Making Your Sports Drink Work For You

My friend Matt recently completed the Iron Man in New York City, and I am proud to say he was a fantastic protégé when it came to his nutrition. He eliminated booze and processed foods from his diet during training, and I helped him concoct a sports drink he has since termed “Estherade�? to fuel him during his thirteen hour event.

Sports drinks can be a helpful way to prevent dehydration and depletion of the body’s carbohydrate reserves during endurance events. But, not all sports drinks are created equal. High fructose corn syrup and artificial colors are commonly found among many commercial sports drinks and can adversely affect your health. So let’s do some detective work and find out how to make your sports drink work for you.

Electrolytes

Electrolytes are ions (and essential minerals in some cases) that affect metabolic processes in your body, including the movement of nutrients into your cells and the removal of cellular waste products. Electrolytes also help regulate the acid-base balance in your body crucial for normal cellular function. When you sweat, you lose numerous electrolytes, including calcium, magnesium, sodium, chloride, and potassium, among others. So if you’re sweating up a storm during your workouts, you will need to replenish those precious electrolytes to avoid severe dehydration.

Effects of Dehydration

Your body sweats during exercise to help keep your core temperature constant. But, the body does this at a cost, using the currency of electrolytes to pay the price of fluid and electrolyte losses. Losing as little as two percent of your body weight as sweat will impair exercise performance. A four percent body weight loss as sweat significantly reduces your ability to perform muscular work. Sweat related body weight losses of five to seven percent would cause heat exhaustion and hallucinations (1). Fluids to the rescue!

Carbohydrate Depletion

Carbohydrate depletion—the depletion of your muscle and liver glycogen reserves—is another important factor to take into account when you are training for endurance activities. Glucose is stored in your liver and muscle tissue as glycogen. During prolonged exercise, your body releases hormones that convert glycogen to glucose so your body maintains blood glucose levels. Assuming your body relies on carbohydrates as fuel during exercise, you can maintain a high intensity for about two hours before you’ll bonk out (2). After two hours, your body’s glycogen tank will be running pretty low, so at that point you’ll need to shove some carbohydrates down your pie hole to get through the rest of the event. (I typically recommend taking in some carbs every hour during endurance events to for this exact reason so you can stay ahead of the curve and never run the risk of hitting a wall during your event.)

Sports Drink Considerations

Water is always your best bet for events under sixty minutes, since sports drinks provide little to no benefit for low intensity exercise for short durations. Caffeine, however, can and should be consumed before exercise, because it stimulates your nervous system and can help improve your performance. In fact, research has shown that caffeine can increase exercise ventilation and lung function at all workloads in competitive endurance athletes (3). And, a better workout means you’ll burn more fat to boot! High-fructose corn syrup, which is commonly found in sports drinks, should be avoided at all costs due to its ability to raise triglycerides and insulin levels, increasing your risk of a heart attack. I can’t think of a worse time to consume processed liquids. So be good to your body good and make your own sports drink:

“Estherade�?

1 cup coconut water

½ cup pomegranate juice

½ cup water

1/8 teaspoon organic sea salt

1000mg carnitine tartrate

Coconut water is rich in antioxidants, electrolytes, and trace minerals to improve hydration, muscle recovery and prevent cramping. Try it while training for your next endurance event; you should be very happy with how good you’ll feel during and after your exercise sessions!…

Sexual Nutrition

When we think about nutrition, most of us think about losing body fat or gaining more energy. What we don’t always think about is the impact that foods can have on our hormonal balance, libido, and sexual performance.And as our bodies age, our libido can diminish and make it harder to achieve orgasms. Once women hit menopause, the ovaries become less active and ultimately produce less testosterone, which is key to our libido. Men can also experience “manopause�? which results in a drop in testosterone. Just what can you do to keep your mojo going as you age and enjoy a satisfying sex life throughout your life? Plenty! And it all starts with what you put in your mouth.

Think Zinc

Zinc is a pretty amazing trace mineral. It kills viruses on contact and boosts white blood cell function. It forms superoxide dismutase, which is one of the body’s most important antioxidants. It promotes wound healing and muscle growth. And, zinc is the precursor to several vital hormones—especially testosterone—and is essential for a healthy sperm count.

Testosterone is an extremely important hormone for both men and women. It boosts sexual drive and capacity, muscle and bone growth, energy levels, and immune function. If you’re regularly weight training yet have low energy and are not seeing any muscle growth, you’re probably low in zinc. High levels of zinc will boost testosterone, build muscle, and make you randy!

Nationwide food consumption surveys by the USDA have found that the average intake of zinc for males and females of all ages is below the recommended daily allowance (RDA). (The current US RDAs for adults are 8 mg daily for non-lactating females and 11 mg daily for males.) Speaking professionally, to dose someone at this level will only keep them deficient in zinc and will damage their health over the long-term; those on low-fat or vegetarian diets are at an even greater risk of a zinc deficiency. Zinc should be the starting place for any hormone-balancing program.

Natural Libido Boosters

To help raise your body’s zinc stores, slurp down oysters, chew on some pastured red meat, and toss some pumpkin seeds into your salads. All of these foods are a rich source of zinc.

L-arginine is another form of nature’s Viagra. L-arginine is an amino acid you can buy in supplement form; research shows the nitric oxide present may dilate clitoral blood vessels, increasing flow to erogenous zones and helping to improve arousal and erections. Walnuts can also have the same effect, and they provide omega-3 fatty acids to promote lubrication and circulation.

Asparagus is considered one of the best libido-boosting foods since it’s rich in folate. A naturally occurring form of folic acid, folate regulates the production of histamine – the chemical that is released during an orgasm.

Garlic is a rich source of allicin, a compound that thins the blood. Thinner blood means that you have a much better chance of having an erection and greater endurance in the bedroom. Now that’s what I call a great workout!

I’m a big fan of the adaptogenic properties of Rhodiola. Rhodiola boosts serotonin and dopamine to help boost sexual pleasure. Pour you and your loved one a special love potion before you head into the boudoir: 30 drops of rhodiola diluted in water is the recommended dosage. Bottoms up!

To raise your sex drive through the roof, make sure you’re eating plenty of cold-water fatty fish like wild Alaskan salmon and mackerel. Halibut is high in magnesium and helps distribute testosterone in the blood.

Walnuts, an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, are known to boost dopamine and arginine levels in the brain, which increases the production of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is the essential chemical compound for erections; it dilates the blood vessels, allowing blood to flow freely. All nuts contain essential fatty acids to boost hormones and keep us amorous. They are also rich in arginine to put the swing in your ding. Pine nuts are my favorite source of zinc; they’re packed to the gills.

Getting Tested

If you think your zinc stores are suboptimal, pick up some liquid zinc sulfate heptahydrate (available from health food stores and pharmacies) and performing a zinc taste test. To do a zinc taste test, place 2 teaspoons of zinc in your mouth and hold it there for 10 seconds before swallowing.

Your response will fall into one of the following grades:

  1. Grade one response: no specific taste sensation: tastes like plain water. This indicates a major deficiency of zinc.
  2. Grade two response: no immediate taste is noticed but, within the ten seconds of the test, a ‘dry’ or ‘metallic’ taste is experienced. This indicates a moderate deficiency.
  3. Grade three response: an immediate slight taste is noted, which increases with time over the ten second period. This indicates a deficiency of minor degree.
  4. Grade four response: an immediate, strong and unpleasant taste is experienced. This indicates that no zinc deficiency exists.

Most people fall into the grade one or two variety. I then suggest they supplement with zinc daily and repeat the test periodically to see if their taste response improves. To avoid the potential of toxic side effects, zinc supplementation should not exceed 150 mg per day.…

Eight Myths About Cholesterol

As some of you may know, cardiologist Stephen Sinatra and I co-authored a book which was just released this week, entitled “The Great Cholesterol Myth�?.

So, you might well ask, what is the great cholesterol myth? And why should I even care?

Let’s take the second question first. You should care for two reasons. One, the Great Cholesterol Myth has been the foundation of the boneheaded dietary advice you and I have been saddled with for the past thirty years, “official�? dietary advice that has directly contributed to the greatest epidemic of obesity, diabetes and heart disease in history.

And two, belief in the Great Cholesterol Myth has caused us to take our eye off the ball when it comes to preventing heart disease. Belief in the Great Cholesterol Myth has caused us to neglect the real causes of heart disease while obsessively focused on an innocuous molecule that’s essential for life and has only a minor role in heart disease.

The Great Cholesterol Myth is actually a series of related myths. Here are eight of my favorites.

MYTH: High cholesterol is the cause of heart disease.

FACT: Cholesterol is a fairly insignificant player in heart disease.

MYTH: High cholesterol is a good predictor of heart attacks.

FACT: High cholesterol is a lousy predictor of heart attacks. Half the people admitted to hospitals with heart disease have normal cholesterol, and plenty of people with elevated cholesterol have perfectly healthy hearts.

MYTH: Lowering cholesterol with statin drugs will prolong your life.

FACT: There is no data showing statins have any impact on longevity.

MYTH: Statin drugs are perfectly safe.

FACT: Statin drugs have significant side effects, including loss of memory and libido, muscle pain and fatigue, and approximately 65% of doctors don’t report those side effects. (1)

MYTH: Statin drugs are appropriate for men, women, children and the elderly.

FACT: The only group in which statins have been shown to have even a modest effect is in middle-aged men who’ve already had a heart attack. If you’re not in that group, you’ve got no business on a statin drug. (2)

MYTH: Saturated fat is dangerous.

FACT: Saturated fat is mostly neutral and may even have some health benefits. Recent peer-reviewed studies have shown no association of saturated fat with heart disease. (3)

MYTH: The higher your cholesterol, the shorter your lifespan.

FACT: In the Framingham Study, the people who actually lived the longest had the highest cholesterol. (4)

MYTH: A high carbohydrate diet protects you from heart disease.

FACT: Diets that substitute carbohydrates for saturated fat actually increase the risk for heart disease. (5)

For much, much more, check out our new book, “The Great Cholesterol Myth: Why Lowering Cholesterol Won’t Prevent Heart Disease and the Statin-Free Plan that Will“.…

Fat Loss Starts in the Mind

After the holidays thousands of people make New Year’s resolutions. Included at the top of this list is getting healthier, fitter and losing weight. The majority of people who make New Year’s resolutions give up on their goals within 4-6 weeks.

Instead of a New Year’s Resolution, jump on board with the Fat Loss Revolution to experience optimal health and permanent fat loss. To experience any goal, including optimal health and permanent fat loss, it starts with a shift in your mindset.

10 Mindset Solutions

  1. Start with your value system. Write down your top values. A few of my top values are God, myself, family and my Rottweiler, Teddy Bear, a healthy lifestyle, my business/work, friends, helping others and community. Is health one of your top values? Prioritizing your values opens the door to transformation and lasting change.
  2. Keep a journal and write down your goals and intentions. Review them daily. The act of writing and journaling is very powerful in creating a positive outcome for long-term success. Studies show an 80 percent success rate for those who follow through and write down their goals. Be intentional.
  3. Start with two simple, healthy changes each week and add two more each and every week. This is the concept in my first book, The Power of 4. Ultimately, small changes over time are very profound and doable without creating overwhelm. See your transformation as progress – a journey vs. perfection.
  4. Surround yourself with like-minded people who support your healthy lifestyle. Share your goals with family and friends. Fat loss is contagious!
  5. Do not go on a quick-fix diet. Avoid dieting at all costs, which causes a damaged metabolism, hormone disruption and extra weight once the dieting ends. Instead eat real food including protein, plenty of fiber from leafy greens and vegetables, healthy fats, filtered water and green tea.
  6. Realize that you cannot exercise your way out of a bad diet. End the thought process of health and fat loss as quick-fix, short-term goals and adapt a lifestyle mindset to create health, vitality, longevity and fat loss.
  7. Become conscious about the importance of other principles aside from intelligent exercise and a nutrient-rich diet to experience optimal health and permanent fat loss. These include hormone balance, sleep, stress management, eliminating foods your body is sensitive to, detoxification and toxins in food and the environment.
  8. Be prepared. Have a plan. Use the 12-week check list found in Fat Loss Revolution.
  1. Set up your environment at home and work to minimize temptation. Remove unhealthy food from your home and have healthy food choices and snacks readily available.
  2. Take it one day at a time. Value and focus on the positive progress you have already made along your journey toward health. Realize that setbacks may occur. Resume your intention and focus on getting right back on track. Believe in yourself!

Scared to Death

By Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS aka “The Rogue Nutritionist�? ™

Recently, a 30 year old meth addict named Ricky Lee Fowler was found guilty of starting what’s now known as the 2003 Old Fire in Southern California, a raging 90,000 acre blaze that resulted in the evacuation of 80,000 people and the destruction of nearly 1000 homes. Fowler was actually convicted of murder because five people died in the fire.

But here’s the thing: none of the five died because fire.

All five died from heart attacks.

I mention this because it’s a great example of something cardiologist Stephen Sinatra and I discuss at length in our new book, “The Great Cholesterol Myth�?. In that book, we talk about the four real causes of heart disease. One of those is what caused the five deaths in the Old Fire of 2003.

I’m talking about stress.

Voodoo Death

The notion that stress kills is hardly new. In the book we talk about something called “Voodo Death�?, a concept that was explored in the 1920’s by the great American physiologist Walter Cannon. Voodo death is sudden, unexplained death arising from a voodoo curse. Here’s how Esther Sternberg, MD, put it in the American Journal of Public Health. (1)

“The dramatic suddenness of the illness following the threat, coupled with a lack of any apparent injury, exposure to toxins, or infection suggested to Cannon that merely the fear of death could, through physiological response mechanisms initiated by fear, precipitate death itself.�?

Stress Kills, Cholesterol Doesn’t

The stress response is a complicated hormonal cascade of events that was designed to save your life in an emergency. But the devil is in the details. When that stress response is turned on 24/7—the way it is for a lot of us—nothing good happens. It’s like speeding down the 405 freeway in first gear. That first gear can be a lifesaver if you’re trying to get up a steep hill, but it’s death to your transmission if you’re driving 75.

Hormones are released—like cortisol and adrenaline—which cause blood pressure and heart rate to rise. Blood pounds against the artery walls, ultimately contributing to microinjuries in the vascular system that soon become inflamed. These inflamed areas attract oxidized particles of LDL called LDL-b, not to mention inflammatory cytokines and all sorts of other metabolic riff-raff, the end result of which can be unstable plaque.

And the end result of that can be a heart attack.

In vulnerable people—such as the five people who died in the fire—the result can be pretty immediate. A cardiovascular system that’s already been weakened by a bad diet with too many trans fats and sugar, and by inflammation and oxidation in the vascular walls can easily be overwhelmed by a sudden overload of cortisol and adrenaline. This is probably why more heart attacks happen on Monday morning than on any other time or day.

Scared to Death

There’s even a developing field devoted to the effects of stress on the heart—it’s called stress cardiomyopathy, and even “healthy�? people aren’t immune to it. “You have people in acute, sudden heart failure who were perfectly healthy an hour earlier�?, cardiologist Ilan Wittstein, MD, told the Wall Street Journal. (2) Many of these patients survive—but many do not.

The chairman of the neurology department at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston—Martin A. Samuels, MD—has collected literally hundreds of reports detailing how people died suddenly in scary situations. The reports include stories of children who died while on amusement rides, people who were victims of muggings (even though there was no physical attack or injury), and car accident victims whose injuries were negligible. The only thing they all have in common is that their hearts literally failed, not because of cholesterol, not even because of physical injury, but because they were unable to survive the aftermath of a massive overload of stress hormones.

So why are we chasing cholesterol and not paying attention to stress?

One reason might be money. There’s over 34 billion dollars a year made on cholesterol-lowering drugs. There’s not a whole lot of money to be made teaching people how to manage stress.

One of the biggest casualties of the war on cholesterol is that it’s caused us to take our focus off the things that really cause heart disease, things we can actually do something about and things that don’t require prescription drugs.…

Trick Question: How Do You Lower Cholesterol? By Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS aka “The Rogue Nutritionist?

The other day, I received a request from a writer working on a story about how to lower cholesterol “naturally�?. His questions are reprinted below, together with my answer.

  1. What are your thoughts on taking supplements as part of a cholesterol-lowering plan?
  2. Which ones do you like, and why?
  3. Are they safe? What are the risks?
  4. How do supplements fit in with traditional cholesterol-lowering methods like statin drugs, diet, and exercise?

Sounds reasonable, right?

Here’s my answer:

Dear Writer,

I’m delighted to help you with your story, which, It appears, is about using supplements to lower cholesterol.

I am a firm believer that lowering cholesterol is the least important thing you can do for heart health.

In fact, I am the author of a book called, “The Great Cholesterol Myth: Why Lowering Cholesterol Won’t Prevent Heart Disease and the Statin-Free Plan that Will�?.

So I wonder if I’m the right person to be interviewed about how to lower your cholesterol since I’m on a mission to correct the impression that lowering cholesterol matters a whit.

As I said on the Dr. Oz show, trying to prevent heart disease by lowering cholesterol is like trying to reduce calories by taking the lettuce off your whopper.

If you want to talk about supplements for heart health, I’m your man. If you want to talk about strategies to prevent heart disease, I’m your man.

But if you want to talk about how to lower your cholesterol, or what supplements to use as part of a “cholesterol-lowering plan�?, I’m probably not your guy.

To me, that’s like asking a general in the armed forces, “What’s the best way to invade Portugal so we can stop Al-Queda?�?

Al-Queda isn’t in Portugal. And cholesterol doesn’t cause heart disease.

Warmly,

Jonny Bowden

The writer replied: Let me rethink my slant on the article. I’ll get back to you on that.

Well, at least that’s some progress!…