Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Women’s Fitness: Should It Change with Age?

Inline_Woman_FitnessGenerally speaking, the basic Primal Blueprint for fitness and physical activity applies equally to men and women of all ages. Lifting heavy things works in everyone. Sprinting is a fantastic way—for anyone who’s able—to compress workouts and improve training efficiency. Improving one’s aerobic capacity through easy cardio doesn’t discriminate between the sexes. And everyone should walk, hike, garden, and perform as much low level physical activity as possible. These basic foundations—the 30,000 foot view of fitness—don’t really change across age or sex.

But the details do, especially for women.

You see, women are in a unique position. As men age, the hormonal environment degenerates. They still make the same basic hormones in the same proportions, only the absolute numbers decline. As women age, the hormonal environment shifts dramatically. The menopausal ovaries no longer produce enough follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) to regulate estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone, causing the latter hormones to fluctuate in novel ways.

What kind of hormonal changes and physiological developments occur in the aging woman that might affect how best to train?

  1. Atrophied muscle and reduced strength. As estrogen drops, so does muscle function.
  2. More of a “male” body fat distribution. Postmenopausal women tend to gain more belly fat.
  3. Reduced bone mass. The menopausal hormonal environment leads to a reduction in vitamin D synthesis and absorption, lower calcium levels, and reduced bone mass.
  4. Vascular changes. After menopause, arteries become stiffer. Hypertension becomes more likely.
  5. Exercise intolerance. This one’s a real bummer. You know you need to exercise more than ever to stave off some of the side effects of aging, but your aging hormonal environment is making exercise harder to tolerate.

What takeaways are there? How can you counter or mitigate some of these effects?

Exercise Can Improve Body Comp

Exercise becomes more effective at improving body composition after menopause than before. This may be a “benefit” of the more male body fat distribution patterns. After all, men’s body comp tends to respond more quickly to training than women’s.

Get Started Right Away

If you don’t have much experience with exercise, do it immediately. Don’t wait for the negative effects to accrue. Even if you’ve lived a charmed life where not exercising didn’t really impact your ability to function, that could very well change. The earlier into menopause you start training, the better. The negative changes to exercise tolerance, bone density, and muscle function take awhile to develop, and during the early post-menopause period, your ability to train and reap the benefits of that training is pretty similar to your pre-menopause ability.

Just Do Something

The perimenopausal and early menopausal years can be rough going for many women. You just feel off. You’re not sleeping well. Things are, well, different, and you don’t necessarily have a lot of support to make sense of it or adjust to it. Even though research shows that a minimal amount of exercise can have a big effect on weight gain and disease risk after menopause, sleeplessness or fatigue might be telling you not to do it. Well, that’s not going to cut it. Overcome that. There’s no easy way to say this. No tricks. Just make the decision to exercise, do so regularly for at least a couple weeks, and your exercise tolerance will go up, physical activity will be intrinsically rewarding, and everything will start to improve.

Make Sure You Eat Enough Meat, Dairy, and Other Animal Foods

Protein utilization efficiency drops the older you get, so the older you are the more protein you need to get the job done. Even studies that purport to show negative effects from meat consumption find that older adults benefit from increasing meat. Total protein and dairy protein intake also predict muscle mass and bone mass in postmenopausal women. And meat isn’t just about the protein. It’s also about the micronutrients, like iron, copper (found in organ meats), zinc (high in red meat), carnitine (high in red meat), and phosphatidylserine (high in egg yolks, present in Primal Calm)—all of which have been found to improve women’s physical performance when packaged in a convenient supplement.

Go Into Middle Age As Fit As Possible

Good fitness—aerobic capacity, muscle mass, physical strength, mobility—is a reserve against aging-related degeneration. The fitter you are when menopause hits, the more manageable the transition and the slower that degeneration will be over the subsequent decades.

Intensity Is Important

If anything, it’s more critical for the older woman to push the intensity than anyone else. She often has the most to lose in muscle mass and bone strength. Again and again, across study after study in menopausal women, “low-intensity” doesn’t work as well as higher-intensity training. It still works, mind you. But the greater intensity stuff gives extra benefits.

For instance, in a study comparing a low-intensity aerobic/resistance program to a higher-intensity aerobic/resistance program, both improved muscle strength and walking ability, but only the higher-intensity program improved dynamic balance—a major risk factor for falls.

Intensity Is Relative

By “high-intensity,” I’m not suggesting that a 62 year-old woman do high-rep bodyweight front squats or try to do a double bodyweight deadlift (unless she knows what she’s doing), just that she push the envelope ever so slightly. If your inclination is to do rows with 20 pound dumbbells, consider 25 pounders. If air squats are easy, try them with a weight vest. Sprinting doesn’t have to take place on a track; it can happen in a pool, on a tough hike, or on the bike. Things should be tough but doable.

Volume Should Be Moderate

Exercise has a way of brute forcing glucose tolerance by increasing insulin sensitivity and glucose uptake by muscles, so you’ll be better off than the women who don’t exercise at all, but there’s still a limit because menopause tends to inhibit carbohydrate metabolism and glucose tolerance. High volumes of training, especially if you’re heeding the previous advice to increase the intensity, demand a level of carbohydrate intake that your body probably isn’t prepared to handle.

Lift Heavy Things Twice a Week

You could do more, but I don’t think it’s necessary. Lifting (relatively) heavy weights provides the necessary stimulus to maintain bone density and muscle strength. Movements that engage the whole body, like deadlifts and farmer carries, will be most effective and efficient. These exercises replicate real world movements, like picking up grandkids or carrying grocery bags, that you need to perform. If you’re uncomfortable with these movements, find a good trainer.

Walk a Ton

Walking is magic for everyone, but especially post-menopausal women, for whom a three-day-a-week walking habit improves resistance to heart failure. Join a walking group. Better yet, start one in your circle of friends. Be the example, the leader. No one else will. And set a brisk pace when you do walk. The brisker, the better.

Always Choose the Stairs

Stair climbing itself is a great form of exercise for post-menopausal women, improving leg strength and endothelial function. As a mindset, “taking the stairs” is even more valuable. It’s doing the hard thing. It’s parking in the far lot and walking a quarter mile. It’s carrying your own bags. It’s a mindset to embody: “I’m strong enough, capable enough, and tough enough to take the stairs while people half my age use the elevator to go one floor.”

Compare Yourself To Who You Were Two Weeks Ago, Not the 20-Year-Olds At the Gym

The trend is everything. If you’re getting better, that’s what matters. You are not other people. We all have different situations, capacities, genetic histories, and hormonal profiles. Focus on beating your former self, even if only by a couple pounds lifted or seconds shaved from a sprint time—and nothing else.

Look Into Hormone Replacement Therapy

Since estrogen plays such a key role in women’s physiological function, many studies find exercise to be more beneficial in postmenopausal women who take HRT than in postmenopausal women who do not. It’s a highly personal choice, but I’ll have more on this topic in the future.

Aging women aren’t a different species. Menopause doesn’t really change how you should train in a fundamental way. There aren’t any magical menopause-specific exercises. It just makes certain types of training—and exercise in general—that much more important for health and overall function. You could “get away” with not training much before (not really, but you can fool yourself). Now you can’t. Now you have to exercise and move on a regular basis if you want to maintain functional capacity, take care of yourself, and stick around to enjoy your loved ones.

Thanks for reading, everyone. Take care, and I’d love to hear from any people out there with direct or indirect experience with menopause. How did your training change? How did you change?

As always, direct any questions down below.

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Last Chance for Paleo f(x)™ Tickets!

5 More Meal Prep “Rules of Thumb” + Giveaway

I love a good meal prep day, but I do everything in my power to fly through it as quickly as possible. I generally enjoy the process, but I’d much rather spend my time with family and friends, especially since my prep day often falls on the weekend. Plus, with the warmer weather on the horizon, I know I don’t want to be trapped in my kitchen prepping food!

With the start of the CNC Nutrition Spring Nutrition Challenge less than a week away (woohoo!), I wanted to share another post about my favorite meal prep “rules of thumb” that help me cruise through my weekly prep. (If you missed the first blog post, you can read it here.) I hope you find these tips helpful and try them out during your own meal prep!

Tip #6 (continued from this blog post): Super short on time? Grab a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store. There is no shame in taking advantage of already prepared healthy options. Rotisserie chicken ca quickly be paired with steam-able rice and veggies for a meal that’s ready in less than 5 minutes! You can also pre-roast all of your veggies on Sunday and simply add rotisserie chicken to complete the meal. The possibilities are endless!!

Tip #7: Load up on your favorite frozen items. Many stores carry pre-made cauliflower rice and pizza crusts, pre-cooked rice and other grains, and all sorts of organic fruits and veggies to quickly and easily toss into meals. I just posted this video about ways to use some my favorite freezer vegetables. They’re a major time saver! Pro tip/super simple lunch: The night before, add your choice of frozen veggies, along with your favorite source of protein + a dressing/sauce, to a storage container. The next day at lunchtime, just heat in the microwave and eat!

Tip #8: Make meal prep fun. I use to dread slaving away in the kitchen every Sunday – and a lot of that was my attitude. Nowadays, I rarely take more than an hour or so, and I make it fun! I listen to a podcast or music and sometimes Quinn will help me, so I have some company in the kitchen. He’s the cutest little helper! 🙂

Tip #9: Split up your food prep throughout the week. The internet trend is #sundaymealprep, which totally makes sense, but it’s not the only way to conquer your meal prep. I typically do a bigger Sunday prep with a smaller mid-week prep (usually on Wednesday). I end up spending less time in the kitchen on Sunday and our food tastes fresher later in the week. This works for our family, but totally try out what works for you!

And finally…

Tip #10: Keep it simple. It’s easy to try to recreate the fanciest Pinterest recipes or make a new meal every day of the week. Instead, I suggest embracing leftovers and repurposing ingredients to mix and match meals throughout the week. At DTFN, we give clients a 3-day per week meal plan to keep meal prep reasonable, while providing variety.

Speaking of DTFN and, with summer quickly approaching, I’m offering those of you who are interested in trying out a meal plan a little incentive. From now until Thursday, April 5th, sign up for the CNC Spring Nutrition Challenge and be entered for a chance to win a set of my favorite silicon mats and glass food storage containers. I use these every week for meal prep, and they’re the best ones on the market!

Still on the fence about signing up for the CNC Spring Nutrition Challenge? Let’s chat! Book a 10-minute consultation with me by sending me a quick email (tina@carrotsncake.com) with your phone number and availability for a call. I would love you to join, and I’m more than happy to answer your questions!

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Episode 389 – Robb & Nicki Q&A #3


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Hey Folks!

We’re back with another Q&A episode!

If you have a question for a future episode, especially questions for Tyler and Luis of KetoGains on the next Q&A, submit them here https://robbwolf.com/contact/submit-a-question-for-the-podcast/

Show Notes:

 

  1. (2:49) 23 and Me
    Kristin says:
    Robb and Nicki!
    Loved the first q&a back! I wanted to ask an expansion on the FTO gene Polymorphism question. I my self also ran my 23andme data through FoundMYFitness as a Rhonda Patrick follower and I have the similar FTO well several FTO genes came up but also the PPAR alpha gene came up that I know is a big part of ketosis. My question is can I attempt and Keto diet and Ketosis with using mainly PUFA and MUFA and still achieve ketosis with this polymorphism or am I better off to not focus on achieving ketosis?Thank you for all that you put in the world I just received you Wired to Eat book and started reading it! Love it so far!Kristin

NOTES:
FTO: https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/142/5/824/4630756
Fat Mass and Obesity–Associated Gene
Evolutionary Advantage-STRONG tendency toward obesity. Powerful adaptation in ancestral environment.

Evolutionary advantage not specific to Thrifty gene hypothesis
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4031802/pdf/yjbm_87_2_99.pdf

Susceptibility to obesity (and inflammation)
https://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:406173/FULLTEXT01.pdf

Drivers towards energy efficiency…back side of this is constrained Energy Hypothesis:
https://journals.lww.com/acsm-essr/Fulltext/2015/07000/Constrained_Total_Energy_Expenditure_and_the.3.aspx

Game theory and energy balance: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1550147717720792

PPAR Alpha: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/j.1528-1167.2008.01840.x

Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha is a drug/fatty acid-activated transcription factor involved in the starvation response,

Other SNP’s like CPT-1

 

  1. (16:45) Ketone IVs / Ketone Ringer
    Stijn says:
    Dear Robb,
    Dear Robb Wolf team,For years I’ve wondered about using ketone bodies in IVs at intensive care, in the same way that glucose solutions are used. I imagine there being less inflammation versus the glucose, and thus better recovery. Though the effect might be minimal in a non-keto-adapted person. Then I am skipping over the entire blue light issue from all the fluorescents at a hospital. I recently watched your talk at Paleo FX, “Ketogenic Diets for Traumatic Brain Injury Keeping the Baby with the Bathwater”. In brief you mention ketone ringers in an acute setting, traumatic brain injury and research in Japan. Why not use ketone bodies at intensive care, or even other settings? Have you seen research on this? Here’s how I thought about it: my dad was at the ICU after cardiac arrest, and I saw the glucose syringes. Then I thought about inflammation and ketones. And I remembered reading that heart muscle likes ketones. Maybe we can save more people with ketone IVs…Please share your thoughts. I’m also interested in the Japanese research on ketone ringers, if you can link that.Thank you very much.Be well,
    Stijn De Puydt

NOTES:
Ketone ringer solution-
https://iubmb.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/152165401753311780

MCT Keto diet: https://iubmb.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/152165401753311780

High glucose load negated benefits!!

 

  1. (20:54) Monkfruit

G says:
Hi. Can you briefly give me the straight dope on Monkfruit? I heard it doesn’t spike your blood glucose levels making it a good alternative to sugar. I’m also guessing it still triggers pleasure centers in your brain which can lead to craving sweets.
My girl wanted to know how does Monkfruit Maple Syrup differ from 100% Pure Maple Syrup?
Thank you for your time,
g

Notes: https://www.nature.com/articles/ijo2016225

Generally not a huge effect: https://www.nature.com/articles/ijo2016225

 

  1. (24:07) Alternatives to the classic Norcal Marg
    Colin says:
    Hey Rob, I like that you are back to doing some Q&A’s and Nicki did a good job being your cohost. Do miss the ever large and in charge Greg Everett’s humor though, “how does gravel burn,” classic. Anyways, what are your thoughts on a Bone Broth Bullshot in lieu of your Norcal Marg? Potential pro/cons? On a second note, what if you were to add some glycine to that Norcal M? Give just a little sweetness and I would think there are some potentially extra benefits to that addition.. After listening to Chris Masterjohn’s panel discussion on glycine, that crossed my mind.  Curious on your take. Thanks for everything you are doing (Paleo, health, keto, sustainability, controversial truths, etc.). While you are winding the clock back a little, you should get the Kraken on and let him destroy some questions.

 

  1. (27:44) Exercise induced Hypoglycemia
    Greg says:
    Robb, hoping to get your insight into a problem I am experiencing. Non-diagnosed Diabetic. 6’1″, 200 pounds, athletic build. Blood sugar drops into 60-69 mg/dL during moderate-intense exercise with moderate hypoglycemia symptoms. Measuring glucose (morning fasting 105-120 mg/dL, 2 hr post-meal 120-130 mg/dL). Chewing gum during exercise helps modulate glucose levels but still seems like there should be a better solution. Grain consumption 1-3/week. Limited sugar intake. Water and coffee w/heavy cream primary liquid consumption. Adrenal labs (normal DHEA, high normal cortisol). Worried Keto diet may further exacerbate during exercise. Any insight is greatly appreciated.

 

  1. (31:46) Adaptogens and Gut Microbiome adaption
    Eric says:

Digging the return of your podcast and the new format!  I have a couple of question submissions….

  • We interviewed folks live for the Meatcast at Expo West, and the most consistent “trend” everyone noted from the show was “adaptogens” – what are your thoughts on adaptogens?  Flash in the pan fad or the unicorn cure to cancer?  Surely it can’t be anything in between
  • Does our gut microbiome have the ability to adapt/evolve as we age, or is it “locked in” at a certain age?  We hear often that our exposure to good bacteria as a child impacts our autoimmunity later in life.  Whats so critical about those childhood years?  Is it simply our ability to adapt declining as we age?

 

  1. (38:53) Good workout regimen for novice?
    Joe says:
    Hi Robb & Nicki,Can you recommend a good resource for a workout regimen? Right now I do weight training circuits Monday, Wednesday, Friday. Cardio Tuesday and Thursday, usually one cardio session is an interval (3x 30 second all-out exertion on an elliptical and the rest of the 20 minutes at moderate pace). I do a circuit for 6 weeks, then just do cardio for a week then start a different circuit for the next 6 weeks. Etc.I’m currently doing alternate daily fasting on my circuit days. Good sleep, good energy. I’m just wondering about new/more efficient ways to mix up my workouts as I’m still following what I did circa the early 2000s.Thanks,
    Joe

 

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