L-Arginine vs AKG Supplements

L-arginine vs akg

L-arginine is the natural form of arginine that is found in food, although manufacturers are capable of synthesizing it to produce L-arginine dietary supplements. On the other hand, L-arginine alpha-ketoglutarate or AAKG, is a nonessential amino acid that plays a crucial role in making nitric oxide in the liver. It is also manufactured as a complex dietary supplement containing alpha-ketoglutarate which is a salt derived from glutaric acid.

About L-Arginine

L-Arginine is regarded as a semi-essential amino acid, because while the body normally produces sufficient amounts of it, supplementation is sometimes required. The body uses L-arginine to synthesize proteins, enzymes and biochemicals like creatine. It is also used by cells lining the blood vessels to produce nitric oxide and stimulate vasodilation, thereby increasing blood flow. Although a small quantity of nitric oxide is constantly produced, its levels can rise by as much as a thousand fold in order to boost oxygen and nutrient delivery throughout the body.

About Alpha-Ketoglutarate (AKG)

Alpha-ketoglutarate serves as an intermediate in the citric acid cycle, which is the body’s primary means of producing energy and raw materials. AKG ingested as a supplement enters the citric acid cycle, producing energy or other products like L-glutamine which is a major component of muscles. L-arginine alpha-ketoglutarate or AAKG combines the benefits of both substances. It breaks down in the intestines into AKG and L-arginine and is essentially the same as taking both separately.

Uses

Physicians prescribe L-arginine supplements for the treatment of cardiovascular disorders like angina, hypertension and congestive heart failure. It has likewise garnered widespread attention for its use in treating patients suffering from impotence (i.e. erectile dysfunction), cataract, type 2 diabetes and peripheral blood flow problems like intermittent claudication.

AAKG is less commonly used for clinical purposes, as manufacturers prefer to market the supplement to athletes, specifically bodybuilders and weightlifters. AAKG can increase short term nitric oxide levels which results in a muscle growth environment in the body. This is achieved by increasing the rate of blood flow to working muscles, which in turn leads to increased glucose uptake, oxygen and nutrient delivery, power output and muscle velocity. AAKG also amplifies muscle-growth signals for faster gains in lean mass and to accelerate both fast and slow twitch muscle fibers for greater strength and increased endurance.

In addition, L-Arginine prods the production of growth hormone or somatotropin, a chemical produced by the anterior pituitary gland that promotes growth and plays an integral role in metabolism. Growth hormone is popular among athletes because it helps in building lean muscle mass and increasing strength. When used in conjunction with your fitness program, AAKG can support myodilation or the expansion of muscle tissue.

Another benefit of AAKG is its function as a precursor in the production of creatine and glutamine. Daily AAKG supplementation has been shown to increase the creatine and glutamine stores of the body. This may result to improvements in strength, stamina and recovery times. Some athletes take alpha-ketoglutarate to improve peak performance because it helps the liver in breaking down the by-products of muscle exercise like ammonia.

Effectiveness

L-arginine is most effective when used to increase the levels of nitric oxide for the treatment of congestive heart failure. Its efficacy is supported by three small double-blind, placebo-controlled studies. As for AAKG, supplementation has been extensively researched in different laboratory settings. A study conducted in 2006 and published in the “Nutrition” journal revealed that trained men taking AAKG managed to increase their one-repetition maximum (1RM) for bench press after two months. However, the validity of the result has been questioned because the men did not show any increases in aerobic capacity and body mass to accompany the reported strength gains.

It may well be that AAKG supplements are more impressive when integrated into an overall amino acid supplement to increase blood flow and help build muscle. What is certain is that there is a significant increase in nitric oxide synthesis whenever arginine is released into the bloodstream. When more nitric oxide is present, enhanced work capacity, extended muscle pumps and improved recovery times are more likely.

Dosage

There is no standard dose for L-arginine. Studies have utilized various quantities for different conditions. A common dosage is 2 to 3 grams taken three times per day, but higher and lower doses have also been tested. Those with burns, infections, protein malnutrition, rapid growth, and other conditions may require supplemental arginine.

L-Arginine alpha-ketoglutarate supplements are sold in pills, tablets or powder. The recommended dosage is 2 or 3 tablets taken once or twice a day on an empty stomach. Most physicians suggest taking the tablets in the morning and at least half an hour before workouts. In powder form, the recommended dose for AAKG ranges from 1500 to 3500 milligrams. Experts believe that it is more beneficial to mix the powder with creatine-based products.

Safety

L-arginine is considered safe to take since it is the natural form of arginine that you can normally obtain in foods like dairy products, meat and poultry. According to experts from New York University, most people can tolerate arginine in doses of up to 20 grams per day. However, L-arginine supplements may stimulate acid production in the stomach, alter potassium levels and interfere with herpes treatment. Moreover, due to potential alterations in blood flow or pressure, it is imperative that you only take L-arginine supplements with your physician’s supervision, especially if you are pregnant or have cardiac, renal or endocrine disorder. Rare but serious side effects that required hospitalization have been reported in a very small number of people. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience allergic reactions, bleeding, persistent headache, or changes in vision.

AAKG supplements are also generally regarded as safe to take, though some have been found to contain additives and contaminants. According to registered dietitian Ellen Coleman, in most cases such contaminants are the consequence of poor manufacturing processes, but there are instances when they are deliberately adulterated with chemicals such as anabolic steroids to boost the performance of the product. Again, it is always advisable to seek your physician’s advice before starting L-arginine and AAKG supplementation.

The Ultimate Cellulite Diet Plan for Women

Many dieters like to oversimplify things into calories in vs calories out. While its true that if you expend more calories than you take in you will lose weight, the type of calories you consume have a MAJOR impact on your overall body composition. If two people of equal body weight both consumed the exact same number of calories per day, one consisting primarily of proteins and healthy fats, and the other consisting primarily of carbohydrates, you would see a very dramatic difference in body composition (and overall health) over time.

A few specific dietary changes can reduce cellulite in many women.  A simple reduction in bad fats and sugars can do wonders for improving body composition and regulating estrogen levels.

Cellulite Diet Plan

Here are a few of your key diet goals when it comes to reducing cellulite:

  • Replace bad fats with good fats, and eliminate trans fat completely.
  • Replaced refined carbohydrates with lean protein and high fiber complex carbohydrates.
  • Drink at least 2 liters of water every day and avoid sugary drinks.
  • Take a multivitamin daily as well as flax or fish oil capsules.

Fast food, canned foods, and refined carbs all load the body with chemicals, trans fat, and sugars that convert to fat, slow down metabolism, and increase water retention which makes cellulite more visible. By removing these foods from your diet and making some simple adjustments (no weight loss required) you will see significant improvements in your body composition and a reduction in cellulite with no exercise required.

Common Misconceptions

All carbohydrates are the same. This is a big one. Just like fats, not all carbs act the same in the body after being consumed. Refined carbohydrates, or “simple” carbs, make up the majority of the carbohydrates in the American diet, and as far as the body is concerned they are equivalent to sugar. They are digested quickly, causing insulin levels to spike up, and provide a fast source of energy, but they quickly convert to body fat after the initial spike because the body has no need for all the extra calories. Some common sources of simple carbs that may surprise you include fruit juice, most bread, white rice, cereals, and potatoes. These carbohydrates provide little nutritional value other than calories.

The next time you go shopping, take a look at the ingredients list in your favorite food products. If you see the words “bleached”, “refined”, or “processed” what you’re really eating is essentially sugar. Complex carbohydrates, on the other hand, are digested slowly over time and provide a sustained release of energy without the insulin spike. This is primarily due to the fiber content. Examples of complex carbohydrates include quinoa, brown rice, whole grains, and many green vegetables. Not only do simple carbohydrates lead to increased fat storage, they are also unhealthy for the heart and can lead to diseases like type 2 diabetes.

Eating meat is bad for you. In recent time, eating meat has become demonized for a number of reasons and it is commonly thought that a vegetarian or even vegan diet is a healthier alternative. While it is true that some meats are unhealthy when consumed in large amounts (particularly fatty red meats), protein is an essential part of your diet and most people consume too little in comparison to bread and grains. Protein contains branch chain amino acids, which are the building blocks of just about every part of your body. Your muscles, skin, brain, and even your blood can benefit from a high protein diet.

While there are other sources of protein besides meat, many of them do not contain a full amino acid profile, which means the body cannot fully utilize them for rebuilding muscle and tissue. Some plant-based protein sources have also shown to have negative effects on the body. Soy protein, which is the staple of most vegetarian diets, has shown to cause estrogen imbalance in people who consume too much of it. And as we discussed previously, excess estrogen is one of the primary culprits behind cellulite. A diet high in lean proteins like fish and poultry helps build muscle and keeps you feeling fuller than a diet high in carbohydrates, which leads to lower overall calorie consumption.

Eating fat makes you fat. This is one of the most common dietary myths of all time. While it is true that certain fats are bad for you, there are many types of dietary fat that can improve your heart health, give you sustained energy, and keep your body functioning properly. Your brain, skin, organs, and muscles all need essential fatty acids to perform at their best.

Contrary to popular belief, fat is a great source of energy because the body digests it slowly over time without spiking your insulin the way carbohydrates do. Not only that but including healthy fats in a carb-heavy meal can slow down the digestion of the entire meal, meaning a sustained release of energy with less of it being stored as body fat.

Many of the healthiest societies on earth consume high amounts of fat in comparison to the typical American diet, which is heavy on carbohydrates. This is not to say that consuming excessive amounts of fat is healthy, but research is showing that dietary fat is not what we once thought it was, and that the FDA recommended diet which is composed primarily of grains may be the culprit behind many of America’s obesity and a slew of other health problems.

But which fats are good and which are bad?

Bad Fat vs Good Fat

Fat is as essential to your diet as protein and carbohydrates. Without healthy fats, your body simply can’t function. For example, many vitamins require fat in order to dissolve into your bloodstream and provide nutrients. However, fat is more calorically dense than protein or carbs, and the the excess calories from eating too much fat of any type can lead to weight gain.

All foods and oils contain a mixture of fatty acids, but the predominant type of fat they contain is what makes them “good” or “bad.”

What are Bad Fats?

There are two potential types of bad fats; saturated fat and trans fat. While not all saturated fats are bad, both of these types of fat have potential to harm your heart and both can lead to rapid fat storage in the body. Most of the foods that contain these types of fats are solid at room temperature, such as:

  • processed butter
  • margarine
  • shortening
  • nut oils
  • certain vegetable oils (like canola oil)

Saturated Fat

This type of fat is primarily animal-based and is commonly found in fatty meats and dairy products. Some typical sources of saturated fats include:

  • fatty cuts of beef, pork, and lamb
  • dark chicken meat and poultry skin
  • high-fat dairy foods (whole milk, butter, cheese, sour cream, ice cream)
  • lard

Health experts are still at odds on the health effects of saturated fat, but studies have shown that diets high in saturated fat can increase blood cholesterol levels which increases your risk of heart disease.

Trans Fat

Trans fat is short for “trans fatty acids,” which appear in foods that contain partially hydrogenated oils. These are the worst fats for you and have no nutritional value. They quickly turn into body fat and contribute to heart disease, among many other health problems. You can find trans fat in:

  • fried foods (french fries or any deep-fried fast foods)
  • butter or margarine (stick and tub)
  • vegetable shortening (canola oil is the most “sneaky” offender)
  • baked goods (cookies, cakes, pastries)
  • processed snack foods (crackers, microwave popcorn)

Like saturated fat, trans fat raises bad cholesterol and surpasses good cholesterol. But it also quickly converts into body fat, not unlike refined carbohydrates. Good fats can provide a slow burning, steady source of energy to your body whereas trans fats are quickly turned into excess body fat.

What Are Good Fats?

Monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat are healthy fats that can provide sustained energy to your body over longer periods of time, similar to complex carbohydrates. As a general rule of thumb, healthier fats tend to be liquid when they’re at room temperature.

Monounsaturated Fat

This type of helpful fat is present in a variety of common foods. Research has consistently shown that eating foods that contain monounsaturated fat can decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease and also help reduce your overall body fat percentage. Some of these foods include:

  • nuts (almonds, cashews, walnuts, pecans)
  • certain oils (olive oil,  peanut oil, soybean oil)
  • natural peanut butter and almond butter*
  • avocado

*Most peanut butters contain partially hydrogenated oils, which are the worst type of fat you can ingest. When shopping for peanut butter (or any other “butter”) keep an eye out for anything hydrogenated.

Polyunsaturated Fat

Plant-based foods and oils are the primary source of this type of fat. Like monounsaturated fat, polyunsaturated fat can decrease your risk of heart disease and are easily used for energy in the body, rather than being stored as excess fat.

A specific type of this fat, called omega-3 fatty acids, have been shown to be particularly beneficial to your heart, skin, and muscles. Omega-3s not only lower your blood pressure, but can improve the function of your heart, organs, muscles, and skin. The following types of fish contain omega-3 fatty acids:

  • salmon
  • herring
  • sardines
  • trout

For those who don’t like fish, you can also find omega-3s in flaxseed, walnuts, or fish oil capsules. In addition to omega-3 fatty acids, you can find polyunsaturated fat in the following foods, which contain omega-6 fatty acids:

  • tofu*
  • roasted soy beans and soy nut butter*
  • walnuts
  • seeds (sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds)
  • certain vegetable oils (sesame oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil)
  • soft margarine (some margarines also contain trans fats, however)
  • according to recent research, a diet high in soy proteins can cause an overproduction of estrogen. Therefore, consumption of soy products should be limited. Estrogen imbalance is one of the key contributors to cellulite.

Healthier fats are an important part of your diet, but it’s still crucial to moderate your consumption of them, because all fats are more calorically dense than protein and carbohydrates. Try replacing unhealthy fats with healthy fats whenever possible but don’t take this as a green light to eat as much fat as you like.

Food Substitutions

In today’s fast paced world, we often consume a lot of bad calories without knowing it because convenience foods are usually overly processed. But by making a few simple substitutions to your weekly shopping list, you can make a big difference without much effort and without having to stop eating the foods you love. The goal here is to improve the nutritional value of the foods you’re already eating.

Replace butter with a butter substitute. Butter and margarine are the most common sources of trans fats.  Several decades ago, scientists discovered that if they injected vegetable oil with hydrogen, it would turn solid and stay that way, even at room temperature. Trans fats tend to harden inside your body, where they jam up your arteries, making it difficult for blood and oxygen to circulate. Not only is this dangerous for your heart, but it can also cause skin tissues to weaken, making skin rippling all the more pronounced. Replace butter and margarine with a substitute with no trans fat like Smart Balance or unprocessed grass-fed butter. Believe it or not, grass-fed butter is a good source of fatty acids like CLA. Conjugated linoleum acid actually supports weight loss and is commercially sold as a fat-burning supplement.

Replace sugary drinks with low calorie options.  One of the leading causes of obesity in America and worldwide is sugary drinks like soda, juice, and sports drinks. Has your cellulite gotten progressively worse each passing year? That’s because your body is producing less collagen. This is a natural part of aging and there’s no way to completely reverse the effects, but cutting back on sugar will help A LOT. If you absolutely need a caffeine fix, drink plain black coffee or tea.  But remember, consuming too much caffeine increases the production of cortisol in the body which is one of the hormones that can contribute to cellulite. Try to limit your caffeine intake as best you can. If you absolutely need a soda, drink a diet soda sweetened with Sucralose.

Replace fatty meats with lean meats. A high protein diet is good for your muscles, skin, and hair, but fatty meats like beef and pork are loaded with saturated fats which are bad for the heart. While lean fish and poultry are usually the better choice, there are often alternatives to fatty meats like bacon, sausage, and burgers that taste just as good with far less calories.  For example, replace pork sausage with chicken sausage.  Replace hamburgers with turkey burgers or 95/5 lean beef.  Replace regular bacon with turkey bacon. These replacement foods often taste just as good as the original and won’t slow you down.

Replace processed breads and grains with unprocessed whole grains. If you see the words “bleached,” “refined,” or “enriched” on your bread, pasta, or other grain based products, that means it’s been processed, making it nutritionally equivalent to eating sugar. In general, try to avoid foods that contain white flour. You may not think of things like white bread as an indulgence like you would ice cream or cake, but the body converts refined carbohydrates into sugar and then glucose. This makes it nutritionally equivalent to eating a pile of sugar, a nutrient that damages collagen, making cellulite look far worse than it actually is.

Replace peanut butter with natural peanut butter.  Peanut butter can be a tasty source of good fat and protein.  Unfortunately, most peanut butters are made with partially hydrogenated soybean oil.  Hydrogenated oils contain trans fat and should be avoided whenever possible.  Many other common food products use hydrogenated oils as well.  If you see that on the ingredient list, get rid of it.

Replace canned or packaged meals with fresh, whole foods. A standard serving of deli meat contains almost 1/3 of the daily recommended intake of sodium. Canned foods can be even worse. And processed cheeses often contain nearly half a gram of salt in a quarter-cup serving. So what does this all this have to do with cellulite? High sodium foods like deli meats, bacon and cheeses cause water retention. Retaining water not only makes you look bloated and makes cellulite more visible, but it raises your blood pressure which can cause heart problems.

Replace salad dressings with organic, fat-free options. Most people think salads are good for you, regardless of what you put on top of them. Unfortunately, most salad dressings are made primarily of unhealthy, bad fats and are loaded with calories. Some brands may try to confuse you with the serving size, but rest assured you are consuming way more fat and calories than you thought. Next time you’re shopping for dressings, look for fat-free alternatives or dressings made with pure olive oil.

Avoid fast food completely. Ok, this one isn’t a replacement. Fast foods need to be cut from your diet not just because it causes cellulite, but because is is terrible for your overall health. Fast food restaurants cook their food in unhealthy oils that are loaded with trans and saturated fats and use loads of preservatives to keep food looking “fresh” for long periods of time.  If you have no choice, many chains now offer a low calorie menu. When ordering, be sure to tell them to hold all dressing like mayo and sour cream. This can eliminate hundreds of calories without sacrificing the entire meal.

You can still eat the foods you like in most cases, as long as you make some simple healthy replacements and you will see results.  This program doesn’t even require you to to reduce your calorie intake, but rather your goal should be to make the calories you do consume healthier.  This can greatly improve body your composition, regulate problem hormones, and improve your overall health even if you don’t exercise at all.

Remember, fat isn’t the enemy.  In fact, good fats like Omega 3’s are a more efficient form of energy than carbohydrates.  They are heart healthy and provide sustained energy throughout the day, as compared to simple carbs which are almost immediately stored as body fat after they are consumed.  Again, try not to associate dietary fat with body fat as many people still do these days.

Once you get in the habit of swapping out the bad fats and refined carbohydrates for lean proteins and whole grains, it becomes second nature and you won’t even miss the junk.  You’ll also notice you have a lot more energy, more sex drive in the bedroom, and a leaner, tighter looking body.

10 Foods That Fight Cellulite

Below are the ten best foods you can eat to fight cellulite. These are nutrient packed foods that help rebuild muscle, damaged collagen, and other critical tissues in your body that wear down as we age and make cellulite worse. Add these to your diet and watch your skin glow, your cellulite shrink, and your booty look better than ever.

#1 Lean Fish

Lean fish like salmon, tuna, and mackerel have the highest amounts of omega-3 fatty acids you’re going to find and are packed with nutritious protein. If you’re concerned about toxins in fish (particularly mercury), the FDA says up to 12 ounces a week is fine. Some fish contain more toxins than others, so its best to eat a variety and not just tuna. In addition, studies show adding fish to your diet can also help reduce the inflammation associated with psoriasis and even eczema.

#2 Nuts, Grains, and Seeds

A handful of walnuts (~1 ounce) gives you about the same amount of omega-3 as 3.5 ounces of salmon. Flax seeds sprinkled on your meal (or taken as a supplement) also offer a nice supply.

Sunflower seeds are also full of cellulite-busting nutrients including vitamin E, potassium, and zinc. They are a good source of selenium, with one cup providing more than a third of the recommended daily intake. Furthermore, sunflower seeds are a good source of vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 is crucial for the proper absorption of zinc from the intestines, and also plays  an important role in the metabolism of proteins and helps strengthen and repair connective tissue. However, keep in mind that seeds and nuts are high in calories, so they should be consumed in moderation.

#3 Olive Oil

Your skin needs healthy oils for proper lubrication, and olive oil is one of the healthiest (and tastiest) options. Use olive oil in place of salad dressings, cooking oils, butter, and other fats in your recipes.

#4 Fruit

While all fruits are great for healthy skin, they are also high in sugar so you need to choose wisely. Bananas are one of the foods with the highest potassium-to-sodium ratio, which makes them a good snack for women with cellulite. Sodium increases water retention which causes bloating and raises blood pressure, while potassium has the opposite effect. Furthermore, bananas are known to promote healthy blood flow in the body. Healthy blood circulation ensures that skin cells receive the nutrients they need.

#5 Veggies

Veggies are my favorite source of carbohydrates because they are lower in sugar than fruits and are packed with powerful antioxidants. Generally, you want to go for vegetables with deeper, darker colors as these tend to contain the most nutrients. Dark leafy greens like spinach and kale are must haves.

#6 Whole Grains

While bread, in general, should be avoided when possible, the key here is to replace white flour and other refined baked goods and cereals in your diet with whole grains. Refined carbohydrates are not only nutritionally empty and bad for your heart, they are linked to an inflammatory reaction that can be harmful to skin.

#7 Tea

Be it white, green, or black, studies show the polyphenols found in tea have anti-inflammatory properties that are beneficial to skin. One study published in the Archives of Dermatology found drinking 3 cups of tea a day cut eczema symptoms for 54% of those who tried it. Tea is the best replacement for coffee, soda, and other sugary caffeinated drinks because it provides an energy boost without all the negative side effects. Brew a big batch of green tea at the start of the week and throw it in the fridge. Whenever you’re craving a sugary soda or juice, have some tea instead and watch your cellulite melt and your health improve.

#8 Buckwheat

Buckwheat is a slow-burning, easily digestible whole grain that, in addition to being a complete protein, is also rich in B vitamins, lysine, and fiber. B vitamins help convert calories to energy and Lysine is an amino acid that helps repair body tissue and collagen. The next time you’re craving bread, go for one that uses buckwheat flour rather than white flour.

#9 Eggs

Egg whites are an excellent source of lactose-free lean protein and are very low in calories and fat. The egg yolk, on the other hand, is a highly debated nutritional topic because it is high in cholesterol and fat. Today, most nutrition experts agree that egg yolks aren’t nearly as bad as we once thought, because dietary cholesterol has very little influence on your actual cholesterol levels, and the yolks are a highly concentrated source of many important vitamins and minerals, including iron, iodine, zinc, and vitamins A, D, E and B12.

In addition to providing protein and a slew of vitamins and minerals, eggs can help you lose weight. Research conducted at the Rochester Centre for Obesity in America found that eating eggs for breakfast could limit the calorie intake throughout the rest of the day by more than 400 calories. This is because eggs can make you feel full for longer.

#10 Rosemary

Rosemary is a spice that stimulates circulation, making it beneficial in the treatment of cellulite. It also improves the digestion of fats and contains rosmarinic acid, a plant polyphenol that can help protect tissues from free radical damage. In addition, it is a source of ursolic acid, which facilitates collagen and elastin synthesis, strengthens the capillaries, and fights free radical damage. Rosemary can be used to flavor fish, roast meats, or add to sauces.

Sample Cellulite Diet Plan

Below is an example of a day worth of cellulite fighting meals. You’ll notice it is heavy on lean proteins and fiber-rich vegetables and comes out just under 2,000 calories. Your total calorie intake for the day may be higher or lower depending on your current height, weight, body type, etc but the macro ratios (protein/carbohydrates/fat) should remain in this range for best results.

Breakfast: Vegetable Frittata: Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat 4Â5″ glass or ceramic pie pan with cooking spray. Blend 1/2 cup liquid egg substitute, 2 tablespoons grated carrots, 3/4 cup leftover vegetables (such as broccoli, asparagus, or zucchini), and 2 ounces reduced-fat cheese. Pour mixture into pan and bake until firm, about 20 minutes. 1 slice 100% whole wheat toast with 2 teaspoons jam.

Snack: 1 cup low-sodium V8 juice or green juice

Lunch: Tuna Sandwich: Mix 3 ounces drained water-packed tuna with 1 tablespoon reduced-fat mayonnaise and 2 tablespoons finely chopped celery. Spread on 2 slices 100% whole wheat bread with lettuce and 2 slices tomato.

Snack: 1 cup low fat Greek yogurt

Dinner: 4-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breast, roasted Brussels Sprouts and Potatoes: Rub 4 ounces small red potatoes and 1 1/4 cups fresh brussels sprouts with 2 teaspoons olive oil and 1 clove garlic, minced. Bake at 350°F 25 minutes. Glazed Carrots: Combine 1 cup steamed sliced carrots with 1 tablespoon orange juice and 1 teaspoon honey.

Snack: 1/4 cup mixed nuts combined with 2 teaspoons semisweet chocolate chips

 

NUTRITIONAL INFO: 1,800 cal, 130g pro, 185g carb, 62g fat, 18g sat fat, 34g fiber, 2,000mg sodium

Try to focus on eating 6 smaller meals per day rather than 3 large ones, and include some healthy protein and fiber in each. This will not only keep you feeling full all day, but it will ramp up your metabolism like crazy, helping you burn more calories while at rest. This is a simple way to get rid of excess body fat while rebuilding important muscle and collagen tissues, no exercise required.

Conclusion

In closing… the goal of an anti-cellulite diet is not necessarily to cut calories and try to lose a lot of weight. We simply want to improve the quality of the calories we are consuming so that we can improve muscle tone, regulate problem hormones, and rebuild damaged collagen. A diet higher in lean proteins and good fats will achieve this in short order, but also offers a number of other benefits like healthier blood lipids, more energy, and better skin. Also, try eating 6 smaller meals per day rather than 3 large ones, and include some healthy protein and fiber in each. This will not only keep you feeling full all day, but it will ramp up your metabolism like crazy, helping you burn more calories while at rest. This is a simple way to get rid of excess body fat while rebuilding important muscle and collagen tissues, no exercise required.

The Top 5 Best Streaming Workout Programs for Women

best streaming workout

Fitness classes are quite taxing because they command a lot of personal dedication, but their outcome is absolutely worth their weight in gold. With such classes in high demand, a number of companies are making heaps of money by kicking folks out of bed and making them hit the gym. However, there’s a more practical and more affordable alternative: streaming workout programs from the comfort of your home. If you set aside motivation issues, they are an excellent way to do workouts without going to the gym. As a matter of fact, more and more fitness facilities are jumping on the bandwagon and adopting this concept. You won’t be compromising on quality as some of the experts have provided options to stream their videos at any time. There are lots of free trials too! Below are five of the best streaming workouts that the web has to offer…

 

1) Tracy Anderson Video Streaming Subscription

tracy anderson video streaming

This one needs little introduction: If you love Gwyneth Paltrow’s amazing physique, you may want to go directly to the source – world renowned multi-platform fitness pioneer and author Tracy Anderson. For years, she has been training Hollywood’s A-listers, but her classes are exclusive, cost prohibitive, and almost impossible for the lay person to get into. The good news is that she has recently started offering a streaming version, which will take you virtually into her training room! Tracy films her Master Class every week so you will get the same routine as what transpires in her studio classes. You can even install the cardio fly floor in your bedroom or garage for the full experience.

Price$90 per month (minimum subscription of 3 months)

Mobile Appnone

Free trialnone

Number of videosthere’s a one-hour long live class every Wednesday

 

2) Peloton

 

peloton streamingPeloton is a high-end bicycle manufacturer that now offers live spinning classes straight from its New York City studio. The principle behind the workout is remarkable especially for spin fans: purchase a bike and you’ll be given exclusive access to live and on-demand spin classes taught from the touch screen mounted on your bicycle. As for the pricing, you can download the iOS application and pay $12.99 a month for access, or as aforementioned, purchase a Peloton bike for $2,000 and subscribe for a full-year streaming at $39 a month. Note that the app subscription will not track your ride metrics, but if you can’t afford the bike, it is a cost-effective way to tune into the spinning classes.

Price$39 per month for full streaming; $5.99 per week or $12.99 per month for the app

Mobile AppiOS only

Free trial 14 days for the app

Number of videos3,000+ and live classes

 

3) Booya Fitness

booya fitness

This is one of the largest streaming workouts available today, and it offers an option for any budget because of its flexible membership schemes. Booya Fitness has collaborations with other fitness programs, like Beyond Barre and David Barton Gym. As such, it features a wide selection of workouts from chair exercises to burlesque dancing to kickboxing. But on the whole, the workouts are classified into four categories including boot camps, cardio, yoga, and strength/toning. Booya has a rotating daily featured video that’s free for all users and subscribers can avail of themed workout plans by shelling out a few more bucks a month.

Price$9.99 a month

Mobile Appnone

Free trial30 days

Number of videos60+

 

4) FitFusion by Jillian Michaels

fit fusion

FitFusion is perfect if you are a fan of workout celebrities like Tara Stiles, Billy Blanks, and Mike Donavanik. In essence, it’s like the Netflix of fitness videos that brings together more than 20 top trainers in everything from dance to yoga to prenatal workouts. The subscription scheme is quite unique because you can purchase videos outright or opt for a monthly all-access. And if all you want is Jillian’s shred videos, there is a rental and download plan. For a few bucks, you can rent any workout clip and for a few bucks more, you can already download your preferred video.

Price$9.99 a month

Mobile AppAndroid and iOS

Free trial14 days

Number of videos260+

 

5) Ballet Beautiful

ballet beautiful

The brainchild of Mary Helen Bowers, an American celebrity fitness guru and former New York City Ballet dancer, Ballet Beautiful successfully brings ballet-inspired exercises to the public. It has grown considerably within a short period, which is not surprising at all because Bowers’ physique does the advertising itself. Her streaming workouts are short but potent, covering everything from swan arms to ball exercises in just 20 minutes or less. But what really sets this program apart is its technology: the workouts are interactive since the instructors can view subscribers in their homes via Skype and provide real-time feedback.

Price: $280 a month for the live classes, $39.99 Custom Workout Monthly Subscription or $9.99 for individual streaming videos.

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Bowflex TreadClimber TC200 Review

bowflex treadclimber tc200

The Bowflex TreadClimber TC200 is a revolutionary combination of three pieces of cardio equipment with features from a treadmill, an elliptical, and a stair climber. It represents the latest top-of-the-line product in the TreadClimber family and includes a Goal Tracking feature to help set, monitor and achieve your fitness objectives. It is essentially a newer version of the TC20 and an upgraded variant of the TC100. As the premium option in the product range, the Bowflex TC200 is certainly not the cheapest of its kind in the market, but if you’re looking for the best TreadClimber with top-notch features, this is your best bet. It is what you can consider a light commercial grade equipment with high-quality parts, and it is backed by an excellent warranty and guarantee.

 

Design and Features

The primary objective behind the design of the TreadClimber TC200 is quite simple. Take the finest features from the most effective calorie-burning cardio equipment in the market and combine them into a single piece of innovative machine.

In principle, this is more cost-effective because the TreadClimber is priced roughly the same as a top-rated treadmill or elliptical. The question is, how does it measure up in practice? Bear in mind that it is not an equipment designed for runners. Even though the belts boast a higher top speed than the previous TC100, they are still restricted to 4.5 mph, which is a long way off traditional treadmills with belt speeds of 12 mph and higher.

The TC200 was developed specifically for walking workouts, wherein you can utilize a combination of incline and resistance levels to regulate the intensity of your exercise routine. This makes the TreadClimber perfect for all fitness levels. It allows you to enjoy impressive muscle tone and rapid calorie burn that are normally reserved for runners.

Use the console to control the speed of the belts, anywhere between 0.5 and 4.5 mph. You can also adjust the level of the hydraulic cylinders on both sides of the frame. This will alter the movement of the treadles to which the belts wrap around. In essence, the treadles function in the same manner as the running deck on a treadmill. The primary benefit with the TreadClimber is that tread elevates to meet your foot, thereby providing a lower impact workout similar to elliptical pedaling. This is further supplemented by what Bowflex calls its ‘Easy Step’ Shock system.

This hybrid fitness machine allows you to take short strides that replicate climbing and elliptical training. You can also power walk with a maximum footpath of 58 inches. The stride length changes with the automated incline. The different incline settings make it easy for you to concentrate on toning muscle groups in the lower body like the glutes and calves.

Depending on the angle you choose for your workout, the rate of calorie burn with the TC200 can be up to 2.5 times quicker than it is on a conventional treadmill at the same speed. Built-in customizable programs offer interval training and workouts for distance, time, and calorie goals. In addition, you will receive free access to the four Motion Traxx workouts online. Up to four users can save profiles in the console and workout data can be transferred via Bluetooth to a Bowflex mobile app and then shared with fitness apps.

As for safety, there is a Safety Key port that will protect you in case you lose your balance and fall. One end of the key is attached to your clothing while the other is connected to the console through a short lanyard. The rationale behind such setup is that if you move too far from the console, the Safety Key will detach and the belts will immediately stop moving.

 

The Good

The Bowflex TreadClimber TC200 is a low-impact alternative to conventional cardio trainers. This three-in-one hybrid fitness equipment can replace a treadmill, elliptical and stair climber- all with higher calorie burn and lower joint impact for comfort, endurance and safety. The TreadClimber lets you reap the benefits of running without exceeding 4.5 mph. It has four built-in programs, four online programs and a coaching technology that provides workout guidelines for optimum results. Wireless telemetry shows heart rate data and a color-coded indicator helps you perform your exercise routine at the best intensity level. The TC200 has been upgraded with Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity for monitoring workout stats. It is a premium fitness machine that is durable, easy to assemble, compact for home use and sold with a three-year warranty and a money-back guarantee. Also commendable are the transport wheels, a built-in USB charging port and water bottle and tablet holder.

 

The Bad

The BowFlex TreadClimber TC200 is ideal for walking but cannot be used for running because the top speed is only 4.5 mph. Also, some may not take to the split track or treadle design, especially those with smaller physique because the treadles may seem far apart. The TC200 costs more than a high quality elliptical and it has fewer bells and whistles than most treadmills. It is bigger, heavier and costs $1,000 more than the TC100.

 

The Bottom Line

The Bowflex TreadClimber TC200 is the top-rated model in one of the most advanced and sophisticated product lines to hit the fitness market in a long time. It is a high-quality alternative to treadmills, ellipticals and stair steppers. It is comfortable to use, gentler on the body, effective in blasting calories, and equipped with mobile data sharing and helpful training programs. Its biggest potential downside for shoppers is the MSRP of $3,299, which explains why its predecessor is more popular. However, it fits your budget it is a worthwhile purchase.

 

6 Stair Climber Benefits You Need to Know

stair climber

The stair climber machine is truly your stairway to a stare-worthy physique. Think of it as a miniature escalator that delivers a low-impact workout but burns tons of calories by engaging the largest muscles in the body. It also strengthens the core and tones the glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves.

There’s a variety of exercises that you can perform using this fantastic piece of equipment. To get you going, here are four stair climber workouts:

Single Step, Double Step. Climbing one step at a time works out your quads, which should start to burn after about two minutes. Try to keep your arms by your side to make it more physically challenging. The double step means you’ll skip one step and then alternate legs. This effectively targets your glutes and hamstrings. Do both steps to get a full leg workout. It is recommended to try five sets of alternating between single step and double step for two minutes at a time.

Squats. Stand with your feet approximately shoulder-width apart, then start the stair climber at a slow speed. Squat down then hop onto the next stair. Make sure that you bend your knees when you land. Keep your hands on the siderails to maintain your balance.

Leg Lifts. Kick your right leg back and hold for one second. Step up one step and then alternate legs, this time kicking back and stepping up with the left. Keep your leg straight and don’t arch your back.

Crossover Steps. Step up with your right foot and place it on the next step where your left foot would normally land. Next, step up with your left foot and place it on the next step where your right foot would normally land. The idea is to move laterally, crossing one leg over the other as you climb to the next step. This exercise is great for toning your butt.

Once you have mastered the machine and wish to try a more advanced workout, you can try climbing while holding dumbbells. Always remember to keep your back straight, look straight ahead, and only use the handrails to maintain balance, not to take any weight off your legs.

Now that you’re familiar with the stair climber and its uses, let’s get to the meat of the matter: the benefits of using stair climbers.

 

Cardiovascular Conditioning

Climbing stairs increases heart rate and breathing, thereby accelerating oxygen uptake of the working muscles. If you perform stair climbing on a regular basis, it can decrease the time it takes for oxygenated blood to reach the working muscles, improving your cardiovascular endurance. This will ultimately improve your overall ability to sustain extended periods of daily activities.

In addition, stair climbing can significantly improve VO2 Max which pertains to the maximum amount of oxygen that your body can utilize during aerobic workout. Note that oxygen intake is the most important limiting factor in exercise. The more oxygen you can take in, the longer you’ll be able to exercise. When you use the stair climber, your heart and lungs need to work hard in order to supply the oxygen that the body needs to sustain your workout. So the more you push into the training zone, you’ll achieve greater improvement in your VO2 Max and cardiovascular endurance.

 

Low Impact and Versatile

Stair climbers offer an easy and low impact exercise that is gentle on your back, knees, and ankles. Stair climbing is an effective technique of exercising for individuals who are pregnant, overweight, dealing with injury or just commencing an exercise program. Even though the activity is low impact, you don’t have to sacrifice intensity. The stair climber’s versatility allows even fitness enthusiasts to integrate the workout to their fitness level without any serious pounding on the joints. Most motorized stair climbers come with various workout programs like aerobic training, interval training, sprints, and hills to optimize the workout and keep you motivated. The machine is also ideal for incorporating into a circuit workout. Use it in conjunction with other cardio equipment to give yourself a full-body exercise.

 

Muscle Conditioning

Stair climbers are great for providing resistance to the abdominals, glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves enabling you to sculpt your lower body. Motorized stair climbers will also allow you to control the resistance of the movement. It is recommended to choose a stair climber with independent pedal action that forces you to push down and then raise the leg, thereby activating both the front and back side. You are essentially targeting the lower body with rapid repetition and variable resistance style of training that moves the legs through a full range of motion. Moreover, stair climbing concentrates on areas where women tend to accumulate fat. Using the stair climber allows you to work every major muscle of your legs about 120 times a minute. This means you are performing mega high repetition sets, which is a very effective way to gain lean and fat-free muscle.

 

Core Strengthening

When you’re using a stair climber, the steps just keep coming at you, so after a while you’ll likely feel like slouching over to have a break. However, if you stay upright with your core engaged, you are effectively strengthening your abdominals and muscles of the lower back. The hip action involved is also engaging the intercostals and external obliques. This all adds up to an effective core exercise while you are working the rest of the body.

 

Weight Loss

Stair climbers are effective calorie burners and they are reportedly four times more efficient than the conventional treadmill. The number of calories that you can burn actually depends on your weight. The heavier you are, the more calories you’ll burn because your body is moving against higher resistance with every step. For example, a 68 kg person will burn 91 calories in 10 minutes, while a person weighing 81 kg will churn through 109 calories during the same period.

An hour of working out on the stair climber will allow a 68 kg person to burn 546 calories. It has been found that in order to lose a pound of fat, a deficit of 7,000 calories is required. This means that a daily workout for an hour will make that person lose half a pound of body fat per week.

Stair climbers also train the larger muscles of the body which helps increase your resting metabolic rate over time. The resistance increases lean muscle tissue, thereby raising the number of calories you burn at rest. Moreover, stair climbers increase the number of mitochondria within cells. This is important because, these “powerhouses of the cell” contain all the enzymes involved in aerobic energy production and controlling fat burning at rest.

 

Conclusion

There is only a handful of cardiovascular exercise equipment that can match the multiple benefits offered by stair climbers. From boosting your VO2 Max to strengthening muscle to losing weight, stair climbers do it all. So if you haven’t added this amazing piece of fitness machine into your exercise regimen, it’s about time to step up to the stair climber challenge!

The Anti-Cellulite Workout Guide for Women

cellulite workout

Although nothing can replace the benefits of aerobic exercise for the heart and lungs, aerobic training does not tone muscle or burn fat at anywhere near the level of resistance training. The biggest mistake I see in my profession is too many women putting all their focus on cardio thinking it will help them lose weight faster than lifting weights. This simply isn’t the case.

Resistance training has a number of benefits over cardio training. In addition to the positive visual changes that result from proper resistance training (you get a booty by squatting, not by running) there are numerous health benefits that only resistance training can provide for women, such as:

  • Slowing down the aging of the skeleton and improving bone mass – this is especially important as we get older since women are more likely to suffer from osteo pyrosis than men.
  • Improving the strength and function of tendons and ligaments – the more muscle you have to support your joints, the less pain and stiffness you will have later in life.
  • Building muscle revs up your resting metabolism – for every pound of lean muscle you build, an additional 50 calories per day will be burned while at rest.
  • Replacing the 1/2 pound of muscle that we lose each year as we age beginning at around the age of 30.

Many women have an unfounded impression that lifting weights will make them big and bulky like a man. This is simply not true. Women have far less testosterone than men, which makes it difficult for them to build large bulky muscles. You’d have to be training very hard for a long time in order to reach a rippling muscly physique.

Women naturally have more body fat than men as well, which means even if you build a LOT of muscle you’ll still retain a softer, more slender body than a man.

This part of the program is heavily targeted at the common problem areas for cellulite; the gluteals and hamstrings. It is not aimed at fat loss. You won’t have to spend hours in the gym every day doing full body training. For those who do want to lose some fat, I’ve included some low-intensity cardio exercises toward the end of the chapter. Many people don’t know this, but there is a specific heart rate range that is ideal for burning fat, and going over this means more effort for fewer results.

 

Key Muscle Groups

Here we will review the target muscle groups you will be focusing on. These are the muscles that make up your butt, thighs, and upper legs.

Gluteal Muscles

The gluteals (or ‘glutes’) are the group of 3 muscles that make up your butt; the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus. Besides determining the shape of your backside, they also affect what size jeans you wear, and how much cellulite you have. Let’s dive deeper into each of the three:

The gluteus maximus is the largest of the gluteal group. Its origin is the posterior line of the upper ilium, the posterior surface of the lower sacrum, and the side of the coccyx (don’t worry about memorizing all that). The lower and larger portion of the gluteus maximus ends with a thick tendon that passes through the hip and into the iliotibial band.

The function of the gluteus maximus is primarily thigh extension. So think about thrusting the leg in a backward motion from a squat position. Example exercises are bent-leg deadlifting, leg press, and squat.

The gluteus medius originates on the outer surface of the ilium above and in front of the anterior gluteal line. The insertion of the gluteus medius converges on a tendon that attaches to the lateral surface of your hip joint.

The gluteus minimus originates in front from the outer surface of the ilium between the anterior and inferior gluteal lines. In back, it originates from the margin of the greater sciatic notch. It inserts on the deep surface of a radiated aponeurosis via a tendon that attaches to the anterior border of the greater trochanter.

The two smaller gluteal muscles perform similar functions. With the knee extended, they abduct the thigh out to the side away from the opposite leg. When running, they stabilize the leg. With the hips flexed, they internally rotate the thigh. With the hips extended, they externally rotate the thigh.

This is the most important muscle group to train for women with cellulite since these muscles make up most of the area where cellulite tends to develop. In the next section I’ll show you exactly how to train these muscles to get maximum results with minimum effort.

The Hamstrings

The Hamstrings also consist of three muscles; the Biceps Femoris muscle, the Semitendinosus muscle, and the Semimembranosus muscle. These muscles combined are primarily responsible for the flexion of the knee joint (bending of the knee) as well as assisting the extension of the thigh (moving the upper leg backwards).  In addition to these functions the hamstring muscles work in tandem to rotate the knee, assist in maintaining a standing position with knees slightly bent as well as limiting how far we can bend forward as we try to touch our toes without bending our knees. The hamstring muscles also play a role in our posture by assisting to straighten out the lower curvature of the spine which curves the pelvis forward when sitting.

Let’s look at each of the 3 muscles a little closer:

The origin attachment point of the Biceps Femoris muscle arises as two heads from the Ischial Tuberosity region of the pelvis as a tendon which is shares with the Semitendinous muscle. Another shorter head arises from the outside edged of the Linea Aspera. The fibers of the short head merge into those of the long head, which then have an insertion attachment point on the head of the fibula.

The Semitendinosus muscle has an origin attachment point from the Ischial Tuberosity region of the pelvis as a tendon shared with the biceps femurs. and has an insertion attachment point on the upper shaft of the tibia.

The  Semimembranosus muscle has an origin attachment point from just in front of the Semitendinosus muscle on the Ischial Tuberosity region and has  five insertion attachment points the main one on the posterior portion of the medial condyle of the tibia a second insertion point is the fascia which covers the Popliteus muscle and the remainder insert joining the Tibial Collateral ligament of the joint and the fascia of the leg.

Behind the glutes, the hamstrings are the second most common area for cellulite to materialize. Many women have cellulite on their butt and it often extends down the upper thighs, which is where the hamstrings lie. This is the other section of the body where we will put a lot of focus, mostly through compound movements that work both the gluteal muscles and the hamstrings at once.

 

Compound Movements vs Isolation Movements

Resistance training is comprised of two types of movements; compound and isolation. 

Compound movements give you the dost bang for your buck, because 8-10 exercises can stimulate all the major muscles in the body and create the greatest change in body composition in the shortest amount of time. As an added bonus, compound exercises help develop the body proportionately.

Compound exercises also increase strength and size far more effectively than single-joint, isolation exercises. This doesn’t mean that single-joint exercises are ineffective. Exercises that isolate certain muscles and muscle groups do have an important role in fitness, especially for advanced lifters. However, if your schedule calls for reduced exercise time, compound exercises are the way to go.

Examples of compound exercises:

  • Squats
  • Leg Press
  • Lunges


Then there are isolation movements which focus on one specific muscle or muscle group.  These are important for toning specific problem areas that you may have.  In our case the only isolation moves we will bother with are ones that target the hamstrings and glutes.

Examples of isolation exercises:

  • Leg Curls
  • Hip Abduction
  • Hip Extension

 

Compound Exercises

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s review the most important compound exercises you’ll need to tone your problem areas and fight cellulite. This will be the primary part of your workout program.

Squats

When it comes to building your bum, there is no single exercise more important that the squat. Not only is it the queen exercise of butt building, but it also burns a ton of calories, improves your cardiovascular system, and helps your body release more human growth hormone. 

An important tip for women who want to build their glutes without adding a lot of muscle to their quads (the front side of your thighs) is to go “wide and high”. Keeping a wider stance and your weight shifted back will put more focus on your glutes and less on your quads. Most of us spend the majority of our day sitting, which causes the gluteal muscles to weaken and makes us rely more heavily on our quads and hamstrings.

If you want to crank things up a notch, add single leg squats to your routine. This puts your body in an unbalanced position, so you’ll have to recruit untapped muscle fibers in order to maintain your balance. This small change can make a world of difference in your progress.   

To perform a single leg squat, just hold one leg out in front of you, raise your arms in front to aid in balance, and squat down keeping your upper body as upright as possible. Another variation of the single leg squat is the split squat.

To perform a split squat, simply place one leg up on a bench (or other flat surface) behind you, while standing on the other leg straight underneath you. Hold a pair of dumbbells at your side and slowly bend the leg you’re standing on to move into the squat position.  Then simply straighten your leg until you’re at the top of the position. After you’ve finished all your reps on that side, you then repeat the exercise standing on the other foot.

Leg Press

While the squat is considered the queen of all leg exercises, the leg press is another popular leg builder of the royal family. It is performed in a similar fashion as a squat, except it is done on a machine.  A leg press machine will have shoulder pads and a flat area for your feet.  It is often horizontal or at a 45 degree angle.  To perform a leg press simply place your feet shoulder width apart, and slightly in front of you. The further forward your feet are, the more focus it will put on your hamstrings vs your quads.

Lunges

Lunges are another killer compound exercise you can perform at home or at the gym.  They work all the upper leg muscles, but especially the glutes and hamstrings which are the most important for us.  To perform a lunge, stand straight up with your feet shoulder width apart.  Take a large step forward and lunge until your rear knee almost touches the ground.  Your front knee should be at a 90 degree angle.  Then, simply push off with your front leg to return to the standing position.  Alternate between your left and right legs.  This exercise is more effective when done with dumbbells, but you can also do it at home with just your body weigh and more reps.

Deadlifts

Deadlifts are another one of the most powerful compound movements you can perform if you want to maximize results in the shortest amount of time. The deadlift effectively targets all major muscle groups in the lower body as well as the back, and can hit other muscle groups as well with just a few small tweaks.

To perform a basic deadlift, place a barbell on the ground so it is balancing on top of the weight plates. Walk up to the bar so that it is centered over your feet. Your feet should be about hip-width apart. Bend at the hip and grip the bar at shoulder-width  with an alternating grip.

With your feet and your grip set, take a big breath and then lower your hips and flex the knees until your shins contact the bar. Keep your chest up and your back arched, and begin driving through the heels to move the weight upward (keeping the bar close to your body on the way up).

After the bar passes the knees aggressively pull the bar back, pulling your shoulder blades together as you drive your hips forward into the bar.

Lower the bar back to the ground by bending at the hips and guiding it to the floor.

If you prefer not to use a barbell, this exercise can also be performed using two dumbbells (see photos below). 

Bridges

Bridges are a great exercise for toning your glutes and can be performed anywhere, since all you need is a floor. If you want to add more resistance, you can grab a barbell at the gym and place it along your waist as you perform the bridge.

To perform a bridge, lie flat on your back on a mat with your knees bent pointing up to the ceiling and your arms at your sides. Simply raise your pelvis up toward the ceiling to a point where your body will be at a about a 45 degree angle relative to the floor. At the top of the movement, be sure to really flex your butt for a one-count. Return to the start position and repeat. 

Box Jumps

Box jumps are another good compound movement that work all of the muscles in your problem area without the need for any weights for fancy equipment. These not only work your glutes and hamstrings, but they get your heart rate up into that fat burning range, making them a great replacement for cardio.

To perform a box jump you’ll want to find a hard, flat object that is at least knee high. It can be much higher, but this can be dangerous if you’re not experienced and have good flexibility. If you’re at home you can use a small table or other similar object, just be absolutely sure it is sturdy and won’t flip over or you could seriously hurt yourself. If you’re at a gym, there should be no shortage of objects you can use for box jumping.

To perform this exercise place a box 1-2 feet in front of you and stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Perform a short squat in preparation for jumping, swinging your arms behind you.

Rebound out of this position, extending through the hips, knees, and ankles to jump as high as possible. Swing your arms forward and up.

Land on the box with the knees bent, absorbing the impact through the legs. You can jump from the box back to the ground, or preferably step down one leg at a time.

With box jumps, form is everything. Focus on keeping perfect form and doing slower, lower repetitions. 

 

Isolation Exercises

Isolation exercises are resistance exercises that target a single muscle rather than multiple muscles like compound movements. They are good for building specific problem areas, but they do not burn as much fat and calories as the exercises we’ve discussed so far. That said, they are easier to perform than exercises like squats and deadlifts and are still useful for targeting the hamstrings and gluteals.

Leg Curl

The leg curl is similar to a bicep curl, except for your legs.  It works the hamstrings specifically, which is a problem area for most cellulite sufferers.  To perform a leg curl, lay down horizontally on the leg curl machine.  Place your ankles under the padded curl bar.  Set the appropriate weight, and curl your legs towards your rear as far as you can.  Then, slowly release back down to full extension.  Do this slowly for 15-20 reps to tone the hamstrings. 

Glute Ham Raise

The glute ham raise is a little known exercise that is gaining popularity.  It primarily works the hamstrings, but also the gluteals.  To perform the glute ham raise, you will need to anchor your feet. Find a lip on something, either a machine or a bed or one of those ab benches. Face down, anchor your heels underneath the lip, and if you are not on a pad you will want to place a towel under your knees.

Starting with your feet anchored and your knees bent at 90 degrees, slowly lower your upper body to the floor. You will probably need to catch yourself at the bottom, at least in the beginning, so you don’t smash your nose. Chances are you will also need to give yourself a slight push off the floor in order to get moving up again. Use your hamstrings to pull yourself back up. 

To perform this at home, you can push your toes under a couch and use it to brace yourself, or you can have a partner hold your ankles down.

Hip Abduction

Hip abduction works the outer thighs and sides of the hamstrings.  There are multiple exercises that can be performed in a gym or at home.  A hip abduction machine consists of a seat and two padded areas for your feet.  To perform machine hip abduction, sit down with your feet on the designated areas.  Your knees should be pointed straight forward.  Set the appropriate weight, and push your legs outward, away from each other.  You should reach at least a 90 degree angle between your legs.  Then, slowly release until your legs are straight forward.

Hip Extensions

Hip extensions are a great way to tone your glutes and hamstrings.  To perform a kneeling hip extension, get on your hands and knees (with or without ankle weights).  Kick one leg out behind you as high as you can and hold it for 2-3 seconds.  Then, return to your knee.  Do 15-25 repetitions and then switch to the other leg and repeat. 

The standing hip extension is another type of hip extension.  To perform a standing hip extension, stand up straight and simply extend one leg out behind you as far as you can.  You should be able to reach approximately 45 degrees.  Then, return to the original position and repeat for 15-25 reps.  Do this for both legs, one at a time.  This should be done with a cable or ankle weights if possible.  It also may help to put one foot on a slightly raised surface, like a step.

 

Low-Intensity Cardio for Cellulite

Low-intensity cardio is a type of cardio training that focuses more on burning fat than exercising the heart and lungs and is much different than high-intensity cardio.

The breakdown of fats in your body is called lipolysis. The enzyme in the body that is responsible for lipolysis is called lipase. Lipase turns fats into three unbound fatty acids (FFA) and one glycerol molecule. Mobilization is the breakdown of triglycerides into glycerol and FFA’s for energy. So you can think of mobilization as breaking down fat in your body for future possible use. Oxidation is the point at which the fatty acids that were mobilized were actually burned.

Studies have shown that as the intensity of exercise increases, the lower the amount of FFA’s (fats that have been mobilized) there are in your bloodstream. This is because during low-intensity cardio, the rate at which oxidation occurs in FFA’s in much higher than in high-intensity cardio. This may seem counterintuitive, but it’s actually not that simple. Doing high-intensity cardio can actually burn more fat than low-intensity cardio because you burn more total calories overall (assuming you’re exercising for the same amount of time).

Let’s say you burned 200 calories doing low-intensity cardio and 90% of those calories came from fat. That means you burned 180 calories of fat and 20 from other sources. If you had done high-intensity cardio during that same time period, you may have burned 300 calories and 75% of those calories were burned from fat. That means you burned 225 calories from fat and 75 calories from other sources. These are just estimates, but you get the idea.

The point I’m getting to here, is that you don’t need to strain yourself sprinting on a treadmill or biking to exhaustion to burn fat. Doing lower intensity cardio exercises that also build muscle are a more efficient way to drop excess fat while building and toning your thighs and butt. Below are two examples of low-intensity cardio exercises you can add to the END of your workouts if you want to time effectively drop some body fat.

Uphill Walking

When it comes to cardio training, there are few better exercises to tone the glutes than uphill walking (or jogging).  This is best done on a treadmill while setting the incline to 10% or higher. Keep your pace between speed walking and slow jogging. If you don’t have access to a treadmill you can obviously find an uphill area in your neighborhood and simply walk up it.

Stair Climbing

Stairs are another great way to burn fat and work on your butt at the same time.  Stair climbs can be performed anywhere, whether on a machine or on a staircase in your home or apartment.  If you don’t have a full size staircase you can simply do step-ups, which involves repetitively stepping up and down on a single step (or bench).

During both of these exercises, focus on keeping your heart rate at 70% of your max.  If you’re using a machine at the gym it should be equipped with monitor this for you. If not, use your best judgment.  You should feel your heart rate beating faster than normal, but not as fast as during, say, a sprint.  You should be slightly winded but not gasping for air.

 

How to Train for Cellulite Reduction

Let’s explore some basic principals of how women should resistance train:

  1. As a general rule, women should perform exercises at a weight that allows them to complete 15 to 25 repetitions; with the last few repetitions feeling a bit challenging. It is those last few reps that really matter, not the first 10.
  2. Perform 3-4 sets of each exercise, never more than that. Be sure to stretch beforehand and perform a warm-up set with lower weight if needed.
  3. Your routine should be performed at a fairly fast pace. This does not mean rushing through your sets. It means after completing a set, you should allow only a few minutes max before you begin your next set. This keeps your heart rate up, which keeps you in the fat burning range throughout your workout. It also prevents you from needlessly spending hours in the gym every day. If you find certain muscles getting too tired to keep pace, you can try alternating exercises.
  4. Focus on using perfect form, especially when performing body weight exercise (without additional weights). If you want to build and shape the perfect butt without getting bulky, form is what will get you there. Perform each rep very slowly and focus on keeping the target muscles tight.
  5. Don’t overdo it. You only need to train 3-4 times per week. Any more than that is overtraining, which will only hurt your progress. You should be feeling pretty sore the day after a workout. If you are, consider taking a day off and focusing on your diet. Remember, resistance training breaks down your muscles and the food you eat rebuilds it stronger than before.

 

Sample Training Schedule

Below is a sample schedule you can follow that will build your bottom and melt your cellulite in less than 3 hours PER WEEK.  Plus, you get the weekends off!

Monday: 30 minutes resistance training / 20 minutes low-intensity cardio

Tuesday: 30 minutes resistance training

Wednesday: Rest

Thursday: 30 minutes resistance training / 20 minutes low-intensity cardio

Friday: 30 minutes resistance training

Saturday: Rest

Sunday: Rest

How to Get Rid of Cellulite Naturally

cellulite

Up to 90 percent of all women have some amount of cellulite on their body. And while cellulite can affect women of any age, it is especially prevalent in women over 35 and typically gets more noticeable as we get older.  For most, it is a major source of embarrassment and it is notoriously difficult to get rid of. Because of this, there is a large and growing cellulite treatment industry taking aim at solving this globally widespread problem. Unfortunately, nearly all of the “quick fix” products out there short of surgery tend to leave buyers disappointed with the results. But why is this? For starters, let’s discuss the inner workings of cellulite and some of its common root causes.

While it doesn’t look like what we commonly refer to as ‘fat’, the truth is that cellulite is just the same as any other fat on your body. The difference in appearance is simply due to that fat bulging through your skin.  Despite what you may have heard about “trapped toxins” or poor circulation, cellulite is nothing more than ordinary body fat. Several scientific studies have confirmed this, and anyone telling you otherwise is likely trying to sell you something.  The ‘toxin’ theory was fabricated by marketers in the cellulite industry long ago and is unfortunately still around today.

The truth is, everyone has strands of fibrous tissue that separate fat cells into compartments and connect fat to the skin. In women, these fibers form a honeycomb-shaped pattern, so any increase in fat can cause it to bulge out like stuffing in a mattress. Because fat is very soft, it doesn’t keep our skin taut like muscle does. It also takes up more space, which makes it bulge out even further. 

You see less cellulite in men because they genetically have a lower body fat percentage and store fat differently than women. Men tend to deposit fat in the stomach region where the skin is thicker and more padded, thus you don’t normally see the cottage cheese appearance there.  Women tend to store fat in the lower body where the skin is thinner, making the orange peel look much more visible.

Though cellulite affects women of all ages, it does get worse with age. That’s because those strands of fibrous tissue thicken with age, and our skin also gets thinner and looser, allowing the cellulite fat to bulge through making it more noticeable. More importantly, the average woman loses 5lb of muscle and replaces it with about 15lb of fat every decade of her adult life.  This combination makes cellulite much more abundant, and much more visible.

Now the good news. It is possible for ANY woman to reduce or eliminate the appearance of cellulite. However, you should know by now that there are no pills, creams, massages, or any other gimmicks that can magically get rid of your cellulite overnight.  What you can do is adjust your diet, tone the muscles in specific areas, and use smart supplementation to regulate hormones and improve skin elasticity. You may not want to hear it, but getting rid of cellulite is hard work and requires some permanent lifestyle changes. I

 

Causes of Cellulite

There are several factors that contribute to your cellulite problem, some you can help and some you can’t. No single thing can be blamed 100% and there is no silver bullet that can get rid of cellulite for everyone. Lets start out by taking a closer look at each of these contributing factors so we can learn how to combat them and eliminate the root causes of our cellulite.

Heredity: This is the only contributing factor that we cannot fight.  Many women are genetically sensitive to getting cellulite.  This is mainly due to your body type and its preferred placement of body fat.  Some women just tend to store more fat in the thighs and butt than other women do.  There’s nothing you can do about it.  Does this mean it’s a lost cause and there’s nothing you can do?  Absolutely not.  Just because you’re genetically more prone to cellulite, doesn’t mean you can’t get rid of it.  It just may take a little more work to get the results you want.

Lack of the Appropriate Type of Exercise: This is one of the most common contributing factors when it comes to cellulite.  The amount and visibility of cellulite you have is correlated with your overall body composition. If your body fat percentage is higher, you have a much higher chance of having cellulite.

Fortunately, you don’t necessarily have to lose weight to get rid of cellulite.  Women with more muscle mass in the thighs and buttocks have significantly less cellulite than women who don’t.  But not to worry. You don’t need to hire a personal trainer and spend hours in the gym every day. A few simple resistance training exercises and an adjustment in your diet can quickly build muscle and tighten your skin without a need to kill yourself in the gym and lose a lot of weight. It’s a lot easier than you’d think, and we’ll go over this in detail later in the book.  While fat loss is helpful in reducing cellulite, we’re going to take the path of least resistance and target only the most problematic areas.

Hormonal Changes: The food we eat in today’s modern times is loaded with chemicals, hormones, refined sugars, and bad fats. Cellulite was much less of a problem even 30 years ago when foods were more natural and less processed.  Poor dietary choices along with the high-stress environment we live in can cause hormonal problems for many women.  Fortunately, you can combat these hormonal changes by making some simple changes in your diet and lifestyle.  Our main focus will be to combat the overproduction of estrogen and cortisol.  We will go into more detail on this in a later chapter.

Improper Diet: A bad diet not only increases your overall body fat, but it also can lead to hormonal changes, as we just discussed.  Consuming the wrong fats and refined carbohydrates can lead to estrogen imbalance and cause and excess fat storage in the thighs, hips, and butt. But not to worry. You don’t need to cut out all the foods you love or starve yourself on some crazy fad diet. Rather than reducing our calorie intake and trying to lose weight, we’re going to focus on some simple replacements for common problems foods you’re probably eating.

The two key factors here are to replace bad fats with good ones, and to replace refined carbohydrates with whole grains and protein.  A few small changes can greatly improve your body composition without the need for weight loss and with no exercise required.  These simple replacements can also help regulate problem hormones and improve your overall health.

 

Common Cellulite Treatment Myths

Here are some commonly marketed products that claim to eliminate cellulite.  In each case I will show you what the marketer claims, and then my response to those claims as a trainer and nutritionist.

Massage Treatments (Endermologie)

In 1998, the FDA approved a high-powered, handheld massage tool that consists of a treatment head and two motorized rollers with a suction device that compresses the affected tissue between the two rollers. The manufacturer is permitted to promote it for “temporarily improving the appearance of cellulite.” The procedure usually takes 10 to 20 treatments to get started, and one or two maintenance treatments per month are required to maintain effects.

As you can see, they are only allowed to market it as a temporary fix, and even then, it’s not very noticeable.  Any results you see from massage treatment comes from swelling in the area.  When you massage a muscle intensely, it increases blood flow and swelling, which temporarily tightens the skin.  This makes cellulite slightly less noticeable for a short time.  This is just not a practical long term solution for cellulite.

Ginkgo Biloba Extract

Claim: It assists in blood circulation and stimulates the metabolism of fats.

Although ginkgo can increase circulation, it does not stimulate fat metabolism. Even if it did, there is no reason why it would exert a localized effect.

Sweet Clover Extract

Claim: It can increase blood circulation and assist in removing fluid build-up.

This supplement may have mild diuretic action, but “fluid build-up” is not a significant factor in the appearance or composition cellulite.

Grape Seed Bioflavonoids

Claim: Powerful antioxidants that protect cells and blood vessels from damage.

Whether antioxidant supplements help protect tissues is not scientifically settled. Regardless, any such mechanism has nothing to do with the quantity or appearance of fatty tissues.

Fucus Vesiculosus Extract

Claim: It stimulates metabolism and can help reduce localized fats.

This herb contains significant amounts of iodine and could adversely effect the thyroid gland. The U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance (USRDA) for iodine is 150 micrograms. The average American woman ingests 170 micrograms per day from food (not including iodized salt).

Soy Lecithin

Claim: It helps to break down fats.

The body makes all the lecithin it needs. Lecithin supplements do not cause the body to shed additional fat.

Body Wrapping

Many salons and spas exist where clients supposedly can trim inches off the waist, hips, thighs, and other areas of the body. These facilities use wraps or garments, with or without special lotions or creams applied to the skin. The garments may be applied to parts of the body or to the entire body. Clients are typically assured that fat will “melt away” and they can lose “up to 2 inches from those problem areas in just one hour.

If you use common sense, you should know that you can’t just melt away fat and lose 2 inches in an hour.  If you could, nobody would ever exercise.  This is just another gimmick that alters blood flow temporarily, which may make you look leaner in certain areas for a short period.  This is not a lasting or practical answer to your problem.

Cellulite Creams

There are hundreds of cellulite creams available to you, many claiming they can eliminate the appearance of cellulite in just minutes.  The key word here is “appearance”. They don’t do much, if anything, to actually fix the problem, and the FTC is constantly shutting these companies down and forcing them to refund millions of dollars to unsatisfied customers.  Here’s why these creams don’t work:

You are not legally allowed to sell a topical product over the counter that penetrates deeper than the outer layers of the skin (epidermis).  So if this cream can’t even reach your cellulite, how can it get rid of it?  Again, all it can do is cause swelling.  Experts unanimously agree that any temporary effects you get from a cellulite cream is due to increased blood flow in the skin. This can reduce the appearing for a short time, but does nothing to actually get rid of cellulite.

 

Cellulite Causing Hormones

Hormones are a key contributor to the appearance of cellulite.  There are two in particular that are major offenders; estrogen and cortisol.  If not controlled, these hormones can increase fat storage in the problem areas and also break down collagen fibers in the skin.  This is an important piece of the puzzle that is often ignored by other cellulite treatments, which is unfortunate because it’s quite simple to fix.

Let’s discuss these hormones in more detail show you some simple ways to keep them in check:

Estrogen

Estrogen is the primary female hormone.  It’s what gives females their female characteristics.  Unfortunately, in today’s modern world there are many things that can cause an overproduction of estrogen which leads to an increase in cellulite.  Estrogen imbalance causes the body to store more fat in the thighs and butt, and can also contribute to breaking up collagen fibers in the skin which can cause stretch marks, loose skin, and more visible cellulite.

Estrogen overproduction can come from several causes.  The primary ones are consumption of the wrong types of fat, lack of physical activity (especially resistance training), certain birth control methods, and pregnancy.  The first two causes are easy to fix and can do wonders for controlling estrogen.  First of all, a diet high in fat, particularly bad fats, is directly related to an overproduction of estrogen.  And to compound the problem, a higher body fat percentage often leads to even higher estrogen levels. 

The easiest way to combat this is to make some simple modifications to your diet and to add resistance training to your weekly routine. Research shows that physical activity curtails overproduction of estrogen in addition to increasing lean muscle mass and reducing body fat.  In a later article, we will discuss the difference between bad fats and good fats and cover some laser targeted resistance training exercises that can help keep your estrogen levels in check while toning your thighs and butt.

Cortisol

Cortisol is known as the stress hormone.  It’s sort of like a low-grade adrenaline that gets released under times of stress.  Unfortunately, it also increases fat storage, breaks down muscle, and breaks apart collagen in the skin.  This is a deadly combination for cellulite sufferers.  Not only does it increase fat storage (which increases estrogen), it also weakens your skin, making cellulite even more noticeable.  It’s absolutely crucial that you regulate this harmful hormone.

To combat cortisol, there are a few simple things you can do:

Eat small meals at regular intervals throughout the day.  Skipping a meal may sound like a good way to lose weight, but it actually increases cortisol and slows down your metabolism.

Reduce stress.  This can be difficult for some, but it’s important. Try deep breathing exercises, meditation, and supplements like L-theanine and Valerian root.

Get plenty of sleep.  Not getting a full nights sleep is one of the biggest contributors to cortisol production.

Avoid stimulants.  Studies show caffeine and other stimulants can increase both cortisol and stress levels. If you need an energy boost try taking B vitamins or drinking green tea in place of coffee.

Follow these simple steps to control estrogen and cortisol and you will not only see a reduction in cellulite over time, but you will be much healthier.  Elevated levels of these hormones over the long term can cause serious health problems that are much worse than having cellulite.

 

Umcka: Nature’s Remedy for Colds, Bronchitis, Herpes Simplex, and more

umcka

Just before the 1900s, an Englishman traveling to South Africa had a serious respiratory illness. Charles Stevens, who needed to cure himself quickly, found himself seeking he help of a native tribal leader who introduced him to Umcka (Pelargonium sidoides), which was native to the area in South Africa. He recovered, returning to England to spread the news, and soon, it was known as the Stevens Consumption Cure.

Doctor Adrien Sechehaye learned of the cure and began using it for his patients in Switzerland. He treated over 800 patients, publishing numerous case studies. As modern medicine began to bloom with antibiotics and antivirals, this remedy faded into the background until fairly recently.

The plant has some antibacterial and antiviral properties and also releases interferon (which boosts the immune system). These qualities mean the plant often target ailments from a number of angles, which may explain its “folklore” success with both viruses and bacterial infections.

 

What it Does

For those suffering from lung disorders, Umcka can prevent flare ups. For those who are relatively healthy but have bouts with the common cold, Umcka can help alleviate symptoms and shorten the duration of the common cold.

It has also been shown in some small studies to reduce the replication of the herpes simplex virus, possibly limiting outbreaks. It has properties that prevent bacteria from binding to cells, which in turn leads to a stronger fight against viruses, including herpes simplex. In addition, Umcka might be able to fight the bacteria that causes many stomach ulcers.

Its most common benefit, however, is treating acute bronchitis and colds. Not only can Umcka shorten the duration of these illnesses, but they can even offer some relief from symptoms such as fever, fatigue, headache, chest pain, cough and nasal drip.

 

Scientific Studies

Limited findings are available to support the effectiveness of Uncka, and it is the center of quite a bit of controversy.

Claiming to reduce the duration and severity of colds, Umcka has been shown in just a few small studies, performed in Russia and Ukraine, to be effective. It is worth noting, however, that these case studies showed promising results, and many manufacturers of the product have produced studies that closely mimic the success. Many of these studies show that in common colds, the severity of bronchial and throat irritations were both reduced, as was the duration of the cold itself.

 

Suggested Usage

Umcka is produced in a variety of forms for children and adults, usually sold under the names of Umcka , Kaloban or Umckaloabo. Drops can be added to water for consumption, or syrup may be consumed based on manufacturers’ directions. Chewable tablets are also common for children and adults.

For best results, dosage should be administered at the first sign of symptoms, as a delay could cause the supplement to lose its effectiveness.

Elderberry: Nature’s Cure for the Flu

elderberry

Across the world, elderberry has been part of many cultures and traditions throughout the ages. For example, in Celtic tradition, elderberry was held in quite high regard. One would carry elderberry to protect themselves from evil or to remove negative spells. Its oil was used in rituals of blessing, and many used it to bring about vivid, intuitive dreams. Others would sleep underneath the plant to dream of faerie land. More practically, it was used to keep skin light when mixed as a face wash.

Many believed that the Elder tree was considered sacred by the vegetation goddess, Hylde Moer, which led to many virtually worshipping the trees, planting them around homes for protection.

Gypsies would often use the wood to produce instruments they felt were pleasing to the spirits. It was considered bad luck to burn elder wood in a fire, and the gypsies took the wood’s burning properties to be somewhat of an omen, with its loud burn of hisses and crackling and its quickness to burn. Offenders were thought to be hunted down by the goddess and cursed with bad luck. In fact, when removing its branches or cutting it down, a ritualistic prayer was made as way of asking permission. From Russia to Scotland and Italy, elderberry’s initial purpose was to protect.

Early Christians, however, viewed the elderberry quite differently. Its history in Christian folklore is quite dark, with many legends claiming that the cross upon which Jesus died was made of elder. Its meaning was even darker for those who believed Judas, the one who betrayed Jesus before his death, hung himself from the branches of an elder tree.

Early legends show one of the initial medicinal uses of elderberry was to help with toothaches, which were often thought to be the result of evil spirits. Less mythological origins point to elderberry being used early on as a skin treatment. Skin inflammation, allergies, rashes, bug bites, acne and sunburn were treated with this. By 1644, a book of over 230 pages was translated from Latin to English, revealing that elderberry could be a treatment for any ailment, including strangulation and sore throats. Shockingly, it was even a remedy for the plague. 

One of the largest differences between ancient use of elderberry and modern day uses, however, is how the “cures” were administered. Many early remedies involved rubbing branches onto ailments to “transfer” the illness to the tree, or lying down under the tree during the first attack of epilepsy to be cured. Today, remedies are usually consumed or applied topically.

What it Does

Today, Elderberry is said to reduce the duration of flu by up to three or four days. Lozenges are juices are both effective for this. In women who are postmenopausal, daily doses can reduce the risk of heart disease. It has also been suggested that it can prevent or help treat cancers, nerve pain, chronic fatigue syndrome, HIV/AIDS and a number of other ailments. Also, taking dried elderberry capsules three times daily for an extended time can also reduce cholesterol.

It is also suggested as a way to slowly relieve fever, with scientific evidence backing this claim quite clearly. It helps inflammation and general immunity as well. It is commonly used for sinus infections and bronchitis, although more research is needed to sufficiently determine its effectiveness in this area.

Scientific Studies

The Department of Virology at Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School in Jerusalem found interesting effects when they studied influenza A and B patients. Sixty patients were symptomatic for at least 48 hours, ages 18 to 54. The study, which was double blind and placebo controlled, took place in Norway where patients received 15 ml of elderberry or placebo four times daily for five days. Using a visual analog scale, patients recorded their progress, and those using elderberry averaged feeling relief four days sooner than those receiving the placebo.

A similar study was done by Immunology Laboratory for Tumor Diagnosis at Hadassah University Hospital in Jerusalem. Using a black elderberry based product called Sambucol, the double blind placebo controlled study found the methods to be effective in treating up 10 strains of influenza. It also reduced duration of symptoms by anywhere from three to four days, and patients showed higher antibody levels after consuming the elderberry product.

The same department further studied Sambucol, and even found it to reduce fevers in two days among 93.3% of some patient groups with influenza, and many complete cures were reported within 2 to 3 days.

Suggested Usage

When taking for ailments, it is important to take elderberry within 48 hours after symptoms are noticed, or as soon as possible. This is when the supplement can be most effective, reducing flu duration and symptoms quite dramatically. Particularly for flu or severe colds, the recommended dosage is one tablespoon of extract syrup taken four times daily. Similarly, lozenges marketed with zinc can be very effective when taken as directed.

It is important to note that raw elderberries themselves are poisonous, as well as other parts of the tree. Because the product cannot be directly consumed, there are many products, such as Sambucol, marketed for the immune system that have been shown to be effective in scientific studies. Other similar products are made under the names Nature’s Way, ViraBLOC and HerbalScience. These products can be taken as directed for maintenance. In addition, there are many teas that contain supplements such as elderberry paired with zinc for an immune system boost. This is an easy and effective way to add elderberry to your health routine.

The Top 5 Best Pilates DVDs for Home

pilates

Pilates is a type of exercise that was conceptualized and developed by Joseph Pilates after he invested a lot of time studying human anatomy, Zen Buddhism, yoga, and ancient Greek and Roman workout routines. It has emerged as a very popular form of exercise and it’s for everyone – men and women, young and old. If you wish to know what all the fuss is all about but you don’t have ample time and money to enroll and take a Pilates class, you’ll need something more practical and inexpensive, like the best Pilates DVDs available in the market today. There are many different ones so we did the hard work and hand-picked the top 5 for you!

1) Pop Pilates Total Body Workout with Cassey Ho

This workout DVD makes it to the list mostly because of the fact that Cassey Ho is a superb instructor and will inspire you to keep going. It’s an excellent Pilates DVD and can help anybody get in tip-top shape in just a matter of weeks. Cassey designed the DVD to work out the entire body and make sure that you end up with a lean and toned physique. It is an hour long Pilates workout that will tone your glutes and thighs, sculpt your arms and chest, chisel your legs, and turn your flabby stomach into rock-hard abs. But what’s really exceptional about the Pop Pilates Total Body Workout is that Cassey specifically designed it with fun in mind, which is a huge factor when it comes to having that motivation to work out on a daily basis.

Pros:

Cons:

  • Top notch Pilates instructor
  • Takes an hour to complete the workout
  • Advanced Pilates workout
  • Inspires motivation
  • Full body workout

 

2) 10 Minute Solution: Rapid Result Pilates

The title speaks for itself: this Pilates DVD can get you fit, toned, and make you lose weight in just 10 minutes. It is the brainchild of Lara Hudson, a world-renowned Pilates instructor. She utilized a special power precision sequencing that effectively builds muscle and burns fat in no time at all. Her design of the routine is truly remarkable because it targets all parts of the body with five separate 10-minute workouts, with each one aimed at improving a different area of your body. The workouts consist of a full body blaster, flexibility component, a waist slimmer, a glutes and thigh workout, and an arm and shoulder exercise. The DVD is great because all the workouts were designed to keep you fit while wasting no time at all.

Pros:

Cons:

  • Perfect for people with busy schedule
  • Advanced workout not suitable for beginners
  • Workout targets entire body
  • Builds muscle and burns fat
  • Very motivational

 

3) Denise Austin: Shrink Your Fat Zones Pilates

This is a fantastic DVD that can tone muscles and quickly eliminate the fat zones in just 21 days! It features Denise Austin and was designed to make you sweat and get rid of unwanted fat within three weeks. It targets three specific problem areas namely the abdominals, arms and thighs. Each area receives 15 minutes of exercise, meaning you can tone your body in 45 minutes. Both beginners and experienced Pilates practitioners can use the DVD with ease.

Pros:

Cons:

  • Targets abs, arms and legs
  • Does not target all muscle groups
  • Designed to tone muscles and shrink fat
  • Fairly time-consuming
  • Comes with a custom workout option

 

4) 10 Minute Solution: Prenatal Pilates

Pregnant women have limited exercise options, but this is one of a handful that will keep expectant mothers and their babies healthy. It is a basic workout that won’t put much stress on the body but will still keep the muscles toned while keeping excess fat at a minimal level. This is an excellent pregnancy workout that can be performed during all 3 trimesters. The exercises will keep the core, buns, and thighs toned while also helping in maintaining flexibility. The DVD even comes with a section that can help in getting rid of belly fat after giving birth.

Pros:

Cons:

  • Targets all parts of the body
  • Designed only for pregnant mothers
  • Great way to stay fit while pregnant
  • Takes nearly an hour to complete
  • Not harmful to the baby
  • Tones muscles
  • Helps maintain flexibility

 

5) Element: Pilates Weight Loss for Beginners

This is one of the best Pilates DVDs for beginners. It is an easy and low impact workout designed by Brook Siler, a certified instructor and writer of The New York Times best-selling book series, “The Pilates Body and Your Ultimate Pilates Body Challenge.” The workout is guaranteed to help you lose weight in no time. The DVD will teach you the basics so you can get a feel for Pilates. In addition, it has been conceptualized to maximize calorie burn so you can lose as much weight as possible. The workout will help strengthen and tone your muscles, specifically the abdominals and those in the hips and thighs.

Pros:

Cons:

  • Ideal for beginners
  • Not suited for advanced Pilates practitioners
  • Great introduction to Pilates
  • Takes almost 1 hour to complete
  • Involves some cardio workout
  • No need for equipment

 

Conclusion

If you haven’t tried Pilates before, it’s about time to do so as it is a superb way to maintain or increase strength, mobility and flexibility. It is also an excellent way to reduce the amount of excess fat in your body. If you don’t know how to begin, then start with one of the five Pilates DVDs that we have reviewed and chosen for you!