs and dairy in their diet. The risk of not consuming enough omega-3 fatty acids is higher for vegans than vegetarians if they do not plan their diets well.
According to VeganHealth.org, vegans may obtain their necessary omega-3 supplies by either taking supplements or adding plant-sourced omega-3 foods to their diet.
Several foods sold in shops and supermarkets have omega oils added to them, such as many margarines and spreads. See the list of foods with omega oils above and select the plant-based ones.
Flaxseed and rapeseed oils are very high in omega-3 fatty acids, while soybean and walnut oils are high in omega-6 fatty acids. However, you should remember not to cook these at a high temperature.
Whether you are looking to improve your rest and recovery or you are looking to maintain optimal health, omega-3 consumption is essential. If you cannot get enough through your food then you should whole heartedly consider finding a good fish oil supplement.
*If you have any questions or are interested in the fish oil we carry here at CFTR please ask a coach for details.
Nutrient intake, like the delivery of a good joke, must be timed just right. This is most important as it relates to your exercise habits. If your goal is to optimize your performance during and your recovery after your workout of the day (WOD) then you need to pay attention to what and when you consume your daily nutrients. One of the more common questions people ask is what they should eat before and or after their WOD.
Never work out on an empty stomach. This is the single most important thing you need to remember. It does not matter if you workout at 5 a.m. and that your goal is fat loss, working out on an empty stomach will hinder not hasten your results. What you should eat beforehand varies depending on who you talk to. Traditional dogma suggests stocking up on some extra carbohydrates (50 grams is a typical recommendation) to maximize muscle glycogen storage. This may work for some and it may certainly prove important during longer duration WODs but protein (15-20 grams is a standard recommendation) can be just as effective. Protein can play two roles pre-WOD. First, it provides essential amino acids to working skeletal muscle that can prevent catabolism during your workout while also accelerating your recovery. Protein will also be converted to muscle glycogen when and where needed through a process called gluconeogenesis. It then becomes a trained adaptation on the part of the individual to determine what their body handles best. Some people enjoy a banana with peanut butter while others prefer a protein shake prior to hitting the gym. Be careful not to overdo it, working out on a heavy full stomach can decrease performance.
Nutrient timing during your WOD is dependent on how long you need to keep up your energy levels. If your workout is less than hour your intra workout nutrition needs will be minimized. You will likely only need to maintain adequate hydration levels. Try to sip water at regular intervals during your workout. At the end of your workout if you have lost a noticeable amount of weight this is due to fluid loss. Make sure to drink about 16 ounces of water for each pound lost. If your WOD is a real grinder or you are engaged in some sort of endurance based WOD you may need intra workout supplementation. The threshold here is a workout lasting 90 minutes or longer. Again it depends on who you talk to whether it is recommended to ingest carbohydrates or protein. Here too it is suggested that you try both and see how your body reacts and then develop a plan for such workouts.
As soon as your workout ends it is time to refuel. Strenuous exercise stimulates muscle protein synthesis and this signal is most pronounced in the hour immediately following your WOD. In order to ensure that your body can repair and grow properly you want to consume a mixture of nutrients that is rich in both carbohydrates and protein. Try to consume a meal that has at least 1/4 gram of protein and 1/2 gram of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight upon completion of training. Then follow this up with another protein and carbohydrate meal two to three hours later.
As for the rest of the day, try to eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit and no sugar. Sound familiar? It should this is CrossFit’s mantra on nutrition. Want some more specific advice check out the Paleo Diet, Zone or Primal Diet. All three of these are very popular and fundamentally sound on diet and nutrient consumption. Remember, at the end of the day you are what you eat. Put crap in your body and...well enough said.