Marta Montenegro: 10 Surprising Tips from Health and Fitness Journals

If it weren’t for research, we might still believe that running harms the heart or that all fats are dangerous. Good research has shown the benefits of the omega 3-fatty acids and mono-saturated fats on heart, brain and endocrine health function. Without solid information, we might still be filling our plates with even more dangerous refined carbohydrates.

Nevertheless, studies must be taken with a grain of salt. Read carefully about the study's parameters. Examine the size of the population in the study, the duration, the very specific characteristics of the subjects and other nuances. Many studies can show a pattern (no matter what the conditions) and definitely some things are just a confirmation of what the real life already has been showing.

Marta Montenegro: Pack More Lifts Into One Move

Here you’ll find some of the latest practical bites of information from the highest-quality peer-reviewed publications on health, fitness and diet.

1. Get rid of fattening beverages: Daily intake of sucrose-sweetened beverages increases fat storage in liver, muscle and visceral fat deposit compared to part skim milk, diet cola and water. When evaluating the three of them, milk added the benefits of decreasing blood pressure and inducing more satiety than the other choices (The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition). In another study, people who have a higher protein intake coming from dairy trim more belly fat and have leaner muscle according to The Journal of Nutrition.

2. Feedback matters: When looking to push yourself harder at the gym, having someone next to you providing feedback on the work performed showed to be enough to improve upper-body power output and velocity of each exercise set in the subjects of the study in comparison to when they didn’t get any feedback. Bottom line: having a trainer or a spotter shouting your achievements will be worth to bring the best out of you (Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.)

3. Easy way to shed some pounds: Don’t drink your calories! When subjects had either a liquid meal or a solid meal (nutritionally and caloric wise equivalent) energy intake was greater on the days that they had the liquid food. Why? The liquid intake elicited lower fullness sensations, more rapid gastric-emptying and lower ghrelin (a hormone that controls appetite) suppression (The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition).

Workout with Added Benefits

4. The arms play an important role in balancing the lower body: If your workout includes some lower body exercises that require balance such as step-ups or single leg squats, make sure that your upper body is fresh. In a study where subjects aerobically fatigued their upper body showed the greatest reduction of leg balance.  The study points out that it’s easy to assume that fatiguing the lower body will be the only thing to worry before doing these exercises, but it seems that the upper arm fatigue which compromises the trunk too play a significant role on lower body stability. (Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research).

5. Chocolate multitasking: in a systemic review and meta-analysis of randomized trials where the effects of chocolate and cocoa in all different ways intake were evaluated – e.g. drinks, supplements, solid and powder, the authors found that chocolate consumption was related to improving insulin, reducing diastolic blood pressure and triglycerides, and enhancing HDL, good cholesterol. (The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition).

6. Frequency matters: In a study were female adolescents were evaluated in relation to their meal frequency habits, showed that those who snacked had lower gain in adiposity in compare to those who had less frequent meals. (The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition).

7. Time to snack: The question is not to snack or not rather than what’s the best time to have a snack? A recent study elicited that having a midmorning snack was associated with losing less weight than snacking at other time of the day. When participants had a snack between 10:30am and 11:29am lost 7 percent of their body weight over the year of the study.  Those who didn’t snack at this time lost 11.4 percent of their body weight. Experts explain these results due to the longer time between lunch and dinner which make more valuable the added snack (The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition).

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8. Omega-3 strength: Are you lifting weights already? I hope so. Adding fish-oil supplement to your fitness routine proved greater improvements in muscle strength and functional capacity than exercising alone. - The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

9. Afraid to get injured when exercising? A recent study shows that sedentary male and females who did a 12-month aerobic exercise program at 360 minutes/week reported the same injuries  as the controlled group with the perk of experiencing less overall pain than non exercisers (Journal of Physical Activity & Health).

10. Don’t need to sweat hard: At least not to improve your intelligence score (IQ).  Studies show that less vigorous exercise (light daily physical activity that don’t make you breathe hard) were associated with higher IQ, but neither higher levels of vigorous exercise – exercising at high intensity for at least 20 minutes nor walking  – 1 to 3 times per week- were associated with IQ. However, vigorous activity at work or on home was associated with higher IQ. Definitely exercise plays a role on keeping you smart, but the jury is still out on the intensity that maximizes the benefits. Meanwhile, this study provides some guidelines to improve your intelligence (Journal of Physical Activity & Health).

Marta Montenegro is an exercise physiologist, certified strength and conditioning coach and master trainer, who teaches as an adjunct professor at Florida International University. Marta has developed her own system of exercises used by professional athletes. Her personal website,, combines fitness, nutrition and health tips, exercise routines, recipes and the latest news to help you change your life but not your lifestyle. She was the founder of nationally awarded SOBeFiT magazine and the fitness DVD series Montenegro Method.

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