Guest Blog: The Human Diet

Mary Turner is an All Strength Training client and reformed vegetarian.  We asked her to share some of her experience in discovering the paleo diet and what it has done for her.

“If it’s important to you, you will find a way. If it’s not, you’ll find an excuse”

We have all seen this quote on the walls at AST. I think it applies to our diet as much if not more than our training. Within this last year I have changed my diet significantly. As a vegetarian of 20 plus years, it was not easy. But the longer I researched the Paleo diet, the more important it became to change my diet. So, I found a way.

I realized that as humans we are animals and we have a natural diet. Just as cows are supposed to eat grass, homo sapiens are suppose to eat meat, vegetables, fruit, nuts, and seeds. For years, eating the true human diet was not important to me, so I found excuses. Below are my three favorite, which I still hear from vegetarians as well as meat eaters.

1. Eating something that walks around is disgusting!
Yes, it is. But animals eat animals.
2. Organic Wheat, Dairy, etc is natural so it must be good for you.
Trees are natural too. Are you going to eat some bark for dinner?
3. Vegetarianism is good for the environment.
No, actually, it’s not. In fact, it takes more resources to grow all that wheat to feed you than it does to grow a cow. If you really want to know more about this read The Vegetarian Myth.

As humans our bodies are designed to process protein from meat, carbs from veggies and fruit, and fat from animals and nuts, for the other systems in our bodies to utilize. I had been substituting a large part of my diet with grains, dairy, legumes, soy, etc all things that my body is not designed to digest. For years I struggled with depression from lack of fatty acids only found in meat. Now, getting out of bed isn’t the hardest thing I do every day. I had digestive issues which disappeared immediately after I started eating meat. Waking up three times a night was the norm. This was due to my blood sugar dropping due to the lack of protein in my diet. I could go on and on about all the changes I have experienced. If you want to read the full story go to http://marcat-recoveringvegetarian.blogspot.com/ (Well, if I am going to plug books I’ve read, I might as well mention my blog)

Now, you may think, ya ya ya, you were a vegetarian and I’m not so I am getting the protein I need. That may be but if you are still eating wheat, dairy, corn, rice, soy, legumes, etc. you are damaging your body similarly as to how we damage a cow when we feed it corn. Basically, every time you eat wheat, yes whole wheat too, you damage your intestinal lining in addition to spiking your insulin levels. But, I am sure Zach has already told you that! If you want to learn more about what these “foods” do to you I highly suggest reading The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf.

We tend to look at diets as something we are on instead of something we have. Now, when someone makes a comment about my “strange” diet, I just reply “I’m not on a diet, I have a diet, the human diet” These same people comment on how great I look and ask for my advice on “dieting” quite often. Then, they go to Chipotle and come back with a burrito (not in the bowl, in the tortilla) and you can bet there have rice, cheese, and sour cream in there too. I get very frustrated and often think about how the trainers must have felt trying to help me in my vegetarian days. Which takes me back to the beginning of my thoughts here, is being a healthy and lean human important to you?

Common Misuses of Foam Rolling

Foam rolling, or self-myofascial release (SMR) if you’re fancy, is widely accepted as a useful tool for correcting postural dysfunction and alleviating muscle soreness and stiffness.  However, just like anything, there is a right way and a wrong way to apply it.  Here are some of the more common mistakes that I see when it comes to soft tissue work, and how to fix it:

Working in a Haphazard Order

Particularly when used for corrective exercise and treating posture dysfunction, there are specific patterns you should follow when foam rolling.  Instead of just jumping around to whatever feels the tightest,follow steps to ensure that as you release tension in one area, it preemptively releases tension in other areas along what are called the myofascial lines.  here are a few simple guidelines to follow to get the most out of the least amount of time:

  1. Always, always start with the feet (plantar fascia) first.
  2. Work from the pelvis outward.  If you need to release tension in my calves and my glutes, start with the glutes and work toward the calves.  If it’s the lower back and the traps, start with the lower back and work along the vertebrae of the spine until you arrive at the traps.

Rolling Stiff and Lengthened Muscles, Not Tight and Short Ones

Here is the best example of this scenario – somebody will walk into the gym, grab a lacrosse ball or foam roller, and start attacking the area between the shoulder blades.  Why?  Because the area feels stiff and sore.  Logically, this would make sense; however, in application all it does is make the problem worse.  Here is why.

In corrective exercise, there are typically two types of muscles, usually situated opposite each other.  There are muscles that are loose and lengthened (and often weak, but not necessarily), and muscles that are tight and short (usually stronger than their loose and lengthened counterparts, but again, not necessarily).

If you look at your typical desk jockey, you will usually see rounded shoulders, a hunched upper back, and a forward head tilt.  This usually results in tight and short anterior delts, pecs, and traps, with loose and long scapular retractors (rhomboids, teres major and minor, posterior delts).  If all I roll is the upper back complex, all that serves to do is release even more tension, which makes the muscles even looser and longer, and allows the opposing muscle groups to get tighter and shorter.  A better approach would be to open up the chest and shoulders with soft tissue work first, and then briefly work the upper back to increase blood flow.

Ignoring Trigger Points

The point of foam rolling is to find the areas that create the most discomfort, and apply generous amounts of pressure until the scar tissue that has built up in that area begins to break up and release muscular tension.  However, human instinct is to run away from the pain, so what normally happens is that if I spend 2 minutes rolling my IT band, I’ll spend 1:45 rolling the areas that aren’t too awful, and just sort of pay passive attention to the intense pain that comes from the areas that are in need of the most attention.

Instead, pay attention to the two or three areas in each muscle that create the most tension – especially the ones that cause any sort of radiating tension in other muscle groups.  There are your trigger points for that area.  Spend most of your time here and don’t worry about the rest.

Soft tissue work has a plethora of benefits to everybody from word class athletes to busy executives to the senior citizen who is just trying to maintain mobility, but it only works when it’s applied correctly.  Take these three tips and make the appropriate adjustments to get the most out of the least amount of time.

Quick Tip: Limit Food Additives to Stay Lean

Along with controlling the macronutrients of the food you eat (protein, carbs, and fat), it’s important to make sure that you limit any additional ingredients that might be added that provide no nutritional value, and oftentimes only serve to keep bodyfat on and inhibit change in body composition.

Take, for example, heavy cream. While it’s great to add to your coffee to provide flavor and slow down the release of caffeine, not all cream is the same. A random sampling from a local Jewel Osco found four different brands of heavy cream, and 3 of them had ingredients beyond just cream. In fact, one of them was actually an organic brand (Land O’ Lakes) and still had additives. Here is the ingredients list:

Ingredients: HEAVY CREAM, CONTAINS 2% OR LESS OF EACH OF THE FOLLOWING INGREDIENTS;NONFAT MILK, SORBITAN MONOSTEARATE, ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR, CARRAGEENAN, SUCRALOSE, MIXED TOCOPHEROLS, NITROUS OXIDE.

Compare that with Dean’s brand heavy cream:

Ingredients: HEAVY CREAM.

So make sure to check your labels and if you don’t know where it came from or what it does, you may want to put it back.

Quick Tip: Stretch Your Hips & Quads to Help Back Pain

One natural reaction to back pain, or pain in any particular area, is to focus all of your attention on where the pain is, not necessarily addressing the things that might be causing the pain in the first place.  Often, back pain is brought on by excessive tightness or poor mechanics in other, opposing muscle groups and movement patterns.

With back pain, usually there is some sort of problem with the pelvis, typically presenting in what’s called an anterior pelvic tilt (to visualize, put your hands on your hips, and picture “pouring” your pelvis forward).  Your butt will usually stick out and an excessive amount of lumbar arch (called lordosis) results.  This is usually caused by muscles that connect to the front of the pelvis being unnecessarily tight, specifically the psoas (one of the hip flexors) and the rectus femoris (one of the four quadriceps muscles).

As part of your daily routine, simply apply a mix of foam rolling and stretching to the hips and quads.  It’s best to begin with foam rolling the quads, then the hip flexors, before stretching.  If done pre-workout, do your foam rolling first and static stretching after a training session, as studies have shown that static stretching pre-workout can limit power output.

Training for MMA Fighters: Using the Grappler

With mixed martial arts fighting being arguably one of the most popular sports in the world right now, and definitely one of the fastest-growing, there is still very little available on strength training programs for the MMA athlete.  With that in mind, over the next couple of weeks I will be putting up a couple of different articles directed specifically at that group.  This article will primarily focus on what I believe to be the most important variable for both stand-up and ground fighting – core training.

For core work in general, I have found most conventional ab training exercises to be rather useless – things like situps, crunches and bicycle twists done for absurdly high reps does little to develop strength and at best will develop the slow-twitch, endurance muscle fibers in the abs and core, as opposed to the more powerful fast-twitch muscle fibers.

Instead, I prefer to see a mix of both compound (multi-joint) traditional strength movements that can be done with a heavy load (such as squats and deadlifts) that include a significant core component, and direct work done with heavy weight for low- to moderate-rep ranges.  To get the best of both, I suggest using movements based around The Grappler.

The Grappler is a device invented by Louie Simmons of the Westside Barbell Club in Columbus, Ohio.  Louie is arguably the greatest coach in powerlifting history, but he has also worked extensively with both fighters and track & field athletes and produced great results.  One of his methods is using the Grappler, which is essentially an anchor point for two barbells so that they can be held one in each hand to mimic various barbell and dumbbell movements while increasing the workload coming from the trunk.

Below are a few of my favorite Grappler exercises.  If you don’t have access to a Grappler or something like it, you can get the same effect by wedging two barbells into the frame of a power rack or in the corner of a wall.  Just add a moderately heavy dumbbell or plate over the end to anchor the bar down and you’ll do just fine.

#1: Landmines

Odds are pretty good you’ve seen somebody doing this exercise or something similar already – it’s by far the most popular movement using the leveraged barbell concept.  My favorite way to do it is to use two barbells, as it incorporates the rotational work of a regular landmine with an extra gripping requirement, since you have to hold onto the sleeve of the bars with each hand throughout.

#2: Standing Flyes

This is pretty similar to the landmine, but with the resistance moving in the opposite direction.  It also adds in some upper chest and anterior deltoid work, which can aid in punching power.

#3: Standing Military Presses

Again, you may have seen this one before with one barbell, but I like the 2-barbell version both from a time-efficiency standpoint and from a difficulty standpoint – I think the two-bar version is significantly harder than the 1-arm because you can’t twist and turn to cheat the weight up.  You can do it both arms at a time, or alternating, and can do strict presses or push presses.

#4: Bent-Over Rows

This is kind of like a T-bar row with a better range of motion.  You can do it as shown in the video, or face the other way and grab the bar sleeve to add some extra gripping work.

#5: Floor Presses

Even though these can be a pain in the ass to get into without a partner, I like these as an alternative to regular barbell or dumbbell floor presses because the bars tend to get pretty unpredictable with their movement and therefore has some good carryover to being on the bottom of a guard or mount position.

Try out a few of these different movements and figure out which ones work the best for you.  Keep the reps in the low-to-moderate range (as low 3 reps, all the way up to 12) and keep the technique clean.

Building Mass for Life: Part 2

Part 1 of this series can be found here.

People ask me all the time: Why did I do it? What was the real reason why I added so much weight when I was already “healthy”?  I didn’t want to be the skinny guy, that’s why! But when I stop and think about it, I realized what influenced me the most to make changes. I am currently a competitive athlete so my sport and performance was a huge influence. My career as a strength and conditioning coach was another thing. Would you really listen to a skinny strength coach? I didn’t think so. And you know what? I’m not gonna lie. The Kid wanted to look damn good!

And looking good does not mean "look like Will Smith's little cousin."

Currently I am a competitive mixed martial mrtist who has aspirations to turn pro in the near future. In my mind MMA is the greatest sport in the world. But before I even began to train in MMA I boxed competitively as an amateur in Chicago. From 2005-2008 I competed at middleweight, which in boxing has a maximum weight of 165 pounds. I’m 6-feet tall, so as you could imagine, as a 6-foot, 160 pound guy I was the definition of bean pole. I was so skinny that my legs looked like the number 11 when I walked. I was a naturally thin guy, but not quite that thin. It was hard work to keep my weight in that range. I had to do a lot of cardio, minimal resistance training and, to be honest, my nutrition sucked. After training sessions I always felt sluggish and weak. I knew there had to be a better way.

By this time I had began training in MMA and I noticed something – those thick wrestlers who look like the mini fridge in a college dorm were tossing everyone around!

At times these guys might not have had the best technique but their quickness, explosion, athleticism, power and overall strength got them through. It was impressive to say the least. I had to ask myself, “Self, how are you going to improve as an athlete if you’re not doing everything possible to be successful?”

I saw firsthand how the stronger athletes fared in sports. Look at any major sport and literally only the strong survive. And even though I knew it wasn’t going to be easy I had to make it happen. I had a goal of being a successful athlete since I was a young child and I love to compete at the highest level possible. I was going to do it.

If you look at the world’s top athletes, take their best traits and find the common denominator. Well besides great genes – it’s true; none of us got to pick our parents. But not all of the world’s best athletes were always known as the best. Both Jerry Rice and Michael Jordan are both currently considered by most to be the greatest players of their respective sports but they both had setbacks in their rise to greatness. What separated them? Hard work!

I started getting into the weight room hard in the spring of 2008, and I did predominantly bodybuilding workouts to start – that is all that I knew. But I got stronger, and I gained a little bit of weight! I was even starting to walk around with imaginary lat syndrome (ILS). You know, when the skinny guy gets done working out and walks around like he’s holding two oversized duffel bags under each arm pit. And even though I looked goofy looking back, my performance improved!

Now when guys tried to take me down, not only was I able to shrug them off, I had more explosion in my step and more quickness in my strikes.  It surprised me more than anyone else because I was always told that lifting weights would slow down my hand speed, and in reality it had improved.

I soon began helping out with the high school strength and conditioning program in Skokie, Ill. I was able to work with their strength coach Mark Feldner, who was a former assistant strength coach at Penn State. Through him I began to learn more sports specific workouts. He showed me that in every sport there are different ways to train so there is no one specific workout for every sport and not to focus on individual muscles as much, the “show me muscles.” You know, the ones that make you look sexy when you get them all pumped and cut up.

Now at 25 I’m bigger, faster, stronger and WAY more explosive than I’ve ever been. I kept training and evolving not only as a mixed martial artist but as an athlete as well. I can also begin to see a change in my body because of my sport, thicker torso from my twisting and kicking, more pronounced shoulders from my strikes; there has even been a calf sighting!

Now I have figured out the things that are most effective for me and cut down on the fluff. I love my powerlifting base (bench, squat, deadlift). With that there has been a noticeable difference in my glute and hamstring size and strength which directly translates to my leg drive and power, which equals SPEED.

Now even though I love my powerlifting, I’ve had to do a bit more for my explosion, so Olympic lifts such as cleans have been added as needed. So if anyone says lifting doesn’t assist in being a better athlete just get your five chuckles on and keep it moving, there is no need to try to rationalize with irrational people. I’ve learned a lot in the time that I’ve made my transition and in this time my experiences have helped me become a better strength coach. The last thing anyone wants to hear is some skinny 155-pound guy telling them how to get “jacked!” That’s kind of like the guy who flunked out of school telling somebody how to study. It just doesn’t add up.

5 Easy Changes to Maximize Body Composition

Lots of attention is paid to the glamorous side of fat loss and muscle gain – fancy training programs get a 10-page spread in “Muscle & Fitness,” fad diets that make incredible “too-good-to-be-true” promises get to be on the New York Times bestseller list, and supposedly cutting-edge supplements get a shiny label and a huge, shredded bodybuilder with a model on each arm advertising how Super-Ultra-Hydro-Whey 50 is the reason they look the way they do. But what about the basics? You know, the boring stuff that actually works? We give them lots of love at AST, and suggest you do the same.

#1: The Meat & Nut Breakfast

When it comes to bang-for-your-buck dietary adjustments, nothing beats the meat and nut breakfast.  This is a trick that we borrowed from renowned strength coach Charles Poliquin, and it’s been effective in everything from dropping lots of bodyfat (one of our clients lost over 25lbs just by consciously making an effort to fix his breakfast) to improving energy and productivity at work.  The premise is simple – sugary and starchy breakfasts raise insulin (a fat-storage hormone) and serotonin (the happy, feel-good hormone), which usually results in the need for a nap 2-3 hours later.  Protein and omega-3 fats, on the other hand, keep insulin low and raise acetylcholine and dopamine (the “drive” hormones), which leads to less bodyfat and more productivity and mental clarity.

Want to read more?  Check out The Meat and Nuts Breakfast article from Charles Poliquin himself.

#2: Increasing Water Intake

Quick question – how much water should you have every day?  For about 99% of overweight and obese people, the answer is simple – more than what you’re having right now.  If I had to estimate from past experience, I would say that most of my clients over the last 10 years averaged about 12oz of water a day before they started doing something about it.  You would be surprised at how quickly weight starts coming off when you fix your water intake.  It doesn’t even have to be anything like a gallon a day (although that would be great!), just start with adding 2-3 extra glasses a day on a consistent basis.  Doing it for 2 days at a time doesn’t count, doing it for 200 days does.

Water is an essential component in fat metabolism, so trying to get lean without water is like trying to drive a car with no gas.  Push on the accelerator all you want, that car is going nowhere.

#3: Optimizing Basic Mineral Status

Before any fancy supplements are necessary, I like to ask clients to have blood levels of 3 things checked – vitamin D3, red blood cell (RBC) zinc, and RBC magnesium.  99% of people who come into our center are deficient in at least one of those 3, if not all of them.  Ignore what the “lab norms” might tell you is good, since the norms are purely the range that 95% of people fall into, and since most people who get their bloodwork done are not that healthy, you don’t want to compare yourself to somebody who is in less than ideal health.  Read more here about optimal levels and supplementation.

#4: Supplement with a Quality Fish Oil in High Doses

Fish oil is another boring old supplement that gets far less credit than it deserves.  Yet in high amounts, it can work wonders to kickstart the body’s lipolytic (fat-burning) genes and turn off the lipogenic (fat-storing) ones.  We use the same dosing recommendations as experts such as John Berardi, Charles Poliquin, and Johnny Bowden – use 1-1.5g of fish oil per % bodyfat, per day.  So somebody who is 30% bodyfat would use between 30-45g of fish oil per day for up to 4 weeks.  Try to split it into as many small doses as possible (5-10g per serving), and liquid fish oil is easier to take and more cost-effective in high amounts than capsule forms.

#5: Use a Cheat Meal

While it might seem counter-intuitive, a cheat meal once every 5 to 7 days can serve to keep you leaner and more compliant with your nutrition program.  The cheat serves two functions: first, it helps to preserve sanity and prevent you from “falling off the wagon.”  In my experience, the average person can make it about 4-6 weeks on a restrictive diet without deviating, but after that, things become too difficult and instead of going off a little, they will go way off and completely lose any benefits that the diet had given.  A weekly cheat meal gives you something to look forward to and is not so infrequent as to make it unrealistic.

The second function is more physiological – a low carb, paleo-style diet free of gluten and dairy will work wonders over about a 2-3 week time span, but after that, progress will slow due to depletion of a hormone called leptin, which contributes to fat-burning.  Throwing in a cheat meal with more carbs and calories in general boosts leptin levels and kickstarts progress.  The key is not to overdo it and to follow some simple rules:

  1. Always eat your protein first.
  2. Eat your cheat meal at the table, not on the couch or in front of the computer.  It needs to be a meal, not an entire evening.
  3. Put everything you want to eat at the table with you within arm’s reach.
  4. Eat whatever you want.
  5. When your butt leaves the seat, your meal is over.
  6. Try not to have your cheat meal be the last meal you have before bed.  Eating between 5-7pm is ideal.

There you have it.  Give these simple tricks a try and enjoy a leaner, stronger you!

New AST Power Camp In October

On Wednesday, October 5, we will be starting our second AST Power camp, a 6-week camp designed to prepare you for competition at a powerlifting meet as part of Team AST.  Our first camp led a team of 6 members, as well as coaches Zach and Sergio, to the 2011 USPF Illinois State Meet at Lance’s Gym in Chicago, IL.  All 8 members of the team placed in the top 3 in their respective weight and age divisions.

This time, we will be competing at the UPF Power Weekend in Dubuque, IA on November 19.  More information and rules can be found here: UPA Power Weekend.

The camp can have up to 8 participants, and will be held Wednesday mornings from 7:30-8:30am, starting October 5.  Participants will be responsible for their own entry fee for the competition should they choose to compete.

If you are looking for a new way to challenge yourself and enjoy some friendly competition with your training partners, get involved and join the camp!  E-mail Julie, Zach or Christine to sign up.

Client Spotlight: Bernard Elam

In the first installment of our Client Spotlight feature, AST client Bernard Elam describes his experiences at All Strength Training and how he’s regained control of his appearance and his life.

My whole life, I have felt I have a weak upper body, so I would normally skip any strength training and focus on running.  I knew I needed to do something different, because I wasn’t seeing the results I wanted the last several years, and was at my heaviest ever.  After several months of putting it off, I joined All Strength Training last fall.  AST educated me on the importance of strength training, and my BioSignature showed me that I needed to work my upper body and my nutrition to reach my goals – a leaner, stronger, and healthier body overall.

The BioSignature has been a huge part of my transformation.  It gets me past being a “slave to the scale”, because I have a more targeted view of my body. I understand exactly where my problem areas are and the priority of these areas by measuring my body fat in 12 different sites.  It really sets the stage for my nutrition planning and training program, so I can get results relatively quickly.

I have been coming to AST for about seven months, and the most noticeable changes are that I have lost 7% body fat and over 20 pounds of scale weight. I have gained lean muscle mass, feel more energetic, and sleep better.  I also believe I have better posture, because I am more aware of my body.

At the start of my program, I had high LDL cholesterol at 170, and my doctor put me on a drug. I made sure AST was aware of my issue with cholesterol, so I received some nutrition guidance.  Through the combination of the drug, the changes in nutrition, and my training routine, I was able to lower my LDL cholesterol 50% in three months and went from being “at risk” to “excellent” cholesterol levels.

I love to eat out, and it’s basically a job requirement because I work in the food business.  With AST’s nutrition guidance, I really had to think seriously about the foods I put into my body.   I had to make a real lifestyle change with my nutrition if I was going to be serious about getting into decent shape.

I started cooking at home most of the time, and planning my meals better – even when I do eat out. I did participate in a two hour nutrition seminar and an afternoon cooking soiree through AST and learned how much better I can do with some healthy recipes and the right cooking equipment.

I train in a semi-private setting with other members who share similar goals and similar needs, which keeps me highly motivated to push myself harder than I normally would.  Nobody wants to be the weakest link, so we naturally push each other and feed off of everybody’s energy.  In fact,  because of the relationships I’ve developed with those that I train with, I feel more accountable to them and don’t want to let them down.

AST has a range of programs, camps, seminars, and nutritional products, but I have never felt pressured to buy anything.  There is no sales pressure, gimmicks, or complicated contracts, just a straightforward education and training process.  This is truly the best experience from any other places where I have trained.

Bernard at 225lbs, and 8 months later at 200lbs.

Get Your Blood Tested for Optimal Body Composition

Most people who are struggling to add significant amounts of muscle or lose bodyfat quickly will try just about anything to get results – every fad diet, every “cutting edge” workout routine from your favorite grocery store fitness magazine, every “amazing new” supplement with ads that show men and women with physiques that you would kill for.  But when we screen new clients coming in to start a program, when we ask when the last time blood work was drawn, over 90% of the time the answer is “more than 2 years ago.”

On top of that, the extent of the education on the results provided by the doctor typically focuses on things like cholesterol and glucose, with very little attention paid to other key information that could make all the difference in the world for how much you get out of your physical efforts.  Below I will list what I believe to be 3 of the most important blood tests that are very easy to do and can be taken by most doctors and covered under most insurances.

Vitamin D3

Most of our exposure to vitamin D comes via sunlight, with very little vitamin D coming from our diet.  In addition, the RDA for vitamin D is a meager 400IU per day, which means that even foods that are fortified with vitamin D don’t contain it in any quantities that will do any good very quickly.  Combine poor food intake with limited sun exposure and you’re very likely to have low levels of D.  In fact, the average blood levels for Americans living north of Atlanta, Georgia are 14ng/mL.  Optimal levels, however, are between 80-100ng/mL.

Red Blood Cell Magnesium

Per Charles Poliquin:

“Magnesium is the fourth-most abundant mineral in the body, with approximately 66 percent of it found in bone and 33 percent in skeletal and cardiac muscle. It is absorbed in the small intestine and excreted through the kidneys. Magnesium is involved in 300 essential biochemical reactions in the body, ranging from ATP production to protein synthesis, so it is obviously important for optimal athletic performance and a high quality of life.” (Magnesium Deficiency: A Growing Health Crisis)

Although the labratory norms for RBC magnesium are typically between 1.8 and 2.2mg/dL, optimal ranges have been shown to be somewhere between 4.2 and 6.8mg/dL.  Several different types of magnesium are available, composed of different “chelates” which make them more likely to be absorbed by specific tissues in the body, such as the liver, the muscles, and the brain.  It is also available in topical forms for those with history of GI upset or symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

 Red Blood Cell Zinc

Zinc, like magnesium, is an essential mineral for many of the body’s functions, but is also one of the most common mineral deficiencies.  Common side effects include low testosterone and aromatization of testosterone into estrogen, as well as decreased muscle mass and delayed muscular recovery.  Ideal levels for those training intensely have been shown to be between 1,400 ug/dL.

Addressing Deficiencies

If you show as deficient in any of the above 3 nutrients, it would be beneficial to use a functional medicine doctor or other practitioner to help you develop a plan to restore deficiencies.  It is important to note that many times it can be necessary to use a “therapeutic dose” of a vitamin or mineral to restore a deficiency – in other words, a dose that’s significantly more than what would be suggested for daily maintenance.  But think of it this way – it’s not much different than a doctor recommending 200mg of ibuprofen for a headache, but 800mg for a severe sprain.  The dose will be tailored to the condition.

Please, if you have been struggling to make changes but aren’t seeing the results you want, contact your physician and ask to have these three tests taken.  Then seek out help to get the appropriate guidance to restore nutrient status and get the body you desire.

For more information on nutrient deficiencies and how they can impact your health and physique, click here to learn more about BioSignature Hormone Analysis and to schedule a consultation.