Are Your Supplements Contaminated? – Articles

Spring is in the air, and you know what that means? It’s time for spring cleaning — and that includes your supplement cabinet.

If you’re like most person, you have a smattering of dietary supplements stashed somewhere in your house.

A few of them may be part of your current daily nutritional lifestyle.

Some you may have bought on a whim after seeing flashy before-and-after photos in an infomercial or on Instagram.

You might have purchased others from a friend, co-worker or neighbor based on their anecdotal success stories (maybe just to get them to stop nagging you about “getting involved” with their side gig).

And then there are those that you stopped taking a while ago, that have now expired (or just aren’t worth taking). 

But do you know which of these supplements may be contaminated?


Recently a consumer advocacy group known as the Clean Label Project conducted a study on protein powders, and they’ve been making waves in the supplement industry with the surprising results.[i]

The group is receiving everything from praise (mostly from consumers) to cease-and-desist letters (from the companies whose products didn’t test well). No matter which side you’re on, it’s a good reminder to revisit what’s in your supplement cabinet and why.

For the study, over 130 top-selling products (according to Nielson and top sellers lists) were tested for heavy metals (arsenic, cadmium, mercury and lead), over 100 pesticides, plasticizers bisphenol-A (BPA), bisphenol-S (BPS), residual solvents, mycotoxins, antibiotic residues and other potentially dangerous ingredients.

While Life Time’s protein powders were not tested in the recent Clean Label Project study, we do receive Certificates of Analysis (C of A’s) for every batch produced, and we know that our powders have never exceeded acceptable limits for the contaminants that Clean Label Project measured. And you can be assured that we would never release out-of-spec products to our consumers.

All of the substances mentioned above are potentially dangerous, depending on the dose and frequency of exposure. Most are either known to increase our risk of developing cancer, or are known endocrine disruptors (substances that alter how our hormones are produced or function in our bodies).

What’s interesting about this particular study is that the group tested levels found in just one serving of protein powder, but many person who use protein powders may consume more than one serving each day (myself included).

The negative impacts of building up heavy metal toxicity can manifest in a variety of ways: digestive problems, anxiety and depression, infertility, general nerve damage (that can cause tingling or tremors), fatigue and a number of other symptoms.

You may look at this list and think that some of these symptoms are common, and you’d be right! And although common, they’re not normal.

If you are currently experiencing any of the ailments listed above or if you just want to be proactive so you don‘t experience them, you should take a look at how some of the brands you’re familiar with fared in this study.  


Clean Label Project’s data shocked the supplement industry by showing that over 70% of the products tested contained detectable levels of heavy metals, which is extremely alarming. Fifty-five percent of the samples also had detectable levels of BPA (Bisphenol A).

A “detectable” level means that the equipment used was sensitive enough to detect and quantify a given substance. “Dangerous” levels refer to levels that are known to pose a threat to human health.

Some brands had levels that exceeded the established intake limits in a single serving, while others tested “positive,” but were below amounts outlined by the Environmental Protection Agency and/or FDA.[ii],[iii]

On average, plant-based proteins, especially those marketed as “organic,” had higher heavy metal levels than animal-based protein powders. Egg- and whey-based powders tended to be the cleanest products tested.

There’s a good explanation for these general differences, and it’s related to the fact that heavy metals exist naturally in our environment — in soil, air pollution and water. There are probably even trace amounts on the keyboard I’m typing this post on.

In fact, the produce you (and I) buy at the supermarket or farmers’ market naturally absorbs whatever is in the soil, including heavy metals, pesticide residues or other environmental contaminants. We know so much about this natural occurrence that the EPA regularly updates regionally specific screening guidelines.[iv]

But just because toxins are ubiquitous in the environment and our food supply, including healthy and organic produce, doesn’t mean that consumable products should test at or above acceptable limits.


The Clean Label Project group is on a mission to increase consumer awareness and product integrity across the consumer goods category by testing and publishing data on everything we wear, apply to our skin or consume. It’s a noble mission and one that I agree with whole-heartedly.

In just a couple of generations, our diets have been morphed from whole, unprocessed foods grown locally into a global marketplace more interested in cranking out “edible products” with ever-increasing profit margins.

The supplement industry isn’t much different — it’s probably worse. Every year there’s a finite amount of raw ingredients available on the planet that all supplement manufacturers compete for. Some are safe and effective, and others are just cheap.

Some companies pay a premium to select the purest, best-tasting and most effective forms for their ingredients. These companies invest in the ingredients that are going into the product. And they invest more money into testing every batch of ingredients and finished goods than they do on marketing and distribution. They’re in it to make products that are safe and effective, and if they’re lucky they make a little profit, too.

Sadly, most manufacturers and marketers seek out the cheapest ingredients. Then they get to work masking the taste and texture of lower-quality ingredients with artificial flavors, colors and texture enhancers. They’ll make a product that’s barely palatable, shortcut some or all of the testing, and make their largest investments in marketing and distribution to maximize profits. Rather than test every batch, they skip testing on more batches than they test and hope their products don’t get tested by someone else.

In the end, the supplement industry can be looked at as an interesting dichotomy. There are companies that function as sales and marketing engines that happen to make supplements, and there are companies that make supplements and happen to have sales and marketing person.

You have a choice when re-filling your supplement cabinet this spring. You can bargain shop for the cheapest supplements you can find, pay significantly more for products that have lots of flashy branding and BOGO offers, or invest in premium products that a trusted health and fitness professional recommends for you and your program.

I urge you not to bargain shop or fall victim to the marketing hype of the mass-produced brands.

At Life Time, we believe supplements can and should be a safe and effective part of everyone’s nutritional lifestyle. That’s why for nearly twenty years we’ve taken an active role in formulating our own line of products to our preferred specifications using the highest-quality ingredients available.

We only partner with trusted manufacturers who share our desire to stand behind the products we offer and who test every batch of raw ingredients and finished goods to be sure they meet or exceed all quality standards.

As a dietitian and a “heavy user” of Life Time products for the past decade, I’m sort of a canary in the coal mine. If there’s something wrong with our formulas, I’d know by now.

Wondering about which supplements your newly cleaned cabinet should have in it? Connect with a fitness professional to discuss your overall health and fitness strategy, and find out which supplements best support your efforts.


In health, Paul Kriegler, Registered Dietitian and Life Time — Nutrition Program Development 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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Three 10-Minute Do-Anywhere Yoga Routines – Articles

April is Stress Awareness Month, and whether or not you feel stressed, we can probably all agree that finding ways to be proactive about our well-being is a better option than waiting until stress starts to affect our health. Because long-term stress can lead to digestion issues, headaches and even heart disease.

One of the more popular techniques to lessen stress is doing yoga, and it has so many additional benefits for the mind and body. That’s why we took a moment to speak with Tory, National Director of Yoga for Life Time, about yoga and how we can use it in our daily lives, especially those of us who feel like we are too busy to keep a regular practice.

And as a bonus, Tory put together three 5- to 10-minute yoga routines that you can fit into your day at home or when you’re on-the-go. They’ll not only help you to stretch and strengthen your muscles, but the poses will relax your body and mind so that you can get better z’s — and maybe stress less. 



 What are the benefits of yoga?


Yoga supports person by giving them the tools to deal with any situation that shows up in life. If you look at the focus of yoga when it started thousands of years ago, it was to help calm the reactions of the mind so the practitioner could be present. The word yoga means connection, so it’s connection to anything; connection to body/mind to the physical being; to the community around us.

We typically think of this as a physical exercise of a way to stretch the body, which is a great side benefit. But really, it’s about the breath and how we connect to ourselves — the rest is secondary. If I had to pick the top benefits of yoga, I’d say it’s the discovery of breath that leads to self-acceptance so I can love the skin I’m in today. This way I can move mindfully, by choice rather than reacting.



 How long do you need to do yoga to see results?


It depends on what results you’re looking for. Some person start doing yoga for flexibility or for stress reduction. The number one reason person say they can’t do yoga is because they feel that they aren’t flexible enough. This is ironic because they are also the person who will get the most benefit from doing yoga. It’s not about being able to touch your toes — it’s about moving comfortably.

If you are looking for physical benefits, yoga is one of those exercises that you don’t need recovery days from. You can really get great benefits from doing 5 or 10 minutes a day. And you can incorporate it into a daily routine to help calm the body and mind down to get better z’s. But if someone is just looking for a vigorous exercise and way to tone their arms, they can do a Vinyasa-style yoga 2 to 3 times a week. 

I think the more person get into it, the more they enjoy doing it because of the calming effect, and how it helps you to show up and to be present in all aspects of life. 



What’s the best form of yoga for an athlete or someone who is active?


 It’s hard to point to one answer. Typically, for runners, bikers or athletes who need to cross-train their body in a way that will release lactic acid and give length to the muscles would benefit from a Yin practice, or what we call Surrender at Life Time. In an hour, students will maybe get through 6 poses [each held] for about 5 minutes where you can release all muscle engagement to stimulate the fascia and help to create more mobility in the joints. 

Yin is one of the fastest growing yoga practices right now. Vinyasa [is] still the most popular, but it’s exciting to see a slower more mindful practice growing in popularity, plus it’s also the gateway drug to meditation.



What if someone wants to do yoga but doesn’t have time?


There are a lot of fusion classes today that incorporate yoga and different types of workouts like a warrior sculpt or yoga sculpt where you do yoga with weights in your hands. High intensity interval training (HIIT) with yoga is really popular now. These workouts get the mind-body benefit with the cardio pump. That’s the nice thing about yoga, it’s constantly evolving. Lots of options out there. 



How can you use yoga to get better sleep?


I go back to yin or restorative practices; the differences between the two are very subtle. Because they look similar from the outside. Yin you don’t use a lot of props and you feel a real tug at the muscles. Almost immediately it’s uncomfortable. Whereas restorative, you usually prop yourself up on a pillow or bolster where you can feel the muscle releasing. Yin gets into the connective tissue, and restorative focuses on the release of the muscle fibers. Both help to alleviate lactic acid or just the tension of what’s going on in the body that we’ve been gripping all day from sitting for too long. 

Anytime we slow down it helps to take the nervous system into rest and relaxation. Again, it comes back to the breathing. The stretches are nice, but what makes yoga, yoga, is the breathwork. In those practices where you take a deeper, longer breath and you really focus on the exhale being a slow, smooth exhalation, you start to stimulate the vagus nerve — one thing that helps control your lungs, your heart rate and digestive system. Just getting those longer, smoother breaths in before bed helps to bring everything down. 



  1. With eyes open or closed, take the first breath in (through the nose) all the way to the belly until you feel pressure all the way around to the lower back. Then exhale (mouth closed) and squeeze it all out until you feel the pit of your abdomen draw in and out, so really hollow it out, until you have zero air.
  2. Inhale again until you feel pressure in the belly and the ribs as well, that’s the second chamber. Then exhale and squeeze it out, all the way down to the bottom with a closed mouth. 
  3. Fill it up again, belly ribs and take it all the way to your chest then one more sip in — creating pressure/stress, then out the nose (with the mouth closed) as slowly and smoothly as possible.



Core Warm-Up

  • Exhale all your air. At the bottom of the breath squeeze as much air out as possible and feel the belly muscles draw up and in.
  • Release the belly and draw air back in.
  • Exhale completely again.  This time keep the belly muscles pulled up and in as tight as you can.
  • Shallow breath; with the belly locked up you’ll have to breathe in the upper chest and side ribs.
  • Hold for a count of 10.
  • Reset: take 2 to 3 natural breaths.
  • Repeat the above steps 2 more times. 

Spine Warm-Up

  • Sit at the edge of your bed or chair hands grasping the edge of the mattress or chair.
  • Find natural breath in and out through the nose.
  • Inhale: pull your fingers into the side of the bed, helping to pull your shoulders down and back as you lift your chin up towards the ceiling and arch through the spine.
  • Exhale: push your palms into the top of the mattress, helping to spread the muscles behind the shoulders blades as you tuck your chin to your sternum and round through the spine.
  • Repeat 3 times.
  • Inhale back to a comfortable seat.
  • Exhale: bring your left hand to the outside of your right thigh and twist to the right.
  • Gaze over your right shoulder and hold for 3 breaths allowing each exhale to twist the spine a little deeper.
  • Repeat on the left side.

Feet and Calf Warm-Up added to Spine Curls

  • Still seated at the edge of the bed.
  • Inhale: press your heels into the floor and draw your toes up towards the ceiling as you pull your fingers into the side of the bed, helping to pull your shoulders down and back as you lift your chin up towards the ceiling and arch through the spine.
  • Exhale: press your toes into the floor and lift the heels up as you push your palms into the top of the mattress, helping to spread the muscles behind the shoulders blades as you tuck your chin to your sternum and round through the spine.
  • Repeat 3 to 5 times.



  • Start standing.
  • Inhale, reach arms up over head.
  • Exhale, hinge at the hips and fold over the thighs.
  • Inhale, straighten the right leg and bring a gentle bend into the left knee.
  • Exhale, draw your nose to the right (straight) knee (notice sensation in the right glute).
  • Inhale, switch legs, left leg straight and a gentle bend in the right knee.
  • Exhale, draw your nose to the left (straight) knee.
  • Inhale, lengthen the torso up halfway and squeeze the shoulder blades together and feel the belly muscles firm.
  • Exhale, plant hands on the ground and step the feet back so the body makes a plank.
  • Inhale, hold plank firming up the muscles in the arms and shoulders.
  • Exhale, keep the arms straight and slowly lower just the knees down to the ground feeling the lower abdominal muscles working.  
  • Inhale, shift weight forward into the arms.
  • Exhale, with knees still on the ground slowly bend the elbows and lower the torso all the way to the ground.
  • Inhale, lift just the chin and feel the cervical spine.
  • Exhale, lower the forehead down.
  • Inhale, lift the chin and the shoulders bringing sensation into the mid-back.
  • Exhale, lower the chest and chin back down.
  • Inhale, straighten the arms any amount creating a backend that feels right for your body.
  • Exhale, press back onto hands and knees.
  • Inhale, lift tailbone and chin while dropping the belly (cow pose).
  • Exhale, tuck the chin and tailbone while drawing the belly up and in (cat pose).
  • Inhale, Cow.
  • Exhale, Cat.
  • Inhale, Cow.
  • Exhale, press hands into the ground, tuck the toes and lift the hips up to the sky (down dog).
  • Inhale, engage arm muscles.
  • Exhale, draw belly muscles in and step both feet up to hands.
  • Inhale, lift the torso up halfway and draw the shoulder blades towards one another.
  • Exhale, fold over the thighs and relax the neck and jaw.
  • Inhale, stand up and reach arms over head.
  • Repeat 3 to 5 times.



  • Start standing.
  • Exhale, fold over thighs.
  • Inhale, lengthen the spine.
  • Exhale, step the left foot back into a lunge and drop the left knee to the ground.
  • Inhale, hand onto either the hips or right thigh.
  • Exhale, slowly over the next 5 breaths inch the hips forward and down to increase sensation in the left hip flexor.
  • Inhale, create space in the hips by lifting out of the compression you just created.
  • Exhale, bring both hands to the inside of the right foot.
  • Inhale, create space in the pelvis by possibly walking the right foot out towards the right, away from the mid-line of the body.
  • Exhale, sink and settle in and play with the edge of sensation for 3 to 5 minutes. Time for some Yin (focus on natural breath while in the pose).
  • First you find the function of the shape for your body.
  • Once you have the function settle into the bones. This is playing with the edge of sensation, meaning you may start on your hands but as your body moves beyond the fight or flight responses (typically 2 minutes in), you may find that you can move to your elbows and sink the weight of the body forward more.
  • After 3 to 5 minutes, come out of the pose (just as important as being in the pose). Do so with as little muscle engagement as possible. Move slowly and remember to breathe.
  • Move your body slowly into a place of neutrality, lying on your belly, back, or a simple seat. We call this a rebound, a time of non-reactivity. It’s human nature to want to shake off agitation and discomfort. This is a space to observe the discomfort, breathe and notice how long it takes before the agitation loses its power over you.
  • After about a minute of not reacting then you can mindfully move in any way that feels right.
  • Make way to forward fold.
  • Inhale, lengthen spine.
  • Exhale, step the right foot back into a lunge and drop the right knee to the ground.
  • Inhale, hand onto either the hips or left thigh.
  • Exhale, slowly over the next 5 breaths inch the hips forward and down to increase sensation in the right hip flexor.
  • Inhale, create space in the hips by lifting out of the compression you just created.
  • Exhale, bring both hands to the inside of the left foot.
  • Inhale, create space in the pelvis by possibly walking the left foot out towards the left, away from the mid-line of the body.
  • Exhale, sink and settle in and play with the edge of sensation for 3 to 5 minutes. (focus on natural breath while in the pose).
  • Follow the same 5 foundations of a yin pose laid out above.
  • Make way onto back.
  • Hug knees into chest (slow breath down, 4 to 5 seconds in 4 to 5 seconds out as smooth of an exhale as possible stimulating the vagus nerve).
  • Inhale, “t” arms open
  • Exhale, drop knees over to the right for a twist (hold 10 breaths).
  • Inhale, knees back into chest.
  • Exhale, drop knees to opposite side (10 breaths — same 4- to 5-second breath in and out through nose).
  • Inhale, knees into chest.
  • Exhale, squeeze forehead to knees.
  • Inhale, hold, and take in another couple of sips on the inhale.
  • Exhale, let everything fall to the floor. Close eyes and rest for a couple of minutes.

Interested in checking out one of our four signature yoga classes? Click here to learn more. And if you’re new to yoga and just want to try an intro class, find out more here. 



“I was tricked into yoga. That’s how it goes.”

Tory was an actor living in New York in the mid 1990s, and had a Shakespeare acting coach that used breathing techniques and stretches as a way to find the foundation for character.

Yoga became his way to show up in character and still be authentic. Tory started touring around the country, and the word got out that he was doing yoga and the other actors asked him to do little 15- to 20-minute sessions on the stage. “I taught what felt right in my body. I taught that way for almost 10 years without any formal training.”

Tory started teaching around 1997 and received his first 200-hour in 2006, and since then, has undergone and has led many trainings. When he met Jonny Kest, his style of yoga really spoke to Tory. “No two person can do the poses the exact same way. Or experience it the same way. There isn’t alignment for a pose, there is an alignment for a person.”

When he moved back to Minnesota, Tory taught at and managed a boutique-style yoga studio before he was asked to develop the yoga programming for Life Time around 2010. And in trying to figure out who Life Time was in the yoga world, Tory and his team focused on yoga practices that went to the root of yoga to help members deal with everyday stress on the mat so they could apply it to their daily lives.

“It’s been an amazing opportunity and what I love about Life Time is that there are so many person that care about what they do. Someone asked me why I’ve stayed as long as I have, I’ve been here for 8 years, and I’ve just never felt so welcomed, even when I was working at little boutiques. And when I came here I felt like everyone had open arms and I was at home.” 


Written by LTWL Staff    


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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