The Pulse

Sep 1, 2004
Outside Magazine
Fitness Q&A

To ask Paul Scott your own fitness or health-related question, CLICK HERE.

Açai berry

Power Eating
increase the amount of protein your body can absorb 600 percent by knocking back a carbohydrate-protein energy drink within 15 minutes of starting a workout and 15 minutes of finishing one, when the body's protein synthesis peaks.

consume fat after a workout; it hinders your ability to absorb electrolytes, carbs, and protein.

knock back a shot of espresso (no sugar) before a cardio workout, to increase high-intensity endurance.

think that super-caffeinated, sugary drinks qualify as pre-workout energy boosters.

consume antioxidants like vitamins E and C—found in citrus fruits, leafy green vegetables, and legumes—to counteract the destructive free radicals your body creates while working out.

ignore simple sugars—glucose, sucrose, and maltodextrin—and carbs after exercise. Your body needs them to restore your energy levels.

Source: Dr. Robert Portman, co-author, with Dr. John Ivy, of Nutrient Timing

Alternative Medicine
You know caffeine boosts endurance (see "Power Eating," above). Now researchers have found that slugging a cup of coffee or cola during a workout is also an effective method for reducing muscle pain, suggests a study conducted by the University of Georgia.

In the battle for the healthiest fruit-smoothie ingredients, a purple berry from the Brazilian rainforest is quietly winning. Açai (pronounced ah-SIGH-ee) contains roughly 30 times the antioxidant flavonoids of red wine, which help prevent cancer, heart disease, and strokes. And it boasts high levels of mono-unsaturated fatty acids, which lower harmful cholesterol. But we like it for a simpler reason: It's delicious. The Sambazon brand of açai beverage found at markets like Wild Oats and Whole Foods tastes like liquefied chocolate-covered strawberries. 949-574-0080,

The Procedure
Want to ditch the contact lenses but aren't too keen on that laser beam searing your cornea in a LASIK procedure? A new alternative is the FDA-approved Paragon Corneal Refractive Therapy (CRT). Those with moderate myopia, or nearsightedness, wear special contact lenses overnight, resulting in 20/20 vision throughout the next day. The lenses gently flatten the cornea during sleep to allow light to focus on the retina properly, temporarily correcting sight—at about half the cost of LASIK. 800-528-8279,

Q: Which is better for building muscles: circuit training or three sets in a row? —Burke Burdock, Fort Worth, Texas

A: If you perform the same number of sets with the same weight, an exercise circuit done three times yields the same strength gains as doing those exercises in three-set clusters. However, there are benefits to both, according to William Kraemer, professor of kinesiology at the University of Connecticut. Circuit training allows you to do more work in less time: Instead of waiting for your muscles to recover after an arm-shaking bench press, you can rest them while you complete a circuit of seated rows, squats, biceps curls, etc. But if you are training for sports like climbing, which rely on repeated bursts of power, use consecutive sets. "You'll get more muscle endurance if you do the sets together and keep the rest periods under two minutes," says Kraemer.

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