Thursday, May 23, 2019

Stay On Track Over Memorial Day Weekend

1. Hydrate!
You may indulge in a few alcoholic beverages this weekend so be sure to drink lots of water! Alternate alcoholic beverages with water. This will prevent dehydration and prevent a hangover. Add lemon to your water to replenish electrolytes. You'll feel great the next day and won't miss a morning workout! 

2. Get up early and get in a good sweat!
You may overindulge a little this weekend and that's ok, however it's a good idea to crush a PPW before the barbecues and festivities begin!  If you wait too long the day will get away from you and chances are you won't fit it in, so get moving early!! 

3. Go for lean meats when barbecuing this weekend!
Load up on chicken, fish and veggies! And stay away from condiments! Those sauces are loaded with sugar and fat and those calories add up! Choose fruit instead! Make a fresh pineapple salsa to add to burgers, brats and hotdogs. It's also a great dressing for fish and chicken. 

4. Weekend Parties: NEVER go hungry!
Grab a handful of almonds or an apple with all natural peanut butter before heading out to parties. 
This will prevent you from overeating and you will make better choices. If you don't love it, leave it!… Indulge in the things you love but don't pick at foods that aren't worth your calories. 

5. Most importantly, enjoy yourself!
Portion control is important but don't stress out over every calorie. Get in a few PPWs this weekend, hydrate and have fun with family and friends. 

Monday, May 13, 2019

Do Workout Supplements Give Us An Edge?

Maybe, but results vary from person to person. When scientists study these products, mixed reviews are pretty common. Also, most research focuses on highly trained or pro athletes, so your results might be different. But if you're healthy and have no problems with your heart, kidneys, or liver, the most popular sports supplements are safe and inexpensive.

It's best to talk with your doctor before you take any product, even if it's natural, in case you have any conditions or take medications that it could affect.

Caffeine for Endurance
Caffeine gives you a pick-me-up in the morning, and it can pick up your game, too. If you take it about 30 minutes before your race, game or workout, it could improve your endurance. For long challenges, like a marathon, caffeine during the event can help, too.
Tennis players, cyclists, soccer players, runners, rowers, and others got an edge from caffeine in scientific studies. In some trials, the stimulant boosted athletes’ speed. In others, it helped them last longer before they spent all their energy. Some studies show that it can curb soreness after exercise, too. This means you could get back to your training sooner.

You can get caffeine from energy drinks and shots, tablets, chewing gum, sport gels, and sprays. Each product will give you different doses, so read the label before you take it.
You don’t need all that much caffeine to get the effect, and it is possible to overdo it.  No matter what form you take, make sure you don’t get more than 400 milligrams a day. And don’t forget to count your other daily sources of caffeine -- there’s about 100 milligrams in your morning coffee.

Too much caffeine can cause headaches, irritability, stomach upset, dehydration, and trouble sleeping.

Creatine for Reps
Are you a sprinter or weight lifter? Creatine monohydrate could help with these and other repeated short bouts of intense exercise. It doesn’t seem to benefit players of other types of sports. And, like studies of many supplements, not all studies show that it benefits athletes.

Your body makes creatine naturally, and your muscles use it to do high-intensity exercise. When you do a lot of reps, you use up your natural store of it. That’s one reason your tenth rep is so much harder than your first. A supplement boosts the amount your body has to work with. You also can get creatine from beef and pork. If you already eat plenty of these, you won’t notice as much of a difference from a supplement as a vegetarian might notice.

Experts consider creatine safe for healthy people. Some people take a higher dose for the first week -- about four servings of 5 grams each per day -- to “load” their muscles with the supplement. Then they drop to a “maintenance” dose of about 2 grams per day. Others skip the loading phase and start with the lower dose.

Some studies have shown that creatine could increase fat and not muscle. There’s also evidence that high doses could cause kidney, liver, or heart damage, but it's unclear how much might be too much.

Beta-Alanine for Burning Muscles
When you do short bouts of exercise at maximum effort for 30 to 90 seconds (think indoor cycling classes), your muscles make a lot of lactic acid. That’s what makes you “feel the burn.” Athletes take beta-alanine in a capsule or a drink powder to curb that burn so they can push through their workout.

Does it work? Cyclists and runners who took beta-alanine for 4 weeks improved their game in scientific studies. But not all studies agree.
Some studies show a benefit. Others don’t, so it’s not completely clear yet. We need more studies on it.

Protein for Muscle Growth
Like branched chain amino acids, many athletes take protein, usually in a protein shake, after workouts to try to curb muscle damage and boost growth.
There’s a window of about at least 30 minutes after you stop exercising during which you can take in protein and promote [growth] of lean muscle mass. A number of scientific studies show that protein after exercise helps reduce muscle damage or promotes its growth.

Protein seems to work best after resistance exercise, like weight training.  But you don’t have to get the nutrient from a supplement. A high-protein meal after a workout would do the job, too. A protein shake on top of that might give you an extra boost.  Whey protein is a popular go to protein source, however, it is dairy derived which makes it hard to digest.  Whey is also acidic in the system.  Soy is also a common source for protein shakes.  Be mindful of soy because it mimics the effects of estrogen so it can impact your hormones.  Also, soy is a highly processed making most of it Genetically Modified.  Other vegan sources have become quite popular in the last few years, some examples are yellow pea, brown rice and cranberry.  Do your homework when choosing a protein supplement.  

Monday, May 6, 2019

Rules To Building Muscle Mass

Rule #1: Building Muscle Mass Requires SMART Goals
Wanting to add more muscle mass is a good goal, but it’s vague. SMART goals are designed to ensure you can actually reach them. Here’s how to make your muscle mass goal smarter:

Specific. Do you want particular muscles to get bigger? Are there areas of your body you want to create more definition?

Measurable. It’s reasonable to gain 1-2 pounds of muscle a month. Decide how many months you will invest in this goal and pick your pounds accordingly. Remember you might gain pounds faster at first, so don't set your long-term weekly goals based on the first few weeks of gains.

Achievable. Consider what else you have going on in the coming months. Adjust your goals accordingly.

Relevant. Remind yourself why you want to reach this goal. If it’s hard to stay on track, find ways to remember your reason on a daily basis, like hanging a picture of the physique you want where you’ll see it.

Time Bound. Determine how long you want to spend on this goal. Make a plan on your calendar in that timeframe.  A goal is not goal unless it is time activated.

Rule #2: Be Prepared
No one builds muscle mass by accident. If you want to reach your SMART muscle gain goals, you’ll need to have a plan and stick to it. Your plan will need to include a muscle mass workout program and a nutrition program, plus you’ll need to factor in more rest.

Besides your planning, you’ll need to have access to the right gym equipment. Strength training equipment and a wide range of free weights are important. 

Rule #3: Modify Workout Plan
Have you ever heard of a fitness plateau? That’s what it’s called when you’re working hard and a regular at the gym, but you just aren’t making visible progress towards your goals. Often, small adjustments will make the difference.

Some simple but effective changes you can make to your workout regimen to add muscle are:  

> Start with your free-weight exercises, then move onto machines
> Ask for feedback on your form since it’s easy to stand, grip, or lift improperly
> Do more compound exercises because they are simple and let you increase weights faster
> Lift heavier weights using more muscles instead of isolating a few and lifting less
> Try to move slowly as you lift weights
> Change your routine every 6-8 weeks because otherwise your muscle adapt to your usual exercises and progress slows down
> Pick exercises that pair large body parts (like your shoulders) with smaller muscle groups (like your traps)

Rule #4: Eat to Gain Muscle, Not Lose It
It’s easier to gain weight in the form of fat than it is to put on muscle. Just like with weight loss, what you eat matters. You’ll also need to be eating more calories than you are burning. A great rule of thumb is to have your diet be 12 to 15 percent protein, 55 to 60 percent carbs, and 25 to 30 percent fats.

Of course, not all calories are equal. Opt for healthy protein, carbs that are nutrient dense (like whole grains,) and fats that are good for you. Basically, aim to eat meals like steak and potatoes with greens. Snack on proteins like nuts or meats between meals, and definitely find a few good protein smoothie recipes.

Rule #5: Hit Snooze
Believe it or not, rest is one of the most important factors when building muscle mass. You need to take at least one day a week off from working out so your muscles have to adapt and rebuild. Avoid performing concentrated exercises on the same body parts two days in a row for the same reason.

Muscle building is a lot of work for your body. Getting anywhere from 9-11 hour of sleep a night is recommended. If that’s not possible, don’t dip below 8 hours. Your muscles need it.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Exercise Helps Your Gut Bacteria

Something new emerges from the world of gut bacteria seemingly every other day.  That's why it's worth taking a look at a study from the University of Illinois that was published near the end of 2017.

In the human study, 32 obese and lean individuals were tested. They did supervised cardiovascular exercises for 30-60 minutes three times a week for six weeks.  Short-chain fatty acids—in particular, butyrate, which promotes healthy intestinal cells, reduces inflammation, and generates energy—increased in the lean participants as a result. Short-chain fatty acids in general are formed when gut bacteria ferment fiber in the colon. In addition to butyrate's specific role, these fatty acids also improve insulin sensitivity and protect the brain from inflammation and neurodegenerative disease.  

Butyrate's role in your gut manifests itself in a variety of ways: if you have Crohn's disease, an increase in butyrate production can strengthen your intestines.  It also plays a role in guarding the body against diet-induced obesity.  

The study also found that lean individuals produced more butyrate than in obese individuals. Why this happened is still unknown and represents the next question for researchers to explore.