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5 Reasons To Drink Coffee Before Your Workout

Half of Americans start their day with coffee, and, according to recent study, working out after downing a cup of java may offer a weight loss advantage. The Spanish study, published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, found that trained athletes who took in caffeine pre-exercise burned about 15 percent more calories for three hours post-exercise, compared to those who ingested a placebo. The dose that triggered the effect was 4.5 milligrams of caffeine per kilogram of body weight. For a 150-pound woman (68 kilograms), that’s roughly 300 milligrams of caffeine, the amount in about 12 ounces of brewed coffee, a quantity you may already be sipping each morning.

If you’ve always thought of coffee as a vice — one you’re simply not willing to give up — you’ll be happy to know that it’s actually a secret superfood. And if you exercise, caffeine can offer even more functional benefits for your workouts. Here are five more reasons to enjoy it as part of an active lifestyle, along with five “rules” for getting your fix healthfully.

Improved Circulation
Recent Japanese research studied the effects of coffee on circulation in people who were not regular coffee drinkers. Each participant drank a 5-ounce cup of either regular or decaffeinated coffee. Afterward, scientists gauged finger blood flow, a measure of how well the body’s smaller blood vessels work. Those who downed caffeinated coffee experienced a 30 percent increase in blood flow over a 75-minute period, compared to those who drank the decaf version. Better circulation, better workout — your muscles need oxygen!

Less Pain
Scientists at the University of Illinois found that consuming the caffeine equivalent of two to three cups of coffee one hour before a 30-minute bout of high-intensity exercise reduced perceived muscle pain. The conclusion: Caffeine may help you push just a little bit harder during strength-training workouts, resulting in better improvements in muscle strength and/or endurance.

Better Memory
A study published this year from Johns Hopkins University found that caffeine enhances memory up to 24 hours after it’s consumed. Researchers gave people who did not regularly consume caffeine either a placebo, or 200 milligrams of caffeine five minutes after studying a series of images. The next day, both groups were asked to remember the images, and the caffeinated group scored significantly better. This brain boost may be a real boon during workouts, especially when they entail needing to recall specific exercises or routines.

Muscle Preservation
In an animal study, sports scientists at Coventry University found that caffeine helped offset the loss of muscle strength that occurs with aging. The protective effects were seen in both the diaphragm, the primary muscle used for breathing, as well as skeletal muscle. The results indicate that in moderation, caffeine may help preserve overall fitness and reduce the risk of age-related injuries.

More Muscle Fuel
A recent study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that a little caffeine post-exercise may also be beneficial, particularly for endurance athletes who perform day after day. The research found that compared to consuming carbohydrates alone, a caffeine/carb combo resulted in a 66 percent increase in muscle glycogen four hours after intense, glycogen-depleting exercise. Glycogen, the form of carbohydrate that gets stockpiled in muscle, serves as a vital energy “piggy bank” during exercise, to power strength moves and fuel endurance. Packing a greater reserve means that the very next time you work out, you’ve upped your ability to exercise harder and/or longer.

But this news doesn’t mean you should down as much coffee as possible — your good intentions may backfire. In my work with athletes, I recommend five basic rules to best reap caffeine’s rewards:

Don’t overdo it. The maximum amount of caffeine recommended for enhancing performance with minimal side effects is up to 6 milligrams per kilogram body weight, which is about 400 milligrams per day (or about 16 ounces of coffee) for a 150-pound woman.

Incorporate it in healthy ways. Doctor up coffee with almond milk and cinnamon instead of cream and sugar, or whip coffee or tea into a fruit smoothie, along with other nutrient-rich ingredients like almond butter and oats or quinoa.

Be consistent with your intake. Research shows that when your caffeine intake is steady, your body adjusts, which counters dehydration, even though caffeine is a natural diuretic. In other words, don’t reach for two cups one day and four the next.

Keep drinking good old H2O as your main beverage of choice.

Nix caffeine at least six hours before bed to prevent sleep interference, and listen to your body. If you’re relying on caffeine as an energy booster because you’re tired, get to the root of what’s causing fatigue. Perhaps it’s too little sleep, overexercising, or an inadequate diet. If something’s off kilter, you won’t see progress, and you’ll likely get weaker rather than stronger. Striving for balance is always key!

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A High-Intensity Workout + Stretch You Can Use All Summer

Even though wellness and a commitment to feeling good are our passion, sometimes even we feel like hell in the morning and the last thing we want to do is get out of bed.

But we always feel better when we push myself to exercise. That’s why we’ve organized some tips to help you get moving on those days when it’s the last thing you want to do.

Why You’d Want to Exercise In the Morning:

Exercise conquers bad moods and low energy states. It’s totally worth the time and slug (don’t worry if you stick with it you will learn to love it), even if its effects last for just a few hours (the post-workout high can wear off when other stressful daily curveballs come careening at us).

Furthermore, sweat sessions are most effective when done in the morning because they will help you start your day with a positive attitude. They also rev up all metabolic systems setting your body and mind up to function at their highest levels all day long!

However you decide to cut it, The American Heart Association and many other national organizations recommend 150 minutes of light to moderate cardio and 75 minutes of vigorous cardio as a minimum amount of exercise weekly for the researched health benefits of working out.

Working out can seem like drudgery until you get good at it and reap its benefits. Once you hit the key threshold, when your body adapts to the new aerobic demands and begins releasing the “feel-good hormones” called endorphins, you’ll feel the high with which the rest of us exercisers walk around all day! Over time, you will increase your chances of disease prevention and injury.

5 Quick Tips To Get Yourself Ready For A Morning Workout:

  1. Lay out your clothes the night before and take pride in your workout style. Looking good helps us to feel good!
  2. Plan your pre and post workout meals. We recommend a coffee and my banana smoothie for before a workout (give yourself 1 hour to digest) and oatmeal with cardamom, cinnamon, walnuts and pure maple syrup for after your exercise.
  3. Have an amazing playlist ready.
  4. Know your workout goals.
  5. Establish a plan such as your distance, route, time, HIIT moves and post-workout yoga poses the night before.

5 Minute HIIT Routine

The Moves

  • 1-minute Jump Rope
  • 1-minute Cherry Picker Crawls (more info below)
  • 1-minute Jumping Jacks
  • 1-minute Side Reaches
  • 1-minute Squat Jumps

Note: If you need to take a break between moves, feel free to do so! Start with 15 or 30-second breaks and then close the gap as your body adapts to the routine over time. The idea is to build toward doing all of the moves in in rapid succession without stopping!

You can easily make this a 10-minute workout. Simply repeat this sequence starting from the top!

Want even more? Choose a couple of moves and add a minute to each — for instance do 2 minutes of Jump Rope or Jumping Jacks instead of 1-minute each. Or, do a third round of all the moves.

How to Do A Cherry Picker Crawl

1. Stand tall with your legs slightly wider than hip distance apart. Engage your core.

2. Touch your hands to your hips, then shoulders and then extend your arms towards the ceiling. Suck your core in and up as you do this. Without stopping, touch your hips again and walk your hands forward until your body assumes a straight plank pose (like the top of a push-up).

3. In your plank, which you’re only holding for 1 second, your hands should be shoulder-width apart, pelvic bowl neutral and legs in full extension. Suck your navel in towards your spine.

4. Walk your hands back in towards your feet. Stand up.

Don’t forget to stretch after your workout!

Post Workout Short Morning Yoga Sequence

  • Fan Pose A
  • Side Angle
  • Triangle
  • Forward Bend
  • 1 Sun Breath
  • 1 Sun Salute
  • Downward Dog
  • Pigeon
  • Child’s Pose
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Exercise Motivation: 6 Tips You’ve Never Heard Of

The most popular day to exercise is “tomorrow.”

To pump up your motivation, we know the classic tips: find a workout partner so you’re accountable, make your intentions known so you feel social pressure, set a deadline like running a 5K or your 20th reunion. Now, it’s not to say that these tips don’t work. They do. It’s just that we’ve heard them before.

So how about six tips you’ve never heard of? For all of us whose favorite curls are the cheese kind, here are six ways to get a running start.

Tip #1: Remember a good exercise experience.
A brand-new, 2014 study found that you can use memory to enhance motivation. Study participants who described a positive exercise memory were not only more motivated to exercise, they actually exercised more over the next week than those who weren’t prompted to remember. So stash your medal from the 5K when you ran your personal record with your exercise clothes, pack your power walking playlist with songs from the wedding where you danced all night, or tape a picture of the view from the summit of your favorite hike next to your boots. The good memories may pave the way to a good sweat.

Tip #2: Don’t aim to “exercise;” instead, play a sport.
A 2005 study found that when participants were asked about reasons for playing a sport, they thought of intrinsic reasons, like enjoyment and challenge. Reasons to “exercise,” however, were extrinsic and focused on things like appearance, weight, and stress management.

Psychology 101 will tell you that intrinsic motivation makes you more likely to start and stick with a new habit. So sign up for softball, join the masters’ swim team, play ultimate Frisbee, or simply tweak your mindset: your Saturday afternoon bike ride suddenly becomes the sport of cycling.

Tip #3: Don’t work out next to the fittest person at the gym.
A creative 2007 study examined how your fellow gym-goers affect your workout. Researchers hung out around the lateral pull-down machine at a college gym. When a woman started using it, a super-fit female confederate started using the next machine over. Half the time, she wore a tank top and shorts. The other half of the time, she wore pants with extra thigh padding and a baggy sweatshirt. In a third control condition, the confederate didn’t work out at all.

What happened? Women working out next to the tank top used their machine for a shorter amount of time than the other two conditions. And, when researchers later approached and asked women to take a short survey, they reported lower body satisfaction. By contrast, women working out next to the baggy sweatshirt exercised longer and didn’t suffer the same hit to body image.

What does this mean for women? Run on a treadmill behind a 19-year-old in size 0 booty shorts and you’ll probably leave sooner and feel bad about yourself. Run on a treadmill behind an average-looking person and you’ll likely leave after a good workout with your body image intact.

Tip #4: Don’t motivate yourself by thinking about your muffin top or flabby abs.
Yes, you heard that right. Both men and women often motivate themselves to exercise by thinking about their appearance. But it turns out this approach backfires.

A 2014 study found that frequent exercise goes along with a positive body image, which was defined as appreciating one’s body, focusing on how it feels, and being satisfied with what it can do. Makes sense so far. But, for gym bunnies whose main goal was just to look hot, all three components of positive body image weakened no matter how much they exercised. The take home? Consider changing your focus to something other than your thighs or tummy.

Tip #5: Customize your workout in little ways.
The power of small choices was demonstrated in a brand new 2014 study where participants who chose the sequence of their exercises did more sets and reps than those who were given a predetermined sequence. So don’t just slavishly follow the order on your lifting log or go down the line of weight machines. Think about what you want to do and you just may find yourself doing more.

Tip #6: Stop thinking of yourself as lazy.
Think of yourself as someone who exercises, or someone who is healthy, or whatever exercise-friendly identity you’d like to adopt. The human psyche goes to great lengths, sometimes unconsciously, to be consistent with one’s identity. So thinking of yourself as a harried, stressed-out person creates a self-fulfilling prophecy with little room for exercise. But thinking of yourself as a really busy healthy person might create just the tweak your mindset needs.

So even if you’re someone who thinks running late counts as exercise, try out your favorite of these six tips. We’ll be on our way to being healthier before we can lift another cheese curl.

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Losing Weight May Require Some Serious Fun

If you are aiming to lose weight by revving up your exercise routine, it may be wise to think of your workouts not as exercise, but as playtime. An unconventional new study suggests that people’s attitudes toward physical activity can influence what they eat afterward and, ultimately, whether they drop pounds.

For some time, scientists have been puzzled — and exercisers frustrated — by the general ineffectiveness of exercise as a weight-loss strategy. According to multiple studies and anecdotes, most people who start exercising do not lose as much weight as would be expected, given their increased energy expenditure. Some people add pounds despite burning hundreds of calories during workouts.

Past studies of this phenomenon have found that exercise can increase the body’s production of appetite hormones, making some people feel ravenous after even a light workout and prone to consume more calories than they expended. But that finding, while intriguing, doesn’t fully explain the wide variability in people’s post-exercise eating habits.

So, for the new study, published in the journal Marketing Letters, French and American researchers turned to psychology and the possible effect that calling exercise by any other name might have on people’s subsequent diets.

In that pursuit, the researchers first recruited 56 healthy, adult women, the majority of them overweight. The women were given maps detailing the same one-mile outdoor course and told that they would spend the next half-hour walking there, with lunch to follow.

Half of the women were told that their walk was meant to be exercise, and they were encouraged to view it as such, monitoring their exertion throughout. The other women were told that their 30-minute outing would be a walk purely for pleasure; they would be listening to music through headphones and rating the sound quality, but mostly the researchers wanted them to enjoy themselves.

When the women returned from walking, the researchers asked each to estimate her mileage, mood and calorie expenditure.

Those women who’d been formally exercising reported feeling more fatigued and grumpy than the other women, although the two groups’ estimates of mileage and calories burned were almost identical. More telling, when the women sat down to a pasta lunch, with water or sugary soda to drink, and applesauce or chocolate pudding for dessert, the women in the exercise group loaded up on the soda and pudding, consuming significantly more calories from these sweets than the women who’d thought that they were walking for pleasure.

A follow-up experiment by the researchers, published as part of the same study, reinforces and broadens those findings. For it, the researchers directed a new set of volunteers, some of them men, to walk the same one-mile loop. Once again, half were told to consider this session as exercise. The others were told that they would be sightseeing and should have fun. The two groups covered the same average distance. But afterward, allowed to fill a plastic bag at will with M&M’s as a thank-you, the volunteers from the exercise group poured in twice as much candy as the other walkers.

Finally, to examine whether real-world exercisers behave similarly to those in the contrived experiments, the researchers visited the finish line of a marathon relay race, where 231 entrants aged 16 to 67 had just completed laps of five to 10 kilometers. They asked the runners whether they had enjoyed their race experience and offered them the choice of a gooey chocolate bar or healthier cereal bar in consideration of their time and help. In general, those runners who said that their race had been difficult or unsatisfying picked the chocolate; those who said that they had fun gravitated toward the healthier choice.

In aggregate, these three experiments underscore that how we frame physical activity affects how we eat afterward, said Carolina O.C. Werle, an associate professor of marketing at the Grenoble School of Management in France, who led the study. The same exertion, spun as “fun” instead of “exercise,” prompts less gorging on high-calorie foods, she said.

Just how, physiologically, our feelings about physical activity influence our food intake is not yet known, she said, and likely to be bogglingly complex, involving hormones, genetics, and the neurological circuitry of appetite and reward processing. But in the simplest terms, Dr. Werle said, this new data shows that most of us require recompense of some kind for working out. That reward can take the form of subjective enjoyment. If exercise is fun, no additional gratification is needed. If not, there’s chocolate pudding.

The good news is that our attitudes toward exercise are malleable. “We can frame our workouts in different ways,” Dr. Werle said, “by focusing on whatever we consider fun about it, such as listening to our favorite music or chatting with a friend” during a group walk.

“The more fun we have,” she concluded, “the less we’ll feel the need to compensate for the effort” with food.

Original article from The New York Times

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Expert Tips For More Mindful Eating

Unless you’re a competitive eater, there’s really no reason to scarf down your meals. After all, doing the opposite — that is, slowing down — is likely better for your waistline, according to a new review of studies.

The review, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, included 22 different studies that examined food consumption through computerized feedback, human instructions, food texture and utensils used in eating. The results showed that eating slower is linked with statistically significant weight loss.

But how do we slow down when we chow down? Nutrition experts shared their best tips.

1. Take A Seat

Many people eat on the go, meaning they stand while they grab a meal. Whether it’s at your desk, walking down the street or standing around your kitchen counter, “The Biggest Loser” nutritionist and HuffPost blogger Cheryl Forberg, R.D., says this is a clear sign that they’re rushing through a meal to get to something or somewhere else. To stop speed-eating, sit down at a table.

2. Unitask

Many of us veg out in front of the TV, mindlessly shoveling food into our mouths. But as we already know, we’re no good at multitasking, so stop reading the paper or watching reruns while you eat. Focusing on what you’re putting into your mouth can help you slow down and really pay attention to the task at hand. “Enjoy it, savor it and your mindfulness will replace inhaling your meal with a relaxed pace, more enjoyment and better digestion,” Forberg tells HuffPost.

3. Switch Things Up

Having trouble channeling mindful eating? Maybe it’s time to get a little weird. Nutritionist Rochelle Sirota, R.D., C.D.N., recommends adopting some different techniques to help distracted diners slow down and focus. She suggests eating with the nondominant hand, using chopsticks or even setting down the utensil between bites. Eating in an unusual way can help bring back the focus and break quick-eating habits.

4. Socialize

If you’re looking for an excuse to host dinner parties on the regular, here’s your chance. According to Joy Bauer, M.S., R.D., C.D.N., nutritionist and founder of Nourish Snacks, eating with others can help fast eaters slow their pace by engaging in conversation. “The more you chat, the slower you eat,” she tells HuffPost.

5. Chew More

Chewing more can both bring the focus back to speed and help taper eating pace, simply because it takes longer to swallow each bite. That’s why nutritionist Julie Upton, M.S., R.D., CSSD and blogger for The Huffington Post, recommends trying to chew for 15 to 20 seconds before swallowing. Leaning toward foods that actually require more chewing — like veggies, fresh fruits and lean proteins, rather than softer casseroles, mashed potatoes, applesauce or ice cream — can also help speed eaters slow down.

6. Avoid Extreme Hunger

Any time we get too hungry, we tend to scarf down our meals without a second thought. But how can we tell the difference between hungry and too hungry? Upton advises paying attention to your body. If you feel hungry, start planning what to eat, but if your stomach is growling and you have hunger pains, you’ve let your hunger go too far. Train yourself to start keeping track and listening to what your body’s saying.

7. Eat Shelled Snacks

Shelled snacks — like peanuts, pistachios and soybeans — slow down eating because it takes time to remove the actual nut or bean from its encasing. They also may provide visual cues that let munchers know when to stop snacking. One study conducted by researchers at Eastern Illinois University found that participants consumed fewer calories from pistachios when they ate shelled ones versus unshelled. That means that shelled snacks kill two birds with one stone, helping eaters consume less and know when to stop.

8. Water Is Your BFF

Water can help you slow your munching in more than one way. Bauer suggests setting down your fork and taking small sips between each bite to stayed focused and regulate speed. Forberg recommends gulping down a glass before you even begin. “This really does help you fill up a bit,” she says. “When we don’t feel as starved at mealtime, we eat more slowly.”

9. Time Yourself

Since time is the problem, why not tackle it directly? Bauer recommends setting a timer to help slow down your eating speed. Ideally, it should take at least 20 minutes to finish a meal, and using a kitchen timer can help retrain rushers until they’ve slowed down.

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