Dr. Laura: Epstein Barr Virus Linked to Several AutoImmune Diseases

The Epstein Barr Virus (EBV) we know mostly as “mono” yields connections to several autoimmune diseases.

Who Gets EBV?

More than 90% of the world’s population is infected with EBV. The age of contraction varies and for many it lays dormant for years. Like other human herpes forms of virus (EBV is HHV4), it reactivates in times of stress or trauma. Typical symptoms are what you hear from the college student and their “kissing disease” – tired, sleep a lot, muscle aches and pains, swollen glands/lymph nodes, altered sense of taste and the list goes on.

It seems that if such a large percentage of the population has EBV, it’s easy to pin it to any disease. Recent research at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital sheds some light on how EBV affects our genome.

What Diseases Link to EBV?

  • systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
  • multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA)
  • inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • celiac disease
  • type 1 diabetes
  • Graves and Hashimotos thyroiditis

“This discovery is probably fundamental enough that it will spur many scientists around the world to reconsider the role of this virus in these disorders,” said John Harley, MD, PhD, director of the Center for Autoimmune Genomics and Etiology (CAGE) at Cincinnati Children’s.

How does EBV Increase Risk for Autoimmunity?

EBV alters the human DNA in ways that weaken the immune system’s ability to combat certain diseases. We all have imperfect genes with variances called SNP’s (pronounced “snips”) that may give us advantage or risk over others in certain situations. EBV tends to change the genetic transcription of DNA to suit its own vitality and puts us more at risk for certain diseases.

What Can Increase the Risk of EBV Sickness?

  • Stress
  • Trauma
  • Poor nutrition
  • Eating the wrong foods
  • Lack of exercise
  • Poor  sleep
  • Lack of spiritual connection

More research is required in this area of science for our full understanding of how to combat this detrimental virus. A Naturopathic Doctor like Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND can help balance lifestyle, diet, nutrition and immune boosting profile to keep the Epstein Barr and other forms of Human Herpes Virus (warts, shingles, cold sores) dormant in your system. Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND can also order and inert genetic tests to help you evaluate your risk for certain AutoImmune Diseases. Knowing your risk factors can contribute to proactive wellness plan that is tailored specifically to you.

 

Dr. Laura: How does your thyroid function?

Feeling tired, loosing hair, bring fog, brittle nails, constipated,  periods heavy and cholesterol rising? Perhaps your thyroid is to blame.

What does thyroid hormone do?

Thyroid hormone keeps:

  • our metabolism humming
  • hair and skin smooth and silky
  • muscles and tendons well lubricated
  • mood bright
  • digestion moving along
  • brain firing on al cylinders
  • LDL cholesterol at healthy levels

How do you measure thyroid function?

General practitioners assess Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH), and if it is out of range, T4 and T3 is measured. Sometimes an ultrasound is done to visualize the size and health of the gland, to assess nodules or help diagnose thyroid cancer.  Naturopathic doctors, functional medicine doctors and endocrinologists will be more likely the ones to run a full thyroid panel (freeT4, freeT3, TSH, TPO, Anti-Thyroglobulin and reverse T3).

How does the body naturally balance thyroid hormone?

T3 is the active hormone in the body and is made from T4. Although the T4 is made in the thyroid, conversion to T3 happens mostly in the liver and the gastrointestinal tract.   A normal functioning thyroid gland works with the hypothalamus in the brain using a negative feedback system to indicate when there is enough active thyroid hormone in the system.

How does the medical doctor balance thyroid?

Traditionally synthroid or levothyroxine is prescribed to treat inadequate levels of thyroid hormone and treatment is geared to reach a desired TSH level. Direct T3 therapy (Cytomel) is rarely prescribed due to lack of research and clinical experience. Typically the family doctor will  treat to normalize the TSH, but recent research, and numerous patient complaints may indicate that this is not enough.

More research is required to support T4 and T3 combination therapy, whether it is levothyroxine plus cytomel or natural desiccated thyroid, alone or in combination.

Research finds TSH monitoring is not enough to determine adequate thyroid functioning and some medical doctors agree a 4:1 ratio of T4:T3 predicts patient satisfaction and better health.

What does the naturopathic doctor do to balance the thyroid?

Naturopathic doctors seek to support the thyroid in making T4 and the body’s ability to convert the T4 to the active form of thyroid known as T3.   A naturopathic doctor offers support to people on pharmaceuticals like synthroid or levothyroxine, and is also able to additionally or solely prescribe advice for nutraceutical  support and natural desiccated thyroid.

A naturopathic doctor will:

  • look at the full thyroid panel
  • adrenal health
  • cholesterol panel
  • sex hormone health
  • the function of the liver
  • health of gastrointestinal tract,
  • nutrient balance of things like selenium, zinc, iron and iodine

How is cholesterol linked to thyroid function?

T3 levels are also inversely linked to LDL Cholesterol. When thyroid levels are low, LDL cellular reception is reduced, leaving more LDL in the blood stream.  Emerging research finds treatment with T4 alone (synthroid, levothyroxine) does not always correct the high levels of cholesterol induced by poor thyroid function. Rising levels of LDL cholesterol in peri-menopausal women with symptoms of fatigue should trigger an investigation into the balance of T4 and T3, not just TSH.

What drives T3 levels down?

  • Body shuttles T3 to reverse T3 in times of starvation and stress
  • Poor feedback function in the hypothalamus
  • Thyroiditis
  • High levels of natural and environmental estrogens
  • Epstein Barr Virus

T3 levels are increasingly challenged as xenoestrogens (environmental contaminants) rise in developed countries.  Peri-menopausal women also experience challenges. This is because estrogen (unopposed by progesterone as ovulation slows down), or estrogen mimickers like xenoestrogens (from plastics, pesticides and insecticides) have the ability to bind up Thyroid Binding Globulin and somehow affect the T4 to T3 conversion ratio. Some research points to Epstein Barr Virus impacting the genome and ultimately the function of the thyroid.

For more help optimizing your thyroid function, book an appointment with Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND.

 

Dr. Laura: Is Fasting Safe?

Fasting is part of the human existence for thousands of years. As you will learn in this article, not only is it safe, it has numerous health benefits.

Image result for empty plate

What is fasting?

There are many ways people approach a fast. It is simply a period of not eating. It may be done weekly until you reach your health targets, seasonally, or a couple times a year. Water intake is necessary during periods of fasts, as our bodies can do without calories, but not without water. Many choose to fast overnight (most common) from dinner to breakfast, or 7pm to 7am – a 12 hour fast. Then “break-fast” is just that, it breaks the fast. Recently it has gained more popularity and there are different lengths of fasts.

  • intermittent fast, lasting 12-20 hours
  • 24 hour fasts
  • 36 hour fasts
  • extended fasts

Sometimes on the intermittent fasts, people will have a coffee or tea and water while they are not eating. If you truly wish to detoxify, caffeine free is the way to go. So herbs in water or  lemon certainly is less stimulating. For others they choose to incorporate bone broth, which really has proteins and fats in it, but can be suitable for introductory fasting and digestive rest.

Are there benefits to fasting?

  • weight loss
  • reset insulin sensitivity
  • digestive rest
  • more powerful than low carb, ketogenic diets alone
  • protects from illness and maintains wellness
  • provides spiritual cleansing or purification
  • no cooking, cleaning, or grocery shopping!
  • mental clarity
  • overcome stubborn weight plateaus

Will I get hungry?

Hunger may set in, same as if you were at work and didn’t get a break and had to wait to eat, same experience – you push it through till it’s time to eat. But you should never feel nauseated, ill, dizzy or faint. If you do really feel the intense need to eat, it’s easy – you eat. Then you could try the fasting again next week.

Fasting will switch you body to burn fat instead of carbohydrates. If your body is primed to burn carbs, you will need to get over the initial bout of strong carb cravings before the fat burning kicks in.

What do I eat when I am not fasting?

What you eat when you are not fasting depends on the reasons for your fast. If you are trying to loose weight or reset your insulin sensitivity, then a ketogenic diet may be best. For those on a digestive fast, re-introduce with easy to digest and simple combinations of foods. A spiritual fast? Then you likely just go back to your regular way of healthy eating. Regardless, you do no want to eat to make up for the time you fasted: that’s counterproductive. If you are doing one or two 24 hours fasts per week (having a couple one meal a day kind of routine), then when you are eating regular on the other days, eat the most healthy vibrant life-filled food that you can. Avoid things that are packaged or processed to get the most nutrition you can on the days you eat.

When is fasting not safe?

Fasting is not safe for the following people:

  • children aged 18 or under
  • pregnancy
  • breastfeeding
  • thin, weak or feeble
  • nutritionally deficit

Fasting needs to be medically monitored for the following people:

  • those with gout
  • those taking medications
  • if you have type 1 or 2 diabetes
  • those with gastro reflux disease

For questions or advice on what kind or whether fasting is right for you, book an appointment to review with Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND. (519) 826-7973.

References:

Fun Jason. 2016. The complete guide to fasting. Victory Belt Publishing. Las Vegas.

2 for 1 Orthotic Insoles Promotion

It’s That Time Of Year Again, as we’re heading into Fall, and it may be time to Check In for New Or Renewed Custom Orthotic Insoles, with Dr. Phil’s 2 Pair for the price of one promotion.

Are there are some signs or clues that I might need custom foot 

timthumb

Orthotic Insoles?

  • Walking with a limp or your toes pointed in our out.
  • If your posture is poor or altered.  Check to see if your head, shoulders and hip heights are equal heights (normal) or if one side higher than the other (abnormal).  Have someone check your posture sideways.  Your ear should be in line with your shoulder and hip.  Does your head stoop or jut forward with your shoulders rolling in?  This “forward head posture” is abnormal and can cause a variety of health problems.  Abnormal posture can be linked to a foot problem throwing your posture out of balance.
  • Obvious shoe wear, such as excessive wear points or uneven wearing on one shoe or between both feet. Outside heel area wear is often a positive sign for over pronation (flat feet).
  • Knee or hip pain when walking or exercising can suggest a misalignment or instability in the feet.
  • Symptoms of faulty foot mechanics could include localized:
    • foot pain
    • bunions
    • hammer toes
    • arch, heel pain
    • leg, knee, hip or back pain
    • neck pain

How do I know if I need foot orthotics?

During your initial evaluation or during a re-evaluation, Dr. Phil will watch how you walk (gait analysis) and will also do a digital scan (using a 3-D Laser Computer Aided Design/CAD System) to assess how you are weight-bearing on the bottom of your feet, and he will do a postural evaluation and will visually inspect if you have overly high arches or dropped arches (flat feet).

image2 foot mechanics

I have good shoes.  Why do I need foot orthotics?

A high quality supportive shoe is indeed the most important element for your feet.  However, the insole is not custom-made for your foot.  By inserting a custom-made foot orthotic into a good quality shoe, you are ensuring that you give your feet optimal alignment, balance and stability.  Most shoes people wear have an existing insole that easily slips out and the orthotic can slip into the shoe to replace the original insole.

Will I have to buy new shoes?

It Depends!  The foot orthotics are not a thick, hard plastic, or rigid design.  They are slightly thicker than your existing insole, but have good cushion and enough rigidity to correct most foot imbalances.  Your custom orthotic insoles are most effective when used in shoes with good construction, fit, and condition.  Your orthotics are also a guide in assuring new shoes fit well.  If a shoe can’t accommodate a stabilizer which has been custom made for your foot, then that shoe is not the proper size for you.

I have different types of shoes.  Can I use them in all of my shoes?

If your shoes are a similar style you just move you foot orthotic from one shoe to the next.  There are different orthotics for different types of shoes.  For example, men’s and women’s lace up shoes that have a wide forefoot usually need a full-length orthotic whereas a slip on shoe may require an orthotic that is shorter in length.  There is a variety of foot orthotics for a variety of shoes.  To start, we usually recommend buying a pair of foot orthotics for the type of shoe you wear most, and with Dr. Phil’s 2 for 1 promotion, then have a second pair for either a different type of footwear or to have more than one pair of orthotics for similar footwear.  This saves you from having to constantly switch the orthotics from one pair to another.

I wear sandals in the summer.  Can I wear my regular shoe orthotics in my sandals?

No.  However, Dr. Phil does prescribe and dispense very comfortable Sandal orthotics insoles, as well as sandals.

What kinds of foot orthotics are there?

There are a variety of foot orthotics for a variety of shoes:

  • Men’s shoes
  • Women’s shoes and boots
  • Workboots
  • Children’s shoes (ages 5 to 12)
  • Golf shoes
  • Sandals

See the full line of Custom Orthotic Insole Styles: http://www.atlasorthoticlab.com/orthotics/ 

How do I Set Up An Assessment with Dr. Phil?

Get Help Now with Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health or contact the clinic directly by phone at 519-826-7973, or by e-mail: info@forwardhealth.ca

An assessment with Dr. Phil will then be booked for approximately 30 minutes, and during that time he can help order the right kind of foot orthotic for you.

  • The Process

Custom design for foot orthotic insoles are through a 3-D Laser CAD imaging process.

Once the examination is completed, and you decide to go ahead with the prescription recommended by Dr. Phil, then,

  1. The casting kit or digital scan is sent to the Atlas Orthotic Lab (http://atlasorthoticlab.com/).
  2. Skilled technicians build your custom-made foot orthotics using 16 precise measurements based on their analysis of your feet. Your lifestyle, age, weight and activity level are all considered when the custom-made foot orthotics are fabricated.
  3. The foot orthotics are then shipped back to Dr. Phil at Forward Health. Your Orthotic insoles are usually back to the clinic within 1 week.
  4. Instructions will be given on how to wear and care for them on the fitting which is set up by the clinic once the orthotic insoles arrive from the lab.

How much do custom-made foot orthotics cost?

The price for the prescription and provision of the 2 for 1 promotion for custom orthotic insoles with Dr. Phil is $500 in total.  If you only need one pair and don’t need to take advantage of the 2 for 1 promotion, then the cost is $400.00 in total.  There is a $50.00 examination fee for the initial visit and it is built into the total cost if you decide to purchase the custom orthotic insoles.

Most health insurance plans cover some or all of the cost of custom-made foot orthotics.  Check your plan specifically for coverage amounts and who is payable regarding types of practitioners.  Payment is required prior to sending your order to Atlas labs as they charge us as soon they get the order.  If you have insurance make sure you know what they require so you can get reimbursed.  They will require a receipt from us for sure.  Sometimes a prescription letter from us or a note from your medical doctor is required.  Sometimes they require a detailed lab report, so Dr. Phil will always do a full detailed report with the manufacturing process etc.  That way you have all the specific necessities for your coverage.

How long do custom foot orthotics last?

Approximately 2-3 years with everyday usage, and then they should be replaced. Many insurance companies re-new custom orthotic insole prescriptions every 2 years.

Looking forward to empowering you to continue to live long & strong, and stay in the Game For Life!

Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health

ACRB, CTPI, DC. ABFP, CSCS, CCSP

Dr. Laura: Ear Wax Facts

Earwax, (medically known as cerumen auris) is a protective normal secretion from a skin gland in the external ear canal. Some people make more earwax than others. Certain habits or careers may put an individual more at risk for earwax impaction.

 

Do you wear earphones, earplugs hearing aids or use Q-tips?

Do you have dizziness,  ear pain, itchy ears, or hearing loss?

If so, you may have earwax impaction.

Image result for ear wax impaction
picture from hearingaiddoctors.com

What is earwax?

  • 60% skin cells that have shed from the area
  • 12–20% saturated and unsaturated long-chain fatty acids
  • 6–9% cholesterol

What is the purpose of earwax?

  • Lubricates the external auditory canal
  • Protects particles from reaching and damaging the eardrum
    • Traps dust, small particles and insects
  • Provides antimicrobial protection (acidity, fatty acid and lysosome)
    • Protection bacteria and fungal infections

What is earwax impaction?

Image result for ear wax impaction

  • Earwax impaction is one of the most common ear problems
  • When earwax accumulates in the canal and, on otoscopic inspection, blocks the view of the external canal or tympanic membrane
  • When the use of ears swabs or other devices in effort to clear the ear push the earwax deeper into the ear
  • Chronic use of hearing aids, earplugs, headphones, can also push the earwax further into the ear and prevent the natural migration outward
  • Excessive earwax production can also worsen with anxiety, fear and stress, and aging
picture from journals.sagepub.com

What are the symptoms of earwax impaction?

  • Irritation of the ear
  • Sensation of an ear blockage
  • Reduce sense of hearing
  • Earache
  • Noise in the ear or head
  • Dizziness

How to clear out earwax?

Image result for tympanic membrane
healthy ear canal and tympanic membrane
  • DO NOT use Q-tips! They tend to push the ear wax deeper into the canal.
  • Naturally, the earwax dries up and there is a migration of skin cells that helps port the dried up was out of the external canal, much like a conveyor belt
  • Assisted action of clearing out by the action of chewing and talking
  • There are products that may soften the wax however this should only be done under medical supervision.
  • It is best to have the ears looked at with an otoscope to see if there is indeed a build up and if the tympanic membrane is intact
  • Candling is not recommended as it has not shown to be overly effective and can often lead to burns, wax left behind in the ear, irritation of the external ear canal and occasional temporary hearing loss.
  • Ear irrigation is a safe and effective way to clear out earwax, so long as the tympanic membrane is intact.
  • Professional irrigation can be more effective than self-irrigation as it include the visualization of the health of the external canal and tympanic membrane before and after treatment.

Laura M. Brown, ND

provides a basic ear inspection and ear irrigation service

within a 15 minute appointment. Call (519) 826-7973

Image result for ear wax irrigationpicture from earwax treatment.com

References

Adegbiji WA, Alabi BS, Olajuyin OA, Nwawolo CC. Earwax Impaction: Symptoms, Predisposing Factors and Perception among Nigerians. Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care. 2014;3(4):379-382. doi:10.4103/2249-4863.148116.

Daniel F. McCarter MD, A. Ursulla Courtney, MD, and Susan M. Pollart, MD, University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville, Virginia. Am Fam Physician. 2007 May 15;75(10):1523-1528.

Rafferty J, Tsikoudas A, Davis BC. Ear candling: Should general practitioners recommend it? Canadian Family Physician. 2007;53(12):2121-2122.

 

Dr. Phil Shares: 10 Reasons Why Weight Lifting Is Great for Women

10 Reasons Why Weight Lifting Is Great for Women

10 Benefits of Strength Training for Women

When you’re weight training, you shouldn’t rely exclusively on the scale to gauge your progress. You can use a body fat tester or a tape measure to track how many inches you’re losing.

The size of your body will shrink as you shed fat and build muscle, but your weight may not change as dramatically as you expect. Besides, what’s more important, the number on the scale or how you look in selfies?

If you’re still not convinced that you need to lift weights, here are 10 reasons you should reconsider.

1. Burn More Fat

Researchers at Tufts University found that when overweight women lifted heavy weights twice a week, they lost an average of 14.6 pounds of fat and gained 1.4 pounds of muscle.

The control group, women who dieted but didn’t lift weights, lost only 9.2 pounds of fat and gained no muscle.

When you do an intense weight-training program, your metabolism stays elevated and you continue to burn fat for several hours after working out. During regular cardio exercise, you stop burning fat shortly after the workout.

2. Change Your Body Shape

You may think your genes determine how you look. That’s not necessarily true. Weight training can slim you down, create new curves, and help avoid the “middle-age spread.”

So, no, you won’t bulk up — women don’t have enough muscle-building hormones to gain a lot of mass like men do. If you keep your diet clean and create a calorie deficit, you’ll burn fat.

3. Boost Your Metabolism

The less muscle you have, the slower your metabolism will be. As women age, they lose muscle at increasing rates, especially after the age of 40. When you diet without doing resistance training, up to 25 percent of the weight loss may be muscle loss.

Weight training while dieting can help you preserve and even rebuild muscle fibers. The more lean mass you have, the higher your metabolism will be and the more calories you’ll burn all day long.

4. Get Stronger and More Confident

Lifting weights increases functional fitness, which makes everyday tasks such as carrying children, lifting grocery bags, and picking up heavy suitcases much easier.

According to the Mayo Clinic, regular weight training can make you 50 percent stronger in 6 months. Being strong is also empowering. Not only does it improve your physical activities, it builds emotional strength by boosting self-esteem and confidence.

5. Build Strong Bones

It’s been well documented that women need to do weight-bearing exercise to build and maintain bone mass. Just as muscles get stronger and bigger with use, so do bones when they’re made to bear weight.

Stronger bones and increased muscle mass also lead to better flexibility and balance, which is especially important for women as they age.

6. Improve Mood

You’ve probably heard that cardio and low-impact exercises such as yoga help improve mood; weight lifting has the same effect. The endorphins that are released during aerobic activities are also present during resistance training.

7. Improve Sports Fitness

You don’t have to be an athlete to get the sports benefit of weight training. Improved muscle mass and strength will help you in all physical activities, whether it’s bicycling with the family, swimming, golfing, or skiing… whatever sport you enjoy.

8. Reduce Injuries 

Weightlifting improves joint stability and builds stronger ligaments and tendons. Training safely and with proper form can help decrease the likelihood of injuries in your daily life.

It can also improve physical function in people with arthritis. A study conducted at the University of Wales in Bangor, United Kingdom, found that mildly disabled participants who lifted weights for 12 weeks increased the frequency and intensity at which they could work, with less pain and increased range of movement.

9. Get Heart Healthy

More than 480,000 women die from cardiovascular disease each year, making it the number-one killer of women over the age of 25. Most people don’t realize that pumping iron can also keep your heart pumping.

Lifting weights increases your “good” (HDL) cholesterol and decreases your “bad” (LDL) cholesterol. It also lowers your blood pressure. The Journal of the American Medical Association reports that people who do 30 minutes of weight lifting each week have a 23 percent reduced risk of developing heart disease compared to those who don’t lift weights.

10. Maintain Healthy Blood Sugar Levels

In addition to keeping your ticker strong, weight training can improve glucose utilization (the way your body processes sugar) by as much as 23 percent.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 16 weeks of strength training can improve glucose metabolism in a way that is comparable to taking medication. The more lean mass you have, the more efficient your body is at removing glucose from the blood.

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

Dr. Laura: 21 Reasons You Might be Constipated

Bowels that move slow or are difficult to pass are not only uncomfortable, they are unhealthy. It is important we eliminate from our bowels at least once, and up to three times per day. Constipation is an issue affecting up to 20% of the population(1).

When the stool stays in the colon for extending lengths of time, toxins and hormones that have been packaged and processed for elimination are at risk for re-absorption back into the body. Not passing stool frequently enough will lead to a feeling of toxic overload.

What is constipation?

  1. Irregular bowel movements
    1. Pass less than 3-5 stools per week.
  2. Difficulty passing stool.
    1. Hard stool, requires straining,
    2. Insufficient, unsatisfactory, incomplete stool

21 Reasons You Might be Constipated

  1. Diet lacks fibre and vegetables
  2. Diet too high in proteins and carbs, especially in sugar & starch
  3. Dairy or wheat sensitivity
  4. Too much dairy (cheese)
  5. Other food sensitivities
  6. Insufficient microflora
  7. Dysbiosis (overgrowth of the wrong kinds of bacteria in the intestines)
  8. Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) (root cause may be hypothyroid and migrating motor complex)
  9. Hypothyroid affecting the migrating motor complex
  10. Lack of regular daily exercise
  11. Insufficient water intake
  12. Supplements such as iron, calcium
  13. Overuse of laxatives
  14. Side effects of prescription drugs- painkillers (opioids), anti-depressants
  15. Irritable bowel syndrome or diseases
  16. Colon cancer
  17. Stress
  18. Pregnancy
  19. Diabetes mellitus
  20. Hemorrhoids
  21. Nervous system disruption as in spinal cord lesions, MS & Parkinson’s.

Best ways to “get moving” –> relieve your constipation

Laxatives are okay occasionally. Too much use will lead to dependence, which is not how nature intended and don’t fix what’s really happening. Have a look at some of the possibilities of what may cause constipation and see what you can correct. Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND can help you access and interpret many different types of testing.

References:

  1. Portalatin M, Winstead N. Medical Management of Constipation. Clinics in Colon and Rectal Surgery. 2012;25(1):12-19. doi:10.1055/s-0032-1301754.

Dr. Phil Shares: 6 Most Important Tips for Building Muscle

6 Most Important Tips for Building Muscle

Whether your goal is to get bigger and stronger, or improve power and explosiveness for sports, you want to see progress — and pronto.

But building muscle efficiently requires more than just putting in time at the weight rack. Along with your strength training regimen, diet and lifestyle choices all play important roles.

But before you even start thinking about how to build muscle, it’s instructive to know the primary factors that determine just how much of it you can gain.

3 Factors Affecting Muscle Growth

These are the main criteria dictating increases in muscle size, or hypertrophy — and two of them are outside your control.

Sex

Simmer down — we’re talking gender. The male persuasion unsurprisingly has a decided advantage when it comes to building muscle. That’s due in large part to far greater levels of testosterone and a higher red blood cell count among men than women, who typically have to go to more extraordinary lengths to gain size.

Genetics

Similar to the way it governs how much hair you get to keep, heredity determines how much muscle you can develop. Thanks to genetics, a segment of the populace is born with a higher number of type II, or fast-twitch, muscle fibers, which have the greatest potential for growth.

Training Specificity

The factor you can change — and the one we’ll spend much of this article focusing on — is the approach you take to your workouts overall. There are different protocols that distinguish lifting for mass from lifting for strength.

Generally speaking, lifting very heavy weights in low volume is how to gain strength, and lifting moderately heavy weights in high volume is how to gain muscle.

Woman doing benchpress

How to Build Muscle: The 6 Most Important Things You Can Do

For those seeking tips on how to gain muscle, here are some strategies to get you started.

1. Perform multi-joint exercises

Resistance training is the most efficient way to build lean mass — especially if you pack your workouts with big, compound (multi-joint) moves like the squat, bench press, lunge, and pull-up.

“You can certainly build muscle with all types of moves, but a strong base in multi-joint efforts, at least some of the time, is a good idea,” says Michael Ormsbee, Ph.D., interim director of the Institute of Sports Science & Medicine at Florida State University.

Science agrees: Compound exercises cause the greatest increase in testosterone, a key muscle-building hormone, according to researchers at the University of Connecticut.

2. Eat more protein

Now that you’re lifting weights, you need to consume more protein to promote muscle repair, recovery, and growth since amino acids (the building blocks of protein) are necessary to build muscle tissue.

When you’re planning your high-protein meals, 20 grams of protein is the optimal amount generally accepted for muscle growth. Research has found that the body doesn’t use much more than 20 grams for muscle-building at any one sitting. Around 80 grams of protein per day (or, four meals containing 20-grams of protein each) is about right for most people.

If you want to calculate the optimal protein amount for you and your goals, Beachbody recommends 0.5 to 0.9 grams of protein per pound of desired lean bodyweight per day, depending on exercise intensity. (The harder the workout, the more protein is needed for growth and recovery.)

If you have ambitious muscle-building goals, such as committing to Beachbody’s Body Beast program, shoot for the higher end of the range by adding one or two additional protein-rich snacks to your day.

Shakeology is a great way to sneak in additional calories and nutrients and contains 16 to 17 grams of protein (depending on the flavor).

3. Don’t just lift heavy

When you lift heavy weights or do explosive exercises like sprinting, you target the type-II muscle fibers we discussed earlier. But studies show that type-I fibers (a.k.a. slow twitch — the kind used in endurance activities ) also have growth potential, so don’t ignore them.

Once every week or two, target those type-I fibers with low weight, high rep work (e.g., 3-4 sets of 15 or more reps per exercise). Or simply follow a Beachbody program such as Body Beast21-Day Fix, P90X, 22-Minute Hard Corps, or The Master’s Hammer and Chisel, which have that kind of variation built in.

4. Get plenty of shut-eye

Shoot for a minimum of seven hours a night. Getting less than that on a regular basis can cause you to rack up sleep debt, which can put the brakes on protein synthesis (a.k.a. muscle growth) and increase protein (read: muscle) degradation, according to a study by Brazilian researchers.

Plus, you won’t reap the full benefits of human growth hormone, the levels of which spike while you’re in dreamland. Have trouble sleeping? Try these natural tips on how to get good sleep tonight.

5. Increase weight responsibly

You need to challenge your muscles to trigger growth, but you also need to be smart about how you go about it. If you increase the amount of weight you’re lifting too quickly, you’ll increase your risk of injury. But if you do it too slowly, you’ll shortchange your results or hit a plateau.

So how do you strike a balance? Pay attention to the effort you’re exerting. If you’re lifting with perfect form, and your last few reps an exercise feel similar to your first few, you know it’s time to reach for a heavier weight.

6. Allow time for recovery

Muscles grow between workouts, not during them, so make recovery a priority. In practice, that means eating healthier, consuming more protein, and not overtraining. Take at least one to two days off per week to allow your muscles to fully recover.

“Training too often or at too-high an intensity too frequently — without rest and recovery — can actually hurt your muscle-building efforts,” says Ormsbee.

Your move: Take at least one to two days off per week to allow your muscles to fully recover, and maximize the effectiveness of your downtime by doing light cross training (e.g. hiking, cycling) or activities like foam rolling and yoga.

If you are patient, focused, and consistent with your workouts and recovery, you will see results.

In addition to consuming more protein, there are a number of nutritional steps you can take to bulk up responsibly.

1. Increase calories

“No one can be in a significant calorie deficit and gain muscle,” says Albert Matheny, M.S., R.D., C.S.C.S., co-founder of SoHo Strength Lab.

To find out how many more calories you should consume to gain weight, determine how many calories you need to maintain your current weight — your baseline — then add 300. And if you’re following a muscle-building program like Body Beast, add the recommended calories outlined in the guide.

2. Strike the right mix of macros

Whether your calories come from carbs, fat, or protein goes a long way in determining whether your weight gain comes from muscle or from fat.

An easy and relatively fast way to gain muscle is bulking first, then leaning out, which is the idea behind programs like Body Beast. Using this method, you only have to focus on one thing at a time — building, then getting lean, versus trying to increase mass while simultaneously limiting fat gain.

To increase weight gained from fat, your macros should emphasize carbohydrates and fat, since it’s the most calorically dense macronutrient. The bulk of that fat should come from unsaturated sources such as avocado, olive oil, and salmon.

3. Focus on post-workout nutrition

Generally, you should consume about 20 grams of protein with some carbs shortly after a workout. One way to get the right mix is with Beachbody Peformance Recover, which combines time-released proteins and phytonutrients to aid recovery and reduce muscle breakdown.

During the post-workout anabolic window, you’ll also want to limit fats, which can slow the absorption of protein. While there is some recent research that suggeststhe window may actually extend up to several hours following exercise, there’s no harm in getting nutrients in early as long as you’re sticking to your overall caloric and macronutrient goals.

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

Dr. Phil Shares: 12 of the Best Butt Exercises for Your Home Workout

12 of the Best Butt Exercises for Your Home Workout

With the right butt workout routine, you can increase the size of your glutes, which helps create the appearance of a tighter, more lifted derriere. After all, a shapely rear is timeless. For centuries, the butt has inspired priceless works of art, from Rubens’ Baroque-period depictions of voluptuous women to Beyonce’s chart-topping “Bootylicious.” We like big butts, and we cannot lie.

But the benefits of butt exercises are far more than aesthetic, explains Beachbody fitness expert Cody Braun. Exercises intended to tighten the buttocks can also counteract the hours we spend sitting on them.

“Because we sit down for most of our days, we teach our glutes to relax while our hip flexors stay shortened. This leads to what some call ‘gluteal amnesia,’ which also leads to compensations in the way we move, often making your low back do the glutes’ job,” Braun says. As a result, we may experience back pain or run into other types of dysfunction.

Additionally, weak glutes may be what’s preventing you from improving your 5K time or getting through a game of pick-up basketball without rolling an ankle. “The glutes are the powerhouse for most of our lower- and full-body movements, from squats to jumping,” say Braun. “If you want to increase your strength, power, stability, and limit the likelihood for injury, it is important to incorporate glute exercises into your programming.”

Want to look good in a pair of jeans and stay healthy and pain free? Bum’s the word.

Add These 12 Exercises to Your Butt Workouts at Home

You can get stronger, shapelier glutes with a few pieces of basic equipment and a handful of carefully selected butt exercises you can do at home — no gym membership or machines required. We sifted through dozens of Beachbody’s fitness programs and hand-picked some of the best exercises for glutes, including moves to tighten the buttocks and thighs as well as exercises to augment them.

If you’re not currently following a Beachbody program, be sure to incorporate a warm-up routine that includes some dynamic stretching. Braun recommends leg swings, walking high knees, glute bridges, and bodyweight squats. “You want to stretch the glutes while also activating them through contraction to get them ready for exercise,” he explains.

Triple lunge with ginga

Appears in: CORE DE FORCE – MMA Plyo
  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and arms at your sides.
  • Keeping your chest up, back flat, and, core engaged, take a large step forward with your right foot. Lower your body until your right thigh is parallel to the ground and your left knee is bent 90 degrees.
  • Extend your right arm out to the right, and bend your left elbow in front of your chest so that your left forearm points in the same direction as your right. This is the starting position.
  • Raise your body several inches then lower it, pulsing yourself upward a total of 3 times.
  • “Ginga,” or swing, to the left by pushing off your right foot and laterally jumping to the left. Land softly in a reverse orientation of the starting position: left foot forward, right foot back, arms pointing left. Follow with 3 pulses, and ginga right.
  • Repeat the sequence, completing equal reps on both sides.

Single-leg hinge with loop

Appears in: 80 Day Obsession – Booty Month 3

  • Loop a resistance band around your left foot, and grip it with your right hand as you rise up to stand, feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent.
  • Keeping your back flat, your core engaged, and your left knee slightly bent, raise your right leg off the floor and hinge forward at your hips until your torso is as close to parallel with the floor as possible.
  • Return to a single-leg standing position and repeat the move, completing all reps on your left leg before switching sides.

Squat with pulses

Appears in: PiYo – Buns
  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your arms at your sides.
  • Keeping your back flat and core engaged, bend your knees and push your hips back as if closing a car door with your butt, and lower into a squat as you raise your arms in front of you.
  • At the bottom of your squat, use a pulsing motion to raise and lower your hips a few inches. Complete three pulses before standing up. This is one rep.
  • Repeat the sequence, coming to a three-quarter standing position between each rep.

Curtsy lunge wood chops

Appears in: Shift Shop – Super Strength: 50 (as the “Double Cross”)

  • Stand upright, feet hip-width apart, holding a sandbag or dumbbell in both hands at your right shoulder. This is the starting position.
  • Step back with your right foot, crossing it behind your left leg as you lower in to a curtsey lunge. Simultaneously, bring the weight across your body to the outside of your left hip.
  • Reverse the motion, bringing the weight back to your right shoulder as you step back to the starting position, then repeat.
  • Perform equal reps on both sides.

Clamshell

Appears in: Brazil Butt Lift – High and Tight

  • Loop a resistance band around your legs just above your knees, and lie on your left side with your hips, knees, and feet stacked. Rest your head on your left arm, and place your right palm on the floor in front of your chest.
  • Bend at the hips, swinging your legs out to a 45 degree angle, then bend your knees to 90 degrees. This is your starting position.
  • Keeping your core engaged and your heels together, raise your right knee as far as you can without rotating your hip or lifting your left knee off the floor.
  • Hold for 1 second before returning to the starting position.
  • Repeat the move, completing all reps on one side, then switch sides, performing equal reps on both.

Calf raise bridge

Appears in: Clean Week – Resistance

  • Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor about hip-width apart, holding a pair of dumbbells on your hips. This is the starting position.
  • Lift your hips as high as possible, squeezing your glutes as you rise up on the balls of your feet.
  • Reverse the movement to return to the starting position, and repeat for reps.

Camel

Appears in: 80 Day Obsession – Booty Month 2

  • From a kneeling position, with your butt resting on your heels and the tops of your feet on the floor, hold a heavy dumbbell at your chest with both hands.
  • Keeping your chest up, shoulders back, and core engaged, squeeze your glutes as you push your hips forward to full extension, shifting your weight onto your knees.
  • Pushing your hips back, slowly lower your body back down onto your heels, and repeat for reps.

Bowler

Appears in: PiYo – Buns

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend both knees slightly and shift your weight to your left leg. This is your starting position.
  • Step your right foot behind and outside your left foot in a curtsy lunge, pumping your left arm back and your right arm forward.
  • Raise your body several inches then lower it, pulsing yourself upward a total of 3 times.
  • Return to the starting position, lightly tapping the floor with your right toes before repeating the movement.
  • Complete all reps on one side then switch, performing equal reps on both.

Jump squat

Appears in: 22 Minute Hard Corps – Resistance 2

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart, toes pointed forward, holding a dumbbell or sandbag in both hands in front of your chest.
  • Keeping your back flat and chest up, bend your knees and push your hips back until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
  • Explode upward, jumping as high as you can
  • Land softly, immediately dropping back down into a squat to begin your next rep.

Single-leg hamstring slide

Appears in: 80 Day Obsession – Booty Month 3

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, with your arms at your sides. Place a strength slide under your left heel and extend your left leg.
  • Keeping your glutes and core engaged, simultaneously bend your left knee, sliding the disc toward your body as you lift your hips off the floor and into a bridge.
  • Slowly extend your left leg and lower your hips to the floor.
  • Complete all reps on one leg before switching sides, performing equal reps on both.

Squat arabesque

Appears in: Brazil Butt Lift – Bum Bum

  • From a standing, hip-width position, push your hips back, and bend your knees into a squat. As you lower your body, place your hands on your thighs, which should be parallel with the floor.
  • As you return to a standing position, extend your arms overhead and your right leg behind you, squeezing your glutes at the top of the move while keeping your core engaged throughout.
  • Lower again into a squat, returning your hands to your thighs, and repeat the move, this time extending your left leg.
  • Continue alternating legs, performing equal reps on both.

Attitude, 21DF

Appears in: 21 Day Fix – Barre Legs

• Stand tall, hands on your hips, with your heels together and your toes turned out slightly.

• Move your right foot back, lightly touching the floor behind you with your big toe and letting your heel drop slightly inward. This is your starting position.

• Keeping your torso tall, lift your right leg behind you as high as you can, squeezing your right glute.

• Return to the starting position, gently tapping the toes of your right foot to the floor, and repeat.

• Perform equal reps on both sides.

Not in the mood to program your own butt workouts at home? Beachbody’s got your back(side). “Most of our programs offer full-body workouts that include glute exercises, but if you’re looking to gain size, Body Beast is a good go-to,” Braun says.

“For more specific glute programs, you can check out the Brazil Butt Lift series or 80 Day Obsession, which places a strong emphasis on the glutes.”

Anatomy of the Butt

Your body’s gluteal region is comprised of three major muscles that work together to move the legs and hips, provide balance, and offer stability during single-leg movements like walking, running, and climbing stairs.

Gluteal muscles – butt workouts at homeGluteus maximus

Among the trinity of butt muscles, the gluteus maximus gets all the glory. As its name indicates, the G-max is not only the biggest gluteal muscle, it’s also the largest muscle in the human body. And, due to its superficial (closest to the surface) placement, it’s responsible for providing the booty’s famously rounded shape.

The gluteus maximus originates from the hip bone, sacrum, and tailbone. It runs across the rear at a 45-degree angle and inserts into the I.T. band and femur (thigh bone). The muscle’s primary function is hip extension, meaning that your gluteus maximus is (literally) behind everyday movements like standing up from a seated position, as well as athletic feats like the 40-yard dash.

Gluteus medius

Originating from the ilium and inserting atop the front of the femur, the gluteus medius is the fan-shaped muscle responsible for abducting (lifting out to the side) the leg. The gluteus medius is also charged with medial and lateral rotation, turning the leg so the knee faces inward and outward. Without a sufficiently strong gluteus medius, you can develop an altered walking/running gait, which can lead to a number of movement related issues.

Gluteus minimus

Despite its rank as the tiniest of all the butt muscles, the gluteus minimus plays a vital role in stabilizing the pelvis during walking and running. Originating from the ilium, the gluteus minimus attaches atop the femur. Like the gluteus medius, its main functions include lower limb abduction and medial rotation.

Eating for a Bigger Booty

If your goal is to get a bigger bum, doing the best butt workouts is just part of the equation. You also need to be strategic with your nutritional intake and supplementation. Healthy, fast-burning carbohydrates consumed before your butt workout will keep your energy consistent, from the first lunge down to the last jump squat.

Just as important is your post-workout protein intake, which the body needs for muscle growth and repair. With 20 grams of protein per serving, Beachbody Performance Recover offers a quick, convenient solution. Besides fast-absorbing protein, Recover contains pomegranate extract, which has been shown to promote muscle recovery and reduce soreness.

By: 

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

Dr. Phil Shares: How to Avoid 10 of the Most Common Workout Mistakes

How to Avoid 10 of the Most Common Workout Mistakes

Designer water bottles. Pre- and post-workout supplements. Two-hundred-dollar shoes!

When you’re new to exercise, sometimes the hardest part isn’t the workout itself—it’s all the details around it. So many ways to go astray.

That’s why we asked six fitness and nutrition experts for their tips to avoid some of the most common workout mistakes. From what you should be eating before a workout to what you should be wearing, dodging these fitness fails won’t just make you look like a pro, it’ll make your workout routine more effective, too.

1. Wearing the Wrong Shoes

“There are different shoe types for a reason. Tennis demands a lot of side-to-side movement, running on a trail requires [enhanced stability and grip], and you’ll probably be doing some vertical jumping when you play basketball. If you’re wearing training shoes with little to no support when you’re running around a tennis court, you’re more likely to get an injury in your foot or ankle. Getting the right type of shoe for your sport will help you stay with it for much longer.”Alicia Clinton, Ohio-based ACE personal trainer and Pilates instructor

2. Wearing the Wrong Clothes

This tip is my own, as it’s one workout mistake I learned the hard way. Wearing baggy cotton T-shirts and sweats seems like a great idea (you get to hide your body, and hey, they’re comfy!), but there’s a reason everyone else in yoga class is wearing technical fabrics: cotton holds sweat close to your body. Technical fabrics wick it away.

You don’t have to buy anything that’s form-fitting or expensive, but wearing clothes made from technical fabrics engineered for exercise instead of pajamas or old sweats will help you be more comfortable. And, if you feel good, you’ll be more likely to stick with your workout routine.

3. Pushing Your Body Past It’s Limits

This one sounds like a big “duh,” but it’s surprising how many people get into a gym for the first time in months (or years) and attack the cardio machines or weight rack like their hiatus never happened

Take a knee, champ.

“When you’re just beginning a workout routine, it’s important to know that your body needs time to adjust to your new activity level. With time, our bodies can become quite well-adapted (to any routine), but the key for long-term success—physically and mentally—is to start small and work toward your goal. Injuries can happen if you go all out right away, which in turn can lead to feelings of frustration that don’t help your cause.” —Clinton

4. Not Hydrating Properly

Everyone knows they’re supposed to stay hydrated. But a lot of people don’t know how to do it right.

A good way to gauge how much water you need is by weighing yourself. Check your weight before and after you work out, and replace that loss. So if you weighed 150 before you started your CORE DE FORCE workout, and you weigh 149 afterwards, drink 16 ounces of water. For endurance athletes or during extreme exercise of 30 minutes or more when you’re sweating a lot, use that same fluid requirement but include electrolytes—the best is a low-sugar option like Beachbody Hydrate.

“If you’re doing something like a 30-minute walk, you don’t need any of this. If you go on a 30-minute run [or do an intense 30-minute workout], you might need that extra hydration. And if you’re taking a 105-degree hot yoga class, you need to replenish fluids and electrolytes.” Paige Benté, MS, RD, nutrition manager at Beachbody

5. Not Timing Your Workouts with Your Eating Habits

Would you take your car out on a long road trip without first filling up the tank? Of course you would! That’s why you have to bum everybody out 20 minutes after leaving by pulling over to stop at Gas-N-Cigs. In the gym, this is just as big of a choke.

“You want to make sure you have enough fuel to support your workout. At least an hour before, have a small snack with easy-to-digest carbs. When in doubt, reach for a piece of fruit or veggies and hummus—something that will sit light in your stomach.” Olivia Wagner, Chicago-based RDN, LDN, personal trainer and certified health coach

And don’t forget to eat after your workout, too. You need to give your muscles the nutrients they need to grow and repair, and if you’re doing endurance work, you also need to replenish your glycogen stores.

How to Avoid 10 of the Most Common Workout Mistakes

6. Ignoring the Importance of Diet in General

You’ve likely heard the adage “You can’t outrun a bad diet.” It’s true, so heed the advice to avoid one of the most common workout mistakes. If your eating habits aren’t aligned with your fitness goals, you’ll never hit them. Step one in upgrading your diet is to reduce your consumption of added sugar (according to the government’s new Dietary Guidelines for Americans, such foods should comprise no more than 10 percent of your diet).

“Many active people eat too many carbs—especially simple carbs like sugar—and don’t pay nearly enough attention to fat and protein. Make sure every meal contains a balance of protein, fat, and fiber. Neglecting these suggestions will yield poor blood sugar control, higher insulin levels, increased fat storage, and decreased fat burning.”- Bob Seebohar, M.S., R.D., CSSD, C.S.C.S., a sport dietitian and owner and founder of eNRG Performance

Want to make things easy on yourself? Beachbody’s Portion Fix containers make it simple to figure out how much you should eat of different food types, helping you to consume just the right amount of protein, veggies, carbs, and more, depending on your body type and goals.

7. Only Focusing on the Muscles You Can See

In the pursuit of head turning muscles, many people focus only on those they can see in the mirror—pecs, shoulders, arms, and abs. Since most people are already “anterior dominant”—meaning they more frequently use the muscles on the front of their bodies—such one-sided training often worsens existing postural and performance issues.

“Overemphasizing the front side of your body can lead to muscular imbalances, a hunched posture, and an increased risk of injury.” – Yunus Barisik, C.S.C.S., author of the blog, Next Level Athletics

To balance your upper body, perform two pulling exercises (chin-up, row) for every pushing exercise, such as the overhead press or bench press. To balance your lower body, perform two sets of hamstring-dominant exercises, like the deadlift or kettlebell swing, for every set of a quad-dominant exercise, like the squat or lunge. After a few months (read: once your posture and musculature balance out), you can switch to one-to-one ratios, says Barisik.

8. Skipping the Warm-Up and Cool-Down

It’s great that you’re excited to get to your workout, but a warm-up shouldn’t be optional. Before you jump into beast mode, take a few minutes to get your body ready for an intense workout with an active warm-up that includes dynamic (movement based) stretching, which can help improve performance and prevent injury.

Once you finish the final rep at the end of your workout, cool down with a few minutes of stretching, foam rolling, or both. “Warming up before a workout will help your muscles be ready to work harder and faster, and getting stretches in after a workout as you cool down will help accelerate recovery.” — Clinton

9. Skipping Recovery Days

If you think recovery days are only for the weak, think again. They’re actually a crucial part any fitness regime.

“Our bodies, like our minds, need rest. Just like we go to sleep every night, we need time to relax our bodies. Exercise is stressful, and if we don’t allow ourselves to recover—no matter how well we’re eating or exercising—we’re not going to get stronger.” —Wagner

“Muscles don’t grow during workouts, they grow between them. That’s one of the primary reasons why recovery days are just as important as workout days–the latter provides the stimulus for growth, and the former provides the opportunity for it to happen. Also, if you never give your body sufficient time to recover, not only will your workout performance suffer, but you’ll also shortchange your results and increase your odds of injury.” – Trevor Thieme, C.S.C.S, senior fitness and nutrition content manager at Beachbody

10. Doing the Same Workout All the Time

After searching tirelessly for a mode of exercise you actually enjoy, it can be a relief to finally find the right one. But beware! Comfort can be the enemy of progress. Doing the same exact workout all the time, whether that’s running the same route at the same pace or always going to the same yoga class, doesn’t give your body the variety it needs to change and improve. You need to incorporate periodization (strategic variation) into your training plan to keep your results coming.

“The reason why most people see their results stagnate is that they do the same one or two workouts day after day, week after week, month after month, and even year after year. That’s why Beachbody programs include multiple different workouts, and don’t last longer than 90 minutes.” – Thieme

In search of a workout that can help you reach your goals and lead to your dream results? Head over to Beachbody On Demand for tons of options, including everything from sweat-inducing HIIT workouts to low-impact yoga classes to muscle-building strength programs.

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph