Health Bites: Are Ice Baths Pointless? Plus, the Link Between Carbs and Depression.

Health Bites Research Pours Cold Water on Ice Bath Recovery Theory

I'm the freak that actually enjoys ice baths. Maybe it has something to do with running in the brutal Florida summer, but when marathon training I'd usually come home and go straight to an ice bath if I did a long run with miles close to my goal race pace. After the initial shock of getting in my legs would acclimate pretty quickly. Taking some food and a drink in there, and browsing around on my phone, would make the time fly by.

Now, researchers have found that cold water immersion after strength training hindered muscle adaptation.

The first part of the study asked 21 physically active men to undertake strength training two days a week for 12 weeks. About half the group endured a 10 minute post workout ice bath at a chilly 10 degrees Celsius, while the rest had a warm down on an exercise bike.

At the end of the 12 weeks, muscle strength and mass had increased more in the active warm down group than the ice bath group.

A second study took muscle biopsies from men after they had performed single-leg strength exercises followed by either an ice bath or active warm down.

The researchers found that the activity of satellite cells, akin to muscle 'stem cells', and pathways needed to build bigger and stronger muscles were "blunted" up to two days after exercise in the ice bath group.

Since the study did not look at runners specifically I'm not sure if the results would be any different, but it does make me wonder how effective ice baths are since I always understood their purpose to be to speed up recovery time. The researchers in this study speculated that a reduction in blood flow to the muscles was the cause of the lessened long-term muscle gains.

Could Too Many Refined Carbs Make You Depressed?

When I eat crap, I feel like crap. When I eat well, I feel well. It's such a simple equation but I still find myself eating less than ideal on more days than not. A team of researchers looked at the mental health records of 40 clinical centers and found that the more refined sugars a woman ate, the higher her blood sugar levels, and the greater her risk for a bout of depression. This correlation was found in women who had zero issues with depression or mental illness in the three years prior to the study.

The researchers believed that the rising blood sugar triggered higher anxiety, irritability, and hunger. The women in the study who consumed more vegetables, fruits and whole grains had a lower incidence of depression.

I know how hard it can be to get out of the junk food/carb cycle. When I was at my heaviest weight all I ate were processed foods and lots of sugar. It made me feel good - temporarily. Once I started eating better I found I had more energy to workout. When I'd go to the gym I'd come home with a nice little endorphin high and be less likely to eat junk food.

It seems like such an easy choice to make but when you've come home from working 8 hours, have zero energy to cook, and are staring down a pint of ice cream in your fridge I know how hard it can be to resist! Just try to remember how good you feel after eating a healthy meal, and how badly you feel after eating a bunch of junk (I know I always feel physically terrible after.) Even if you start out with making the healthy choice just one meal out of the day it will trigger a chain reaction that could lead to huge results down the line.

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What healthy meal makes you feel amazing? I always feel good after eating a huge salad or a green smoothie!

Have you taken an ice bath before? Do you feel like it helps with recovery?