Monthly Archives: July 2013

More About Proteins

Protein is the ‘it’ word of fitness.  Protein shakes, bars, supplements are all going to get you the protein your body needs to recover after a workout and help maintain a healthy weight, but with so many choices on the shelves, how do you know what to eat?

Protein, made from amino acids, is a macronutrient found in meats, dairy, nuts and beans that promotes healthy skin, hair, fingernails, and muscles.  The best place to get protein is from whole food sources, but supplements can make getting your daily dose of protein a little bit easier.  It’s important to know the different types of proteins available out there and how you might find them packaged.  After learning last week about protein concentrate versus isolate and complete protein versus incomplete proteins, here are two more options for getting the protein you need.

Casein Protein:  Casein protein supplements come mainly from milk, and it is digested at a slower rate than whey protein.  The five to seven hour time period it takes to digest casein can help you stay full and give a consistent source of protein to your muscles.  Because it takes longer to digest, casein is not recommended for use immediately following a workout, but is perfect at nighttime.  Ingesting casein protein before bed will keep your body anabolic throughout the night as it thickens in the stomach and slows its absorption into the bloodstream.  This means the nutrients are released gradually, helping your body use the nutrients while you snooze.

Eggs:  When using eggs as an additional source of protein, it’s important to consider the egg white.  Known as albumin, the egg white can be found as a protein powder, but fresh eggs are probably a little less expensive while easy to find and cook.  Be careful to remove the yolk when eating eggs because eating as few as two eggs in a day can exceed the daily recommended amount of cholesterol.  Lots of meal replacements have egg albumin in them, and egg albumen has the added benefits of vitamins and minerals.  Egg whites are also very versatile, easy to digest and contain all of the essential amino acids.

No matter what your protein supplement choice may be, be careful of food allergies and over consumption of protein.  Too much of this good thing can strain the kidneys and other organs, and protein contains calories, so make sure to continue exercising or it might end up being stored as fat.  Some high protein foods are also high in saturated fat and overconsumption can lead to increased risk of heart disease.

For help making healthy protein choices, ask us!  Email Info@FitNicePT.com!

Eating the Correct Kind of Protein

Protein is the ‘it’ word of fitness.  Protein shakes, bars, supplements are all going to get you the protein your body needs to recover after a workout and help maintain a healthy weight, but with so many choices on the shelves, how do you know what to eat?

Protein, made from amino acids, is a macronutrient found in meats, dairy, nuts and beans that promote healthy skin, hair, fingernails, and muscles.  The best place to get protein is from whole food sources, but supplements can make getting your daily dose of protein a little bit easier.  It’s important to know the different types of proteins available out there and how you might find them packaged.  Here’s an overview of things you might see on the label of a protein powder and what’s inside that package.

Protein Concentrate versus Isolate:  Protein concentrate come from removing the non-protein parts of a whole food protein source and results in a roughly 80 percent pure protein powder that also contains fat and carbs.  Isolation is more intense than concentrate, removing more of the non-protein part of a food and making a powder that is up to 95 percent pure.

Complete versus Incomplete Protein:  There are over 500 types of amino acids, and those that cannot be produced by the human body are known as essential, or indispensable, amino acids.  Complete proteins contain all 10 of these essential amino acids, while incomplete proteins do not.

Whey protein:  This most popular and often most wallet friendly protein comes in a wide variety of flavors and has been shown to help with lean muscle growth, fat loss and maintaining healthy metabolism.  The lactose found in whey protein is an allergen for some and can make it impossible to eat.  Carefully choose flavors with whey protein because they can contain artificial sweeteners and be aware that whey can lead to gassiness and bloating, so slowly building up your intake is important.

Soy protein:  Plant food sources offering essential amino acids are hard to find, but soybeans fit the bill.  Offering all 10 of the essential amino acids, soybeans can improve bone health, help prevent certain cancers, and promote healthy immune function.  Soy has recently been genetically altered for larger crop yields and come under fire, plus it is already found in lots of foods.  Adding more soy to a diet already rich in soy might make another choice more appropriate, though it is a great choice for vegetarians.

Have questions about getting more protein in your diet?  Want help planning what to eat after your gym session?  Ask us!  Info@FitNicePT.com

Strong Core, Strong Body

Having a strong core means more than being able to show off your abs on the beach, and powerful muscles connecting your upper and lower halves have lots of benefits beyond attracting the opposite sex.  Core muscles are the link between upper and lower body muscles, bones and joints.  Because all movement starts at one end of the body and moves through every inch of it, weak core muscles can go so far as to impede proper movement in the arms and legs.  Balance and stability also come from having strong muscles in your trunk and that means fewer falls and injuries.

Everything you do on a daily basis uses your core muscles.  Whether you’re standing up, sitting down, bending over or playing a sport, the basis for each movement is in your middle.  The major core muscles are the transverse abdominis working to stabilize the spine, the internal and external obliques rotating the trunk, gluteus maximus, medius and minimus stabilizing the hips, and the pelvic floor muscles that support organs and control urination.  Other groups of core muscles include the rotator cuff helping the shoulder joint, shoulder blade and clavicle work together and the erector spinae which run up the spine on both sides to keep you upright and assist the obliques and transverse abdominals.

Giving your spine and shoulders the support they need means better posture, making you look slimmer and breathe easier.  All this sitting up straight also eases the chronic low back pain many people suffer with.  Any sport that involves upper body movement is improved by providing increased flexibility and more power to rotate your trunk around your spine.  As you work to strengthen your core, you are not only gaining flexibility and decreasing low back pain, you are implementing a completely well rounded fitness program that will ultimately help you reach any fitness goal you set.

There are hundreds of exercises you can practice to increase the strength of your abs, obliques and lower back, and you don’t need a single piece of equipment for most of them.  Add a swiss or medicine ball to your fitness equipment stash and open up the door to many more choices.

Want help adding core training to your program or developing a brand new core strength training routine?  Ask us!  Info@FitNicePT.com

Working Out in the Heat

It’s hot out.  If you’re outside for any extended period of time, you have to be prepared to deal with the higher temperatures and increased humidity of summer.  Exercising in the heat presents its own set of difficulties in addition to the normal challenges of a good workout.  There are ways to manage the risk of suffering a heat related injury, and planning to avoid the dangers of heat exhaustion, heat cramps and heat stroke is half the battle.

Plan your workout.  Planning your workout in advance has two advantages.  You can run at cooler times of day, early morning or evening, giving you lower temperatures to deal with, and you can plan to run in loops.  Running in loops provides you the opportunity to place bottled water, cold towels or energy gels conveniently on your route and keeps you focused on only completing one loop at a time.

Hydrate.  Dehydration is a huge threat during the warmer months, so make sure you are familiar with your personal hydrate needs since they can vary greatly with body type and weather conditions.  During your workout, drink when you are thirsty, being careful not to over-hydrate and dilute your electrolytes, which can be equally as dangerous and being under hydrated.

Dress for it.  Wear light colored, sweat wicking clothes.  If you live in a humid environment, you’ll probably want to wear less than those who don’t deal with as much.  Visors are great for keeping the sun out of your face while also allowing heat to escape from your head.  Always remember your sun block!

Slow down.  The heat and humidity add a dimension to your training that makes it tougher.  You can respond to the increased demand on your body by slowing your pace to help keep your heart rate and core temperature down.  Any exercises in rough conditions helps prepare your body for better performance in better weather.

Adjust.  Allow your body time to adjust to the heat.  Decreasing your pace, working in some walking intervals and running by perceived effort rather than pace are all great ways to give your body a chance to get used to working in the warmth.

Now you’re all ready to beat the heat during your next outdoor exercise session!  Want help with your summer wardrobe or what to put in your cool pack?  Ask us!  Info@FitNicePT.com

Minimalist Running Basics

Most people who are runners of any sort have heard of the minimalist, natural and barefoot movement.  Made up of people who like a more natural feel when they run, this breed of runner wears shoes with less support, or none at all, when out for a session.  Barefoot runners are just that, barefoot.  No shoes, no socks.  Minimalist runners want to be more natural than those who run in traditional running shoes, but also want to protect their feet from pavement and potentially dangerous debris.  Minimalist shoes such as the Vibram FiveFingers offer little support to those who want the feeling of natural running while providing superficial protection to the soles and sides of the feet.  The difference between barefoot and minimalist is small enough that in this article, they will be grouped together and referred to only as barefoot or barefoot running.

Barefoot running has been shown to improve running economy, making shoeless runners more efficient than those who run with them.  It does this by allowing your body to use muscles, tendons and ligaments to spring your foot back off the ground rather than using the cushioning of the shoe to absorb the shock of landing a stride.  With shoes on, runners often land on their heels, allowing the cushioning of the shoes which leads to a large amount of force to be transferred into joints such as the hip, knee and ankle.  Without shoes, runners tend to land on their mid- or fore-foot, giving the muscles, ligaments and tendons around the hip, knee and foot absorb the shock of landing a stride.  Several research reports have found that barefoot running has made the form of those who run barefoot more efficient, and proponents claim it eliminates running related injuries but there isn’t research to support their claims.

That being said, barefoot running also puts your feet at risk for serious injury from unseen sharp objects in the road, grass or sand.  The benefits you could garner from barefoot running, according to some research, might actually depend on how your foot naturally strikes.  Heel strikers are more likely to get hurt without shoes than with them, and more likely to be injured than those who are mid- or fore- foot strikers, for the anatomical reasons mentioned above.  You have to respect your natural running motion while also understanding that you have probably been in shoes for most of your life and it can take quite a while to retrain your body.

If you choose to give barefoot running a try, start out slowly.  Have a professional evaluate your stride and foot strike, go only a short distance, start indoors and use a minimalist shoe.

Want help making the transition?  Ask us!  Info@FitNicePT.com