The Best Fitness Articles of the Week #70 – Is 5-Hour Energy Safe, Mobility Workouts and Flouride Quackery

image courtesy of Robert Anthony Provost

Here’s a recap of the best health and fitness articles I’ve read over the past week.

Science-Based Medicine: 5-hour Energy

I’m always cautious about taking energy drinks. I’ve had maybe 10-15 energy drinks in my entire life because I’ve never felt comfortable drinking them. It looks like there’s really nothing to worry about in 5-Hour Energy drinks, but their claims seem unfounded and the mix of ingredients hasn’t been properly tested for safety. I think I’ll probably continue to avoid it.


Top 4 Spotting Tips for the Squat

We’re not always under the bar, right? If you’re spotting someone doing squats, you should know what you’re doing.


Mobility WOD

Are you familiar with Crossfit WOD’s? If not, WOD stands for Workout of the Day. Mobility WOD is the same concept, except these 10-15 min. workouts focus on fixing tissue damage and bad joint mobility. Be careful doing these exercises, because you can seriously injure yourself if you push further than you should.


Kettlebell Form Check – Kettlebell Swing Breath Right Hip Snap

If you want to learn pretty much all there is to know about proper form when doing the kettlebell swing, watch this video. Troy, the owner of this blog, showed his kettlebell swing to two experts who then diagnosed issues with his form and helped him correct it. Very helpful stuff.


Rotating Your Lifts for New Levels of Strength

If you find yourself stalling on your lifts, it might be time to consider rotating new lifts into your routine. Here are a whole heap of variations you can do to get your training back on track.


Homemade Dragging Sled

Once winter comes back around, I’m gonna see if any of my local stores sell a metal sled like this one. I haven’t seen one since I was just a little kid. I only see the plastic ones these days. Cool idea though!


Upgrade Your Brain

Who couldn’t use a brain upgrade? There are lots of awesome tips here on how you can you increase cognitive function, both short-term and permanently. Check out the short mention of MSG too. I never knew that MSG could have a negative effect on your brain.


Why Do They Do Studies Like This?

This article goes into the flaws that published studies can have. When reviewing studies, you should always look at the minor things that could make a study less credible. I would also add that you should consider what other factors the researchers did not take into consideration.


DURIAN healthy Custard Dessert pudding recipe (raw vegan) – YouTube

I’ve read a lot about the durian fruit and I’ve watched many videos of people eating them for the first time. Most videos do not end well. I’ve heard people say that the durian smells like old gym socks and tastes like mushy old onions. Andrew Zimmern of “Bizarre Foods” doesn’t even like it and he likes everything! I think I’m going to finally try it anyway though. I want to try to talk a few of my friends into trying it with me. 😉


Troubleshooting the Unrack on the Bench Press

I don’t typically do much of a warmup before benching, but when I start to see my progress slow down, I really should do exercises such as the one mentioned in this post.


Are Low-Carb Diets Killing Sweden? (Also: New Interviews and Raw Vegan Immortality)

This is an enormous and interesting article. I also really like the section at the end about vegan mortality. There are specific examples of vegans, even raw vegans, who have died due to various causes such as heart attack and cancer. Many vegan evangelists, especially raw foodists, claim that their diet is the cure for cancer and other diseases, but it just isn’t true.


Hardgainer Workout: Ready, Set, Grow!

This is my kind of workout! I love compound lifts and I wish everyone else did too. This routine doesn’t differ all that much from my own routine, but there are some tweaks, especially in the crazy amount of sets and reps. I would definitely like to switch to this one if I get tired of the one I’m doing now.


Water Ball Video Tutorial

This sounds like a really fun idea. I feel like I would be constantly worried about it breaking though. I would only feel comfortable using this outdoors, at least until I’ve used one enough to trust it.


How Many Hours You Should Limit Your Sitting To, To Avoid an Early Death

Three!! I sit way more hours than that because I’m at a computer all day at work and then again at home. I really should look into a standing desk already.


The Minimalist Guide to Mobility: Moving Like a Ninja in 5 Minutes or Less

I really like this one. I’m gonna plan this into my routine for a while to see how I like it.


Fluoride & Cancer Quackery

I hear about the dangers of fluoride all the time, but I’ve never actually done the research. It’s on my list of things to do. This article is a good primer before digging in to negative claims.


What Is A Superfood

Rich Roll seems to be hitting the interview circuit because he just did a similar interview with Tim Ferris, which you may remember me mentioning in my fitness articles of the week #61 update. This one’s an audio interview and there’s some different info too. Rich Roll is awesome.


The Great “Fat is Bad” Myth Debunked

I really dislike the idea behind low fat diets. Eating healthy fats is good for the body and it’s good for the brain. Lots of studies are proving this.

Global Warming is Changing Our Vegetable Planting Zones and How You Can Help Save the Environment

I always pick up the free Natural Awakenings magazine from my local Sunflower Market grocery store when the new issue comes out every month. There are regional versions of the magazine, so check your local specialty health store to see if they have one for your city.

Anyway, there was an article in the April 2012 issue in the Denver/Boulder Mile High Edition that really caught my eye. I scanned it so that you can read it yourself.

This is scary news!!

It’s great that we now have a longer growing season, and it’s neat being able to grow foods that previously couldn’t be grown in certain planting zones, but the drawbacks of global warming certainly outweigh those benefits.

We’re killing our planet!

If you’re a gardener, you’ve probably noticed how the early heat-waves have put the growing season in fast-forward. The same thing is happening to commercial growers. Their foods are growing super-fast so they need to harvest early. It’s also causing vegetable yields to wilt fast.

This is putting a dent in their profits, which will eventually pass the cost down to the consumer.

So what can you do to help?

Here’s a great list of things you can do to prevent global warming.

Here are some of the things I do to help the environment.

  • I buy only compact fluorescent light bulbs
  • I use recycled paper (toilet paper, paper towels, writing paper)
  • I take quick showers (I’ve actually switched to cold showers too)
  • I ride my bike to work twice a week (28 miles per day)
  • I try to plan all shopping for one day a week, to cut down on how much I drive
  • I compost what I can, instead of throwing it away
  • I use the Misto oil sprayer for olive oil and coconut oil instead of buying canned aerosol sprays
  • I do all of my dishes by hand and use the dishwasher only as a dry-rack
  • I use a battery-powered lawnmower and weed-whacker

These are just a few things that come to mind right now. I’m sure there are many others. I always try to think about what’s best for the environment with everything that I do. I’m not perfect, but I do what I can.

Do you have your own tips to help save the environment? I’d love to hear them!

The Best Fitness Articles of the Week #69 – Bathroom Squats, Avoiding Blue Light for Better Sleep and Blood Tests for Vegans

Here’s a recap of the best health and fitness articles I’ve read over the past week.


How I got caught Red-Handed doing Squats in the Bathroom

This one made me laugh because I’ve done squats in the bathroom before too (that’s me in the photo to the left, wearing the Marvin the Martian t-shirt ;)) and I always worried what someone would think if they walked in and heard the noise. I did it in the stall, so it wouldn’t have been immediately clear what I was actually doing. Nobody has walked in on me yet though


Hardgainer Nutrition: How To Eat For Maximum Muscle Growth

If you want a real look at how a bodybuilder has to eat to get big and stay big, read through this. More than $500 a week in groceries!? That’s why I’m not a bodybuilder, not that I wouldn’t want to be though.


Never Buy A Rotten Avocado Again

This is a neat trick! This article explains how to find a good avocado by looking at it’s skin, but that’s not the end of the search. Once you have a good candidate, flick off the stem and look at the color to determine if it really is a good one.


Will Blue Light Affect Your Sleep?

I actually started removing blue light from nighttime routine a couple of years ago and I’ve seen great results. I try to stay away from the television and my phone at least an hour before bed and I get to sleep with no problems at all. And if I do end up checking my phone right before bed, I always notice that’s it’s much harder to get to sleep. I pay attention to this every night, so I’m very well aware of how blue light effects me.


Is Maple Syrup Healthy?

I don’t eat paleo, so I could care less if anything listed here is “primal,” but the research done to figure out how healthy these items are, and what effect they have on the body is what I’m interested in. The sections on sunflower seed butter and maple syrup are interesting.


Can Athletes Perform Well on a Vegan Diet?

Basically, yes, athletes can perform well on a vegan diet, as long as they are eating a healthy diet. That’s not to say that a vegan diet is likely to result in better performance though.


Powerlifting Basics: How to Bench

So much good information on performing the bench press here, from someone who knows how to powerlift. They cover the lockout, the setup, back strength, and using leg drive.


DIY Chai Tea

I don’t think I’ve ever had Chai Tea, but everyone always talks about how good it is. It does sound really good. I need to find these spices to make it now. It doesn’t sound too difficult.


Kitchen 101: Fruits, Vegetables & Herbs

This infographic might look a little confusing at first, but it’s really handy. Find your favorite fruit or veggie and figure out what season it’s in and the months of the year it grows. If you buy the foods in season, you can save a lot of money.


Scientifically Test Water Quality Before You Dive In

I would never jump into a strange pond or lake, because you never know what kind of germs and bacteria that you’re going to expose to your body. You don’t have to carry around a water test kit everywhere you go though, because there are few easy-to-identify bugs that indicate healthy waters.


Quick Tip – How to quickly ripen bananas

This is the perfect trick to ripening bananas really quick. This is especially helpfful if you want to make something like banana pancakes or banana bread when you don’t have old bananas laying around.


Making an adjustable heavy-duty squat box

I wish I could afford a nice adjustable squat box, but I think building one will probably work just fine. This one has add-on’s to increase the height if needed. This would be much cheaper than buying a $200 box with an additional $60 in shipping.


Better Homemade Weightlifting Straps

I don’t use lifting straps because I want to build up my grip strength, but it might be different if I lifted much heavier weight. Not that I don’t lift heavy, in fact I continue to add 10-15 lbs to each of my lifts per week, but I’m definitely no powerlifter. Maybe when I get up into the 400 lb’s I’ll find more use for straps like these.


Really? The Claim: Eating Soy Increases the Risk of Breast Cancer

Soy is one of those foods that is constantly being attacked for being unhealthy while others work hard to claim otherwise. I admit that I am a bit cautious about soy. Based on everything I’ve read about it, I choose not to eat much soy but I’m not afraid to eat it occasionally.


Top 10 Blood Tests for Vegetarians and Vegans

I believe that I’m getting all the nutrients that I need in my diet and by supplementation, but it would be nice to know for sure. I wish I had better health insurance to get all of the tests mentioned here. I think I also need to find a better physician. I asked for a blood test about 6 months ago and they didn’t want to do it, so I left wondering if my levels are ok.

The Best Fitness Articles of the Week #68 – Why Grapefruit is Bad For You, Natural Anti-Aging Tips and the Science Behind the Paleo Diet

image courtesy of Justin Smith / Wikimedia Commons, CC-By-SA-3.0

Here’s a recap of the best health and fitness articles I’ve read over the past week.


Sorry 4 Hour Body Fanboys, Grapefruit is Not Bulletproof

Aww, I love grapefruit. If you eat grapefruit regularly, you really need to read this. Grapefruit has been shown to increase the likelihood of breast cancer in women and it slows your intestines ability to detox. It seems fine to have one every once in a while (2-3 weeks), but you don’t want to eat one everyday. Stupid scientific studies… 😉


Is The Paleo Diet Healthy

The dietician who wrote this article agrees mostly with the paleo diet, but she disagrees with some of the specifics of the diet, such as avoiding grains and beans.


Should athletes abstain from drinking? Alcohol not water.

I’ve read lots of articles related to alcohol and fitness, but I’ve never heard anything about alcohol’s effects on recovery. Did you know that binge drinking can hurt your performance for several days after drinking?


My 30 Day Intermittent Fasting Challenge

This is a very detailed report on Srdjan Popovic’s experience with intermittent fasting for 30 days. I’ve never seen such a thorough account from a (mostly) beginner testing intermittent fasting for a long period of time. Very encouraging!


Natural Anti Aging Tips

This article is full of great tips, but the best takeaways for me were the protein recommendations and the list of body care products. The protein recommendations are as follows: 0.36 grams per lb of weight for an average person, 0.55g per lb. for active people, and 0.68/lb to put on muscle. Any more protein than that is not beneficial. Studies from Pubmed are listed in the article if you want to review them. He also included a video showing how to make your own natural sunscreen.


Yes, You Can Dry Fruit in the Oven! How To Dry Fruit Without a Dehydrator

If you’re only dehydrating food a couple of times per year, or if you’re just getting into dehydrating food and you want to see if you like it, you might as well start by using your oven first. All you need to do is set your oven on the lowest heat possible and then let it sit for 6-8 hours. It’s not as efficient as a dehydrator, but it’ll get the job done.


B12 Deficiencies in Vegans? Not True!

READ THE COMMENTS FROM JACK NORRIS ON THIS ONE!!! This article is the perfect example of vegan misinformation you should be cautious of. The author of this article is sadly uneducated in vegan health, she disputes proven studies, and if you read her comments in the comment section, you’ll see that she has contempt for science and is unwilling to do the research necessary to prove her claims in the article she wrote. I’m glad Jack Norris chimed in to provide facts on supplementing with B12.


Baby Bumps And Barbells: How To Stay Fit When You’re Pregnant

If you’re pregnant, or know someone who is, show them this article. There’s no reason to be afraid of working out while pregnant, as long as your doctor gives you the green light. It can even help prevent common problems that overweight or sedentary women have. There are some awesome tips here on the types of training you should do in various stages of pregnancy and helpful information on healthy nutrition.


Foods that are healthier together

Did you know that if you eat adzuki beans with raspberries, the antioxidant power of both foods are increased by 45 percent? Of course you didn’t. Who would? Read this article to find out the healthy benefits of other food pairings.


15-Minutes to Bigger Arms

If you’re craving to get a quick biceps/triceps workout in, try this one out. It’s quick and it looks fun!


Breathing When Running

This technique of slow breathing while running sounds really interesting. A lower heart rate and lower perceived exertion sounds very beneficial. I’ll be giving this a try on my next run.


Best Diets for Weight Loss Maintenance

An excellent review of three popular diets after weight loss. They looked at a low fat diet, a low glycemic index diet, and a low carb diet. Something most people will probably find interesting is that the low fat diet might not be the best diet after all. I would agree.


Turn a $20 Bottle of Balsamic Vinegar into a $50 Bottle of “Aged” Balsamic in Minutes

This is an awesome trick if you have a cheap bottle of balsamic laying around. I actually learned this from the chef at Bistro Elaia (The Anschutz Medical Campus – University of Colorado Denver) when I attended the Health and Fitness Bloggers Conference a couple of weeks ago.


Low Carb Fudge Almond Bars

This recipe and the one it’s modeled after both look really good. Now to veganify the recipe so that I can eat them too. It won’t be difficult.


Got Milk? You Don’t Need It – NYTimes.com

I’ve heard excuses from people who say “I’ve been drinking milk my whole life and I’ve never had any problems,” yet these same people suffer from inflammation, mucus issues, stomach problems and other things they don’t considering being a issue that might be caused by milk. Give it up and see how much better you feel.


What Science Really Says About the Paleo Diet – With Mat Lalonde

This is an excellent podcast about the specifics of the paleo diet. Chriss Kresser L.Ac and Mat LaLonde Ph.D discuss how the paleo diet is a good template and starting place for a healthy lifestyle, but LaLonde discusses why he thinks humans have evolved and why it’s totally fine for people to eat foods that aren’t in the paleo diet. The full transcript is included here too. I also noticed that someone in the comments section has created a page on their website featuring all sorts of great presentations from Mat LaLonde.

The Best Fitness Articles of the Week #67 – Why the Paleo Diet is Uncivilized, More Deadlift Tips and a DIY Wrist Roller

Here’s a recap of the best health and fitness articles I’ve read over the past week.


McDougall Newsletter: June 2012 – The Paleo Diet is Uncivilized (And Unhealthy and Untrue)

I haven’t looked into all of the claims made in this article yet, or the sources making these claims, but based on a lot of the reading I’ve done in the past, I believe that a lot of it is true. The one problem I have with this article is that the author is pushing a book about becoming a “starchivore,” and that just sounds crazy to me. I haven’t read the book, so I can’t make a judgement based simply on the title, but after reading the Thrive books from Brendan Brazier, I’m not sure a high-starch diet is good for an athlete, or anyone else.


19 Tips for the Deadlift

I posted an article last week that was very similar to this one, but the deadlift is such an important lift, that I don’t think it hurts to pound this info into your head some more.


If You Only Do One Type of Weight Training, Do Squats

I’m always trying to tell my friends and family that they should be including the squat into their workout routines. Some get it, others probably never will. I’ll just have to continue sending articles like this to them 😉


Ask The Ripped Dude: Cardio Before Or After Weights?

Obi Obadike, the author, recommends cardio after lifting weights because if you do it before, it can zap all of your energy and can make your weight lifting sessions miserable. I would agree. I’ve tried programs that suggested cardio before lifting weights and I definitely felt my weight training sessions suffer. He also claims that weight training will burn off glycogen stores first, then cardio will burn more fat.


Achieve Olympic feet with barefoot running

The study group in this one was small at only 18 highly trained runners, but it’s still worth reviewing and thinking about. The study showed that barefoot running resulted in the runners using less oxygen and it also increased their performance by 3%. One other interesting note is that barefoot runners are thought to have a lower risk of injury due to altering their strike pattern when hitting the ground because they tend to strike the ground with the mid-foot, which is more cushioned than the rest of the foot.


DIY : How to Build a Wrist Roller

I’ve actually thought about doing this before, but now that I’ve seen a functional example, I’ll probably finally give it a try. It shouldn’t cost more than a few bucks.


7 Squat Tips from Coach Nick

I was hoping an article like this would show up in my feed soon. This one tackles just about everything; hip pain, bar placement, increasing intensity, reps and midrange partials, contrast training, hybrid protocols, and gender differences. The only thing missing is a section on how stance effects the knees, which is what I’m really interested in.