Can Too Much Protein Make You Fat?

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Valerie asks:

A friend of mine fell from a ladder and shattered bones in his foot. It’s been a couple of months, but his foot is still swollen. Is there anything that we can do?

So with injuries and with anything that keeps you from being mobile, any kind of medical professional is always going to recommend, as soon as you can, you start moving. So somebody has a surgery, somebody has a hurt limb, as soon as they can, anybody wants to get you to start moving, because things atrophy from lack of use.

So can yoga help with that? Maybe. You probably just want to start with real simple range of motion stuff, like walking, going up stairs, things like this. Whatever you’re going, definitely follow the advice of your doctor. It sounds like you have shattered bones. That could be real serious. So yoga might be helpful, but you just want to make sure it’s at the right time in your healing process.

Rachida asks:

I’m in a wheelchair, will walk again don’t know when yet. I’m doing physiotherapy, and I want to be more flexible. I can’t do all those yoga positions, and I need some help. Can YOGABODY supplements help me with yoga positions, too?

YOGABODY supplements, it depends on the supplement, but YOGABODY Stretch, which is kind of our flagship supplement, is really, really great for connective tissues, helping your body, the elasticity of your connective tissues in your body. So if you’re stretching it’s a really great nutritional compliment to a stretching routine. So yeah, for sure it could be helpful.

I stand at my standing table, which holds my knees at the bottom, but I don’t have the force in the back of my legs to hold my weight and stay standing without the bottom holding. Muscles are still too weak. What is your advice?

So this is really, really specific advice that sounds like your physio could probably answer a lot better than me, but it sounds like you’re doing a lot of great work to rehabilitate, and I wish you all the best with that.

Jeanette asks:

I started attending hot yoga classes last September in 2012. Around March of this year, I started feeling pain on my right hamstring whenever I do a forward bend or any pose that would stretch the hamstring. My doctor said it could be a hamstring strain and advised me not to do yoga for now. Do I continue doing yoga classes but avoid the poses and stretches that stretch my hamstring? What can I do to recuperate faster? And what can I do to prevent this from happening again?

So almost every yoga student who’s serious about their practice, at some point hurts their hamstring, and it can be as simple as a sore hamstring from overstretching, it could be a strain or it could be a full hamstring pull. I’ve pulled both hamstrings on both my legs, I’ve strained them a number of times as well, and people get really shocked when they hear that. I definitely did mine quite badly for a number of reasons. I have a blog post about it you could read. Most people do it and they do it to a very minor extent. The real risk here, Jeanette, is that that small hamstring pain turns into a full hamstring pull, which can take 18 months to heal, which is a disaster. So you’ve got to really respect your body.

The one thing I will say, too, is if you have a hamstring pull, you want to do your forward bend stretches but way, way less than you normally would, maybe 60 or 80 percent maximum of your stretching capacity. I’d also be very careful in the heat. You said you’re doing hot yoga classes. Heat can mask pain. So if you have a sore hamstring, you go in a normal room you can feel your limits really easily. That heat sometimes will mask your pain and you’ll go way too far. So take it very, very seriously and take it carefully and you can heal quickly. If it does get worse, it can be a really long healing process, so do be weary of that.

Sasidharan asks:

I have hamstring problem, severe muscle pull, sometimes turning motions and sometimes while sleeping. Can you please suggest your remedy?

I think this is actually a muscle cramp. It sounds like it’s happening during sleeping. So there’s a number of different things that can be going on here, and it can be completely healthy and there can be nothing going on, but a common one that happens is people have a mineral deficiency. A mineral deficiency in magnesium is one in particular. Magnesium is also a natural muscle relaxant, and it can also make you go to sleep. So taking a magnesium supplement, say somewhere between 400 and 1,000 mgs every night before you go to bed could be helpful with that. But again, check with your doctor. Muscle cramps at night can be signs of other things as well, but magnesium deficiency is a relatively common one.

Linda asks:

Have you heard of MSM (MSM is methylsulfonylmethane, it’s a really great nutritional supplement for yoga students) causing headaches? I have been plagued with a lot of headaches lately.

The truth is, everybody’s body reacts differently to different things. There’s people who can’t even tolerate vitamin C supplements, and so it really depends. So could it cause headaches? Yeah, it certainly could. If you’re taking any new supplement, make sure you drink a lot more water. Your body will, in some cases, need more water. With MSM and vitamin C, that’s certainly the case. There’s a slight diuretic affect, meaning your body will lose a little bit more water, so you need to drink extra water.

So it could be a dehydration headache, it could be certainly an allergic reaction as well. I would give it some time, make sure you’re drinking enough water and then make a decision later.

Katie asks:

I am now 17 weeks pregnant and complications at the beginning of my pregnancy meant no exercise at all. Now I have been given the all clear to go back to exercise, and I want to know what your advice would be with regards to yoga poses which are safe to do.

So, Katie, if you can, I’d work with a local prenatal yoga teacher. We actually have a yoga for pregnancy program that’s coming out. Unfortunately, we probably won’t get it to you in time. You’ll probably be a mom by then, but the key thing is to find somebody who ideally, the best prenatal yoga teachers are people that have been pregnant before. There’s a lot of people out there with all the best of intentions, but if you haven’t been pregnant, for me it doesn’t make sense to be teaching prenatal yoga if you haven’t been pregnant, at least on a mass scale.

So try to find somebody who’s been pregnant before who can teach you, but there are certain poses you just want to be wary of, like forward bends with straight legs, for example, you’d want to avoid. Certain twists and certain supine poses on your belly obviously, but there’s lots of yoga that’s really safe. If you’re looking for a local class to join, I’d look for classes with names like Hatha yoga or beginner’s yoga or even a basic flow yoga class. But again, do make sure your teacher knows you’re pregnant and is not trying to push you.

There’s kind of this weird movement right now where, for whatever reason, pregnant yoga students really want to push themselves and try to do handstands and backbends, and while certainly all of that stuff can be done and 99 out of 100 times it’s going to be perfectly safe, I don’t really understand why people want to push it. For some reason people feel like they need to prove something, and I don’t know. I don’t want to cast a judgment, but I don’t think that’s something you should take a risk with. You’ve got nine months of your life, real short period of time, it seems to me that it should be a period where you’re really, really cautious and using yoga cautiously. So that’s the only other thing I would be weary of, is yoga teachers who tell you you can do everything you want to do, handstands, backbends, twists. You probably can, but it’s just that one time when something went wrong that it would be a disaster.

Nicole asks:

Can you tell me if I am supposed to be taking the supplements both before and after yoga practice? I’m wondering about more flexibility
in my poses.

So, Nicole, based on your body, it really depends, in terms of taking supplements before or after. Nothing we take is like performance enhancing, so it’s not like taking creatine or taking caffeine or something like this. It’s really just adding to your body’s nutritional stores. So whether you take it before or after practice is not that important. The key thing is if you take it before practice, just take it before enough that your stomach isn’t upset, and make sure you drink plenty of water.

Joanne asks:

I’m experiencing considerable discomfort in my neck. I have been doing Sun Salutations and gravity poses. Noodle is especially difficult for me because of my neck. Any suggestions what to do or not to do?

So, Joanne, you’ve got to be really, really careful with your neck. The first thing I’d recommend is going get checked out by somebody, an osteopath, a chiropractor who you’ve heard good things about. I would just make sure that you don’t have any preexisting conditions that you don’t know about, like an abnormal spinal curve, like a trigger point somewhere or some kind of muscular imbalance that’s really clear and obvious. You want to be very careful with your neck. It can be one of the more debilitating injuries.

If you’re finding aggravation in specific poses like Noodle pose, you might want to leave them out for a while. This is nothing something I could really give you a super intelligent answer to virtually here, but for sure take it seriously and take it slow. In general, you want to be really conservative and use kind of a four-point movement with your head, where it’s going front back, side to side and generally not mixing those movements. If you’re suffering from pain, that might aggravate it. But again, I would try to get some professional advice there.

Fredrik asks:

I need to increase my lower back flexibility. Which gravity poses would you suggest?

We teach a pose called Lightning Bolt, which might not look like a backbend but it is. It’s a fantastic one. We teach a pose called Noodle, which is really, really great, and between the two of those you can really do great. In terms of non-gravity yoga poses that increase lower back flexibility, Urdhva Dhanuasana, which is an upward-facing bow pose, which in gymnastics they call a wheel or a bridge pose, is really fantastic. It’s really challenging for people, but if you can work up to three poses, 30 breaths in each pose, you’ll make progress really quickly there as well.

Hayley asks:

I don’t drink coffee or eat processed foods, but I’m struggling to lose an excess of 14 pounds of weight. I walk, dance twice a week, do strengthening exercises and yoga. I think I may have too much protein in my diet. Can you please give some examples of foods that are fats but not necessarily meats/high-protein foods, other than the obvious walnuts and avocados?

Too much protein, if you’re carrying extra weight, is almost never the problem, Hayley. There is exceptions to that, but it’s pretty rare. You probably have too many carbohydrates and probably too many simple carbohydrates. So the most lipogenic foods, the most fat-forming foods on the planet are sugars in different forms. And so if you’re looking to lose weight, the first thing you want to look at is reducing all of your simple sugars in your diet and then even some of the complex sugars. That’s going to be the simplest way.

I wouldn’t worry about your protein foods at all, and it sounds like you’re eating pretty good food so I wouldn’t worry about your fatty foods at all either. I would focus mostly on the carbohydrates in your diet. Most people get great results. This could be a couple of really simple tricks or tips. The first one is don’t drink any calories at all, meaning everything you drink should either be water or non-caffeinated tea or some kind of water with lemon juice in it, but don’t drink anything that has any kind of calories. And also don’t drink zero-calorie beverages, like diet sodas. They really screw up your fat storage hormones in your body.

And then the second thing is try to really reduce, if not eliminate, gluten, grains, specifically wheat. Just between those two things, a lot of people find that weight loss can happen really naturally. Again, you don’t have a whole bunch of weight you’re trying to lose. 14 pounds, I know it feels like a lot but it’s not that much. Usually with some small tweaks and a little bit of patience, it sounds like you’re doing a lot of great things for your health, you can lose some weight. So removing wheat, bread-based products and not drinking any calories whatsoever, might be just enough to really help you make some progress. And again, I don’t want to over simplify things because there might be more complex things going on, but hopefully that’s a starting point for you.

Nana asks:

I’ve been practicing my flexibility for a couple months. I used to be really stiff but I’m getting somewhere. How would I not break but like loosen the joints in my groin area completely?

Okay, so this is kind of a complex question. So you certainly don’t want to break joints. So you have your pelvic bowl, and when people are talking about opening up their groin, maybe you’re talking about doing box splits, like the full splits to the side, like a side split, like a martial arts or gymnastic splits.

In terms of stretching up your joints, your joints are not, by nature, locked up unless you have calcification or atrophy of your joints. Most people have a pretty healthy joint range of motion naturally. It’s more common, when you’re feeling restricted motion, it’s the muscles and connective tissues holding that joint that are limiting its range of motion. Now there are exceptions and there are people who have genetic limitations and things.

So probably, when we talk about opening up our spine or loosening up our shoulders, what we’re really talking about is the muscles and connective tissues around those areas, and the best way to stretch, the best way to create flexibility progress is with your body completely relaxed and holding things for a long time. Now you do need to be careful that you don’t aggravate or inflame your joints, because that’s really, really dangerous in terms of long-term problems and can even lead to, for example, circus performers and acrobats and even gymnasts, they can get arthritic-type conditions in their joints from heavy use, overuse and things like this.

But basically what you want to do is long hold gravity poses, like we always teach, passive poses, relaxing your body completely into the pose and give yourself some time. You’ll feel progress really, really quickly, but it’s not going to happen overnight, and it does take some concentration and some patience.