Check out my review of GRABBZ Lifting Gloves here:
Before I began competing in 2009, I could pretty much eat whatever I wanted without any digestive or reactive consequence. All that changed by the time I earned my IFBB Pro Card in 2013, when I developed a number of food intolerances which forced me to change the way I ate and what I consumed. It was so bizarre for me to mount reactions to healthy foods which had never caused an issue in the past. During one particular contest prep regimen, I began to notice that every single time I ate broccoli, I would get severe abdominal cramps and a headache which persisted for an entire day (now they last for 3-5 days if I am stupid enough to eat even one small floret). I honestly believe that the extreme and repetitive meal plans which I consumed while competing were major factors in the development of my food intolerance issues.
I retired from competing in June of 2014, yet I developed even more food issues. I noticed that other foods were aggravating my gut, my skin, my head and my mood, so I decided to eliminate them. In January of 2015, I had an ALCAT food intolerance test, and discovered that broccoli on the list of offending foods for me. I also had SEVERE gluten intolerance, as well as intolerance to coconut, flaxseed, mangoes, casein, blueberries, and a number of other foods which are considered healthy. In an effort to allow my body to calm down, I eliminated every food which I had any intolerance to (there were about 30 foods) for close to a year. To this day, I am very careful about the foods which my body rejects, and keep my exposure to a minimum.
I will allow myself to have blueberries, coconut, mango, lobster, cashews, bison, and spinach on rare occasion, and have noticed no reactions. However, I mount strong reactions to other foods and food combinations. For example, within two consecutive days of eating flaxseed, I develop one or two deep, painful, cystic pimples on my face which will not resolve until I stop eating flaxseed. When I eat gluten, I become irritable and emotional, I get headaches, my belly aches, and I don’t sleep well. Of course I didn’t know that this was the case until I did an elimination diet and gradually began feeling better, then tried eating gluten after many months of avoiding it. Every time I ingest gluten containing foods, I notice symptoms which can be mild or severe depending on the food and the quantity eaten. Pizza is VERY dangerous for me now, so if I am faced with the prospect of eating the cheesy, gluten filled meal, I have to take a Glutagest (which breaks down gluten in the food eaten) if I want to avoid the ugly consequences of allowing gluten to enter my body. The combination of pizza and wine is even worse. I might as well forget about functioning like a normal person for a couple of days if I dare to consume this food and drink duo.
I agree that the whole gluten-free trend has gotten a little out of hand, but I also strongly believe that there are many people walking around with gluten intolerance and other food intolerances who have no idea that the foods they are consuming are affecting their health and well-being. I have personally benefitted from going gluten free and avoiding foods my body rejects, and have been rewarded with more luminous skin, thicker hair, better digestion, better overall mood and energy, and much better sleep.
If you suspect that you have food intolerance, try eliminating the suspect food to see if it makes a difference. Trust your body’s signals. And if you want to get a food intolerance test, check out ALCAT.com and Everlywell.com for the kits they offer.
What Is Food Intolerance?
Have you ever noticed that when you eat a certain food, such as tuna, blueberries, avocado, asparagus or broccoli, that you get extremely bloated to the point that you are extremely uncomfortable? Since the foods I mentioned are celebrated for their many nutritional benefits, it might not occur to you that you most likely have an intolerance to that food. Up to 80% of the U.S. population has some form of food intolerance.
Most people are aware of food allergies, but food intolerance is a different phenomenon which can have a tremendous effect on a person’s quality of life. Food allergies appear quite suddenly, from seconds to minutes after ingestion of the offending food, and can be life-threatening, whereas food intolerance is a more gradual process (taking hours to a couple of days for symptoms to emerge), not life-threatening, and may only occur after a large amount of the food is eaten. Food allergies and food intolerance can both cause similar symptoms, such as abdominal pain, nausea, and diarrhea, but food intolerance is notorious for causing bloating, heartburn, irritability, headaches and general malaise. The most common food allergy triggers are peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, fish, soy, wheat, milk and eggs, while the foods most commonly associated with food intolerance are dairy products, gluten-containing grains, eggs, citrus, beans, cabbage, and broccoli.
People who are allergic to certain foods know that even a small amount of the food can trigger an allergic response, and the response occurs every single time the person is exposed. The immune system reacts to the food by causing a release of IgE antibodies, which then cause a release of histamines and cytokines designed to attack the offending agent. Sometimes the entire body is affected by this response, and symptoms such as shortness of breath, hives, rash, or a sudden drop in blood pressure can occur. Food intolerance, in contrast, is more insidious, and may only occur if a large amount of the triggering food is eaten or if it is consumed frequently. Trigger foods will cause a rise in IgA, IgG, and IgM antibodies, causing the body to mount a delayed reaction which is characterized by mostly gastrointestinal symptoms, but which can cause other symptoms as well. Regardless of how the body reacts, the discomfort caused by poor digestion of the food can be enough to make the sufferer miserable.
Why does food intolerance occur? There are several explanations. One cause is enzyme deficiency. All enzymes are specific to one type of molecule, such as lipases which break down fats. Sometimes an individual can be deficient or completely lacking in a very specific enzyme which is required for digestion of a particular food. A common example is found in lactose intolerant individuals who do not have enough lactase to break down the milk sugars into their constituent parts for absorption in the intestine. The lactose cannot be broken down so it sits in the intestine, causing bloating, spasm and diarrhea when it sits in the digestive tract. Approximately 25% of the U.S. population suffers from lactose intolerance, which amounts to a lot of bloated bellies from the consumption of dairy products.
Another common type of food intolerance is to gluten. Gluten is highly resistant to digestion as it is, and in some individuals, the gluten cannot be broken down at all. The problem with gluten is that it is found in wheat, rye, barley, spelt and kamut, so avoiding gluten can be challenging to say the least. Approximately 1% of the U.S. population has celiac disease, while about 15% have gluten intolerance. Regardless of whether someone has celiac disease or gluten intolerance, ALL gluten must be avoided. However, if there are occasions in which completely avoiding gluten is impossible, digestive enzymes, specifically DPP-IV, can help individuals to digest meals containing gluten.
The list of substances which people may have an intolerance to doesn’t stop there. Some individuals cannot break down phenols, including salicylates, due to insufficient amounts of xylanase, and suffer from behavioral and learning disorders, including ADHD and autism. Some individuals are unable to break down disaccharides, an intolerance which is closely linked to irritable bowel disease, ulcerative colitis, Candida overgrowth and autism. As if all that wasn’t enough to worry about, there are chemical substances in foods which can spark intolerance, such as caffeine, aflatoxins in undercooked beans, amines in cheeses, artificial colorings and flavorings, preservatives, sweeteners, emulsifiers, nitrates, MSG, sulfites and salicylates. Salicylate intolerance can cause a susceptible individual to react to large amounts of salicylate-containing foods, particularly citrus fruits, teas, mint flavoring, berries and processed foods with flavor additives.
The digestive tract regularly takes the brunt of foods, medications, hormones, and chemical additives which can interfere with repair of the gut lining, causing increased intestinal permeability which is more commonly known as leaky gut. Leaky gut is characterized by the loosening of tight junctions between the cells which line the gut, thus allowing food molecules to pass through. These free floating food molecules are viewed by the immune system as a threat and will mount an immune response which manifests as the signs and symptoms of food intolerance. Think of all that food sitting in the gut, undigested. Pretty unnerving, huh?
How To Diagnose Food Intolerance
Diagnosing food intolerance can be extremely difficult since the signs and symptoms often mimic those of food allergy. One method of ferreting out which foods are involved in a food intolerance is keeping a food diary in which all foods eaten are recorded, along with symptoms and their time of onset. After suspected trigger foods have been determined, an exclusion diet can be implemented, in which those foods are removed from the diet for weeks to months. If the symptoms disappear during the exclusion phase, potential trigger foods can be re-introduced after this phase is completed in order to determine which substances are problematic. If the food intolerance is mild, a small amount of the food will not trigger symptoms, and in many cases may still be consumed, especially if enzymes are taken to aid in digestion. Essentially, many people can return to foods which they were mildly or even moderately intolerant of after avoiding it for a period of time.
Blood testing is considered the most reliable and comprehensive form of testing for food intolerance, but there are only a few laboratories which specialize in this type of test. ALCAT, Pinnertest.com and HEMOCODE Food Intolerance System are laboratories which offer food intolerance testing via serum analysis, with ALCAT considered the largest food intolerance testing group in the U.S. We offer ALCAT testing at the facility where I work (Urban Med) because it is considered the gold standard method for laboratory identification of non-IgG-mediated reactions to foods, chemicals, and environmental triggers. Some insurance plans will cover part or all of the expense of the testing, so it is always worth inquiring about insurance coverage, especially since these panels run from $675 to $850. Here’s the thing: though the testing is pricey, it is very specific. In addition, you get a detailed rotation diet for reintroduction of the foods which you have intolerance to after you have eliminated them for the recommended period (3 months for moderate intolerant foods, 6 months for severe intolerant foods).
For the past seven years, I have attended Olympia every year and have always enjoyed the whole experience. This year, however, I will not be attending since the main sports supplement company I work with, SWAT Fuel, will not have a presence there this time around. What is strange for me is that I am not bothered by the fact that I won’t be rubbing elbows with the fitness and bodybuilding icons I have come to know over the years. In some sense I am actually relieved that I will get a break this year, since I have been traveling more this year and could use a staycation.
For those of you who are wondering what event I will be at next, please come by and say hi at the Ferrigno Legacy on November 18th and 19th. I will be at the Flexpo, handing out samples of SWAT Fuel’s 9mm+P, which is a combination preworkout/endurance/thermogenic formula unlike anything else on the market!
For more information and tickets to the Ferrigno Legacy, please visit: https://www.ferrignolegacy.com/
While at Joe Wheatley’s Muscle Beach event on Labor Day, I had the pleasant surprise of seeing Jerry Frederick, whom I hadn’t seen in several years. He was sitting under the main canopy, with his ever-present breakaway reading glasses around his neck. I was just tickled to see him. For those of you in the bodybuilding world, you know that this man had worked for Ironman Magazine as one of their staff photographers for several decades. He has always had a strong passion for the world of competitive bodybuilding, and has gone out of his way to create content with athletes such as myself to use for features within the publication.
Jerry and I chatted for several minutes, and he was full of smiles and that sweet, gentle demeanor which makes him so loveable. I was saddened to hear that he has a neuromuscular disorder which could be Parkinson’s but which hasn’t been definitively diagnosed yet. Hopefully Jerry will be placed on a treatment plan which halts the progression of the disorder.
It still boggles my mind how many women are afraid to lift weights for fear that they will become huge and look like big, hulking men. How wrong they are! I will tell you right now that the answer to the question which serves as the title of this feature is, completely, unequivocally, NO. I often speak with female clients and patients of all ages who lament the fact that they cannot get the sculpted, lean bodies they covet, despite working out regularly. The problem stems from a couple of things:
1. They do not feed their bodies properly.
2. They do not lift weights, or if they do, they do not practice a lifting regimen that would bring about the physical changes they want.
I see ladies at the gym who will jump on a cardio machine for 20 to 30 minutes of easy cardio, then, if they had an indulgent night of eating or partying, they may extend their cardio sessions for a longer period of time at the same intensity. Before or after this, they may hit a few sets of uninspired exercises with light weights. These women barely break a sweat, yet they expect their bodies to transform. I’ve got news for you: that type of workout will ensure that you remain at the same level of fitness, and over time, you will see what little conditioning you may have plummet despite all your consistency.
It is a gross misconception that by lifting light weights and taking it easy at the gym, they will avoid getting bulky and will tone their muscles. Women are built differently than men, and simply do not have the testosterone levels necessary to build significant, bulky muscle mass. You need to challenge your body and create the muscle microtears necessary to build shapely, lean muscle. That means you need to lift heavier weights and break a sweat!
There are a multitude of benefits to lifting heavier weights, which I detail below.
CURVY, LEAN MUSCLE:
When you lift heavier weights, you will be rewarded with better muscle definition. Lifting very light weights will never challenge the muscles, so the muscles will never grow. I know I have scared some ladies, but think about a woman who has great muscle tone, but is still lean and feminine. A woman like that lifts weights that are heavy enough to spark muscle growth. If you follow suit, you will end up lean and more defined without being bulky.
GREATER OVERALL STRENGTH:
By lifting heavier weights, you will become stronger, and everyday activities will become easier to perform. You will also gain more structural stability from the greater muscle density which can protect your back and your joints.
IMPROVED BALANCE, COORDINATION AND POSTURE:
By improving muscle tone through weight training, you will enjoy better balance, greater overall coordination, and better posture.
IMPROVED BONE DENSITY:
Resistance training improves bone density by stressing the bones, thus triggering bone growth. This confers a protective effect against development of osteoporosis, especially in petite women.
When you work out with heavier weights, you create tears in the muscles worked. When you do this, you expend a greater number of calories in order to repair those microtears.
LOWER BODY FAT:
Your body fat stores, particularly in the midsection, will be better utilized when you perform weight training with heavier weights.
PREVENTION OF MAJOR DISEASES:
Challenging weight training with heavier weights will reduce your risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. It will also lower LDL cholesterol while raising HDL cholesterol. In addition, your risk of diabetes and breast cancer will drop significantly.
BETTER IMMUNE SYSTEM FUNCTION:
Moderate exercise reduces stress, and by doing so, enables your body to produce more white blood cells to combat infection. In addition, the shift in attention from the troubles of the day while you are weight training will reduce the stress which can suppress your immune system.
Vigorous resistance training boosts endorphin (natural opiates produced in the brain) levels, which create a sense of well-being. It will also stave off depression and produce a more restful sleep.
REDUCED PMS SYMPTOMS:
As stated previously, weight training is a terrific mood elevator and regulator. It also has a positive impact on hormone levels, increasing blood levels of estrogen, growth hormone, and testosterone. This counteracts the drop in estrogen and rise in progesterone which occurs right around the time before menstruation.
Original post can be found at:
Adequate protein intake is vital to anyone seeking to preserve muscle mass, especially since the aging process threatens the loss of all that hard-earned muscle through a process called sarcopenia. Sarcopenia causes a loss of muscle mass and strength in all individuals as they age, even in die-hard gym addicts.
The aging process hits us with a double whammy because 1) our dietary protein needs increase over time, and 2) our ability to synthesize new proteins plummets as a consequence of diminished levels of testosterone, human growth hormone, and insulin-like growth factor-1. In other words, it becomes tougher and tougher to meet the aging body’s protein needs, and the result is a loss of muscle.
One of the biggest challenges in meeting the protein demands of the body as we age is the physical challenge of consuming adequate protein. Protein powders are an excellent means of meeting protein requirements in a low bulk form since they are dissolved in liquid. Whey protein in particular is an excellent protein source for anyone over the age of 30, provided they have no issues with allergy or intolerance to whey.
Whey protein is rich in branched chain amino acids, especially leucine, which is considered the most important branched chain amino acid for protein synthesis, especially in older people. Branched chain amino acids are also responsible for proper dermal collagen protein synthesis, so they play a huge role in the condition of the skin, maintaining its suppleness and tone.
Another age-related benefit of supplementing one’s diet with whey protein is the presence of lactoferrin, which fortifies bone and prevents osteoporotic fractures by activating osteoblasts. Whey protein also contains high levels of cysteine, an amino acid which boosts glutathione production. Glutathione, an antioxidant with powerful anti-aging effects, steadily declines naturally as we age, and since its production relies on the presence of cysteine, the introduction of whey protein into a meal plan can guard against age related diseases.
Whey protein has profound effects on glucose metabolism as well. It reduces serum glucose levels in healthy individuals while impairing glucose tolerance in diabetic and obese individuals. When consumed consistently as part of a sensible high protein meal plan, the result is a reduction in body weight and an increase in fat oxidation. This is due to the release of leptin, cholecystokinin, and glucagon like-peptide 1, all of which create a feeling of satiety.
In summary, the benefits of whey protein are numerous and significant, especially for older individuals. If you have yet to incorporate whey protein into your meal plan and you have been lamenting the ravages of Father Time, do yourself a favor and add whey protein to your daily regimen.
References: Sousa G et al. Dietary whey protein lessens several risk factors for metabolic diseases: a review. Lipids Health Disc. 2012;11:67