We’ve been hearing about protein a lot these days. It seems like you can’t walk down any grocery aisle without seeing a product boasting the benefits of added protein from cereal to granola bars, and even cookies! But what about this one protein in particular — Collagen. You ever heard of it? Let’s learn more!
What is collagen?
Collagen is a compound made up of long chains of amino acids, just like all other proteins. It sounds super science-y, but if you’ve ever had jello salad at your Grandma’s Thanksgiving table, that’s basically the best way to understand collagen. Gelatin, the main ingredient in jello, forms from cooking and drying collagen. You can imagine that it takes on a similar role in our bodies as it does jello, to provide, our skin especially, with some plumpness and shine.
Collagen is the most common of the body’s proteins. It’s found in our body’s connective tissues, everywhere from our muscles, skin and bones to our digestive tracts and beyond. Sounds important. Now, remember when I said that collagen is composed of long chains of amino acids? Well, these amino acids are essential and not produced IN the body and therefore have to be consumed from OUTSIDE the body through our diet. Fortunately, we house quite an abundant amount of collagen in the skin, but as we age we tend to lose collagen resulting in such less desirable things like wrinkles, dry skin, and brittle hair or nails. So if you’re really starting to feel like your face is showing your age, consider your diet and how it’s contributing (or not) to collagen production. Keep reading for tips on how to get more collagen in your diet.
What does it do?
Besides just giving us radiant skin and silky smooth hair, hydrolyzed collagen (the broken down and more easily digestible form) has some serious health perks, like acting as an anti-inflammatory, aiding in digestion, or possibly even reducing joint pain — just to name a few. So how do you take advantage of these health benefits? It’s all about knowing what lifestyle choices help you versus hurt you. Things like age, too much sun, elevated weight, and drugs or alcohol actually suppress your body’s natural collagen production. On the other hand, eating a healthy, balanced diet, staying hydrated and limiting stress will only increase collagen production.
Where can you find it?
When it comes to age there’s nothing we can do to combat that, that’s why having a handle on the things we can control is so important. Consuming a diet rich in the collagen building blocks is a must, but the way you go about it is up to you. The most simple way to naturally boost your collagen is to consume foods high in vitamin C and antioxidants such as brightly colored fruits and vegetables and leafy greens. Another dietary approach is to make your own homemade bone broth — it’s generally inexpensive while providing a good source of collagen. Finally, supplemental collagen is always an option, but according to Dr. Mark Moyad, Director of Preventative and Alternative Medicine at the University of Michigan, the true health benefits of collagen supplements are preliminary and still being researched. That said, powdered collagen supplements can be easily added to smoothies or soups to potentially give you an extra boost. When searching for collagen supplements, organic and grass-fed animals are recommended.
What lifestyle choices do you currently make in your life that support collagen production? What could you do better? We’d love to hear from you!
- How to Boost Collagen for Better Skin — Dr. Mercola
- You Asked: Should I Eat Collagen Powder? — Time Health
- Effect of Orally Administered Collagen Peptides from Bovine Bone on Skin Aging in Chronologically Aged Mice – Nutrients
Are Pre-Workout Supplements a Must-Have or Just a Fitness Fad?
You may think pre-workout is a relatively new trend, but you’d be surprised to find out athletes have been using supplements in some way, shape or form to enhance their workouts throughout history. While pre-workout has been popularized by career athletes, it can be a beneficial addition into your workout routine by kickstarting your energy levels. Don’t believe us? Read on and find out more about how pre-workout works and remember to talk to your physician before using dietary supplements.
What Is Pre-Workout?
Pre-workout is defined as any meal, snack or supplement consumed before working out to help energize and maximize your efforts. However, the pre-workout we’re dishing on is the supplemental variety. Pre-workout supplements are meant to enhance your workouts, but how do they work? For starters, many pre-workout options are formulated with caffeine. Caffeine, a stimulant, energizes by activating beta-endorphins in order to increase your alertness and your energy. That burst of energy comes in handy during a strenuous workout. While caffeine is used in some pre-workout varieties—it’s not found in all of them. If you’re sensitive to caffeine, there are plenty of other options. Some brands use an additive called beta-alanine which helps slow down muscle fatigue so you can push harder, longer during your workout. Some additional popular ingredients found in pre-workout are creatine, taurine and L-arginine.
When Should I Use Pre-Workout?
The first thing you need to do if you’re interested in incorporating a pre-workout into your fitness journey is speak with your physician. A doctor should always be consulted before using dietary supplements and pre-workout supplements are no different! When you get the all-clear to use pre-workout, plan on taking it roughly 30 minutes prior to your workout. The pre-workout needs enough time to digest into your system and help energize your exercise sesh.
How Do I Know If Pre-Workout Is Working?
In short, you’ll know. That sudden burst of energy? It’s the pre-workout! You’ll also notice that your body isn’t as fatigued as it typically might be during your workout.
Is Pre-Workout Worth the Hype?
It’s a common question people ask when considering using pre-workouts, with good reason. With pre-workout, there’s often more caffeine in the formula than recommended for daily consumption. Some pre-workout supplements contain as much caffeine as the equivalent to FOUR cups of coffee in just one serving and many others contain caffeine levels that could present health problems.
The occasional use of pre-workout can help with performance inside the gym. If you find yourself needing a boost or need to work out later or earlier than usual—it could be worth trying. However, it’s important to ask yourself why you’re feeling fatigued or looking for a boost. Do you need more sleep? Are you drinking enough water throughout the day? Are there more natural ways to boost your energy? Pre-workout can be a great way to super-charge your time in the gym, but they aren’t your best bet for everyday use.
Do you use pre-workout? Sound off in the comments and tell us your experience!
4 Outstanding Reasons–and Recipes–to Eat More Blueberries
Heads up: It’s peak blueberry season. And no doubt you’ve heard that blueberries are totally beneficial super foods with almost magical health benefits. Well, it’s true. They’re considered “brain food,” with the ability to fight toxic proteins, and can harness their crazy-good antioxidants to fight harmful molecules and potential infections (so long, UTIs!). With all these benefits, and the United States’ role as the world’s largest supplier, there’s an entire month— July—dedicated to their greatness. Do you need more reasons to eat them? If so, here goes. Skip to the end for blueberry recipes, if you’re already convinced.
1. Digestive health. Blueberries have high fiber content. Enough said.
2. Weight loss support. That fiber also increases your general sense of fullness, and extends the sensation between meals, reducing overall appetite.
3. Better bone health. Bone structure, strength, and elasticity are all helped by the great combo of iron, zinc, vitamin K, magnesium, calcium, phosphorous, and manganese found in blueberries.
4. Smoother skin. Say so long to some extra wrinkles thanks to the vitamin C that helps collagen improve overall skin texture, and acts as an antioxidant to help prevent skin damage from the sun and pollution.
5. Lower blood pressure. Blueberries contain potassium, calcium, and magnesium, which naturally decrease blood pressure. They do not include sodium, the concerning element connected to a high BP.
Here are five tasty ways to add more blueberries into your diet:
Toss Them in Fresh
A handful can be added to a salad, smoothie, oatmeal, or any number of other meals that could use a boost.
Breakfast: Vanilla Blueberry Yogurt Parfait
Take an idea from above for your first meal of the day, or prepare these delicious single-serving breakfasts.
Baked Goods: Lemon Blueberry Yogurt Muffins
Lemon and blueberries are both beneficial for your health. Enjoy the combo in this gluten-free side.
Snacks: Frozen Red, White & Blue Yogurt Bites
Take a break from Fourth of July activities with these colorful, cool morsels.
Dessert: Blueberry Mini Tarts
Enjoy a healthier dessert, and limit your sweets consumed— unless you pop too many!
Note: Beware of food that’s blueberry-flavored. It often doesn’t include actual blueberries. We want the real deal! And remember to hold off on washing the “dusty” fruit until you’re ready to eat them (to make them longer-lasting), and watch their juice; blueberries are a natural dye.
Sources: Medical News Today, Health.com and WebMD
Reasons Why You’re Gaining Weight While Working Out Explained
Let us set the scene: you’ve been working really hard at the gym and trying your best to stick to a healthy diet but when you step on the scale you see a higher number than you expected. Don’t panic! Lots of people have experienced gaining weight while working out, it’s actually pretty common and you’re not alone. There are lots of factors to consider when weight loss is concerned so before you let yourself get discouraged—check out five reasons you may not be seeing the weight loss you planned for.
When you first start exercising your body will naturally go through many changes in the first few months. New exercises can lead to inflammation or small tears in your muscle fibers as you build muscle mass. Your body will respond to this inflammation by temporarily retaining water. Let your body heal! Drink plenty of water, eat well and get as much sleep as you can. As a rule of thumb, you should be drinking half your body weight in ounces of water. For example, if you weigh 140 pounds, you should be drinking no less than 70 ounces of water a day.
Your body provides energy to your muscles by converting glycogen, or sugar, into glucose. When you begin exercising regularly your body stores more glycogen to fuel the extra movement. Glycogen has to bind with water in order fuel your muscles. As exercise becomes more routine over time, your muscles will become more efficient and need less glycogen to maintain your energy. As that happens, your muscles will retain less water and you will see that added weight come off!
In order to shed the pounds, you must have a caloric deficit. It can be difficult to keep track of everything you eat but try logging your meals once a week to check in on how much you’re actuallyeating (and drinking!). If you’re taking in more calories than you are working off—you won’t see the weight loss you are working towards. However, don’t try and shave off too many calories from your diet, that won’t help either and it’s not sustainable or healthy. Make small adjustments. Eat fewer processed foods and more whole foods (think foods on the outer walls of the grocery store) to round out your diet.
Weight loss is not a linear process and you aren’t going to see immediate results—no matter how much work you put in. If you didn’t gain 30 pounds overnight, you can’t expect to lose it that quickly either. Our bodies are incredible machines and when you introduce something new: exercise or dietary changes, our bodies need to recalibrate and make adjustments. Depending on the person, it can take weeks and even months for your body to respond. Be patient.
Muscle mass weighs more than fat mass and you will undoubtedly gain weight from lean muscle gains. While your clothes may feel looser, the scale may tell you otherwise. This is a win! You’re working a well-rounded program that includes both strength and conditioning and now you’re reaping the reward. And, for the record, I’ve been a trainer for almost 15 years, and I’ve never owned a scale. It doesn’t tell your story but signals like inches down, a sense of wellness, and feeling stronger than you were before are what you should use to track progress moving forward.
Try not to get too discouraged by what the number on the scale says. What’s really important is making healthy happen and investing in your health. How much you weigh is not nearly as critical as how great you feel in and outside of the gym.
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