June 2011

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By Thomas Incledon

Two years ago, I presented 10 dietary rules for the man who wants bigger muscles and a smaller waist—which is to say, every man who reads this magazine. But even if you memorized those rules, you’re probably more confused than ever by the sheer white noise created by today’s dietary advice.

If you did what you were told by every expert out there, you’d eat more of everything and less of everything, and you’d eat it earlier, later, and not at all. Fat would save you and kill you, carbohydrates would make you skinny and fat, and protein would turn you into Adonis and put you on dialysis.

Recently, as part of a research project, I reviewed hundreds of weight-loss studies and found some surprising ways in which nutrition science is remarkably clear and straightforward. So, with apologies to Dr. Atkins, Suzanne Somers, and all the other noted weight-loss experts, I humbly present the undisputed masters of the midsection.

And for more great ways to and lose weight and stay slim for good, pick up a copy of The Men’s Health Diet today! It combines the latest findings in exercise and nutrition with practical how-to-advice that will transform your body into a fat-burning machine.

Cut Calories

The low-fat/low-carbohydrate debate comes down to this: You still have to eat fewer calories than you burn if you want to lose weight. Every study I looked at shows this. The perfect weight-loss diet is the one you can live with, whether you cut fat, carbs, or some combination.

Use Whey to Cut Waist

 

Protein-rich foods put more distance between hunger pangs. And the fuller you feel between meals, the easier it is to avoid binges.

The best food for appetite destruction: whey protein. A daily shake made with two scoops of whey protein, fruit (fresh or frozen berries or a banana), and water or crushed ice will improve your middle line. You can buy whey protein at any good health-food store.

Meat Cuts Fat

When you eat, your body has to expend calories to digest the food. Protein causes this inner fire to burn the hottest, followed by carbohydrates, followed by fat. Animal proteins increase thermogenesis more than vegetable proteins, so the best calorie-burning foods are lean meats. So eat some protein at each mealbuild your dinner around lean chicken, beef, or pork. That way, you’re burning the most calories through digestion at the end of the day, when your metabolism is slower.

Remember These Letters: BCAA

 

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, and the branched-chain amino acidsleucine, isoleucine, and valineare the best of the bunch. BCAAs are as close to magic foods as we’ll ever get. They help you recover from hard workouts by reducing the protein breakdown within your muscles; they increase testosterone and growth hormone, your body’s most important fat-fighting and muscle-building hormones; and they have their most profound effect when you’re following law number 1 and cutting calories in order to lose weight.

For starters, try to get at least 10 grams (g) of BCAAs a day. Since they’re most abundant in meat and dairy products, you can get the better part of that by following laws 2 and 3. (Two scoops of whey protein and 3 ounces of beef contains 10 g of BCAAs.)

You can also buy BCAA supplements (which, you should be aware, are expensive). Look for supplements that are 50 percent leucine, 25 percent isoleucine, and 25 percent valine. Start off with 10 g per day, and wait a month before bumping up the dose. The maximum useful intake is probably 60 g a day from food and supplements.

If It’s Fryin’, You’re Dyin’

 

One thing that every weight-loss researcher and diet-plan author can agree on: Highly refined carbohydrates, such as fructose-sweetened beverages and low-fiber breads, are a terrible idea. Among the many sins of Mountain Dew and Twinkies is the way they cause your blood sugar to spike soon after eating. What goes up fast comes down fast, and you end up feeling tired and hungry much sooner than you should.

Goodbye diet, hello diabetes.

Now we know of a way to make refined carbohydrates even worse: Fry them. Researchers have found a suspected carcinogen called acrylamide in such products as potato chips and french fries.

A “suspected” carcinogen isn’t the same as a proven carcinogen, such as tobacco smoke. But anytime I get a chance to talk you out of eating worthless snack foods, I do it.

Food Goes Farther with Fiber

 

Fiber’s effect is the opposite of snack foods’. When you have fiber in your stomach, food takes longer to enter the bloodstream, and your blood-sugar level stays steady.

The benefits: You’ll have a more consistent energy supply and less between-meal hunger. The only potential downside is that you won’t get as much reading done in the bathroom. What slows down your blood sugar at the front end speeds things up at the back end. I could give you the usual riff about eating more broccoli and raisin bran, but you can safely and easily take in more fiber by using a supplement. (MD Labs’ Fiber-Psyll is a good one; go to MDlabs.com.) Start with 7 to 12 g a day, mixing some with water and drinking it before your main meals.

Count on Calcium

 

Recently, nutrition researchers discovered that dairy and other calcium-rich foods help you stay lean, prevent osteoporosis, and possibly prevent colon cancer. The recommendation is to take in 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams (mg) of calcium a day. (A cup of milk contains 300.)

Unfortunately, too much calcium may increase the risk of prostate cancer. The tragic number seems to be 600 mg a day from dairy products. And what’s the point of having a V-shaped torso if your prostate has a spare tire?

Here’s how to reap the benefits of calcium without the risks:

• Avoid taking high-dose calcium supplements unless you really need them (under doctor’s orders, or if you never eat foods naturally rich in calcium). The fat-fighting properties of calcium are activated only if you obtain it from real food.

• Look for low-fat dairy products fortified with vitamin D, such as fat-free milk and yogurt. Vitamin D offers prostate protection.

• Triple your home-gland security by occasionally eating a tomato salad (rich in prostate-protecting lycopene), mozzarella cheese (rich in calcium), and olive oil (which contains a cancer-fighting fat called beta-sitosterol).

Alpha Males Use Omega-3 Fats

 

Each year, we learn more about the health benefits of omega-3 polyunsaturated fats, which are found in fish, nuts, seeds, and flaxseed and fish oils. (And also in the cool, orange-flavored supplement Coromega, available at iherb.com.)

These health benefitsless risk of heart disease and diabetes, for exampleare great on their own. But omega-3 fats contribute to a better physique as well. For example, omega-3s reduce inflammation throughout your body. That not only prevents heart attacks (inflammation in the tissues surrounding blood vessels is a major cause) but also helps your muscles recover faster from workouts.

Bigger, less-inflamed muscles mean a faster metabolism, and speeding up your metabolism is crucial when you’re trying to get lean. If you don’t eat fish twice a week and can’t stomach fish-oil supplements, try eggs high in omega-3s, which are found in the dairy case, next to the regular eggs. You can eat four of them a day without any negative effect on your cholesterol levels.

Make a Plan

 

Next time you read a weight-loss story in a newspaper or magazine, count the number of disparaging references to popular diets. Based on the way diet gurus trash their competitors, you’d think there was no plan on earth that actually works. But the truth is that you can’t lose weight without a diet.

You must have a plan. The more sophisticated it is, and the more tailored to your likes and dislikes, the better. You can’t wing it and expect to see results. I won’t offer you the perfect weight-loss regimen, because research has yet to discover one. But even the worst plan is more likely to succeed than no plan at all.

The best plan is likely to include these elements:

• Meals and snacks are based on some lean protein sourcefish, eggs, dairy, meat.

• More meals are better than fewer. Five or six meals and snacks a day is ideal.

• Low-fat and high-fat diets can both work, but one that cuts almost all fat is doomed.

• Nobody ever became obese from eating the best carbohydratesfruits, vegetables, and whole grains. And nobody ever died from skipping potatoes, pasta, rice, popcorn, and Wonder Bread.

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Don’t let your hard work in the gym go to waste. The food you eat doesn’t just give you energy – it fuels your muscles, helps you burn fat, and even boosts your cardiovascular health. Chow down on these 8 power foods before and after your workouts, and you’ll see results in no time.

It’s true: Spinach is muscle fuel. But not because it instantly turns you lean and sexy. Researchers from Rutgers University found that a compound in the leafy green increases protein synthesis by 120 percent, helping your muscle tissue to repair itself faster after you work out. The problem, however, is that you’d have to eat Popeye-sized quantities to experiences dramatic results (we’re talking almost 2 pounds of the iron-packed veggies a day). The good news is that spinach isn’t the only food that can help you to look and feel better than ever–even when you’re not exercising.

The right fitness foods speed your results, and make you healthier, too. Ready to eat your way to a better body? These 8 great foods and drinks are guaranteed to make any type of exercise you do more effective – long after you’ve broken a sweat.

Pineapple and Papaya

Good for: Muscle recovery?

Both of these tropical fruits are loaded with bromelain and papain, enzymes that not only help break down proteins for digestion but also have anti-inflammatory properties to speed up your post-workout recovery.

Salmon

Good for: Cardiovascular fitness 

Australian researchers found that cyclists who took fish oil for 8 weeks had lower heart rates and consumed less oxygen during intense bicycling than a control group did. The fatty acids in fish oil need to become incorporated into muscle and heart cells to have an effect, and that takes weeks of consumption-so either take fish oil pills each day, or try to eat fish rich in fatty acids multiple times a week to see similar results.

PB&J or Pasta With Meat Sauce

Good for: Muscle building and repair?

The perfect post-weight training repast has about 400 calories, with 20 to 30 grams of protein (to build new muscle) and 50 to 65 grams of carbohydrates (to repair old muscle). Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or a small bowl of pasta with meat sauce fits that formula.

Pork Tenderloin

Good for: Waist-trimming

Lean meats are a great low-calorie source of protein, and scientists at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, found that eating more protein may reduce the fat around your midsection. People who ate 20 more grams of protein every day than the group average had 6 percent lower waist-to-hip ratios.

8 Ounces of Chocolate Milk

Good for: Hydration

The best sports drink may come from a cow. British researchers found that milk does a better job than water or sports drinks at rehydrating the body after exercise. Why? To begin with, milk has more electrolytes and potassium. The addition of chocolate gives milk the perfect balance of carbs, protein, and fat for speedy muscle recovery.

Coffee

Good for: Pain relief 

University of Georgia scientists revealed that taking a caffeine supplement (equal to two cups of coffee) after exercise reduces muscle soreness more than pain relievers can. Caffeine blocks a chemical that activates pain receptors.

Green Tea

Good for: Muscle recovery

Brazilian scientists found that participants who consumed three cups of green tea every day for a week had fewer markers of the cell damage caused by resistance to exercise. So drinking a few cups every day may help your muscles recover faster after an intense workout.

Cold Water

Good for: Endurance

Drinking cold water before and during exercise can help improve your endurance. In a British study, cyclists who drank about 30 ounces of a chilled drink in the half hour before riding in a hot, humid environment-and smaller amounts as they rode-were able to bike 23 percent longer than riders who downed lukewarm liquids. Drinking cold water may be the most direct way to reduce core body temperature, so it takes you longer to heat up and slow down.

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Perform this routine as a circuit, says its creator, Martin Rooney, P.T., C.S.C.S., author of Ultimate Warrior Workouts. Do 10 reps of each exercise, and complete as many circuits as you can in 15 minutes. Rest briefly when you need to, and resume working until the time is up. As your conditioning improves, increase reps or decrease the amount of rest.

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Body-Weight Squat

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Lower your body as far as you can by pushing your hips back and bending your knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Pause, and slowly stand back up.

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Judo Pushup

Begin in a pushup position but move your feet hip-width apart and forward, and raise your hips so your body almost forms an upside-down V. Lower the front of your body until your chin nears the floor. Then lower your hips as you raise your head and shoulders toward the ceiling. Now reverse the movement and return to the starting position.

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Sprinter Situp

Lie on your back with your legs straight and arms at your sides, keeping your elbows bent at 90 degrees. As you sit up, twist your upper body to the left and bring your left knee toward your right elbow while you swing your left arm back. Lower your body to the starting position, and repeat to your right. That’s 1 rep.

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by Black Belt Staff

At the Ultimate Fighting Championship 129, shotokan karate stylist Lyoto Machida knocked out UFC Hall of Fame member Randy Couture with a front kick to the head. (If you’ve seen The Karate Kid, picture Daniel’s signature crane kick.) Lyoto Machida’s figured out how to make traditional karate work in the octagon, and with our help, you’ll be able to incorporate his tactics and shotokan techniques into your traditional or mixed-martial arts training.

Lyoto Machida’s Footwork

Observation: Lyoto Machida’s footwork gives him the ability to control distance, says Lito Angeles, author of Fight Night! The Thinking Fan’s Guide to Mixed Martial Arts. “He can keep a certain distance between himself and his opponents so they can’t even touch him.”

Explanation: “His footwork comes from shotokan karate—his father is a shotokan master,” Lito Angeles says. “He stays back from his opponent, and once he attacks, he maneuvers away before the other guy can counter.”

Action: Start your sparring sessions a safe distance away from your opponent. Practice darting in, attacking and moving back before he can counter. Focus on speed and accuracy rather than power.

Lyoto Machida’s Lateral Movement

Observation: “If you watch his UFC 84 bout with Tito Ortiz—or basically any of his fights—you’ll see that his opponents can’t get a bead on him because he’s always moving,” Lito Angeles says. “When he retreats after an attack, he uses lateral movement to avoid getting hit.”

Explanation: It’s another shotokan forte. Practitioners of the Japanese martial art know that when they constantly move side to side, they can dictate the action. “They make their opponent follow them around, and then when they’re ready, they suck him in and—boom!—they attack,” Lito Angeles says. “Then they’re out [of range] again.”

Action: “If you’re not a shotokan stylist and want to develop that kind of lateral mobility, watch videos of Machida’s fights,” Lito Angeles says. “However, the ability may be innate. It’s not like other UFC fighters don’t know what he’s doing; they just can’t do the same thing as well as he does. To some degree, though, the skill can be developed through training.”

In sparring, work on making your attack path shaped like a T, Lito Angeles says. Scoot forward, strike, then scoot part way back before angling off to either side.

Lyoto Machida’s Evasion Skills

Observation: Lyoto Machida absorbs very little punishment in his matches.

Explanation: According to FightMetric.com, he’s No. 2 on the list of MMA athletes who get hit the fewest times per minute in the ring. (Fedor Emelianenko is No. 1 and Anderson Silva is No. 3, in case you’re wondering.) “It’s the footwork and distancing factors,” Lito Angeles says. “Machida is very elusive; he’s an in-and-out fighter.”

Action: Remember those old-time instructors who would tell their students they have to learn how to take a punch? Forget them. It’s better not to get hit. Work on your distancing and maneuverability, as well as your bobbing and weaving for when things get a little too close for comfort.

Lyoto Machida’s Grappling Skills

Observation: “Machida is a seasoned grappler. He received his black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu in 2007. However, he doesn’t choose to focus on ground skills in the octagon,” Lito Angeles says.

Explanation: “He uses grappling as a support system,” he says. “Like other mixed martial artists, he trains in all the disciplines to empower his brand of fighting, which is stand-up.”

Action: Be like Lyoto Machida and take up Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Don’t forget to work on your clinch-fighting skills. Then you’ll know that if you lock up with your opponent and go to the ground, you’ll be OK.

“Even if you don’t like grappling, learn enough to thwart takedown attempts—which is what Machida does,” Lito Angeles says. “Also learn how to get back up quickly if you are taken down. And if you get stuck on the ground, be able to defend against the most common submissions until you can get up. You don’t have to focus on submissions—I don’t recall any fights in which Machida [used one to win]—but you need to be able to stop them.”

Lyoto Machida’s Counterfighting Skills

Observation: Lyoto Machida is a consummate counterfighter.

Explanation: “He obviously has the patience to wait for his opponent to make the first move,” Lito Angeles says. “That makes him very hard to beat unless his opponent has the patience to out-wait him. He makes you fight according to his rhythm, and once you do, he pulls you in.”

Action: When you spar, work on the patient approach. Don’t jump in and attack. Wait for or encourage your opponent to leave you an opening, then exploit it.

Lyoto Machida’s Quick Strikes

Observation: Lyoto Machida seems to be able to read his opponents’ intentions and often uses a quick strike to stop them from finishing their attack.

Explanation: It’s one of the benefits of having a background in a traditional martial art. You learn about telegraphing—both how to take advantage of your opponent when he does it and how to avoid doing it yourself.

Action: Study Bruce Lee’s fighting methods along with shotokan. “Jeet kune do teaches you to attack your opponent before he can complete his attack,” Lito Angeles says. “That’s why it’s called the ‘way of the intercepting fist.’ ”

Lyoto Machida’s Timing

Observation: “Machida’s timing is impeccable,” Lito Angeles says. “When he decides to attack, he makes every shot count. He’s a very efficient fighter.”

Explanation: The champ knows that taking a few shots is a great way to save energy without sacrificing effectiveness—as long as you land them.

Action: Even if you’re not one of the most powerful strikers out there, you can enhance your effectiveness by utilizing the principle of addition of velocities, Lito Angeles says. “When two cars meet head-on, their speeds are added together. That’s why Machida tries to time his techniques to catch his opponents while they’re coming in—it makes the impact more powerful.”

To apply that concept to your martial arts training, you’ll need a partner who likes to go on the offensive. Play the counterfighter against him and concentrate on your timing. A great place to do that is at your local point tournament, Lito Angeles says. “If nothing else, point karate teaches you timing.”

Lyoto Machida’s Boxing Strikes

Observation: Lyoto Machida likes to use straight shots.

Explanation: “He knows that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, and he uses that,” Lito Angeles says. “That’s not to say he doesn’t do anything else; it just seems to be his main thing. Note that the straight punches he uses are more boxing than shotokan.”

Action: “In sparring, move in and out and from side to side, and when your opponent follows you, blast him right down the middle with a straight shot,” Lito Angeles says.

Lyoto Machida’s Shotokan Stance

Observation: When Lyoto Machida is far from his foe, he tends to hold his front hand at shoulder level and away from his body instead of near his chin, where most fighters keep theirs.

Explanation: “Sticking his front hand out like that may be from his shotokan background, or it may be his way of lulling his opponent into thinking there’s an opening,” Lito Angeles says. “It could be both. In either case, he uses it as a feeler or a range finder.”

Action: If you really want to experiment with an extended lead hand, make sure you have the requisite speed and timing to nail your opponent when he comes in for what he thinks is the kill. “But I don’t recommend trying it in a fight,” Lito Angeles says. “Machida makes it work because he’s been doing it since he was a kid.”

Lyoto Machida’s Foot Sweeps

Observation: Lyoto Machida loves the foot sweep.

Explanation: “It’s another trademark of shotokan,” Lito Angeles says. “If your timing is right, it can work. If not, it can still off-balance your opponent for a moment, giving you a chance to hit him.”

Part of the reason the foot sweep is effective is almost no one uses it in MMA, Lito Angeles adds. That means few fighters are prepared to defend against it.

Action: Get thee to a shotokan tournament. It’s a great place to hone your foot sweeps against a live opponent.

Lyoto Machida’s Round Kicks

Observation: Lyoto Machida favors the round kick.

Explanation: “Shotokan is all about basic techniques—the round kick, front kick, reverse punch and foot sweep,” Lito Angeles says. “When shotokan practitioners fight, those are the techniques you see the most.

“He often uses the kick to set up punches. He doesn’t step in to deliver his round kick like Thai boxers do; instead, he flicks it out from wherever he is. It’s not as powerful, but it creates an opening for him to lunge in.”

Action: Head to the dojo and spend time kicking the heavy bag, then polish your technique on a sparring partner. When you’ve got it down pat, use it in combinations.

Lyoto Machida’s Fight Plan

Observation: “Some people have criticized Lyoto Machida for not being exciting to watch,” Lito Angeles says, “but he’s got a formula that works for him.”

Explanation: “There are still questions about how good he is on the ground, whether he has a chin and if he’s good in the clinch,” he says, “but his skills are such that he doesn’t let his opponents get him in positions that would reveal any weaknesses.”

Action: Vow never to fight your opponent’s fight. Do whatever it takes to make him fight yours.

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Written By Jon Sattler

From the medieval epics of Akira Kurosawa to the space operas of George Lucas, the samurai have long inspired us with stories of their legendary swords and superhuman skills. Nowadays, when we think of samurai, we imagine invincible warriors like Miyamoto Musashi nimbly wielding super-sharp swords, slicing through ninjas and catching blades with their bare hands.

But how much of that is actually true? To test these myths, we asked Samurai Swordsmanship authors Masayuki Shimabukuro and Carl E. Long to answer the most common questions we receive about Japanese swords.

Enjoy part one of our ongoing series on samurai myths, and check back frequently to see which legends we’ve confirmed or debunked.

Samurai Myth No. 1: A good samurai sword will slice through a silk scarf that’s dropped on the blade.
Samurai Fact: The katana and other Japanese swords are designed to slice objects as the blade is pulled across the target. If an object is simply dropped on the blade, it’s very unlikely that any slicing action will occur. That’s why so many exhibitions that involve walking on swords are possible. As long as there’s no sliding action, the blade rarely cuts. If a scarf is allowed to slide across the edge, the material could be cut. This myth has been carried over from a story about a Damascus blade owned by Saladin.

Samurai Myth No. 2: A katana can chop a regular sword in half.
Samurai Fact: Any steel sword can break if it’s struck at the wrong angle. Chopping one in half, however, is highly unlikely.

Samurai Myth No. 3: In battle, Japanese swordsmen would use the edge of the blade to block their enemy’s attacks.
Samurai Fact: The edge of the blade was often used to block an opponent’s attack. However, most swordsmen would fend off an attack by launching a pre-emptive strike or receiving the attack on the side of the blade. This was preferable to blocking with the ha, or cutting edge.

Samurai Myth No. 4: It’s possible to stop a downward sword strike by trapping the blade between your palms.
Samurai Fact: This is highly implausible and definitely not recommended.

Samurai Myth No. 5: Thinking that it’s better to lose an arm than lose his life, a samurai was taught to block a downward slash with his forearm held overhead at a 45-degree angle.
Samurai Fact: A katana or tachi is quite capable of slicing through an arm in a single stroke. At that time in history, losing an arm usually meant death.

Samurai Myth No. 6: In ancient Japan, samurai often fought against ninja.
Samurai Fact: This is more myth and legend than fact.

Samurai Myth No. 7: A samurai wasn’t allowed to place his sword back into its scabbard without first drawing blood.
Samurai Fact: Not true.

Samurai Myth No. 8: The steel in some swords is composed of thousands of folded layers.
Samurai Fact: Each time the sword smith folds the steel, the layers are multiplied. It’s not uncommon to have as many as 32,000 layers.

Samurai Myth No. 9: The bo hi (often translated as “blood groove”) is designed to channel blood out of the opponent’s body.
Samurai Fact: This is a common misconception. The bo hi is designed to lighten the blade while maintaining a large degree of structural integrity. It was sometimes used to hide flaws in a defective blade.

Samurai Myth No. 10: Thousands of samurai swords were thrown into the ocean when Japan surrendered to the United States at the end of World War II.
Samurai Fact: Many blades were destroyed by Allied forces at the end of the war. Some of them may have been cast into the sea from aboard ships, as were many other weapons.

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by Dasha Libin

Sports nutrition not only enables you to stoke your furnace with the best energy-boosting and recovery-enhancing food, but it also gives you the tools to understand the inner workings of your physiology, including how to achieve optimal body composition. Why is that important? Because at some point in your life, you may have to cut weight—perhaps to make weight at a martial arts tournament or just to shape up for the summer. The worst thing about cutting weight is, when it’s required, it often has to be done quickly. You need to take pains to do it right so you maintain the strength and stamina you worked so hard to build.

As soon as you learn that need to lose weight, you should start eating and training for that goal. Forget sweatsuits and saunas—they serve a purpose only on the day of the weigh-in because all they do is decrease the amount of water in your body. Unchecked, even partial dehydration can lead to exhaustion and weakness. Likewise, forget fasting. Blindly cutting your caloric intake can leave you feeling drained and unable to perform the way you normally do.

For healthy weight loss, don’t restrict your food intake to the point at which you’re no longer getting enough nutrients. You need fuel to function. Instead of cutting out your energy source, you should refine it by cutting out “empty calorie” foods. Example: Replace a serving of French fries with vegetables. Small adjustments like this can help you trim the excess while keeping muscle and energy levels intact. How is that possible? Because fat has approximately twice as many calories per gram as carbohydrates and protein.

Your next step is to boost your metabolism, which means teaching your body to consistently use the food you eat to produce energy. That will make you burn more calories for longer periods, which leads to weight loss. Bonus: It will also help you maintain the energy you need to train hard without risking neuromuscular damage.

In part, your metabolism is determined by your age and genetics, which means there’s only so much you can do to alter it. However, metabolism is also dependant on your exertion level and the frequency with which you eat. As a martial artist, you train regularly. If you need to cut weight, you can always up the frequency of your workouts. Obviously, you can adjust your daily food intake. If your schedule permits, consider eating six times a day: two or three smaller snacks in addition to three or four well-portioned, nutritious meals. The last thing you want to do is skip meals because it will have the opposite effect—it will tell your body it needs to conserve energy and hold onto fat.

When you’re planning your meals, try to combine protein with complex carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables. If you’re having trouble making six meals a day, consider cutting your three large meals in half. Instead of stuffing yourself at breakfast or dinner, split those meals so you can eat every three to four hours. A snack can be a serving of fruit or nuts, a nutritional drink or an energy bar. Just keep track of the calorie count so you can shoot for 100 to 400 calories per snack.

Cutting weight is a lot like martial arts training: It’s not easy, but when it’s approached in a proven, scientific way, the benefits far outweigh the effort you put in.

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by Dr. Robyn Silverman

My children are supposed to be perfect, right? They are supposed to be quiet, polite, perfectly behaved little angels who fall in line like lemmings and do everything I ask on the first request. I should be able to handle every problem (not that there should be any) with the greatest of ease. I’m supposed to know everything, do it all, and never break a sweat, or heaven-forbid, lose my cool. After all, I’m a child development expert. I have the paper to prove it.

Ha! I can hear the echo of my children laughing in my ear as my toddler jumps naked on the couch and my almost one year old takes a bath in the dog’s bowl…yup, again. Who’s climbing on the mantel? Who’s feeding the dog from the table? Who’s refusing to brush her teeth? Doesn’t want to go to bed? For a walk? To the potty? And whining. Oh, the whining. Yes! It happens at my house too.

Noah barer1 Confessions from a Child Development Expert: My Not So Perfect Children (or Parenting) ThreeBabies Photography

I guess I’m supposed to keep up this façade forever. But that’s not all that helpful, right? Because the idea that we are all in this together—this thing called parenthood—somehow levels the playing field. It’s comforting. I might have a lot of books on the subject, I may have even written books, articles, and blog entries providing hundred of tips and statistics, but the fact remains; sometimes, in real life, I don’t get it right on the first try. Or the second. And it’s OK. Well usually, anyway. I try not to beat myself up too much about it.

Parenthood has brought me just shy of insanity at times and made me delve so deep into myself that my love, without warning, can feel raw and gut-wrenching, elating and freeing all at once. But it has taught me, in just over 2 years, that there is more to life than I ever imagined. And…I still have a lot to learn.

Given the hand-on, real life experience my family provides, I actually find it to be one of the best “schools” I’ve ever been through. There are lessons. There are practicums. Oh, there are tests. Pop quizzes happen daily. And no, I still don’t like them.

I have learned:

You don’t have to get it right on the first try to be a good parent: The love is in the trying. It’s in the admission of mistakes. It’s in the permission to make a second attempt…or a third…or the twentieth.

It’s OK to lose your cool sometimes: We are not made of plastic. Patience can be compromised. We are living, breathing, feeling people who respond when someone carelessly tosses all the throw pillows on the floor, climbs onto the window sill, and is 1 moment away from exclaiming “Yook out bewoah!” and jumping off. Or perhaps that’s just me.

You can simultaneously be totally annoyed, hysterical, tickled, and completely in love with a child: My almost one year old son likes to look me right in the eye, drop balls of sweet potato, avocado and wheat bread from the table for the dog, and then grin flirtatiously at me. My 2 year old daughter runs around opening every drawer in my kitchen, steals a piece of kibble to nosh on from the dog’s dish, and knowing I’m getting annoyed, says, godfather style (with full-out gestures) “Come here, Mama. I give you big hug” while I have 3 burners going on the stove and something in the oven. You can try to stay angry but I find it impossible to keep myself from cracking a smile.

You say things you’d never thought you’d say/do: I used to cringe when I’d hear parents say to their children; “Let me smell your tushie.” Here I am now. Infant tushie-smeller. Bodily fluids have become, at once, a source of conversation and no big deal. I hear myself say things like “bath water is not for drinking,” and “did you just stick yucky something up your nose/in your ear/in your mouth?” almost daily.

The most frustrating characteristics in a toddler are the ones you covet in a teen: Sometimes I just gnash my teeth and roll my eyes. Occasionally, my daughter talks back. She often does what she wants. She takes daily risks that make my toes curl. I just keep telling myself it’s the training ground for assertiveness, leadership, and courageous chance-taking in adolescence. Maybe I’m delusional but it’s the perspective that works for me.

Tomorrow is always a new day: There are days when I review my reactions, their behavior, and the combination of the two and I don’t feel all that proud. I’ve chosen not to bash myself—but rather, learn from the situation and note; “that wasn’t the way…let’s try something else next time.” Because there typically is a next time. Kids are not perfect. Neither are parents. Would we really want to be? It’s an imperfect match that often just seems to work in the long run. So I put my head down on my pillow at night, say thank you for these amazing children in my life, solute what went right, and forgive myself for what went wrong. My daughter’s words come into my head; “I try again?” Yes, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

And finally, and perhaps most importantly, I’ve learned to laugh. Laugh hard. It is the most beautiful, positive, unifying release that makes everything feel better. It makes me remember how powerful and amazing my children are– and how grateful I am for them. It doesn’t mean that the kids won’t drive us nuts again. They probably will. It’s just part of what they do.

So today, I wish you laughter. Patience. Perspective.

No doubt I’ll need it too.

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by Tony Cortina –March 20, 2011

Law-Enforcement Training Tips for Grappling and Ground FightingIn any kind of street combat, fighting on the ground for an extended period can put you in a world of hurt. Although grappling has proved its effectiveness in controlled environments such as the dojo and the cage, it’s very different on the street—for several reasons. First, you can grapple with only one person at a time, which means you commit yourself to a single threat. Obviously, that exposes you to any additional threats that may exist.

Second, grappling occupies both your hands. If you’re a police officer carrying a gun, knife or Taser, that can pose a weapon-retention problem. While you’re using your hands to control the attacker, he can let go with one hand, remove your weapon from your belt and use it against you. (Many times I’ve overseen drills in which cops have role-played suspects and arresting officers, and the officers’ guns were removed without their knowing it way too often.)

Third, grappling is not combat-efficient. It requires you to expend tremendous amounts of energy. Rolling around on the ground with an assailant for two minutes depletes far more of your reserves than engaging in a stand-up fight of the same duration—which doesn’t even take into account the fact that the average stand-up fight lasts far less than two minutes.

With all that said, many law-enforcement and civilian street altercations wind up on the ground—as many as 90 percent, it’s been claimed. If you do down and choose to stay there, you run a high risk of losing should it turn out to be a multi-threat environment. For that reason, it’s essential to become familiar with anti-grappling and ground fighting techniques, as well as the most popular offensive moves, so you’ll have a better understanding of your opponent’s strategies and tactics.

Ground Fighting Tip #1: Drop the Combat Sports Mindset

The self-defense system known as Controlled FORCE is designed to fit the needs of law-enforcement officers. As such, it views ground fighting from a combat perspective instead of a sport perspective. The differences are obvious: Practitioners of martial sports like Brazilian jiu-jitsu, wrestling and judo need not worry about groin strikes, eye gouges or dynamic pressure on their joints. Their goal is to work toward a pin or submission while fending off their opponent’s “fair” techniques. In contrast, your goal in the real world is to protect your vital areas, get to your feet and neutralize the threat using any tool that’s available.

The first lesson: Dump that combat sports mindset right now. Forget about those submissions. In a violent situation, your goal is to work toward an outside position to minimize your opponent’s attack zone and increase your ability to gain control of him or to disengage and change tactics. Controlled FORCE accomplishes this by teaching counterstrike drills that combine protecting techniques and disruption techniques that will prepare you to rapidly recover and regain control when a fight goes beyond the initial surprise attack. If the assailant is too close for you to use other control techniques, you can rely on hand techniques and body locks to gain an advantageous position.

During Self-Defense Training: Although your main goal should be to remain standing, you must be prepared to fight on the ground. Again, your objective is not to get comfortable there but to learn effective techniques for fending off the attack, minimizing damage and getting back to your feet. Spar with that in mind.

Ground Fighting Tip #2: Employ a Collapsing Defense

Controlled FORCE advocates an approach called “collapsing defense.” If you go down, you should establish a ground-defense safety zone and keep the assailant at bay by attacking his feet and shins while he remains standing. As he closes the gap, assume an active position from which you can shift from side to side with one leg ready to kick and your free hand ready to protect your face. That orientation is intended to create distance so you can get back on your feet or transition to other defensive tools.

If you’re in law enforcement, practice this while wearing a holster and training firearm so you can draw your weapon. Once you land on the ground, you must remember that your opponent can present a knife, gun or other weapon. At that point, you can use your firearm and engage him with deadly force.

During Self-Defense Training: If you carry a gun, make sure you practice drawing it from a seated or grounded position. Keep the muzzle pointed away from your body. After you simulate shooting, your opponent should continue his attack in some repetitions of the drill to keep you from developing a mindset in which he always stops after being shot.

Ground Fighting Tip #3: Regain Control

If the assailant breaches your defenses and gets close enough to start throwing punches, you can integrate skills taught in Controlled FORCE’s counterstrike drills. If he becomes frustrated with your defenses and tries to stand up to overtake you, use leverage techniques to shift his momentum so you can maneuver into a dominant position. If he manages to defeat all your preliminary defenses, you’re in a fight for your life. You must focus on regaining a position of advantage and re-establishing situational control.

During Self-Defense Training: Make sure your ground-fighting drills start with you in a bad position. That forces you to switch into survival mode. Controlled FORCE teaches a drill in which you start on the ground while your opponent grabs your holstered weapon. You have 30 seconds to retain your side arm and gain a position of advantage. After 30 seconds, a second attacker jumps in. After another 30 seconds, a third attacker joins the melee. The drill drives home the importance of getting to your feet as quickly as possible. Don’t focus on grappling with one opponent, or you’ll pay the price.

Ground Fighting Tip #4: Protect Your Face

To further enhance your ground survivability, devise drills that place you in the worst possible predicament—for example, you’re mounted and your foe is working toward an even better position. Your first mission should be to prevent him from landing a blow to your face. Constantly move your head and use your arms as barriers in front of your face. At the same time, continue moving your body, especially your hips, to keep him off-balance.

During Self-Defense Training: Lie on your back and have your partner straddle you in the mount with one knee off the ground. The drill begins the moment he drops his other knee—that way, you won’t program yourself to feel comfortable when you’re mounted. He then initiates a series of punches aimed at your face. (If he’s not wearing boxing gloves, make sure he knows that he’s supposed to miss, but also be sure you’re on a mat so he doesn’t break his hand if he hits the floor.)

While moving and protecting your head, scoot your body upward (in the direction of your head) and squirm from side to side as if you’re doing side abdominal crunches. The movement will force him to focus on trying to keep his balance instead of bashing in your face.

Ground Fighting Tip #5: Get to Your Feet

Your next step in a fight is to get your attacker off you—preferably by bucking him off with your hips. If he’s experienced at ground fighting, the task might prove difficult, in which case a groin strike can distract him long enough to break his balance. Once he’s displaced, get back to your feet and transition to better tools such as head strikes or a weapon.

During Self-Defense Training:Start with your partner mounted on you. After you protect your face and move up and side to side, thrust your hips upward at a 45-degree angle toward either of your shoulders. Avoid bucking him in the direction of your head because he might end up with his knees in your armpits, which can pin your arms in a useless position.

If you buck him partway off and he braces himself by posting an arm, wrap the limb with your arm and trap his ankle with your foot. Then roll him in the direction of the trap. You’re now in position to apply a Controlled FORCE Mechanical Advantage Control Hold and roll him off. All the MACH techniques are designed to function in a variety of positions, which means there are fewer techniques you must learn.

Even though he’s been thrown off, you might find yourself in his guard. Don’t stop moving. Unleash a series of groin strikes and pry his legs apart with your elbows digging into his inner thighs, then scramble to your feet.

During Self-Defense Training: Make sure you do this drill—and all the others—while wearing your duty belt and a holstered training firearm. Otherwise, you run the risk of creeping back toward sport training. Instruct your partner to go for your gun when the opportunity presents itself. If possible, arrange for another partner to serve as a second attacker.

Ground Fighting Tip #6: Prepare for Stress

Adding stressors can make any training more realistic. A stressor is a condition that has the potential to distract or limit you, thus making the drills more challenging. They include:

  • Training on gravel, in a stairwell or in a narrow hallway
  • Doing calisthenics or a 15-second sprint beforehand to simulate a foot pursuit
  • Partially obscuring your vision with a blindfold or goggles covered with tape
  • Turning down the lights to simulate a night fight.

The bottom line is to keep the drills as realistic and challenging as possible so you’ll be better prepared to deal with an altercation that goes to the ground. Short review: The concepts that must be hammered into your brain are the need to protect yourself, the benefits of constantly moving, the need to retain your weapon and the urgency of getting back to your feet.

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by Lucy Haro

In the martial arts, one school of thought holds that you should change your game to match your opponent’s. Example: If you’re a stand-up fighter and you’re facing a grappler, you should immediately switch into grappling mode. Problem is, that requires you to train to such an extent that each subset of your skills is superior to the skills of a person who focuses on only that range of combat. Your grappling must be better than a grappler’s, your kicking must be better than a kicker’s and your punching must be better than a puncher’s. It’s a tough task, to be sure.

Another school of thought holds that you should never fight force with the same kind of force. In other words, don’t try to beat your opponent at what he does best. Instead, use a set of concepts and techniques that will enable you to nullify his attacks and nail him when he’s not expecting it. The best set of concepts I’ve found is called the science of wing chun, as taught by Black Belt Hall of Fame member William Cheung. It offers a strategic approach to combat that’s guaranteed to help any stand-up fighter prevail on the street.

Before beginning, a few words about wing chun are in order. Supposedly developed by a woman named Yim Wing Chun, the system is based on scientific principles that allow the practitioner to achieve peak performance in any combat situation, even against a larger opponent. It does so by teaching you how to fight smarter, not harder. The key to achieving that goal lies in the following seven principles.

Wing Chun Principle #1: Maintain a Balanced Stance

When you’re in a balanced wing chun stance, your opponent won’t be able to read your intentions because you’re not telegraphing the way you’ll fight. He can’t discern your commitment to any move or to any direction.

The stance requires a 50-50 weight distribution at all times. That enables you to move either foot in any direction at any time. Having maximum mobility, at a moment’s notice, is essential for dealing with armed or multiple attackers. Being balanced also conserves energy, which allows you to channel it to other uses while under attack.

Once your opponent moves, wing chun teaches that you should immediately shift into a side neutral stance based on the side of your body he attacks. If he comes from your right, you deal with him by using your right arm and right foot, and vice versa. Your stance is now similar to that of a boxer, except that you’re oriented at a 45-degree angle so you’re less open to his blows.

Wing Chun Principle #2 Attack Your Opponent’s Balance

In any kind of fighting, balance is everything. Strive to maintain yours while attacking your opponent’s. Often, that entails getting him to lean too far into his technique, overcommit to his movement or overextend his body. Without proper balance, he won’t be able to move, block or strike effectively.

In general, grapplers employ a strategy that involves an overzealous commitment to a move. They’ll lean, lunge or throw themselves forward in an effort to take you to the ground, which is their preferred environment. At that point, they’ll attempt to mount you and punch, or they’ll choke you unconscious. That’s all well and good as long as you don’t take advantage of their momentary lack of balance.

In wing chun, you control your opponent’s balance and then deflect his force primarily by controlling his elbow. As Cheung likes to say, if you control his elbow, you can control his balance.

Wing Chun Principle #3: Control Your Opponent’s Elbow

Always watch your adversary’s lead elbow. Why the elbow? Because whenever a person’s arm moves to strike you, so does his elbow. The elbow, however, moves a shorter distance at a slower speed, which means it’s easier for you to track and react to.

Of course, you could watch his fist, but it moves very quickly, and it could wind up in your face before you figure out where it’s going. The elbow, being farther away than the fist, is easier to follow and easier to read. Examples: During the execution of a straight punch, the elbow moves two and a half times more slowly than the fist. When doing a round punch, the elbow moves almost four times more slowly.

Distance translates into time. The longer you can follow the path of his strike—by detecting it sooner—the more time you have to let your reflexes work for you.

To expand the usefulness of this principle, remember that the knee is to the leg as the elbow is to the arm. When you’re facing a grappler, watch his knees for a sign that he’s about to execute a takedown. If you’re facing a kicker, his knee will clue you in as to how he’ll kick.

In close-quarters combat, once you’re aware of which arm the enemy will use to attack, you must take control of his lead elbow. The best way to do that is to use one of your hands to palm-strike the elbow and perhaps pull the arm to disrupt his balance. Simultaneously punch him in the face or body with the other hand. That’s one of the core concepts of wing chun: Always strive to block and strike at the same time.

When you attack and defend simultaneously, you shift the pressure off yourself and onto your opponent. Rather than continuing his attempts to harm you, he must now defend himself or suffer the consequences. The best part is, he’ll be pretty much trapped because you’ll be in control of his elbow and you’ll be throwing a series of blows at the same time. The last thing on his mind will be shooting in on you or grabbing you.

Wing Chun Principle #4: Using Chi Sao to Improve Your Contact Reflexes

Hundreds of years ago, Chinese martial artists figured out how to control an opponent’s balance. The key was sensing his energy. Using contact reflexes, they could predict what the other person was about to do with the rest of his body. It was so successful that it’s still a part of the Chinese martial arts.

By using touch instead of sight, you can cut your reaction time from 0.2 seconds to 0.05 seconds. Once you’ve sensed his movement through contact, your eyes will be free to tackle other missions, such as making your strikes more accurate and monitoring your adversary’s free hand and his legs.

The traditional training method known as chi sao is wing chun’s preferred method for honing this skill. Because it helps you develop the required touch sensitivity and reflexes, it allows you to “read” what your opponent is doing and react to his movement more quickly than if you used your eyes only.

In chi sao drills, you and your partner stand with your hands touching to facilitate the detection of movement. You then have him run through various attacks to develop your ability to feel and predict. When you’re done, reverse roles.

In wing chun, your goal is to remain standing, but no one’s perfect. If you fall, be prepared to back off until you can scramble to your feet. Again, chi sao can help by enabling you to control your opponent’s elbow and then change the angle of leverage long enough to escape.]

Wing Chun Principle #5: Fight on the Blind Side

Once you control his lead elbow, step to his blind side—to the outside of his lead arm—and counterattack from there. Being in that position is advantageous because it permits you to keep the maximum distance between his rear arm and your body, which means you’ll need to deal with only one arm at a time.

Again, distance equals time. If you achieve the blind-side position and your opponent tries to reach you with his rear hand, it’ll take him longer, which gives you more time to react. Also, he may cross his arms as he tries to do so, and that will render him susceptible to a trapping technique.

The objective is to ensure that you have free use of both arms while limiting him to one. Always avoid standing directly in front of him because he’ll be able to attack you with both arms and legs.

Wing Chun Principle #6: Don’t Fight Force With Force

When you make contact, quite often your opponent will attempt to oppose your force with more force by pulling away his arm. If he does, follow the elbow and trap it against his body.

If he opts to struggle violently against you, you can use an “exchange move.” That entails using one of the following:

  • Execute a push palm strike (pak sao) to control one of his elbows to dissipate the force. Make sure you’re still in position to strike simultaneously with your other arm.
  • Execute a grabbing block (lap sao) to control his balance and move with his force. Again, you must be in position to strike with your other arm.

Using the time-tested strategies of wing chun, you can deflect your opponent’s force, control his balance, avoid his attacks by positioning yourself on the blind side and then disable him with strikes. Whether he’s a close-quarters striker or a grappler, you’ll nullify his attempts to take you to the ground. If he does shoot in for a takedown, he’ll have already sacrificed his balance. This presents you with your best opportunity to sidestep to avoid a collision and knock him to the ground when he misses you.

When you’re on your feet, if you gain control of his elbow on the blind side, you’ll be able to pin it against his body and finish him with his strikes. To ensure you have the absolute advantage, control his elbow even if he falls so you can unleash strikes at will without getting hit.

With practice, you can incorporate the principles of wing chun into your self-defense system no matter what it is. They will enable you to fight where you’re most comfortable—on your feet—and where it’s safest—on the blind side.

Wing Chun Principle #7: Using Chi Sao to Improve Your Contact Reflexes

Hundreds of years ago, Chinese martial artists figured out how to control an opponent’s balance. The key was sensing his energy. Using contact reflexes, they could predict what the other person was about to do with the rest of his body. It was so successful that it’s still a part of the Chinese martial arts.

By using touch instead of sight, you can cut your reaction time from 0.2 seconds to 0.05 seconds. Once you’ve sensed his movement through contact, your eyes will be free to tackle other missions, such as making your strikes more accurate and monitoring your adversary’s free hand and his legs.

The traditional training method known as chi sao is wing chun’s preferred method for honing this skill. Because it helps you develop the required touch sensitivity and reflexes, it allows you to “read” what your opponent is doing and react to his movement more quickly than if you used your eyes only.

In chi sao drills, you and your partner stand with your hands touching to facilitate the detection of movement. You then have him run through various attacks to develop your ability to feel and predict. When you’re done, reverse roles.

In wing chun, your goal is to remain standing, but no one’s perfect. If you fall, be prepared to back off until you can scramble to your feet. Again, chi sao can help by enabling you to control your opponent’s elbow and then change the angle of leverage long enough to escape.

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Walk into an average grocery store and you face a choice—47,000 choices of products, actually. And their labels advertise terms such as low fat, high fiber, free range, and organic. Some matter, some don’t. But those labels aren’t even the most confusing part: Many scientists say organic is more nutritious than conventionally grown food, while others say it’s not. The back and forth is enough to make us “eat what’s available when we’re hungry and try not to think too much about it because it’s all so disheartening and confusing,” writes Maria Rodale in her new book, Organic Manifesto. Sadly, not buying organic food is a mistake that you—as a man—can no longer afford to make. According to new studies, eating organic foods can help you build more muscle and burn more fat, not to mention protect the environment from harmful pesticides and increase your chances of siring healthy offspring (sons in particular). Here are 20 top organic foods to get you started. Add them to your grocery list to upgrade your diet, strengthen your body, and help heal the planet.

Want to learn more about how organic farming can save the environment and bolster your health? Pick up a copy of Organic Manifesto today!

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Best Eggs

Eggland’s Best Organic

Scrambled, fried, or poached, these heart-healthier eggs cook up flavorful and fluffy.

One large egg:
70 calories
6 grams (g) protein
0 g carbs
4 g fat

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Best Cereal

Kashi Whole Wheat Biscuits, Cinnamon Harvest

One serving is nearly 20 percent of your daily fiber, and it doesn’t taste like the box it came in.

2 oz:
180 calories
6 g protein
43 g carbs (5 g fiber)
1 g fat

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Best Milk

Stonyfield Organic Reduced Fat

It’s creamy, without the calories of whole milk.

1 cup:
130 calories
8 g protein
13 g carbs
5 g fat

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Best Coffee

Stumptown Coffee Roasters Organic French Roast

“Direct trade” means the roasters buy directly from growers and then ship this dark, rich coffee to you.

1 cup:
2 calories

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Best Bread

Bread Alone Bakery Organic Whole Grain Health Loaf

Sweetened with honey and topped with sesame and sunflower seeds, it’s the perfect slice for sandwiches.

1 slice:
140 calories
5 g protein
27 g carbs (4 g fiber)
2 g fat

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Best Lunch Meat

Applegate Farms Organic Roasted Turkey Breast

Try some of this lean, luscious protein rolled and slathered with pesto.

2 oz:
50 calories
10 g protein
1 g carbs
0 g fat

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Best Deli Cheese

Applegate Farms Organic Mild Cheddar Cheese

Serve your next grilled cheese without a side of hormones.

1 slice:
85 calories
5 g protein
0 g carbs
6 g fat

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Best Condiment

Annie’s Naturals Organic Dijon Mustard

It has no calories, tons of flavor, and goes great with our pretzel pick. (See “Best Crunchy Snack.”)

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Best Frozen Meal

Amy’s Roasted Vegetable Tamale

It’s satisfying enough to stave off hunger, but sanely portioned to prevent a gut bomb.

Per meal:
280 calories
9 g protein
46 g carbs
7 g fat

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Best Postworkout Recovery Drink

Organic Valley Reduced Fat Chocolate Milk

Stocked with the protein your muscles need to rebuild quickly.

Per cup:
170 calories
8 g protein
24 g carbs
5 g fat

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Best Meat

Full Circle Bison Ranch Organic Gras Fed Buffalo (Rib Eye)

This steak outranked all the organic beef brands we sampled.

3 oz:
150 calories
25 g protein
0 g carbs
5 g fat

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Best Spice

McCormick 100% Organic Cayenne Red Pepper

After you hit your steak with salt and pepper, ratchet up the heat with a shake of this.

(0 calories)

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Best Cooking Oil

Spectrum Organic Canola Oil

Use this for medium-to-high-heat cooking.

1 Tbsp:
120 calories
0 g protein
0 g carbs
14 g fat

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Best Beer

Samuel Smith Organic Ale

Consider this balanced, full-bodied ale your new warm-weather brew.

12 oz:
150 calories
2 g protein
15 g carbs
0 g fat

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Best Wine

Scribe 2008 Pinot Noir

Alice Waters of Chez Panisse, in Berkeley, California, gives it the thumbs-up. We second.

3.5 oz:
84 calories
0 g protein
2 g carbs
0 g fat

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Best Fruit Snack

Peeled Snacks Much-Ado-About Mango

Only one ingredient: dried organic mangoes.

Per bag:
120 calories
2 g protein
28 g carbs (2 g fiber)
0 g fat

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Best Fiery Snack

Eden Organic Spicy Pumpkin Seeds

Seasoned with soy sauce, garlic, and cayenne, these put spicy chips to shame.

1/4 cup:
200 calories
10 g protein
5 g carbs (5 g fiber)
16 g fat

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Best Crunchy Snack

Newman’s Own Organics Honey Wheat Mini Pretzels

Not too sweet. Amazing with peanut butter.

20 pretzels:
110 calories
2 g protein
22 g carbs (3 g fiber)
1 g fat

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Best Sweet Snack

Newman’s Own Organics Champion Chip Double Chocolate Mint Chip Cookies

Indulge your chocoholism without overeating.

4 cookies:
160 calories
2 g protein
21 g carbs (1 g fiber)
8 g fat

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Best Yogurt

Stoneyfield Oikos Organic Greek Yogurt with Honey

Sweetened naturally (and organically) without added preservatives.

5.3 oz container:
120 calories
13 g protein
18 g carbs
0 g fat

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