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Four Days to Fit?
Seems implausible but a new study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that eating a Mediterranean diet improved athletes’ endurance performance in just four days: Runners ran a 5K on two separate occasions — once after four days of eating a Mediterranean diet and, a few weeks later, once after four days of eating a Western diet. The result: Run times were on average 6 percent faster after the Mediterranean diet.
The Mediterranean diet includes things like whole fruits and veggies, nuts, olive oil, whole grains, limited red meat/processed foods, limited dairy and refined sugars, and it has long been heralded for its myriad of health benefits. A Western diet, on the other hand, contains more red meat and dairy, is higher in saturated fats and processed food, and includes fewer vegetables and fruits.
Researchers speculate that the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects of the Mediterranean diet as well as its alkalizing properties likely led to improved athletic performance. Give it a whirl before your next race — you could post a personal record!
Use It or Lose It – Until You Use It Again
It’s true that if you stop training your muscles, they will shrink and atrophy, but on a molecular level, you are still as buff as you were before, according to research published in Frontiers in Physiology. Muscle growth is accompanied by the addition of new nuclei, and these nuclei persist even when muscle cells shrink because of disuse or even disease. When you start exercising again, those nuclei become reactivated, enabling muscle size and strength to recover more quickly, therefore explaining the “muscle memory” phenomenon. Research also suggests that you can actually “bank” muscle potentiation in your teens — adding those critical nuclei early on — to prevent frailty in old age.
All Hail HIIPA
No, not that privacy form you have to fill out at the doc’s office. HIIPA stands for high-intensity incidental physical activity, a short, sharp burst of activity — such as the much-overused climbing the stairs or toting your groceries to and from the car — that has you huffing and puffing after a few seconds. A report in the British Journal of Sports Medicine concluded that several HIIPA episodes per day could have significant health benefits for everyone, including improved cardiorespiratory fitness. What’s more, it’s nearly effortless, since these are activities you’re already doing during the day, and requires no equipment and a minimal time commitment.