Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Bodysculpting and other words I like to hear...

In my ongoing quest to improve myself, I have read a lot of articles and have come across several words that resonate positively with me... Here are some of them and what they mean...

Body Sculpting
Diet and Fitness program using weight, flexibility, and endurance training to mold, form, tone and reshape the entire body especially abdominals, hips, thighs, upper arms, and buttocks without creating bulk.

The burning sensation in a muscle that comes from the lactic acid and pH buildup resulting from exercising the muscle to failure.

To increase the blood supply to a muscle, thereby bringing in more nutrients.

A shortened version of gluteus maximus, the largest of the muscles forming each of the human buttocks.

Glycemic Index
A system of ranking carbohydrate-containing foods based on their immediate effect on blood sugar levels. Foods with a low glycemic index, like vegetables, beans, and most whole grains, are digested slowly, making you feel full longer. High glycemic index foods, like white bread, crackers and sugary candy, may cause a rapid energy boost that leaves you hungry shortly after you have eaten.

Lean Body Mass
Fat Free body tissue, comprising mostly muscle. Lean mass is the primary determinant of the body's basal metabolism (calories you burn at rest). In healthy men, bodyfat (bodyweight minus lean body mass) ranges from 8-12%; in women, 18-22%.

A condition of extremely low body fat with superior muscle separation and vascularity.

Six Pack
Abdominal muscles so well developed that you can see the muscles under the skin of your stomach. Also called washboard abs...


Friday, October 9, 2009

Train Smarter... Not Harder... Part 1

I usually smile when I see people in Spin/Rev/Indoor Cycling Classes pushing to their max... While I always appreciate their efforts, I wonder if they have ever been told about lactic acid, heart rate training and the difference between aerobic and anaerobic respiration...

It should be obvious by now that I am a science geek and I like to hear stuff about mitochondria and the Kreb's Cycle... Most people's eyes glaze over when those topics are mentioned so I have looked for a few simple explanations so we can all get more from our cardio.

Lets start with anaerobic respiration aka OVERTRAINING...

Did you know we humans have about 639 muscles in our body, with each of them having their own name? Most of these muscles are attached firmly to the bones of the skeleton, which make up the framework of the body. They are highly important parts of the body because without them we would not be able to move, eat, breathe, talk and even the heart would stop because the blood gets pumped in and out of the heart only through muscular action! Exercise is a good way to keep these muscles in shape, but if we exercise for too long a time, the muscles start to ache very badly and this is due to anaerobic respiration.

Under normal conditions, the body cells go through aerobic respiration, which is a long process where oxygen is used to convert the stored up glucose molecules, completely into energy. This type of respiration takes place in most living creatures, but there are a few parasitic worms and lower forms of plants (bacteria and yeast) that breathe anaerobically, that is, in the absence of oxygen. Anaerobic respiration also takes place in human beings when we exercise rigorously. During this time, we tend to take in less oxygen and this lack of oxygen prevents the oxygen from breaking down completely. This 'oxygen debt' results in the formation of an acid, or rather a 'poison' called lactic acid. This lactic acid gets stored in the muscles and causes the pain. The tiredness is caused by the production of different types of toxins, which are carried by the blood throughout the body.

The only way to remove this acid is to rest for a while, take in deep breaths of air (the extra oxygen helps to convert the lactic acid into a safer form) and the pain slowly subsides. The pain is actually a good way to control the body's activities. If a person continues to exercise and ignores the warnings being given by the body, the person might faint due to lack of oxygen or seriously sprain some of the muscles.

There are many differences between the two types of respiration, the most important being the difference between the amount of energy released. In aerobic respiration, we get about 38 ATP molecules of energy from a single glucose molecule, while in anaerobic respiration only 2 ATP molecules of energy are released for the same quantity of glucose. So it is always advantageous to take breaks while exercising; while resting, body removes any waste products, the cells get rejuvenated, the brain's nerve cells get re-charged, the joints of the body replenish their supplies of lubricants and much more. The body is then fit enough to carry on with the exercise and the rest of the day as well.

The body is quite an ingenious instrument and should be handled with care!

Now to geek out on LACTIC ACID fermentation...

LOL... Only NERDS need to

If oxygen is absent, many cells are still able to use glycolysis to produce ATP. Two ways this can be done are through fermentation and anaerobic respiration. Fermentation is the process by which the electrons and hydrogen ions from the NADH produced by glycolysis are donated to another organic molecule.

The point of fermentation

The reason this is done is to produce NAD+ which in tern is needed to keep glycolysis going. Remember, that unless the cell has some sort of electron transport system, the NADH is not usable. At the same time NAD+ is needed for glycolysis and its much less expensive in terms of energy for the cell to simply take the NADH that would normally go to the mitochondrion and use it to regenerate the NAD+. The NADH produced by glycolysis donates it's hydrogen ions and electrons that in aerobic respiration would have ended up powering electron transport phosphorylation.

Other fermentation pathways

There are a number of fermentation pathways that different cells use. Yeast cells produce ethyl alcohol by fermentation. Certain cells of our body, namely muscle cells, use lactic acid fermentation, while depending on the organism some of the other products of fermentation include acetic acid, formic acid, acetone and isopropyl alcohol.

Fermentation and running

In our bodies certain muscle cells, called fast twitch muscles, have less capability for storing and using oxygen than other muscles. When you run and these muscles run short of oxygen, the fast twitch muscles begin using lactic acid fermentation. This allows the muscle to continue to function by producing ATP by glycolysis.

The muscles get enough ATP for quick spurts or shall we say sprints, but quickly become fatigued as their stores of glycogen are used up. Eventually you cramp. This is in part because the muscles lack sufficient ATP to continue contracting. Also, lactic acid builds up and must be metabolized by the liver. Runners who sprint actually have more muscle cells specialized for lactic acid fermentation than do long distance runners.

White meat and dark meat

If you want to see what these muscles are like, when you eat chicken or turkey the white meat is fast twitch muscle. The dark meat is what is called slow twitch muscle. This meat is dark because it contains an oxygen holding protein called myoglobin. Note that the slow twitch muscles tend to be wing and leg muscles where long term endurance is required. The fast twitch muscles tend to be more common in the breast where quick response but not necessarily endurance is needed. Also, wild animals tend to have more slow twitch muscle than their domestic counterparts.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

My supplement line-up... not for the faint of heart...

1. Ultra Guggulow by Doctor's Best - stimulates thyroid, increases metabolisim, lowers cholesterol
The mukul myrrh (Commiphora mukul) tree is a small, thorny plant distributed throughout India. Guggul and gum guggulu are the names given to a yellowish resin produced by the stem of the plant. This resin has been used historically and is also the source of modern extracts of guggul.
Gum Guggul Gum guggul is related to myrrh gum and also to Boswellia serrata, another resinous herb prominent in the Ayurvedic materia medica. Gum guggul, often referred to simply as "guggul," has been used in the Ayurvedic herbal tradition since at least 600 B.C. The herb is mentioned in the Vedas, the Holy Scriptures of India, which are estimated to date back anywhere from 3,000 to 10,000 years. Modern investigation into gum guggul began in 1964, with a series of tests conducted by G.V. Satyavati. The inspiration for this research is a Ayurvedic treatise written in Sanskrit that describes in detail a condition called "coating and obstruction of channels." Impressed by the apparent analogy to the cardiovascular system, Satyavati and others initiated a series of tests to determine if gum guggul, which was mentioned in the treatise, would have any effect on blood lipid levels. This set the stage for an extensive series of studies on gum guggul's pharmacology and clinical effects.
Guggulsterones Systematic analysis of gum guggul resin carried out by Indian researchers in the 1980s identified the active ingredients as a group of lipid-based compounds called guggulsterols and guggulsterones. It was determined that two members of this group, Z-guggulsterone and E-guggulsterone, are largely responsible for the herb's effect on cholesterol and blood fats. An extract standardized for guggulsterone content of gum guggul was then developed by the CDRI in Lucknow, India. This extract, called "Gugulipid", is now the preferred form of gum guggul for use in clinical studies.
Ultra Guggulow contains Gugulipid standardized to supply 25 mg of guggulsterones per 1000 mg of extract.

2. Nettle Root-Power fom Nature's Herbs - diuretic, blocks conversion of testesterone to estrogen
Nettle is highly nutritive, being rich in chlorophyll, beta carotene, vitamins A, C, E and K, several of the B vitamins, tannins, volatile oils, flavonoids, iron, calcium, potassium, phosphates, and various other minerals, especially silica. Today nettle is recognised as having astringent, expectorant, galactagogue, tonic, anti-inflammatory, hemostatic, and diuretic properties, and is recommended for treating bone and joint conditions, inflammation and irritation of the urinary tract and for preventing urinary system gravel, whilst the diuretic action of the plant has been shown to significantly increase urine volume and can help to alleviate bladder infections.
Some of the more recent research on BPH (prostate enlargement) and stinging nettle indicates that the nettle root can interfere with or block a number of hormone-related chemical processes in the body that are implicated in the development of BPH. In clinical research, nettle has demonstrated the ability to stop the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (by inhibiting aromatase, an enzyme required for the conversion), as well as to directly bind to SHBG (sex hormone binding globulin) itself - thereby preventing SHBG from binding to other hormones. Other research also reveals that nettles can prevent SHBG that has already bound to a hormone from attaching to the receptor sites on the prostate, as well as to decrease the production of estrogens (estradiol and estrone) by inhibiting an enzyme required for their production. In summary, most of the intercellular processes required to trigger the prostate to grow new cells and enlarge seems to be inhibited by nettle root. Human and animal clinical studies have confirmed these effects and also demonstrated that nettle root works as well as the drug finasteride which is prescribed for BPH and is also better tolerated than the drug.
The effect of nettle root on dihydrotestosterone (DHT) levels has also made it a treatment for hair loss, as male pattern balding has often been linked to an excess of DHT, as has hair loss in women too. In folklore it was always believed that nettles were an effective treatment for baldness and modern science appears to validate this belief. Nettle root is also valuable as a source of lignans, a type of phytoestrogens, which have become more and more valued in recent years, and which accounts for its galactogogue property (increases breast milk production). Nettle root also contains a number of chemical compounds which appear to significantly stimulate the immune system.

3. Chasteberry Power from Natures Herbs - regulates hormonal balance, boosts fertility, reduces negative effects of elevated testesterone and estrogen
Research into chasteberry has shown the presence of various flavonoids, and Yugoslavian chemists have suggested that the ripe fruits contain certain steroids. Chasteberry increases the production of luteinizing hormone, and inhibits the release of follicle-stimulating hormone. By this sex-hormone modifying action, chaste berry modifies the secretion of both estrogen and progesterone.
Chasteberry has been renowned since ancient times as a treatment for various problems of the female reproductive system. It is a traditional remedy for irregular periods, amenorrhea and dysmenorrhea, and has long been used to help ease the symptoms of the menopause. More recently it has become recognised in Europe as a standard herbal treatment for general PMS symptoms and is also commonly used to treat other problems which can be linked to the menstrual cycle, such as migraine and acne. Chasteberry also has a reputation for alleviating fibrocystic breast disease, relieving the pain of endometriosis and for regulating ovulation and therefore promoting fertility. From all these uses it is clear that the berry has distinct hormonal effects on the body, and in modern times it's general success in these applications has prompted a great deal of research to be carried out to try and discover its mode of action. However, so far the chasteberry has managed to retain its secrets and the constituents responsible for its therapeutic actions have not been positively identified. Nevertheless, it is believed that the berry has the effects it does because it contains chemical compounds which act on the pituitary gland, the body's master gland which both produces hormones and from its location at the base of the brain directs the other endoctrine glands to produce hormones. Chasteberry is believed to effectively regulate the pituitary gland's functions, especially its progesterone and prolactin functions, and to therefore have a considerable influence on the body's hormonal balance, normalising it by enabling greater or lesser hormone release to occur, and making the chasteberry one of the world's most medically interesting herbs and the subject of ever increasing study.
Given the amount of study carried out on chasteberry, there is now a significant body of scientific research supporting its use for various complaints. Its use with PMS has been the main area of study, with trial results indicating that between 60% and 90% of women given chasteberry show reduced PMS symptoms. Results clearly improve over time, which is what should generally be expected from herbal treatments, but an important point about chasteberry is that because its overriding benefit is the long term balancing of a woman's hormonal system, it can never be regarded as a fast acting herb, but must be seen as a gradual remedy which needs to be taken for some months to realise its therapeutic properties.
Another area of considerable study on the effects of chasteberry has been its use for relieving breast tenderness or cyclic mastalgia. Several studies have reported a significant reduction in breast pain in women given chasteberry, again based on trials which were carried out over several months. Another recent study was on the berry's effects on women with a form of irregular menstruation known as luteal phase defect, a condition believed to be related to excessive levels of the hormone prolactin. After a trial lasting 3 months significant improvements were noted, reinforcing the claims made for chasteberry as a regulator of the pituitary gland's release of prolactin.
Although no studies have been carried out on the effects of chasteberry for those in the menopause, this application of the berry continues to be very popular and it is as firmly established as ever as one of the most important herbs for treating menopausal symptoms. It is also prescribed by herbalists for uterine cysts, for depression, anxiety and fatigue, and for use as an anti-androgen, as it is believed to inhibit the action of androgenic hormones.

4. Chrysin from Jarrow - blocks the conversion of elevated testesterone to estrogen
Chrysin (5,7-Dihydroxyflavone) is a potent bioflavonoid found in the plant Passiflora coerula, a member of the passion flower family. Honey combs also contain small amounts.
Chrysin is the most powerful of several flavonoids that have been extensively tested in vitro and found to exhibit anti-estrogenic activity by inhibiting the aromatization process. The effect of a reduction in estrogen production is a reduction in the signal being sent to the pituitary to attenuate the secretion of luteinizing hormone. When LH secretion is maintained or increased, testosterone production is maintained or increased as a consequence.
Chrysin can impact lean body mass by enhancing metabolism of testosterone and androstenedione. This product has been shown to have a significant effect in modulating the response to stress. It binds to receptors in the brain known as the benzodiazepine specific receptor sites. As a result, Chrysin can aid athletes in dealing with the stress of training.
Unfortunately the effectiveness of Chrysin in vivo (in the human body) is limited by its poor oral bioavailability. Research has shown that most of the Chrysin ingested is excreted. Chrysin may be more effective when co-administered with Bioperine®, an extract of black pepper that has been shown to improve the absorption of certain nutrients taken with it.

5. Tribulus from NOW - diuretic, elevates testesterone
Tribulus terrestris (Sanskrit name: gokshura) has been extensively used for sexual dysfunction in both; males and females. In China and India , the herb Tribulus terrestris has been touted as liver, kidney, urinary, and cardiovascular remedies. In Ayurvedic science, the herb is considered to be a general health tonic and urinary tract disinfectant. In Traditional Chinese Medicine Tribulus terrestris is known under the name Bai Ji Li
It is a natural herbal alternative to synthetic anabolic hormones without any clinically proven toxic effects. Administration leads to increased muscle mass in active sports by activating the enzyme associated with energy metabolism. At the same time it has also been reported to have the ability to stimulate some functions associated with the increase of the body's natural endogenous testosterone and lutenizing hormone (LH) levels. With the increase of the body's natural endogenous testosterone level, it can help alleviating some symptoms associated with male menopause