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BCAA-amino-acides

Branched Chain Amino Acids: Protein’s Helper

Branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) are an essential nutrient in our body that consists of the chain of chemicals obtained from protein. We have 20 different amino acids in our body, 8 of which are considered essential, and 3 are the branch chain aminos that BCAAs are composed of. This chemical chain includes leucine, isoleucine, and valine. We get this protein source from our food, particularly meat, dairy, and legumes. They stimulate protein’s role of building muscle. They also help prevent muscle breakdown.  

BCAA’s are a popular fitness supplement. For athletes or even the common gym-goer, these chemicals can improve performance by preventing fatigue, improving concentration, and reducing muscle breakdown. They have been shown to improve muscle soreness post-exercise. They can help reduce DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) which typically occurs within the initial 24 to 72 hours post-workout. Leucine aids in the muscle-making process. BCAAs have been shown to increase protein synthesis by up to 22%. Many protein powders contain branched chain amino acids, but they can also be found as a supplement all their own. Most protein powders have about 5 grams of BCAAs per 25 grams of protein.  

They are also used medicinally. They are given to people with liver disease. They help the brain translate messages and impede upon faulty signaling related to liver disease, anorexia, mania, and tardive dyskinesia (involuntary repetitive body movements). When cirrhosis occurs in the liver, the brain does not signal correctly to help remove waste products and toxins from the blood. BCAA’s improve appetite to help people with these diseases to have better nutrition.  

Bodybuilders like to take BCAAs as a result of the dieting process leading up to a competition. Dieting is part of stage preparation to look your best, but in this process, the body is at a caloric deficit to get the lean, cut look. However, the competitor doesn’t want to lose muscle mass. BCAAs work their magic with protein synthesis trying to build new muscle while fighting the deficit and then work to decrease breakdown.  

The best food sources that contain BCAAs are meat and dairy:

  • Beef: 100 grams = 6.8 grams BCAAs 
  • Chicken: 100 grams = 5.8 grams BCAAs 
  • Whey protein powder: 1 scoop = 5.5 grams BCAAs 
  • Soy protein powder: 1 scoop = 5.5 grams BCAAs 
  • Canned tuna: 100 grams = 5.2 grams BCAAs 
  • Salmon: 100 grams = 4.9 grams BCAAs 
  • Turkey: 100 grams = 4.6 grams BCAAs 
  • Eggs: 2 = 3.28 grams BCAAs 
  • 1% milk: 1 cup = 2.2 grams BCAAs 
  • Greek yogurt: ½ cup = 2 grams 

Food is always the best source of nutrition. Add supplementation when your body needs extra support. BCAAs are essential in our body. Anything essential needs to be had, so make sure you get the right amount of amino acids to help meet your body’s needs.  

Join Megan for her webinar on this topic, Supplements: The Physiology Behind Trying to “Out Supplement” Nutrition

 


Megan Johnson McCullough, owner of Every BODY’s Fit in Oceanside CA, is a NASM Master Trainer, AFAA group exercise instructor, and specializes in Fitness Nutrition, Weight Management, Senior Fitness, Corrective Exercise, and Drug and Alcohol Recovery. She’s also a Wellness Coach, holds an M.A. Physical Education & Health, and is a current doctoral candidate in Health and Human Performance. She is a professional natural bodybuilder, fitness model, and published author.

References

 

general-pain-neck-back-pain

Fibromyalgia: Symptoms and Treatments

Chronic pain, tender to the touch on the body, fatigue, and sleep problems, are all symptoms of fibromyalgia. This syndrome affects the muscles and soft tissue of the body. The trouble with this condition is that there is no lab test for diagnosis, rather, the culmination of symptoms leads to the fibromyalgia diagnosis for sufferers. This condition is frequently undetected and misdiagnosed for this reason. However, for people living in pain, they want a solution to their problem. Other symptoms include headaches, depression, anxiety, memory loss called “fibro fog”, numbness and tingling in the extremities, irritable bowel syndrome, and feeling body aches all over. This is no way to live. The difference between fibromyalgia and other conditions such as tendonitis, bursitis, and arthritis, is that the pain is not located in one area… it is chronic and all over the body. A lot of this pain can even be at the surface of the skin, simply triggered by touch. 

Persons with fibro just feel exhausted all the time. Even with quality sleep, the body is still tired. This is disruptive to one’s lifestyle and includes lack of energy to work, exercise, and or even just going to the grocery store. These activities take large amounts of energy. Imagine being too tired to even fold laundry. This is frustrating and mentally exhausting as a person is expected to participate in daily life, but physically too tired to do so. Waking up in the morning is when the body just feels stiff. What sleep a person with fibro does get is easily disrupted. Brain activity continues as if the person were awake. This, in turn, affects one’s mood. A person becomes worried they won’t be able to keep up with daily activities, and this reality leads to depression and anxiety. Relationships can become affected. Short-term memory also starts to suffer. Paresthesia (tingling and numbing feeling in the hands and feet) can stop a person in their tracks. All of these factors seem like walls in the way of being able to accomplish regular daily tasks.

A doctor can prescribe medication to help with the pain and the key is remembering to consistently take these medications. There are also alternative methods such as acupuncture, massage, and physical therapy. Exercise, especially walking, can help increase blood flow and decrease pain, along with balance and resistance training exercises. Keeping the mind active is also important. A person with fibro should pace themselves as they learn to adapt to their energy demands. Trying not to become overwhelmed or easily discouraged is important. Making sure to eat a nutrient-filled diet is critical, and especially including vitamin D. Caffeine should be avoided because the sleep cycle of a person with fibro is easily disturbed. Although caffeine might feel like an energy booster, drinking caffeine has been associated with increased fibro pain. 

Communication is important with relationships and with employers. The lack of energy can be perceived as a lack of effort, but when a person with fibro expresses their medical concerns with others, one can aim to find a balance to life’s demands.

Fibromyalgia needs more medical research to help sufferers and alleviate their pain. Living a life with the physical struggles associated with fibromyalgia is no way to live but there is hope with the right pain management treatments.


Megan Johnson McCullough, owner of Every BODY’s Fit in Oceanside CA, is a NASM Master Trainer, AFAA group exercise instructor, and specializes in Fitness Nutrition, Weight Management, Senior Fitness, Corrective Exercise, and Drug and Alcohol Recovery. She’s also a Wellness Coach, holds an M.A. Physical Education & Health, and is a current doctoral candidate in Health and Human Performance. She is a professional natural bodybuilder, fitness model, and published author.

 

References

foot-pain

Plantar Fasciitis: Heel to Toe Pain

Overly stretched, tiny tears can lead to inflammation and pain in the arch of the foot. This condition, called plantar fasciitis, accounts for nearly one million doctor visits per year. Our foot has a thick band of tissue called fascia that runs from our heel to our toe. This troublesome foot issue is actually more common in women than men. We need to spend time on our feet moving, so this foot problem, if left untreated, can cause excessive pain and greatly limit our mobility.

Contributing Factors

Plantar fasciitis is more common as we age (specifically between ages 40 and 60), but is also more likely to occur in someone who is overweight or constantly on their feet. It is very common in runners. Activities that are known for high rates of plantar fasciitis include ballet, dance, long-distance running, and ballistic jumping. There are a few other contributing factors which include wearing shoes that are worn out and have thin soles or wearing high-heels. The mechanics of how you walk (your stride) involves your foot position. If you have flat feet or a tight Achilles, the body will compensate for these dysfunctions which can lead to injury of the fascia.

Pain

Pain starts to occur near the heel towards the bottom of the foot. Most people feel the pain in the morning right when they get out of bed. This is known as “first-step pain”. This can also occur if you have been sitting for a long period of time and then stand up. The plantar fascia acts like an absorbing shock spring in our foot. Repetitive stretching and tearing of this area results in a stabbing pain.

Treatment

If pain persists, seeing a doctor can help detect this condition. He or she will check the tender areas of the foot. The good news is that plantar fasciitis does normally go away on its own. There are several treatment options. A doctor might prescribe anti-inflammatory medication or a steroid injection. Physical therapy and massage can help as well as shock wave therapy to stimulate blood flow. A Tenex procedure can remove scar tissue in the area or surgery can be done to remove the plantar fascia off of the heel bone. Wearing the right shoes or using shoe inserts oftentimes does the trick, so be sure to try these simple fixes first. Ice and soaking the heel can also help alleviate pain.

A good home remedy is freezing a foam cup of water then rubbing the top of the cup on the heel for 10 or so minutes. Stretching the calves and Achilles tendon can help over time and there are ways to tape the area of the foot to position the heel correctly with each step. Night splints worn to hold the foot at a 90 degree angle help when stretching the fascia.

There’s no doubt that we use and abuse our feet, bearing vast amounts of weight on them while performing all of our daily functions. As we walk from point A to point B, getting those 10,000 steps in, we must practice self-care from head to toe to heel. Sometimes foregoing that cute pair of shoes even at the gym is worth the fashion sacrifice to walk without pain.


Megan Johnson McCullough, owner of Every BODY’s Fit in Oceanside CA, is a NASM Master Trainer, AFAA group exercise instructor, and specializes in Fitness Nutrition, Weight Management, Senior Fitness, Corrective Exercise, and Drug and Alcohol Recovery. She’s also a Wellness Coach, holds an M.A. Physical Education & Health, and is a current doctoral candidate in Health and Human Performance. She is a professional natural bodybuilder, fitness model, and published author.

 

References

https://journals.lww.com/jaapa/Fulltext/2018/01000/Plantar_fasciitis__A_review_of_treatments.4.aspx
https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2473011419896763
https://academic.oup.com/occmed/article/65/2/97/1488760

exercise-gym-covid-mask

Safely Returning to Exercise Post-COVID-19 Illness

The world of exercise and fitness was struck hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, taking access to gyms and fitness centers away for a period of time. With these facilities returning to their open availability, many individuals who personally experienced having COVID-19 have been posed with the question of when is it safe and okay for them to return to exercising again. Factors to consider include, of course, not wanting to spread the virus. But from a medical perspective, when is the body ready to safely return to exercising?

Internally, the immune system has just been through warfare depending on the strain and severity of the contracted virus, so the first consideration is feeling confident that symptoms have been eradicated during normal daily living activities, before venturing on to performing more strenuous or even mild/moderate forms of physical activity. COVID-19 affects the lungs (respiratory system), causing severe inflammation. Normal functioning of taking in oxygen and releasing carbon dioxide becomes impaired when the virus impedes by increasing fluid in the lungs and inflammation. Therefore, breathing becomes the common exercise inhibitor when first getting back into movement patterns. In fact, the CDC estimates that 3-17% of COVID-19 patients develop a complication known as Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS). A simple test for readiness is trying to walk quickly for 500 meters without feeling breathless or fatigue. From this self-assessment, endurance and intensity can progressively improve.

Returning to strength training can be challenging when considering cardiac output and fatigue depending upon resistance training goals and modalities. Therefore, it is best to work in the endurance phase for 2-4 weeks prior to strength or power training. This will help prepare the body for more intense training as well as let the body adjust to feelings of fatigue and breathlessness that might occur. A negative COVID test does not equate to the body returning to its normal workload capacity right away. Patience is key and although this can be a frustrating feat for athletes and avid gym-goers alike — movement is medicine but overtraining in sub-optimal conditions only prolongs the perceived setback.

There is no exact timeline upon returning to exercise post-COVID, but one way fitness professionals and individuals can gradually and safely do so is to utilize the “Rate of Perceived Exertion” to modify and accommodate for any potential risks. An example of this is the Borg Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE), using a scale of 6-20 with 6 being no exertion and 20 being maximal exertion. Realistically working between 6 and 11 to start and pacing oneself to 12-15 and above is a good road map. Wearing a heart rate monitor can also be helpful with the understanding that if you are working at a higher level than what your lungs currently want to or can even do, taking resting breaks before returning the exercise is recommended. Exercising over time will help repair the body’s systems to again function as efficiently as before.


Megan Johnson McCullough is the owner of Every BODY’s Fit in Oceanside CA. She is a NASM Master trainer, holds an MA in Physical Education & Health Science, and is a current candidate for her Doctorate in Health and Human Performance. Megan also holds specializations in Corrective Exercise, Senior Fitness, Fitness Nutrition, Drug and Alcohol Recovery, and is an AFAA Group Exercise Instructor. She’s also a fitness model, professional natural bodybuilder, and published author.

 

References

  • Salman, D., Vishnubala, D., Le Feuvre, P., Beaney, T., Korgaonkar, J., Majeed. A. et al. (2021). Returning to physical activity after covid-19. BMJ, 372:m4721. doi:10.1136/bmj.m4721
  • Yale School of Medicine (2021). Challenge 5: How does covid-19 affect the respiratory system? https://medicine.yale.edu/coved/modules/virus/respiratory/

 

Knee joint anatomy, 3D model

Musculoskeletal System & Healthy Functioning: Parts that Make Up the Whole

Orthopedics 101: What makes up our musculoskeletal system? In order for our body to move, the joints, ligaments, and tendons must work together. If a person has a disease, injury, or condition, affecting any one of these parts, nerve signals are interrupted and movement is hindered.

When you think of joints, think of two parts of the skeleton being fit together. The bones are connected by joints. Joints are also called articulations. Here’s the lineup….

  1. Bones are lined with cartilage so they don’t grind against each other; it is the covering at the end of the bone.
  2. Bones are joined to bones by ligaments, so where two bones meet that is a joint; ligaments are important for stability.
  3. Muscles are connected to bones by tendons.

Technically, muscles are not part of the joint, but stronger muscles help protect the joints.

You know that cracking sound we sometimes hear with movement?? When you flex or contract a muscle which takes place at the joint, the ligament stretches with that joint. When you straighten out that joint, the ligament helps to pull the joint back to its normal starting position. This means that ligaments are a major part of movement, but over time, they start to lose their elasticity. This loss of stretch makes the joint make that cracking noise from bone on bone.

Tendons are important for our range of motion with movement. They’re found in smaller joints like fingers and wrists. We use tendons a lot, especially at the wrist. A tendon’s job is to make sure you can bend your wrist, but not too far.

After years of constant use, our joints can develop arthritis. This occurs especially in the knee, hip, and shoulder areas. The knee joint has three parts, the hip has two, and the shoulder has the one that seems to be commonly injured.

Tendons and ligaments do wear out. They do not grow or repair themselves. A baseball pitcher who has repetitively used their arm and shoulder to throw the ball as hard as they can over and over again will, after a number of years, most likely experience damage to the rotator cuff. Then it’s surgery.

Long story short, our body sure does do a lot for us to produce movement. As I type and while you read, movement is occurring even in the eyes. We have to appreciate what we have and if we don’t use it, we lose it before that expiration date comes our way.

Your fitness journey is a lifelong commitment to your health, so exercise wisely, fuel your body right, and MOVE!!!!


Megan Johnson McCullough, owner of Every BODY’s Fit in Oceanside CA, is a NASM Master Trainer, AFAA group exercise instructor, and specializes in Fitness Nutrition, Weight Management, Senior Fitness, Corrective Exercise, and Drug and Alcohol Recovery. She’s also a Wellness Coach, holds an M.A. Physical Education & Health, and is a current doctoral candidate in Health and Human Performance. She is a professional natural bodybuilder, fitness model, and published author.

 

References