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Bringing you the latest in health and fitness


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Cocoa: An Inexpensive And Simple Way To Reduce Muscle Soreness


Many athletes load up their post-work out drinks with various supplements, such as Vitargo and branched amino acids, powder, creatine, and other ingredients to enhance muscle recuperation. I will recommend you a simple and affordable ingredient that may work just as well.

Post-exercise soreness is caused by muscle damage, and several studies have shown that antioxidant dietary supplementation can protect again muscle damage. Many bodybuilders take their fish oils religiously to reduce inflammation and capitalise on the health benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids. However, there are countless scientific studies that suggest that there is one ingredient which is constantly reported to prevent free radical damage, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, and is also a potent vasodilator, and now it can reduce muscle soreness.

What is it about cocoa that it is good for our hearts? Cocoa contains more antioxidants than just about any other food you can find. Antioxidants are necessary because they reduce a harmful process called free radical production. Free radicals cause damage to cells, and the antioxidants are like the bodyguards of the cell, and prevent damage. Cocoa contains a class of antioxidants called flavonoids, which are also found in teas and red wine. In fact, cocoa contains more antioxidants and flavonoids than all teas and red wines. Flavonoids may not only have a direct antioxidant effect, but they also have a sparing effect on other antioxidants such as vitamins C and E.

It should be no surprise that cocoa has been used since ancient times as a medicinal remedy for preventing chronic diseases. Cocoa does have some pharmacological properties, such as the ability to increase a substance in the blood called nitric oxide, and it also makes blood less sticky. Nitric oxide causes blood vessels to expand and allows for more oxygen-rich blood to flow through our veins, while chocolate increases nitric oxide synthesis, which is good for the heart and blood vessels. Having sticky blood cells makes them more likely to adhere to the lining of your arteries, which is implicated in the in the pathogenesis of cardiovascular disease. Cocoa has ‘aspirin-like’ qualities in that it makes you blood less sticky and allows it to flow easily through the arteries.

Interestingly, a previous study reported that chocolate milk is an effective recovery aid after exercise. The study found similar increases in time to exhaustion and total work for individuals who consumed chocolate milk, compared to a traditional electrolyte-replenishing drink, subsequent to exhaustive exercise. Other reported benefits of cocoa are decreases in oxidative stress markers, and muscle soreness increases in performance output.

In a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, cocoa or a placebo was added to athletes’ protein/carbohydrate sports drink. The researchers used pure cocoa powder and found that subjects consuming the cocoa powder had a decrease in post-exercise soreness, compared to the placebo group. The researchers thought the antioxidants in cocoa reduced free radical damage and enhanced muscle recuperation. Adding pure cocoa is a great way to boost antioxidants, as well as reduce cardiovascular diseases. So be sure to use pure cocoa powder without the extra sugar and crap that is in most cocoa powders.


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Lift Away The Pain


Researchers at the University of Alberta studied the effects of weight training and cardio on backaches. Unless you have severely injured your back and the doctor has ordered bed rest, staying active, particularly lifting weights, will help you in recovery. Study participants who weight-trained three times per week decreased their pain by 63% compared to participants who did cardio only and reduced their pain by 6%. Resistance training targets both upper and lower body muscles, whereas cardio targets mainly lower-body muscles. You should continue with some cardio to avoid putting on unwanted bodyfat during recovery from injury, and do whatever strength training exercises you can handle with poundage that will not make your injury worse. You do not want to overdo it to find yourself sidelined and out of the gym indefinitely.


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Muscles and Alcohol Don’t Mix


Still haven’t adopted the totally clean-eating lifestyle and enjoy going out to the bar for a few drinks? You might want to think twice if you aim to keep all that muscle mass you have worked so hard for in the gym. Consuming large quantities of alcohol directly affects your metabolism by causing dietary fat to be stored instead of being used as an energy source. Among the effects of heavy alcohol consumption on your body, blood flow is reduced to the muscles, causing deterioration and weakness. Alcohol decreases testosterone in your blood and raises conversion of testosterone to estrogen, leading to increase fluid retention and fat depositing. It creates imbalances in your liver that can cause hypoglycaemia, hyperlipidemia and fatty liver. A night out of drinking can stop any progress you want to make in the gym the next day because of dehydration that decreases physical performance. The disturbance of sleep caused by alcohol can leave you fatigued and your training session severely lacking in intensity. Alcohol consumption can also interfere with nutrient breakdown and absorption, lessening the body’s ability to build and maintain muscle. Keep alcohol drinks to a minimum and plan them for evenings when the next day is a break from the gym.


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Baby marrow and Mushroom Bake


A very easy and delicious side dish.

Preparation: 35 minutes
Serves: 2 servings
Energy: 114 calories per serving

Ingredients:
– 1 tbsp olive oil
-1 medium slice red onion
– 1 tsp ground oregano
– 1 dash black pepper
-1 dash salt
– ½ cup broccoli, chopped
– 1 clove garlic
– 8 medium mushrooms, halved
– 2 chillies
– 4 medium zucchinis

Method:
1) Thickly chop the onion, cut the zucchini in quaters, muschrooms in halves, broccoli in small flowerets and finely chop the garlic and chilli.
2) Place in a oven dish (with lid), pour olive over the top and season to taste.
3) Bake in the oven at 355°F (180°C) for 30 minutes and serve.


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Dumbbell Shrug


Dumbbell Shrug– Stand erect holding a dumbbell in each hand at your sides with a palms-in grip.
– Keeping your chest up and abs tight, shrug your shoulders straight up towards the ceiling, squeezing your traps at the top and keeping your arms as straight as possible.
– Slowly reverse the motion to lower back to the start, exaggerating the stretch at the bottom