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Protein for Muscle Recovery and Growth

Many athletes believe that they can grow larger muscles by taking protein supplements rather than by eating protein in ordinary foods. However, protein powders come from food, and extracts cannot be more efficient than the foods from which they are extracted.

All athletes train by stressing and recovering. They take a hard workout, damage their muscles, feel sore the next morning, and then take easy workouts until the muscles heal and the soreness goes away. The athlete who can recover the fastest can do the most intense workouts. Eating a high carbohydrate-high protein meal within a half hour after finishing an intense workout raises insulin levels and hastens recovery (Journal of Applied Physiology, May 2009). Another breakthrough study reported in the same issue shows that taking the high protein-carbohydrate meal before lifting weights does not hasten recovery.

Carbohydrate in the meal causes a high rise in blood sugar that causes the pancreas to release insulin. Insulin drives the protein building blocks (amino acids) in the meal into muscle cells to hasten healing from intense workouts. Muscles are extraordinarily sensitive to insulin during exercise and for up to a half hour after finishing exercise, so the fastest way to recover is to eat a protein- and carbohydrate-rich meal during the last part of your workout or within half an hour after you finish.

You can use either plant or animal sources of protein; both contain all of the essential amino acids necessary for cell growth.

There is also good data that creatine loading helps muscles recover faster. You get creatine from fish, poultry or meat, or creatine supplements. Your body can also make creatine from three amino acids found in both plants and animals: methionine, arginine and glycine. However, you get higher blood levels from supplements or animal protein sources. We do not know if taking the larger amounts of creatine in supplements is better than the amount found in meat, poultry or seafood.

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Dear Dr. Mirkin: How do you get enough sunlight for your body to make vitamin D without risking skin cancer?

Try to expose a small amount of bare skin to sunlight for a few minutes every day. Wear a shirt and a hat. Put sunscreen on your face, top of the ears, neck, arms and back of the hands. If you are blond or blue eyed, do not form pigment well, or have evidence of sun damaged skin, you should apply sunscreen to your legs also.

• Non-melanoma skin cancer risk (basal and squamous cell skin cancers) is increased by cumulative sun exposure over a lifetime.

• Recent data show that a single sunburn may cause a melanoma.

• It appears that blond and blue-eyed people need less sun exposure to make vitamin D. People with dark skin, or those who become very dark when they tan need far more sun exposure to make vitamin D.

• Being overweight or past 60 markedly increases your need for vitamin D.

• Only UVB causes the skin to make vitamin D. UVA does not cause your skin to make vitamin D. Most suncscreens on the market almost completely block UVB. Window glass and clothes also block UVB.

• Frequent bathing reduces vitamin D. Your sebaceous (oil) glands make vitamin D and secrete it onto your skin; it is then absorbed through your skin. Frequent bathing may wash away vitamin D before it can be absorbed.

• The following changes in your skin predict skin cancer: first a mottling of pigment with lighter and darker spots, then the appearance of scaly areas. When the scaly areas start to feel rough like sandpaper, the damage is passing from the superficial skin down into the deeper skin and may become cancerous. Check with a dermatologist; these pre-cancers are very easy to treat.

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Dear Dr. Mirkin: Should I use testosterone gel for impotence caused by low blood testosterone?

Nobody knows. Doctors can't even agree whether taking testosterone increases risk for prostate cancer. Furthermore, recent data show that having a low testosterone level is associated with increased risk for diabetes, metabolic syndrome, inflammation and high cholesterol, heart attacks and premature death (International Journal of Impotence Research, June 2009)

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Recipe of the Week:

Summer Veggies and Beans

You'll find lots of recipes and helpful tips in The Good Food Book - it's FREE

 

June 22nd, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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