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Taurine: The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly

Taurine: The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly

Taurine. According to its proponents, the amino acid is practically a “wonder drug,” with benefits ranging from enhancing your workout and mental focus to improving heart health and treating epilepsy. Primarily, you’ll find taurine in energy drinks like Red Bull, NOS, Monster, and Rockstar, but it’s also in  some pre-workout supplements and even baby formula.  You’ll also find taurine abundantly in your own body and in many meats and fish. So what is taurine, and, more importantly, is it bad for you? Let’s find out the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly on Taurine. First the Facts: Though it was first isolated from Ox bile over 185 years ago, conclusive studies of Taurine for its proposed benefits have remained elusive. It is an amino acid which is considered a conditionally essential amino acid. The “conditionally” is added because infants younger than six weeks can’t produce taurine naturally, whereas the rest of us in healthy conditions can (as long as we’re getting our B vitamins).  Second only to glutamine, taurine is...

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MSG: the Good, the Bad, & the Ugly

MSG: the Good, the Bad, & the Ugly

MSG. If you like your soup and salad, it’s in your soup, your salad dressing, and your crackers. Those frequent trips to the vending machine when you got the munchies for Cheetos? MSG is there too. Too rushed for time and have to get some fast food? You’ll be hard pressed to find a joint that’s sans-MSG. There’s been a lot of talk, hype, and contervosy over this umami flavor enhancer, but does it deserve the bad rap? Here’s the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly on MSG. First the Facts Monosodium Glutamate, MSG’s full name, is practically synonymous with the 5th flavor, umami. The Japanese word for savory, umami is distinct from sweet, sour, salty, & bitter, but when combined with these other flavors, umami can accent and enhance their taste. MSG is the primary ingredient in most of today’s food for giving that umami flavor enhancing goodness. The long and short of it is this: MSG is like nicotine for food, it makes it taste better. MSG...

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Stevia: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Stevia: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Stevia. Though it has gone by almost unnoticed by the general public for years, it’s current status as GRAS (generally recognized as safe) by the FDA has spearheaded the natural zero-calorie sweetener to the mainstream. Stevia is purported to be a safe,  all-natural sweetening agent without the bloodsugar-spiking effects of sugars. Formerly, such zero-cal bloodsugar-safe descriptions were reserved for lab-made ingredients  and sugar alcohols (like Aspartame, Saccharin, and Xylitol to name a few). But many of these lab-made artificial sweeteners have worse side effects than sugar, leaving many consumers (particularly diabetics), wanting something safer and natural. Enter Stevia, and the scramble for health and beverage companies alike to grab a piece of the stevia-sweetened pie. Yet, there’s still some controversy surrounding Stevia. And, as many of my readers from the Maltodextrin post have realized, some companies are still not being that ethical when advertising their stevia product. So here’s the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly on stevia. First the Facts: What is stevia, first of all? Stevia is a...

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Caffeine: the Good, the Bad, & the Ugly

Caffeine: the Good, the Bad, & the Ugly

Caffeine. Over 90% of Americans consume the stuff daily. We sip it from our tea and coffee, crunch it up from our chocolate,  gulp it down from our energy drinks, and even ingest it from exotic sources like Yerba Maté and Guarana Berries. For centuries it’s been used to keep us awake, alert, and more cognitive for various reasons. From an athlete to a college student pulling an all-nighter, most of us have experienced the benefit of staying “wired” with the stuff. Yet, there’s been much hype over the last few years and decades on whether or not caffeine is good for you, or at least ok to consume. But is the hype just hot air? Thus, main question is this: should you put caffeine in your body, and if so, when? As with my post on Maltodextrin, let’s look at the good, the bad, and the ugly side of caffeine.   First the Facts. Technically, caffeine is considered a psychoactive drug (and it’s the most popular one at...

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How to do Pull-ups: the complete guide

How to do Pull-ups: the complete guide

Ever since I was a kid, pull-ups have always been the exercise to show how horribly unfit I was. When I was in grade-school, I quit my karate class when I had to do a pull-ups test to advance to the next belt. I was afraid to even try! Even up until 2010, I could barely do one pull-up. Now after doing P90X and P90X2, I’ve set a personal record of doing 22 pull-ups without kipping or pausing. That may not be Tony Horton’s 35 pull-ups, but i’ve come a long way. And now, I am shooting to do 200 pull-ups in under 20 minutes! If you have never been able to do pull-ups or can’t seem to get past a certain number, here is my guide to pull-up success. NOTE: As a way to measure progress, after each step, try to do as many real, no-kip pull-ups as you can in a single set. Mark down your progress after each step. If you can already do a good...

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Challenge Groups: Get motivation and support for your fitness!

Challenge Groups: Get motivation and support for your fitness!

What is a Challenge Group?  A Challenge Group is a committed group of 5 people or more plus a coach (that’s me) that are dedicated to getting fit and healthy while keeping the group accountable for the duration of the workout program. Rules (steps to join): Make me your Coach Contact me on Facebook and let me know you want to be in a Challenge Group Choose a Workout program: popular ones are P90X, P90X2, Insanity, Les Mills Pump, Les Mills Combat, Body Beast, and Brazil Butt Lift. If you don’t know which program would best suite your needs, I can help! Get Shakeology: Nutrition is a must for you to get the best results, and Shakeology is the best way I’ve found to get the best nutrition!. Find out more about Shakeology. You can get a discount on Shakeology by purchasing a Challenge Pack which includes Shake-O with a workout program. Track your Progress: Take day 1, 30, 90 pictures, take body measurements, measure your Body Fat %, and your...

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