How to Add Muscle and Healthy Weight

Consuming quality calories and nutrient dense foods is what you need to put into your body if you’re trying to gain healthy weight and lean muscle mass. This means you want to stay away from burgers and fried foods. They are filled with empty calories and lead to putting on unhealthy weight. Instead, follow these suggestions to add lean muscle mass and healthy weight.

Eat Often and Snack

What you put into your body and being consistent is critical to putting on healthy weight instead of fat. Eat every three to four hours, make sure the calorie count is reasonable, and consisting of nutrient rich foods.

For example, there are about 300 calories in 24 ounces of soda, which is similar to a cup of full-fat Greek yogurt, ½ cup of blueberries and two tablespoons of flaxseed. The number of calories is the only similarity between them with the latter being far better for you.

Our bodies thrive off energy and if we’re not properly fueling, it slows down and starts dipping into our muscle mass. The number of calories is going to vary and depend on the body type, but on average, 500 to 600 is a reasonable number.

Snacking is also important. Keep these between 100 to 200 calories. A good snack is almonds or fruit. These will keep your energy level up and provide a number of health benefits.

Drink your Food

Liquids aren’t as filling as solid food, but the right drinks are rich in nutrients and won’t leave you feeling full. Smoothies are a great way to get fruits, veggies and protein into your daily diet. Other options include 100% fruit juice, carrot juice, and organic skim milk or alternatives such as almond milk. Start enjoying these instead of soda, sports and energy drinks.

Eat a Balanced Diet

Fuel your body with a blend of carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats. A good balance is 50%-60% carbs, 15%-20% protein, and 25%-30% healthy fats. By incorporating food from each group into meals, you’re providing your body with a broader spectrum of nutrients.

The carbs you consume should be complex such as whole wheat, grain cereals and potatoes. Protein is great way to add muscle, but you don’t want to go overboard. Protein requires a lot of energy to digest and tends to be very filling.

For example, if your breakfast is a banana, this isn’t going to sustain you for very long. Add in a few eggs and cook them in a small amount of extra virgin olive oil. This is a smaller meal that gives your body the energy it thrives on.

Incorporating these foods and drinks into your diet will not only help you add healthy weight, you’ll also feel better the more you consume them.



5 Tips for Working Out at Any Age

Let’s be honest. If you used to run three-hour marathons and you’re 65 today, you’re probably not running three-hour marathons anymore. Or maybe you are. In which case, well done! But if not, that’s OK too. You can still set ambitious goals and feel good about your fitness routine, no matter your age. It just may require some adjustments along the way, which can be rewarding. Keeps things fresh. Here are some suggestions on how to embrace exercise at every stage in your life.


 1.   Stay Flexible

One key to staying fit over the long haul is to incorporate flexibility training and non-impact aerobic activity into your routines. Something like yoga will get you well on your way to building more flexible joints. And non-impact aerobic activities like elliptical gliding can be great in maintaining cardio. These activities will help you burn calories and fat, build muscle, and strengthen bones, while protecting the joints from unnecessary pounding.


2. When Looking To Get Back Into Shape, Take It Slow

It can be tempting to just go back to what you were doing before your break. Resist that urge. It’s a good way to get injured. Start slowly. If you were a runner, return by starting with walking and building through a jog to a run. If you did weight training, reduce weights to around half of the weight you lifted before your break. Extend your warm-up and cool down to protect muscles and joints from injury. As your fitness builds, usually around the six-week mark, you can add more workouts per week and increase the time spent exercising.


3. Celebrate Small Victories

Reward yourself when you successfully complete a workout, reach a goal, or simply show up on a day when you didn’t feel like it. Jump in a whirlpool or have a decadent smoothie. You deserve it. Also, write down your activities. This not only holds you accountable but is a reminder of your accomplishments.


4. Check In With a Trainer

These days there are so many fitness options. It can get overwhelming. But a good way of bringing structure to your routines and clarifying your goals is to consult with a trainer, such as the professionals we have at Snap Fitness. Let them help you plan your workouts. You’ll feel better about how you’re spending your time.


5. Have Fun!

Not every workout is going to be amazing. Some are going to be just hard work. But there are ways in which to keep it a fun activity, even if you didn’t have your best legs that day. Some ideas:


  • Listen to music or an audiobook while lifting weights.
  • Make plans with gym friends after working out.
  • Watch a favorite movie or TV show while on the treadmill.
  • Try a new class.


Your 6-Step Psoriasis Spring Survival Guide

Spring is a welcome change for people with psoriasis, but a new set of concerns come along with the season. Take care of your skin with these simple tips.

You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t welcome the shift from winter to spring, and those with psoriasis are no exception. The transition is a favorite time of year for many people with psoriasis because sun and humidity, combined with less stress, can help ease flare-ups of the chronic inflammatory skin condition, says Melissa Piliang, MD, a dermatologist at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.

“Many people see relief with the changing of the seasons for a number of reasons,” Dr. Piliang explains. “The more-humid air helps all of us. Skin gets less itchy and dry. And the reappearance of the sun also has a beneficial effect on the skin of those with psoriasis.”

While the sun can provide relief, it’s still important to be cautious. Excessive sun exposure can lead to sunburn, which can actually trigger a psoriasis flare-up and increase your risk for skin cancer, Piliang warns.

In addition to increased sun exposure, there are other factors you should consider to ensure a smooth transition from the cold, dry winter to sunny spring. Here are some tips to keep in mind for a flare-free season.

1. Here comes the sun. So how much sun is recommended? People with psoriasis should start with five minutes of sun exposure daily, gradually increasing to 10 minutes per day. For this minimal amount of time, plaques can be exposed to the sun without sunscreen, says Piliang. If you’re going to be out for a longer period of time, it’s important to apply a sunscreen with an SPF of 50, and use it liberally. “A 6-ounce bottle should really only last for six applications,” Piliang says.

2. Don’t sweat it. As the temperatures rise in spring, you will likely sweat more, and that can make psoriasis symptoms worse, Piliang says. In warmer weather, be sure to wear moisture-wicking fabrics or loose, light-colored clothing to help minimize sweating.

3. Keep the bugs off. Any injury to the skin can trigger a psoriasis flare-up, and this includes scratches and insect bites, Piliang explains. “Scratching a bug bite is a double whammy,” she notes. To prevent injury to your skin from itchy or painful bug bites, Piliang recommends the following:

• Wear long sleeves and pants when possible.

• Tuck your pants into your socks if you are outside in wooded areas.

• Use insect repellent that contains DEET — an active ingredient designed to repel insects, offering the best protection against mosquito bites.

4. Get in the swim of things. As temperatures rise, taking a dip in a pool or at the beach can help soften and remove crusty or flaking psoriasis plaques. However, salt water and chlorine can also be irritating and leave the skin feeling dry, Piliang notes. “After your swim, be sure to rise off thoroughly with freshwater and then apply a thick coat of moisturizer,” she recommends.

5. Keep dirt away, but be gentle on your skin. In the dry winter months, people with psoriasis should limit soap to their underarms, groin, face, hands, and feet. But in the spring when people are outside more often, thorough bathing may be necessary, Piliang advises. “If you are out in the garden getting dirty, you may need to soap your legs and arms more than in the winter,” she says. “That’s fine, but use mild soap formulated for sensitive skin.” Piliang also recommends using moisturizer year round — not just in the winter.

6. Find ways to de-stress. Although people with psoriasis are not immune to the misery of seasonal allergies, there is no scientific evidence of a link between the two conditions, Piliang says. One lifestyle factor that is known to trigger not only psoriasis symptoms, but other skin conditions, like rosacea and acne, is stress.

In fact, researchers found that chronic stress and burnout have a significant effect on quality of life among people with psoriasis and could interfere with the success of their treatment. The study, published in October 2015 in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, recommends a holistic approach to psoriasis management in order to help combat stress and the effect that it has on the skin condition.

It’s important to incorporate stress-reducing activities into your daily routine, says Piliang. Luckily, nicer weather and the relaxing activities that come with it make this a little easier to do. Exercise is an activity that not only boosts your mood and alleviates stress, but can help combat metabolic diseases like abdominal obesity and diabetes that are often associated with moderate to severe psoriasis.

In addition to regular exercise, Piliang recommends yoga and meditation to ease stress and control psoriasis. “Get in the habit of taking a daily walk or building five minutes of quiet solitude into your day,” she says. Reading, gardening, visiting the farmers market, or scheduling a hike or bike ride with a friend (while getting some exercise!) are also great stress-busting activities you can incorporate into your schedule this spring.

What does vitamin C actually do?

How one genius spread a massive myth that’s persisted for decades

Linus Pauling won two Nobel Prizes, helped uncover the nature of chemical bonds, identified sickle cell anemia as a molecular disease, elucidated some of the most common protein structures, revolutionized our understanding of primate evolution, and is widely hailed as one of the fathers—if not the father—of molecular biology.

Oh, and he almost single-handedly spread one of the biggest medical misconceptions of all time: that vitamin C prevents colds.

Like the much more malicious myth that vaccines cause autism, it began with quackery. Pauling first heard about the wonder that is (or really, isn’t) vitamin C from a man named “Dr.” Stone, who was a doctor in much the same way that a koala bear is a bear—and had about as much expertise on human health as your average marsupial. But gosh darnit if that was going to keep Pauling from believing that 3000 milligrams of vitamin C would solve just about every ailment he could think of.

He and Stone even conducted a shoddy clinical trial that claimed to prove their point, which other researchers noted was fundamentally flawed. The people treated with vitamin C were healthier to begin with, so of course they had better outcomes. That didn’t stop Pauling, though. When he published a book on the matter in 1970, cleverly titled “Vitamin C and the Common Cold,” the American public went crazy for it. After all, here was a man so brilliant that he was (and still is) the only person ever to win two totally unshared Nobel Prizes and one of only two people to win Nobels in different fields—chemistry and peace. Surely he knows what he’s talking about.

Pauling went on to claim that high doses of the supplement could cure everything from heart disease to leprosy, and even cancer (in a sad ironic twist, he died of prostate cancer in 1994, while his wife died years earlier of stomach cancer). And the public bought it. Never mind that every professional medical organization in the world rejected the idea as baseless—here was a Very Smart Man telling the good people of Earth that if only they took vitamin supplements they could solve all their health problems.

Here’s the snag: vitamin C doesn’t prevent colds and it doesn’t prevent cancer, nor does it cure either ailment. Some studies have found evidence that regular usage might shorten the duration of your cold, but not when taken after the onset of the cold. Others have found associations with daily dosage and lower risk of cardiovascular diseases, though still more have shown no relationship whatsoever. The same goes for cataracts, pneumonia, tetanus, asthma, and liver disease.

As for cancer, the best-quality data show that vitamin C supplements have no effect on your likelihood of getting cancer, nor on the outcome of cancer once you have it. It’s possible that it can help certain therapies to work better, but equally likely that it inhibits other types of treatments. And while some small studies have found that extremely high doses do kill cancer cells, that’s only when the vitamin is given intravenously. Doses direct to your bloodstream can drastically increase the amount of vitamin C in your plasma—oral supplements can’t.

The basic upshot is this: taking vitamin C supplements will, in all likelihood, have no effect on your health. Since it’s a water-soluble vitamin, any excess you take in will simply be excreted out in your pee. The greatest risk is that you’ll get diarrhea or some other vague gastrointestinal problems (assuming that you don’t have hereditary hemochromatosis, or iron overload, in which case it can actually cause long-term damage to your internal tissues). Taking vitamin C every day probably won’t hurt you, but you almost certainly don’t need it. It’s not difficult to get enough in your diet without popping pills. You can find it in oranges, garlic, strawberries, chili peppers, kiwi, beef liver, oysters, guava, broccoli, parsley, onion, peach, apples, pears, carrots, bananas, avocados, plums, and a whole host of other foods that you never realized had vitamin C in them or possibly have never heard of (see: camu camu, seabuckthorn, and cloudberries).

All this being said, if you have a vitamin C deficiency you should absolutely take supplements. As any 18th century sailor will tell you, scurvy is no joke. And even if it doesn’t get that far, you need vitamin C to make collagen, heal wounds, produce some neurotransmitters, and support your immune system. Most people get plenty of it from their diet, but deficiencies persist in developed countries in people who eat junk food almost exclusively. Otherwise the problem has largely disappeared as the general population has gained regular access to a variety of fruit and vegetables.

Like almost all vitamins, there’s really no need to take vitamin C unless you have a genuine deficiency. Which you probably don’t. Consider this your license to stop buying those cold remedies containing megadoses of vitamin C and artificial orange flavor to try to trick you into thinking they’re appetizing. Just eat a regular orange and be done with it.