The longer you’ve been with Team Fitness, the more you’ve heard from us about the necessity of getting enough complete protein to support the hard work you put in at the gym.
(To review: A complete protein contains all 9 essential amino acids [EAAs] that we must ingest because our bodies don’t produce them. The optimal amount of complete protein for most active, athletic women is 120-140 grams per day; for most men it’s 160-180 grams per day. That is, about 2.2 grams per kilogram of body weight.)
Getting all that protein usually requires four feedings a day of 30-45 grams per meal. This can be a significant challenge compared to how we’re accustomed to eating. And of course it’s particularly difficult for people on a vegetarian or vegan diet.
We always encourage our athletes to get as much of their nutrition as possible from solid, whole, unprocessed foods. But the reality is that many of us depend on protein shakes in addition to solid food and even that is sometimes not enough.
So we’ve come up with a formula to help. We’ve already told you about creatine. Two other supplements we recommend are an amino acid complexand beta-alanine, both made by Thorne. (Contact us for more information on Thorne.)
The amino complex is a flavored powder containing all nine EAAs plus the conditional aminos that our bodies can make but not always effectively. This supplement has high concentrations of the branched-chain aminos, which are especially good for muscle building.
Beta-alanine is a non-essential amino acid that your body uses to produce carnosine, which is stored in muscle cells and buffers lactic acid. The more carnosine available, the longer the muscle is able to contract before fatigue sets in, which then leads to performance gains.
The moral: eat as much solid whole food as possible to reach your calorie and protein goals, and supplement with creatine, aminos, and beta-alanine to optimize strength, performance, and body composition!
Two of the most common complaints we hear around the gym these days have to do with sleep and perimenopause. For women, the two are often inextricable.
Sleep. Suboptimal sleep can present as trouble attaining sleep, waking during the night or too early in the morning, and/or poor sleep quality. (If you have a sleep app, you might’ve thought you were sleeping fine but now the app is telling you otherwise!)
Inadequate sleep can have multiple causes: excessive worrying, overtraining, snoring partner or dog, menopause, inability to shut down, declining melatonin levels as we age, and just your random bad night.
Sometimes the solution is as simple as going to another bed to avoid the snorer.
Otherwise, a good bedtime ritual can be helpful: turning screens off early, meditating or doing breath work, avoiding alcohol and caffeine, not eating too late, having a completely dark bedroom, and so on.
Certain substances can offer assistance in going to and staying asleep. Thorne, our supplement provider, has a few products that support relaxation, calm, and sleep. One of these is called Sleep+. It combines melatonin,* chamomile, and the amino acid l-theanine in a disc you dissolve in water or other beverage before bed.
Menopause. Another frequently expressed concern is with symptoms associated with menstrual cycles, perimenopause, and menopause. Thorne has a botanical formula that addresses the symptoms by helping balance estrogen and progesterone levels. It also supports skin health and long-term women’s wellness. This one is called Meta-Balance.
If you have a Thorne account** with us, you can sign in, review, and order Sleep+ and/or Meta-Balance yourself. If you don’t, check out why we trust Thorne here. Contact Katherine to set up an account and get more information on these and other Thorne supplements and tests.
*Consult your medical provider before taking melatonin if you suspect or are under care for thyroid or any autoimmune disease.
**Remember, Team Fitness athletes get a discount and free shipping!
Here’s what we mean: If you are a parent, grandparent, and/or have any young people in your orbit, the fact that you work out frequently and consistently means you are not only furthering your own fitness. You are positively affecting the health of those who look up to you.
Here’s a disturbing fact: According to the NIH, 41.5% of youth ages 2-19 are in the overweight to severely obese range. That is a huge public health crisis coming at us like a freight train.
Here’s another fact: children emulate their parents, for better or worse. When they see you sweat, struggle, and prevail in the gym, year after year, chances are very good they are going to incorporate that ideal into their lives, and the wellness habits they develop as kids will persist into adulthood.
We see our Team Fitness parents struggle daily with competing demands: work, household management, kids’ activities, feeding everyone! Shoehorning your own fitness into all that can be really, really hard. That’s why we recommend installing the following mantra in your morning thoughts:
I must take care of myself in order to care well for my family.
Just as the flight attendants say: oxygen for yourself first. It might be counterintuitive, but it is the opposite of selfish.
So the next time you are arguing with yourself about whether you “have time” to work out, remember: The three to six hours you spend in the gym each week are just as important as the hours you spend with the kids.
By Katherine Moore
Beware Random Exercise Routines
Sometimes "random" is good—a random act of kindness or the chance meeting of a new friend. Sometimes randomness, while disguised as good, is actually bad. When it comes to exercise, we have many options. We see a new studio, boutique or gym with classes and workouts. We assume it’s all part of a grand plan, designed just for “me,” or, at least, good enough to give some kind of benefit—after all, I'm sweating!
What if I told you that many exercise routines, classes, and workouts actually don’t have a purpose? They have no science-based design—they are random, completely random. The exercise variables, including exercise choice, order, load, volume, and biomechanics are randomly assembled, like slips of paper picked out of a hat. If you do this workout fast enough, you’ll sweat. But the sweating alone will likely not properly signal the body. The average well-intended trainer has little idea how to properly design a workout that has a designated purpose and is related to your goal. Both the trainer and the fitness enthusiast are often content with just sweat. Results will come later…right?
Is random so bad? Well in this case, yes. The top exercise scientists all agree that specific exercises send specific signals to the brain, spinal cord, hormones, and cells to bring about change. The workout is a mini-exercise prescription with specific signals to build bone and muscle, lose fat weight, get stronger and leaner, move more athletically. If the signal is poor--as in random--the body simply does not interpret it and nothing happens. Random means confusion to the human body, and therefore, no real signal is delivered. The signal can be lost with the wrong exercise, faulty biomechanics (form), weight that is too light, heart rates that don’t fluctuate properly, and so on. This is why we typically see little change in body composition, strength, endurance, and movement proficiency after the initial adaptation to exercise. Your body will adapt to any and all movement for the first 6-8 weeks, and after that, begin to be much more discerning about the signal it is getting. Then, just like that, exercise stops working.
Imagine this: You have a medical condition and you think medication might be the answer. So you wander into your bathroom and grab any medication you can find. “I need pills for my medical problem…a pill is a pill, right?” Instead of taking a specific medication for your exact illness, you just took your dog’s heart worm medication. Poor Max, now he has worms and you’re no closer to solving your medical issue.
Exercise is medicine—so take the right medicine. Modern exercise science shows us that there are specific protocols, techniques, methods, and programs to address your body, your needs, and your goals. Exercise science can bridge the gap between dreaming of the body you want and having the body you want…and there is nothing random about that.