Protein And You

After a hard workout, many are advised to load up on the protein in the form of powder and shakes to aid with muscle recovery.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, this advice should be taken differently by men and women.

Dr. David Rowlands performed a study on women cyclists in which he gave one set of women bars and drinks with carbohydrates and the other set a drink with carbs and protein.  The women showed no noticeable benefit whatsoever from the protein.  They could not ride longer or harder.  Further, women who received the protein complained that their legs were tired and sore more than the women who consumed only carbs.  Even Dr. Rowlands was shocked.

New science suggests that this is because women are full of estrogen, which affects metabolism and and muscle health more than previously believed.  When estrogen is given to male subjects, researchers find that men burn more fat and less protein or carbs in order to fuel their workouts, just as women do.

However, Dr. Rowlands did not advise his female patients to stop consuming protein.  He stated carefully that his research had only explored one facet of protein’s use in muscle recovery in women.  He would like his findings replicated and the effect of estrogen in muscle recovery studied thoroughly.

At least we can rejoice that we burn more fat than men in workouts.


Heart Rate for Women

Unsurprisingly, researchers at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago (yay Chicago!) discovered last summer that the decades-old heart rate formula does not accurately calculate women’s target heart rates.  The study was performed on 5,500 healthy women, and it revealed that the traditional formula calculates heart rates that are too high.  In other words, we don’t have to work as hard as trainers and treadmills tells us!  I love being told to work less for better results.

Ok, try not to be too excited; this isn’t an excuse to sit around eating potato chips and never visiting the gym again.  However, those that obsessively monitor their heart rates are in for some good news.

The old formula is 220 – Age = Maximum heartrate.  The breakdown: the traditional formula projects that a 40-year-old woman’s maximum heart rate is 180 beats per second, and that she should stay within 65% to 85% of that to increase endurance or build aerobic capacity.  However, the new study posited that a 40-year-old woman’s maximum heart rate is only 171, and that she should maintain 145 beats per minute for athletic benefit.  This is a difference of 8 beats per minute.  Does it seem miniscule?  Perhaps on paper.  But for those that strive to hit certain goals in their workouts, this could mean success.

Why the disparity in heart rate data?  Unsurprisingly, the old formula was calibrated to men and dates back to the 1970s.

However, other researchers think the entire thing is hogwash, to put it politely.  Those opponents hold that basing one’s heart rate on one’s age is meaningless; one’s level of fitness is more important than age.



Meatless Mondays-Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie Deep Dish Pie

Somehow, I’ve gotten completely obsessed with cooking blogs.  I imagine it’s the same as my obsession with the Food Network.  I came upon this recipe for a vegan chocolate chip cookie deep dish pie on Tasty Kitchen.  I know it’s not a good example of a food that is generally full of meat, but can be altered in the perfect way.  But I love it.

I  modified the recipe I found online, and it’s FABULOUS.  You will never believe that it’s (1) healthy or (2) vegan.  Best of all, it’s not one of those vegan baking recipes where you have to find a weird egg substitute.  All the ingredients are normal, easy to find, and probably live in your pantry already.  The result is a protein-packed, moist, chewy chocolate chip cookie.  Make your guests guess the ingredients after they’ve tried it!


1 15 oz. can of garbanzo beans

1 cup Quick Oats

1/4 t Baking Soda

1/4 t Salt

1 t Baking Powder

1/2 t Vanilla Extract

1.5 T Canola Oil

1/2 c Apple Sauce (I used Unsweetened Apple Sauce)

1/2 c Brown Sugar (I suppose you could use a sugar substitute to cut the calories, but I didn’t)

1/2 c Dairy-free Chocolate Chips

The Method:

1.) Preheat oven to 350* F.

2.) Dump all the ingredients except the chocolate chips into a blender/food processor/Magic Bullet-type apparatus.

3.) Blend until smooth.  The oats aren’t really supposed to be whole as this is not an oatmeal-type cookie (or at least that’s not how I like it), so make sure you blend up all the garbanzo beans and the oats.

4.) After blending, dump in the chocolate chips.

5.) Grease an 8″ round cake pan.

6.) Dump all the batter into the cake pan.

7.) Insert cake pan into the oven, and bake for 45-50 minutes.

8.) Let cool.

9.) Amaze your friends.

The Stress Fracture

Women are particularly prone to stress fractures.  It’s unfair.  When I was interviewing to apply to Marine JAG, one of the officers informed me that 50% of female applicants get injured and wash out.  Most of these injuries are stress fractures.  I was advised to begin taking as much calcium as is healthy and do weight training.  Recently, I read an article supporting his statement and advice.  (Not that I disbelieved him; I did one of my physical fitness tests with a girl who had broken both of her legs at Officer Candidate School last summer.)  The full text of the article can be found in the New York Times Phys Ed column:

In sum, the findings reveal that women athletes can benefit enormously from strengthening skeletal muscles, which in turn promotes healthy bone growth, thereby limiting the risk of a stress fracture.  Female runners’ shins are especially at risk, and therefore, this post is about one key exercise: the calf raise.

This is a very simple exercise, and the article stated that doing as few as 12 repetitions per day can add the necessary amount of muscle in order to prevent injury.

First, one must start flat on one’s feet.

Then one simply raises oneself up onto one’s toes . . .

. . . being careful to keep the feet about shoulder’s width apart and raising up evenly.

Always be careful to avoid this phenomenon, which might be tempting once one feels tired.

You can change the level of difficulty by standing on a curb or your old schoolbooks.  If you look closely, you can sense my disdain for Civil Procedure.  Starting with the balls of your feet on a curb or other edge will allow you to lower your heels further, which allows you to push yourself up a greater distance.








Then up you go!

This is the entirety of the exercise.  Do it while brushing your teeth, on the curb after your run, or if you need a break at work.  The opportunities to strength your tibias are endless.

Happy New Year!

Ok, so it’s not the new year in any society of which I’m aware.  However, I tend to associate the new year with positive resolutions, goals, new lifestyle changes, etc.  So, today is the first day of my new year of blogging.

The blog I’m starting today will be about health and exercise science issues that pertain particularly to women.  Much of exercise science as we know it is the result of research on MEN alone.  Only recently have scientists begun to discover that women don’t benefit from the same types of nutrition or fitness techniques the same way.  Of course, eating healthy and gettin’ outside and being active are ALWAYS good habits for ALL people, but there are unique characteristics to the female body.

I’m not a doctor, but I am going to compile professional advice that was helpful to me and also post abstracts of articles on cutting edge health issues for women.  I have stockpiled some valuable topics already, such as the risk of stress fractures to women athletes, the use of protein powder to boost recovery, carbo-loading for ladies, the IT band bane of our existence, and the perfect sports bra.  I’m also going to run a Meatless Mondays section in honor of (1) general health and (2) my new vegan lifestyle.  I’ll include recipes and do my best to create menus that don’t include super-processed soy products and Boca burgers.  Sneak peek: lentils and tofu and beans, oh my!

After all, we girls have to stick together.