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    These Biowellness Tests Give You Health and Fitness Insights at Home

    By this stage you’ve probably seen athletes of all walks running around with a big black dot on the back of their arm. It’s a wearable—a sensor, actually—called Levels ethat helps you understand how your body utilizes carbs (more on this below).

    It used to be that you could only get specialized health tests on a doctor’s orders—now, you can mail in blood, saliva and urine tests without ever putting pants on. This shift from outpatient to at-home testing is thanks to advances in sample collection. Whether you’re sending in your samples or going to Quest Diagnostics, the science is basically the same, says Kamal Obbad, co-founder and CEO of Nebula Genomics.
    The issue is in interpreting the results. When your doc orders a lab test, they know your history and review your data with that in mind. But when an algorithm spits out recommendations in an app (with oversight from a physician you’ve never engaged with), “be carefeeul about considering that information diagnostic.” Translation: Don’t make any medical decisions based on an at-home test. “Talk to an expert about your results whenever possible.”

    What you can use these at-home tests for is optimizing diet and fitness so you feel and perform better.
    Courtesy Image1. Levels: Best for Optimizing Diet
    Glucose—which comes from carbs—is your body’s fastest, most accessible form of fuel. Head into a workout without enough in your system and you’re likely to bonk. This biowearable uses a small sensor (stuck on your upper arm) to monitor blood sugar levels 24/7 for two weeks at a time. Manually log workouts and meals via its app, and you’ll see live feedback as to how those impact your glucose so you can tweak habits to feel and perform your best.
    [$399 for one month; levelshealth.com]
    Get it

    Inside Tracker Courtesy Image2. Inside Tracker: Best for Fitness and Performance Insights
    This blood test (go to a lab or have a technician come to your home) analyzes up to 43 biomarkers involved with energy, metabolism, strength and endurance. Tack on the DNA test to see how 261 genetic markers influence your athletic potential. From there, the app flags problem areas and delivers custom interventions—“have one serving of probiotics each day” or “aim for three 20-minute HIIT workouts per week”—that can help you level up.
    [From $179; insidetracker.com]
    Get it

    Everlywell testosterone test Courtesy Image3. Everlywell: Best for Testosterone
    The right amount of testosterone coursing through you can mean the difference between feeling like a stallion versus a mopey zoo lion. High or low T can lead to symptoms like fatigue, depression and decreased muscle mass because it influences metabolism, sex drive, muscle production and fat loss. Spit in a tube, mail your sample to the certified lab, and an independent, board-certified physician in your state will weigh in on whether your level is normal. If it’s not, see your own doc about next steps.
    [$49; everlywell.com]
    Get it

    Rootine Courtesy Image4. Rootine: Best for Nutrient Deficiency
    Fill out a 10-minute online quiz about your health and fitness habits, then take an at-home DNA or blood test (or upload data from ancestry.com or 23andMe). Rootine’s medical-grade genetics lab will analyze 52 genetic markers that have been shown in studies to impact how your body processes nutrients. Based on your genetic needs, the company will whip up a custom micronutrient formula with up to 18 vitamins and minerals. Just remember, supplements shouldn’t be used in place of healthy eating.
    [$69 per month for 3 months; rootine.co]
    Get it

    5. Thorne: Best for Fertility
    Out-of-whack reproductive hormones can cause unexplained weight gain, sleep issues, mood changes, fatigue, and more—issues that affect people beyond those trying to conceive. Mail in your saliva swab and blood test, and certified labs will analyze hormone levels, thyroid function, and stress responses to provide you with a personalized health plan based on your results (think tips like “focus on resistance training in the morning” or “choose a Mediterranean diet”). Be wary of supplement recommendations; since those aren’t federally regulated, you should always discuss them with your doctor.
    [$300; thorne.com]
    Get it

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    These Food and Drink Trends Are Coming to a Kitchen Near You

    For one weekend a year, tastemakers from around the world head to Colorado for the Aspen Food & Wine Classic. For three days (Sept. 10–12 this year), chefs like Martha Stewart, Guy Fieri, Melissa King, Kwame Onwuachi, Andrew Zimmern, Rodney Scott, and Justin Chapple host a series of live cooking demonstrations while wine experts like Mark Oldman, Garrett Oliver, and Alpana Singh lead guided tastings. After that, attendees sample dynamic nibbles and free-flowing wine in the Grand Tasting Pavilion. It’s exactly as opulent as it sounds.

    But it’s not just a party. The Classic has historically served as a food trends forecaster and a great place to discover talent before it gets broadly recognized by everybody else. Because many of the usual 5,000 attendees (reduced to 2,500 this year due to COVID-19 measures) are involved in the food and beverage industry, those trends are accelerated—attendees bring their new favorites home and often share them with their communities.
    “Chefs exist in a sort of ecosystem, so when you see something at the Aspen Food & Wine Classic, those are going to be the first signs of trends that we’re going to see throughout the industry in the next year or two,” Mary-Frances Heck, a senior food editor at Food & Wine, told Men’s Journal.
    Wondering what the next big food and beverage trends will be? Here’s a look at what might be coming to your table soon.

    The Biggest Food and Drink Trends to Know
    1. Plant-Based Meat and Dairy Alternatives
    If you were to guess what celebrity chef Guy Fieri was dishing up at his seminar, you’d likely wager that the creation would be meat-based, cheese-heavy, and wildly over-the-top. In this case, you’d only be partially correct. Fieri did make an extravagant burger—but it was entirely vegan. The patty was created from vegetables and his signature cheese sauce was crafted from flax egg, cashews, and brewer’s yeast. Even in a crowd of carnivores, it was a hit. It was also far from the only plant-based treat on offer throughout the weekend.
    “I think plant-based cooking is an undeniable trend,” Heck said. “Now it’s really crave-able and chefs who traditionally haven’t hung their hat on plant-based cooking are getting into it and having fun with it.”
    2. CBD

    Cannabis has been legal in Colorado since 2014, but it has only recently begun to appear at the Aspen Food & Wine Classic. This year its presence was even larger.
    Lord Jones brought luxury, small-batch, hemp-derived CBD gumdrops. Ocean Spray formally debuted its new CBD-infused sparkling water, CarryOn, at the Classic. The brand has two varieties—blueberry-flavored Relax and grapefruit-forward Recover—both of which contain 20mg of CBD. And Red Belly Honey, a brand that uses bees to craft a one-of-a-kind nectar and hemp hybrid, used its honey to make some tasty venison lemongrass skewers.
    “They were all striking, both for their purported health properties but also for having great taste,” Heck said.
    The presence of so many CBD brands shows that the stigma that has long surrounded cannabis is diminishing, at least somewhat. It wouldn’t be surprising if more restaurants incorporated CBD-infused ingredients into their dishes.
    3. Sustainable Practices
    Sustainability and its synonyms have been the buzzwords du jour in the food and drink sphere in recent years. If the Classic is any indication, it’s only going to become more popular. In cooking demos, wine tastings, and within the tasting pavilion, hosts frequently touted their sustainable practices.
    One of the driving factors, says Heck, is that people are generally becoming more interested in knowing where their food comes from and how it’s sourced.
    The seminar that delved most deeply into sustainability was the “Wine for a Healthy Planet” seminar, led by Ray Isle, executive wine editor at Food & Wine. It explored what it means to be organic, biodynamic, and regenerative in the wine industry, whether or not that changes how the wine tastes (answer: generally for the better), and why it’s important to get climate change under control (answer: so we can continue to have good wine).

    4. Premium Canned Wine
    In the past, canned wines have gotten a bad rap. The earliest iterations were mass-marketed and the juice within wasn’t particularly high-quality. That’s changing, though.
    “Winemakers who are really smart and really ambitious are seeing what they can do with this canned format,” Isle said, adding that there were multiple booths at the Grand Tastings that were slinging some pretty remarkable canned wines. Want to try one? Check out Sans Wine Company, which specializes in organic wines and has several canned varieties on offer.
    It also plays into sustainability—canned wine has a significantly lower carbon footprint than wine that’s sold in glass bottles.
    5. More Mezcal

    Given the name, it makes sense that the Classic used to exclude liquor and beer, but in recent years the organizers have started branching out beyond wine. One of the most prominent alcoholic beverages at the 2021 event was mezcal (including Doña Vega above). Isle argued that there has been more public interest in the agave-based spirit recently, and Heck noted that many varieties of mezcal have gained an increased appreciation as sipping spirits.
    6. Fruit- and Vegetable-Forward Desserts

    Rustic apple crostata with a cheddar cheese crust, pumpkin milk pie, and red grape cake with whipped creme fraiche were a few of the desserts that domestic phenom Martha Stewart brought to the table during her seminar (aptly titled “Fruit Desserts”). But she was far from the only chef who used fruits and vegetables to make sweet treats. Pastry chef Paola Velez (who was named one of the Best New Chefs of 2021) served plantain sticky buns during one of the tasting events. Similarly, chef Thessa Diadem’s sweet potato sticky bun was used in marketing materials throughout the weekend. You might encounter similar delicacies on a dessert menu soon: Heck said she expects to see a wider variety of fruits and veggies incorporated into desserts served at restaurants in the future.
    7. Elevated Comfort Food
    In many restaurants, grilled cheese is often relegated to the kids’ menu. In chef Brooke Williamson’s kitchen (or more specifically, in her seminar “Not Your Mama’s Grilled Cheese”), it’s doctored up with onions caramelized in fish sauce, charred kale, and bourbon tempura onion rings. The following morning, chef Kristen Kish did a riff on another kid favorite, the fillet of fish sandwich. During her seminar, the handheld was given a fine dining execution using steamed fish, a caper sauce in place of the traditional tartar, and phyllo dough instead of a burger bun.
    “[One trend is] looking at what people are really craving and giving it to them in a new and exciting way,” Heck said, adding that many flavor profiles on display at the event had elements of nostalgia and familiarity.
    8. Diverse Kitchens

    Every year, Aspen Food & Wine recognizes the best new chefs (past winners include chefs like David Chang, Thomas Keller, and Michael Symon). While there were some outliers previously, the list often featured mainly straight, white men. This year, however, the list includes Matt Horn, a Black pitmaster; Thessa Diadem, a Filipina pastry chef; Fermín Núñez, a Latino masa master; Angel Barreto, a Black Puerto Rican chef who helms a contemporary Korean restaurant; and Ji Hye Kim, a Korean chef, among others.
    “That platform has always always tried to anticipate trends in the food world, both in terms of what’s being put on the plate and in terms of who’s putting it there,” Isle said. “If you look at this group of best new chefs and compare it to say, 20 years ago, it’s vastly more diverse. That represents a huge trend of what’s happening in the restaurant world as a whole.”

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    Tonal Launches Live, a New Interactive Workout Feature

    If you’re not familiar with the magic workout machine that is Tonal, let this announcement of its new interactive feature be your overdue intro. The home gym marvel—which uses a digital weight management system as opposed to bulky steel weights to get you jacked— also boasts personalized strength training workouts managed through A.I. Able to bring forth 200 pounds of resistance, the machine uses its silicon brain and advanced software to  “dynamically adjust the weights for each exercise in real-time for your most effective workout.”

    Now though, the workout wizards have added in the must-have home gym feature of the pandemic—a live studio component—with its aptly named Tonal Live feature. Launching October 20, this new workout format will build on the existing personalized coaching experience with real-time classes adjusted specifically for each member, helping to bridge the gap between the social element of working out in a class with the solitude of a home gym.
    Stand out features include a reworked Tonal Homescreen and mobile app that helps users find and schedule Live workouts, access to an on-demand library of former Live workouts, and the ability to check out the movements in a workout before you get started. There’s also a Social Zone where you can interact with other members and check out their PRs and milestones, and real-time coaching that includes pacing cues, form feedback, and encouragement from the coaches.

    “Tonal has always been unique in the way that we’ve approached our workout content with adaptive weights, individualized pacing, and form feedback that are customized to our members in real-time,” says Aly Orady, founder and CEO of Tonal. “As our community has grown over the past few years, we’ve been encouraged by the organic social engagement, the craving for more interaction with our coaches, and the excitement that comes from reaching new milestones; Tonal Live will allow us to connect these elements through a studio experience while retaining the foundation of what differentiates our workouts: personalization, guidance, and feedback.”
    Courtesy ImageTo ramp up the new feature, Tonal has brought on four new coaches: Brendon, Nikki, Trace, and Woody. Once Tonal Live debuts in October, Live classes will be added to their on-demand library (24 hours later), which includes thousands of workouts ranging from strength training to HIIT, yoga to barre.

    “The team has done a tremendous job of creating a product and content experience that is unparalleled in the market, especially with the launch of Tonal Live,” said Werner Brell, chief experience officer. “I’m excited to expand upon what’s already been built while creating a new vision of the many ways the Tonal product and content experience can excite new audiences and bring added value and increased motivation into our member’s lives.”

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    Low-Volume HIIT Is the Best Way to Torch Fat in a Time Crunch

    Love boot-camp classes but in a time crunch? Good news: low-volume HIIT is just as effective. Less than 20 minutes of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) can reap just as many benefits as the traditional 30 minutes a day recommended by the surgeon general, according to new research published in the Journal of Physiology. “In many cases, the low-volume variations of HIIT provide comparable and, at times, superior improvements for a variety of health outcomes when compared to longer but lower-intensity aerobic training interventions,” says study author Angelo Sabag, Ph.D., of Western Sydney University in Australia.

    Along with strong quads and a six-pack, perks of low-volume HIIT include a decrease in blood sugar levels and a stronger heart. “It improves the responsiveness of our muscles to insulin and allows us to better use blood glucose and fatty acids,” says Sabag. “HIIT also improves the heart’s ability to pump blood more effectively and circulate oxygen and nutrients to organs and muscles.”

    Looking to give low-volume HIIT a try? Sabag suggests this favorite routine: 10 x 60 seconds running or cycling at 80-90 percent of max effort, with 60 seconds of active recovery (i.e. walking) at 30 to 50 percent effort between intervals. “If you are relatively untrained, start with five intervals and progressively increase the number until you can achieve 10 per session,” Sabag.

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    Anger Management: The Best Heavy-Lifting Workouts to Blow off Steam

    The gym can’t replace therapy, but it’s a damn good release when you’re dealing with a tough day at the office or a stressful family affair. Running can be meditative and yoga can be relaxing, but if you need to blow off steam, you need to lift—and lift heavy.

    When your temper is high and you’re frustrated beyond belief, throwing some weight around is an incomparable release. Here are four heavy-lifting routines to help you blow off steam.
    Anger Management: Best Heavy-Lifting Workouts to Blow off Steam
    Workout 1: Locomotion
    Equipment needed: Turf space, loaded sled, heavy dumbbells
    1. Farmer’s Carry — 6 x 50m: Stand tall with a weight in each hand. Maintain a “proud” chest, pull shoulder blades down and back, and walk forward using short heel-to-toe steps. Aim for your body weight equivalent to be carried. If you can’t find dumbbells that can equate to this, try loading a trap bar to that equivalent instead. Rest 90 seconds between carries.
    2. Sled Push — 6 rounds x 50m: Stand behind the sled with arms straight and flexed, body leaning forward. Drive the sled using a fast yet controlled pace. Again, aim for bodyweight equivalent to be pushed. Rest 90 seconds between pushes.
    3. High Box Jump — 5 x 6 reps: Squat down to just above parallel and bring arms back behind hips. Explode with a strong forward-arm swing, tucking your knees after you’ve fully extended your legs. Land softly in the same squat depth you started with. Stand up tall, locking hips to finish the movement. Rest as long as needed between jumps.
    Workout 2: Upper-Body Power Play
    Equipment needed: Slam ball, bench, pullup bar, dumbbells
    1. Med Ball Slams — 5 x 15 reps: Keep the weight relatively light (15 pounds) but move explosively to blow off steam and torch calories. With feet shoulder-width apart, reach to full extension with the ball overhead (try not to bend your elbows). With your full force, slam the ball down between your feet. Pick the ball up and repeat. Rest 60 seconds between rounds.
    2A. Dumbbell Bench Press — 10 reps: Go heavy. Sit on end of bench, holding dumbbells resting on thighs. Lie back, guiding dumbbells over chest with legs, then plant feet to start. With dumbbells angled in and thumbs over collarbone, squeeze shoulder blades together and down. Press weights over chest to a wide V shape, then return to start.2B. Plyometric Pushups — max reps: Don’t clap your hands during the pushups. It’s an easy way to catch a finger and be out with a silly injury. Just explode up from the bottom position so hands come off the floor, then immediately drop into the next rep.
    Directions: Perform 4 contrast sets of bench press and plyo pushups, resting 90 seconds between rounds. Contrast sets comprise a heavy lift followed by an explosive movement that mimics the mechanics of that lift. These trick your muscle fibers into exploding even more than they normally would since the body is duplicating the loaded pattern during the second set.
    3. EMOM Chinups — 10 x 5 reps
    Directions: EMOM stands for every minute on the minute. Start your clock and perform the first 5 reps with the clock running. It should take you around 15 seconds, give or take. The remainder of that minute (the next 45 seconds) is your recovery. Once the next minute begins, you should be starting your first rep of set 2. Repeat until you’ve completed 10 sets in this fashion.

    Workout 3: Leg Day From Hell
    Equipment needed: Squat cage, barbell, kettlebell, leg press
    1. Paused Back Squats — 5 x 3 reps: In a squat rack, grasp the bar as far apart as is comfortable and come under it. Step back and stand with feet at shoulder width and toes turned slightly out. Inhale, then bend your hips and knees to lower your body using a slow negative. Pause at your full depth (you shouldn’t lose the arch in your low back). Extend through hips and push knees out to stand. Nothing beats standing under the heavy bar when you’re on your last nerve. Rest 2 minutes between rounds.
    2. Romanian Deadlift — 5 x 8: Grasp the bar at shoulder width, holding it in front of your thighs. Bend your hips back and lower your torso, allowing your knees to bend only as needed, until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings. Focus on a hovering RDL, rather than touching the floor with the barbell. Extend your hips to come back up. If your back begins to round, you’ve either gone too heavy or descended too low. Rest 2 minutes between rounds.
    3A. Kettlebell Swing to Squat Swing x 12 reps: Perform a typical kettlebell swing, but at the top of the swing, use the weight of the bell to counter your balance as you squat, then rise to go into a swing. It may take a couple of reps to get the rhythm down.3B. Barbell Split Squat x 8 reps each side: Load a barbell and rack it in the back squat position. (Use a power rack, or clean and press barbell and rest it on shoulders.) Stand tall with feet hip-distance apart, knees soft. Step right foot back two to three feet so torso is equidistant between feet. Plant the ball of back foot on ground and keep heel raised to start. Lower right knee toward floor until left knee is bent at a 90-degree angle and shin is perpendicular to the ground. Press through left heel to rise and return to start. Do all reps with right leg back, then switch sides.
    Directions: Perform 3A and 3B as supersets, performing 3 total rounds. Rest 2 minutes between rounds.
    Finisher: Heels-Elevated Leg Press x 2 min: This is a maniacal finisher that’ll torch the quads, helping you blow off steam and then some. The goal here is to match your body weight on the leg press machine, and perform continuous reps until the 2 minutes has elapsed. You can’t rack the weight, but you can rest-pause when needed with straight legs. Focus on the quads by keeping a narrower stance that’s lower on the platform, allowing the heels to raise off the platform at the bottom end ranges. You’re only doing one killer set of these, so make it count.

    Workout 4: Isometric Mayhem
    Equipment needed: Squat cage, safety pins, barbell, and two benches
    Note: The goal with isometric training is to work as hard as possible against the immovable object. If you’re not giving it your all, you’re missing the immense training benefits. This method doubles as a great way to blow off steam since, well, you’re going to zap your nervous system and every shred of pent up energy you may have had at the start of the workout. Once you give it a try, you’ll see.
    1. Isometric Deadlift — 6×30 sec.: Set the pins on the squat cage to the lowest setting, and wedge the bar between the bottom of the cage and those pins. Set up for a typical deadlift, pulling the bar into the pins as hard as possible. Keep the form strict, and attempt to lift the entire machine off the ground (assuming you can’t). Rest 60 seconds between sets. 
    2. Isometric Bench Press — 5×30 sec.: If you don’t have a Smith machine setup, use a bench or squat cage with pins. Set up so the racked bar is above your chest, rather than your eyes, at a low-rack position that allows you to keep elbows bent at 90 degrees. Make sure the bar is loaded to a weight far above your 1RM, and press as hard as you can into the bar for 30 seconds straight. Rest 60 seconds between sets.
    3. Back Plank — 5 x 20 sec.: Set up between two benches while seated on the floor. Place elbows on the benches, and keep arms at a 90-degree angle to your body. Make fists, look at the ceiling, and raise hips off the ground by planting feet into the floor and driving elbows into the benches. Squeeze glutes and upper back to keep your body from falling below the level of the benches. Return to the floor to rest for 90 seconds between sets. 
    4. Wall Sit — 3 x 1 min.: Take a “seat” against the wall with knees bent at 90 degrees. Press your back into the wall with force to engage the quads. If 1 minute is beyond your current capabilities, go as long as you can. Rest as long as needed between sets.

    Lee Boyce is a strength coach based in Toronto, Canada

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    Would I Play Football Again Knowing What We Know About CTE?

    I’m a med student and former wide receiver. My brother’s in the NFL. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is on my mind.
    I’m settled into a desk chair with my coffee, fueling up for another day of Zoom medical school, broadcast live to my New York City apartment. The bloc we’re on now—neurology—is a doozy. Well, truthfully, they’re all doozies.
    Today’s lecture topic: traumatic brain injury.

    The fourth lecture slide includes a picture of Mike Webster, the former Pittsburgh Steeler whose story was made famous by the 2015 film Concussion—starring Will Smith as the physician who discovers the explosive link between football and a neurodegenerative disease found in athletes and others with a history of brain trauma called chronic traumatic encephalopathy—or CTE.
    I know what’s coming. It’s not often you get a football reference during a med school lecture. The next few slides outline the consequences of repetitive head trauma. Here it comes. CTE.
    My classmates are aware I’m an ex-football player. I get a direct message from one of them: “Knowing what you know now, would you play again?”
    It’s not the first time I’ve been asked. I’d asked myself that same question a long time ago.
    Football is deeply ingrained in my family. My father and both grandfathers played in college. Justin, my younger brother, is the starting quarterback for the Los Angeles Chargers. My youngest brother, Patrick, is a freshman tight end at the University of Oregon.

    I played 11 years of football, four of them as a starting wide receiver at Montana State University. During all that time, I never had a diagnosed concussion. That isn’t to say I haven’t had my fair share of violent collisions.
    Emma Dau/UnsplashAfter my career at MSU, I had an opportunity to attend an NFL team’s rookie mini-camp—basically a tryout for undrafted players. I declined for a few reasons. I knew I wasn’t cut out to be an NFL wide receiver. I also wanted to start the long journey to become a doctor.
    My brain health wasn’t a factor in that decision.
    Tracing the timeline of CTE discovery
    The first link between football and CTE was unearthed in 2005 by Bennet Omalu, M.D., a neuropathologist who’d examined the brain of former Steeler and NFL Hall of Famer Mike Webster while working in a coroner’s office in Pittsburgh.
    “Iron Mike,” as he was known, played in 220 NFL football games. The most of any player in Steelers’ history. He’d suffered repeated head trauma during his career.
    Webster’s symptoms are now characteristic of repetitive head trauma: memory loss, behavioral and mood changes, cognitive impairment, and dementia.
    The underlying process in the brain tissue is an accumulation of an abnormal protein called tau, which forms neurofibrillary tangles. Tau is also believed to be one of the culprits behind Alzheimer’s disease. Because similar regions of the brain tend to be affected, most individuals display these characteristic symptoms.

    As public awareness of the links between repetitive brain injury, football, and CTE grew in the early 2000s, things began to change in the NFL. In 2009, the league introduced concussion protocol.
    It was also around this time that Texas Tech University head coach Mike Leach was featured on the front page of The New York Times for having abused a player with a concussion by confining him to a small, dark space while the rest of the team practiced. Leach was fired.
    The world was finally beginning to take notice—and action.
    Fast forward to 2017, when a groundbreaking Boston University study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Out of 111 former NFL football players who displayed symptoms of CTE at death, 110 were found to have diagnostic criteria of CTE from brain autopsies revealing tangles of tau protein.
    The ages of the NFL players, whose brains had been donated to science by family members, ranged from as young as 23 to as old as 89. The study encompassed all player positions. Most notably, 44 lineman, 17 defensive backs, 10 linebackers, and seven quarterbacks.

    I remember reading about this study while gearing up for my fourth and final season on the gridiron at Montana State. The finding was monumental—an irrefutable argument that football caused CTE.
    Or did it?
    Lucas Andrade/UnsplashWhen it comes to CTE and football, the relationship isn’t black and white
    The issue with the 2017 study and, really, much of the CTE research up to this point, comes down to who was included—and who wasn’t.
    These brains had been donated by families for evaluation specifically because they displayed the characteristic symptoms of CTE from players with known head trauma.
    “It’s biased sampling,” says Steve Kernie, M.D., professor and chief of Critical Care and Hospital Medicine at New York-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley’s Children Hospital, whose research focuses on brain self-repair following injury. “It’s hard to make really strong conclusions other than players in contact sports who have repetitive head trauma are certainly at risk,” Kernie adds. “This is also something we’ve known for 100 years.”
    A control group would be required to un-bias the data—such as adding into the pool of participants the brains of former NFL players who didn’t exhibit signs of CTE, plus the brains of non-athletes.
    Kernie references a condition originally called “punch-drunk syndrome,” first described by American pathologist Harrison Martland in a 1928 Journal of the American Medical Association essay about the strange behavior of boxers—another brutal, beloved sport long associated with head trauma.
    “For some time, fight fans and promoters have recognized a particular condition occurring among prize fighters which, in ring parlance, they speak of as ‘punch drunk,’ ” Martland wrote. “Fighters in whom the early symptoms are well recognized are said by the fans to be ‘cuckoo,’ ‘goofy,’ ‘cutting paper dolls,’ or ‘slug nutty.’ ”
    A decade later, the term punch-drunk would be replaced by the more appropriate dementia pugilistica.
    It’s important to point out that the link between repetitive brain injury and CTE isn’t exclusively associated with football or boxing. Other contact sports like soccer and wrestling have been implicated too.
    There are also documented cases of CTE resulting from military blast injuries.
    “During the Iraq War, service personnel were coming back with symptoms that weren’t quite PTSD,” says Kernie, explaining a growing military merger with CTE in these cases, which hasn’t been nearly as mined by the media. “The NFL gets more attention than the military unfortunately,” says Kernie.
    Back to my original question. Would I play football again?
    Absolutely.
    The friendships and life lessons I gained from over a decade of tackle football have shaped the person I am today.
    Ameer Basheer; Ryan Reinoso/UnsplashMoreover, while I believe the association between repetitive head trauma, football, and CTE is real, I think the general public has a skewed perception. The presence of a concussion or two doesn’t guarantee a diagnosis of CTE. Many other factors are likely at play—including adequate recovery after an initial concussion and genetic predispositions to the disease.
    My own hindsight question about playing football is now being asked at the outset by parents who are nervous about signing their kids up for the sport.
    The dwindling numbers are telling. Peewee football participation is at an all-time low. Meanwhile, the waning interest in football appears to be providing gains for soccer, which ironically is not without its neurological risks.
    I asked Dr. Kernie what his advice would be to parents considering whether or not to let their children engage in contact sports—particularly football.
    “As a parent of kids who played sports, I think you can’t live in a bubble,” he says. “Everything we do carries some risk. It’s really about mitigating those risks as best you can.”
    One significant way to mitigate these risks, especially in youth football, is by delaying the tackle element.
    My brothers and I began tackle football in fifth grade. If you asked us now, we would have all put off tackling until late middle school or even high school. Not just to minimize repetitive head trauma, but to first master other football skill essentials like body positioning, blocking technique, and hand-eye coordination. All of these skills can be developed through flag football.

    As I see it, the focus for budding football players at a young age should be on developing those skills rather than celebrating the traditional physicality which inevitably comes later.
    Despite the public’s skewed perception on the pervasiveness of CTE among football players, we can hopefully all agree on two things: First, minimizing repetitive head trauma. Second, tackling this problem progresses by delaying youth tackle leagues and promoting the fundamentals of a phenomenal sport.

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    The Best Protein Powders That Taste Good Too

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    If you are a regular at the gym, then you know that bulking up isn’t just about picking up the heaviest weights you can handle. It’s about fueling up with protein powders. That way you get the energy and endurance you need to go as hard as you can, as well as all the nutrients you need to make those muscles improve more than you thought possible. The only issue is that a lot of protein powders don’t taste good. That’s why you need to find the best-tasting protein powders around.
    Our Top 3 Picks
    There are a lot of protein powders out there, but not all of them taste good. This can be a bit of an issue, because you might have a hard time getting those drinks down. And at a certain point, you might just give up on them entirely. But you can get great-tasting protein shakes that won’t hinder your progress. If anything, they’ll make the whole process go a whole lot smoother.
    Looking for the right protein powders that come with great flavors is not easy, if only because there are so many protein powders to look at. And they all come in different flavors. There are the old standbys of Chocolate and Vanilla. But you also get some great alt options like Fruity Pebbles flavoring. Not to mention having to look for the right one if you are a vegan or not. It’s not easy. But it can be done.
    It can be done because we have gone and done. Below you can find 5 of the best-tasting protein powders around. All of which will do the job of fueling and bulking you up at the gym while making the process of drinking these shakes down as easy as possible. So all you need to do is check them out and see what each is good for and then pick the one that catches your eye. Whichever you pick is sure to be a fast favorite.
    The Best Tasting Protein Powders More

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    Fitbit Charge 5 Is Better Than Expected

    The new Fitibit Charge 5 builds on the advanced features of the previous model, offering a sleeker, more rounded body, and new bands. A more efficient (but also brighter) AMOLED color screen has been added, to, which helps it get up to seven days of battery life.

    The Fitbit Charge 5 also has some celebrity chutzpah behind it with Will Smith saying it helped him lose his “dad bod” (he took to Instagram earlier this year to confess he was in the worst shape of this life). The new Fitbit model isn’t just a regular tracker. Along with the normal health metrics that most trackers assess, like steps, fitness, sleep, and overall well-being, buyers will get a free six-month trial of Fitbit Premium, a new service that gives you health and fitness guidance plus access to more than 500 workouts, mindfulness and nutrition sessions.
    Courtesy ImageWith the Daily Readiness feature, the Charge 5 will tell you every morning whether your body is ready to sweat or if a recovery session is needed instead. Upon awaking, you’ll get a score based on your fitness fatigue (previous activity), heart rate variability, and quality of sleep. An analysis of how you got that score will also be on hand, along with health and fitness suggestions like a recommended target goal for being active, and workouts or sessions that can help you make the on-target decisions for your body that day.

    The updated device will also track stress, breathing rate, skin temperature variation, and oxygen saturation in your blood. And the Charge 5 includes GPS, 20 exercise modes, auto exercise identification and a V02 max estimation, and have accessibility to their ECG app while monitoring heart health 24/7 and pushing notifications to you if your heart rate goes above or below personal ranges.

    Courtesy ImageThe free trial of Fitbit Premium will also include an exclusive content series developed with, and featuring, Will Smith, which drops on September 27. It’ll have video sessions featuring Smith and his training team, as well as other health and wellness programs designed specifically to focus on both physical and mental strength.

    For access to exclusive gear videos, celebrity interviews, and more, subscribe on YouTube! More