Monday, June 25, 2012

The "B" Stands For "BEAST"

We all know it's important to get our vitamins and minerals.  Heck, we've been told that by our parents since the dawn of our days.  They were right to say so, vitamins are crucial to essential bodily functions and maintaining a healthy physical and mental state.  Every vitamin has a different job to do within the body (while some do overlap), so it's important to get a broad spectrum.  Some vitamins are water soluble, and some fat soluble.  The water soluble ones you can pretty much take as much as you want (though huge doses usually aren't necessary), where as fat soluble ones you don't want to overdose on, as that can have some nasty consequences.

Now you remember I wrote an article on why multivitamins aren't necessary in a highly clean and varied diet, and I still stand by that statement.  However there are a few vitamins that are definitely good to supplement if you live a certain kind of lifestyle.  For us gym-goers, who work out hard and heavy on a regular basis, one of the most important vitamins to supplement is vitamin B.

Why vitamin B?  Well, in Olympic weightlifting, there is an enormous toll taken on your central nervous system.  In fact, we lifters are almost never sore muscularly, as we have highly advanced recovery diets, massages, cold and warmth techniques, stretches, and other methods to ensure our muscles are ready to go another round only a few hours later.  The main issue with the sport is allowing the central nervous system to recover, which if left to its ways is a very slow process.  Pretty much the best methods of CNS recovery are: sleep, eat, and vitamin B.  That's right, vitamin B is actually quite helpful when it comes to restoring CNS function in a short amount of time.

There are a couple ways to effectively supplement vitamin B.  The first is to actually inject a vitamin B complex directly into the bloodstream.  This ensures extremely efficient absorption, and many people who get vitamin B injections say they feel like superman the next day.  Joint pain is gone, they feel wide awake, and usually cannot WAIT to lift.  Believe me, that's quite the change from the normal "zombie" state associated with lifting.

The second way is to orally supplement vitamin B.  While a B complex is best, I personally usually supplement very large doses of vitamin B-12, only one part of the complex.  B-12 is virtually impossible to overdose on, and therefore it's easy to take a LOT of it and ensure your body has all it needs.  Any extra will just come out in urine.  A word of caution though, just B-12 will not completely repair your CNS completely by itself (although B-12 by itself can have a large effect), it needs support from other B vitamins such as B-5, B-6, B-2, etc.  This is why it's important you do get other B vitamins in your diet, either through food or separate supplementation.  A person is much more likely to overdose on other B vitamins such as B-6, so don't take it in as large a quantity as you would B-12.

Oral methods of supplementation include pills/capsules, or liquid.

Here's a lot more information on B-12 and the entire B complex via the site:

Now as you may have guessed, Olympic weightlifters aren't the only people who experience CNS burnout.  Anyone who hits the gym on a regular basis is at risk of "burning out," especially if you're giving it your all in the gym like you should be.  Don't be afraid of getting burnt, but try to avoid it if possible.  Get plenty of sleep, keep your diet up to snuff, and make sure you supplement your B vitamins.  They go a LONG way in ensuring you're able to perform at your best on a constant basis.

There's one more little thing I'd like to discuss about vitamin B-12.  The vitamin can be derived from two main sources, Cyanocobalamin and Methylcobalamin.  There's a rumor out there that the Cyanocobalamin version of the drug is harmful to your body because it's bonded to a Cyanide molecule.  There have been studies done on this claim, and all have shown that Cyanocobalamin has NO noticable effect on your body whatsoever.  Zip.  Zilch.  None.  This is good, because this version of the drug is MUCH cheaper than the Methylcobalamin version, specifically because it's synthetic.  It's also more stable, and more efficient at getting into your body.  

Don't want to take my word for it?  Here's an article describing exactly the same thing:

Before I end, I'll just add a little personal note in.  The very first night I took a 1500 mcg B-12 pill, I woke the next morning feeling SOOOO much better than I had the day before.  The feeling of mental fatigue and cloudiness was absolutely GONE.  B vitamins are an extremely powerful thing.  Take advantage of what they can do for you.  They're cheap, effective, and boy do they let you perform at your best.

Lift hard, lift often, be a BEAST, and as always, GOOD LUCK!

Friday, June 22, 2012

New Olympic Weightlifting Blog: Liftm0re

Well, I figured it was about time to create my own little place to write about my journey into becoming a competitive Olympic Weightlifter.  My new blog is called liftm0re, and will serve as a place where I put insightful/poetic observations and thoughts related to training, PR's, failures, competitions, workouts, and basically anything related to this crazy lifting lifestyle.

It won't be quite as "factual" as The Food Guru, but hey, that might make it more fun to read in the long run anyway.  I'd really appreciate if a few of you checked it out, and if you like it let me know.  The more feedback, the better.

This also means I won't post Oly lifting stuff on The Food Guru anymore, so it's a win win for people who don't want to read about it....hah.

Anyway, I really hope you guys enjoy it, and thank you so much for the continued support.

Here's the link!

I'll be back with more food related goodness later this afternoon.  I've got a few new cool article ideas, stay tuned!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Kava: Nature's Chill Pill

Every once in a while, I try something new that absolutely blows me away.  It's not often, but it does happen, and when it does it's a real treat.  I mean who doesn't like to be truly astounded?  My most recent experience with the magic of nature came just last Friday while I was at work.  It's rather fitting that this summer I got a job at a beautiful little health food and supplement store called "Rising Tide Natural Foods" in Kittery, Maine.  Not only is the place stocked with the healthiest, purest versions of any sort of food, drink, or supplementation you could imagine, but the employees there (including myself, if I may be so bold) are the nicest you'll find anywhere.  The owner, Paul, takes great pride in his shop, and is an encyclopedia of every supplement and their effects.  He was the one who let me try this new miracle of nature, and I can guarantee to you he saw in my face how blown away I really was.

So enough beating around the bush.  What exactly is this crazy thing I'm talking about?  It's called Kava, and it's probably one of the best relaxant supplements on the shelf.  It causes any sort of anxiety or tension to vanish almost instantly, and at the same time is able to relax every muscle in your body into a soft and wonderfully "loose" state.  And the best part is, it does all this extremely quickly WITHOUT affecting cognitive ability at all.  You can still think just as clearly.  Crazy, eh?

Let me tell you, I'm not one to be immediately swayed by so called "miracle" supplements such as this. Most natural stuff I look over as being good for you, but not particularly effective.  Many times remarkable results are obtained mostly through placebo effect.  But in this instance, that's not the case, AT ALL.  Let me tell you a little bit of my first experience with Kava.  I came upon the stuff while pricing new items, and Paul came over to see how I was doing.  As he saw the Kava, his face lit up instantly and he immediately started going into the history and chemical makeup of the stuff (of which I'll tell you in a bit), and proceeded to ask if I'd ever tried it.  I said I hadn't.  He began to unscrew the cap of the little bottle, and said bluntly, "Let's do some Kava."  He took out the cap (which doubled as one of those mini liquid droppers), filled it with the liquid (which had a brown, semi opaque type of look), and squirted some into my mouth.  I was completely ready to feel absolutely nothing, but that DIDN'T happen.

At first, my mouth went slightly numb.  I swallowed it, and while Paul continued to talk to me, I could feel my body start to release tension.  It went from top to bottom, an unbelievable "descending" feeling.  My nervousness was gone, and I realized I was slouching.  It's as if all at once I slipped into one of the most relaxed states I'd ever been in.  I didn't understand it, and I didn't care to.  I just knew the stuff worked.

So where does this Kava come from?  Well, it's actually a root extract, and has quite a history with different native tribes and tropical climates.  The plant is actually called Piper Methysticum (meanining "intoxicating pepper"), and comes from Western Pacific locations.  You might also see it called "Kava-Kava," but a Kava expert tells me that this double name was probably formulated by supplement companies to sell more product.   It's been used by several Polynesian tribes for its sedative properties, and is actually a large part of many tribal cultures and rituals.  In the purest Kava, only the roots are used, and are rich in what are called "Kavalactones," the active relaxing agent of the plant.  These Kavalactones are unique in that they're able to relax muscles and minds without effecting cognitive ability.  You'll be comfortable, chill, and free of stress.  It's also been known to increase sociability, and as Paul puts it: "it has all the good effects of alcohol, without any of the bad ones!"  He means of course that it will make you comfortable in social situations, a very useful tool.

Would I recommend Kava?  Yes, I definitely would, both for athletes and average people alike.  For athletes, it's a PERFECT way to unwind tight muscles and pent-up tension, and make sure you get a great night's sleep.  For a hard worker, it can release the stress of work quicker and more safely than any complicated blended stress reliever pill.  It's all natural, safe, cheap, and usually readily available at any local health food store.  I really encourage you to try it.  It's a really fun and fantastic experience, and I truly believe that Kava can improve both your mental and physical state to a huge degree.

I know I'm picking up a bottle next chance I get.

If you want the best Kava, go for pure the pure root, which you can buy at
These guys do great business, are very nice, and know this root inside and out.  If you have any questions, I'm sure they'd be more than willing to help you out.

Stay cool, chill, relaxed, and Kava loving.  Good luck!!!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Cytosport Muscle Milk Bottles *Review*

As most of you probably know by now, I'm a HUGE connoisseur of protein supplements.  Whenever I get the chance, I try out something new on the shelf and see how it compares to what I've already had.  The other day I ran out of Combat Powder, and needed a quick, single day replacement for post workout nutrition.  I drove over to Walgreens, walked up to the refrigerator and grabbed a bottle of Chocolate Muscle Milk by Cytosport.  After my workout, I chugged that sucker down, and's my review of the stuff:

Taste:  The chocolate version tasted great!  Sure, it wasn't the best protein I've ever had, but it wasn't far off, especially for a single dosage.  It's very thick and filling, and tastes like a real and substantially chocolatey shake.  Not hard to drink at all, and honestly it tasted good enough that I wished I had more.  The chocolate flavor is very potent, and doesn't taste very "chemical" at all (as some other proteins do.)  Reminded me of a brownie, even though it's been years since I've had one of those.  I will say though that I'm not a very picky person, and can appreciate most forms of chocolate flavor.  You may be a little more discerning, but I can say that I'm quite confident you'd enjoy the beverage.


Protein Content:  As far as the protein factor goes, the profile definitely isn't bad.  Is it the greatest protein source out there?  No.  But it's a good blend of many different proteins, including milk protein and a few types of whey.  The whey isn't amazingly refined, so I assume it won't absorb quite as quickly as a heavily filtered whey isolate or hydrolyzed whey.  Still, unless you're splitting hairs, it's not a huge deal, in fact I think it's good to have a blend so that the protein will feed your muscles over a longer period of time.  One bottle has a total of 25 grams of protein, which isn't huge, but is enough.  Just to compare though, most powdered proteins will give you about 50 grams of protein for the same number of calories as in a bottle of Muscle Milk.  So you're not getting a super concentrated dose, but the amount of protein your body can absorb in one sitting isn't that impressive anyway, so it's not a big deal.  Overall, the protein is of medium to medium high quality, and there's a decent amount of it.


Other Nutritional Profile:  One thing I noticed right away about Muscle Milk is that it has an interestingly large fat dosage.  Cytosport calls in "functional fat," which I assume means that their marketing it as healthy fat.  One bottle has a total of 9 g of fat, 1.5 g of which is saturated.  I'm not completely sure, but I think the fat mostly comes from the milk, as well as the oil used in the ingredients.  I can't vouch for exactly how high quality the fats are, but let's just say they don't raise any red flags or scare me away.  

A 14 oz bottle of Muscle Milk has only 3 grams of sugar, which is quite low considering the very sweet taste.  There are artificial sweeteners used, but I have no problem with those, though some people might.  The ingredient list is quite long, which I usually don't like, but expected in this case because most protein shakes have quite a bit that goes into them.  

Here's the nutritional information right off of Cytosport's website (click to enlarge):


Price:  Not the cheapest stuff out there, but definitely not the most expensive.  One bottle is around 3 bucks, not a killer investment if you need some quick protein.  I'd only use it as a temporary replacement for powder though, because you generally get a LOT more bang for your buck with powder.


Name:  SUPER COOL!  I mean seriously, "Muscle Milk"?  That's AWESOME!  Wish I'd thought of it.  Sure beats "whey protein isolate," or "mass gainer."  It's like, 

"Hey George, whatcha drinking?"

"Oh, nothing special, just MUSCLE MILK!!!"

Love it!


Overall, would I recommend the ready to drink Muscle Milk 14 oz bottles?  As far as the chocolate goes, yes I definitely would.  It's a great replacement for a powder for a day or two, and is a viable post workout protein source.  It's got a good blend of protein types, tastes great, and won't break the bank.  If you get a chance, try a bottle!  Let me know what you think!

Lift hard, lift heavy, refuel, and as always, good luck!!!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Healthy Fast Food?

Well my friends, I think it's about time I shared with you a quick little blurb on my favorite fast food.  That's right, I do eat fast food, though I don't think it resembles the greasy burgers and salty fries you're imagining.  In fact, I think it actually tastes a lot better than both of those, and is most definitely a lot more filling.  Oh, and you know if I'm writing about it, then it's actually legitimately HEALTHY!!!!  Too good to be true?  Not at all!

So where is this magical place?  Why, I'm sure it's in your nearest big shopping district.  It's called Panera Bread, and boy do they serve some good stuff.  Panera is famous for delicious salads, sandwiches, and a bakery that will put most others to shame.  The stores are well designed, modern, comfortable, and welcoming.  And while you may be screaming "NOT FAST FOOD!!!" -- you'd be dead wrong.  The food there is remarkably fast.  Often I place my order, get my little buzzer thing, and by the time I'm sitting down the darn thing is already going nuts (and scaring me half to death.)  Believe me, that food is speedy.  

You know what else is great about Panera?  They post caloric information right next to the menu items.  Now while you may be a little leary as to how accurate it really is, I believe they're required by law to put the same portions in each bowl in order to comply with those measurements, so you won't have to give or take too many calories from the stated number.  

Now keep in mind, NOT EVERYTHING in Panera is healthy.  In fact, you can get yourself into a lot of trouble with both the bakery (those pastries are incredible), and certain greasy sandwiches or cheesy soups.  Now don't get me wrong, everything tastes fantastic, but if you want to stay healthy, watch both the number of calories and the content of each sandwich, salad, or soup.  When I'm in Panera, I usually get the Thai Chopped Chicken Salad.  It's 470 calories for a GIANT bowl of tasty salad that's completely loaded with protein and healthy carbs.  Sure, the dressing is pretty sweet, but is completely manageable.  If you want to make it even better, take out the little Chinese noodles (as good as they taste.)  

Want a better idea of the nutritional information in Panera's food?  Here's a link to that exact information for your dieting knowledge:

I believe the best sandwich choices are:

Roasted Turkey and Avacado BLT (510 calories)

Smoked Turkey Breast on Country (420 calories)

And the best salad choices are:

Thai Chopped Chicken Salad (470 calories)

Poppyseed Chicken Salad (340 calories)

Asian Sesame Chicken (450 calories)

BBQ Chopped Chicken (500 calories)

As far as sides go, I'd suggest either an apple or whole grain baguette.  The chips are baked though, so they're not the worst thing going.  

Panera is definitely my favorite fast food joint.  If you keep your head on your shoulders and don't get tempted by the crazy chocolate stuffed croissants or cheesy, creamy soups, you can walk out of that place with a pretty healthy meal in your belly.  Remember folks, not all fast food is bad.

Enjoy your meals, choose wisely, and as always, GOOD LUCK!!!