Higher total dietary protein intakes (1.2–1.5 g/kg/d) are reported to preserve lean mass and improve body composition during weight loss in young, middle-aged, and older adults when compared with normal protein intakes (0.8 g/kg/d).
My personal goal is 0.75 – 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight daily because I’m an ectomorph that wants to keep a little more lean mass on my frame.
But generally speaking, most people should aim for at least 2/3 of their body weight in grams of protein daily for optimal health.
If you’re trying to build lean muscle mass, consume closer to 1 gram per pound of body weight.
And shameless plug alert: if you’re looking for a high quality, organic, plant-based protein, then check out Pure Food protein.
Health Habit # 5: Do at least 30 minutes of active movement every day
“Active movement” doesn’t have to be “exercise”.
Just get up and move.
Go work in your garden, vacuum the house, chase your kids around the yard, do some stretches, walk your dog or on your lunch break at work …
Doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you do something.
Health Habit # 4: Do at least 2 strength training sessions every week
If you can take your exercise habits a step further and do 1-2 strength training workouts, it can help you improve your lean body mass (more lean muscle and less fat), strength and endurance, and mobility.
For older adults in particular, studies have shownjust 2 strength training sessions a week can build muscle strength and muscle mass and preserve bone density, independence, and vitality with age.
You don’t have to lift weights, either.
Bodyweight exercises like squats, lunges, and pushups work great.
You can also invest $10 or so into some exercise bands to provide a little more resistance.
Health Habit # 3: Try eating more of a Mediterranean-style Diet
Many folks are ditching grains for more protein and fat as part of a low carb, keto, or Paleo diet.
While these dietary approaches can have short-term weight loss gains, the longer term implications are less clear.
One dietary approach that’s backed by plenty of credible evidence though over the long-term for overall health and wellness is the Mediterranean Diet, with its emphasis on healthy fats from olive oil and fish, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, and whole grains. A little bit of wine is even encouraged!
Try eating more of a Mediterranean-style Diet and your health markers are likely to improve at your next checkup.
Because in the short term, lack of sleep can lead to increased stress, pain, reduced quality of life, emotional distress and mood disorders, and cognitive, memory, and performance deficits.
For kids, in particular, not getting enough sleep can affect their psychosocial health, school performance, and risk-taking behaviors.
Long-term consequences of poor sleep in otherwise healthy adults include hypertension, cardiovascular disease, weight-related issues, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and colorectal cancer. All-cause mortality is also increased in men with sleep disturbances.
While everyone’s sleep needs are different, research shows you should aim to get at least 7 hours of sleep each night if you want to maximize your health and your performance.
Health Habit # 1: Prioritize you
While being “selfless” and putting others first are highly sought after virtues in our society, here’s what I’ve learned in 40-something years here:
If you don’t take care of yourself physically and mentally, you’re going to have a hard time taking care of others.
Taking care of yourself can mean different things to different people but here are common self-care strategies:
In short, self-care means finding time to do the things that make your life better, both mentally and physically.
And that, my friends, is the “secret sauce.”
Taking care of yourself is the single most important habit you can create for your overall health and happiness, because once you figure out how to make yourself better, you’ll be better equipped to help others and make a difference in this world.
Most people who have tried to build lean muscle have taken supplements at some point in time.
And unfortunately, most of those supposedly magical all-natural / herbal remedies just don’t work … especially for those of us “hard gainers” who seem to struggle with growing new muscle.
But in this article, we will uncover three of the best muscle building, all natural supplements for both women and men that actually work in human clinical trials. That’s right–all of these are backed by real, credible research studies. [Anecdotally, I can attest to having personally used and seen great results when using this supplement stack!]
Protein helps build, maintain, and replace the tissues in your body. Your muscles, organs, and immune system are made up mostly of protein, which is why it’s the most important nutrient if you want to build muscle.
Many people, particularly those who adhere to a plant-based diet, struggle to get enough protein to gain any muscle.
That’s where protein powder supplements can help. But first …
Plant vs Whey (Animal Protein): Which Is Better for Building Muscle?
There is not asignificant body of evidence to support whey and other animal-based protein powders as being more effective than plant-based protein sources for building muscle.
A2021 study found that whey and plant (soy) protein were equally effective in supporting lean muscle gains.
A2019 study showed similar body composition improvements after taking whey and pea (plant-based) protein for 8 weeks.
A 2015 study found that supplementing with pea protein produced similar muscle gains to whey protein.
And since an estimated 68% of people are lactose intolerant, it stands to reason that many folks probably not be consuming dairy-based proteins like whey.
There are other animal-based proteins like collagen but they haven’t been studied as extensively for building muscle as whey and certain plant proteins. Some studies have shown that collagen may not be as effective as whey for muscle protein synthesis.
Regardless of which source you decide is best for you, one thing is for certain: protein powders work if your goal is losing fat and gaining lean muscle. Here’s proof …
Protein supplementation may promote muscle hypertrophy and enhance gains in muscle strength in both untrained and trained individuals. Evidence also suggests that protein supplementation may accelerate gains in both aerobic and anaerobic power.
While studies on athletes have shown that protein and amino acid supplements may increase MPS and reduce fatigue, muscle soreness and low-to-moderate exercise-induced damage, current studies showing clear negative effects associated with high-protein diets or, e.g. BCAA supplements, are mainly reported in subjects with some type of metabolic disturbances.
Supplementation with whey protein, combined with RT can increase muscle mass with no effects on muscle strength. Whey protein supplementation may alter body composition in favor of additional fat free mass with no significant changes in body fat.
Dietary protein supplementation significantly enhanced changes in muscle strength and size during prolonged resistance exercise training in healthy adults. Increasing age reduces and training experience increases the efficacy of protein supplementation during resistance exercise.
For untrained individuals, consuming supplemental protein likely has no impact on lean mass and muscle strength during the initial weeks of resistance training. However, as the duration, frequency, and volume of resistance training increase, protein supplementation may promote muscle hypertrophy and enhance gains in muscle strength in both untrained and trained individuals. Evidence also suggests that protein supplementation may accelerate gains in both aerobic and anaerobic power.
Protein supplementation may enhance muscle mass and performance when the training stimulus is adequate (e.g., frequency, volume, duration), and dietary intake is consistent with recommendations for physically active individuals.
Since protein powders are dietary supplements, the FDA leaves it up to manufacturers to evaluate the safety and labeling of products. So first, ensure that whatever protein powder you’re using is routinely third party tested for mold, pathogens, and heavy metals. Supplement manufacturers should have COAs they can share with you and if they don’t, it’s definitely a red flag!
However, there’s limited data on the possible side effects of high protein intake from a combination of food and supplements.
Don’t use whey protein if you have an allergy or sensitivity to dairy products.
Possible interactions include:
Albendazole (Albenza). Avoid using whey protein if you are taking this parasite-killing drug. The supplement might delay or hinder the drug’s effects.
Alendronate (Fosamax). Use of whey protein with this drug used to prevent or treat osteoporosis might decrease absorption of the drug.
Certain antibiotics. Use of whey protein with quinolone or tetracycline antibiotics might decrease your absorption of the drug.
Plant protein powders all absorb small amounts of heavy metals from the soils they’re grown in. Usually these levels are not high enough to have negative impacts on human health but it’s a good idea to check with the supplement manufacturer and review their heavy metal testing reports.
Creatine to Increase Strength and Build Lean Muscle
Creatine is an amino acid found in your body’s muscles and in your brain. Though it can be made synthetically, most people get creatine through seafood and red meat. The body’s liver, pancreas and kidneys also make creatine.
Creatine is one of the best supplements for building lean body mass and increasing athletic performance.
Of 22 studies reviewed, the average increase in muscle strength following creatine supplementation plus resistance training was 8% greater than the average increase in muscle strength following placebo ingestion during resistance training (20 vs. 12%). Similarly, the average increase in weightlifting performance (maximal repetitions at a given percent of maximal strength) following creatine supplementation plus resistance training was 14% greater than the average increase in weightlifting performance following placebo ingestion during resistance training (26 vs. 12%).
The study found that a 5-day creatine loading regime coupled with resistance training resulted in significant improvements in both average anaerobic power, as measured by the 30-second Wingate test and back squat strength compared with just training alone.
Twelve weeks of low-dose creatine supplementation associated with resistance training resulted in increases in lean mass in the elderly.
Creatine Side Effects
According to the Mayo Clinic, evidence suggests that using creatine generally won’t hurt if taken as directed.
When used orally at appropriate doses, creatine is likely safe to take for up to five years. As with any dietary supplement, it’s important to choose a product that follows recommended manufacturing practices and subscribes to third-party testing to ensure the product’s quality.
Creatine can cause weight gain, generally as lean body mass (more muscle).
Creatine might be unsafe for people with preexisting kidney issues. One case study suggested that creatine might worsen kidney dysfunction in people with kidney disorders, but creatine doesn’t appear to affect kidney function in healthy people.
Possible interactions of creatine include caffeine. Combining caffeine with creatine might decrease the efficacy of creatine. Use of creatine with a daily amount of caffeine greater than 300 milligrams might also worsen the progression of Parkinson’s disease. Further research is needed.
Glutamine to Speed Recovery and Increase Strength Gains
L Glutamine is the most abundant essential amino acid in our bodies and one of the “building blocks” of protein. It’s a “conditional” amino acid, which means that your body can make some on its own but uses it in large amounts.
Around 60 percent of your skeletal muscle is made up of glutamine, which is why it has been used by athletes and bodybuilders for years to help build and preserve lean body mass.
Let’s look at the available evidence on the effect l glutamine supplements have on muscle gains.
L-glutamine supplementation resulted in faster recovery of peak torque and diminished muscle soreness following eccentric exercise. The effect of L-glutamine on muscle force recovery may be greater in men than women.
Glutamine supplementation, mainly when associated with physical exercises, improves strength and power of knee muscles and glycemia control, besides boosting plasma antioxidant capacity of elderly women.
Studies evaluated observed that glutamine supplementation improved some fatigue markers, such as increased glycogen synthesis and reduced ammonia accumulation, but this intervention did not increase physical performance.
L-glutamine administration could represent an important therapeutic strategy for reducing muscle loss in catabolic diseases and inflamed aging.
Glutamine Side Effects
L-glutamine is generally safe but may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
back, leg, feet, hands, or arm pain
So, based on a solid body of evidence, protein powder, creatine, and L glutamine are three of the best supplements for lean muscle gain.
Finding a protein powder that works for you can be a highly personal ordeal. Whether you choose an animal protein like whey or collagen or plant-based protein, we recommend sticking with a product with USA-sourced ingredients and no added sugar (especially the latter if gaining LEAN muscle is your goal).
And any supplement you choose should be produced in a GMP-certified, FDA-approved facility, and third party lab tested for impurities like mold, food borne pathogens, and heavy metals.
The most important thing when trying to build lean muscle, regardless of your gender or age, is to create consistent habits. Supplements are just one piece of the puzzle. Doing resistance training several days a week and improving your diet with more clean, high protein foods are imperative if you want to get lean and actually stay that way!
As nice as it is to give gifts to others around the holidays, guess who’s the one person most of you probably aren’t thinking about this time of year?
That’s why I put together a list of 10 of my best health and wellness-related recommendations for a healthier you in 2022!
These are truly the gifts that keep on giving (unlike the jelly of the month club) because they are all investments in your health that will pay dividends many times over if used consistently.
So here ‘ya go …
10 Health and Wellness Gifts to Buy Yourself This Year
Exercise Band Set. Using exercise bands is one of the best ways to strengthen and lengthen muscles, boost functional strength, improve mobility and balance, and increase flexibility. I incorporate them into most of my workouts these days. Bonus: you can take them with you anywhere.
Percussion Massager Gun. One of my favorite purchases in the last two years, a percussion massage gun helps relieve muscle aches and pains. This thing has helped me recover faster countless times, particularly when I get knots in my neck and back area (which is often). You can also try the newer Theragun Wave, which is a mini version that may be better suited for spot treatment. Better yet, treat yourself to regular massage therapy if you’re able!
Viome Gut Intelligence Test. I’ve said it before, but personalized nutrition is the future and Viome is at the forefront. For $99, they will analyze your unique gut bacteria composition and tell you which foods you should/shouldn’t be eating.
23andme Health and Ancestry Kit. How cool is it that you can now learn about your family history through genetic testing? On top of that, 23andme’s health reports will tell you i.) genetic factors that may influence your chances of developing certain health conditions, ii.) whether you have specific genetic variants that may not affect your health, but could affect your children’s health, iii.) how your DNA may affect your body’s response to diet, exercise, and sleep, and iv.) the genetics behind your appearance and senses. Pretty amazing stuff.
White Noise Machine. Struggle with sleep? This white noise machine is a life saver. Best investment I’ve ever made in my sleep.
Calm Subscription. Taking time to meditate and breathe each day offers too many benefits to list–from improving your mood and memory to lowering blood pressure. Calm is a highly-rated app that has guided meditations sessions specifically for anxiety, work stress, grief, sleep, and more. I also love their ambient music tracks for focusing during the workday.
Arbor Day Foundation Membership. Even if you’re not a gardener or green thumb, you can impact future generations long after you’re gone by helping plant trees. Make a donation or buy trees directly from their mail order catalog (at great prices) and they’ll ship them in the mail for you along with planting instructions.
My Immune Health Supplement Stack: Get sick less and recover faster by taking this Immunity Support stack daily: 1 Zinc + vitamin C capsule, 1 vitamin D3 capsule, and 2 Pure Food Digest capsules (1 with your two largest meals).
Ullo Wine Purifier. Love wine but hate hangovers? Then try this wine purifier that removes sulfites, one of the most common causes of the dreaded wine headache.
After being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that causes persistent inflammation and pain in my muscles, tendons, and ligaments, I’ve been on a quest to figure out how to reduce my pain and move better without the use of drugs.
One of the most impactful discoveries I’ve made has been a training protocol called Muscle Activation Techniques (MAT).
MAT was developed by strength coach and biomechanics specialist Greg Roskopf (who has worked with a long list of professional athletes, including Bryson DeChambeau, Peyton Manning, DeMarcus Ware, and Odell Beckham Jr. It’s designed to re-establish the communication pathways between the nervous system and the muscular system in order to restore muscle contractile capabilities.
The result: increased strength, flexibility, mobility, and coordination, lower risk of injury, and less pain.
I’ve put together a list of exercises that use MAT and several other techniques to address some of the most common sources of pain (neck, back, shoulders, elbows, wrists, knees, hips, etc.).
I do some combination of these every day. I recommend starting with 1 or 2 and seeing how you feel after doing them daily for a couple weeks. There’s also a link below if you’d like to find a MAT specialist.
No matter how old or young, fit or sedentary you are, moving is the key to looking and feeling younger.
I guarantee these exercises will help you do just that.
10 of the Best Exercises for Reducing Aches and Pains
To get a personalized plan for you, find a MAT specialist here.
My Top Supplements for Reducing Joint Pain
While NSAIDs are the OTC drug of choice for reducing pain, there are serious long-term effects from chronic use. For that reason, I try and avoid ingesting NSAIDs and other pain pills. I know some people need them in order to function daily.
But whenever possible, try using topical diclofenac gel (naproxen) because it’s a much safer option. I have found that combining a bit of topical naproxen gel with some CBD oil (tincture oil or rub) results in near-instant pain relief for my sore knees, back, elbows, and neck and helps me sleep better.
But, just because this has worked for me, doesn’t mean it’ll work for you, of course.
If you have chronic pain, first talk to your doctor. Find out the root cause of your pain, then you can work on treating it.
Once you’re comfortable enough to exercise, these movements will help you reduce some of those aches and pains over time by building and repairing muscles and connective tissue in those oft-neglected areas you need it most.
While I admit my home gym setup is pretty solid, you don’t need any weights or equipment to keep your body running smoothly during times when you’re stuck at home.
In fact, right now is the perfect time to introduce new exercises and movements and correct some of those muscle imbalances (we all have ’em).
Here are 5 of my favorite functional, core-focused movements that will keep your muscles strong, flexible, and limber during quarantine! These will be particularly helpful for you if you spend a lot of time sitting.
Best of all, no weights required (but you can use them for some if you want).
Focus: Back, shoulders, hips, abs/core
This is one of my all-time favorite functional strength movements that works a variety of muscle groups. It’s excellent for improving rotational mobility and power, which is applicable to nearly every sport imaginable. I do this exercise in between days I lift weights. Here’s an explanation of how to do it on Men’s Health.
Two Step Getup
Focus: Shoulders, lower back, abs/core
This is another fantastic core movement for those who spend a lot of time sitting that can be done with or without weights. I do this exercise at least two days a week. Lie on your back, a light dumbbell in your right hand directly over your chest (or just raise your arm up with no weight), right knee bent. Press the your arm upward, propping yourself onto your left elbow. Pause. Push your torso off the floor. Pause. Do 5-10 reps on each side.
Squat to Hip Opener
Focus: Legs (quads, hips, hamstrings), lower back, abs/core
Deep squat + hip opener = one of the all-time great total body exercises. It’s great for tight hips and glutes and helps improve your balance too. Start standing and slowly drop into a deep squat (if you have bad knees, only go as far as you can). Stand back up, squeezing your glutes, and lift your right leg, driving your knee up. Rotate your thigh outward, flexing your right glute. Pause, then return to standing. Repeat on the other side. Do reps for 30 seconds on each side, and complete 3 sets.
Downward Dog with Calf Reach
Focus: Hamstrings, mid-back, abs/core, triceps
Here’s a great exercise to do if you spend a lot of time sitting. It combines a classic yoga pose with an added flexibility/mobility/core twist. First, get into a downward dog position. Now reach down with your right hand and grab your left calf. Hold that position for a few seconds then switch sides and repeat. Do 5-10 reps on each side. If you can only reach your knee or thigh area that’s fine … listen to your body!
Lateral Line Stretch
Focus: Shoulders, lower back, abs/core
Ok, this one is a bit easier. The lateral line stretch can help ease tension in your QL (quadratus lumborum), an abdominal muscle located deep within your lower back that often gets overworked and causes lower back pain. Here’s a YouTube video that explains how to do it:
While it’s true that most dietary supplements are complete junk that don’t do much of anything, saying all supplements have no benefit is just plain absurd.
Because there are a handful of health and wellness supplements that have very promising health benefits.
In this article, you’ll learn about 15 of the best supplements that help address some of the most common health challenges (losing weight, easing digestive issues, increasing energy, boosting immunity, alleviating pain, and decreasing anxiety).
Each of the supplements you will learn about has multiple peer-reviewed, placebo-controlled research that support its efficacy and safety.
I’m confident you’ll find something in here that can help you.
Click the links below to jump around or scroll down to get started.
*Note: Ginkgo’s effect on memory enhancement has had conflicting results. While some evidence suggests that ginkgo extract might modestly improve memory in healthy adults, most studies indicate that ginkgo doesn’t improve memory, attention or brain function.
Is Ginkgo Biloba Safe?
When used orally in moderate amounts, ginkgo appears to be safe for most healthy adults. Here are some important safety considerations when taking this supplement though:
In certain people, ginkgo can cause headaches, dizziness, heart palpitations, upset stomach, constipation, and allergic skin reactions.
If you are epileptic or prone to seizures, avoid ginkgo.
If you are older, have a bleeding disorder or are pregnant, don’t take ginkgo because it might increase your risk of bleeding.
Ginkgo might interfere with the management of diabetes.
Don’t eat raw or roasted ginkgo seeds, which can be poisonous.
Possible interactions include: Alprazolam (Xanax), Anticoagulants and anti-platelet drugs, herbs and supplements, Anticonvulsants, Antidepressants, Certain statins, Diabetes drugs, Ibuprofen
The herbal remedies collectively referred to as “ginseng” are derived from the roots of several different plants. One of the most commonly used and researched of the ginseng plants is Panax ginseng, also called Asian or Korean ginseng.
The main active components of Panax ginseng are ginsenosides, which have been shown to have a variety of beneficial effects, including anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anticancer effects.
Results of clinical research studies demonstrate that Panax ginseng may improve psychologic function, immune function, and conditions associated with diabetes.
1. Improve cognition and focus. 2. Reduce blood sugar. 3. Boost happiness and well being.
Overall, Panax ginseng appears to be well tolerated, although caution is advised about combining it with some pharmaceuticals, such as warfarin, oral hypoglycemic agents, insulin, and phenelzine.
Because ginseng may affect blood sugar levels, people taking drugs for diabetes should not use ginseng without talking to their doctor first. Ginseng can interact with warfarin and with some medicines for depression. Do not take ginseng without consulting your doctor if you take any medications. Caffeine may amplify ginseng’s stimulant effects.
Given the lack of evidence about its safety, ginseng is not recommended for children or for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Turmeric is a spice that’s a member of the ginger family. It’s commonly used in several types of Asian cuisine. Turmeric roots contains a yellow-colored compound called curcumin that has some pretty impressive health properties.
In addition to the digestive benefits below, there is strong evidence that shows turmeric is high in anti-oxidants, which help protect your cells from damage and can help reduce inflammation, pain, anxiety and even symptoms of depression.
1. Relieve IBS 2. Aid digestion 3. Ease heartburn 4. Reduce gas and bloating
According to JECFA (The Joint United Nations and World Health Organization Expert Committee on Food Additives) and EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) reports, the Allowable Daily Intake (ADI) value of curcumin is 0–3 mg/kg body weight.
Despite this well-established safety profile, some negative side effects have been reported. A small percentage of people in several clinical studies reported nausea and diarrhea.
Dietary fiber is a plant-derived nutrient that can’t be digested by your body. This is a good thing because fiber helps move material through your digestive system.
Problem is, most Americans still aren’t getting enough of it from their diet, especially if you follow a low carb or ketogenic diets.
The recommended daily intake of fiber is at least 25-30 grams. Most people get around 15.
A 2019 meta analysis of studies and clinical trials conducted over nearly 40 years showed that the health benefits of eating at least 25g or more of dietary fiber a day included:
1. Lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, many types of cancers. 2. Improve digestive health. 3. Live longer.
If you’re struggling to get enough fiber from whole foods in your diet, then a supplement containing a little extra fiber may help. In rare cases, eating more fiber can lead to side effects. Here are some specific examples:
Is Fiber Safe?
Fiber supplements may decrease the absorption of some medications. Therefore, you should not take supplements within 2 hours of taking other medications.
When using fiber supplements or increasing dietary fiber intake, you should gradually increase your intake over a few weeks to avoid or reduce adverse effects such as intestinal flatulence, bloating, diarrhea, and cramping.
If you have a preexisting medical conditions, and especially one in which you need to restrict fluid intake (e.g., renal dysfunction or congestive heart failure), or if you’re currently taking any medications you should discuss the use of fiber supplements with your primary health care provider.
If you have intestinal ulcerations, stenosis, or disabling adhesions you should avoid fiber supplements because of the possibility of fecal impaction or intestinal obstruction.
The Best Supplements for Immunity
Zinc is an essential trace mineral and the second most abundant metal in humans. Since the human body does not store excess zinc, it must be consumed regularly as part of the diet. Zinc deficiency in humans is quite prevalent, affecting over two billion people.
Here are some proven benefits of taking a zinc supplement:
1. Boost your immune system. 2. Treating common cold and recurrent ear infections, the flu, upper respiratory tract infections.
Source: Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium, and Zinc
Is Zinc Safe?
Zinc is likely safe for most adults when applied to the skin, or when taken by mouth in amounts not larger than 40 mg daily.
In some people, zinc might cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, metallic taste, kidney and stomach damage, and other side effects. Using zinc on broken skin may cause burning, stinging, itching, and tingling.
Zinc should not be inhaled through the nose, as it might cause permanent loss of smell. Avoid using nose sprays containing zinc.
Taking more than 100 mg of supplemental zinc daily or taking supplemental zinc for 10 or more years doubles the risk of developing prostate cancer. There is also concern that taking large amounts of a multivitamin plus a separate zinc supplement increases the chance of dying from prostate cancer.
Taking 450 mg or more of zinc daily can cause problems with blood iron. Single doses of 10-30 grams of zinc can be fatal.
Vitamin D is a nutrient your body needs to keep your bones healthy. Our bodies can only absorb calcium, the main part of bones, when vitamin D is present.
Vitamin D is not naturally present in most foods … but you will often find it in fortified milk, cereal, and fatty fish such as salmon.
Our bodies can also make vitamin D from sunlight.
The amount of vitamin D your skin makes from sunlight depends on several factors, including the time of day, season, latitude and your skin pigmentation. Depending on where you live and your lifestyle, vitamin D production might decrease or be completely absent during the winter months. Sunscreen, while important for preventing skin cancer, also can decrease vitamin D production.
Many older adults, in particular, don’t get regular exposure to sunlight and have trouble absorbing vitamin D.
If your doctor suspects you’re not getting enough vitamin D, a simple blood test can check the levels of this vitamin in your blood.
Taking a multivitamin with vitamin D may help improve bone health. The recommended daily amount of vitamin D is 400 international units (IU) for children up to age 12 months, 600 IU for people ages 1 to 70 years, and 800 IU for people over 70 years.
1. Decrease risks or falls and fractures in the elderly. 2. Reduce risk of cardiovascular disease. 3. Lowering risk of colorectal cancer. 4. May improve inflammation and clinical symptoms in COVID-19 patients.
Taken in appropriate doses, vitamin D is generally considered safe.
However, taking too much vitamin D in the form of supplements can be harmful. Children age 9 years and older, adults, and pregnant and breastfeeding women who take more than 4,000 IU a day of vitamin D might experience:
Nausea and vomiting
Poor appetite and weight loss
Confusion and disorientation
Heart rhythm problems
Kidney stones and kidney damage
Possible drug interactions include:
Aluminum. Taking vitamin D and aluminum-containing phosphate binders, which may be used to treat high serum phosphate levels in people with chronic kidney disease, might cause harmful levels of aluminum in people with kidney failure in the long term.
Anticonvulsants. The anticonvulsants phenobarbital and phenytoin (Dilantin, Phenytek) increase the breakdown of vitamin D and reduce calcium absorption.
Atorvastatin (Lipitor). Taking vitamin D might affect the way your body processes this cholesterol drug.
Calcipotriene (Dovonex, Sorilux). Don’t take vitamin D with this psoriasis drug. The combination might increase the risk of too much calcium in the blood (hypercalcemia).
Cholestyramine (Prevalite). Taking vitamin D with this cholesterol-lowering drug can reduce your absorption of vitamin D.
Cytochrome P-450 3A4 (CYP3A4) substrates. Use vitamin D cautiously if you’re taking drugs processed by these enzymes.
Digoxin (Lanoxin). Avoid taking high doses of vitamin D with this heart medication. High doses of vitamin D can cause hypercalcemia, which increases the risk of fatal heart problems with digoxin.
Diltiazem (Cardizem, Tiazac, others). Avoid taking high doses of vitamin D with this blood pressure drug. High doses of vitamin D can cause hypercalcemia, which might reduce the drug’s effectiveness.
Orlistat (Xenical, Alli). Taking this weight-loss drug can reduce your absorption of vitamin D.
Thiazide diuretics. Taking these blood pressure drugs with vitamin D increases your risk of hypercalcemia.
Steroids. Taking steroid mediations such as prednisone can reduce calcium absorption and impair your body’s processing of vitamin D.
Stimulant laxatives. Long-term use of high doses of stimulant laxatives can reduce vitamin D and calcium absorption.
Verapamil (Verelan, Calan SR). Taking high doses of vitamin D with this blood pressure drug can cause hypercalcemia, and might also reduce the effectiveness of verapamil.
The Best Supplements for Pain / Inflammation
Almost a third of Americans suffer from chronic pain–nearly 100 million people.
Prescription pain medications like opoids have become a major problem though.
Here are some supplements that can help relieve pain naturally, without the use of prescription meds:
Glucosamine / Chondroitin
Glucosamine is a supplement derived from shellfish that may provide minor pain relief and help people who suffer from arthritis (particularly of the knee).
Chondroitin is a supplement frequently paired with glucosamine as a combination therapy to help with joint pain and stiffness, and other symptoms of osteoarthritis.
No serious side effects have been reported in large, well-conducted studies of people taking glucosamine, chondroitin, or both for up to 3 years.
However, glucosamine or chondroitin may interact with the anticoagulant (blood-thinning) drug warfarin (Coumadin).
A study in rats showed that long-term use of moderately large doses of glucosamine might damage the kidneys. Although results from animal studies don’t always apply to people, this study does raise concern.
Glucosamine might affect the way your body handles sugar, especially if you have diabetes or other blood sugar problems, such as insulin resistance or impaired glucose tolerance.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are considered essentialfats—your body can’t make them from scratch and therefore must get them from food. Foods high in Omega-3 include fish, vegetable oils, nuts, flax seeds, and leafy vegetables.
Omega-3 fats are an integral part of cell membranes throughout the body and help regulate blood clotting, contraction and relaxation of artery walls, and inflammation.
There are three main omega-3s:
Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) come mainly from fish, so they are sometimes called marine omega-3s.
Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), the most common omega-3 fatty acid in most Western diets, is found in vegetable oils and nuts (especially walnuts), flax seeds and flaxseed oil, leafy vegetables, and some animal fat, especially in grass-fed animals.
Omega-3 fats have been shown to help with a variety of health conditions …
1. Prevent heart disease and stroke by lowering cholesterol and triglycerides. 2. Control lupus, eczema, and rheumatoid arthritis. 3. Play protective roles in cancer and other conditions. 4. Reduce symptoms of depression. 5. Reduce arthritis-related joint pain.
I personally use Krill Oil, and highly recommend it.
Are Omega-3 Fatty Acids Safe?
Side effects of omega-3 supplements are usually mild. They include unpleasant taste, bad breath, bad-smelling sweat, headache, and gastrointestinal symptoms such as heartburn, nausea, and diarrhea.
Several large studies have linked higher blood levels of long-chain omega-3s with higher risks of prostate cancer. However, other research has shown that men who frequently eat seafood have lower prostate cancer death rates and that dietary intakes of long-chain omega-3s aren’t associated with prostate cancer risk. The reason for these apparently conflicting findings is unclear.
Omega-3 supplements may interact with drugs that affect blood clotting.
It’s uncertain whether people with seafood allergies can safely take fish oil supplements.
Pine Bark Extract (Pycnogenol
Pycnogenol, also known as “French Maritime Pine Bark Extract,” contains catechins similar to those found in green tea, grape seed extract and cocoa polyphenols.
Pcynogenol does appear to possess dual anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and its benefits include increased blood flow and improved blood glucose control.
1. Promotes healthy aging. 2. Improves symptoms of knee pain for patients with osteoarthritis. 3. Shows anti-inflammatory effects. 4.Increases antioxidant capability. 5. Improved endothelial function in hypertensive patients.
One study showed unwanted effects of a “mild and transient nature,” such as gastrointestinal problems, vertigo, headache and nausea.
The Best (Legal) Supplements for Building Muscle and Losing Fat
Proteins are organic molecules made up of amino acids (the building blocks of life). Protein helps build, maintain, and replace the tissues in your body. Your muscles, organs, and immune system are made up mostly of protein.
It’s well known that eating an adequate amount of protein is necessary if you’re trying to alter your body composition (gain muscle, lose fat, etc.).
Many folks, particularly those who follow a plant-based diet, struggle to get adequate protein from food alone though.
That’s where taking a protein powder supplement may help.
Here are some known benefits:
1. Build lean body mass (muscle). 2. Reduce body fat. 3. Maintain a healthy weight. 4. Strengthen bones as you age.
Since protein powders are dietary supplements, the FDA leaves it up to manufacturers to evaluate the safety and labeling of products.
Some proteins, particularly dairy-based ones, may cause digestive distress. People with dairy allergies or trouble digesting lactose can experience gastrointestinal discomfort if they use a milk-based protein powder.
Protein powders often have gut-disrupting gums and fillers, as well as added sugars or artificial sweeteners, many of which are carcinogenic.
Creatine is an amino acid found in your body’s muscles and in your brain. Though it can be made synthetically, most people get creatine through seafood and red meat. The body’s liver, pancreas and kidneys also make creatine.
Creatine is one of the best supplements for building lean body mass and increasing athletic performance.
Here’s proof …
1. Increase power and anaerobic running capacity. 2. Build lean mass. 3. Decrease fatigue.
When used orally at appropriate doses, creatine is likely safe to take for up to five years. However, there is concern that creatine taken in high doses is possibly unsafe and could damage the liver, kidneys or heart.
Creatine can cause: Muscle cramping, Nausea, Diarrhea, Dizziness, Gastrointestinal pain, Dehydration, Weight gain, Water retention, Heat intolerance, Fever
Don’t take creatine if you have a history of kidney disease or you have conditions such as diabetes that increase the risk of kidney problems. There also is some concern that creatine might increase mania in people who have bipolar disorder.
Many drugs might interact with creatine and increase the risk of kidney damage. Possible drug interactions include: Nephrotoxic drugs, Caffeine and Ephedra. Combining caffeine with creatine might decrease the efficacy of creatine. Combining caffeine with creatine and the supplement ephedra might increase the risk of serious side effects, such as stroke.
Beta–alanine is a non-essential amino acid that is produced naturally in the body.
While beta alanine hasn’t been studied as much as creatine, there’s some compelling evidence about the effects of beta-alanine on body composition:
1. Improve exercise performance (particularly HIIT). 2. Stimulate lean body mass growth.
Ashwagandha is probably safe when taken by mouth short-term. The long-term safety of ashwagandha is not known. Large doses of ashwagandha might cause stomach upset, diarrhea, and vomiting.
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Do not use ashwagandha if you are pregnant. There is some evidence that ashwagandha might cause miscarriages. Not enough is known about the use of ashwagandha during breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
Diabetes: Ashwagandha might lower blood sugar levels. This could interfere with medications used for diabetes and cause blood sugar levels to go to low.
High or low blood pressure: Ashwagandha might decrease blood pressure. This could cause blood pressure to go to low in people with low blood pressure; or interfere with medications used to treat high blood pressure.
Stomach ulcers: Ashwagandha can irritate the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Don’t use ashwagandha if you have a stomach ulcer.
“Auto-immune diseases” such as multiple sclerosis (MS), lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus, SLE), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), or other conditions: Ashwagandha might cause the immune system to become more active, and this could increase the symptoms of auto-immune diseases. If you have one of these conditions, it’s best to avoid using ashwagandha.
Surgery: Ashwagandha may slow down the central nervous system. Healthcare providers worry that anesthesia and other medications during and after surgery might increase this effect. Stop taking ashwagandha at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
Thyroid disorders: Ashwagandha might increase thyroid hormone levels. Ashwagandha should be used cautiously or avoided if you have a thyroid condition or take thyroid hormone medications.
Possible Drug Interactions
Medications that decrease the immune system (Immunosuppressants).
Sedative medications (Benzodiazepines).
Sedative medications (CNS depressants).
The following haven’t been studied as much as ashwagandha but preliminary evidence suggests these can also help ease anxiety:
Lemon balm is a perennial herb from the mint family. The leaves, which have a mild lemon aroma, are used to make medicine.
According to several small studies, it does appear effective at inducing calmness and reducing anxiety:
Lemon balm is likely safe for most people. When taken by mouth, lemon balm can cause some side effects including increased appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dizziness, and wheezing.
When applied to the skin, lemon balm may cause skin irritation and increased cold sore symptoms.
Special precautions should be taken for the following conditions:
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the use of lemon balm during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
Diabetes. Lemon balm might lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. Watch for signs of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and monitor your blood sugar carefully if you have diabetes and use lemon balm.
Surgery: Lemon balm might cause too much drowsiness if combined with medications used during and after surgery. Stop using lemon balm at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
Thyroid disease: Don’t use lemon balm. There is a concern that lemon balm may change thyroid function, reduce thyroid hormone levels, and interfere with thyroid hormone-replacement therapy.
Possible Drug Interactions: Sedative Medications (CNS depressants). Lemon balm might cause sleepiness and drowsiness.
Reishi, also known as ganoderma lucidum or lingzi mushroom, is frequently used in traditional Chinese medicine. Its popularity extends to Japanese and Korean medicine, and it has been making its way west.
Reishi has anti-oxidative/anti-stress effects and also has a therapeutic effect on insulin resistance, reduces the risk of prostate cancer, and can help treat a variety of conditions associated with metabolic syndrome.
On top of that, the lingzi mushroom is well known for its anti-cancer effects. It is able to activate natural killer cells, increasing their activity and the body’s ability to fight tumors, and reduces the chances of metastasis, which is when cancer spreads to another part of the body, in certain types of cancers.
1. Reduce anxiety and stress levels. 2. Improve subjective well being. 3. Reduce fatigue. 4. Slows development of certain types of cancer.
Reishi mushroom may cause side effects including dryness of the mouth, throat, and nasal area along with itchiness and rash, stomach upset and diarrhea, dizziness and headache, nosebleed, and bloody stools.
Special precautions should be taken for the following conditions:
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking reishi mushroom if you are pregnant or breast feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
Bleeding disorder: High doses of reishi mushroom might increase the risk of bleeding in some people with certain bleeding disorders.
Low blood pressure: Reishi mushroom might lower blood pressure. There is a concern that it might make low blood pressure worse. If your blood pressure is too low, it is best to avoid reishi mushroom.
A clotting disorder called thrombocytopenia: High doses of reishi mushroom might increase the risk of bleeding in people with thrombocytopenia. If you have this condition, do not use reishi mushroom.
Surgery: High doses of reishi mushroom might increase the risk of bleeding in some people if used before or during surgery. Stop using reishi mushroom at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
Medications for high blood pressure (Antihypertensive drugs. Reishi mushroom might decrease blood pressure in some people. Taking reishi mushroom along with medications for high blood pressure might cause your blood pressure to go too low.
Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs). High doses of reishi mushroom might slow blood clotting. Taking reishi mushroom along with medications that also slow clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding.
I felt compelled to give an honorable nod to CBD because everybody’s talking about it.
CBD, also known as cannabidiol, is a compound derived mainly from hemp plants (which are cousins of the marijuana plant–so it does not cause a “high” like THC found in marijuana).
With the passage of the 2018 U.S. Farm Bill, as long as CBD is extracted from hemp and grown by licensed farmers in accordance with state and federal regulations, it is now legal to purchase.
In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential…. To date, there is no evidence of public health related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.
World Health Organization
Although research is preliminary, it appears CBD has some legit benefits, the strongest scientific evidence being for its effectiveness in treating some of the cruelest childhood epilepsy syndromes, such as Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS), which typically don’t respond to antiseizure medications.
More recently, CBD is quickly becoming the treatment of choice for people who suffer from anxiety, insomnia, and chronic pain.
A study from the European Journal of Pain showed showed that CBD applied on the skin could help lower pain and inflammation due to arthritis. Another study demonstrated the mechanism by which CBD inhibits inflammatory and neuropathic pain, two of the most difficult types of chronic pain to treat.
More study in humans is needed in this area to substantiate the claims but its effects appear to be very promising.
The Bottom Line About Supplements
1. Do your homework. Make sure whatever supplement you’re thinking about taking has been studied for safety and efficacy. Examine.com and Pubmed are good sources.
2. Talk to your doctor before taking any new supplement. Especially if you have pre-existing health conditions.
3. Listen to your body. If a supplement makes you feel better, keep taking it. If it doesn’t, stop taking it.
How many hours would you say you sleep in an average night? If you answered 7-9, the National Sleep Foundation says you’re doing pretty well.
Around 40 percent of us get less than 7 hours though.
If building lean muscle mass is important to you, your lack of shut-eye may be a bigger problem than you think. Let’s dig a bit deeper into what the science says about the effect of sleep on muscle growth.
Not getting enough sleep inhibits your ability to grow muscle
Research shows that being sleep-deprived can actually encourage loss of muscle mass and hinder muscle recovery after a tough workout. Sleep deprivation can have major effects on athletic performance too, especially for endurance athletes.
Lack of sleep affects your ability to grow and repair muscle regardless of your age.
One study showed that a week of sleep deprivation in otherwise healthy young men resulted in decreased testosterone levels and increased spikes of cortisol, a stress hormone. Furthermore, cortisol levels may stay elevated until the following evening when you don’t get enough sleep.
Another study found that from ages 30 to 40, the total amount of growth hormone secreted during a 24-hour span decreases by two-to-three times. So for all you thirty-somethings, you already have biology working against you … don’t compound it by thinking you can get by on 4-6 hours per night (a common range among my more ambitious friends).
Finally, there’s a connection between shorter periods of sleep and weight gain leading to obesity. So even if you’re healthy now, as you age, not getting enough sleep can catch up with you.
While it’s clear that being under that 7-9 hour threshold may negatively impact your muscle gains, getting some extra rest is a proven way to encourage more muscle growth.
In one sleep extension study, a group of researchers instructed six basketball players to get as much extra sleep as possible following two weeks of “normal sleep”. The researchers found that these athletes exhibited faster sprint times and increased free-throw accuracy at the end of the sleep extension period (as well as decreased fatigue and improved mood).
The same group of researchers conducted another study in which swimmers increased their sleep time to 10 hours per night for 6–7 weeks. These athletes showed improvements in 15 m sprint time, reaction time, turn time, and overall mood.
But you don’t need to sleep for 10 hours a night to see improvements. Getting in that 7-9 hour range is what’s most important.
During those weeks where 7+ hours just isn’t going to happen because of other circumstances going on in your life, there are a couple things you can do, according to science:
Take a nap. Athletes suffering from some degree of sleep loss may benefit from a brief nap, which can decrease your likelihood of muscle loss.
Eat some protein (or drink a protein shake) before bed. Eating protein before bed may help your body recover from a workout faster.
Here’s the bottom line about the effect of sleep on muscle growth: if you focus on getting 7-9 hours of sleep every night, you will build more lean muscle and decrease muscle deterioration after age 30.
Don’t underestimate the importance of a good night’s sleep!
CrossFit is family, laughter, love, and community.
CrossFit, if you’re not familiar, is the one of the hottest workout movements, with 13,000 locations and over 2 million participants. CrossFit’s strenuous Workout of the Days (WODs), which combine Olympic-style weight lifting with functional movement, have been criticized for their propensity to cause injury.
Pros and Cons of CrossFit
I don’t have any affiliation with CrossFit … never been to a CrossFit gym, in fact. But I think it’s pretty awesome for two big reasons:
1. Doing interval training combined with strength training is the absolute best way to lose weight and build lean muscle.
2. The community-based environment is a great support system for anyone who’s had trouble sticking with a workout regimen (aka, everyone).
3. The CrossFitters I know are all in great shape … your friends who do it probably are too.
The whole CrossFit-causes-injury argument is way overblown. CrossFitters push themselves more than other exercisers … and that’s not a bad thing! Injuries happen in every sport and every type of workout, and they’re almost always attributable to poor form when you’re in the gym.
I’ll sum this one up by quoting CrossFit co-founder Greg Glassman in the NYT article:
Three hundred fifty thousand Americans are going to die next year from sitting on the couch. That’s dangerous. The TV is dangerous. Squatting isn’t.
First off, not lifting weights is perfectly okay … BUT I ENCOURAGE EVERYONE TO DO SOME TYPE OF STRENGTH TRAINING … ESPECIALLY IF YOU’RE A WOMAN! Contrary to popular belief, strength training isn’t just for bodybuilders. It should be included in every single person’s fitness regimen and you’ll see why below.
So back to the Quora question …
The best answer, which is fittingly at the top of the page, is from Fitness Coach Darren Beattie.
Here are a few highlights from Darren’s answer (I’ve paraphrased him in places) that can help any of you who have hit a plateau with your workouts (or are looking to start working out at home):
You can’t just pick a method and stick with it indefinitely. You need to constantly cycle your body outside of its comfort zone to create adaptation.
Doing something seemingly simple like 100 pushups, sit-ups, chin-ups and squats at home won’t cut it long term. It might work for 4 or so weeks though. It will however need to be changed to make it progressively more difficult at that point. We call this the point of diminishing returns. Doing the same thing for too long to yield less and less desirable adaptation relative to the work put in.
Now, Darren’s answer centered around muscle growth, but it’s still fantastic advice for ALL exercisers and important to understand as a basic “Exercise 101” concept.
Here are some of my other favorites (again, I’m paraphrasing):
Strength training burns calories while you are at rest because your muscles are always burning fuel to repair and grow. Pick 1 to 6 movements that target the entire body, with 10 variations from very easy to super hard, working towards feats like one-armed push ups, one-armed pull ups, pistol squats, and one armed hand stand pushups. (from Adam Macallister)
There is no excuse for not being fit when you can work out for just 25 minutes a day, 5 days a week, in your living room. (from Tom Sullivan)
Begin with easier exercises for the six major moves: Push-Ups, Pull-Ups, Handstand Push-ups, Squats, Leg raises, Bridges. (from Devendran Mudaliar)
Do something you like! Dancing, walking your dog, golfing, swimming- try to find something that you ENJOY so it does not feel like a chore. (from Steven DeCillis)
Focus more on your diet. Aim for a healthy balanced diet with the right calorie and macros. (from Mindy Zhou)
If you work out hard, but eat too much, you’ll still get fat and you won’t see losses. (from Bart Loews)
Regardless of your preferred workout method, try pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and trying out some of the strength training advice above. This is the stuff that help me get into fantastic shape and see my abs for the first time in years. I love doing yoga for mental and physical balance and flexibility and hitting the trail for my cardio workouts … but nothing has gotten me results better and faster than following the types of advice you see above. Give it a whirl, and you’ll start to see a new you when you look in the mirror.
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