NutritionFacts “Muscle” Search Part 2

NutritionFacts "Muscle" Search Part 2

Homemade Energy Bar using ingredients from Muscle Research
Dr. Michael Greger Muscle Search PART 2

Even though maxing out during an exercise routine inevitably leads to muscle soreness, I often tell my kids that a sore life is the best life. Still, I like a quick recovery best of all.

I’m already eating plant-based. But completing a crash course in Dr. Greger’s muscle-related videos has shown me how to fine-tune my diet to reduce my recovery time further

As a first step, I’ve been developing a plant-based energy bar to optimize my daily workout performance. And my kids joined me in tweaking the recipe!

Unfortunately, caffeinated coffee is now out. According to Dr. Greger, it,“… appears to impair blood flow to our heart muscle during exercise even in healthy folks, but especially those with heart disease.” 

Another supplement that didn’t make it? Spirulina, aboutwhich Dr. Greger issues the stark warning,“Spirulina may dissolve our muscles from the inside out.”

That’s right — spirulina used to manage blood pressure, cholesterol and allergy problems is often contaminated with muscle-devouring neurotoxins!

Dark chocolate, however, will be staying — in the form of natural, un-Dutched cocoa. (Dutching destroys cocoa’s bitter, artery-opening flavanols.)

So in addition to bitter-is-better cocoa, what other plant-based foods made the cut?

My Potential Plant-Based Energy-Bar Ingredients

• Beets: In yesterday’s post, I mentioned nitrate-rich beets’ positive effects on blood flow. Today, I learned more about the benefits of these plant-based powerhouses!

“One little shot of beet juice allows free divers to hold their breath for over four minutes; they get about a half-minute longer, and for others, this improved muscle efficiency allows athletes to exercise at a higher power output or running speed for the same amount of breath.”

To increase beet juice’s benefits, add some greens. Or pair it with a big arugula salad containing “as much nitrate as a cup of beet juice, and in addition, the requisite dose of vitamin C.”

Vitamin C (and other antioxidants) improve blood flow during exercise. In one study, increased consumption ofantioxidant-rich berries “within … two weeks [led to] a significant jump in [the] arteries’ ability to relax and dilate normally.”

• Red Sweet Cherries inhibit the COX-2 enzymeresponsible for muscle soreness. “Sweet cherries, the kind you eat fresh, seem to be the MVP for COX-2 inhibition.”

• Spinach: Its anti-inflammatory effects alleviate day-after-workout stiffness– so “quicker recovery may get you back training harder sooner.”

• Watercress: Eat a daily serving of watercress for two months and “your body’s so juiced up on green leafy goodness, [you’ll have] no significant damage after punishing yourself on the treadmill.”

• Oranges: An orange a day keeps exercise-based lactic acid buildup away. You’ll enjoy “an improvement in physical performance, with less muscle fatigue.”

• Ginger: For reducing the pain of post-workout stiffness, eight different studies have shown ginger extracts to be “clinically effective [pain-reducing] agents [with] a better safety profile than… drugs. The best results… were with… a full teaspoon of ground ginger.”

• Fenugreek: In a double-blind controlled trial, the powdered spice fenugreek had a ‘significant impact on both upper- and lower-body strength…with no clinical side effects.’ “The study participants who took it were able “to leg press an extra 100 pounds compared to [the] placebo.”

• Turmeric (Curcumin): Curcumin, the golden-yellow pigment found in powdered turmeric, helps thearteries’ inner linings relax “normally in response to blood flow.” When blood flow is impeded, “we may set ourselves up for heart disease.”

I’ve also added lemons and flax seed to Dr. Greger’s approved ingredients — with my kids’ OK, of course!

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