Do Men Need More Protein Than Women?

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It’s often assumed that the nutritional requirements of men and women are almost identical. Women lose iron through menstrual bleeding and therefore may require somewhat more iron than men. Some might also argue that women need more calcium and/or vitamin D, since they have a higher risk of developing osteoporosis. Finally, women may require more of certain nutrients during pregnancy. But other than that, not much attention is given to gender-related differences in nutritional needs. This may be an oversight, as there is some evidence to suggest that men and women have different requirements when it comes to the intake of several important nutrients, one of which is protein.

Five pieces of evidence support the hypothesis that men require more protein per kilogram of body weight than women

Before we begin, let’s point out the obvious so there’s no confusion: Women need to consume fewer grams of protein per day than men to stay in nitrogen balance, because they tend to have a lower body weight. This is not controversial, and not what this article is about. Rather, the hypothesis of this article is that women require less protein per kilogram of body weight than men. In other words, even if you have a man and a woman who weigh exactly the same and have similar physical activity habits, the woman will still require somewhat less protein.

Five different pieces of evidence support this theory…

1. The evolutionary evidence

Throughout the evolution of our genus, Homo, males probably ate more protein than females (on average). Hunter-gatherer societies are characterized by a division of labour: the men go out hunting and scavenging, while the women dig for tubers, collect berries, and take care of children. This is not to say that the men never participate in the latter activities, or that it’s unheard of for forager women to go out on a hunt; but in general, it’s safe to say that there is a marked gender-related difference in terms of the type of labour performed. This is likely how it’s been for millions of years, and it’s still the way things are done today. The Hadza, for example, are known to adhere to this practice.

The men of these types of forager communities will certainly bring back meat – acquired during a hunt – to the camp, where the women and children await; however, they also tend to consume some of it by themselves. And even if they bring it back to camp, they may end up eating more of it than the women, particularly if the women have been out gathering and eating tubers and other plant foods all day.

It’s obviously difficult to say anything with certainty regarding exactly what our primal ancestors ate. That said, there is a lot we do know. My belief, based on everything I’ve read and seen, is that Paleolithic men probably ate more meat, and hence more protein, than women. Perhaps needless to say, these are average values. There would have been variations between different hunter-gatherer bands, depending on location, climate, etc.

What this means is that the diets that conditioned the genome of the male members of our genusHomo likely contained somewhat more protein than the diets that conditioned the genetic make-up of the female members of our genus. Hence, men may have evolved to require somewhat more protein than women.

2. Differences in body composition between men and women

Women have (on average) less lean body mass than men, in proportion to total body weight, and therefore require less protein to maintain a stable level of muscle mass. This point is a continuation from the last section, in the sense that the male members of our genus developed more muscular bodies than the females, in part because they were more physically active, engaging in activities (e.g., running) that require muscular strength.

In a Paleolithic environment, being physically fit was a definite advantage in terms of survival and reproduction, particularly for the males, who were involved in strenuous activities such as hunting. Hence, natural selection would have favored individuals that were strong and physically fit.

3. Gender-related differences in protein metabolism during and after exercise

There are differences between the genders in the metabolic response to exercise. Both male and female athletes require more protein than sedentary people; however, the increase in protein requirement may not be identical between the two sexes. A 2000 paper indicates that the maximal increase (above the level needed by a sedentary person) is approximately 100% for elite male athletes and approximately 50-60% for elite female athletes (1).

Furthermore, females show a smaller increase in lean body mass following acute creatine loading as compared to males (1), and may catabolize less protein than men consequent to endurance exercise (2). Also, perhaps needless to say, men build muscle at a faster rate than women and therefore require more protein to recover optimally from resistance training.

4. Nitrogen balance studies

Nitrogen balance studies indicate that women might have a lower protein requirement than men (3, 4, 5). For example, a 2014 meta-analysis of nitrogen balance studies found that “there was significant difference in the natural logarithm of protein requirement when comparing data from males and females, with resulting values of 108.85 mg N/kg·d and 97.51 mg N/kg·d, respectively” (4).

It should be noted that nitrogen balance studies may underestimate human protein requirements (5). Nevertheless, nitrogen balance analyses do give us some insights into what constitutes the minimal level of protein intake needed to avoid a deficiency. Also, they can be useful for determining differences in protein turnover between men and women.

Since men tend to carry more muscle mass than females, in proportion to total body weight, and have a somewhat different metabolic machinery, it’s not really a surprise that nitrogen balance studies suggest that men require slightly more protein per kilogram of body weight than women to avoid a negative nitrogen balance. The 2014 paper quoted above indicates that the difference isn’t huge, but it’s definitely there.

5. Observations and anecdotal reports

My experience and observations suggest that men crave and need more meat and protein than women. I’m sure others have observed the same. Observational studies and anecdotal reports are not the strongest form of evidence, but they certainly shouldn’t be dismissed as insignificant. I don’t think it’s just a cultural thing that we look upon a steak of meat as “man food”, whereas salads and other plant-based dishes are often associated with the opposite sex.

One of the things I’ve noticed when living with women is that they don’t seem to have the same craving for meat as men do. Whereas some men, including myself, seem to deteriorate, both physically and mentally, on a low-protein diet, women seem to have fewer problems with eating a mostly plant-based diet. This is not to say that men need huge amounts of meat every day to function optimally, or that women barely need any protein at all. All I’m saying is that men in general seem to have a stronger craving for meat than women do.

What does this mean for you?

In my mind, there’s no doubt that the vast majority of people will benefit from eating more protein than what the dietary guidelines, which are based on nitrogen balance studies, recommend. This goes for both men and women. Protein can help you lose weight, build lean muscle, curb undesirable food cravings, and combat chronic disease.

For optimal results, include moderate amounts of high-quality protein in every meal and derive at least 20% of your total calories from this macronutrient. The exact intake level that is perfect for you depends on several factors, such as your gender and physical activity level and the inflammatory status of your body. If you’re a female, you may require somewhat less protein than if you are a male.

If you are healthy and know how to listen to the signals your body is sending you, the best tip may simply be to listen to your body, and let your appetite guide you towards an appropriate intake of protein.

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Vitamin D3 supplementation helps women build muscle, avoid falls even after menopause

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The benefits of vitamin D supplementation for postmenopausal women have been widely debated. But a new study from Sao Paulo, Brazil, now documents that vitamin D supplementation can significantly increase muscle strength and reduce the loss of body muscle mass in women as late as 12+ years after menopause. The study results will be presented at the 2015 Annual Meeting of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS), which begins September 30 in Las Vegas.

Vitamin D deficiency is a common problem in postmenopausal women worldwide, creating muscle weakness and a greater tendency for falling. The double-blind, placebo-controlled trial was conducted over a nine-month period. Muscle mass was estimated by total-body DXA (dual energy X-ray absorptiometry), as well as by handgrip strength and through a chair-rising test.

At the end of the trial, the women receiving the supplements demonstrated a significant increase (+25.3%) in muscle strength, while those receiving the placebo actually lost an average of 6.8% of muscle mass. Women not receiving Vitamin D supplements were also nearly two times as likely to fall.

“We concluded that the supplementation of Vitamin D alone provided significant protection against the occurrence of sarcopenia, which is a degenerative loss of skeletal muscle, says Dr. L.M. Cangussu, one of the lead authors of the study from the Botucatu Medical School at Sao Paulo State University.

“While this study is unlikely to decide the debate over Vitamin D, it provides further evidence to support the use of vitamin D supplements by postmenopausal women in an effort to reduce frailty and an increased risk of falling,” says NAMS Executive Director Wulf H. Utian, MD, PhD, DSc(Med).

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Scientists challenge recommendation that men with more muscle need more protein

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Sports nutrition recommendations may undergo a significant shift after research from the University of Stirling has found individuals with more muscle mass do not need more protein after resistance exercise.

Health and exercise scientists from Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence found no difference in the muscle growth response to protein after a full body workout between larger and smaller participants.

Kevin Tipton, Professor of Sport, Health and Exercise Science in the Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport, said: “There is a widely-held assumption that larger athletes need more protein, with nutrition recommendations often given in direct relation to body mass.

“In our study, participants completed a bout of whole-body resistance exercise, where earlier studies — on which protein recommendations are based — examined the response to leg-only exercise. This difference suggests the amount of muscle worked in a single session has a bigger impact on the amount of protein needed afterwards, than the amount of muscle in the body.”

Experts also found participants’ muscles were able to grow and recover from exercise better after a higher dose of protein.

Consuming 40 grams of protein after exercise was more effective at stimulating muscle growth than 20 grams. This increase occurred irrespective of the size of the participants.

Professor Tipton continued: “Until now the consensus among leading sports nutritionists, including the American College of Sports Medicine and the British Nutrition Foundation, is that weightlifters do not need more than around 25 grams of protein after exercise to maximally stimulate the muscle’s ability to grow.

“In order for nutritionists to recommend the correct amount of protein we first need to consider specific demands of the workout, regardless of athletes’ size. This throws commonly held recommendations into question and suggests the amount of protein our muscles need after exercise may be dependent on the type of workout performed. These results are limited to younger, trained men so we may see different results with other groups, such as older individuals or females digesting different amounts of protein.”

Young, resistance-trained males were recruited for the study and divided into two groups, one with lower lean body mass of less than 65 kilograms and one with higher lean body mass of more than 70 kilograms.

Each volunteer participated in two trials where they consumed protein after resistance exercise. In one trial participants consumed 20 grams of whey protein and in the second, they consumed 40 grams of whey protein after exercise. Scientists measured the muscle’s ability to grow at an increased rate with metabolic tracers and muscle biopsies.

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Lighter weights just as effective as heavier weights to gain muscle, build strength

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New research from McMaster University is challenging traditional workout wisdom, suggesting that lifting lighter weights many times is as efficient as lifting heavy weights for fewer repetitions.

It is the latest in a series of studies that started in 2010, contradicting the decades-old message that the best way to build muscle is to lift heavy weights.

“Fatigue is the great equalizer here,” says Stuart Phillips, senior author on the study and professor in the Department of Kinesiology. “Lift to the point of exhaustion and it doesn’t matter whether the weights are heavy or light.”

Researchers recruited two groups of men for the study—all of them experienced weight lifters—who followed a 12-week, whole-body protocol. One group lifted lighter weights (up to 50 per cent of maximum strength) for sets ranging from 20 to 25 repetitions. The other group lifted heavier weights (up to 90 per cent of maximum strength) for eight to 12 repetitions. Both groups lifted to the point of failure.

Researchers analyzed muscle and blood samples and found gains in muscle mass and muscle fibre size, a key measure of strength, were virtually identical.

“At the point of fatigue, both groups would have been trying to maximally activate their muscle fibres to generate force,” says Phillips, who conducted the work with graduate students and co-authors Rob Morton and Sara Oikawa.

While researchers stress that elite athletes are unlikely to adopt this training regime, it is an effective way to get stronger, put on muscle and generally improve health.

“For the ‘mere mortal’ who wants to get stronger, we’ve shown that you can take a break from lifting heavy weights and not compromise any gains,” says Phillips. “It’s also a new choice which could appeal to the masses and get people to take up something they should be doing for their health.”

Another key finding was that none of the strength or muscle growth were related to testosterone or growth hormone, which many believe are responsible for such gains.

“It’s a complete falsehood that the short-lived rise in testosterone or growth hormone is a driver of muscle growth,” says Morton. “It’s just time to end that kind of thinking.”

Researchers suggest, however, that more work remains to be done in this area, including what underlying mechanisms are at work and in what populations does this sort of program work.

The findings are published online in the Journal of Applied Physiology.

More information: Robert W. Morton et al, Neither load nor systemic hormones determine resistance training-mediated hypertrophy or strength gains in resistance-trained young men, Journal of Applied Physiology (2016).DOI: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00154.2016

Journal reference: Journal of Applied Physiology search and more infowebsite

Provided by: McMaster University

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Sermorelin-GHRP 2, A Profound Effect on Body Composition with Renewed Energy!

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Call Boston Testosterone Partners to learn more about our FDA approved Second Generation HGH releasing peptide therapy.

We are the Nation’s foremost medical experts in HGH optimization through the use of prescription Sermorelin GHRP2 & GHRP6!  Importantly, we are also the only Men’s Hormone Clinic that requires our pharmacies to send out Laboratory Analysis Reports with every Rx to every patient.

Far superior technology than any other Sermorelin product available in the US.  See the difference with BTP.


Eliminate Cellulite

Increase Energy

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Increase Lean Muscle Mass

Reduce Body Fat

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Improve Cholesterol levels

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At Boston Testosterone, our state-of-the-art compounding pharmacy has focused their considerable knowledge on producing a product that delivers greater benefits to the patient at a price that is more affordable than HGH. This exciting, new product, SERMORELIN GHRP2, has proven to be much more effective and have a more profound effect on body composition.

When we’re young, our bodies produce a growth hormone releasing factor that triggers our pituitary gland to produce and release human growth hormone (hGH) in levels that are sufficient to sustain good health and vitality. However, as we age, growth hormone releasing factor declines causing a decrease in the production and secretion of pituitary hGH. This often results in a growth hormone deficiency that can erode health, diminish vigor and vitality, and lead to a host of undesirable symptoms.

A Natural, Effective, Affordable Alternative

Traditionally, adult growth hormone deficiency (AGHD) has been treated by substituting natural hGH with recombinant human growth hormone (rhGH). Now, our breakthrough product, SERMORELIN GHRP2 offers a natural, effective, and affordable alternative to recombinant human growth hormone for those suffering the symptoms of age-related growth hormone deficiency.

Developed in 1998 by Serono Laboratories, Inc., the makers of Saizen hGH, FDA approved Sermorelin is the most natural and effective treatment for AGHD. As a releasing agent, SERMORELIN GHRP2 triggers the pituitary gland to produce your own natural growth hormone. Your body regulates the level and frequency of hGH release, so you don’t experience the side effects associated with injected rhGH.

No Off Cycles! 

SERMORELIN GHRP2 requires no off-cycles. In fact, the longer you use it, the better your pituitary gland functions, more like it did when you were younger!!  In addition, SERMORELIN GHRP2 can be used to re-stimulate the natural production of human growth hormone, making it a very effective off-cycle medication for those on an injected rhGH therapy program.

At our pharmacy, we’ve combined the pituitary-supporting effects of Sermorelin with the stimulating action of GHRP-2 (Growth Hormone Releasing Peptide). GHRP-2 stimulates the pituitary gland which causes an increase in growth hormone release. In addition to amplifying your GH releasing Hormone, GHRP-2 also acts to suppress other hormones that inhibit your body’s natural growth hormone secretion. GHRP-2 also supports your central nervous system by protecting neurons, as well as, increasing strength similar to the way certain steroids in the dihydrotestosterone family do.

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Restore Your Health and Vitality!

Bottom line, restoring optimal growth hormone levels can sustain and promote youthful anatomy and physiology, thereby helping to restore the health and vitality often lost with age-related growth hormone deficiency. SERMORELIN GHRP2 not only provides the youth restoring benefits of hGH on body composition, it also helps maintain good pituitary health.

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The Best Stretches for Your Back After Sitting a Long Time

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Nearly 80% of people in the U.S. complain of back pain. Most cases are mild and unrelated to injuries such as herniated disks or arthritis, but they can still turn a desk job or road trip into an uncomfortable experience. One expert, Tony Delitto, a professor of physical therapy and dean of the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh, explains why touching your toes isn’t a good idea and what is the best way to get out of bed in the morning.

Disk Jockeying

Americans sit on average for 6 hours to 13 hours a day, depending on which study you read, says Dr. Delitto. Being sedentary for long periods has been linked to an increased risk for heart disease and other life-shortening illnesses. But one of the biggest problems arising from prolonged sitting is pressure between the disks of the spine, he says.

“When you’re standing, the small of your back has a natural curve,” says Dr. Delitto. “But when you’re sitting, the lower back hunches the other way. That will lead to a low-grade pain.”

Stretch to Success

There are ways to improve the quality of sitting time, including using a lumbar support or towel roll in your car seat and adjusting your workstation so the mouse and computer force you to sit with better posture. Still, standing up and stretching is by far the best way to reduce low-back pain, Dr. Delitto says. Every hour or two, he says, everyone should stand up and put their hands on their hips, bend backward and repeat that five times, holding the bending position for three seconds each time.

“It gets your spine in the most extended posture instead of being flexed,” he says. “We find it helps relieve stiffness, but it also helps alleviate some of that intradiscal pressure.” He cautions that this isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, since elderly people who suffer from stenosis (a narrowing of the spinal column) shouldn’t bend backward at all. “If you have stenosis, you’d feel pain, numbness or tingling below the knee right away.”

Another helpful move is to raise the hands above the head, clasping one hand to the opposite wrist and stretching up, he says. “That realigns the spine beautifully.”

Cracking one’s back has never been shown to relieve or increase back pain, says Dr. Delitto. “I don’t have an ounce of good evidence to prove my theory, but I don’t think that this sort of self-adjustment is good for people to do,” he says. And, he says, the more people crack their backs, the more they seem to need to do it.

Another movement whose benefit isn’t proven involves lying on your back, pulling up the knees and twisting side to side. “There is no literature that I know of that says that twisting is any more helpful than simply bending backward while standing,” Dr. Delitto says.

He also doesn’t recommend bending forward and touching your toes. “Some people have really tight hamstrings, and they may compensate by bending at the back, which can overstretch it.”

For long drives, Dr. Delitto tells people to park as far from the rest area as possible so they’re forced to walk a little bit and get the back into proper posture. He also suggests pulling the car over to do the backbend stretch every hour.

At work, Dr. Delitto says he uses a bathroom two floors up so he has to walk farther. “I also wear one of those activity monitors that buzzes every 45 minutes and tells me to move,” he admits, since even a back specialist can get into bad sitting habits.

Good Morning

Dr. Delitto gives nearly every patient a morning ritual called the hand-heel rocking stretch. Before climbing out of bed, people should get onto all fours and rock back and forth four or five times to get into the child’s pose, a yoga position in which the knees are tucked on either side of the chest while the shins rest on the ground, he says. “I’m not sure if this ritual is preventative, but it does help to release morning stiffness and low-grade pain considerably.”

Dr. Delitto believes nearly everyone should take yoga or Pilates, but he recognizes this may be impractical at times. “There just aren’t a lot of people that will go into warrior pose at work,” he says. Instead, people should just stand up and stretch backward, which should bring immediate relief. “It’s pretty simple to do, and it will improve your posture and the feeling in your back for the remaining 59 minutes of the hour,” he says.

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The Appearance of Physical Strength May Be the Look of Leadership

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Psychologists found that stronger-looking men were rated as having more ability to lead

In a further sign that humans aren’t so different from our simian forebears, it seems that what really makes a man look like a leader is…muscles.

That is the implication of a recent paper that outlines several experiments exploring the relationship between perceptions of physical strength and leadership abilities. The research suggests that both men and women associate the appearance of physical strength with leadership qualities and higher status, at least in men.

The experiments—conducted by psychologists at the Berkeley and Santa Barbara campuses of the University of California, the University of Portland and Oklahoma State—showed a group of volunteers images of young men and women supposedly hired by a new consulting firm. In the pictures, the young people, who had previously been tested and scored for upper-body strength, wore tank tops that showed off their physiques.

When shown sets of men, the volunteers consistently rated the ones with higher strength scores as having more leadership ability, evidently inferring strength from buff physiques. But when shown sets of women, there was no correlation between perceived strength and leadership qualities. Greater height, on the other hand, made both men and women seem more like leaders (and smarter too), although the leadership effect of height wasn’t as great as that of strength.

A key caveat: If a man looked to the raters as if he were likely to use his strength “in forceful pursuit of self-interest”—if he somehow looked like a bully—it detracted from his leadership aura.


The researchers didn’t ask the raters about something as vague as “leadership skills.” Instead, they hypothesized that people see “physical formidability” as a measure of the ability to perform specific leadership roles. Sure enough, the experiments revealed that the more muscular men were rated as more likely to enforce rules and norms within a group and to represent that group effectively in encounters with other groups.

“Strong men are seen as deserving of high status because of their ability to generate valuable leadership benefits,” says Aaron W. Lukaszewski, an Oklahoma State psychology professor who worked on the study. But they are only seen this way if they benefit the group, he adds: “Physically strong men who are perceived as aggressively self-interested are actually granted less status than their gentler counterparts.”

To make sure that the findings weren’t just an effect of facial attractiveness or a lantern jaw, the psychologists ran the experiment again, with pictures showing the faces of weaker men attached to stronger bodies and vice versa. The switch basically had no effect; the leadership ratings of the strong bodies were about the same as they had been before, despite the addition of the weaker men’s faces, suggesting that the key factor was strength and not physiognomy.

“The Role of Physical Formidability in Human Social Status Allocation,” Aaron W. Lukaszewski, Zachary L. Simmons, Cameron Anderson and James R. Roney, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Dec. 14

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Is It Important to Consume Protein Right After Working Out?

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You’ve all heard (or received) the advice that you must eat within a half hour of working out or your muscles will shrivel up and die #byegainz. Fearing the worst, you dutifully sprint from the gym floor to your protein shake and chug it down before hitting the shower. You let out a satisfied sigh of relief and smile knowing you beat the clock and conquered that pesky little anabolic window.

Sound familiar? I laugh because I can remember myself in a similar situation back when I first started lifting. Luckily, we don’t have to be quite as anal with our post-workout nutrient timing. It’s important, sure, but you’ve got more than a half hour to drink your protein shake (or whatever else you plan on having for your post-workout meal).

What’s the anabolic “window of opportunity”?

For those of you not familiar with the “anabolic window”, it’s defined as a period of time after working out when protein synthesis (the process of building muscle) is at its peak, thus making nutrient timing more important than other periods throughout the day.

Those who believe they must down a protein shake immediately after working out are attempting to rebuild damaged muscle tissue & restore depleted glycogen levels, thus preventing the body from going into a catabolic state.

But, is it really that important to have protein and carbohydrates immediately following your training session?

To answer that I’d like to show you some of the latest research from Alan Aragon and Brad Schoenfeld- two leading experts in the world of bodybuilding nutrition.

Alan and Brad conducted a thorough meta-analysis study looking at what all published research had concluded regarding post-workout nutrient timing and benefits. What they found may surprise you.

According to Alan Aragon & Brad Schoenfeld, this anabolic window is more like four to six hours, not thirty minutes (1).

While it doesn’t hurt to eat immediately following a workout, doing so isn’t necessary.

What’s most important when it comes to post-workout nutrient timing?

One factor that can make timing more important is the timing of your pre-workout meal. If you plan on working out in a fasted state or if it has been a long time since your last meal, consuming an immediate post-workout meal becomes more beneficial.

What’s more important though is not the exact amount of carbs and protein consumed post-workout but your overall consumption throughout the day. This is good news from a convenience perspective and especially for those who are used to toting around six Tupperware filled with their meals for the day.

What’s the key takeaway?

Unless you’re an elite endurance athlete, don’t feel like you need to rush home and down a shake or meal immediately following your workout. Focus on consuming an adequate amount of protein throughout the day and your muscle-building efforts won’t be thwarted.

Of course, there is nothing bad about eating immediately after your training session (it’s just not necessary).

Bottom line – do whatever is more convenient for you.

Personally, I usually eat 1-2 hours after working out, but this is just personal preference. Consume your pre and post-workout meals within 4-6 hours of each other and you’ll be fine (2).

Now go build those sexy muscles.

This article originally appeared on &

1. Aragon, Alan Albert, and Brad Jon Schoenfeld. “Nutrient Timing Revisited: Is There a Post-exercise Anabolic Window?” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. BioMed Central, 29 Jan. 2013. Web. 26 Feb. 2016.
2. Ivy, John L., and Brad J. Schoenfeld. “The Timing of Postexercise Protein Ingestion Is/Is Not Important.” Strength and Conditioning Journal 36.6 (2014): 51-55. NSCA. Web.

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Mature Muscle?

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A few weeks ago we tackled the importance of lean muscle mass in aging and its typical correlation with organ reserve. Conventional wisdom tells us that muscle is easiest to develop when you are young, that we tend to lose muscle as we age, and that it becomes more difficult to put on muscle as we grow older. We thought we’d investigate and give you a clearer picture of what the research has to say.

Just to review, we’re talking skeletal muscle here, which includes two types of fibers. Type I fibers are associated with endurance training, while type II fibers are associated with weight training. It’s true that adults do tend to lose muscle mass during typical aging (typical being the operative word here), and it’s the type II fibers that are depleted. Type I fibers are generally preserved. But the type II fibers, research is finding, play a crucial role in regulating the body’s metabolism. These guys help direct the activities of tissues in other systems of the body. Given their influential roles, maintaining type II fibers (i.e. muscle mass) as we age can reduce the risk for diabetes and obesity.

The fact is, resistance training can allow anyone to gain muscle mass at any age, and older adults, in most respects, can indeed keep up with their younger counterparts.

Let’s take a closer look.

A recent study examined the theory that mitochondrial dysfunction contributes to the loss of muscle mass as we age. The study compared older adult subjects’ strength levels and “gene expression profiles” before and after six months of weight training. Their tissue samples and strength levels were also compared with those of young adult subjects. Ready for some good news? Results showed that the weight training had allowed the older subjects to not only dramatically increase their strength but to reverse the aging process itself. Their genetic fingerprints had been “reversed to levels similar to those seen in the younger adults.” Granted, the older adults didn’t achieve the same strength levels as those of the younger set within the six month period. This result, however, isn’t to be taken as an absolute lesson in limitation.

An Ohio University study found that older subjects gained strength “at the same rate as untrained young men.” The older men didn’t achieve the same “heft,” but researchers noted that the difference in muscle size could at least partly be attributed to the “smaller, less developed” state of their muscle tissue upon beginning the study. Still, the older subjects experienced a 30-40 % growth in muscle and up to a 100% stamina increase at the end of 16 weeks.

With all this said, our upper years do take their toll on muscle mass. Research out the University of Minnesota (logically) shows that muscles with a higher proportion of type II fibers are impacted by age more than those muscles with a more balanced proportion of type I and type II fibers. While we’re able to rebuild muscle mass as older adults, we may not be able to rebuild it to the same degree as younger adults do. It can also take longer to recover between weight training sessions, which means our goals might take us longer than they would’ve a couple decades earlier. The University of Minnesota’s research, however, suggests that we have the ability to build muscle strengths into our nineties.

The lesson here? Building muscle is absolutely possible, but the best scenario is to both build and maintain muscle mass throughout your life.

Here are a few extra tips for doing just that.

Exercise: Include regular weight training in your fitness routine, and avoid the sabotages of chronic cardio. Check out the Dear Mark post this week for suggestions on a lifting and recovery routine as well as other activities to round out your work out program.

Nutrition: Grains and sugars not only cause inflammation, which perpetually taxes your organs, they throw off your hormone levels. (You definitely want to keep your endocrine system running in top shape.)

Obviously, protein is key. In our Pondering Protein post a few weeks ago, we mentioned the University of Texas at Galveston study that found older adults have the same capacity as their younger counterparts for converting protein-rich food into muscle. Earlier research, including a study out of the University of Nottingham, found that older adults had diminished ability to recognize and process amino acids. Their study, however, used protein drinks rather than actual food, which the Galveston study used. The researchers at Nottingham had suggested older adults eat a protein rich snack or meal directly following a weight training session, since they believed the body was better able to process protein post-workout.

We think there’s good advice to be taken from both studies. Older adults should certainly eat a protein-rich diet with natural protein food sources. In addition, it’s not a bad idea to go for that protein-rich snack after your weight workout. While we’re on the subject of protein, omega-3s from fish oil can enhance the conversion process of food protein to muscle protein. Be sure to include a good fish oil supplement in your diet.

Sleep: A good amount of shut-eye is imperative for the release of HGH (human growth hormone), which aids the development of muscle mass.

Other suggestions: Beyond the suggestions above, avoid toxins/additives/livestock hormones as much as possible. Endocrine disruption can lower testosterone levels and wreak other havoc in the body. Choose organic when you can and take other protective measures when you can’t, such as washing veggies and fruits well and looking for dairy and meats from livestock raised without hormones. Although we appreciate dietary fat around here, we’re not fans of the toxins found in meat and dairy fat. Of particular concern are dioxins, which can remain in the system for decades. (The kicker: dioxins are even found in organics as a result of acid rain on grass and feed grains.)

In short, those of us in the more “seasoned” crowd have all kinds of opportunity (and few excuses) to not give those youngsters at the gym a run for their money.


For more information and appointments, please contact Clinic Director Charlie Blaisdell at

BTP/CORE New England
Clinic: 781-269-5953

Scientists Explain Why Interval Training Works

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If you really want a workout, try interval training. Nearly every gym now offers what’s called high intensity interval training, or HIIT; sessions involve pushing yourself to nearly your peak heart rate for anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes, then cooling down for a few minutes with a less intense exercise before picking up the pace again and repeating for a few cycles. Devotees claim it’s the best way to exercise, and if you’re not doing some form of HIIT, you’re wasting your time.

The premise seems too good to be true: that working out in short, intense bursts can be just as good for your heart and muscles as longer endurance regimens. But scientists say it is true, and that they may have an explanation for why it’s possible.

Hakan Westerblad, a professor of physiology and pharmacology from the Karolinska Institute, and his colleagues took muscle samples from a group of volunteers after they alternated between pedaling a stationary bike for 30 seconds at top intensity and resting for three minutes six times. Their muscle cells revealed the secret to high intensity workouts.

When stressed by the extreme exercise, certain chemical channels in the muscle cells that regulate calcium changes in the cells broke down. Calcium is critical for cell signaling, and the extreme demands triggered by the exercise prompt the cell to adjust its energy production and become more efficient. “What we found was a breakdown of these channels that was totally unexpected,” says Westerblad. “We have never seen anything similar. We saw a large production of free radicals, and these free radicals were specifically hitting the calcium channels. Normal training also increases the amount of free radicals, but not by as much as interval training.”

The change in the channels triggered by the free radicals, he says, is the muscle cells’ way of detecting and coping with the extreme duress caused by the high intensity exercise. “During any physical training, the cell senses, ‘I have a problem here,’” says Westerblad. “So to be better safe than sorry, they adapt so the next time they experience the intense exercise, the problem is lessened.”

But that only works to a point. Elite athletes’ bodies are so well adapted to strenuous and intense training that they start to tolerate the ‘trauma’ of HIIT, and their muscle cells don’t react as dramatically since they don’t see the intense activity as a reason to rev up their energy needs.

Yet for recreational athletes, like the ones Westerblad tested in his lab, the effect can be pretty significant. He found that a single session of HIIT triggered molecular changes in muscle cells that remained detectable 24 hours later in a muscle biopsy. The muscle cells are essentially changing in order to prepare themselves for further hits of HIIT, so they can remember how much energy they need and how quickly they need to produce this fuel in order to sustain themselves through the bouts of intense activity. So if you’re not a fan of long workouts, interval training may be a good way to work your muscles without the time commitment.


For for more information on our therapies please contact Clinic Director Charlie Blaisdell at

BTP/CORE New England/ Core Medical Group
920 Washington Street
Norwood, MA 02062
Clinic: 781-269-5953

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