Mini Pause #15: Creatine Essentials for Women

Why You Need Creatine, Especially in Perimenopause & Menopause

TL,DR (too long, didn’t read)

Creatine is one of my absolute favorite supplements for women over 40. It helps with brain fog, cognition, and performance in the gym and makes your muscles look full and beautiful.

WHY

Creatine can offer several benefits like augmenting performance, slowing down your fatigue in the gym, and amping up muscle mass and recovery. It has also been shown to help with cognitive capacity. Yet, perhaps perplexingly, myths around creatine persist. I want to address some of these in kind, with some actionable items for you to try in your own life.

WHAT

Myth 1: Creatine Causes Water Retention

Of all the myths surrounding creatine, this is the most common one I encounter from women. Most of us have likely already experienced the annoyance and inevitability of water retention in the luteal phase of the cycle, with rings not fitting, and our pants feeling just a little too snug for our liking.

So it comes as no surprise that if a woman is presented with the slightest inkling of water retention, she will avoid it.

The only issue is… creatine does not cause water retention in the extracellular matrix, but it does so in the intracellular one. There’s debate in the literature as to whether that is short-lived.

Creatine is an osmotically active substance and is taken up into muscle from circulation by a sodium-dependent creatine transporter. [*] Since the transport involves sodium, water also will be taken up into muscle to help maintain intracellular osmolality.

What does that actually mean? The water retention is not outside the muscle, which would lead to more puffiness and inflammation. The water retention is inside the muscle, which only makes the muscle look fuller and more defined.

And even if that is not your jam (full defined muscles), there are several studies that suggest long-term supplementation of creatine does not affect increases in either total body water volume, extracellular water volume, or even intracellular water volume! [*][*]

Although there is some disagreement about this in the literature, [*][*][*] the take-home point is that creatine is not going to make you puffy.

At worst, there is no change in water volume after long-term supplementation, and at best, you increase the water and sodium in the muscle cell which is important for muscle transcription and hypertrophy.

Myth 2: Creatine Is Just For Gym Bros

Much like lifting weights and eating meat has often been ascribed as phenotypical male behavior, creatine is not just for guys. There is ample evidence to suggest creatine supplementation is incredibly useful for women.

Hormone-driven fluctuations can alter your ability to synthesize and transport creatine effectively because creatine synthesis is affected by both estrogen and progesterone levels [*]. And so your ability to make and use creatine will be particularly affected during bleed week, perimenopause, and menopause [*] where we see drastic changes in concentrations of these hormones.

Creatine in the female frontal lobe has also been shown to be lower [*] than our male counterparts. So supplementing with creatine, particularly for women [*], can also help to reduce depression and anxiety.

And ladies in perimenopause and menopause, creatine has been shown to help with almost all measures of improving muscle mass and bone density [*] and reducing inflammation. Inflammaging, as the cool cats call it, is the epicenter of all chronic disease and accelerated aging.

HOW

Grab yourself a bag of creatine monohydrate. It MUST say creatine monohydrate in the ingredient list. No proprietary blend BS. I am asked all the time for recommendations and I absolutely love the Creatine with Taurine from mindbodygreen. (Visit mbg and use code DRSTEPHANIE for 15% off.)

The simplest way to start on creatine is to add 3-5g to your morning smoothie, your water for your workout, or even your coffee. It is flavorless so it will dissolve in just about any liquid and you won’t notice it.

Do this daily and just make it a part of your habit stack. No need to cycle on and off it, just take it consistently. Forever.

Although I find many things wrong with the fitness industry (unrealistic beauty standards, women getting so lean they don’t menstruate, filtered photos, etc.) one thing we can learn from them is their behaviors and habits toward tissue preservation. When fitness competitors are getting stage lean they undergo extreme caloric deficits, but their main goal is to preserve as much muscle as they can. So their protein intake never changes and they never stop taking creatine.

I think that’s more than telling in terms of the value creatine plays in muscle appearance and function.

NOW

  • Order your first bag of Creatine with Taurine here. (Use code DRSTEPHANIE to save 15%.)
  • Add one scoop to your morning smoothie, workout water, or cup of coffee daily
  • After a few weeks, ask yourself if you are noticing changes in your endurance and performance at the gym. Can you go harder for longer? What about your mood? Sleep? Recovery? If this is the only change you make over the next few weeks, you will likely notice several of these markers improving for the better.

Q: Do I take creatine before or after working out? Or does it even really matter when you take it?

Ahhhh, this is SUCH a good question with the possibility of going down several rabbit holes of nerdom. Thank you bltaillon who sent this in via IG. Let’s tuck into this without going TOO overboard, and give you a tangible answer.

So the TL;DR version of this answer is, based on the literature, it doesn’t seem to matter whether you take it before or after exercise. It seems strength gains and hypertrophy gains are all comparable.

For my medium- and dark-roast Bettys who want a little more detail, the largest study to date [*] on the topic of creatine timing involved a 32-week resistance exercise training program. They also had a placebo group so they could monitor the effects of strength training alone.

Thirty-nine healthy, older adults completed the double-blind placebo-controlled design, and were randomized into three groups: “Cr-Before”, “Cr-After”; or placebo (corn starch maltodextrin immediately before and immediately after resistance training).

Following the 32-week intervention, both creatine groups exhibited similar strength gains, with changes greater than the placebo control group.

The best answer here is: just take it when you can easily do it consistently!

I typically take it before training, but that’s because I make my proats (protein powder + oatmeal) and the creatine bag is right beside my protein powder. So they are stacked together for me. I scoop out of one and then just scoop out of the other.

Suggested for You: Another creatine option comes from Equip Foods. Take a look here at the PureWOD Pre-Workout. It includes creatine monohydrate.

YOUR TURN!

I’ll be answering your questions every week right here in the Mini Pause! Let me know what’s on your mind. I’ll be checking for both questions and feedback at support@drstephanieestima.com.

P.S.

In these newsletters, I often share the products, devices, and equipment that I use in my own life regularly. I ONLY mention items I feel are worth highlighting and that I believe may provide health and wellness benefits to my Bettys. I encourage you – pressure-free! – to explore and then determine if any of the items fit YOUR health needs, fitness goals, lifestyle, or budget.

You’ll find more resources in my online HEALTH TOOLKIT. I’ve compiled these for my Bettys who are still cycling, experiencing symptoms of perimenopause, or managing the transition to the other side of menopause. Take a look!

***

Disclaimer: The information included in a newsletter, email, or on drstephanieestima.com is intended solely for educational purposes. It does not replace a direct relationship with your licensed medical provider and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Affiliate Disclosure: Products mentioned in a newsletter, email, or on drstephanieestima.com, may be part of an affiliate agreement in which Dr. Stephanie Estima receives a small commission on the sale of an item you purchase.

Mini Pause #14: Common Cardio Mistakes & How to Fix Them

What You’re Getting Wrong About Cardio and How to Make Simple Changes for Big Results

TL,DR (too long, didn’t read)

Cardio is a good thing. But you don’t need it to lose weight. And doing too much of it and to the exclusion of other forms of beneficial fitness just doesn’t serve you. Choose the type, intensity, and duration of your cardio wisely and based on your goals. Timing matters, too. If you’re strength training (and I know you are), you’ll want to save cardio until after your lifting. Cardiopulmonary health is especially important in perimenopause and menopause, so you’ll want to do cardio smarter, not harder, and definitely not longer.

WHY

I am a fan of cardio work, but not for the reasons you might think. One of the biggest misnomers for integrating cardio into routines is that it’s required for fat loss. Spoiler–it isn’t!

Cardio is important for cardiovascular health (this is especially true as we age and lose estrogen). Just as importantly, cardio facilitates work capacity for your resistance training workouts and for your recovery because of a better ability to deliver nutrients to repairing muscles.

When your cardiorespiratory fitness is good, you will be able to work hard during leg day and recover in between sets.

The other thing to note is that individuals who engage in some type of regular cardio are also generally setting up good habits so that when they lose weight (through diet and weight lifting) they are more likely to keep it off. You are more active, so your caloric balance has a better chance of staying balanced.

As important as cardio is in a balanced exercise regimen, I want to explore some common mistakes with cardio, with the assumption that you are looking to build muscle and lose fat.

WHAT

Mistake 1: Cardio As Effective As Diet

In a word, no. Cardio is not at all required for fat loss. Not even one bit! The biggest determinant of whether you will lose weight is your balance of calories in versus your calories out. If you are in even a mild caloric deficit, you will lose weight. This can be achieved without cardio entirely.

If you’ve ever looked at calories burned on your typical cardio equipment (even when they are likely overestimating it), it’s pretty discouraging. I clock in somewhere between 400-600 calories when I’m on the bike for an hour. An hour!!

By contrast, I can easily pack away 700 or 800 calories of food in a few minutes.

When we’re thinking about caloric deficits, it’s way easier to eat your calories than it is to burn them! It’s unfair, cruel, and unfortunately true. So a better strategy is to think about the calories you’re eating (and often the hidden calories from dressings, the bit here and there, and the mindless snacking) that is leading to a caloric surplus.

Now, don’t get me wrong, if muscle building is your goal, a caloric surplus is a great idea, as long as you’re putting the energy to work by lifting weights.

Relying on cardio for fat loss is a losing scenario, because it’s far easier to eat your calories than it is to burn them.

The other thing to remember is that if you’re overdoing it on the cardio, your body is a wily minx and will compensate by driving up hunger cues and metabolically adapting by decreasing your overall caloric expenditure. That means you will likely start moving less, your digestion will slow down, and even the calories you burn during subsequent cardio sessions will decrease.

The more you rely on cardio as a fat-loss tool, the more the returns diminish as you burn fewer calories overall and reduce non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT).

Cardio should supplement your fat loss goals, not be the main event.

Mistake 2: The Timing Of Your Cardio

If fat loss and muscle gain are the goals, you also want to think about when you engage in cardio relative to when you lift weights.

There’s a well-established interference [*][*][*] between developing the aerobic endurance pathway and the muscle hypertrophy pathway.

This means, your muscle goals may be impaired if you do your cardio before your training. Some studies suggest that strength is compromised for 6 to 8 [*] hours after an intense cardio session.

This is especially true for high-intensity interval training (HIIT) [*]. HIIT may be less of a time commitment and it can be more fun than a Zone 2 workout, but putting your HIIT workout ahead of your weight session is likely going to catabolize your performance because you’re already going to be pretty gassed.

And HIIT and weight training have a lot of physical features in common anyway: the explosive power and recruitment of type 2 fibers. By combining these two, the activity that comes second likely will suffer.

Also keep in mind that the recovery demand for a HIIT session is much higher than a Zone 2 workout. You’ll need more time to recover from a HIIT workout before you should do it again.

HOW

Think about your cardio as a way to keep your overall fitness level high:

  • The cardioprotective benefits it extends in perimenopause and menopause.
  • The way it augments your performance on heavy lift days.
  • How it helps establish healthy lifelong habits.

Cardio isn’t required at all for fat loss. It should never be used as your primary fat loss tool. Fat loss happens in the kitchen, not on the treadmill.

If your goal is fat loss and muscle gain, the timing of your cardio can be after a training session, or even on separate days altogether.

I typically lift weights in the morning, and if I have trained my upper body, I’ll jump on my stationary bike in the evening for a Zone 2 ride. If I have trained legs in the morning, I’m doing no cardio that day. Instead, I’m sitting on the couch, going for a sauna, or going to bed early.

Zone 2 training can be a great way to train your base level of cardiopulmonary health. Aim for a 30-45 minute session, several times a week. Remember, there are a lot of ways to get into your Zone 2! Rucking, cycling, walking, and swimming are wonderful, low-impact options.

HIIT training can be done once or twice a week, and probably shouldn’t be longer than 15 to 30 minutes.

For more ideas, I wrote about different ways to train the top end of your cardiopulmonary fitness in Mini Pause #11 and Mini Pause #12.

NOW

  • Reframe your thinking around cardio to be an adjunct for living well (and helping with leg day!)
  • Ensure your weightlifting is done first. If you want to do Zone 2 that day, it can go immediately after weights, or later that day.
  • Limit your HIIT workouts to 30 minutes or less one to two times per week following weight workouts. (And probably not on leg day unless you are a maniac.)

Question of the Week

Q: How to navigate perimenopause with a low budget? The must-dos!

This is such a great question from vykteran on IG! There are many  low- and no-cost items that make a major difference in our experience with perimenopause.

Here are the top 30 things I feel measurably move the needle when it comes to feeling great in perimenopause. Take your pick!

  • Watch the sunrise / early morning sunlight: Get outdoors (rain or shine) for 10 minutes every morning.
  • Watch the sunset.
  • Snack on exercise: for every 1 hour of sitting, get up and move for 10 minutes. (Read more about exercise snacks in Mini Pause #3.)
  • Mouth tape at night (can be a piece of surgical tape on the mouth).
  • Clean your house with vinegar, water, and a few drops of essential oils (I use orange or lemon).
  • Keep your phone and all electronics out of your bedroom.
  • Keep your room cool, dark, and serene.
  • Use only floor lights or candles after sunset, no overhead lights.
  • Lift heavy at least 3x/week. This can be weights at the gym or odd-shaped rocks and objects you find in nature.
  • Sprint 1-2x/week. Grab your trainers and hit the road! Run as fast as you can for one minute, then walk until your heart rate recovers. Do this cycle 5x.
  • Aim to get at least 7,000 steps a day. Your phone likely has a pedometer built into it.
  • Drink 3L of water daily. Add in sea salt or electrolytes.
  • Moisturize your skin after a shower or bath with olive oil.
  • Absolutely no alcohol.
  • Set boundaries and stick to a consistent bedtime and waketime every day (including weekends).
  • Aim to get a minimum of 30g of protein at each meal.
  • Chew your food 20 times on each side of your mouth.
  • Stop eating 2-3 hours before bedtime.
  • Open your windows!
  • Practice gratitude for people, things, and events in your daily life.
  • Tell people why you love them: send a voice note or a written note about what you are grateful for and what you notice about them that you admire.
  • Watch comedy and let yourself laugh!
  • Sing or hum along to music (opens the throat chakra; the humming is calming for the nervous system).
  • Oil pull for oral health.
  • “Close and clean” your work and personal spaces daily. Have a proper work shutdown: tidy up your desk, and shut down your computer. Put dishes in the dishwasher, and wipe down countertops so you can walk into your kitchen the next day without seeing clutter.
  • Celebrate your efforts, not only the outcome.
  • At the end of the day, reflect on how awesome you were with at least one specific example.
  • Make a desire list and dream about what lights you up. A desire list can be anything: from material items you want, experiences, relationships, properties, lifestyle, etc. Just allow yourself to dream again.
  • Practice forgiveness. For your parents, for ex-partners, coworkers, friends, or anyone who has wronged you. It is not that you are letting them off the hook for what they did, but that you are setting yourself free.
  • Sit on the grass, on the sand, or anywhere in nature. Gaze off into the distance. Let your mind wander.

Ok, that’s just a preliminary list! What did I miss?

YOUR TURN!

Let me know what you’d add to this list of low-budget perimenopause must-dos. Send in your favorites to support@drstephanieestima.com.

WHAT I RECOMMEND: BodyBio

You know I’m a big proponent of optimizing my nutrition and lifestyle to promote healthy aging, and I love a product that achieves multiple health goals at once.

That’s why I’ve incorporated BodyBio PC, a phospholipid complex, into my daily routine. Not only are phospholipids essential for cellular health, especially as we age, they also:

  • Promote mental clarity and memory*
  • Support a healthy gut lining (no more leaks!)*
  • Encourage liver detoxification*
  • Support bile flow and fat digestion*

Visit BodyBio.com to learn why PC is considered  “the foundation of your cells.” Use code DRSTEPHANIE to save 15% sitewide.

Bonus! If you missed my April 8 BETTER! podcast with Jessica Berman, you may want to take a listen this weekend. We talked about seed oils (misunderstood), omega 6s & 3s (essential) and how they impact your body’s composition and overall health. As an executive leader at BodyBio, Jess is continuing the legacy of the membrane medicine work her grandfather, scientist Ed Kane, spent over four decades researching.

*This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Benefits for My Bettys

In these newsletters, I often share the products, devices, and equipment that I use in my own life regularly. I only mention items I feel are worth highlighting and that I believe may provide health and wellness benefits to my Bettys. I encourage you – pressure-free! – to explore and then determine if any of the items fit YOUR health needs, fitness goals, lifestyle, or budget.

Today’s issue includes the following items. Use code DRSTEPHANIE with the links below to receive a special discount.

You’ll find more resources in my online HEALTH TOOLKIT. I’ve compiled these for my Bettys who are still cycling, experiencing symptoms of perimenopause, or managing the transition to the other side of menopause. Take a look!

Mini Pause #13: Adopt Recovery Practices to Manage Your Energy

Ways You Can Better Manage Fatigue and Recovery During Perimenopause and Menopause

TL,DR (too long, didn’t read)

You deserve to recover. Not half-assed recovery. Full ass recovery. Using techniques like walking, thermal manipulation, and sleeping are mostly low-cost or no-cost ways to upregulate your capacity to recover. I’ve included some options I personally use, as well.

WHY

Recovery and fatigue management become essential pillars to master in perimenopause and menopause.

Truthfully, I don’t think women were ever meant to work themselves into the ground and burn out, but words like hustle and hack have made their way into common language. Women are told they are just as good as the guys are… and then oops, here we are, pulling all-nighters, saying yes when we should be saying no, and living off of a To-Do list with a bad attitude and angry at the world.

Now don’t misunderstand me – I DO want women to seek out and achieve all they desire and dream about.

Just not at the expense of health, joy, and pleasure.

Life humbles you as you age. Gone are the days of forgoing sleep for partying (or in my case studying), and you begin to cherish sleep, time alone, and a nourishing diet of food, people, and sacred spaces in your home.

Mastering recovery is key for body composition, mental grit, progression in the gym, and, dare I say… happiness at large.

You deserve to recover.
Fully.

There’s no half-assed recovery here, Bettys. We only recover with our full ass. Let’s dive in.

WHAT

SLEEP

There is no better glute builder, waist trainer, or happiness serum than a good night’s rest. It is the panacea of recovery. For perimenopausal women, sleep can evade us like the patriarchal moving target of beauty.

Our society is notoriously bad when considering our diurnal rhythms. We avoid sunlight like vampires, we eat late at night, and we bathe in artificial lights. The knock-on effects pervade our sleep quality and quantity.

Sleep affects every aspect of our lives. Mood, emotional regulation, physical repair, metabolism, glute gains, and wrinkles. For example, what happens when you only sleep for four hours for six days in a row during a particularly busy week? Your blood glucose spikes, your cells stop responding to insulin, and your glycation levels skyrocket.

Here in the Bettyverse, we want to sleep (and recover) like the goddesses we are. So, here are a few general guidelines, many low or no cost.

Go to Bed and Wake Up at the Same Time. I know this is glaringly obvious and potentially reduced to the ridiculous, but you would be AMAZED at what this does for sleep. Set your alarm clock. Do a wind-down routine an hour before bedtime. Dim the lights.

Go Outside. Rain or Shine. Again, at the risk of sounding ridiculous, going to a window is not being outside. Being in a car is not being outside. Going outside is going outside. No matter the weather, inclement or sunny. Buy some fun slip-ons and go out onto your balcony, terrace, or stoop. It doesn’t matter as long as you can see the sun.

Make Your Bedroom a Sanctuary. I talk about this in The Betty Body: invest in dark curtains, pick your laundry up off the floor, and sleep on beautiful linens. Do whatever it takes to make your bedroom feel like a resting place fit for a queen.

TEMPERATURE MANIPULATION

In our efforts at modernity, we have forgotten that humans have never existed eternally in environments that were constantly 72F / 22 C. We have baked-in mechanisms to help uplevel our capacities based on whether we are cold or hot.

Cold Plunges. Sanctioned by biohackers and optimizers alike, there’s quite a bit of literature to support getting cold regularly to uplevel mitochondrial function and augment recovery. While women do not need to get into temperatures as cold as men, we can still reap many benefits from cold water immersion. This has become one of my favorite recovery tools that I use each morning.

I outlined a few low-cost ways to cold plunge in Mini Pause #2. I also invested in a portable cold plunge tub in my home but did so only after several months of cold water immersion in my home bathtub.

I am very happy to report that this winter I never used my winter jacket once! I would go to the store, to and from the gym, and everywhere else without my winter coat. My cold tolerance has steadily improved and I am super proud of it.

Heat Exposure. Heat is another way we can augment recovery via activating heat shock proteins. I recorded a BETTER! podcast #357 on heat science for my dark roast Bettys, but here are the high-level takeaways. Heat exposure:

    • helps promote cardiovascular health
    • activates your natural endorphin system
    • helps with muscle repair and soreness
    • helps to grow muscles (useful if you are training or to preserve tissue while injured)

Many gyms offer saunas as part of their service packages. If you have room in your home, you can invest in a home sauna. If you don’t have room in your home, there are portable sauna blankets. I love this as an option because, like a blanket, it just folds up after use so it doesn’t require a dedicated space in your home.

ZONE 1 AKA WALKING

Maybe the most underrated recovery tool of all time is walking. Besides the metabolic and mood benefits, this is a great way to recover from a grueling leg day at the gym, an argument with your partner, or a bad night’s sleep.

Walking delivers oxygen and nutrients to your legs, replenishes glycogen stores in the legs, and helps to remove the build-up of metabolites like lactate that cause soreness in the first place.

I always try to go for a walk in the evening with my family in the warmer months of the year after dinner. And I always walk on the days following leg day to help reduce DOMS (delayed onset of muscle soreness). The first few minutes are uncomfortable, especially if I’m really sore, but as the blood starts moving and my legs get warmer, it becomes much more pleasant. My recovery from leg day is always better when I walk the same day or the day after that workout.

For all the Type A Bettys who need to ‘feel it,” you can certainly dial up the intensity with pace, hills, or rucking with a weighted vest or backpack.

HOW & NOW

Decide that you are worthy of recovery, rejuvenation, and rest! This may be the hardest task of them all. But trust me, you are worth it. Even if you don’t always believe that to be true. You are.

Build on sleep habits. Once you establish regular sleep/wake times (including weekends!, prioritize getting early morning light, and jeuge up your bedroom, you also can think about supplementation. I like to use magnesium supplements about an hour or so before bedtime.

Get your progesterone levels tested. This is one of the more common hormonal reasons we see sleep evade us in our 40s and 50s. Micronized oral progesterone is often the standard of care. Talk with your physician to determine if this might be an option for you, especially if you’ve mastered basic sleep hygiene and you’re still having difficulty sleeping.

WHAT I RECOMMEND: Recovery Tools

I’ve mentioned several recovery tools in today’s main article. Feel free to explore these options and determine if any may be a good fit for your lifestyle and budget. Use code DRSTEPHANIE with the links below to receive a special discount.

Question of the Week

Q: What is a solid alternative to birth control for my daughter?

I am a big fan of FAM, the Fertility Awareness Method. FAM works by tracking your basal body temperature and possibly cervical fluid secretions to determine ovulation. You can do this manually, or with modern apps. By doing a simple web search, you’ll find a plethora of information on FAM.

I often recommend a Daysy fertility tracker because it’s easy, and the app does all of the calculations for you. You take your oral temperature every morning on waking, enter menstruation days (if applicable) into the app, and it does the work for you.I love this because it’s a blend of modern science and natural cycles. You’re not taking anything exogenously that alters your natural hormone production, and it allows you or your daughter to get in touch with her unique rhythms. She will learn the length of her cycle, and eventually how her mood, sleep, and desire change throughout her menstrual cycle.

YOUR TURN!

I’ll be answering your questions every week right here in the Mini Pause! Let me know what’s on your mind. I’ll be checking for both questions and feedback at support@drstephanieestima.com.

P.S.

HEALTH TOOLKIT: I’ve compiled numerous resources for you on my brand new website. These resources are for my Bettys who are still cycling, experiencing symptoms of perimenopause, or going through the menopause transition. Everything I recommend, I use myself. That’s my rule. I invite you to look around!

How Minerals Slow Down Aging

I talk a lot about how you can feel (and look) amazing at any age. As women, we’re often taught to fight against our bodies, but it’s incredible how much can change when instead, you start supporting your body.

A few simple shifts in your daily habits can make you look 10 years younger—and add 10 years to your life.

One of the easiest changes you can make is to add full-spectrum minerals to your routine. Every single cell in your body relies on minerals, and they play an essential role in everything from hormones to metabolism to brain function. The sad fact is that, since most of us are mineral-deficient, many women struggle to maintain healthy function in these areas.

Here’s a quick look at how minerals can nourish your body and help you look and feel your best, especially as you age.

Why Do Minerals Matter for Aging?

Minerals play an essential role in almost every major biological process in your body. They’re involved in:

  • Hormone production (especially estrogen, progesterone, and thyroid hormone synthesis)
  • Fat burning (your metabolism slows if you don’t have enough minerals)
  • Food cravings (cravings are often a sign of mineral deficiency)
  • Sleep (you won’t create melatonin, your body’s sleep hormone, without adequate magnesium and potassium)
  • Stress response (mineral deficiencies make you more reactive to cortisol)
  • Mood (minerals make up the neurotransmitters that regulate your emotions)
  • Mental clarity, memory, and other aspects of brain function

Minerals also are essential to mitochondrial function (energy production), which is important in aging. Your mitochondria are the power plants of your cells: they make ALL the energy that keeps your body alive.

As you get older your mitochondria struggle to produce energy. [*] Your metabolism slows, collagen production in your skin decreases, you feel fatigued more easily, your body struggles to manage inflammation, and so on.

One of the biggest drivers of mitochondrial decline is a lack of minerals. [*] Your body needs more minerals as you age, and if you don’t get them, your mitochondria begin to break down.

As a result, you age much faster when you don’t have enough minerals. [*] They’re essential to keeping your cells young and your body healthy.

The trouble is that almost everyone needs more minerals. A 2022 study from the CDC found that 97% of Americans are mineral-deficient. [*] We’re all aging a lot faster than necessary!.

Support Your Body with Minerals

The good news is that replenishing your minerals is easy. The right supplement routine will refill your mineral stores and support your mitochondria. That allows you to slow down aging and help your body to work better than it has in years.

In the past, replenishing your minerals meant taking a cabinet full of individual supplements: magnesium, potassium, zinc, calcium, iron, manganese, and so on.

That’s why I was so happy to find BEAM Minerals. They offer a full-spectrum liquid supplement that provides all the minerals your body needs, in the right ratios, with close to 100% bioavailability.

You can take a one-ounce shot of liquid in the morning (don’t worry; it tastes like water) and refill all your mineral stores at once.

BEAM Minerals also contain flavonoids that deliver mineral cofactors directly to your mitochondria, which makes them especially good for anti-aging. They help your mitochondria get stronger as you age, not weaker.

The best part is how easy BEAM makes it. In 30 seconds a day, you can refill all your body’s mineral stores at once, nourish your cells, and access a younger, brighter version of yourself.

If you decide to give BEAM Minerals a try, make sure you enter BETTER at checkout for 20% off your first order.

And however you choose to do it, I highly recommend finding a good mineral supplement. Minerals make a night-and-day difference in the aging process, and taking them is one of the simplest things you can do to look and feel your best.

With one shot of liquid in the morning, you can replenish every essential mineral your body needs!

It takes just 30 seconds, and you’ll feel the difference in your energy, focus, and more. Head to BEAM Minerals and use code BETTER for 20% off.

Mini Pause #12: The Power of Plyometrics

Plyometrics for the Win! Improve Your Bone Density, Balance, Coordination, Muscle Growth & Insulin Sensitivity

TL,DR (too long, didn’t read)

Plyometrics help to drive bone density, balance, coordination, and muscle growth. They help to improve insulin sensitivity–and make you feel like Wonder Woman!

WHY

Let’s continue the Mini Pause series on type 2 fiber training. Last week I spoke about Speed Training (Mini Pause #11 if you missed it!). This week I want to dive into plyometrics, which uses burst and explosive power.

Plyos are another way to train fast-twitch muscle fibers, and like speed training, these can also be done with high or low impact.

We spoke last week about the anabolic and hormonal effects of speed training. Training the top end of your cardiometabolic capacity matters as much as training our bottom end (Zone 2). Plyometrics presents an awesome opportunity to train type 2 fibers and preserve power and neural recruitment.

WHAT

Plyometrics have been shown to drive several desirable results in the body namely:

Stronger Bones & Connective Tissues

In women of all ages, burst activities like jumping and plyometrics have been shown to improve bone density [*] and reduce the incidence of lower-body injury in female athletes [*]. This has also been demonstrated in menopausal and post-menopausal women [*], as well.

Considering women are most likely to develop osteopenia and eventually osteoporosis, this should be the biggest motivator for the preservation of bone health as you age.

Better Coordination & Proprioception

Technically, there are a lot of things happening when you initiate a jump:

  • the neural recruitment of desired muscles via the efferent motor nerves,
  • your joint position sense in the starting position,
  • your brain predicting where you will end up in space at the end position,
  • the kinetic energy stored and released in the muscle cell,
  • the muscle sensors detecting stretch and deformation as you jump,
  • and, of course, the flexibility of the joints being used to work through their full range of motion.

That’s a lot! When you train your neuromuscular system through jumping, you improve your balance and coordination, and your proprioception (which is your unconscious sense: it is how you know where your joints are without looking at them).

As women age, in combination with osteopenia, they also lose joint position sense, which can contribute to tripping and falling.

Anabolic / Muscle Growth

Plyometrics have demonstrated a strong signal for muscle growth [*]. So whether you are training plyometrics alone, or combining with resistance training [*], this is a great way to continue to build muscle in your 40s, 50s, and beyond.

Insulin Sensitivity

Power and burst training both have been shown to help improve insulin sensitivity [*]. The short burst of explosive power drives insulin receptors normally hiding in the cell to the cell surface to be able to acquire more glucose for energy production.

You Feel Like Wonder Woman!

I don’t know about you, but when I can jump onto a plyo box or complete squat jumps, I feel like a beast. And isn’t that at least part of the point of power training? To make you feel…. well… powerful? I walk just a little bit taller when I finish.

HOW

Plyometrics can be done both at higher and lower impact levels. If you are uneasy jumping or nursing an injury, rebounders are a great option as they absorb most of the ground reactive forces of landing. You also can perform plyometrics in a swimming pool.

Beginner

  • Bunny Hops: Standing with your feet slightly apart, knees are not locked out, find a hallway or a corridor, and “hop” or “jump” as high as you can while traveling forward slightly. Just in time for Easter! Feel free to practice this on your easter egg hunts.

Intermediate

  • Bunny Hop Switches: This is essentially a one-legged Bunny Hop that alternates between the left and the right foot. Lift your left leg (bending the knee so it’s as high as your hip) with the right leg on the floor, hop four times on the right foot, and then switch legs. Repeat down the corridor.

Advanced

  • Box Jumps: You know now that being advanced is just mastering the basics and executing them well. This plyo is essentially a “giant” bunny hop with height and flexion. Start with a low box (they start as low as six inches). Stand in front of the box. Bend your knees deeply and pause at the bottom to remove all kinetic energy from the Achilles. Explode up and land on the box with both feet.

NOW

Add plyos to your next workout after you’re warmed up. I typically add them onto the end of a weight training workout that is not legs. If I’m training shoulders or back, I can insert a quick 10-minute plyo finisher at the end.

Question of the Week

Q: What is your go-to lunch?

I don’t like to have to think too hard about lunch. I usually throw together a salad that has a good amount of protein and fat. I prep lots of different salad items on a Sunday so I can toss them together for the week. I try to think about my food from the following verticals: fiber, protein, fats, and carbs. I organize my fridge shelves to support each of these goals.

  • Base: I have glass Tupperware in my fridge with pre-cut lettuce. I like crunch, so usually this is a cabbage or coleslaw mix. Romaine hearts also make the cut, and if I’ve run out of all of the above, then I take sauerkraut from the jar and use that!
  • Protein: This is usually slow-cooked pulled chicken that I spice with Lebanese spices, but this could be ground beef or turkey, or leftover protein from dinner the night before.
  • Carbs: I love to add potatoes or rice. And I love them cold. The other thing I’ve been enjoying lately is my homemade sourdough croutons. When my sourdough bread gets stale, I cut it up, marinate with olive oil and salt, and bake the pieces at 325F for 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Fats: Bacon bits, ranch salad dressing, olive oil, avocados, or nuts.
  • Herbs: I really love dried herbs, and I’m pretty liberal with their use. Herbs de Provence, Zaatar, Everything but the Bagel, sesame seeds, Rosemary leaves, Herbamare…. I love it all!

YOUR TURN!

I’ll be answering your questions every week right here in the Mini Pause! Let me know what’s on your mind. I’ll be checking for both questions and feedback at support@drstephanieestima.com.

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