Choosing the Right Nutrition Bar – A Few Simple Tips

Nutrition bars have become a “go to” snack for many health conscious individuals. They are convenient, require no preparation, and are easy to store in a desk or take along in a purse or backpack. They require no refrigeration and come in a wide variety of flavors to suit every taste and palate.

Depending on the bar, they can function as a snack or as a meal replacement. There are literally hundreds of brands, recipes and flavors on the market which makes it hard to choose the best one for you. They vary wildly in terms of caloric content, ingredients, and Protein/Carbohydrate/Fat ratios. And, some of them are not much more than expensive junk food bars. All of this leaves you wondering, just how healthy are these bars?

If you want to choose a healthy bar, and one that works for your particular needs, you have to understand that it is all about the ingredients. And, you have to learn to read labels. Whether you are looking for a healthy snack, a protein boost, a carbohydrate fix or a meal replacement, you need to understand what is in the bar if you want to get the benefits you desire.

A good place to start is with the ingredient list and the nutritional facts label. Every bar has one, and just reading these two labels will tell you everything you need to know.

Regardless of whether you are looking for a nutrition bar that is high protein, high carbohydrate or a combination, there are certain ingredients that are simply not healthy for you.

For a nutrition bar to be healthy, it should not contain a significant amount of added sugar. Dried fruit such as dates, cranberries, apple etc should provide enough sweetness. If however there is added sugar, it should not be among the first 3 or 4 ingredients and it should not contain corn syrup of any sort. Nor should it contain any “sugar” with a chemical sounding name. Natural sugars such as honey, agave or brown rice syrup are healthier as long as they are used in small amounts.

While you do not want a nutrition bar to contain a lot of fats, there are good fats and bad fats. The body needs fat to function properly. Nuts and seeds are high in fat but these are good fats. They are good for your body and regulating metabolism. Bad fats include any product that contains hydrogenated fats. These should be avoided.

While it is beyond the scope of this article to provide detailed nutritional counseling, certain basics apply. Carbohydrates are digested quickly and give a quick burst of energy. Protein takes longer to digest and thus helps one feel fuller longer. Fats slow down the digestive process of carbohydrates and help with metabolic and brain function. Fiber helps move waste and toxins through the body ad any calories not used are stored as fat.

Based on their specific needs, you should look at the amount of fiber, calories, protein and carbohydrates in a whichever nutrition bar you plan to choose. Each of these items serves a particular purpose. So the individual needs of each consumer come into play here.

Perfect for runners, bicyclists and other athletes, anyone needing a burst of energy should opt for a high carbohydrate nutrition bar.

Many people are following a high protein or zone diet should pay attention to the Carbohydrate to Protein ratio. If the goal is to use the bar as a meal replacement it should contain about 1/3 each of carbs, protein and fats.

Nutrition bars can be a great addition to a healthy eating program. They can curb cravings, help level out blood sugar, give you a quick burst of energy or, in a pinch, act as a meal replacement. Choosing wisely can help achieve weight loss and good health. However, if you don’t pay attention, you may be buying very expensive candy bars.

4 Key Benefits of Taking Fish Oil Supplements

There are so many choices when it comes to health supplements, therefore, it can be difficult to decide which one will benefit you the most. This is where fish oil comes into play. Fish oil has numerous benefits that will not only help you from within, but also on the outside as well. Firstly, fish oil has been touted to be a great supplement to take if your interested in improving your cardiovascular health. Secondly, it helps to reduce inflammation on the outside and within the body. Thirdly, you’ll reap the skin benefits. And finally, it can also be used as food for your brain and help to combat a variety of mental health issues.

Cardiovascular Health
The first benefit that fish oil has is that it is beneficial for cardiovascular health. If you have high blood pressure, fish oil supplements may help to reduce your high blood pressure. According to CNN.com, the omega-3 found in fish oil has been shown to reduce triglycerides, lower blood pressure and reduce heart rhythm abnormalities. The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil also prevent the blood from clotting fairly easily. Therefore, fish oil may be helpful for treating a variety of heart conditions. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil also help to lower the level of bad cholesterol while increasing the levels of good cholesterol. So it can also be beneficial for cholesterol.

Reduces Inflammation
Inflammation occurs within your body when it senses infection. And if you have arthritis, osteoarthritis or any types of severe skin inflammation, such as eczema, fish oil can help reduce the side effects of these disorders. When you take fish oil supplements, they help to calm these nerves by balancing levels of omega-6 and omega-3 within your body. In accordance to the Linus Pauling Foundation, fish oil supplements have even been shown to benefit patients so much that some patients taking anti-inflammatory drugs have been shown to be less dependent on these drugs.

Skin Benefits
In regards to skin health, fish oil supplements, which contain omega-3 fatty acids, help the skin in a variety of different ways. First, they improve the health of skin cells and their functioning. So, the healthier skin cells are, the better your skin will look. Omega-3 fatty acids also help give skin a smooth appearance and resilient texture. Research has also shown that they even help to prevent wrinkles and slow down the aging process. There’s even research that demonstrates how fish oil can also help prevent sun damage to the skin. So, not only will your skin look good, but you’ll age gracefully as well.

Brain Food
Fish oil is known as a brain food mainly because a lot of people eat fish to help cope with a variety of mental health disorders, including depression, psychosis, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, stress disorder and attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder. According to researchers at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio, in their research publication titled “Fish Oils and Bipolar Disorder: A Promising but Untested Treatment”, they state that fish oil be helpful in stabilizing the mood and help with the treatment of bipolar disorder.

Now that you are aware of the 4 benefits of fish oil supplements, now you can decide whether or not they are right for you. We’ve discussed that they provide the user with cardiovascular health benefits and help the heart in many different ways. We’ve also discussed how fish oil supplements help to reduce inflammation within the body. There was also a section on skin benefits. And lastly, fish oil helps provide the brain with food and this food helps to combat a variety of mental health problems

Shoulder Rehab for the Weight Lifter & Bodybuilder

Shoulder Rehab for Weight Lifter & Bodybuilder

Shoulder problems?

Here’s the quick fix..

A lot of “weight lifters” or “bodybuilders” tend to experience shoulder pain. Are you one of them? If so here’s the quick fix for someone experiencing shoulder problems usually in the rotator cuffs or front delts.

Time to lay off the push motion exercises.

Absolutely no bench press, dumbbell press, shoulder press, or light machine presses.

Focus on all fly motions and side and front raises. I’ve experienced some shoulder throughout my years of working out and it’s usually caused by pushing too my weight with bad form. Here’s what I’ve been doing to relieve the pain and get back into even better conditioning.

I stay away from all push motions and only focus on fly and raise motions for about two weeks.

I keep my chest days extremely light and focus heavily on form. Same with my shoulder days.

Chest day rehab:

Machine cable flys 

– 5 sets of 20 reps

Light dumbbell flys

– 4 sets 25 reps

Upward/Mid/Downward cable flys

– 4 sets each 15 reps

Dumbbell pull overs

4 sets 15 – 20 reps

Shoulder day rehab:

Side lateral dumbbell raises

*super set*

Rear delt flys

– 4 sets 15 reps each

Front dumbbell raises

*super set*

Seated side lateral raises

– 4 sets 15 reps each

Cable front raises

*super set*

One arm side lateral cable raises

– 4 sets 20 reps each

Machine assisted side lateral raises

– 4 sets 20 reps

– Rear delt cable flys

– 4 sets 20 reps

Cable cross rear delt flys

– 4 sets 20 reps

Be sure to keep everything LIGHT as possible. Leave your ego at the door when performing rehab work and as always, for severe issues consult with a professional physician before performing any activities. If you would like to try and self-rehab, check out some joint supporting* products.

– Sam Hall
Bodybuilder, Writer, Sponsored Athlete
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The “Yoga-High”

Everyone has the time for what he or she wants to make time for. Going to a Yoga studio is not the only way to be a Yogi. When it comes to time, it is very precious to me because I have so many jobs. However, I still do the things I enjoy because I make the time for them.  There are many free yoga classes online that can be done almost anywhere, and you can decide how long you want the class to be. YouTube and doyouyoga.com are two sites that I enjoy to continue my practice. If you are looking for teacher-student interaction and corrections, most Yoga studios have a free class each week.

Also, practicing Yoga does not always involve standing on your head and flowing through poses. Yoga is about turning inward and centering the mind to the present moment. Finding your internal light and happiness and projecting it outward into the world through different types of meditations or just becoming aware of your thoughts. Being the “multi-tasker” that I am, I find it very hard to sit still for 15 minutes, turn my phone off, and meditate. However, I have found a way to incorporate meditation into my life. I use the 21 Day Meditation Experience app on my phone, and I have Oprah & Deepak CDs in my car for on the way to work. I just make sure I don’t shut my eyes while I drive. Meditations are great in the morning because they set your intention for the day and help prepare for any negativity that may come your way. If your mornings are too crazy and loud for meditations, they have the same benefit no matter what time of the day it is.

Meditating will bring more peace and patience into your life, and you may even experience a “Yoga-high.” The body becomes so tranquil you feel like everything moves slowly and gracefully. This is unlike modern lives today of running here, picking up groceries there, and moving as quickly as possible to complete all of the daily tasks. When you experience a “Yoga-high,” all of the mountains that come up during the day become puddles that you can easily hop over. Any negativity that comes, goes into the mind to process, and slowly makes its way out. I first experienced this high meditating in the car. When there is heavy traffic, I tend to get anxiety because I’m afraid someone will hit me.  Two weeks ago I ran into some traffic and felt completely relaxed and calm. That was the moment I knew I was high on Yoga. You become more confident in yourself, and ready to take on new challenges or opportunities. Better yet, being relaxed lowers your cortisol levels.

Cortisol is the main culprit for storing fat. When we are stressed, this hormone is released into the body. Then, the body goes into “fight-or-flight” mode because it thinks we are starving or in trouble. Therefore, our body tries to act like a hero and stores any fat it can to save us from this so-called starvation. In turn, digestion slows down, and if we are continuously stressed, the body starts to malfunction. Our immune system begins a downward spiral when all of this occurs, and we can easily become sick. If you know someone who gets sick all the time and seems to be frequently tense, stress could potentially be the cause of their constant illness. Yoga is so important to everyone because lowered cortisol levels can help to burn fat, as opposed to storing it. We all have the opportunity to practice Yoga, we just have to carve out some time or build it into our daily routine. Happiness and creating peace come from within, and we need to learn to release all of the positive vibes that live and grow inside us.

Namaste

– Rachel Calhoun
#fitrecipe #teamSC #fitfood

Maintaining a Healthy Digestive System

prebiotics, probiotics, digestive enzymes explained

It has happened to everyone, perhaps you went to try out that new restaurant all your friends were recommending and before you know it your stomachs bubbling and you have an uncomfortable case of the runs. It’s a very crappy situation, pardon the pun, but the diarrhea and digestive disturbance for most will last a day or two then things are back to normal. While not a comforting scenario it is much better than what many who have Celiac disease, Crohns disease, IBS(Irritable Bowel Syndrome), IBD(Irritable Bowel Disease) or a strong gluten intolerance have to endure day after day for their entire lives. These conditions while characterized by symptoms of diarrhea, intestinal cramping and incontinence all have one common factor; the inability to properly process the food you’re consuming. The digestive system for most people, even performance minded people is mostly an afterthought, it only enters our minds when something goes wrong, when in fact it is a primary factor in health and performance and should be treated as such.

Obviously every person was not made to process every type of food, so if you are ingesting something that does not agree with you the best thing to do is just stop eating it, but often the solution nowadays is not that simple. We live in a period of mass food production, extreme processing, GMOs, horrible chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Animals are pumped with antibiotics and steroids and fed unhealthy grains to fatten them up all in the name of profits. It seems no matter how careful you are with your eating habits; organic, grass fed and gluten free isn’t necessarily going to save you due to confusing labeling laws that allow them to obfuscate the truth and put you at risk. Definitely make the best, cleanest, least processed choices you can but consider that you may need to include ‘special’ foods or even supplements to balance things out.  Also consider that at some point everyone is going to have cake at a wedding or cut loose with junk food while on vacation or have a few beers with some buddies while watching the game. All of these behaviors can kill beneficial bacteria and contribute to an imbalance in the digestive system, don’t beat yourself up about it but be aware when you may need to be a bit more aggressive with digestive prep.

The parts of the digestive system with which we are primarily concerned are the stomach, small intestine and large intestine or colon. When you eat food the initial step of breaking it down is chewing and the food being covered by a small amount of digestive enzymes contained in saliva. From there it enters the stomach and is broken down by hydrochloric acid and more enzymes before entering the small intestine, where it is further processed by a large amount of beneficial bacteria. This is where the bulk of nutrient absorption takes place. From there it enters the large intestine as mostly waste. The final steps are taken before it is passed to the rectum. Right after the skin, the intestines are the largest organ system in your body. If you were to stretch out the small and large intestine at length it would measure over sixty feet. Sixty percent of your immune system is contained inside your digestive system, so we are talking about the foundation of your constitution. When the digestive system does not function properly quality of life suffers right along with performance and recovery. Simply put, if you cannot process the food you are taking in optimally then you won’t be able to live optimally either.

Adequate fiber intake is the first step to keeping things moving smoothly. Fiber is technically a  indigestible carbohydrate, it has no actual nutritional  value, it acts as roughage, there are two types of fiber soluble and non-soluble. The rule of thumb for fiber is to consume 1 gram for every 10 grams of protein. Fiber has been shown to help maintain a healthy balance in the gut and GI tract and help escort toxins out of the body. Fiber also helps to prevent constipation and bloating. The best food sources for fiber are vegetables of all types, fruits of varying types and whole grains. Most people have at least a cursory knowledge of fiber so now let’s get to the beef of this burger.

The foundation of a healthy digestive system is what we like to call beneficial bacteria or probiotics, the good flora and fauna of or our intestines that are responsible along with digestive enzymes for the more complicated process of absorbing the nutrients from the food we consume.  So maintaining a healthy balance of beneficial bacteria and digestive enzymes is paramount in our quest for optimal performance. Digestive enzymes are enzymes that break down macronutrients into their constituent parts for absorption. Proteases and peptidases split proteins into small peptides and amino acids. Lipases split fat into three fatty acids and a glycerol molecule.  Amylases split carbohydrates such as starch and sugars into simple sugars such as glucose. These are the classes of digestive enzymes we are primarily concerned with. Probiotics need an environment conducive to their growth and this is where prebiotics can be useful. A prebiotic is a type of fiber, usually a saccharide, that does not emphasize a particular bacterial group but provides a healthy environment for the probiotic to flourish in. Probiotics are classed into two main bacterial strains: lactobacillus, the most common coming from yogurt and other fermented products and bifidobacterium, found in certain dairy products. A proper balance of these 3 nutrients is paramount to keeping your digestive system running at peak performance.

First we should look at our food, as we can get both prebiotics and probiotics from food sources. The best food sources for prebiotics are: Arabic gum, raw (dry) chicory root, Jerusalem artichoke, dandelion greens, garlic, leek and onion. The best food sources for probiotics are: Greek yogurt, pickled vegetables, tempeh, miso, buttermilk, kombucha (fermented tea), sauerkraut and soy sauce. It is a good idea not to ingest sugar with probiotics because the bacterium may feed off the sugar rendering it inactive before it has time to pass into the intestines. It is also recommended that you take probiotics on an empty stomach so as not to release digestive enzymes that attack the bacterium before it passes out of the stomach.  Most probiotics should be kept refrigerated or in a cool dry place, if it gets too hot the bacterium will die and become useless. You also want to be careful consuming food at temperature extremes, too hot or too cold can slow digestion as well as kill of beneficial bacteria that may already be in your digestive system. Luke warm is the best way to consume just about anything as the bodies internal temperature is 98.6, the closer to that temperature your food and liquid is, the more easily processed and absorbed.

Supplementation has become such a big growth industry in part because of what unhealthy food has forced our bodies to endure, and while supplementation is still a small part of the puzzle, supplementing with prebiotics and probiotics may be the best option for people that don’t have either availability of all the proper foods, or need extra help to keep a healthy balance of gut flora. A prebiotic supplement with which I have found useful is called Inulin, it is a soluble fiber a type of fructooligosaccharide which not only has the ability to create the correct environment but also has shown the ability to bind to bad bacteria and exit the body as waste. There are also many probiotic supplements that use a combination of the two bacterial classifications in the billions of cells in order to help repopulate the intestines and keep the delicate balance which allows us to get the most from our food. One of the most interesting probiotics is Saccharomyces Boulardii, it has been shown to survive the stomach acids much better than many of the other probiotics. Athletes consume and use more protein that the average sedentary person, and for that reason supplementing with some type of proteases and peptidases digestive enzymes makes sense on a somewhat regular basis as the body may not make enough to break down the added protein. Here at supplementcentral we sell a wide variety of cheap and effective probiotics and digestive enzymes  that can help you get the most out of every morsel of food that crosses your lips. My personal favorite is the NOW Foods Probiotic-10 this supplies effective doses of both main classifications of bacterium.