Mad Science

CrossFit: a newwies guide

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Is there anything more misunderstood than CrossFit (emo kids maybe)? At Project UNITED, we don’t care what you do for fitness, just so long as you do something. But for the newwies who don’t know much about CrossFit besides YouTube fails, here are our top five moments of clarity:

1. “WoD”

“WoD” simply stands for “Workout of the Day”. Yes, it absolutely should be “WotD”, but it isn’t. Most CrossFit affiliates will assign set workouts each day depending on their programming schedule. Some days will feature more than one “WoD”, which further reinforces the inaccuracy of the acronym. We prefer …

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Flu shot frenzy: are they worth a shot?

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A more appropriate title would have been “Everything I could find out about flu shots based on secondary research”…

Not so spectacular…

As the cold weather rolls in, flu shot wounds are quickly becoming the latest must-have upper-arm accessory. Walk into any pharmacy and more than likely you will be able to pay a few dollars for the privilege before sitting quietly for 10 minutes to ensure you don’t burst into flames, and then depart feeling invincible and flu-proof. But with mass-hysteria usually comes a dash of proof, and a flood of hype (Exhibit A: PowerBalance Bands).

According to …

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Know your illegal performance enhancing drugs

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In the last few weeks there have been a couple of high profile athletes who have found themselves embroiled in performance enhancing drug (PED) scandals. Maria Sharapova was served first, then only this week, Lucas “Big Daddy” Browne, Australia’s newest boxing champion had his career threatened by allegedly returning a positive drug test. Both of these cases were on the back of the Essendon doping saga and the Cronulla Sharks (alleged) peptide program. Given the frequency and high-profile nature of these cases, we thought we’d take a look at some of the more commonly used (or mentioned) performance …

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Mobility for your mind

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We often talk about working on specific muscle groups in order to keep the body limber and calm. Today we look at mobility for the mind.

Less chaos, more meditation

Meditation is one of the most commonly misunderstood “therapies” on the planet. When we think of “meditation” there are no doubt a heap of cliché’s which pass through our thoughts and instantly disconnect ourselves from what could be a truly calming experience. But if we can get beyond these stereotypes, meditation can become an essential relaxation tool in our kit-bag that we will never leave home without.

Who uses meditation?

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Know your docos, part #2

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In Know your docos part #1, we covered off on Food Inc, Earthlings, Cowspiracy, and Forks over Knives. Today we look at

  • Food Matters
  • That Sugar Film
  • Super Size Me
  • Fed Up

Food Matters

IMDb rating: 3.9/5

Synopsis: Food Matter examines how the food we eat can help or hurt our health. Nutritionists, naturopaths, doctors, and journalists weigh in on topics such as organic food, food safety, raw foodism, and nutritional therapy. [Source: IMDb]

Directed by: James Colquhoun, director and producer of nutrition related documentaries, and Carlo Ledesma, director and writer who has worked …

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Sweaty, shaky, and pale

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Whether we are going for a job interview, bungee jumping, or even just starting a conversation with a stranger, our bodies can get ridiculous and the once cool and relaxed human being we were is now wide-eyed and red face, and starting to get a sweat up – stress, tension, and anxiety. So why does this happen, and why can’t we just cut it out? Put simply, it is a protective mechanism that is hardwired in our make-up which has become mutated over time. We’ll get to the rant after the science… 


Historically, nervousness or “butterflies” were a …

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Know your docos, part #1

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At Project UNITED, we love a good doco even if it wreaks of agenda and bias (actually no, we hate that). As any good conversationalist will know, when you start referring to documentaries as sources of information in general conversation, typically someone comes flying from across the room to confront you with, “Yeah but who paid for it? Who’s peddling the agenda? Which industry is driving the film?” To defuse this situation, raise “Paleo” as a subject matter and your tenacious friend (and anyone within a two metre radius) will be nowhere to be seen. Crisis averted.

But in all …

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Things to consider when going meatless (or meat reduced)

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The popularity of vegetarianism and veganism is certainly on the rise. Whilst these dietary lifestyles aren’t for everyone, those who pursue these lifestyles may do so for various reasons, from animal welfare and humanitarian issues, to general health related issues, or simply in order to reduce the weekly grocery bill. But if you were considering adopting a plant-based diet, here are some things to consider when going meatless.

Going meatless

Once the menu-shock of removing meat from your dinner plate subsides, there are some strategies you may need to consider in order to transition to a veggie-based regime whilst …

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What is nutritional yeast?

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We ran a recipe on Friday which included nutritional yeast in the ingredients list. If you hadn’t come across nutritional yeast in the past, you may have been a bit like, “Wha wha whaaaaaat?” Or similar. So here’s the lowdown:

What is nutritional yeast?

Nutritional yeast is made from an organism called Saccharomyces Cerevisiae (we call him “Sachy” for short) which is grown on molasses, and then harvested and dried with heat in order to “deactivate” it. Nutritional yeast belongs to the fungi family making it 100% vegan.

Nutritional yeast is unlike baking yeast or brewer’s yeast meaning it will …

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Getting your sweat on

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There are three types of sweat glands in the human body. Whilst all play some role in keeping us cool, some do it better than others and for different reasons:

  1. Eccrine glands aim to regulate the body’s temperature. As we heat up (through exercise or simply because it is hot), our nervous system goes to work to stimulate the eccrine glands to cool us down by releasing sweat. Primarily made up of water and sodium, the fluid coats our skin to create a coolant.
  2. Apocrine glands are found mainly in the underarm and groin regions. Although our body’s temperature can
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The cooling popularity of ice baths

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Ice baths were the rage a year or two ago among athletes of all disciplines. Since then, there have been a few studies conducted claiming that ice baths are either ineffective or at least no more effective than a regular warm bath. So where are we at now?

Ice baths concept

Ice baths are exactly what they sound like – a bath full of cold water and some ice (not just ice – that could result in ice burns) in which an athlete, post-activity, would lay (or stand) in a bath for approximately 15 minutes, or in cycles – two …

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Contains no artificial flavours, colours, or preservatives

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Any food or drink items that come in packets, boxes, cans, or bottles will likely contain additives which are indexed by a numbering system. These numbers vary depending on the nature of the additive. The additive numbering system is broken up into groups to make it (marginally) easier to determine what classification the additive falls into (preservatives, sweeteners etc.) For example, food additive 120 (may also go by the name of carmine), an extract from a species of bug, falls into the colour category. See below.

A food additive is any substance that is not normally consumed as a

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Non-dairy milk alternatives

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For any number of reasons, choosing non-dairy milk alternatives has become increasingly popular. We have chosen five non-dairy based alternatives to profile for those considering a mooove (lols) away from animal milks:

  • Almond
  • Coconut
  • Oat
  • Rice
  • Soy

All of these varieties have their benefits, all have a unique flavour, and all have varying degrees of nutritional value.

Almond milk


Pros Cons
  • Typically contains as much calcium and vitamin D as cow’s milk.
  • Rich in other vitamins and minerals including potassium, manganese, magnesium, vitamin E, copper and selenium.
  • Low in saturated fat and has no dietary
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Black, white, or green?

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We’ve been hearing for a while now of the benefits that drinking a cup or two of tea each day can do for us. From hydration, to relaxation, to managing blood pressure, tea is basically a GP in the form of grass clippings. In this post we will look at the health benefits (and any potential concerns) of each type of tea – black, white, and green.

Black tea

Black tea is typically the strongest flavoured of tea varieties, has the highest caffeine content, and makes up about 90% of Western tea sales.

Black tea has been associated …

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Know your dietary tribe, part #1

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[Part #2 here]

Across the next two Monday’s (including the one we are currently enjoying), we identify 12 (yep, twelve!) dietary tribes and outline what makes them what the are. We have left Paleo out largely because we covered it here.

Who makes the 12 tribes?

Most of us know the main ones – veganism and vegetarianism for example, but there are a few which you may not know so well:

  1. Omnivore
  2. Macrobiotic
  3. Raw foodist
  4. Vegan
    a. Fruitarian
  5. Vegetarian
    a. Flexitarian or semi-vegetarian
    b. Lacto-vegetarian
    c. Ovo-vegetarian
    d. Ovo-lacto vegetarian
    e. Pescetarian
    d. Pollotarian

In this post …

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I’d like to get healthy…

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A couple of weeks ago, a colleague of ours who is not currently in the greatest of shape emailed us with a product he was considering substituting into his diet to replace a few meals in order to lose weight. He had heard about meal replacement shakes and regular protein shakes and thought it may be worth investing in a few serves to help him achieve his desired size. The truth is that weight control and general food health had always been an issue for this colleague and despite trying numerous regimes, had never been able to establish a consistently …

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Are protein supplements necessary?

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If the worldwide supplement industry value of US$396m is any indication, protein supplements continue to be a booming trend. But is there any actual genuine benefit to taking a protein supplement for those who already have a reasonably healthy diet? The short answer? Maybe…

Where protein supplements can be effective

Barbara Lewin, a dietitian and sports nutritionist who has worked with NFL, NBA, and NHL athletes and trained Ironman competitors suggests a few reasons why regular athletes may require more protein in their diet. Lewin identifies five groups that may require additional protein supplementation to maintain ideal health:

  1. Those experiencing
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All hail the kale!

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When it comes to super-food publicity, kale is the carry-over champion. There aren’t too many green leafy vegetables that get the publicity of kale. It even comes with the richly sought celebrity tick of approval. That’s hot. But what is it about kale that makes it so g’damn promotable?

Hail the kale

Kale or borecole (boerenkool) is a vegetable of the plant species Brassica oleracea with green or purple leaves, in which the central leaves do not form a head. It is considered to be closer to wild cabbage than most domesticated forms of vegetables [wikipedia].

Kale belongs …

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What the heck is carmine?

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Heard the one about red lollies being coloured by bugs?

What is carmine?

Carmine (cochineal extract, or colour additive 120) is a pigment of a bright red colour obtained from the cochineal, a species of insect native to South America and Mexico. This parasite lives on cacti in these regions feeding on plant moisture and nutrients. Cochineal are dried, crushed, and submerged in an acidic alcohol solution to eventually produce the pigment that becomes carmine. Approximately 120,000 insects are needed to produce a kilogram of carmine powder.

What is carmine used in?

Carmine is used in food and makeup …

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Alcoholic beverages: the healthier options

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Firstly let us clarify that “healthier” doesn’t mean “healthy”, but sometimes we feel compelled to have a drink. So if you plan to get loose but still have half an eye on your health, hopefully this will shed some light on your options.

The serious bit

Alcohol is part of our culture. Deaths, births, wins, loses, breakups, hook-ups, weekends, any other day. We like it and we do it a lot.

Every year, more than 5500 Australians die from alcohol related illnesses, and more than 157,000 people spend time in hospital due to alcohol related illnesses or behaviour. It …

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