Sunday, October 15, 2017

The Incredible Pomegranate



Research proves that pomegranate is one of the most concentrated sources of antioxidants.  Studies have also proven that key compounds in pomegranate can do something no one thought possible - reverse the process of atherosclerosis (arterial plaque buildup that is the main cause of heart disease and heart attack!).

These studies indicate that pomegranate provides protection against and actual reversal of atherosclerosis by restoring artery health, lowering blood pressure, and protecting low-density lipoprotein (LDL) from oxidation.
Pomegranate also fights several of forms of cancer including slowing the progression of prostate cancer and suppressing the growth of colon, breast, and lung cancer cells. The good news is that pomegranate’s remarkable health benefits can now be obtained in the form of affordable, highly concentrated extracts.
Pomegranates have potent hormonal attributes that have been shown to have estrogenic effects without increasing cancer risk unlike hormone therapy.   This may be beneficial in safely minimizing menopause symptoms.  At the same time they have also been been proven to cause metastatic breast cancer cells to self-destruct.
Mechanism of Action for Protection from Atherosclerosis
Pomegranate protects arteries by increasing nitric oxide, which improves the function of endothelial cells that line the walls of arteries. Nitric oxide (NO) causes relaxation of the muscles in the walls of the arteries which increases increasing blood flow. Nitric oxide also reduces injury to the arteries which helps prevent the development of atherosclerosis. 

Research has shown that oxidized low-density lipoprotein (LDL) can reduce NO levels. Pomegranate juice enhances the nitric oxide synthase activity which boosts NO. In addition, pomegranate antioxidants prolong the action of nitric oxide which increases its effectiveness.
Amazingly Pomegranate has been shown to reverse atherosclerotic lesions in arteries!
An Israeli study showed that pomegranate can actually reduce existing plaque formations in the arteries.   In the study patients with significant carotid artery narrowing that ranged from 70 – 90% consumed 1.7 ounces of pomegranate juice each day while others received a placebo.   Diet was not changed
Those who drank the pomegranate juice had significant reductions in the thickness of their carotid artery walls, which is correlated with decreased risk for heart attack and stroke. After only three months, the average thickness declined by 13%, and after 12 months, the thickness dropped 35%! During this same 12-month period, the average carotid artery thickness of the placebo group increased by 9%.
The researchers noted a number of improvements in blood markers that help to explain why pomegranate so effectively supports cardiovascular health.  For example, total antioxidant status in the blood was increased by 130% after 12 months of pomegranate use, while serum lipid peroxidation was reduced by 59%. 

There was also an 83% increase in serum paraoxonase-1, an enzyme that can reduce harmful lipid peroxides in arterial cells and in lipoproteins in coronary and carotid lesions.  In addition, one year of pomegranate use more than doubled the time it took for the initiation of LDL oxidation, from 30 minutes to 65 minutes. Since LDL must be oxidized before it can stick to artery walls, this delay in LDL oxidation helps keep plaque from building up. At the same time paraoxonase-1 may help break up existing plaque, leading to overall reductions in plaque formation over time.
How to Obtain the Benefits of Pomegranate
If you enjoy Pomegranate Juice drinking 8 – 12 ounces each day of a high-quality product should confer all the benefits seen in research.   Of course eating Pomegranates is another great way to get the benefits!

You can also obtain all these benefits WITHOUT all the sugar contained in juice by taking a standardized Pomegranate Supplement.     Look for products that are standardized for Punicalagins not just Ellagic Acid.    Ellagic Acid is a highly beneficial chemical, but it does not survive the digestive tract intact while consuming Punicalagins will result increased levels of Ellagic Acid after digestion.  Excellent products and brands include:

Jarrow Pomegranate Extract
Life Extension Pomegranate Extract
POM Wonderful Juice


Sunday, October 8, 2017

How Much Exercise is Enough?

If a little exercise is good than more is better right?  Not so fast.  Like most things in life there does appear to be a sweet spot when it comes to exercise.   To understand this, it is important to keep in mind that the human body is all about homeostasis.  Homeostasis refers to the ability of the body to maintain a balance within its internal environment while being faced with constant changes in the external environment.     

For example, the body tightly regulates many factors such a temperature.  Regardless of outside temperature the body will adjust heat production to maintain a body temperature of about 98.6 degrees.  There are many other examples including blood sugar regulation, ph regulation, AND caloric expenditure!

For example, during conditions of low food intake the body will slow down the metabolism to maintain caloric equilibrium in terms of the energy the body is using and taking in.  This ability is known at metabolic adaptation and allows us to survive during famine.

At the same time the body also adjusts to energy production demands to try to maintain balance between calories in and calories out.   Research has shown that there is an activity/exercise threshold, and when we go above this threshold of exercise the body adjusts by minimizing movement and slowing metabolic rate when NOT exercising.

A great example can be seen in elite level swimmers who spend up to 7 hours per day in vigorous exercise.  Anyone who has spent a few days with these folks will notice that when they are not exercising they are sitting or lying down and tend to sleep a lot between workouts.

This explains why several very well-designed research studies show that total daily energy expenditure is NOT always higher in groups who exercise a lot!     At the low range of physical activity/exercise more activity and exercise IS associated with higher total daily calorie burn, but for people in the upper range of physical activity and exercise total daily calorie burn plateaued.   Body fat levels and activity levels modulate metabolic rate aka totally daily calorie burn.

This fits the metabolic adaptation theory perfectly!   More fat and less overall movement and the body will allow you to “waste” more calories in movement.   However as fat mass becomes very low and/or activity levels become very high the body becomes stingier in allowing energy output so makes adjustments to prevent total daily energy usage from going higher!

Other studies have shown that maximum health and longevity benefits appear to max out at about 500 calories per day in formal exercise activity.   This is not to say more is bad, but rather points out that with exercise there is clearly a point of diminishing returns.    


So more is NOT always better when it comes to exercise!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Kaatsu aka Blood Flow Restriction Training

Kaatsu training was developed in Japan five decades ago.  Ka means "additional" and atsu means "pressure." An English layman's term for the practice is "blood flow restriction training," and involves performing strength training exercises while restricting blood flow to the extremity being worked.

A significant benefit of the method is that you can use just 30 to 50 percent of the weight you'd normally use while still reaping maximum benefits of resistance training. You use less weight but do more — up to 20 or 30 repetitions versus 8 or 12 in most traditional strength training programs.
Cuffs or bands are used that are just tight enough to allow arterial blood flow but not venous flow. This causes lactic acid and other waste products to build up, giving you the same benefit as heavy lifting without the dangers associated with heavy weights. For this reason, it's a great strategy for the elderly and those who are recuperating from an injury.

Scientists believe that restricting venous blood return can dramatically boost growth hormone secretion, reducing myostatin and inducing cell swelling.    Even better there is less overall tissue damage compared to traditional high intensity resistance training.

History of Blood Flow Restriction Training

The history of this type of training was detailed in an Outdoors Online Article (https://www.outsideonline.com/2023016/you-should-probably-try-japanese-blood-flow-routine ):

"Kaatsu came about in 1966 when 18-year-old [Dr.] Yoshiaki Sato, now a doctor, noticed the intense ache in his calves after having assumed the traditional Japanese sitting position during a typically long Buddhist ceremony. It was an ache much like the one he experienced after lifting weights — an ache he realized had to do [with] the occultation of blood circulation.
Eureka! Using himself as a test subject, Sato spent the next several years perfecting a system of blood-flow moderation using bicycle tubes, ropes and straps. He later replaced the tubes with thin computer-controlled pneumatic bands. The idea was to apply pressure around the arms and legs while lifting a light load, safely impeding the flow of blood to exercising muscles.
Slowing this flow engorges the limbs with blood, expanding capillaries, engaging muscle fibers and raising lactic acid concentration. But — and here's part of what makes Kaatsu unique — it fools the brain into thinking it's being put through a vigorous workout."

Kaatsu training can stimulate muscle growth and strength in about half the time, using about one-third of the weight, compared to regular resistance training.

How does Kaatsu Work?

The concept idea behind blood flow restriction training is to restrict blood flow in an exercising muscle/s using a band around the upper portion of the arm or leg being worked. This creates a metabolic disturbance that has local and systemic effects:

1. A reduction in the partial pressure of oxygen and increase in the acidity of the muscle tissue stimulates protein synthesis through an adaptive response to the stressor.

2. The central nervous system also senses the challenge and compensates by increasing sympathetic tone, heart rate, ventilation and sweating.   There is also an accentuated hormonal response as mentioned previously.

Kaatsu also stimulates mTOR signaling and lowers myostatin (myostation stops muscle growth!)
Unexpectedly muscle growth occurs both sides of the cuff even though blood flow is only restricted on the side farthest away from the heart.    The systemic increase in Growth Hormone also drives overall muscle growth.

How much Pressure?

It is important not to restrict blood flow too much, as this could lead to injury and fainting.
The good news is that research shows that if you use common sense the risk of using too much pressure is easy to minimize.  Your limb should not be tingling, turning red, blue or purple, and you should not lose feeling and should be able to feel your pulse in the limb.

For a great quick start guide to Kaatsu click here:  https://www.kaatsu-global.com/quick-start-guide-001/

Kaatsu Training Protocol

A typical training session uses three sets 0f 20 – 30 repetitions per set. use half or less of the weight you'd normally use. Rest between sets is short with typical rest time being 30 seconds.

Could Kaatsu Cause Injury such as Deep Vein Thrombosis?

Kaatsu is NOT the same as putting a tourniquet on and if you follow proper precautions is quite safe.    The key is that Kaatsu does NOT alter arterial blood flow as described previously.    It is important to use cuff’s designed specifically for this process.

Contraindications for Kaatsu

  • Women who have had a mastectomy with or without radiation and/or an axillary node dissection should not use blood flow restriction training.
  • People in hemodialysis who have arterial venous fistulas. Avoid doing blood flow restriction on the affected limb
  • Pregnant women should not use Kaatsu training.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

reACT Trainer Total Body Circuit Workout

One of the best tools we have at our disposal at Workout Anytime is the reACT Trainer.  Staff who know how to use the product properly and teach others to use it can make a great impression on any member or guest and help to differentiate their club from competitors.

Although the reACT Trainer is a lower body and core trainer it is easy to create full body circuits using the reACT Trainer along with the key upper body movements including:

Horizontal Press (chest press of some type)

Horizontal Pull (Row of some type)

Overhead Press

Vertical Pull - (some type of vertical pulling movement)

Here is a sample reACT Trainer Total Body Circuit:


Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Role of B-Vitamins in Preventing Brain Loss

One in five people older than 70 suffers from cognitive impairment which will progress to dementia and death in half of these people within five years.  So it is very important to address all the modifiable risk factors for cognitive impairment.   One of these risk factors is elevated homocysteine which is a strong, independent risk factor for Dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease, and Heart Disease.  
One of the longest and most comprehensive studies ever done showed that one in six cases of Alzheimer’s Disease can be caused by increased homocysteine levels.

In order to process homocysteine properly the body needs adequate levels of Folic Acid (Vitamin B-9), vitamin B12, and Vitamin B6.   A double-blind randomized controlled trial showed that the reduction of homocysteine by B Vitamins can slow the rate of accelerated brain atrophy in people with mild cognitive impairment which is often the first step towards Alzheimer’s Disease.
Another study showed that B-Vitamins can reduce brain loss in areas prone to the Alzheimer’s Disease process. 

Other Benefits of B-Vitamins
B-Vitamins as a group are incredible important to a wide range of cellular and metabolic functions from energy production to production of hormones. Benefits of optimal levels include increased energy, improved mood, reduction of allergy symptoms, help preserve vision, help to maintain bone strength, and help prevent heart disease and stroke.

How do I get B-Vitamins?
Although it is possible to get the RDA of B-Vitamins through diet alone it requires a carefully planned diet and for vegetarians it is very challenging because there is no vitamin B-12 in vegetables. Milk, yogurt and cheese, along with eggs, are the only vegetarian food items that naturally contain significant levels of vitamin B12.

In addition many people have conditions which prevent optimal absorption and cellular uptake of certain B-Vitamins such as Folic Acid.   Each of the key B-Vitamins come in several forms with some being much more active and effective than others.   When everything works right the body can convert other forms to the active forms, but there are many things that interfere with this process.

For example Intrinsic factor produced in the stomach is what allows the intestines to absorb this vitamin.  Not everyone produces intrinsic factor so common sources of B-12 are not effective.
Also since B-Vitamins are water-soluble excess amounts are easily and safely excreted so taking a high quality B-Vitamin Supplement or Multiple Vitamin with activated forms of B-Vitamins in adequate amounts is the safest way to cover yourself.    In addition, although each B-Vitamin performs critical functions in isolation they also work together to optimize many functions so taking a complete B-Vitamin Supplement is highly recommended.

What are all the B-Vitamins?

B- Vitamin          Active Form                                                    Inactive Form
B-1                        Benfotiamine                                                Thiamine
B-2                        Riboflavin-5-phophate                                 Flavin Monocleotide
B-3                        Niacinamide                                                 NAD                                        
B-5                        Panthothenic Acid                                         None                   
B-6                        Pyridoxal-5-phospate                                    Pyridoxine Hydrochloride
B-7                        Biotin                                                             None
B-9                        Methyltetrahydrofolate  aka Metafolin         Folic Acid                                         
B-12                      MethylCobalamin                                         Cobalamin

Can you take too much of the B-Vitamins?
For certain ones the answer is yes!  You should not take in more than 800mcg of folic acid supplement.  Too much can mask a condition called pernicious anemia.  Multiple Vitamins and B-Complex Supplements will contain 400 – 800mcg and more from diet is not a problem.

For vitamin B-6 intake above 200mg per day is not recommended.  Again multiple vitamins and B-Complex will generally contain less than this amount and more from food is not an issue.

Regular “Niacin” can cause significant skin flushing and itching, but this is harmless although it can be very uncomfortable.    Extremely high dose niacin can be used to treat high cholesterol levels but the regular form that causes flushing can also cause liver issues at high levels.   This is also true of “time-released” forms.     The best form for use for cholesterol is “Flush Free Niacin” aka Inositol Hexiniacinate as it will not cause these issues.   NAD (Nicotinomide Adenine Nucleotide) is very safe but there is no reason to take more than 10mg per day.

As always do not take any supplement when pregnant without consulting your registered health care professional.


Sunday, September 10, 2017

Foam Rolling aka Self Myo-Fascial Release

Using a tubular foam roller to literally roll over tight areas of muscles and tendons is known as “Myo-Fascial Release”.    While it seems counter-intuitive applying steady pressure to muscles and tendons with an emphasis on trigger points (areas of tightness and soreness) has been proven to be a highly effective method for improving mobility.    

Since you are in complete control of the amount of pressure applied and how long it is applied you can customize the experience based on your level of sensitivity.   Key areas to focus on include the hamstrings, calves, gluteal muscles, latissimus dorsi muscle, and even low back and hip flexors if done with caution.

You can use a tubular foam roller, and they are made in varying levels of firmness from soft to very firm.   In addition, there are variations that include a textured surface of varying levels from small to large finger like projections.  You can also use balls such as a lacrosse ball, baseball, or tennis ball in a similar fashion.     NOTE:  the smaller and firmer the object the more pressure it will tend to apply so proceed cautiously.

The technique is to position the foam roller on the floor (on a firm but not hard surface is best).  Then position the muscle/s you are targeting on top of the foam roller.     For example, for the calf sit on the floor with your target leg extended so that it is on top of the foam roller with the lowest portion of the calf on top of the roller.    

Use your hands to lift your butt slightly off the floor to allow you to apply pressure down onto the foam roller.    Then literally roll forward slowly over the foam roller paying attention to any trigger points where you notice sensitivity or tightness.   

When you find a sensitive area slowly roll back and forth on the spot until you feel it release.   With a little experimentation you will learn how much pressure and speed work best for your physiology. 

Self Myo-Fascial Release/Foam Rolling is a great way to start a workout and does a great job of safely improving mobility before a workout and is also great to do between workouts.

Contraindications to Foam Rolling
Pregnancy – during pregnancy ligaments become lax and pressure anywhere on or near the abdomen is to be avoided at all costs so best to skip foam rolling when pregnant.

Osteoporosis – soft bones and additional pressure are not a good combination so best to avoid foam rolling without a physician’s permission if you have moderate to severe osteoporosis.

Intervertebral Disc Issues – anyone with disc problems in their spine should be cautious with foam rolling because pressure in the wrong areas can create problems so again get guidance from a medical professional if you have an disc issues in your spine.

Inability to support bodyweight on arms or legs – foam rolling cannot be done safely if a person lacks the strength to support their bodyweight on their arms and/or legs.

For a pictorial guide of various foam rolling exercises to target specific body parts click here:   https://www.pinterest.com/explore/foam-rolling/   


Saturday, September 2, 2017

Energy Drinks Pros and Cons

Energy drinks have become a staple for many people, and there is lot of controversy about whether or not they are safe to drink.    Like most things the devil is in the details when it comes to energy drinks.

Sugar Content
One of the first points to consider for energy drinks is their sugar content.  Sugar is something the vast majority of people could do with consuming less not more.  People who drink energy drinks with high levels of sugar are taking in a lot of extra calories - up to 200 calories for large energy drinks with sugar.     This not only contributes to weight gain and slows or prevents weight loss – it can also wreak havoc on the millions of people with outright diabetes and the many millions who are on their way to diabetes due to insulin insensitivity from too much sugar intake and not enough exercise.

Artificial Sweeteners
Although sugar/carb free energy drinks do not have the issues associated with sugar described above – artificial sweeteners are clearly not healthy.     Now like all things it is all about the dosage consumed on a regular basis so someone having a single beverage with artificial sweeteners daily is very different than someone having four!

Caffeine Content
Another important consideration is the “energy” ingredients contained in the drink.     The most common ingredient is caffeine and the typical energy drink contains about 200mg of caffeine or the same amount you get in a large coffee.    If you are an adult and accustomed to caffeine this will provide an energy bump but will not send you into convulsions!    

However, it is all about your size and your experience with caffeine.    The more you take in caffeine the more accustomed you become to it, and larger individuals can safely consume higher quantities for obvious reasons.     Moderate caffeine intake - 300 to 400 milligrams of caffeine per day -- carries "little evidence of health risks and some evidence of health benefits," conclude researchers from the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University in Corvalis, writing in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition in March 2006.    This equates to 2 average size energy drinks per day.

Other Stimulants
Yohimbine is another potent stimulant so adding this together with caffeine can cause big problems – particularly in those with existing high blood pressure.

N-methyltyramine, Octopamine, and synephrine are other stimulants.     As with Yohimbine best to steer clear of any energy drinks containing any of these ingredients! 

Amino Acids
Most energy drinks include amino acids like L-Phenylalanine and/or L-Tyrosine.   These amino acids act as precursors used by the body to produce excitatory neurotransmitters and hormones.      So they can amplify the effects of caffeine.      NOTE: for people with Phenylketonuria (commonly known as PKU) phenylalanine can be dangerous but there is a mandatory warning on all energy drinks containing this substance.

Another common energy drink ingredient is the amino acid taurine.  Taurine is found in large amounts in the brain, retina, heart, and blood cells called platelets. The best food sources are meat and fish. Excess taurine is excreted by the kidneys.  Taurine promotes cardiovascular health, insulin sensitivity, electrolyte balance, hearing function, and immune modulation.  Authors of a 2012 study actual made the following statement concerning Taurine: “Considering its broad distribution, its many cytoprotective attributes, and its functional significance in cell development, nutrition, and survival, taurine is undoubtedly one of the most essential substances in the body.”    So Taurine is not toxic either.

Another popular ingredient is Glucuronolactone which is added to “aid in detoxification”.  Interestingly enough there actually is some science supporting this claim.    More importantly it does NOT seem to be toxic in moderate doses used in most energy drinks.    Like the amino acids mentioned above glucuronolactone is produced in the body naturally so it is not foreign to cells.  There is an urban legend that this ingredient causes brain tumors but this is just that – a legend!

B-Vitamins
Most energy drinks contain the following B-Vitamins in significant doses:
Niacin – Niacinamide
B-2 - Riboflavin
B-6 – Pyridoxine Hydrochloride
B-12 - Cyanocobalamin
B-5 - Pantothenic Acid

B-Vitamins are water-soluble meaning excess will simply be excreted in the urine, and not having enough B-Vitamins can cause serious issues because B-Vitamins are essential for energy production and many other functions in the body.  

So Why All the Concern?
Like all stimulants – energy drinks can be abused with potentially serious consequences.     Heavy intake (3 or more per day) can cause nervousness and anxiety and heart palpitations.   For those with anxiety disorders, heart disease, or high blood pressure this is a real concern.     Anyone with a heart arrhythmia should check with their physician before taking any type of stimulant including caffeine and energy drinks.

Certain energy drinks like “Redline” which contain multiple stimulants have very specific directions to only consume half a small bottle with a warning that should scare most people.     It is very easy to forget and consume a whole bottle and put yourself in a very uncomfortable and potentially life-threatening situation.   

Always look at serving size, dosage and ingredients and start with smaller intake.    Gradually increase intake.  


Last but not least stimulants can ruin your sleep – so be very careful not to take them past Noon.     Also if you start to develop sleep issues cut back your intake of all stimulants – this almost always helps!     Remember stimulants are not a substitute for rest, sleep, healthy diet, and exercise!

Saturday, August 26, 2017

How to Get Rid of Cellulite

Although the vast majority of woman have some cellulite somewhere on their body – nobody likes it!   So what the heck is cellulite anyway?  Cellulite is pockets of fat that have squeezed between bands of tissue, called septae, that are located below your skin.

Women of all races get it, while virtually no men do. That's because the septae of men are different from women. Men have stronger bands that are cross-hatched allowing them to keep fat in place more effectively. Women have weaker, vertically oriented septae that allows fat to squeeze through easier.

Both thin and heavy women have cellulite. However the higher your level of body fat the more noticeable the dimpling will tend to be.  Unfortunately dieting does necessarily help eliminate cellulite. Losing weight helps sometime, but in some cases weight loss makes cellulite worse.   This occurs when skin becomes saggy after significant weight loss.

There is a definite genetic component to cellulite which does run in families.
Hormones also are part of the equation with cellulite, but science has not figured out exactly how hormones contribute to cellulite.  What is known is that cellulite starts at puberty which is a time that many hormone levels change significantly in females.

Getting Rid of Cellulite

Getting rid of cellulite is easier said than done.  Even treatments like Liposuction are not necessarily effective.    In fact Liposuction often makes cellulite worse by leaving your skin even more puckered looking than it was before.

Dermatologists are quick to point out that there is no magic cure for cellulite, but there are ways to make it look better!   Two of the keys are working out and dropping excess weight sensibly (1lbs per week! – faster weight loss can exacerbate the problem!)

Resistance training is key.   As you increase your muscle size and decrease body fat your skin looks smoother.     If you lose fat while you simultaneously build muscle your cellulite will improve.
It is also important to work on the health of your skin as you age to make it more elastic so that as you lose fat the skin pulls tight rather than sagging.    

Certain topical treatments that increase collagen in the skin, like Retin-A or creams with retinol or vitamin C, cannot hurt and may help.   

Maintaining adequate water intake is also key for skin health and elasticity – 6 – 8 glasses of water per day is key.

If you have faithfully tried everything and your cellulite is driving you crazy and you are prepared to spend some serious dollars – Cellulaze – is an FDA approved therapy.  Cellulaze involves inserting a lazer under the skin and projects heats in three directions and literally liquefies fat as it cuts the septae around fat cells which can reduce the puckering while also encouraging collagen regrowth.

Cellulaze claims a 70 – 80% improvement in cellulite that lasts a full year.  It is most effective for active women with mild to moderate cellulite who are not significantly overweight and who also have good muscle tone.


Unfortunately, Cellulaze is not cheap – costing $5,000 - $7,000 depending on the size of the area being treated.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

How Much Protein Do You Need Each Day?


One of the most controversial and confusing aspects of nutrition is how much protein people should consume each day.    There are several factors to take into account to get a good answer to this question, and there are potential problems with eating too much protein.   There are also definitely problems with not eating enough protein.  It is also important to consider what type of protein is being consumed.

Height, weight, age, sex and activity level all factor into your protein needs.   Obviously the larger you are the more protein you need to take in to support structural proteins throughout the tissues of the body including the muscles, bone, skin and organs.  In the same way the more active you are the more protein you need to consume.  In addition, protein is used to create enzymes, and enzymes are critically important for all cellular function.

Protein is made up of amino acids and there are essential and non-essential amino acids.    Essential amino acids MUST be consumed because they cannot be made by the body.    Complete proteins contain all the amino acids and come from meats, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy.   While vegetarian proteins are not complete it is not hard to combine different plant protein sources to obtain all the protein the body needs to function.

Other factors which influence how much protein is required is overall caloric/energy status.     If you are eating enough calories to maintain bodyweight or gain bodyweight you require less protein as a percentage of overall calorie intake while those people in caloric deficit require a higher percentage of their overall calorie intake to maintain lean tissue mass (losing lean mass like muscle is usually NOT a good idea so this is important).

How much is too much?

In large amounts and for certain populations (such as those with compromised Kidney Function) excess protein can cause problems.    That being said, for the normal healthy individual, the body can easily and safely process and use a lot of protein.    A portion of the protein you eat is frequently converted to glucose (blood sugar) and if your overall calorie intake is too high you will convert excess protein into fat like ALL unused excess calories.

Another potential problem with too much protein is that high protein intake stimulates the release of mTOR which stands for Mammalian Target of Rapamycin.    mTOR is a key regulatory protein that signals for cell growth through the creation of new proteins. Consider protein building similar to a race car. The larger the engine, the greater potential for speed. Similarly, the more mTOR present in any given cell, the greater potential for more protein construction. And just like the gas pedal fuels the engine, mTOR is a signaling protein, and can be various levels of active (like a pedal’s ability to regulate speed). If a number of different processes all signal for ‘Go’, then the cell builds as much protein as it can, as quickly as it can. So just as a souped-up car takes off rapidly, a muscle cell can signal for tremendous muscle growth very quickly, given the right conditions.   n

For this reason, mTOR is a good thing when you are looking for muscle-building!  However, there is a potential dark-side to mTOR.   Cancerous tumors are designed to grow as fast as possible, and they rely on mTOR signaling to build proteins just like healthy cells.   So too much mTOR could theoretically put people at a higher risk of developing rapid and serious cancers.  In fact, a lot of cancer research is based around slowing down and minimizing mTOR activity in tumor cells (the exact opposite goal of muscle research).
 
This doesn’t necessarily mean that eating more protein for muscle building is going to cause cancer. Numerous other proteins and factors come into play, and some may respond differently in muscle cells than in cancerous cells.

Safe and Adequate Protein Intake

The Institute of Medicine's protein RDAs are calculated using 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. This means an adult who weighs 68 kilograms needs at least 54 grams of protein each day. The RDA for pregnant and nursing women is 71 grams of protein per day.  Keep in mind the RDA is a MINIMUM and does not mean this is ideal!   This also assumes you are sedentary!   So, if you are exercising and trying to build muscle or older and trying to prevent muscle loss higher protein intake is better.  To determine your minimum daily intake, divide your body weight by 2.2 to determine your weight in Kilograms and then multiply by .8 to get your minimum daily protein intake.  

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics states that although athletes only need about 1 gram of protein per kilogram of bodyweight to maintain muscle mass, they require 1.4 to 1.8 grams of protein per kilogram to build muscle mass; this is equivalent to about 0.64 to 0.82 grams of protein per pound of body weight each day.


Sunday, August 13, 2017

Workout Anytime Daily 10 Prehab Routine

Everyone knows that prevention is better than dealing with an injury, and part of injury prevention is spending time working on what are commonly referred to as “corrective exercises” or “Prehab”.   10 minutes a day spent doing 10 basic exercises can prevent many injuries, improve results from exercise, and dramatically improve movement.

Ideally do these exercises barefoot or in socks – your feet will be working very hard during these exercises and shoes reduce ground feel.  If possible do them in front of a mirror to see your form!

Hip Hinge – Hip Hinging is one of basic primal movement patterns, and it is also the movement pattern most frequently done incorrectly.   The best way to groove this movement pattern is practice it using a wooden handle or PVC Pipe held vertically against your back touching the back of your head, the top of your shoulders, and your tail bone.  By keeping contact with all three points as you hinge it teaches you to maintain a flat back which is essential for preventing low back injuries and developing proper movement mechanics that allow you to effectively load and unload the glutes and hamstrings.

It is also a phenomenal dynamic warm-up for the hamstrings!   Here is a video showing how to do it:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PG67O49Hsso    Do 50 reps per day and you will see and feel positive changes in your posture, movement, strength and mobility!

Downhill Skier Exercise – This exercise contains elements of the squat and hip hinge.  Start by placing the hands palm down on the top of the thighs.  Keep the back straight slide the hands down until the palms are resting on the knees with the hips back like you are a second basemen.   You should begin to feel a stretch in the hamstrings.     Continue to hinge from the hip forward and slide down until your elbow are resting on the inside of the knees with back straight and hips back like you are a downhill skier.  This will require your knees to track forward over and maybe even slightly beyond your toes (this will generate a stretch in the calf muscles and specifically the single joint soleus muscle).    Keep your heels down the whole time – do not let them lift up off the floor!
Keeping the back totally straight extend the knees as far as possible – you should feel a strong stretch in the hamstrings.  Your hips will rise but keep your elbows on the knees and do not move the upper body!  Then drop the hips, flex the knees and let them move forward over toes as you drop back down to the downhill skier posture.

Start slow but as you get the hang of it you can move faster – as long as you maintain proper form.     Do 30 – 50 reps every day.   You will start to notice that your squat and your hip hinge movements all get easier along with improved mobility in the ankle knee and hip!   Click here for a great video of how to do this exercise properly:  https://youtu.be/nXKWtlr3rBQ

Goblet Squat – Squats are another primal movement pattern and goblet squats help emphasize the best form.   They should be done daily with a relatively light weight for a good 20 – 50 repetitions.    Keep the dumbbell, kettlebell or Sandbag held against the chest the entire time. If you have difficulty getting thighs parallel to the floor spread your feet farther apart, and also rotate out at the hips so that your feet are pointing outwards.   This can make a huge difference.   By doing this and holding a light weight against your chest you may find you can squat to a decent depth while maintaining an upright torso.  It should look like this:  http://cfitness.me.formecdn.com/2016/12/goblet-squat.jpg  

Alternatively you can hold a kettlebell/Dumbbell with both hands letting it go straight down between the legs as you squat down like this:  http://workoutlabs.com/wp-content/uploads/watermarked/Pile_Sumo_Dumbbell_Squat1.png

Single Leg RDL – Romanian Deadlift – is one of the most important corrective exercises you can do to help self-identify and correct muscle imbalances that are the most common cause of movement dysfunction and injury.

The best way to do this exercise is barefoot in front of a mirror where you can see your whole body throughout the entire sequence of the exercise.  Ideally you should be on a firm and level surface as well.

Start by facing the mirror standing on one foot with the other leg flexed so your thigh is parallel with the floor and knee flexed to 90 degrees with hands on your hips.  Look in the mirror and make sure your hips are perfectly level and if not fix that!   

Next, without moving the upper body extend the flexed leg down and hinge forward at the hip of the standing leg.   As your swing leg passes the other leg you should try to straighten it, and ideally you hinge forward at the upper body while keeping your swing leg and upper body in a straight line the whole time.

As you hinge try NOT to let your swing leg hip drop and keep your stance foot pointing directly forward with no angle.  The stance leg should flex slightly but the knee should NOT move forward – rather you should “sit” back into the hinge at the hip. Pause when you reach at or near parallel with the floor with your upper body and swing leg then smoothly return to standing and flex the swing leg.    Slower is harder AND better and do NOT use any load/weight.

10 repetitions on each side each day!   Do all 10 on each side one time per day and you will see some amazing changes in your strength, balance and athleticism! 

Here is a great single leg RDL tutorial:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vc21IwnIcwk

Hip Thrusts – The hip thrust simultaneously develops the glutes while enhancing mobility in the hip flexors (both key because this counteracts the negative effects of sitting all the time!).  These can be done on the floor or with shoulders on a bench, bed or sofa to make it a bit harder.   You can do hip thrusts with two legs or one leg at a time to create additional load.   Here is a good shot of the exercise:  http://cdn-www.womenshealthsa.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/hip-thrust-hold.jpg

Important NOT to arch lower back at all and concentrate on squeezing glutes at top and NOT using low back.    Even without any load this exercise can produce great benefits – 20 – 50 reps each day!

Plank – The plank is a simple functional core exercise that produces great benefits.  It can be done on toes and hands (upper push-up position), Toes and Elbows, Hands and Knees, etc to adjust the difficulty.    Do a version of the plank that challenges for one minute per day while maintaining good form.   Here is a great article on some of the many variations:  http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20813896,00.html/view-all

Side Plank – The Side Plank is also key to building core strength, but in the front plane (side to side stability and strength).   30 seconds to a minute on each side each day.   Like the plank there are many variations and one of the best when you are ready is a side plank with leg lift: https://rutheburke.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/side_bridge_abd.jpg

Static Lunge – Lunges are another primal movement pattern, and there are many different variety of lunges.  A static lunge is done with feet in a split stance like this:    https://www.google.com/imgres?imgrefurl=http://thefitnesslink.uk/exercises/static-lunge/&tbnid=J1sOV9EYH0PmVM:&docid=lgeVWz3ThLe7OM&h=1417&w=1890   

The exercise is fantastic for simultaneously developing strength and mobility in the foot, ankle, knee and hip.  Best done barefoot on a firm surface.  Keep your front heel down the entire time and rear foot is up on ball of the foot with rear knee, hip, back and head kept in alignment the entire time.    Do 10 reps at a time on each side per day – no weight is necessary. 
 
Side to Side Skater – This exercise develops hip mobility including providing an excellent dynamic stretch/warm-up for the adductor (inner thigh muscles).  Feet should be wide apart with feet facing forward – not angled out. Keep feet flat on the floor and flex forward at the hip keeping back straight (only flex forward as far as you can while maintaining a flat back and keeping both feet on the floor with entire foot kept down in contact with the ground).   Push the hips directly to the side and pause as you feel a stretch in the trailing leg’s adductors.  

Ideally your head and torso stay perpendicular to lower body and centered during the entire exercise just like a speed skater.  Then push your hips back in the other direction to the other to the other side.    NOTE:   Do NOT go up and down – your hips should go back and forth in a straight-line parallel with the floor.   Do 20 – 30 reps each day.

Ankle Circles – This exercise improves ankle mobility and is great before just about any activity.    Stand on one foot.    These can be done seated, standing or lying down – best done standing to simultaneously work on balance and stability.  The action is simple:  holding foot and leg in the air draw a circle with your toes for 10 circles in one direction and 10 circles in the other direction like this:  http://web.eccrsd.us/christy/public/athletic_training/ankle_sprain_rehab_beginner_files/Picture%201.jpg   

You will notice that one direction is much harder than the other and you will feel much less coordinated and same thing with one leg vs the other leg.  Do more repetitions in the direction that is challenging and more on the leg that is more challenging.  Ideally do the exercise while you stand on one foot while you pull your other leg up with knee bent so that your thigh is parallel with the floor.    This is more challenging than it looks but will provide big benefits in terms of balance and stability.


Done daily and before workouts these 10 exercises will provide big benefits including improved posture, stability, strength and mobility.   You will also notice that you improve at many other exercises and movements.