February 2015

You are browsing the site archives for February 2015.

Power Snacks: 12 Healthy Craving Killers

Got a craving? Munch and sip your way to a leaner, more muscular physique with these healthy snacks that do everything from fat burning to muscle building

It’s almost 3 p.m., lunch is a distant memory, and your stomach is rumbling like Thor before his morning latte. It’s not uncommon to feel peckish and parched throughout the workday, especially if you’re in the midst of a heavy-duty training program that’s burning up a sizeable chunk of calories. But graze on too much of the wrong foods or guzzle too many hazardous drinks at your workplace (read: leftover birthday cake and sugary soda), and your snack habit could have serious waistline repercussions. Smart snack and beverage choices, however, can curb your hunger pangs or keep you hydrated while also providing the vital nutrients needed to torch fat, support muscle growth and fend off diseases. Each of these supercharged snacks and drinks are work-friendly; they can either be stashed in your desk or office fridge to keep you nourished throughout the day.

 

Fat Burners

String Cheese

Not only is low-carb string cheese abundant in muscle-friendly protein, it’s also loaded with calcium. Typecast as a mineral that’s only good for building bones of steel, emerging research now suggests that a higher intake of calcium can help torch bodyfat. Calcium may have an impact on various hormones involved in fat accumulation and bind up fatty acids in the intestine, rendering them unavailable for absorption.

Upgrade: Stash reduced-fat versions of string cheese such as part-skim mozzarella in the office fridge — these provide a better protein-to-fat ratio than full-fat sticks.

Green Tea

Not only does sipping green tea throughout the day allow you to stay hydrated without relying on boring plain water, it may also help keep Buddha-belly at bay. A 2012 Pennsylvania State University investigation determined that subjects who regularly consumed hot tea were less likely to have flabby midsections than those who did without. Sipping iced tea, on the other hand, was found to promote weight gain, likely due to the higher intakes of sugar. The potent antioxidant found in green tea called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) may stimulate a pokey metabolism to help shed fat as well as inhibit fat-storing enzymes. According to data presented at the meeting of the American Chemical Society, a hot-from-the-kettle cup of green or black tea delivers up to 20 times more fat-fighting antioxidants than bottled varieties, which are often weighed down by added sugars.

Upgrade: Consider splurging for matcha green tea. This Japanese tea is made by grinding up whole green tea leaves so you end up with a huge dose of EGCG in your mug.

Pistachios

A number of studies including a recent one by Harvard scientists have found that subjects who regularly consume crunchy nuts are at lower risk of being too pudgy than those who do without. A synergy of protein, fiber, unsaturated fats and minerals may be the reason nuts can help in the battle of the bulge, despite their high calorie count. Consider snacking on a handful of in-shell pistachios. Because you have to shell them, you’re likely to keep portions in check. Scientists at Eastern Illinois University found that the extra work of shelling pistachios caused people to consume 41% fewer calories than when they snacked on the shelled nuts, yet the subjects felt just as satisfied and full.

Upgrade: To limit your sodium intake, opt for unsalted nuts such as pistachios and almonds.…

Double accuracy for your muscles

Double your accuracy from outside the key by strengthening essential muscles that are essential for hitting the three-pointer consistently.

The clock reads 0:03 left in the game and your team is trailing by two points. Unfortunately, your team has to inbound from behind your own touch line. Your guard inbounds as your streaking group of desperate players fast breaks across mid-court for one last shot. But the other team’s defense stymies you at their outside perimeter as the clock is about to run out. The ball arrives in your hands, but there’s no time to make any more passes. All you can do is jump high and sail a long-distance shot from behind the arc. What are the chances it’ll go in? Remember now, a three-point shot will help you not just tie but actually win the game.

Enough hoops fantasy time for the moment. Knowing that even NBA stars who get paid several million dollars a year are considered exceptional by sinking 40 percent from the three-point mark, what chance do you have? 10 percent? 15 percent? If you want to double the chances of nailing the trifecta, here’s some resistance training directly responsible for helping you sink the trey more consistently.

A Kinetic Rhythm

To throw an object with the size and weight of a basketball about 50 feet, power must originate from your legs. “If you try to throw just with your arms, you’re doomed to fail from the three-point mark,” says Paul Culham, a one-time at 6’5” a small forward from the University of Toronto varsity basketball team. “Basketball is a very repetitive sport and success comes from consistency. The only way to drain a three-pointer consistently is to first harness power from your legs, which in turn makes it easier on your arms. The secret is finding a kinetic rhythm involving your whole body, starting with your feet and ending when you release the ball high in the air.”

Clearly, there’s a lot more to throwing a three-pointer than simply letting the ball slide off your fingertips, and ensuring that you have mastered the right rhythm throughout your whole body is essential. Remember that the sport of basketball doesn’t always require you to have extreme athleticism or speed (but they do help). If you’re 5’10” there’s nothing you’re going to be able to do to change your height when you’re up against a 6’2” defender.

Remember also that Larry Bird was by no means the most athletic or naturally gifted player—he was often considered a clumsy runner and lacking in speed—however, he was certainly one of the most skilled shooters in NBA history, and much of his success leading to his becoming a Hall of Famer came from drilling the three-pointer.

Jump Squat: For lift power

3 sets of 12-15

 

Key Benefit: Increase power in your upper legs to initiate a long-distance basketball shot.

Target: Quads, hamstrings, glutes

Start: Position a barbell (weighted very lightly) behind your neck across your traps and use a wide overhand grip to stabilize the bar. Keep your head up and your back straight. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart with toes pointing marginally outward.

Movement: As you lower your torso, imagine you’re sitting down in a chair torso, keeping your head level and back straight. Stop lowering when you get to where your quads are parallel with the floor. Press explosively with your quads to generate a full-body thrust into the air until your toes leave the ground. Land as gently as you can and balance yourself back to the start position.

Reps Tip: It’s OK to fix your eyes slightly upward (toward the ceiling) before you jump, but don’t let your head lower as you descend to the ground; any rounding of your spine can leave you vulnerable to injury.

Upright Row: For speed

4 sets of 10


Key Benefit: Increase the speed and power with which you can bring the ball to the shooting position above your head.

Target: Middle deltoids, trapezius

Start: Stand upright with a slightly wider-than-shoulder-width stance for stability. Grasp a light barbell with a pronated (overhand) grip slightly narrower than shoulder width. Hold the bar at arms’ length so it’s resting adjacent to your thighs. Keep your head up.

Movement: Inhale and expand your upper chest. Leading with your elbows, pull the bar in a vertical plane straight upward, immediately in front of your torso. Your back shouldn’t round forward but must remain erect. Keeping your elbows very high, continue to pull the bar upward until it’s almost in front of your chin. Hold for a one-count and slowly lower the bar along the same plane back to the start position.

Reps Tip: Bend your knees slightly for added stability; this technique mirrors the act of stabilizing your lower body before …