April 18, 2010

Tabata and PB 'n' J

       In response to overwhelming reader queries (ok, one) about the nature of tabata workouts, I thought I would briefly explain what they are and then end with a rant about the awesomeness of PB 'n' J.
      Tabata workouts are composed of four minute sets of eight rounds. Each round includes 20 seconds of maximum effort and 10 seconds of "rest." The name comes from the surname of the researcher who discovered the effectiveness of these workouts and developed the experiments to support this unique exercise style. He did this by putting trained, fit endurance athletes on exercise bikes and varying the resistance of the pedaling, and quantifying their improvements. These athletes demonstrated a 40% increase in their VO2 max, which is the most oxygen your body can utilize during exercise. Non-athletes and people just beginning to get in to shape can experience enormous gains in their VO2 max; however, once one "gets in shape" significant VO2 max gains are considered difficult, if not impossible, so the fact that trained, professional athletes experienced such great gains speaks to the effectiveness of these workouts. To read more about tabata workouts, click here.
      The other day I was walking back to my place, starving and rushed, and, after quickly realizing that pasta would make me late to class, began to ruminate about peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and their subtle nutritional genius. (Let me preface this by saying that this genius is negated if the sandwich involves Skippy, Wonderbread, and jelly with more sugar per serving than a Snickers.) Let's start with the bread- the  vehicle for the peanut butter and jelly, and the backbone of any sandwich. Provided you're a whole-grains fanatic, the complex carbohydrates in the bread provide long-term energy, which is a good thing because you won't crash (like you would from a lunch of doughnuts) and thusly your energy level will remain constant which decreases your likelihood of craving sugar. Next, the jelly (or, preferably, jam). This might just be mental masturbation, but I always feel a lot better about the jam that has the fruit chunks- it's a bit like putting real strawberries on the bread. Anyways, the high sugar content  of the jam allows your body to quickly utilize it, giving you a burst of energy. If you're super awesome, you could substitute the jam with a sliced bananas, but I personally find the taste of peanut butter and bananas to be like Satan's asshole, so I stick with strawberry jam. The peanut butter has two important components- a bit of protein, and fat. Proteins are your body's building blocks, so it's important to make sure you eat enough especially if you're trying to build muscle. While fat is often cast as the source of all diet woes, your small intestine doesn't release a burst of "I'm full" hormones until some fat has been detected, so the fat in the peanut butter helps keep you full, lessening the likelihood of later gorging.                Succinctly, I love PB 'n' J's, not only because they're tasty and convenient, but because they're healthy.


  1. How about Tabata training for the older generation?

    PB and J smooth or chunky? Is one better than another?

    You certainly have a way with words and I would encourage you to continue writing.

  2. The cool thing about tabata training is that it's one of those things where you can make it as intense or as laid back as you'd like it to be. Many people recommend doing intervals of 15 seconds of effort for every 15 of rest when you're just starting out. As far as peanut butter goes- I pretty much buy whatever's on sale, though I do prefer chunky. I don't think there's any health/nutrient difference between the two. Thanks for commenting!