The Hormone Both Men and Woman Should Be Concerned About   – Articles

When it comes to fat loss, most person think that all results ultimately boil down to a simple calorie balance equation. Burn more than you take in, and there should be a linear path to success. Of course, calories matter, but there are several other factors that can impact your results and how your body burns calories in the first place. Underlying physiology often dictates the response to your nutrition and exercise (it goes both ways), with one key factor of this underlying physiology being hormone health.

Outside of life stages like puberty, pregnancy and menopause (or andropause for men), hormones are not usually top of mind on a daily basis. However, the way we feel and function day to day is largely governed by hormones such as insulin, cortisol, estrogen, progesterone and, in particular, testosterone. And some of our most successful clients have customized their programming approaches based on keeping a watchful eye on their individual hormone patterns and testosterone trends.

When most person hear “testosterone,” two things typically come to mind: male libido and male muscle development. These are 2 of testosterone’s most well-known areas of influence, yet this steroid hormone has effects that are much broader and can influence both men and women. (Women produce testosterone from the ovaries and adrenal glands, and in quantities much lower than men.) When out of balance, it can trigger issues with body composition, emotion regulation, acne, aggression, fertility, hair growth (usually in unwanted places), hair loss (usually where you would like to keep it) and even cardiovascular health.

That being said, being lean and having an impressive amount of muscle mass does not guarantee nice testosterone levels under the hood. Try asking those who have competed in natural bodybuilding. Most of them (partly due to the often significant calorie and fat deficits) have either had an experience running their own testosterone into the ground or know a fellow competitor who has struggled. In the case of testosterone, there is no judging the book by its cover. But keeping tabs on your levels can arm you with the information you need for a more tailored plan.  

FIRST THINGS FIRST

To accurately assess testosterone levels, at least 2 metrics should be considered must-haves: total testosterone and free testosterone. Our bodies have a tight mechanism regulating how much of our total hormone pool is available for use, and the availability of testosterone can vary based on age, estrogen levels, thyroid function, stress and even extreme caloric highs and lows. In the past, I’ve had clients ask me to take a look at their levels only to find that the total testosterone was all that was drawn, providing no visibility to how much was free for the body to use in daily functioning.

For the greatest insight, evaluating testosterone plus related hormones can provide a better picture of the hormonal landscape and help identify the potential root of a suspected imbalance. It could be poor production, binding (making it unavailable for immediate use or, for women, potentially making too much available), changes in how the body processes it when it’s finished using it, or even conversion to something else, such as estrogen. All of these things can ultimately throw off testosterone levels and therefore impact overall health and vitality. And garnering a full understanding of all of these areas is the first step in determining the best path forward with a doctor. After all, if you’re having car trouble, there’s no blanket solution. You would treat the problem of a flat tire very differently from how you would treat a faulty seal in the transmission.

To get a bit more detailed, consider looking not only at free and total testosterone, but also estrogens (such as estrone and estradiol), DHEA (a testosterone-building block) and SHBG (sex hormone binding globulin that can act as a sponge and bind up testosterone). Also, working with a practitioner can help make sense of it all. And because blood sugar regulation can mess with hormone levels, consider including some indicators such as glucose, hemoglobin A1C and C-peptide or insulin to see if these are a factor too.

WHAT TO DO

There are a few non-negotiables to consider if hormone balance is a top priority, not the least of which is sleep. A good night’s sleep supports the morning rise in testosterone and, since testosterone is a pulsed hormone that operates in a circadian rhythm, the entire balance can be thrown off if sleep is not prioritized. As a rule of thumb, aim for 7 to 8 hours every night. For clients that have a history of trouble falling or staying asleep, a few lifestyle habits often make a world of difference: 

  • Aim to keep a relatively consistent sleep schedule
  • Avoid caffeine after noon
  • Limit or avoid nightcaps, as they can disrupt sleep later in the night
  • Keep a cool, pitch-black bedroom
  • Limit use of electronics, TV, phones and tablets within an hour of bedtime, or consider using blue light–blocking glasses
  • Consider using magnesium each evening (bonus: it’s also helps with important nerve and muscle function, as well as bowel regularity) 

Outside of sleep, caloric sufficiency is key. (Note that caloric excess can be detrimental as well; however, for those that have been watching their nutrition closely, too much of a caloric deficit is a surprisingly common issue.) Think about it. From a survival standpoint, would it be smart to keep reproductive hormones such as testosterone in the optimal (read: fertile) balance if there’s a perceived threat of food scarcity? Of course, not. That would be a very stressful time to reproduce. Even if reproduction is not the goal right now (or even if the goal is to actively avoid a pregnancy), these hormonal shifts from our intelligent internal mechanisms impact way more than potential fertility.

When person are overly calorie restricted, often their nutrition approach is lacking in healthy fat since fat is so calorically dense. Starting a shift to a more appropriate calorie level to support hormone balance should ideally involve inclusion of minimally processed dietary fat. Here are a few favorite sources: 

  • Pastured egg yolks
  • Olive oil
  • Avocado
  • Nut butters
  • Wild-caught salmon

For anyone that has been in a significant calorie restriction for quite a while, connecting with a qualified nutrition coach is recommended to closely monitor the response of titrating calories back up and make tweaks as needed.

Sleep and caloric intake are 2 of the most fundamental aspects of healthy testosterone, in addition to generally healthy eating principles and a balanced exercise routine that includes regular strength training. In a situation where these basics are already in place, the eye-opening insights gleaned from lab testing discussed above can really come to life. The more information available, the more opportunity there is for precision and customization in nutrition, lifestyle and exercise approaches.

WRAPPING UP

At the end of the day, health, body composition and symptomology are influenced by a multitude of factors relating to underlying health: digestive health, nutrients, inflammation, blood sugar and hormones, to name a few. Although a testosterone imbalance can absolutely get in the way, long-term success is rarely found by addressing one biomarker in a silo. Get the basics in place with a diet high in vegetables with plenty of protein and healthy fat, along with a well-rounded exercise program, and utilize additional assessments to give you the information needed to further customize your approach.

If you have questions about lab testing and assessments or are interested in learning about how a coach could benefit you, reach out to us anytime at weightloss@lt.life. 

 

In health, Samantha McKinney — Life Time Lab Testing Program Manager

This article is not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor as a substitute for medical treatment, nor as an alternative to medical advice. Use of recommendations in this and other articles is at the choice and risk of the reader.

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Perfect Your Kettlebell Workout (No Matter Your Fitness Level)  – Articles

There are many different pieces of fitness equipment in Life Time facilities. Some of the traditional equipment that members have access to includes Barbells, Dumbbells and various machines (cardiovascular as well as resistance-training options). But as a Personal Trainer, I notice that many members have questions about the more nontraditional equipment, like Suspension Training (e.g., TRX), ViPRs, Kettlebells, Foam Rollers, Stability Balls, BOSUs and Resistance Bands. 

This article will highlight the Kettlebell and explain what it is, plus describe four common exercises and three workout options (beginner and advanced) to go with the exercises.

The Kettlebell is similar to a Dumbbell and originated in Russia. It looks like a cannonball with a handle on it. In the early 2000s, it gained popularity in the fitness industry as a piece of equipment that offers the following benefits:

  • Cost-effective. Usually you only need one for an effective workout.
  • Portable. It can be used inside as well as outside and are easy to transport.
  • Progressive strength training. Sizes range from 8 kg (17.6 lb.) to 48 kg (105.6 lb.) and sometimes larger.
  • Cardiovascular training. Many exercises are total body and can be very dynamic in movement.
  • It trains the stabilizer muscles because of its odd shape.
  • It’s nice to use for circuit training as it is easy to transition from exercise to exercise very rapidly.
  • It’s a nice alternative to Olympic weightlifting if person have mobility issues.
  • It can be a nice change of pace from using traditional equipment.

Around 2010, the kettlebell’s popularity declined a bit. However, it looks like the demand is increasing again, especially with classes like Kettlebell Kombine being offered at Life Time clubs and similar variations at other facilities.

Here are four basic and effective exercises to get you started.

 

1. KETTLEBELL SWING

The Swing is an exercise that is a hinge-movement pattern. It is technically a total-body exercise as it is dynamic, but it will primarily target the glutes and hamstrings. If you are short on time, this is probably one of the most effective exercises there is. 

 

Setup

  1. With the Kettlebell in front of you, place both hands on it by hinging at your hips, making sure your back is straight and there is minimal knee bend.
  2. In an explosive manner, snap the Kettlebell back between your legs while keeping your back straight and maintaining the slight knee bend.
  3. Again, in an explosive manner, snap the Kettlebell forward until it reaches shoulder height.
  4. Repeat steps 2–3 until the desired number of reps is met.

Cues

  1. Inhale on step 2 and exhale on step 3.
  2. The majority of the movement is done at the hip joint with minimal movement at the knee joint.
  3. Keep the back straight (no rounding at the back) the whole time.
  4. Squeeze your glutes on step 3.
  5. Keep the neck in a neutral position during the entire exercise.

 

2. KETTLEBELL 1-ARM PRESS

The 1-Arm Press is an exercise that is a push-movement (vertical push) pattern. It targets the muscles of the shoulder. However, if using a significant amount of weight, many other muscle groups like the quads, glutes, core and back have to engage to stabilize the body.
 

Setup 

  1. Grab a Kettlebell and bring it to shoulder height.
  2. Make sure your wrist is straight and squeeze the quads and glutes.
  3. Press the Kettlebell overhead with a slight rotation on the way up.
  4. Bring the Kettlebell back to the starting position.
  5. Repeat steps 2–5 until the desired number of reps is met. 

Cues 

  1. Brace the core during the exercise (imagine someone is going to punch you in the stomach and you are trying to resist it).
  2. Keep the neck neutral during the entire exercise.
  3. Squeeze the opposite hand hard during the pressing movement.  It sounds funny but it will make you more stable and strong.
  4. Start with your non-dominant hand and match (don’t exceed) the number of reps with the dominant hand. 

 

3. KETTLEBELL GOBLET SQUAT

The Goblet Squat is an exercise that is a squat-movement pattern. It targets the muscles of the quads and glutes.

Setup

  1. Grab the Kettlebell by the handles and hold it in front of your chest.
  2. Sit down and back (imagine there is a chair behind you) by simultaneously bending your knees and hips until the tops of your legs are parallel to the floor.
  3. Extend your knees and hips until you are back to the starting position.
  4. Repeat steps 2–3 until the desired number of reps is met.

Cues 

  1. Brace the core during the exercise (Imagine someone is going to punch you in the stomach and you are trying to resist it).
  2. Keep the back in a straight line as you do the exercise.
  3. Keep the neck neutral during the entire exercise.

 

4. KETTLEBELL 1-ARM ROW

The 1-Arm Row is an exercise that is a pull-movement (horizontal) pattern. It works the muscles of the back as well as the biceps.

Setup 

  1. Get into a staggered position with your feet pointed forward, making sure your hips and shoulders are square.
  2. Hinge at your hips until your back is in a 45-degree angle. 
  3. Place the non-working hand on your knee and grab the Kettlebell with the other hand.
  4. Pull the Kettlebell up to your hip by driving your elbow back by simultaneously bending your shoulder and elbow.
  5. Extend your arm, bringing the Kettlebell back to the starting position.
  6. Repeat steps 4–5 until the desired number of reps is met. 

Cues 

  1. Make sure your shoulders and hips are square, with your back straight the entire time you do the exercise.
  2. Keep your neck neutral while doing the exercise.
  3. Start with your non-dominant hand and match (don’t exceed) the number of reps with the dominant hand.

 

Regarding a workout using the above exercises, there are three options below. One workout is for beginning exercise enthusiasts, the second is for person at the intermediate level and the third is for advanced gym-goers.

Hopefully this article was informative about the Kettlebell and gives you some new ideas on how to include it in future workouts. If you have questions, feel free to comment, talk to a Fitness Professional at your club and look for Kettlebell Workout Workshops that may be offered at your club in the future. 

 

In health, Corey Grenz — Program Specialist and Master Trainer — Life Time, Chanhassen 

This article is not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor as a substitute for medical treatment, nor as an alternative to medical advice. Use of recommendations in this and other articles is at the choice and risk of the reader. 

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Make Prepping Your Protein Easy With These 3 Simple Spice Rubs – Articles

It’s officially grilling season, and it’s also one of our favorite times of the year. Grilling is fast and easy, and it can be ideal for meal-prepping high-protein foods. It’s also a technique we encourage our nutrition clients to practice. Because when you’re spending time outdoors and enjoying some extra vitamin D, it makes Sunday meal prep a little easier, and even a little more enjoyable.

And one of the most common requests our nutrition coaches get this time of year are ideas on how to flavor up protein without using the store-bought marinades or rubs (often loaded with sugar, MSG and other artificial ingredients). 

What’s nice about the 3 rubs below is that they’re made from spices and ingredients you probably already have in your cabinet. And they taste amazing. You can rotate them when you’re batch-prepping meals for your week ahead, or choose your favorite if you are simply making a one-time meal for the family.  

And if you want to make your grilling a little healthier, add foods that are rich in vitamin C, like red peppers, kale, broccoli, orange and pineapple. Not only will it help to enhance the iron in the meat, but it will protect you from carcinogens. You can even use the juice of a lemon or orange to tenderize the meat.

Happy grilling!

 

OUR 3 BEST DRY-RUB RECIPES FOR HEALTHY GRILLING

Ingredients

Indian Curry

  • 2 Tbsp. cumin
  • 2 Tbsp. curry powder
  • 2 Tbsp. garam masala
  • 1 Tbsp. coriander
  • 1 tsp. sea salt

 

Greek

  • 4 tsp. onion powder
  • 4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 Tbsp. oregano
  • 4 tsp. basil
  • 2 tsp. dill
  • 1 tsp. salt

 

Lemon-Herb

  •  2 Tbsp. lemon pepper
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. basil
  • 2 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. ground thyme

 

Method

  1. Combine all ingredients in a shallow bowl. 
  2. Press dry-rub mixture into meat, chicken or fish.
  3. Cook on grill or grill pan until desired doneness. 

 

Note: Each recipe will season 1 pound of meat, chicken or fish.

 

In health, Anika Christ – Director – Digital Programming & Events – Life Time Weight Loss 

 

This article is not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor as a substitute for medical treatment, nor as an alternative to medical advice. Use of recommendations in this and other articles is at the choice and risk of the reader.

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