Thursday, February 26, 2015

Coffee! And Why it's Good for You!

   So as a newbie to the coffee addict world, I'm dedicating this blog post to the benefits of it. I used to never understand it, it was so bitter and people were zombies without it. Then one day, after many years of being a barista, I finally found a coffee drink I could tolerate on occasion. Three weeks later, here I am, sucking the liquid goodness down to function. At first I was slightly upset for getting away from black tea (it's so healthy for you!) but it just doesn't pack the same punch as coffee for me. My newest problem? I like the fancy-frilly flavorful sugary latte variety. But I'm experimenting to find the healthiest way to deal with this new addiction!
   Coffee has a ton of antioxidants. These antioxidants fight against free radicals in the body who are on a war path of destruction to your cells. The list is long, so I'll summarize in a picture!

Those antioxidants are the things in coffee helping to prevent all those diseases. Coffee also boosts your metabolism. Now most of you may not be drinking it only for the health benefits but more for the ZING it gives you. Coffee has also been shown to not only increase energy, but to make a person more alert and focused. Ingested 1-2 hours before exercise, it has a super effect on your performance.
   Now with anything good for you, there is a bad side. Coffee can increase anxiety levels if you are already an anxious person. It can interfere with sleep cycles, and it can raise your blood pressure, especially if you already have high blood pressure. Most experts and doctors agree that 5-6 cups a day should be the limit. Personally, I don't know how you drink that much coffee, but if you think in serving sizes, a Venti Coffee would be 2 1/2 servings in one cup, so I suppose some people would have no problem exceeding a safe and healthy amount of coffee!
    Also, jut to clarify, by coffee, I mean the black and plain variety. Having a latte, cappuccino, mocha, etc changes things. Now you're adding milk, syrup (SUGAR) and calories. Am I hating? NOPE. I'm on a mission to make a healthy mocha that tastes good but doesn't kill my macros and calories for the day. Use skim milk, and have it as plain as you can. This is my struggle- I love the flavors! But I am training myself to enjoy coffee flavor and not simply mask it. Maybe in a month I can drink plain coffee with just a bit of creamer but until then I'm on the espresso train!
   Keep your eyes peeled on my fb and instagram accounts for my healthy-espresso approved recipes! Also try almond and coconut milk instead of regular. Try new things!! I am :D

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

High Altitude Training Risks and Benefits

   Ltip Fitness has moved to Colorado! Denver, the mile high city, to be exact! So to celebrate, I'm going to blog about the benefits of exercising at a high altitude, as well as warn you of potential risks. Some of you may have heard that exercising at a higher altitude can increase your training capabilities. Many athletes utilize this, and the Olympic Training Center isn't located in Denver for no reason.
   As the altitude increases, the air thins and while the oxygen content is the same as it is at sea level, the barometric pressure is less. Your body might signal this by your ears popping. The decrease in barometric pressure decreases the pressure in the lungs, making your bodies oxygen delivery system work at a sub par level. Luckily, the body adapts! While you don't have less oxygen, you have less hemoglobin saturation; your red blood cells can't hold as many oxygen molecules as they usually can, making transporting oxygen to the muscles more difficult. The body deals with this by signaling to your kidneys the decrease in oxygen saturation, and the kidneys say "make more blood!" by releasing a hormone called Erythropoietin. The release of that hormone tells the bone marrow to make more blood cells. More red blood cells = more cells to carry oxygen. This takes the body 7-14 days. (Ever heard of blood doping, similar idea... hmm maybe I'll do a blog on ergogenic aids?!) While adapting to the altitude change, your body does this fairly quickly (or you would die) but the effects are much longer lasting, hence the saying live high, train low.
    Living at a higher altitude has also shown an increase in Mitochondria, the power house of the cell, and an increased threshold for lactic acid so you feel the burn later than you usually would! Again, these changes take a few weeks. Adjusting to the altitude has risks as well that you should be aware of.
    Risks associated with higher altitude are altitude sickness, which can feel like the flu or a hangover, dehydration, headache, dry skin (not a serious risk, but a bothersome one!), high altitude pulmonary edema which is a fluid build up in the lungs, and high altitude cerebral edema which is fluid buildup in the brain.
   Like I said, the body adapts but you have to give it time to acclimate to these changes. I wouldn't recommend you live at sea level and decide you are going to climb Mt. Everest tomorrow. You prepare for these things. Coming to visit me? Don't worry-- I will provide you with lots of water and I never have an asthma inhaler far away! I've luckily only gotten one headache since moving here, but I think I was ultimately dehydrated. I drank as much water as I could get my hands on and felt much better! It's a win-win, you drink more water and you let your body adapt to be awesome!