Saturday, January 30, 2010

Focusing on Fiber

With all the cockamamie diets and chemically processed food products available today, it’s no wonder that Americans are continuing down the path to poor health. With obesity (adult and child) and type II diabetes on the rise, manufacturers are zeroing in on how to alter their products to corner the market to keep up with the next trend in dieting. Unfortunately, this feeble attempt to encourage weight loss only furthers the decline of healthy living by encouraging “quick fixes” instead of focusing on eating well balanced, nutritious foods.

With people on the go and express meals at the ready, a lot of people are missing out on several important nutrients that supply the body the right type of fuel to build a strong immune system, fight disease and supply energy. Because many of these ready made meals and packaged foods are so highly processed they tend to lack the vital nutrients our bodies need. Unfortunately the consumption of these foods is merely offering a feeling of satiety and provides nothing more than what is known as “empty calories”. Empty calories are calories consumed from poor food sources that lack any kind of nourishment for the body. Items such as soda, chips, candy and the like offer no vitamins or minerals that can benefit ones health (and in some cases can even rob you of the vitamins your body needs) while still adding to your total caloric intake.

Due to the magnitude of this topic and the length at which it would take to discuss, I’d like to focus on one nutrient that seems to have lost focus over the years - fiber. With coronary heart disease being the number one killer for both men and women in America, fiber can play a critical role in helping reduce the risks. In fact, a Harvard study of over 40,000 male health professionals, researchers found that a high total dietary fiber intake was linked to a 40 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease, compared to a low fiber intake. Fiber intake has also been linked with the metabolic syndrome (high blood pressure, high insulin levels, excess weight (especially around the abdomen), high levels of triglycerides, the body's main fat-carrying particle, and low levels of HDL (good) cholesterol). Several studies suggest that higher intake of fiber may somehow ward off this increasingly common syndrome. Along with helping to reduce the risks of the above mentioned diseases, fiber has been found to be effective in helping to reduce adult onset diabetes – better known as Type II diabetes. With a well-rounded exercise program, fiber can be effective in reducing the risk of type II diabetes and possibly help reduce the need for insulin for those with diabetes. Other unhealthy related conditions fiber has been effective in helping are diverticulitis and constipation.
There are two types of fiber – soluble and insoluble. Both soluble and insoluble fiber are undigested, therefore they are not absorbed into the bloodstream. Instead of being used for energy, fiber is excreted from our bodies. Soluble fiber forms a gel when mixed with liquid, while insoluble fiber does not. Insoluble fiber passes through our intestines largely intact. The function of insoluble fiber is to move bulk through the intestines and control and balance the pH in the intestines whole soluble fiber binds with fatty acids and prolongs stomach emptying time so that sugar is released and absorbed more slowly. Sources of soluble fiber are: oatmeal, oat bran, nuts and seeds, legumes (dried peas, beans, lentils), apples, pears, strawberries and blueberries. Insoluble fiber sources are whole wheat breads, barley, brown rice, bulgur, carrots, cucumbers, zucchini, celery and tomatoes.
Current recommendations suggest that adults consume 20-35 grams of dietary fiber per day. Children over age 2 should consume an amount equal to or greater than their age plus 5 grams per day and yet the average American only eats approximately 15 grams of dietary fiber a day. So folks, it’s pretty simple, focus on at least 5 servings of fruits & vegetables as well as at least 5-8 servings of whole grain products per day and you are very well likely meeting your fiber requirements and improving your overall health.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Mental Masturbation

It’s been years since the inception of the Internet (thanks to AL Gore, right?) and through its capabilities; you can reach out with just a few clicks of a mouse and find pretty much find information on any topic of interest. Well, my interest is the field of health and fitness and God knows there is an abundance of information on the subject – in fact, I’d say there is probably too much. Of course, with all this information and interest comes a copious amount of discussion groups and boards which involve many interesting parties. Some are new to the field of strength and conditioning, some have “dabbled” for a while and are still in a learning phase and unfortunately, there are only a few who really and truly are authorities that disseminate solid information. The main problem, however, lays in the majority of the group who think they know what they are talking about. These people, who are usually regurgitating information based on what they were told and not what they’ve learned for themselves, are actively “assisting” others - sort of like Ray Charles helping Stevie Wonder navigate driving a car.

But thanks must be extended to the self-anointed authorities, who without their constant dedication for scientifically dispelling all aspects of fitness and graciously sharing their new-found discoveries, we would not know the “real truth.” WOW, thank goodness for these individuals who have analyzed the precise applications and exact timeframe in which the most favorable atmosphere could be provided to take full advantage of the most insightful breakthrough of the millennia.

Man-o-man, am I tired of reading and hearing about all this BS. That’s all it is too, just plain old bull. These people are constantly going back and forth with all their research and hypotheses, discussing the optimal this and the optimal that, using their weights and measures as if that is supposed to validate their information or impress someone – although it very well may to those who don’t know any better. But for those who truly “do know”, we realize that the banter that goes on, the jockeying for Internet supremacy is not much more than mental masturbation - a constant evaluation and re-evaluation of the wheel and the need to perfect what is already working . Sadly, they add nothing worth investigating, let alone even worth mentioning and yet, somehow these unique individuals, in their own minds, feel as though it is they who created a new and better concept of the wheel. Well, guess what boys – you haven’t. The time spent discussing and arguing over the most menial aspects of training are sad and yet I find myself rubber-necking to view the wreck on the side of the road by going back to these boards to see what analytical crap is being dealt out for questions like “how much time a weight should be lifted for”, ‘what time of day is best to exercise” and “is it ok to have sex the night before I workout?”. I guess on second thought, it’s pretty damn comical. Someone asking the world if it’s okay if he has sex before his workout is quite sad, but pretty damn funny when you think about it – even funnier is the host of responses being offered by these mental giants covering the “optimal times” and “time under load” for having sex prior to work out time.

Wow – how pathetic this has all become when someone takes something as simple and personal as training and makes it so complicated that all they do is spend all their time searching for perfection and the answer is right there underneath their nose the whole time - all they had to do was stop thinking and just start doing.

- Fred Fornicola

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


For those of you who are struggling with "why" something like what happened to Haiti recently could happen, maybe THIS BOOK will help bring a littler perspective to things....maybe not, I'm just suggesting it might answer some questions.

A Note from Herb April

"Not many are interested in the goings on at Duncan Y back in the good old days. I guess that's progress. Personally I learned a firm foundation for lifelong gains, health, strength, and fitness from what I learned from Bob [Gadja], Irvin Johnson ( Rheo H. Blair ), and my first teacher, Jim Smith. Today's bodybuilders are so caught up in complex workouts, ridiculous supplements, and drugs, that it is a wonder they don't all lose their minds in the gyms. Training should be a sort of balance between serious and fun. The so-called "sport" of bodybuilding is the root of the problem. Being a "iron gamer" or "muscleman" is a thing of the past. Everything today is "plastique" and superficial." - Herb April

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Where Does Fat Go When You Lose It?

The first thing to remember is that muscle and fat are two different substances, such that one can not be converted into the other. You need to lose fat and build the muscle. Fat is stored in fat cells (adipocytes) which are located all over the body. Depending on factors such as hormones, genetics, and blood sugar regulation you may have more fat cells in certain areas of the body. You have two different body types when it comes to fat cell location upper body heavy (apple shape)and lower body heavy (pear shape). You are born with a certain number of fat cells which you are stuck with. Having said that there are special occasions when these fat cells can multiply. This can happen first in the womb if mom gains way too much weight, you are overfed as a kid in the growing years, pregnancy, and in extreme obesity. So when we lose or gain fat we do not change the number of fat cells only there size. So the fat cells can increase or shrink like a sponge, but the number remains the same.
Lets take a journey and follow the fat to see where it goes when we lose it. The body primarily uses fat for fuel during our normal physical activities or during prolonged aerobic type activities. When the body needs fatty acids for fuel it is transported out of the fat cell and makes its first stop at the liver. The liver has to breakdown these long chain fatty acids (beta-oxidation) into short little 2 carbon fatty acids (Acetyl-CoA) so it can be easily used as fuel. The next step in our journey transports these short little fatty acids (Acetyl-CoA) to the area of the cell that uses these fats for energy or fuel. The part of the cell that does this is the mitochondria which is the powerhouse of the cell. The mitochondria produces all our energy needs for the muscles to work, brain and heart to function. We can increase the number of mitchondria by increasing muscle mass and aerobic capacity. Now we have more engines to burn more fat for fuel. Once the little fatty acid is transported into the mitochondria it goes into a system called the Kreb Cycle which burns up the fatty acids (oxidation) and produces energy. That's where the fat goes.

Tom Mantos
(732) 219-9636

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Boosting Your Immune System with Tea

Research has shown for years that drinking tea has many health benefits. Most people are aware that teas – specifically those that are green, oolong, white and black – supply antioxidants to the body, but what antioxidants are we referring to? Well, for the most part, these previously mentioned teas contain flavonoids (a class of water-soluble plant pigments), and they contain one in particular called catechins. So now you’re probably thinking, “what the heck is a catechin?” Well, catechins are one of the most powerful in the polyphenol family. Tea contains four main catechin substances, one of which is about 25-100 times more potent than vitamins C and E. In fact, research has stated that one cup of green tea provides 10-40 mg of polyphenols and has antioxidant effects greater than a serving of broccoli, spinach, carrots, or strawberries. The high antioxidant activity of these teas makes it beneficial for protecting the body from oxidative damage due to free radicals which helps the body ward off dis-ease (heart disease, cancers, inflammation, etc.).

Another consideration is quality. It is quite possible for store bought tea to be good. If a customer chooses loose leaf over tea bags, they greatly improve their chances of getting quality. Tea bags are generally bad because the quality of the tea in the bag is generally poor - having a significant impact on taste (flat, bitter). Shelf life is another matter of importance. If kept properly, tea leaves can be kept fresh for a long time - but quality does diminish - how long has that tea been sitting on the shelf? That's why I will use places likeAsbury Park Roastery who works with tea suppliers who are passionate about what they do - in turn, they are able to provide fine quality loose leaf organic teas to their customers. They handle and store the tea properly to maintain that quality and they also know how long it has been sitting on the shelf. Equally important is they are available to assist and guide - can't buy that at the store. Oh, and one more thing, organic is more significant when it comes to tea versus coffee. The image of someone spraying pesticide on a leaf, then saying, 'here, go put this in hot water for a few minutes and drink it.'

Here is a quick description of the four teas mentioned here in the article:

White Tea - buds are plucked before they are open, allowed to wither, then they are dried
Green Tea (unfermented) - leaves are dried, and then heat-treated to stop fermentation
Oolong Tea (semi-fermented) - leaves are wilted, then allowed to go through brief period of fermentation
Black Tea (fermented) - leaves are withered, rolled, fermented and then dried

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Gluten Free Strawberry Muffins

Here's a very easy to make gluten free recipe that makes 12 nutritionally dense and tasty muffins.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

In a large bowl, mix the following dry ingredients:

1 1/2 cups of Arrow Mills gluten free pancake mix
1/2 cup of brown rice flour
1/2 cup organic ground flax seed
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2/3 cup raw sugar

After mixing well, add:

1 container (6 ounces) of Chobani strawberry yogurt
2 tablespoons of Smart Balance Butter
4 ounces of soy, almond or coconut milk
10-12 defrosted frozen strawberries (microwave for 2:30 minutes before adding to mixture)

Blend all ingredients in the large bowl until mixed well.

Spray a muffin tin with oil and fill 12 cups with the mixture and bake for 20 minutes. Let cool on a rack and enjoy.

Note: If you prefer, blueberries can be substituted for the strawberries both in the yogurt and fruit.

Grab one or two of these and add a yogurt and you have a great start to your day or a mid-day snack.

Fred Fornicola

Monday, January 04, 2010

Fast Food for Your Health

I bet you if I titled this article “Fast Food Kills” you probably wouldn’t have even attempted to look at it, but all you fast food junkies are here to see if in some small way I was going to justify eating at Mickey D’s, right? Well……………………..NO!

Let’s take a look at an average American meal at a fast food establishment such as McDonald’s (I just can’t call a place that serves what they serve a “restaurant”). A meal consisting of 1 Big Mac, 1 order of regular fries and a vanilla triple thick shake to wash it down. According to our food pyramid, it sounds like we have the makings of a solid meal here, right? We’ve got our meat from the burger, our dairy from the shake, bread & potatoes come from our bun and fries and some vegetables from the lettuce (which is ice berg and provides 0 nutritional value) and tomato.

Now, let’s evaluate what this meal entails as far as calories and the macronutrient breakdown. Not adding in any additional condiments like ketchup to dip the fries and extra “fixings” that may be added, this meal consists of the following:

Big Mac: 33 grams of fat, 47 grams of carbohydrates and 24 grams of protein = 580 kcals

Small Order of Fries: 10 grams of fat, 26 grams of carbs and 3 grams of protein = 209kcals

vanilla Triple Thick Shake: 12 grams of fat, 76 grams of carbs and 11 grams of protein = 430 kclas.

Total for this meal: 55g of fat / 140g of carbohydrates (mainly simple) / 38g of protein, totaling a whopping 1,219 calories!!!!

If you are one who frequents Mickey D’s or their equivalent, hopefully you are sitting back in your seat and thinking WOW! Do I eat that many calories at one time? Do I consume that much fat (which by the way totaled over 20 grams of saturated fat)? Do I eat that many useless carbohydrates at one time?

What most people fail to realize is that not only are they consuming way too many calories, but that most of what they eat provides very little in the way of any nutritional value. I learned a long time ago that eating healthy means more than just “not eating junk”. Your body needs to consume nutrient dense foods daily to assist in fighting diseases such as type II Diabetes, heart disease (the #1 killer in America), stroke, cancer, etc. By ignoring these facts and having the opinion that “it won’t happen to me” increases the possibilities of acquiring a disease due to poor eating habits and lack of exercise. Considering the likelihood that this would never happen to you has made these diseases intangible in your mind, merely a “scare tactic” to encourage you to eat for your health. Hey, we all where the big “S” (referring to Superman) on our chest at times and think that we are indestructible to some degree, but the reality of it all is that we are not and as soon as you realize that proper eating and exercise will benefit your overall health you will be better off.

Don’t keep trying to out run the bullet, it very well may catch you one day………

Fred Fornicola