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Simple Way to Add Potassium to your Diet

We tend to eat way too much sodium…and not nearly enough potassium.  This can, and often does, lead to water retention and/or hypertension (aka high blood pressure).

No Salt

It seems that it’s not just the amounts of each of these electrolytes that’s important, but the ratio of potassium:sodium that we ingest is as, if not more important.

I’m always a proponent of trying to get your nutrients from natural food when possible.  So to boost your potassium intake you should definitely focus on consuming potassium-rich foods like chicken breast, potatoes, cantaloupe, kiwi, etc.

But even still, it can sometimes be tough to consume enough of these foods to get your potassium:sodium ratio to at least 2:1.  That’s where a supplement, of sorts, can come in handy….enter No Salt.

Flavor your Food, Boost your Potassium Intake

A simple way to supplement your diet with potassium (without choking down tons of pills) is to add some No Salt to some meals.  If you use too much it can have a bit of an aftertaste, but if you don’t put too much, it’ll taste fine (or you won’t even notice it).

Instead of having regular sodium chloride (aka table salt), No Salt uses potassium chloride.  Although it doesn’t taste as good as table salt, it does give you some additional potassium.  Just 1/4 teaspoon has 650 mg of potassium.  That’s about 50% more than a banana!

Don’t Get Carried Away…Check with Your Doc

Although most people would arguably be ‘healthier’ by adding even a couple thousand milligrams of potassium to their diet, in some extreme cases that could be lethal…seriously.

Let’s say a good approximate target intake would be ~ 4,000 to 5,000 mg potassium per day and ~ 2,000 to 2,500 mg sodium per day, for some this could be dangerously high in terms of potassium.

For example, people on potassium-sparing diuretics may end up with too much potassium relative to their sodium status (because the diuretic ‘kicks the sodium out’ so-to-speak).

Long story short, if you’re gonna add more than ~ 1/4 tsp of No Salt to your meals per day, or if you have kidney problems, diabetes, hyperkalemia, dehydration, take diuretics, etc., you should consult with your doctor first.  Seriously, if you take meds or have a medical condition at all…or just when in doubt…talk with your doctor to make sure it’s safe for you to bump up your potassium intake and/or reduce your sodium intake (especially if you’re gonna reduce it to less than ~ 1,500 mg per day).

One More Idea

Perhaps try implementing No Salt like I do…when I’d typically flavor a food with table salt (NaCl), I’ll use about half No Salt and half regular salt.  I can’t even tell the difference, but at least I’m taking a step in the right direction in terms of normalizing my sodium and potassium intake.

Your friend in fitness,

Dr Clay

PS  Of course any type of sodium-free, potassium-chloride-based salt will work. I just refer to No Salt as it seems to be the most readily available brand.

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EZ Bar vs Straight Bar for Curls

Should you do curls with a cambered ‘EZ’ bar or a standard straight bar?  That’s the question we’re gonna take a closer look at today.

EZ-Bar Pro’s

a cambered, EZ curl bar

a cambered, EZ curl bar

  • easier on wrists (avoids extreme supination)
  • easier on elbows

Straight-Bar Pro’s

  • allows variety of grip widths
  • more supination (thus increased biceps stimulation…or not?)

No doubt about it, the primary benefit of using an EZ bar on curls is that it tends to be easier on your wrists. Reason being, most people’s wrists don’t naturally supinate to a full 90 degrees, which is the position a straight bar puts you in.

However, some argue that because one if the functions of the biceps brachii is supination, you won’t get a full contraction (and maximal stimulation) of the biceps if you use a cambered bar.

(For the record, most EZ bars put your wrists at roughly 45 degrees of supination, a few degrees short of the approximately 85 degrees that most people can naturally do.)

Does the Increased Supination of Straight-Bar Curls Mean More Stimulation of the Biceps?

I used to think the answer to this question was yes, thus I tended to opt for straight-bar curls….but I’ve changed my mind.

I’ve come across a couple studies showing that EZ-bar curls targeted the biceps just as well as straight-bar curls. EMG studies aren’t super reliable, so it’s not just for that reason that I’ve changed my mind.

I’ve partly changed my mind because of the torque the straight bar seems to put on the inner elbow at the medial epicondyle, in addition to the obvious wrist torque.

In Conclusion

I occasionally do straight-bar curls, largely because I can choose the grip width that I prefer vs having to opt for either the ‘narrow’ or the ‘wide’ option provided by the EZ bar. But more times than not, these days I tend to opt for doing my barbell curls on a cambered bar. It’s easier on the wrists, elbows, and seems to be just as effective.

Your friend in fitness,
Dr Clay

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Soda May Shorten Life Span via DNA Damage – New Study

We already knew soda wasn’t good for us, but we didn’t have evidence of it accelerating DNA damage…until now.sodas

A new study by researchers at UCSF (University of California San Francisco) found that people who drink at least 20 oz of sugary soda per day have DNA damage comparable to cigarette smoking.  In fact, based on their DNA, they appear to be about 4 1/2 years older than they really are.

Sugar May Shorten Your Telomeres…which is NOT Good!

Telomeres are essentially a type of protective DNA.  Past research has found that telomeres shorten as we age and in the presence of diseases like diabetes, heart disease, etc.  In other words, you want long telomeres, NOT short ones!

Well, if it’s long telomeres (and long life) you want, then you evidently shouldn’t drink much soda!

Subjects in this study who reported drinking at least 20 oz of sugary soda per day had shorter telomeres than their non-soda-drinking counterparts.  Researchers didn’t find the same with diet soda drinkers.  So it’s apparently the sugar that’s the DNA-damaging culprit.

Here’s what lead researcher, Elissa Epel, had to say:

“Regular consumption of sugar-sweetened sodas might influence disease development, not only by straining the body’s metabolic control of sugars, but also through accelerated cellular aging of tissues.”

What You Should Know….and Do

My recommendation is to avoid drinking your calories.  In other words, only drink beverages that have no calories – water, green tea, and coffee, for example, like I wrote about in Set Your Metabolism on Fire.  (Liquid meals like protein shakes or beverages you’ve ‘juiced’ don’t count in my don’t-drink-your-calories rule, btw.)

If you don’t drink soda, don’t think for a minute that it’s ok to drink other sugary beverages.  I’m quite certain the deleterious effects of any sugar-laden drink would be pretty much the same.

Make sure to read the nutrition value and the ingredients on anything you drink…it’ll do your DNA good.  :)

Your friend in fitness,

Dr Clay

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My Advice…Get OUTSIDE!

If there’s one piece of advice I’d practically beg you to take, it’s to GET OUTSIDE!IMG_4876

I used to think it was just me and a few others who really enjoy – and benefit from – getting outside.  But as I’ve talked to more and more people over the years, I’ve found that tons of people swear by the benefits of the great outdoors.

One common theme that comes up is how people find nature ‘spiritual.’  Many say getting outdoors is their preferred method of ‘church’ or getting in touch with the Creator.  I couldn’t agree more.

I’ve never taken anti-depressant medication, but I can tell you firsthand just how uplifting getting outside can be.  For me, it’s much like hitting a reset button…making the stress of life seem more tolerable.

You can kick this get outdoors thing up a notch by exercising outdoors.  My two favorite modes of outdoor exercise are simply walking and bike riding.  They may not burn a ton of calories, but they do burn some…and the benefits go far beyond that, I assure you.

Make it Green

To get the most out of getting outside, I think you should try to get in as natural a setting as possible.

Sure, walking on a sidewalk outside in the city is great, but I suspect you’d get even more out of it if you we out in a more ‘green’ area like a hiking trail or the beach.  In my experience, the more removed you are from man-made ‘stuff,’ the more you’ll benefit.

Tangible Benefits

Here are some of the benefits you’re likely to reap by getting outside.

  • better mood
  • improved ability to ‘live in the moment’
  • reduced stress
  • better sleep
  • better health (via reduced stress and higher vit D levels)
  • improved fitness

My intention was to simply share with you my advice and experience regarding the benefits of getting outside.  However, I couldn’t resist a quick google search of “benefits of getting outside.”  The first result was from Harvard University…pretty cool.

At a later date I’ll write a more scientific piece about the benefits.  Meanwhile, do yourself a favor and go for a walk or ride outside in nature.  I know you’ll be glad you did!

Speaking of getting outside…I’m closing up my laptop now to do just that.  It’s time beach time for me!

Your friend in fitness,

Clay

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New Article: 3 Supersets for Big Pecs, Lats, and Quads

3 Supersets for Big Pecs, Lats, & QuadsI just realized that I had an article published at T-Nation last Friday…cool surprise!