Winter is the perfect time to jump on the kettlebell bandwagon. In case you haven't heard of it or aren't very familiar with it, a kettlebell is a weight that is shaped like a cannonball with a very thick handle attached to the top. This interesting-looking weight has been used by Russian weightlifters for a few hundred years, but they are just catching on in the U.S. in no small part due to their ability to provide a total body workout.
While regular dumbbells and hand weights allow you to concentrate their weight in your fist, the shape of kettlebells means that the weight is suspended unevenly below your grip, requiring you to work your stabilizing muscles as well. The swing – a signature move – gives you both a cardiovascular and a full-body strength workout at the same time because it works every major muscle group in the body.
People are increasingly using kettlebells because they tone the body and fight fat: In just a 20- to 30-minute workout, you can burn around 300 calories!
Here are the top reasons to try this new exercise trend:
- You only need one kettlebell to do the workout. It's compact and easy to take with you if necessary.
- A kettlebell's weight is off-center, so your muscle have to work hard to balance it and go through a wide range of motions.
- You can use the kettlebell anywhere – even while watching TV at home.
- The workout lets you easily combine strength training and cardio.
- A kettlebell workout burns fat and builds lean muscle, rather than bulky muscle.
- You'll improve stability, strength and mobility.
- These exercises are a form of high-intensity interval training, which is good for building resistance and stamina.
- The workout is not repetitive and boring, as weight training and cardio machines can be.
Indoor kettlebell workout
While some of the moves are pretty extreme, it is still possible to do a kettlebell workout indoors during the winter. In fact, winter is probably the best time to do a kettlebell workout as it's pretty hard to will yourself to run or do other outdoor sports in below-freezing temps. Thankfully, you can purchase soft versions of these bowling ball-like weights that are safer to use indoors.
Here is an indoor circuit workout for beginners. Do 10 to 15 reps of each workout to complete a circuit, and then do a second circuit to complete your workout.
- Around-the-body: This is a great starter position. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and the kettlebell in both hands. Move the kettlebell to your left hand, bring both hands behind you and pass it to the right hand. Do this again in the front to complete one rep. Switch directions halfway through your reps and make sure to keep your hips still and your core engaged the entire time.
- Swing: Holding the kettlebell with both hands, squat so your thighs are parallel to the floor and the kettlebell is between them. Then stand quickly and swing the weight up to shoulder height. When the kettleball starts coming down, bend and squat again, swinging it between your legs. Make sure to control the weight's movement. You can try the same exercise with one arm at a time.
- Front squat: Do a standard squat. Beginners can hold the weight underneath, rather than by the handle. Don't forget to keep your back straight and chest up!
- Dead lift: Put the weight on the floor between your feet, which should be hip-width apart. Squat and grab the handle, squeeze your glutes, brace your abs, keep your back flat and stand slowly. Make sure to keep your arms extended.
- Figure-eight: With feet shoulder-width apart, squat halfway with your knees soft, keep your chest high, back straight and core tight and pass the kettlebell through your legs from front to back, bringing it from hand-to-hand in a figure eight movement.
Many people get their pre- or post-workout boosts from a drink mixed with protein powder for quick muscle repair and the building of lean muscle mass. If you're one of these people, it's likely that you use either whey or soy protein powders – two of the most popular types. Here's some information about each one to help you determine if whey, soy or some other protein powder like that made from split yellow peas is better for you:
Whey is one of two proteins derived from animals' milk; the other is casein. Whey protein is often used in milk-replacement foods, infant formula and ice cream, among other foods.
Whey is a fast-acting protein, meaning the body absorbs it quickly, which is why it is such a popular choice for supplements. While a glass of milk provides enough whey protein for the average person, those who want to build muscle or have other fitness goals often like to supplement their diets with a whey protein shake or meal replacement like Naturade 100% Whey™, which provides 16 grams of protein per serving, with only 1 gram of fat and 80 calories. Additionally, it contains no artificial sweeteners, flavors, preservatives or colors, and it contains a full array of essential amino acids.
Aside from the muscle-building benefits of whey proteins, some research has pointed to whey's possible benefits for:
- serving as a nutritional supplement.
- preventing some types of allergies.
- treating some symptoms of diabetes.
- suppressing the appetite.
- supporting a weight loss program.
While whey is important in repairing muscle damage from an intense workout, some people claim that this means that whey is not as efficient in building new muscle because it works too quickly. Though whey protein is very beneficial, whether you use it or not also depends on your fitness goals.
Soy protein is derived from soy beans and contains all the essential amino acids and is a complete protein, just as whey is. It is added to various food products today – it's in anything from frozen waffles to organic granola bars. Soy contains arginine, which helps muscle formation. However, soy takes a much longer time to digest than whey protein. Thus, it's less beneficial for repairing and rebuilding muscle after a workout, but it does a better job of forming new muscle.
Vegan or vegetarian athletes often choose a protein powder made from soy, such as Naturade Total Soy, as they contain no animal products. Naturade Total Soy contains 13 grams of protein per serving, and it is lactose-, gluten-, and GMO-free.
Aside from aiding in new muscle development, soy protein can:
- reduce LDL – or bad – cholesterol, which can lower one's total blood cholesterol levels. This can reduce one's risk of heart disease.
- make other foods more efficient because of its amino acid profile.
- potentially reduce the risk of certain types of cancer.
So, which is best? Experts seem to agree that using whey and soy proteins in combination or alternately is beneficial, though you should use whichever suits your dietary needs and restrictions as well as your fitness goals.
- Core Work: Yup, do it a lot and do it often. It’s time to get serious about core strength if your goal is to be a better swimmer, cyclist, and runner. Core work will improve every single aspect of daily life and racing.
- Cycling Base Fitness: I will spend 1 hour on the bike trainer every night watching TV, mostly heart rate training at lower levels in the off season, but will also throw in some interval sessions to get the heart rate up and the intensity flowing.
- Running Base Fitness: Trail Running! Yes, take it to the woods and run! It’s fun, it’s cold, it’s nature, and it’s even better when you add friends. Adventure + running is a great off season mind and body building workout.
- Carefully watch your nutrition and intake: Eat well, but eat GOOD! If you pack on some extra pounds during the winter make sure it’s muscle, not fat! Get serious about your food and measure caloric intake and figure out how much you really need to be eating. Become a scientist of your own body and really take hold of your food consumption and become accountable for your own actions.
- Create your race plans for next season: It’s tough to do all of this off season work and discipline without goals to visualize during your workouts and your daily daydreaming sessions. Grab a calendar, Google some races, and start building your perfect race season and then start visualizing YOU executing that perfect race season.
I’m Dustin, and this is my son Boston… First, I’m a dad before anything else, after that I’m a 31 year old vegan expatriate Hoosier living right outside of New Orleans, LA.
On June 12th, 2011 I had a bit of a wake up call and began my road to the ironman 140.6 mile endurance event and after that I’ve got some big plans, so it won’t end there… This is my outlet to vent, rant, promote, and let everyone know what’s up.
During the fall each year, it seems more and more people become interested in running. One reason might be that the fall marathons are a huge inspiration – if you watch a marathon in person and see the lead runners flash past you, seemingly faster than the speed of light, it's hard not to almost cry at the triumph of the human body. This feeling is almost always accompanied by the thought, "Ugh, I need to start running." Also, fall and early winter – depending on where you live – are some of the best times of year for a run, when the leaves are crisp and the near-suffocating heat has dissipated.
Maybe you've decided to start running again after taking a several-year hiatus, or maybe you never were much of a runner to begin with. Either way, if you're looking to start running, it's not a good idea to immediately try to run 10 miles, or even five for that matter. Here are some tips for beginners to work your way to pro status in proper fashion:
- Get your gear. Find a good pair of running shoes that has proper arch and ankle support. The best thing to do is get fitted by experts if you have an outfitter like that near you. They will watch your gait and foot placement as you jog in each pair of shoes, and they'll ask you questions to help guide you in choosing the best pair of running shoes for you.
- Start by mixing your walking with running. Even if you feel very fit and it's tempting to just go for it, it's better for your muscles if you ease into it by adding a few minutes of running to your regular walks. You can start out mostly walking – four minutes of walking to every one minute of running – and then increase the ratio so you spend two minutes running to every minute walking for an hour.
- Don't run too fast. Start at a moderate pace that you can sustain. If you have a smartphone, download an app that can help you pace yourself and gradually increase your speed from week to week.
- Don't run too far or too often. Three times per week is good when starting out.
- Develop a running plan. You can easily find a plan for beginners online that has been structured by experts. Use this to help you choose how long you run each day and week, what type of terrain you run on and what your targeted time is.
- Pay attention to the pain. Your muscles will be undoubtedly sore for the first few days or week, especially if you haven't been active in awhile. But if there are any sharp or persistent pains, don't ignore or push through them. It's especially telling if the pain is on only one side of the body. If this happens, check with your doctor to see what could possibly be going on.
- Choose the right terrain. For beginners, it's a good idea to start out on a track if there is one nearby. Tracks are good because they are flat and you can easily know the distance you are running.
- Run with the right posture. A runner's stance isn't natural for most people. When you first start out, be conscious of how you're carrying your body. Get your shoulders to relax and bend your elbows at about 90 degrees, holding your arms low. For distance running, it's best to lengthen your stride to save energy, so be conscious about not picking your feet up too high and kicking them up behind you. If necessary, watch YouTube videos that can help you see proper posture for maximum efficiency.
- Motivate yourself with a good playlist or a post workout treat!
Have you heard of monk fruit? This small green fruit, also known as Buddha fruit, the longevity fruit, luo han guo in Chinese and la han qua in Vietnamese, is traditionally grown on steep terraces in southern China and northern Thailand. Monk fruit is likely nicknamed as such because it was cultivated by monks.
The bitter rind has been used for tea and the extremely sweet flesh used as a sweetener for hundreds of years in China as a form of herbal medicine. While there's been some exposure to monk fruit in the Western world, it's becoming popular here as an alternative sweetener.
Benefits of monk fruit sweetener
Two of the major benefits of monk fruit sweeteners are that they are calorie-free and 100 percent natural. This is in contrast to aspartame and other artificial sweeteners, which have been theorized to contribute to cancer. One thing to know about the sweetener made from the extract of the lemon-sized monk melon is that it is 200 to 300 times sweeter than sugar. While you can substitute it for sugar in baking, you should adjust accordingly, as 1/4 teaspoon of monk fruit sweetener is often equal in sweetness to about 1 teaspoon of sugar - a little goes a long way.
Though they sound similar and there's only one letter of difference, probiotics and prebiotics are not the same thing, but they each are beneficial in different ways.
Probiotics are microorganisms that are beneficial to the body. Taking a probiotic supplement like Naturade Probiotics 30 B CFU or eating foods rich in probiotics – like yogurt, kefir, kombucha tea, kimchi, sauerkraut, soy milk, tempeh and even pickles – can help restore the digestive system's good bacteria. Things like poor or high-fat diets, smoking, alcohol consumption, antibiotic use and infections can upset the balance of bacteria in the gut. Probiotics can restore this balance, and have been shown to treat diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, yeast infections and other health issues, and they may even boost brain function and lower blood pressure and bad cholesterol.
Just like probiotics, prebiotics aren't a food but they're found in various foods. We can think of prebiotics as the fuel that feeds probiotics' successful restoration of good bacteria. Prebiotics are non-digestible carbohydrates found in fibrous foods. When combined with probiotics, the two become known as a synbiotic, which is a characteristic of foods that have both good bacteria and the fuel to keep them going. Kefir and some yogurts are considered synbiotic. Prebiotics are found in a limited number of foods, including raw onions and leeks, Jerusalem artichokes, whole grains like raw oatmeal, barley and wheat, and they can be found in other fruits and vegetables in very small amounts. Cooked onions, leeks and artichokes have lesser quantities of prebiotics but are often more palatable when cooked. If you think you need a prebiotics to maximize the benefits of probiotics but do not eat enough foods containing prebiotics, there are supplements available.
Very serious athletes and people looking to curb their cravings often consume high-fiber, high protein foods and supplements or meal replacements. While energy bars, protein powders and other supplements are often made from soy protein isolate, egg whites or the whey or casein from milk, people are becoming more interested in using pea protein. This is likely due to the rise of veganism and an increased demand in non-animal protein products. Also, many people have soy and dairy allergies, and pea protein generally has a low allergy profile so it's preferable to other protein sources.
The yellow split peas used in pea protein are sustainable, and many pea protein products do not use GMOs. Unlike fresh English peas, which are slightly sweet, yellow split peas are not eaten fresh but rather are dried and then split or ground.
One excellent option if you're considering adding a new protein source is Naturade Pea Protein. It is 100 percent gluten-, cholesterol-, soy- and dairy-free. Naturade's pea protein is made of yellow peas and is easily digestible. It is also made from non-GMO peas, is vegan and is suitable for both adults and children. It contains nine essential amino acids, which support the muscles, bones and connective tissues, and are important because the body is unable to make them on its own.
Aside from all of the above benefits, pea protein is also beneficial for athletes because the amino acids lysine, arginine, leucine, isoleucine, valine and glutamine can support sports performance recovery and promote a healthy digestive tract.
Mix two scoops of Naturade Pea Protein into cold water or any other beverage. You can also blend it into a post-workout or morning smoothie with fruit, yogurt, oatmeal and various other ingredients for a complete meal.
The centerpiece of Thanksgiving dinner for most people is the turkey, though classic side dishes like mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce, sweet yams, hot rolls and various casseroles are the combined elements that make Thanksgiving dinner what it is. But if you have vegans coming to dinner or are trying to lead a vegan lifestyle yourself, some adjustments will have to be made to the turkey, chicken broth- and cream-infused casseroles, and marshmallow-topped sweet potatoes. Here are some ideas to harness vegan-friendly ingredients for a stellar Thanksgiving dinner that will not leave you wanting:
Rather than creating a gravy from turkey giblets and other parts you’d rather not think about, use regular button mushrooms and vegetable broth to make a delicious sauce that’s both healthy and flavorful. For a savory meat-free gravy, you can also use red wine and shallots or roasted garlic.
Many times, stuffing is made with savory bread pieces, celery, onions and chicken broth. But you can find several recipes online that use ingredients like vegan cornbread, apples, chestnuts and vegetable shortening for a sweet and savory stuffing that everyone will love.
The main dish
You can still roast a turkey for your non-vegan guests, but when it comes to a main course for your vegetarian and vegan friends, consider using earthy, protein-packed lentils. Look for a hearty recipe online, such as a shepherd’s pie made with lentils and veggies, topped with mashed potatoes, or a variation on meatloaf made with lentils. For dishes you typically make with chicken, you can use vegan “chicken,” which can be found in the frozen section of most grocery stores, or purchase textured vegetable protein.
A side dish
Everyone loves butternut squash, so consider making a mouthwatering butternut squash macaroni and cheese. You can make it vegan by substituting regular milk for rich coconut milk, and using soy cheese. Look online for these recipes for a rave-worthy dish. For a lighter side dish, make a simple and bright salad using arugula, bulgur wheat, pomegranate seeds and chopped hazelnuts with a light vinaigrette dressing.
Dairy-free desserts are all the rage today because it’s really easy to do them right and end up with a product that is just as tasty as – if not tastier than - their dairy-including counterparts. Look online for a pumpkin cheesecake, pie or apple dumpling recipe to harness the flavors of the season in a vegan-friendly way.
People vary in their level of fitness, and opinions about what it means to be physically fit can diverge widely as well. A 60-year-old man who does moderate, low-intensity exercise four times a week might feel he's very physically fit compared to everyone else his age, but a 22-year-old woman engaging in the same fitness routine might not be considered superbly fit by anyone's standards.
Still, it is incredibly hard to pinpoint how well you are doing physically compared to other people your age because fitness can be hard to quantify. Sure, you can track your minutes per mile, your number of pushups or your length of time on the elliptical each day, but these numbers means little from person-to-person because we differ on metabolism, height, weight, health issues and needs.
But researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology have come up with an easy algorithm to measure one's "fitness age" – or, as a recent New York Times article puts it, "how well your body functions physically, relative to how well it should work, given your age." Previously, these numbers would be determined in an exercise-physiology lab. However, the Norwegian researchers found a way to come up with someone's VO2 max levels – the peak oxygen intake, which measures how well our bodies get oxygen to the cells. VO2 max can tell someone's fitness age.
The researchers took resting heart rate, HDL cholesterol and total cholesterol levels, body mass index, height and resting heart rate. Then, they had each person run on a treadmill until they were completely exhausted in order to determine VO2. If you're interested in learning your fitness age, try out the university's VO2 calculator for quick, accurate results.
The good thing about learning your fitness age is that if it is older than your actual age, you can make some easy adjustments – such as working out more frequently – to lower it.
Have you heard of intermittent fasting? Basically, it's a diet that involves a period of regular eating followed by one of fasting. The fast can last as long as 24 hours and involve only drinking water, black coffee or tea, or it can last for just eight hours. In other iterations, the fast period involves a restriction of calories – such as consuming only 600 calories on the fast day – which is much more feasible for many people. After all, who can get any work done on a hungry, empty stomach?
Fasting has been around for ages and is often part of religious practice. In general, fasting is healthy if not taken to extremes and dieters get sufficient nutrients and enough calories to function. So, moderate fasting is fine for most people, but is it effective for weight loss?
A recent study from the University of Illinois at Chicago found that intermittent fasting in combination with calorie restriction and liquid meals helped obese women both lose weight and lower their risk of coronary heart disease. A 2007 clinical review found that intermittent fasting could likely protect against Type 2 diabetes, cancer and heart disease. A controlled trial in 2007 found that fasting for normal weight subjects was not effective without calorie restriction. However, more research is required to determine which patterns of fasting and calorie restriction are most effective, and in turn, if intermittent fasting is more effective than other weight loss strategies.
Other research has shown that fasting could be positive for brain aging and function. Still, until there's better research, for adults of regular weight who are trying to get in shape, it's probably better to stick to healthy eating and exercise for weight loss.