Use It! An Eating Style to Nourish Muscles Throughout The Day

We have all heard about reaping the benefits of a good work out. We also know pairing nutrition and exercise catapults these benefits into a whole different level,; and, it is a given, that eating a protein snack 15-30 minutes after working out helps build muscle and increase strength.

What you may not have heard is that an “eating style” is just as important as a post work out mini meal to:

  1. increase (muscle) work capacity
  2. improve performance
  3. boost recovery time from intense activity

In a blog posted by my friend and colleague Johnny Bowden (written by Charles Poliquin) entitled, “TIP 281: Increase Fat Burning During Exercise,”, it seems an “eating style” can fuel fat burning by an extra 66% leading to enhanced muscle composition and performance.

For strength training it means optimal body composition with larger stronger muscles and for high intensity or endurance work outs it translates into improved performance.

The “style” is to eat specific food groups and avoid others while supplementing specific nutrients. Eat a protein and low glycemic carb pre-workout snack while avoiding dairy and fructose. Drink caffeinated green tea and use Omega 3 and L-carnitine supplements.

Avoid foods like cheese or yogurt and most fruits before exercise. It seems protein in dairy and the fructose in fruit (and commercially prepared packaged items) stifle fat burning leading to fat storage via increasing insulin levels.  Fructose also contributes to building lactate acid levels in the blood,, inhibiting the ability of the muscles to work reducing exercise performance.

Eat snacks like these and wash it down with a little green tea about an hour before the work out:

  • hard boiled eggs and hummus
  • sliced turkey and carrots
  • slow cooked oatmeal with almonds


Speak with a doctor before using supplements. Three supplements may be useful for your performance goals.

  1. Green tea has been shown to increase fat burning by 15% for as long as 24 hours. But you may need to use a supplement to provide the amount of active ingredients necessary to attain this effect 400 to 800 mg/day of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) and 125 to 625 mg/day of catchins. One cup of tea provides about 25-90 mg EGCG/cup.
  2. Carnitine levels naturally decline with age. L-carnitine (2-6 grams on an empty stomach about 90 minutes pre-workout) carries fat into the cells to help increase fat burning supports heart health and muscle recovery. Read more about the its role in exercise performance,

L-carnitine can interact with thyroid and blood thinning (coumadin and Sintrom).

  1. Omega 3 (2-4g of EPA & DHA) is another supplement with multiple health benefits including insulin and glucose balance. Beyond health and fat storage is its role in balancing muscle growth. EPA and DHA increases the production of muscle (The rate of lean tissue gain, is the rate of muscle synthesis minus the rate of muscle protein breakdown), helps minimize muscle inflammation and soreness too,

Fish oil may interact with Birth control pills (make fish oil less effective), high blood pressure medication ( fish oil may enhance blood pressure medication so you need                  less) blood thinners and Xenical.

Using an “eating style” to help build muscle and minimize muscle breakdown instead of just focusing on a post exercise snacks (for muscle repair)  will optimize work out results because there will be a better balance of muscle nourishment throughout the day.


Gonzalez, J., Stevenson, E. New Perspectives on Nutritional Interventions to Augment Lipid Utilization during Exercise. British Journal of Nutrition. 2012. 107, 339-349.

Fernandez, J., Da Silva-Grigolettos, M. A Dose of Fructose Induces Oxidative Stress During Endurance and Strength Exercise. Journal of Sports Science. 2009. 27(12), 1323-1334.

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Posted by on December 15, 2014 in diet, exercise, Muscle, Nutrition


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Warming “Yang” Foods For Balancing The Cold Season

Lately my blog,, “10 Winter Warm Foods and Beverages” has been popular. So this week I give you more to think about and more delicious warm foods to drool over from the Mediterranean while using a traditional Chinese approach to food. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has an important place in health and wellness:

TCM foods have warming and cooling characteristics based on each foods “energy” characteristics regardless of its temperature when served.

Unlike the western version of the plate method,, eastern Chinese medicine categorizes foods into 3 groups (yin, yang and neutral). Each food group maintains internal balance when considered as part of the external (warm or cold) environment or an imbalance with internal organs and medical conditions.

Always eat foods from each group, but during the winter, balance is shifted towards eating more warming ” yang” foods during the cold season. For example, when combining foods like pepper (yang) with chicken (yang), the meal is more yang. If chicken (yang) tops a  salad  (yin), the chicken becomes less yang and moves towards neutral or yin.

Here is a simple list, according to Chinese medical practitioners at Ping Ming Health,

Yang  foods: Have a warming energy on the body

chicken, lamb, ham, prawns, goat milk, walnuts, pistachio and pine nuts; beverages (coffee, wine) and vegetables (greens, onions, leeks, chives, squash, pumpkin) spices and condiments (cinnamon, ginger, basil, vinegar, wasabi, chilli, garlic, ginseng, pepper), fat (butter).

Neutral foods:

fruits (berries, olives, plums, pineapple), vegetables (mushrooms,  pumpkin
shiitake mushroom, Chinese cabbage, sweet potato, string bean), nuts/seeds/beans (sunflower seeds, kidney beans,  peanuts, almonds), protein (beef,  cow’s milk, duck, fish, oyster, pork, scallop). Water is neutral but changes based on its temperature.

Yin foods: Have a cooling energy on the body

fruits (strawberry, kiwi, grapefruit, pear, lemon, apple) , vegetables (green leafy lettuce, seaweed, spinach, tomato, cucumber, celery, alfalfa sprouts, asparagus, mushroom, eggplant, watercress), protein (egg, crab, clam, tofu), grains (barley, millet, buckwheat),  fat (sesame oil), tea (green and peppermint tea), salt.

This winter, use TCM principles to select healthy warming foods. I have selected a few recipes from “Mediterranean Paleo Cooking” authored by a husband wife team (Nabil Boumrar, a chef from North Africa  and Caitlin Weeks; Diane Sanfilippo helped with photography and design) that contain warming yang ingredients! You can almost taste the food as you browse through the pictures that look so yum, If you like what you see, you may want to purchase the cookbook. I know it can be purchased at Costco or amazon.

Here are a couple of my favorites:

1. Creamy Cilantro Salmon











prep time: 5 minutes | cook time: 10 minutes | serves: 4



4 cups loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves

4 cups loosely packed fresh parsley leaves

1 tablespoon minced garlic

3 tablespoons lemon juice (2 lemons) 1 cup full-fat, canned coconut milk



4 (5-ounce) wild salmon fillets, skin on

1 pinch fine sea salt and ground black pepper

1 tablespoon butter, ghee, or coconut oil


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Make the sauce: Put the cilantro, parsley, garlic, and lemon juice in a food processor. Pulse the herb mixture while slowly adding the coconut milk until the sauce is creamy. Set aside.
  3. Prepare the salmon: Season the salmon liberally with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Add the fat to the pan and melt. Sear the salmon in the skillet, skin side down, for 1 minute. Press down on the salmon, making sure the skin is touching the pan.
  4. Transfer the fish to the oven, leaving the skin side down, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Flip the salmon over and cook for 2 more minutes, leaving a little pink in the middle of the salmon. Be careful not to overcook the salmon or it will dry out.
  5. Remove the salmon from the oven and transfer it to a platter. Top with the sauce and serve.


2. Tangy Lamb Stewwith Saffron and Ginger (Harira)










prep time:10 minutes  |  cook time: 65 minutes  |  serves: 4


3 tablespoons unsalted butter, ghee, or coconut oil

1 pound lamb or beef stew meat

1/2 teaspoon saffron threads

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 pinch fine sea salt and ground black pepper

1 cup diced celery

1 medium onion, diced

4 medium tomatoes, cored

4 cups beef broth

1/4 cup chopped fresh mint, divided

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 lemon, sliced


In a stockpot, melt the fat over medium heat. Add the meat, saffron, turmeric, ginger, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Sauté the meat for 5 minutes, then add the celery and onion and sauté for another 5 minutes, until the onion is translucent. Place the tomatoes in a food processor and pulse until they are pureed. Add them to the pot. Add the beef broth and cook the mixture, uncovered, for about 45 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove the meat and set aside in a bowl. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup. If you do not have an immersion blender, transfer the soup in batches to a stand blender. Pulse until smooth and return the soup back to the pot. Add the meat back to the pot and simmer the soup, uncovered, over medium heat, until it thickens, about 10 more minutes. Add half of the mint, the vinegar, and the lemon juice to the soup and stir. Adjust the seasoning to taste and ladle into bowls. Garnish with  remaining mint and the lemon slices.

Consider TCM philosophies to warm your heart and the rest of your body in the cold season using these warming yang foods with these tasty delicious Mediterranean recipes.


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Beat The Battle of The Perfect “Sick” Storm (The Gut, Thymus and Bone Marrow- Part 3)

Boosting the immune system during the cold and flu season entails taking care of all body organs involved in fending off illness. I’ve already spoken about the skin and  spleen, in the first two blogs in this immune system series,, Now we tie-in the rest of the immune system: the thymus, gut, lymph nodes and bone marrow.


The thymus gland is named after the thyme leaf because of its shape. It is located in front of the heart and under the breast bone. The bone marrow sends T- cells (white blood cells (WBC), or stem cells)  to the thymus for them to develop into fighter cells which are then sent to the spleen and lymph (Lymph nodes located at the neck and other areas of your body also contain WBC)  where they help identify and then destroy unhealthy germ invaders. The thymus also helps to prevent abnormal cancer cell growth.

Once puberty hits and immunity during childhood has been established, the thymus isn’t working as hard and it’s all downhill for the thymus from there. Just like when you do not use or exercise your body, it changes and it can get fat, the same thing happens to the thymus, it slowly starts to shrink and  then  turns  fatty.

What Causes Damage to the Thymus?

  • adrenal stress
  • emotional stress
  • poor diet (refined foods, excess sugar and coffee, trans fats)
  • smoking
  • excess alcohol consumption
  • exposure to x-rays and EMF (electromagnetic fields)
  • toxins (pesticides and herbicides residing in fruits and veggies)
  • allergy medications
  • free radical damage (excess sun exposure, exercise or alcohol, smoking)

Potential Symptoms Indicating The Thymus Is Not Well:

  • chronic infections and allergies
  • a feeling of puffiness in the throat or swollen glands
  • candida or yeast overgrowth
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • excess sweating

While all these may be signs of many underlying causes, it is worthwhile to support the thymus and keep it functioning optimally for as long as possible.

Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, kale, collard greens, cabbage, cauliflower and those that are high in carotenoids such as yellow-orange and dark green vegetables help reduce free radical damage to the thymus.

Bone Marrow

Bone marrow is a fatty Jello like substance found inside bones (skull, ribs, breastbones, spine, hip and shoulders) that creates T-cells, platelets and red blood cells  and helps carry oxygen to the cells as part of its role in immunity.

Build bone marrow with vitamin B6 (fish, poultry, eggs), folic acid (cruciferous vegetables) and iron (red meat is the best absorbable source of iron or any animal meat. Plant sources of iron are not as readily absorbable).

Consuming bone marrow itself is a powerhouse when it comes to boosting the immune system. Marrow is filled with vitamins (A and K2), minerals (calcium, iron, phosphorous, zinc, selenium, magnesium, manganese) and essential fats (Omega 3, Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), alkylglycerols: help produce white blood cells) that keep your immune system strong, helping to maintain healthy bones and repair bone injuries).

When purchasing animal products, keep in mind, toxins are stored in the fat and bone. Grass fed free range livestock are the most healthy to buy

Try these bone marrow recipes:

The Gut

And let’s not forget about the gut, more attention has been focused on the gut and its role in immunity compared to the rest of these organs. According to my blog, “Beneficial Body Bugs”,, We know that 70% of the immune system is found in the gut. So, keeping the gut healthy will make a substantial contribution to keeping you healthy.

  1. Stick with natural foods (animals, plants) that contain nutrients the body is equipped to digest, absorb and utilize. Convenient processed foods are filled with ingredients that confuses the body and can affect its work ability.
  2. Get 6-8 hours of sleep each night.
  3. Supplement the gut with a probiotic.

Interested in learning more? Read this,

After reading this immune system series, I hope you appreciate the intricate and complex system in place that prevents you from getting sick and helps with illness recovery. Live healthy, support the organs that keep you healthy, be healthy!


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Bring Back The “Thanks” in Thanksgiving



Two more days before the day of the turkey! I wish you all a wonderful holiday. This week my blog focuses on the holiday and next week I’ll wrap up the 3rd part of the “Beat The Battle of The Perfect “Sick” Storm” series concluding with the thymus, bone marrow and gut.

Bring back the “Thanks” in Thanksgiving Day. Just like many holidays, turkey day has evolved into an excuse to STUFF your face. The original celebration was much more meaningful than just sitting down to a dinner.

The first celebrated Thanksgiving Day in 1621 was a shared feast between the Plymouth colonists and the Wampanoag Indians.  The feast was a celebration of the bountiful harvest and what came to be a 50 year friendship between the two cultures. The Indians helped the pilgrims learn how to thrive in a land they were not equipped to survive; avoiding poisonous plants, harvesting corn and taking sap from trees.  Both groups contributed to the feast, the Indians brought deer and spices while the colonists contributed wild fowl,  vegetables (corn, lettuce, cabbage, onions, peas and carrots) and fruits (cranberries, blueberries, gooseberries, plums, grapes and raspberries).  Unlike our Thanksgiving celebrations of today, there was no pie because there was not enough sugar or any oven to bake it.

Who would have thought the original Thanksgiving would have been one that was low in sugar and carbs? Now sugar is certainly readily available and is a staple in most Thanksgiving recipes. If you want to make it more of a traditional Thanksgiving and cut back on the sugar and carbs, you may enjoy these recipes: or

Today, there are not too many similarities and not much thought given in regards to the original feast and its roots.

It would be nice to keep this tradition and use Thanksgiving as a day to be thankful for what we have, no matter how much or how little; celebrate the cultural contributions, strengths and vitality from living in a country that is a “salad bowl” or melting pot,; and, paying it forward by helping others.

One of the most memorable Thanksgivings I have ever had was volunteering to make Thanksgiving a special event for seniors. A group of moms served the Thanksgiving meal and a school full of children helped out by providing the entertainment. We all (the kids, seniors and servers) had a great time. I blogged about it back in 2011,

I got just as much from participating in this event if not more than the attendees. Making someone happy,  seeing the smiles on the faces of the children (being acknowledged for the good job they did)  and the seniors (who were just so appreciative of everyone’s efforts) and knowing how meaningful small acts of kindness can be to another human being or even an animal is second to none. And I mean, no Thanksgiving meal or gift, can compare to the gift of giving, especially if you can give your time and see the impact it has on others.

Let’s not forget what Thanksgiving is all about, get intoxicated off the feeling of giving and receiving thanks. There are no calories, no guilt, no regrets. Let’s bring back the meaning of the Thanksgiving holiday as a day of recognition for helping one another, working together as a society and then paying it forward.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday and make it meaningful!

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Posted by on November 24, 2014 in Thanksgiving


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Beat The Battle of The Perfect “Sick” Storm (The Spleen Part 2)

What do you think of when you hear about the immune system? I visualize the immune system as an army fighting to protect the body from alien invaders. But understanding the intricacies of the system is a little more complex. The truth is the immune system is a whole system of organs that work together to keep you healthy, So if you are trying to dodge the getting sick “bullet” know that you must keep the whole system of organs in good condition.

What is important to know from a nutritional standpoint is:

  1. “One of the more damaging food components to our immune system is sugar. In one study, the ingestion of 100 gram (roughly 3-1/2 ounces) portions of carbohydrate as glucose, fructose, sucrose, honey, and pasteurized orange juice all significantly reduced the ability of white blood cells (neutrophils) to engulf and destroy bacteria. In contrast, the ingestion of 100 grams of starch had no effect. These effects started within less than 30 minutes after ingestion and lasted for over 5 hours. Typically, there was at least a 50% reduction in neutrophil activity two hours after ingestion. Since neutrophils constitute 60-to-70% of the total circulating white blood cells, impairment of their activity leads to depressed immunity”,
  2. Proteins are an intricate part of the immune system aiding in the creation of antibodies, helping to strengthen cell walls and manufacture interferons (protein produced by the immune system in response to an infection).Eat adequate protein to help support this function.

Last week’s blog, “Beat The Battle of The Perfect “Sick” Storm”,, started this series and discussed the role of the skin as part of the immune system. Internally, it is the lymph system (spleen, thymus, lymph nodes containing lymphocytes which are white blood cells, gut and bone marrow) that protects you from getting sick and these organs will be addressed next.

Starting with the spleen (an organ you do not hear much about even though it is very important to the body’s defense system);  it is small, about the size of your fist, located in your stomach under the rib cage and above the kidney. The spleen is part of the lymph system (a network of organs that make up the immune system). It filters germs such as viruses, bacteria abnormal cells from the blood. When an invader is detected your spleen and lymph nodes, jump into action creating lymphocytes. Lymphocytes are white blood cells that produce antibodies in order to fend off infections.

Support Spleen Function:

  1. Eat small frequent meals consisting of warm foods and beverages like tea, soup and stews.
  2. Use herbs, spices and supplements: ginger (contains the enzyme zingibain an enzyme that can help strengthen the immune system), maitake mushrooms (or supplement with maitake D-fraction), black and chili pepper, basil, turmeric, cilantro, parsley, cardamom and cinnamon.
  3. Traditional Chinese Medicine suggests consuming onions, leeks, fennel and garlic to “help increase the body’s digestive fire”.
  4. 4. Select protein that may help to cleanse the spleen like fatty fish (salmon, sardines, halibut), beef, chicken, turkey or lamb.
  5. Beta carotene rich foods can also help give your immune system a boost: tomatoes, carrots, squash, spinach, broccoli, romaine lettuce, cantaloupe, pumpkin and peppers.

Three down: the skin, the spleen and the lymph; next week completes the immune series with the thymus, bone marrow and gut.

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Posted by on November 18, 2014 in antibodies, health, immune system, wellness


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Which Health Expert Eats The Best Breakfast?


Expert Breakfasts

Not all health experts eat what I consider to be a healthy breakfast. They may think they are setting a good example but I post this so you can see how your breakfast compares with the “experts” and determine who best represents “good eating”!

Please share your thoughts.

Posted by on November 11, 2014 in breakfast, eating


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Beat The Battle of the Perfect “Sick” Storm (Skin Deep Part 1)

Why do you think most people get sick during the fall and winter months? More germs floating around than other times of the year? The cold temperature? Low immune system? The answer may not be so simple.

Getting sick stems from several factors that stir up the right storm and then wham you get ambushed with the flu, a cold or just plain feel awful as you try to fight off the bugs that invade you. Throughout this season,  lifestyle shifts into hyper mode with all the usual responsibilities and pressure of daily life plus the stress of the holidays.

There is little time to breathe forget about focus on yourself and being healthy. The build-up of holiday expectations, preparation and coordinating plans with family, adds to stress and contributes to less sleep and more nutrient-less eating and drinking. The “sick” storm is in gear.

Eating right, sleep and exercise all contribute to a healthy immune system. Stress, alcohol, and nutrient-less food takes a toll on an immune system that is being challenged with cold, flu and other respiratory bugs. The cold weather doesn’t help much either. During these health challenging months, beat the odds and keep your immune system strong and in fighting shape. The organs involved in supporting the immune system are: the skin, gut, spleen, thymus, bone marrow and lymph nodes.

Weighing in as the largest body organ (at about 8 pounds) and providing a physical barrier against germs is the skin.  As the body’s first line of protection it signals internal defenses, creates an environment that supports healthy bacteria while secreting anti-bacterial warriors that summon white blood cells to attack germ “invaders”.

During the winter months the skin can become dry and cracked weakening its protective ability. So keep skin moist with healthy lotions and skin “caring” foods, keeping in mind nutrients or toxic chemicals can be absorbed through both the skin and the gut.

Skin Deep Wellness

Use products that contain:

· Hyaluronic acid- found in the skins connective tissue, it is used to treat wrinkles.

· Retinol- a form of vitamin A  has proven to improve the skins hydration level and reduce fine lines and wrinkles.

· Ester C (PH neutral vitamin C)- stimulates collagen production which is important to anyone who is getting older because collagen decreases as you age. Vitamin C also helps to minimize fine lines and wrinkles.

·  Ceramides-  are fat molecules that help keep skin tight. They are found on the surface of the skin within the its’ cells and are active barriers to substances that try to infiltrate the skin while helping maintain skin hydration.

· Copper Peptide- increases the production of elastin and collagen helping to keep skin soft smooth and firm.

· Alpha Lipoic Acid- an antioxidant that helps prevent skin damage lessens wrinkles and boosts vitamin C levels.

Avoid skin and sunscreen products that contain toxic chemicals linked to cancer, hormone disruption, reproductive toxicity and many more health consequences:

·         Parabens

·         Phthalates

·         Triclosan

·         Toluene

·         Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)


There are more, check out this chart for details,

 Speak to a skin expert who can help you make the right choices for your particular skin needs.

Keeping skin, especially your hands and face,  hydrated and healthy during flu season will help you stay in a “sick free” zone but there is more. Next week learn how to feed your immune system and keep it strong from the inside out.


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