Is Organic Food Better?

A co-worker and I were discussing organic food and the pros and cons -- yes, there are cons -- of buying organic. After our discussion, I hopped on Google and found a terrific article on the subject from WebMD: Is Organic Food Better for You?

You're trying to eat healthy, and you know that means choosing plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. But as you wander the aisles of your local market, checking out the fresh produce, meats, and dairy products, you realize there's another choice to make: Should you buy organic?

Advocates say organic food is safer, possibly more nutritious, and often better tasting than non-organic food. They also say organic production is better for the environment and kinder to animals.

And more and more shoppers seem convinced. Even though organic food typically costs more --sometimes a lot more -- sales are steadily increasing.

"We've had a strong 20%-a-year growth rate since 1990," says Katherine DiMatteo, executive director of the Organic Trade Association (OTA). She also says more land is going into organic production all the time -- up to 2.35 million acres in 48 states as of 2001.

But many experts say there's not enough evidence to prove any real advantage to eating organic foods.

"There's really very limited information in people on actual health outcomes with consumption of these products," says David Klurfeld, PhD, chairman of the department of Nutrition and Food Science at Wayne State University in Detroit. "We don't know enough to say that one is better than the other."

So before you decide whether organic food is worth the price of admission, let's take a look at the issues.

Continue reading...

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ABS DIET POWER Tip: Add Almonds to Yogurt

A few weeks ago a Marine buddy of mine (who also abides by ABS DIET POWER) showed me a little trick to stomaching a serving of almonds -- something of which I'm not all too fond in the first place.

Simply adding a handful of almonds to yogurt kills two food groups in one does, and makes for a more filling snack.

I dig it.

Try it out. Let me know what you think.

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Contrary to what the title of my blog may lead you to believe, my intention is not to mirror the information presented in Men's Health Magazine. I don't work for Men's Health Magazine, and I don't have any vested interest in the magazine's success.

However, I do read the magazine and value highly its content.

That said, I have become a huge believer in the magazine's powerfood acronym: ABS DIET POWER.

If you have yet to hear about this, it's quite brilliant. The system encourages you to focus on a generous market basket of food types -- known as the Abs Diet Power 12 -- to fulfill your core nutritional needs.

A - almonds and other nuts
B - beans and other legumes
S - spinach and other greens (broccoli, cucumbers, celery)

D - dairy (cheese, milk, yogurt)
I - instant oatmeal
E - eggs
T - turkey and other lean meats (chicken, fish, lean steak)

P - peanut butter
O - olive oil
W - whole wheat/grain products
E - extra protein (whey)
R - raspberries and other berries

For maximum health benefits, it is recommended that you include two or three of these foods in each of your three major meals and at least one of them in each of your three snacks. If you're like me and graze all day long, these foods are quite easy to incorporate into your 6-8 meals each day.

The Abs Diet Power website has a pretty cool matrix that explaining the benefits of each of these foods.

For me, I dig the guidelines a system like this provides. Grocery shopping is a lot easier when you've got certain parameters. Not eating like crap at the office is a lot easier when you've got an acronym taped to your desk.

I like to think of my body as a machine, and the ABS DIET POWER system as the process by which I abide to turn on, rev up, and keep the engine running efficiently.

Worth it? I think so.

Your thoughts?

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Big-box vs Sweatbox Gyms

I'm off to Vegas this weekend for a cousin's wedding, but luckily my gym membership is good there too.

An honest man has to admit, one of the distinct benefits of "big-box" gyms is multi-location accessibility -- provided you have the "all-club" membership.

I've been a member of 24 Hour Fitness since returning from my 2005/2006 tour of duty in Iraq. While I certainly get annoyed with the social atmosphere members at chain gyms like 24 produce, I've come to accept that the pros generally outweigh the cons.

Do I miss the "sweatbox" gym atmosphere? Sure. But were I still training exclusively at my local sweat box, I wouldn't be training this weekend.

Some people love chains. Others swear by their local house of pain. I suppose one day I would ideally like to have memberships to both. Right now I can't justify the cost of an additional membership, but wouldn't it be nice to have the option?

My 24 Hour membership has been there for me through three different jobs and countless travel excursions. However, sometimes I just can't stand the sight and sounds of some dork attempting to pick up on a woman next to me during my workout.

But I guess that's where focus and a trusty iPod come into play.

One also can't deny that the perk of big-box amenities is hard to refuse. Depending on the gym type, chains like 24 Hour offer weights, cardio rooms, aerobics, basketball courts, pools, spas, free classes, etc.

But on the flip side, I rarely take advantage of these perks. So there you go.

Again, both big-box and sweatbox gyms have their pros and cons. I guess my membership at 24 Hour is an indication that I prefer big-box at this point in my life. However, I do think the ideal situation is to take advantage and have access to both.

Your thoughts?

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N.O. Xplode Pre-Workout Supplement

A few weeks ago I finally caved and purchased a 1.8 lb. tub of N.O. Xplode from my local Vitamin Shoppe. I've heard and read quite a bit about this pre-performance igniter, and decided to check it out for myself.

My first impression? They weren't kidding when they dubbed this supplement a pre-performance igniter.

If you don't already know, N.O. Xplode is a Nitric Oxide supplement (hence "N.O.") that utilizes N.O. Meta-Fusion to open the door to vaso-muscular enlargement. The product claims to do so by immediately ramping up and sustaining Nitric Oxide levels. N.O. widens the blood vessel, which in turn accelerates blood flow to the muscle.

While it's too early to track any physical improvements (I'll post results if/when they emerge), I've certainly enjoyed the significant increase in focus and endurance throughout my workouts. If you're looking for a more explosive workout, this could certainly be the way to achieve it. It has been for me.

I've also taken heed to advice recommending you start with 1/2 scoop, and only increase as your tolerance for the supplement increases. Too many reviews that I have come across describe beginning with two or three scoops, and subsequently finding themselves unable to sleep or, worse, experiencing anxiety attacks.

But don't let that deter you, this is a great product when used properly.

Do your own research, there is a ton of information to find out if it's right for you. Should you decide to begin a N.O. Xplode regimen, my single point of advice is to START SLOW. Begin, as I did, with 1.2 of a scoop 30-60 minutes before your workout.

On a side note, one of the critiques that I came across time and time again is that the only flavor that tastes good is Fruit Punch. Well, I haven't tried Fruit Punch (yet), but the Blue Raspberry tastes just fine -- like a Blue Razzberry Blow Pop, actually.

Tasty and effective. Now that's my kind of supplement.

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Guy Recipe: Beer-flavored Bratwurst

Last night on my way home from the office, I had an craving for bratwurst.

You know how it goes: You're tired from eating all those chicken breasts, and a hamburger or hot dog just won't do. Not tonight. No. Tonight, is a different kind of night. Tonight, is the perfect night for a brat. But not just any brat, beer-flavored brats.

Yeah, now we're cookin'.

What you need

- Brats
- Beer
- Buns
- Condiments

Complicated, I know.

How it's done

1. Place bratwurst and beer into a pot (you can also add onion that has been cut into chunks for extra flavor). Heat contents to a boil and then let simmer for 30 minutes, turning heat down as needed to keep the beer at a low simmer. Add more beer if necessary to keep brats covered.

*As a side note, I like to score -- as in cut -- the brats ever so slightly for a little extra beer absorption.

2. While the bratwurst are boiling, prepare grill to high heat.

3. Remove bratwurst from pot and place on grill. Discard the pot contents -- yes, the beer. The bratwurst should already be cooked at this point. Brown the bratwurst by cooking for a minute or two on each side and serve in a bun.

That's it, gents.


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Do Push-ups While Your Cohorts Smoke

A few weeks ago a coworker and I began doing a set of push-ups each and every time the office smokers go outside to puff on a cancer stick. Secluding ourselves in a back office, we do a quick stretch and drop simultaneously. We began with sets of 20 and, in a relatively short amount of time, are now currently up to sets of 50 with no end in sight.

If smokers are committed to their habit, why can't we be committed and make a habit out of push-ups?

Of course, the benefits of this routine are plentiful. Not only does this regimen get me out of my chair on a consistent basis, it's much easier to keep a schedule when the intervals are dictated by someone else. Not to mention, doing sets of push-ups throughout the day keeps me energized and more focused on the job.

Couple this with my standard 40-minute workout at the gym for lunch, and my day at the office is more beneficial than ever. Finding time for on-the-job fitness like this is what separates the men from the boys.

What about you? Do you have a similar workout routine at the office? For those of you with desk jobs, what do you do to stay active at work?

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What is Whey Protein?

In recent years, a substantial amount of buzz has been generated about whey protein -- and might I add, with good reason.

I know that I have personally fielded many questions in regard to my protein intake regimen at work. Almost every single one of my cohorts has at one time or another been in the office kitchen while I am making my protein shake (using Optimum's 100% Whey, by the way).

Here are the most pertinent questions being asked by the average Joe (or Jane):

1. What is whey protein?
2. Is whey a complete protein?
3. What are the advantages of whey protein?
4. What are the disadvantages of whey protein?

Without getting too deep, let's take a look at the boilerplate answers to each of these questions.

1. What is whey protein?
According to the almighty Wikipedia, whey protein is the collection of globular proteins that can be isolated from whey, a by-product of cheese manufactured from cow's milk. It is typically a mixture of beta-lactoglobulin (~65%), alpha-lactalbumin (~25%), and serum albumin (~8%), which are soluble in their native forms, independent of pH. Whey has the highest biological value (BV) of any known protein.

More simply, whey protein is a high quality protein powder from cow's milk. Milk has two proteins: Casein (approximately 80%) and Whey Protein (approximately 20%). Whey protein is more soluble than casein and also has a higher quality rating. It is often referred to as the "Gold Standard" of protein as considered by some to be the most nutritious protein available.

2. Is whey a complete protein
Yes. Whey protein is a natural, high-quality, and complete protein that contains all the amino acids the body requires for muscle protein synthesis. Whey protein has a higher biological value compared to other proteins meaning the protein is easily absorbed and utilized -- especially in isolate form.

3. What are the advantages of whey protein?
This is a tough one to answer in short, but most notably, emerging research suggests that higher daily intakes of high-quality protein and their amino acid components, especially the higher amounts of leucine found in whey protein, may help people on a reduced-calorie diet preserve lean muscle mass while burning fat more effectively than those who just cut calories while consuming lower amounts of protein.

Preliminary studies show whey protein may offer advantages in lowering blood pressure. There also are some suggestions of protection against infections and viruses.

In addition, whey protein is a high-quality protein. It contains all of the essential amino acids in the proportions that the body requires for good health. Whey protein has the highest biological value of any protein, meaning it is efficiently used by the human body (104 for whey protein vs. 100 for eggs, 74 for soy protein and 54 for wheat).

4. What are the disadvantages of whey protein?
Generally speaking, the best whey products are fairly expensive, essentially rendering them obsolete or inaccessible to most. There are certainly affordable whey products, but these are usually of a much lower quality, and are often full of sugar. These cheaper products are not digested as easily as a quality product.

Overall, however, most of us who are serious about gaining lean muscle mass will do what we need to find a whey protein product that is of high quality, and affordable at the same time. The plethora of advantages make the sacrifice worth it, while the disadvantages typically only involve the cost of the product. Simply put, you can't go wrong with a quality whey protein product when you are serious about protein intake. In light of how beneficial it is, it is ironic that it was once considered a waste product in the process of making milk and cheese.


To conclude, it should also be stated that while there isn’t a daily recommendation specific for whey protein, the average adult needs approximately 46-56g of total protein each day to maintain a healthy body. (That's according to the Institute of Medicine, Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrates, Fiber, Fat, Protein and Amino Acids.)

Whey protein (and the products that contain it) can help people meet their protein requirements with a high-quality source. And I dig it.

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The Daniel Craig 007 Workout

I decided to check out Quantum of Solace last night, and wasn't let down. Daniel Craig is a hands-down bad @ss.

We should all be so lucky to be as fit as Craig at the age of 40. And with that in mind, Men's Health Magazine posted the Daniel Craig Workout.

Here's the skinny (click each day for full details):

Monday's Workout
Power Circuit

Reps: 10 of each exercise
Sets: 3

- Clean and Press
- Weighted Knee Raise
- Weighted Stepups
- Pullup
- Incline Pushup
- Triceps Dips

Tuesday's Workout
Chest and Back

Reps: 10 of each exercise
Sets: 4

- Incline Bench Press
- Pullup
- Incline Pushup
- Incline Pec Flys

Wednesday's Workout

Reps: 10 of each exercise
Sets: 4

- Squat
- Straight-Leg Deadlift
- Hamstring Curl
- Weighted Lunge

Thursday's Workout
Shoulders and Arms

Reps: 10 of each exercise
Sets: 4

- Incline Biceps Curls
- Triceps Dips
- Lateral Raises
- Shoulder Press

Friday's Workout
Power Circuit

Reps: 10 of each exercise
Sets: 3

- Clean and Press
- Weighted Knee Raise
- Weighted Stepups
- Pullup
- Incline Pushup
- Triceps Dips

Saturday's Workout
Stay away from the weights, but do some stretching and easy cardio, such as a hike, a bike ride, or a mid-paced run.

Sunday's Workout
Work off a long night at Casino Royale, or something more intimate, with another dose of stretching and easy cardio.

I'm in the middle of a workout routine right now, but I'm going to try the James Bond Workout the first week of December. Anyone want to join me? Let me know if/when you do the same.

I'd be curious to hear your thoughts.

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Fast Workouts, or Slow: Which is Better?

If you've read The Men's Health Blog Genesis post, you know that I've long been interested in what I call 'competing theories' in relation to exercise.

So, what do I mean by this, exactly?

Here's an example:

You're bench pressing. Some guys will swear on their grandmother's grave that you must -- absolutely must -- touch your chest with the bar to benefit from the exercise. Full range of motion is usually the argument.

Others (perhaps fewer than the former) swear that you really only need to bring the bar down until your arms reach a 90 degree angle. After 90 degrees, they argue, you actually begin relaxing your pectorals and transfering the weight to your anterior deltoids. I remember hearing this advice as far back as high school summer weight training.

I tend to think both techniques can be equally beneficial -- of course dependant upon the lifter's goals and limitations. (For more on the bench press, check out: How to Bench Press with Proper Technique & Avoid Shoulder Injuries)

Any way, I came across this article from the editors of Men's Health which discusses whether your workout should be all fast or all slow -- which is yet another set of competing theories.

Which is better? Both.

Your workout shouldn't be all fast or all slow—it should be both.

This exercise routine... includes pauses before the explosive "up" portion of two of the movements. This increases the load placed on your muscles and ignites new gains.

Go figure.

Now, think of all the other exercises to which you can apply this technique.

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On Gaining Lean Muscle Mass

To be honest, I'm one of those guys that for a long time had trouble gaining weight. And by gaining weight, I'm of course referring to gaining proper, lean, muscle mass.

Over the last two years, however, I have been able to slowly pack on roughly 15 pounds -- a huge step for a moderately lanky guy like myself.

My secret? It's not a secret at all. Chances are, you've heard of a similar -- if not the same -- nutritional plan.

Generally speaking, I try to eat at least six times a day, or at least every three hours. I lift weights at lunch every weekday (and eat lunch as I work at my desk when I return). I attempt to consume one gram of protein per pound of body weight, and I enjoy a bowl of cereal before I go to bed.

That said, some of the guys at my office were aghast when they found out I consume -- although I don't always succeed -- around 170-190 grams of protein per day, about five days a week.

But in actuality, it's not that hard.

Here's how I accomplished consuming 189 grams of protein throughout my day today:

Bingo. 189 grams. Piece of cake.

Anyone on a similar plan? A better plan?

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The Men's Health Blog Genesis

Alright. I've been meaning to begin a men's health blog for some time now. So enough with the procrastination, right?

Let's kick this off.

I call myself a health guru, but in full disclosure, I'm just an average male in my late 20s, trying to sift through the boggy mess that is the incredible wealth of information surrounding the issue of men's health.

I live a double life -- one as a corporate marketing professional and small business owner, and another as a Forward Observer, Martial Arts Instructor, and Parachutist in the United States Marine Corps.

I enjoy a wide array of hobbies, not the least of which include: surfing, scuba diving, snowboarding, working out, traveling, shooting, guitar, softball, reading, writing, etc.

Some say I indulge in too many hobbies.

I say, bite it.

I take a practical approach to health, and more often than not reject the extremes. I've long been interested in the various competing theories related to exercise, nutrition, etc. and this blog is intended to facilitate some of the ramblings on these and other topics that have been bouncing around my dome for some time now.

So without further adieu... I'd like to personally welcome you to The Men's Health Blog.

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Sex With Herpes, Who wants me?

How To Never Feel Lonely Again!

My life is now completely changed because of the herpes virus I have contracted of some low life that wasn't honest with me, and not for the good. You think about it, each and every one of us could miss out on the love of our life because of what we have. It stops us from living our life normally! And don't say that it doesn't, because we would all have done things differently if we didn't have it.
More on how I'm finding the love of my life having herpes...
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