Running

Why Athletes Reach for White Rice Over Brown Rice

White Rice Athlete

Whole grains are generally good for you and are a recommended food to improve overall health. However, athletes often follow different nutritional guidelines when considering what’s best for sports nutrition.

One of the biggest differences in the diet of elite athletes is the preference of white rice over brown rice. White rice can be a primary carbohydrate source that’s excellent for quick energy and glycogen replenishment. The goal of the athlete and lifter is supplying adequate amounts of macronutrients to fuel extreme training and replenish severely depleted glycogen stores. White rice plays a major part in this process and is considered excellent sports nutrition for these athletes.

One of the most popular meals for lifters is a large bowl of white rice combined with grilled chicken breast and endurance runners often carbo load with white rice before events. Because white rice ranks high on the glycemic index, informed athletes and lifters recognize the high glycemic value of white rice to provide quick fuel for hard workouts and facilitate muscle recovery.

According to USA Rice Information, rice contains more carbohydrates than potatoes for the same serving size. Parboiled, converted, and instant white rice is suggested for pre and post-workout meals. Consuming white rice ensures the body is properly fueled for the competitive athlete.

And for those training less than 4-days per week or suffering from a metabolic disease, brown rice is considered a better choice as brown rice is still a healthy nutrient dense food. Brown rice is absolutely recommended for the general populous and everyday fitness person who can tolerate whole grains, but for those going the extra mile sometimes white rice is the better choice.

Itchy Muscles? What Does It Mean?

Teen Fitness

I’ve recently gotten into yoga and have noticed that the next morning, I’ll sometimes wake-up with an itching sensation that feels like it’s coming from inside my muscle tissue. I didn’t know whether that was cause for concern, so I started doing a little internet research find out.

What I discovered is that an itching sensation isn’t necessarily a bad thing and that if your itching only happens when you exercise, you likely won’t have any other symptoms.

People complain of itchy muscles especially in warm weather or if it’s been a while since they last exercised. Exercising, especially cardio workouts like running, increase your blood flow and send a lot of oxygen to your muscles. The theory is that the blood vessels in your muscles are stretching beyond what they’re used to, and this wakes up the nerves around them.

And since the nerve signals that communicate pain can sometimes be closely linked with the nerve signals for itch, itching muscles could also be a way that your body is processing stress from working out.

So next time you workout and your muscle fibers start to itch, that’s probably a good sign. Just remember to keep stretching and not to push your muscles to the point of strains or tears.

Quick + Easy Summer Workouts

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Are you traveling with the family for the summer and do you need workout ideas to keep in shape efficiently and without exercise equipment handy? Try the below workout that can be done anywhere — even on the beach before the crowds arrive.

For each move do 10 reps, repeat for 3 rounds and rest 30 seconds between rounds.

Lateral Lunges

Step right leg out into a lateral lunge with the left leg straight. As you stand up, drag the left leg back to standing while using the sand as resistance. Repeat movement on the other side.

180-degree Jump Squats

Squat and touch the ground, jump 180-degrees clockwise and touch the ground again. Repeat by jumping 180-degrees counter-clockwise. Two jumps equals one rep.

Down Dog Push-Ups

Start in a down dog position. Walk your hands out to a full plank, perform a push-up and then walk your hands back to down dog.

Shuttle Sprints

Place two towels about 20 yards apart, and using them as markers, start at one and sprint to the other. That’s one! Keep your speed up, sprinting back and forth five times (10 lengths total).

Summer’s Already Here (gulp): Think 20-20-20 To See Results Fast

Summer Fitness Tips

Summer is here again and most of us definitely aren’t ready to be our best-beach selves. Need to see results fast? Try combining cardio training with some resistance training in a six-day-a-week fitness regimen. Do each component twice a week, for a total of six days, with one day off. And as with any new exercise regimen, speak to your doctor first.

Spend Two Days a Week Doing High-Intensity Exercise

Twice a week, do a high-intensity routine incorporating cardio and resistance for 20 minutes (including warm-up/cool-down).

Ideas: Warm up with walking for two to three minutes. Then do one minute of jumping jacks, then one minute of push-ups, then one minute of running or walking up a hill, then rest 30 seconds with easy walking. Repeat your high-intensity routine four times.

Then do a few minutes of stretching to cool down, for  a total of 20 minutes. Include the warm-up and cool-down, as both are important for any boot-camp/high-intensity routine.

Spend Two Days a week Doing Resistance Training

Twice a week, do resistance training for 15 to 20 minutes. You can use your own body weight for resistance training, doing squats, lunges, push-ups and triceps dips. The major bonus of resistance training is that because it builds muscle, and muscle burns more calories than fat tissue does, your body continues to burn calories even after the workout is finished.

Spend Two Days a Week Doing Interval Training

Twice a week, do interval training for 20 minutes. Doing something fast, then slow, is an effective fat burner. Instead of going for a 10- to 20-minute light jog, for example, do a burst of sprinting until you are out of breath, walk for a while, then sprint again. Do this regularly and both your speed and stamina should start to increase. If you want to target your lower body run for five minutes, then do squats; run, then do lunges; run, then do step-ups.

Best Post Workout Meals: Part 2

Workout Food

In our last post, we learned how important it is to eat post-working out. In this second installment, we learn how the right balance of foods can help you recover after exercise.

After your workout, your body tries to rebuild its glycogen stores and repair and regrow muscle proteins.

Eating the right nutrients soon after you exercise can help your body get this done faster. It is particularly important to eat carbs and protein after your workout.

Doing this helps your body:

• Decrease muscle protein breakdown

• Increase muscle protein synthesis (growth)

• Restore glycogen stores

• Enhance recovery

Protein Helps Repair and Build Muscle

Exercise triggers the breakdown of muscle protein and even the most advanced athletes experience muscle protein breakdown.

Consuming an adequate amount of protein after a workout gives your body the amino acids it needs to repair and rebuild these proteins. It also gives you the building blocks required to build new muscle tissue.

Studies have shown that depending on your body type, ingesting 20–40 grams of protein maximizes the body's ability to recover after exercise.

Carbs Help With Recovery

Your body's glycogen stores are used as fuel during exercise, and consuming carbs after your workout helps replenish them.

The rate at which your glycogen stores are used depends on the activity. For example, endurance sports cause your body to use more glycogen than resistance training.

For this reason, if you participate in endurance sports (e.g. running or swimming), you might need to consume more carbs than a bodybuilder.

Eating plenty of carbs to rebuild glycogen stores is most important for people who exercise often, such as twice in the same day. If you have 1 or 2 days to rest between workouts then this becomes less important.

Fat Is Not That Bad

Many people think that eating fat after a workout slows down digestion and inhibits the absorption of nutrients. While fat might slow down the absorption of your post-workout meal, it will not reduce its benefits.

For example, a study showed that whole milk was more effective at promoting muscle growth after a workout than skim milk.

Moreover, another study showed that even when ingesting a high-fat meal (45% energy from fat) after working out, muscle glycogen synthesis was not affected.

It might be a good idea to limit the amount of fat you eat after exercise, but having some fat in your post-workout meal will not affect your recovery.

How To's: Interval Training

Interval Training

So how do you get the most out of interval training, and how long should each push and recovery be? One of the many great things about intervals is that there's no single hard-and-fast rule. Different lengths of work and recovery bring different benefits—and they're all good.

Start with these three interval training plans. Just know this: Interval training is tough, so if you're just starting to work out, spend a few weeks to a month building your stamina with cardio workouts before adding interval training to your routine. Add these interval training plans to your gym routine once a week to burn more calories, build more fitness, and get out of the gym faster.

1. Cardio Blaster

This is one of the best interval training workouts you can do to improve fitness. It burns lots of calories in a short amount of time.

How to do it:

• Warm up for 15 minutes.

• Then run, bike, or row for 3 minutes at 90 to 95 percent of your maximum heart rate (should feel like 8.5 or 9 on a scale of one to 10). Take three minutes active recovery (you're still moving, but at an easy pace) and repeat the 3 on/3 off pattern three to four more times.

• Finish with a 10-minute cooldown.

Bonus benefit: This workout is like weight training for your heart—it strengthens your cardiovascular system, which improves your overall health.

2. Speedplay

Sprinting is great for tightening and toning your legs, glutes, and core. It increases your muscle power, which helps you push harder and makes your non-interval training workouts feel easier so you can challenge yourself and burn even more calories.

How to do it:

• Warm up for 15 minutes, adding a few 20-second bursts at the end to prepare for the workout.

• Run, bike, or row for 30 seconds at a nearly all-out effort. Take three minutes active recovery and repeat the 30 on/3 off pattern five or six more times.

• Finish with a 10-minute cooldown.

3. Cardio-Sprint Pyramid

This adds sprint interval training for a fast and fun workout. Here, after each burst of hard work, you'll recover for the same amount of time.

How to do it:

• Warm up for 15 minutes, adding a few 20-second bursts at the end to prepare for the workout.

• Run, bike, or row: During the work periods, you should have a rate of perceived exertion (RPE of 8 to 10, followed by 30 seconds of active recovery.

Build and taper the workout like this: 30 seconds sprint/30 seconds recover; 1 minute sprint/1 minute recover; 2 minutes sprint/2 minutes recover; 4 minutes sprint/4 minutes recover; 2 minutes sprint/2 minutes recover; 1 minute sprint/1 minute recover; 30 seconds sprint/30 seconds recover; Finish with a 10-minute cooldown.

Bonus benefit: This major calorie-burning interval training plan gives you the best of both worlds—high-octane cardio and muscle-sculpting sprints.

Stretching Do's and Don'ts

Stretching Do's and Don'ts

Stretching as a warm-up before exercise has been taught in schools for generations. Today experts debate the effectiveness of stretching cold muscles. The VarCity cold truth? Stretching is helpful, but keep these basics in mind:

1.  Avoid Stretching a Cold Muscle

Only perform "static stretching” (stretch and hold) after a five to 10 minute warm-up.  A warmed-up muscle can stretch longer and endure more stretching and you may hurt yourself if you stretch cold muscles. 

2.  Use Dynamic or “Active” Stretching as a Warm-Up

Dynamic stretches mimic movements used in a sport or activity.  Warm-ups prepare the body for activity by helping to increase blood flow and muscle temperature.

If you're preparing to play tennis, for example, you’ll want to practice side and front lunges as part of your warm-up – movements you'll use to reach for the ball.

Light, gentle rhythmic movements work best for the average person.  Go through a shallow range of motion (e.g. a half-squat vs. a full squat) until you're thoroughly warmed up."

3.  Stretch at the End of your Workout

Stretching at the end of the cool-down phase (i.e. after exercise when your muscles are still warm) helps to maintain long-term flexibility benefits.

VarCity Lifehacks: Make Running with AirPods Easy

AirPod Life hacks

Caroline V already gave us her take on running with AirPods.  The big takeaway was that while AirPods boast superior design, the smartest charging case and great Bluetooth hardware, the sound quality can suffer when the smooth plastic tips inevitably lose the noise isolating seal in your ears.  And while Caroline gave us suggestions for add-ons that help our AirPods stay in place, taking these parts on and off every time we want to charge isn't ideal.  

So VarCity scoured the internet and discovered our favorite lifehack for keeping AirPods sealed in your ears.  Using a hole punch and a roll of Nexcare Absolute Waterproof Tape, which is cushioned and grippy, you can strategically place tiny dots on your AirPods so they stick in your ears without slipping.  Best of all, the AirPods still fit in the case, so they can be charged without having to remove any tips.  And while it looks a little different, as you can see in the photo above, the tape is completely hidden inside your ear while you’re using the AirPods, so it’s obviously not a big deal.  Let us know how this hack works for you in the comments section below and be entered to win a free pair of AirPods!

 

 

 


 

Five Easy Ways to Drink More Water Throughout the Day

Drink More Water

We all know we need water to be healthy; however, remembering to drink it isn't always easy.  How you drink water can be just as important as how much water you drink, so gradually drinking water throughout the day is important too, especially as the temperatures start to rise.

Below are VarCity’s top 5 ways to drink water consistently throughout the day.

1.  Get a bigger bottle.  I used to keep a little 12-ounce bottle of water on my desk, and I would drink it all, but then I would never get around to refilling it. Now, I keep a large 1 liter bottle on my desk with a goal to drink all of it by the time the work day is over. I like it because it's a little goal I can set each day and easily see my progress as the hours go by.

2.  Set an alarm.  If you get so focused that you forget that bottle is on your desk, you may want to try setting an alarm on your phone or computer to go off every couple of hours or so to remind you to take a few swigs of water. I like to use this time to stand up and stretch, too!

3.  Drink a glass before each meal.  If it's just not convenient for you to drink water throughout the day, try setting a goal to drink at least one cup of water before each meal.  Not only does this help you to stay hydrated, studies show that drinking a glass of water before a meal can help you feel full faster!

4.  Track what you drink.  A small glass here and there in your busy day may have you unsure about how much water you consumed at the end of the day. So try tracking your fluid intake just like you would when you record meals and snacks in a food journal.

5.  Don’t live on water alone.  You can meet up to 20% of your daily fluid needs by consuming fluid-rich foods such as fruits and veggies, which are 80-90% water!

And remember, if you are working out regularly, especially in the heat, you will need more fluids.  For every pound lost during a workout (due to sweating), consume an additional 16 ounces of fluid. 

Your New Favorite Running Buddy

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So it’s officially 2018.  Caroline let us know that we can run with AirPods and hopefully you’re sticking to your 2018 New Year’s Resolution.  Something we’ve always believed at VarCity is that working out with a buddy is a great way to stick to your workout routine.  And if you’re still looking for that perfect running partner, try your local animal shelter.

No matter what your running pace, you can find a pup who's exactly your speed.  Some of the younger dogs can be boundless bundles of energy, while some of the larger or older dogs -- who own a few more years experience -- can have a slower steady stride.  Ziggy (shown above) is a Puerto Rican rescue who gets so excited to run he can hardly contain himself!

Across the country a growing number of animal shelters are broadening their volunteer base by appealing to runners while giving higher-energy dogs companionship and a healthy, calming outlet as they await adoption.

“I really do think we’re part of the reason dogs are getting adopted,” said Adria Eichner, who helps coordinate the Delco Dog Trotters program and provides training for volunteers.  “We’re giving dogs another skill they might not have had, and it makes them more marketable.”

If you’ve been thinking about adopting a new running buddy or just want a new way to volunteer with animals, ask if your local SPCA or animal shelter has its own program.