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Answer Fitness®: Practical Fitness Advice for Everyone

Posted Dec 24 2009 10:17pm
October 1, 2009 on 2:03 pm | By Matt | In |

I don’t usually use Answer Fitness for personal appeals, but today I’m going to make an exception.

Right now at Tweet for ALS there are a group of about 10 volunteers running a 10 hour “Tweet-a-Thon” to banner_250x250raise $10,000 for ALS, otherwise known as “Lou Gehrig’sDisease.” And I’m one of those volunteers.

This isn’t your usual fundraiser: We’re trying to demonstrate the power of social media to do social good and help strike a blow to a terrible, fatal disease. While some people are donating $5, $10, or even $100 dollars, what we really hope to accomplish is to use social media and social networks to hit our goal in small, affordable, individual $1 donations from thousands of people.  This also known as “micro-” or “long tail” charity. The idea is to allow people to pool very small donations into something much more powerful than what they would be able to do individually with limited budgets and resources.

If you don’t know much about ALS, here’s the gist:

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.
Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death.

When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed.

There is no cure and no treatment. ALS is a death sentence.

Social media, blogs and sites like Facebook are ideal for encouraging “long tail” charity giving, because they allow people to spread the word quickly through their own networks. I’m asking Answer Fitness readers today to help us hit our goal by either donating $1 to or writing about it on your own blog, posting a retweet to us on Twitter, writing about it on your Facebook wall, or all of the above. Word of mouth is critical for us. It’s such a simple thing to do, and it could have a huge impact.

You can also follow us on Twitter at

So take a few minutes to visit our site, follow us, and hopefull either spread the word or give just a buck. A dollar is something we can all afford.

If you want some quick ideas on how to help us promote it, check out this page:

Thanks for your support. So far we’ve exceeded $3,000 dollars, so just a few thousand $1 donations would put us in striking range of our goal.


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March 14, 2009 on 9:16 am | By Matt | In |

Dear Fitness Nerd,Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP) From Bob's Red Mill

I’ve been reading ingredient labels a lot more lately and trying to eat cleaner and healthier. I’ve come across something a number of times called “textured vegetable protein.” What is textured vegetable protein? What is it made out of (I assume vegetables) and is it considered a clean eating food? Thanks for your help! — Karen (St. Louis, MO)

You’re right, textured vegetable protein, also known as TVP or “textured soy protein“, is a fairly common ingredient in all kinds of pre-prepared foods and mixes — especially meatless or vegetarian foods. While you’ll typically see textured vegetable protein in a list with other ingredients, you can purchase the stuff in bulk on its own at health food stores.

Continue reading What Is Textured Vegetable Protein or TVP? | Ask The Fitness Nerd…

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March 13, 2009 on 5:50 pm | By Matt | In , |

Dear Fitness Nerd, Optimum Nutrition (ON) 100% Whey: How Long Will Whey Keep?

I have a quick question about the shelf life of whey protein powder.  My ex boyfriend left a 5lb tub of Optimum Nutrition 100% whey protein powder in our apartment, but I can’t seem to find an expiration date on it. We’ve been broke up for about a year, so I know it’s at least 12 months old. It still has the seal on it, so I think he may have bought it right before we split. Is it safe to use? And do you have any idea how long it will keep?  Thanks! –  Tasha (Las Vegas, NV)

Continue reading How Long Will Whey Keep? | Ask The Fitness Nerd…

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March 11, 2009 on 6:46 am | By Matt | In |

In my mind, there is no single piece of fitness, bodybuilding or health equipment that more useful than a good pairBody Fat Calipers of body fat calipers.

Yes, they are made out of plastic. Yes, they take a little bit of practice to get right. And yes, they won’t give you instant,  flashy digital results (which are usually inaccurate anyway.)

If you want high tech, go ahead and fork over $50 for an electrical-impedance body fat scale. Chances are you’ll get different body fat readings each time you step on the scale — even if that’s five minutes after your took your last measurement.

Or you could try to convince your doctor to order a hydrostatic body fat test, which is considered the gold standard in body fat measurement, but is unlikely to be covered by your insurance or employer (unless you are LeBron James) and will set you back hundreds of dollars for just a few extra percentage points of accuracy.

So unless you are an elite athlete with a cadre of sports trainers at your beck and call, you should be able to get along fine with a single-measurement reading from a quality body fat caliper.

Continue reading Body Fat Calipers | Fitness and Exercise Gadget Reviews…

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March 9, 2009 on 7:36 pm | By Matt | In |

Essential Amino Acids (also known as Indispensible Amino Acids) are amino acids that cannot be synthesized by the body, and thus must be supplied by diet. 

Essential Amino Acids, while required by the human body to support life, are not called “essential”  because they are more important than other amino acids, but instead because they cannot be produced by the body. In other words, they must be obtained through food sources since the body cannot produce them itself.

Non-essential amino acids are those that are synthesized by the body and do not require dietary supplementation.

Continue reading Essential Amino Acids | Fitness, Health & Exercise Glossary…

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March 8, 2009 on 6:16 pm | By Matt | In , |

Dear Fitness Nerd,Picture of Complete Protein Foods and Incomplete Protein Foods

Can you explain exactly what a complete protein is? I’m 23 and pretty into fitness, working out, etc. I lift weights several times a week and run daily.  But I’m also a vegetarian and concerned I may not be eating enough protein every day to support my activity levels.  I’m also worried that since I primarily eat plant sources of protein, I might not be getting a complete protein. Can you help me out here? Thanks!   – Jessa (San Diego - CA)

A complete protein is a protein source that contains all eight essential amino acids in the sufficient proportions to support normal biological functions.   In adults, the eight essential amino acids are:

  • Phenylalanine
  • Valine
  • Threonine
  • Tryptophan
  • Isoleucine
  • Methionine
  • Leucine
  • Lysine

These amino acids are called “essential” because the body cannot make them, so they have to be supplied through diet.  Recently, histadine has been added to this list as well, as scientists discovered that adults cannot synthesize it.

Continue reading What Is A Complete Protein? Complete vs Incomplete Proteins | Ask The Fitness Nerd…

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March 7, 2009 on 12:34 pm | By Matt | In , |

Can Calorie Cycling Help You Lose More Body Fat?

Dear Fitness Nerd,

I recently heard about something called “calorie cycling.” Apparently it’s a way to prevent weight loss plateaus and maybe burn additional body fat. Do you know anything about calorie cycling or how it works? Is this different from the zig-zag diet concept, or the same thing?  And will it help me add more lean muscle?  — Marcus (Arlington, VA)

Calorie cycling (also known as “calorie shifting” or “Zig Zag dieting”)  is an approach to eating that is intended to prevent weight or fat loss plateaus by “tricking out” your metabolism. 

Calorie cycling or Zig Zag diets are not really ”diets” in the sense of something like Atkins or South Beach, but instead a method of manipulating the metabolism through varying your calorie intake day-to-day.

Continue reading Calorie Cycling: What Is Calorie Cycling and Does It Work? | Ask The Fitness Nerd…

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