Have you ever thought to yourself that if you only had the time, money and conveniences of a successful competitive bodybuilder you too could achieve a physique of your dreams?
You too could workout when and how you wanted too, prepare and eat all the right kinds of foods and supplements, and get the rest you need to repair and grow new muscle. You say to yourself that you just don’t have the time and resources like those “other guys” do. Those “other guys” have “the life” conducive to the bodybuilding lifestyle. It is so easy for them and you have such a difficult time inching up the ladder scrapping every morsel of time and bit knowledge just to gain an ounce of progress.
Hopefully this article will shed a little light on scheduling your time, finding ways to save money on food and supplements, convenient food preparation, and other little tricks to help you reach your goals a little easier. Sometimes all it takes is a little tweaking to make your workouts a little more effective and to get more out of each set, rep, meal and supplement you take. Being more efficient and effective will enable you to reach those goals all the while saving a little time and money on your journey.
Below is a list of tips and tricks to help you make the road to success a little easier on your schedule and your wallet.
1 . Wheel and Deal
When joining a gym see if the facility is running any specials such as the first month being free or waiving the registration fee. Maybe they have a special couple’s rate for your significant other. Most fitness facilities want your business so they will try to work with you to get you in their door, but don’t be afraid to ask about special offers just in case they were not offered up front. For college students there are ways to utilize on-campus facilities such as recreation centers specifically for students which are usually included in the price for tuition. Many facilities will also offer student discounts.
2. Use Musclesave
We all drink whey protein and take supplements, there are always offers running for various supplements & discount codes. Check out Musclesave.com, I found them earlier this year & they automatically collect all supplement discounts/vouchers off the internet and put them in one place!
3. Buy in Bulk
Get a membership at a local wholesale warehouse. They sell foods in bulk which break down to be cheaper per serving. Remember when buying in bulk to freeze most of your meats and thaw as you prepare them for the week ahead. You can easily buy large amounts of chicken, ground meats, beef, oatmeal, rice, frozen vegetables, milk, and other staples of a bodybuilder’s diet plan. You will have large amounts of food and fewer trips to the store.
4. Clip Coupons
If you do not have access to one of those wholesale stores you can always find ways to save at your local grocer. Many stores have special discount cards, coupons to save 10 or 15%, and 2 for 1 deal. Keep an eye on their deals and what time of the week they are running them.
5. Brown Bag It
Try to prepare your meals at home as much as possible. Take meals to work instead of going out to lunch every day, make smoothies and protein shakes at home instead of buying them pre made, and going out to dinner should be kept to a minimum. This will ensure you are eating all of your bodybuilding friendly meals on a regular basis and will give you consistency and keep you on a schedule toward your goals. Make going to lunch or dinner a treat and something that you do only once a week or so.
6. One at a Time
No one said you had to use every supplement on the planet to guarantee success. Try one supplement at a time to see what effects it will have. You will know if most are working within six weeks or so. This will not only save you money in the long run but will also let you know which ones work and which ones you are wasting your time with. Experiment and stick with the ones that work for you.
7. Spend Your Time Wisely
If you are the type to go home from work before hitting the gym, save some time and pack a gym bag and head to the gym right after work. If time permits you may want to train in the morning before work or class to free up time for other things in your personal life. It takes a great commitment to schedule your time wisely. If time is not on your side when in the gym try supersets and staggered sets during your workout. It not only saves time but will also give you a cardio effect. Do calves in between sets of arms or superset chest and back or biceps and triceps together.
So there you have it, just a few tips for the financially struggling but committed bodybuilder. There are ways to your goals you just have to be creative and careful in your choices. If you want it bad enough you will find resources and creative techniques to get you there without breaking your bank. Good luck.
Author: Brad Borland
All too often when someone’s energy levels are low, they often reach for a caffeinated drink or worse they eat a bunch of carbs and sugar for a short burst of energy. The energy obtained from these methods doesn’t last, and can have some negative consequences- Energy Crash, irritability, weight gain, insomnia, and even anxiety to name a few.
There are many overlooked vitamins and minerals that can keep your energy going all day long, help keep you healthy both mentally and physically, and won’t have the negative effects associated with quick fixes. This article will underline some great vitamins and minerals for good health, well-being and energy that can be obtained through foods or dietary supplements.
Small amounts of zinc are necessary in every diet to help the body produce proteins. Zinc also helps your body manufacture the enzymes that help digest your food, and stimulates your immune system.
Foods containing zinc: Oysters, Toasted Wheat Germ, Liver, Sesame Seeds, Low Fat Roast Beef, Dark Chocolate, Peanuts
Recommended Dosage: 8 mg daily for women and 11 mg daily for men r
Vitamin C reduces inflammation, stimulates the immune system and restores the mucous lining of the gastrointestinal tract. In addition, vitamin C creates an environment in the digestive tract that helps control the overgrowth of yeast, bacteria and parasites.Vitamin C performs cellular functions in the body, which means it restores all the damaged cells back to the original form, while the body is resting. Vitamin C is needed in order to properly absorb and use iron.
Foods containing Vitamin C: Oranges, Guava, Red Sweet Pepper, Kiwi, Brussels Sprouts
Recommended Dosage: 75 to 90 mg per day/ men requiring slightly more than females r
Iron is an essential mineral needed for the manufacture of haemoglobin, the part of red blood cells that carries oxygen and is needed for energy production. When iron levels are low, red blood cells can’t carry enough oxygen to the body’s tissues, causing fatigue.
Foods containing iron: Red Meat, Egg Yolks, Dark Leafy Greens, Liver, Dried Fruits- (Prunes, Raisins)
Recommended Dosage: 18 mg daily for women and 8 mg daily for men r
Vitamin B12 is needed for manufacture of red blood cells (along with folic acid). B12 helps the body’s use of iron and is also required for proper digestion and how your body digests carbohydrates, the absorption of foods, the synthesis of protein and the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats all of which are directly related to energy levels.
Foods containing B12: Beef, Poultry, Fish, Eggs, Milk, Clams
Recommended Dosage: 2.4 mcg per day r
Folic acid is a B vitamin (also called B9 or folate) needed for the manufacture of red blood cells.
Fatigue is associated with both a simple folic acid deficiency as well as megaloblastic anemia. Because folic acid is easily destroyed during cooking, it is one of the most common vitamin deficiencies.
Foods containing Folic Acid: Leafy green vegetables, fruits and dried beans are natural sources of folate. Enriched breakfast cereal fortified with folic acid can also provide 100 percent of the daily recommendations.
Recommended Dosage: 400 and 800 mcg per day r
Magnesium is needed for the production of ATP, which is the main energy-producing molecule in the body. Magnesium is also responsible for other body functions like absorption of calcium, muscle health and producing healthy red blood cells. Magnesium provides the cells with additional fuel needed for energy production. Many of the enzymes your body needs to make energy can only be activated by magnesium. Finally, magnesium aids in the regulation of other important nutrients such as calcium, copper, zinc, vitamin D and potassium.
Foods containing Magnesium: Halibut, Tuna, Artichokes, Bananas, Buckwheat flower, Almonds
Recommended Dosage: 350 mg per day r
Photography: Alpha Design
Author: Bodybuilding.com Brandan Fokken
If you want to build a better body you absolutely need at least a basic understanding of all the amino acids, both essential and non-essential, since they are involved in so many physiological processes ranging from energy production, recovery, muscular hypertrophy, fat loss and gains in strength. Here we’ve teamed up with Myprotein.com to take a look at amino acids very generally as well more specifically looking at the individual role each amino plays within the body.
So firstly what exactly are amino acids? An amino acid is a molecule that is the basic ingredient needed to create a protein. They link together in long chains to form proteins. Some amino acids are created by the body, but others can only be obtained by eating foods that contain them, such as fish, beef, chicken, dairy products, lentils or beans. They are necessary to all living cells and an inadequate intake of them can not only affect your training in the gym and your recovery afterwards but can also have serious implications on your health. To keep things simple, there are 20 amino acids in total that can be divided into two groups: essential amino acids and non-essential amino acids. The 9 essential amino acids are deemed ‘essential’ since they must be obtained through our diet and the foods we eat whereas the twelve non-essential amino acids are deemed ‘non- essential’ based on the body’s ability to synthesize them from other amino acids.
Essential Amino Acids
Non-Essential Amino Acids
- Aspartic Acid
- Glutamic Acid
Now how an amino acid is used is very dependent on what the body needs at that particular moment in time and basically as they circulate around the body, each cell is commanded by its own DNA blue print to draw from the common pool of available amino acids to synthesize all the numerous proteins required for its functions. More specifically for those wanting to increase muscle mass, an adequate supply of both essential and non-essential amino acids is needed for protein synthesis to effectively take place. Protein synthesis is a term used to describe the synthesis of new skeletal muscle proteins. When it happens on a larger scale it’s known as muscular hypertrophy and it’s basically the process that bodybuilders and certain athletes want when they are looking to increase the size of their muscles. However if just one of the essential amino acids is missing then synthesis is halted.
Perhaps the most important application to bodybuilding is the short window of opportunity immediately following your workout when your muscles are most receptive to nutrients (since the blood flow remains high and your muscle glycogen levels are depleted which means they possess a sponge like quality where they can absorb more protein and carbs than normal). Unfortunately research shows a high protein meal (or shake) alone will not put significant levels of amino acids into your blood stream until a couple of hours after you eat it, especially if blood flow to the gastrointestinal tract has been diminished by a hard training sessions. It’s for this very reason that athletes take through free form amino acids (in tablet or powder form) since they are free of chemical bonds to other molecules and so move quickly through the stomach and into the small intestine, where they are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream within 15 minutes. This quick absorption essentially not only prevents muscle catabolism but also more specifically with the essential amino acid leucine for example, stimulates skeletal muscle protein synthesis by activating a major complex in the anabolic pathway called the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) (S.M Phillips, 1997).The mTOR is basically one of the body’s protein synthesis regulators, energy sensors and nutrient sensors of amino acid availability, specifically of leucine. It’s deactivated when leucine concentrations in the body are low and it signals to the body that there isn’t enough dietary protein present to synthesize new skeletal muscle protein. But conversely as leucine concentrations increase, mTOR is activated and signals to the body there is sufficient dietary protein to synthesize new skeletal muscle protein.
Here we more specifically look at individual amino acids and there particular role within the body:
Leucine is important for building and increasing lean muscle mass. It increases insulin secretion for better uptake of protein and carbohydrates, essential ingredients in the building of muscle and providing energy for the body. It is the most effective BCAA for preventing muscle loss because it can be broken down and converted to glucose more quickly than isoleucine and valine. This increase in glucose supply helps prevent the body’s cannibalization of muscle for energy. Leucine also aids in the production of growth hormone, which can help to heal bones and skin and also speed up recovery after exercise. For these reasons, leucine is often recommended for patients who are recovering from injury or surgery. Deficiency in leucine can lead to headaches, fatigue and even depression.
Isoleucine is essential in stabilising and regulating energy and blood sugar levels and is needed for haemoglobin formation. Its primary function is to boost energy and help the body recover from strenuous activity. It has been shown in studies that isoleucine can help to prevent muscle and tissue breakdown overnight and during extreme levels of exercise such as marathons and other extreme distance events. Deficiencies in isoleucine can result in dizziness, confusion and irritability.
Valine helps the body to maintain a good nitrogen balance in the body, allowing muscle growth. Because of its ability to remove potentially toxic nitrogen from the liver, it is thought that valine can be used to help treat the liver as well as other organs that have been damaged by alcohol abuse. It also aids in muscle metabolism and tissue repair, and is therefore great for recovery from strenuous exercise. Valine helps prevent the breakdown of muscle by supplying the muscles with extra glucose for energy production during intense physical activity. Another benefit of valine is that it helps to stimulate the central nervous system, helping the functioning of the brain.
Originally used as an effective treatment for cold sores and herpes, Lysine has since been shown to play a major role in calcium absorption; building muscle protein; recovering from surgery or sports injuries; and the body’s production of hormones, enzymes and antibodies. But perhaps of more interest to bodybuilders at the Electrochemicals Department in America Harold L. Rice et al (1970) found Lysine supplementation enhanced the nitrogen balance in young men, one reason it’s now being heralded as a mass building amino.
Again originally used to treat liver disease as well as benefitting skin tone, elasticity, hair and nails Methionine has since been shown to enhance the production of creatine and therefore favourably enhance the body’s phospagen system and reproduction of ATP (adenosine triphosphate, the molecule needed for all muscle contractions). Therefore scientists believe Methionine supplementation could greatly help with short bursts of exercise, especially on large compound movements such as the squat, bench and deadlift.
L-Phenylalanine is one of two chemical forms of Phenylalanine, the other being D-Phenylalanine. Once in the body, these amino acids are transformed into another amino acid, tyrosine. Tyrosine is then converted into key neurotransmitters, dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine. These are chemicals that transmit signals between nerve cells, particularly dopamine is needed for cognitive functioning and motivation, norepinephrine which increases alertness, increases attention span, minimizes the sensation of pain and also suppresses appetite. It also is required for the release of Human Growth Hormone (hGH) and stimulates the release of Luteinizing Hormone Releasing Hormone(LHRH) from the Hypothalamus. Lastly of course Epinephrine is more commonly known as adrenaline which is essential to preparing the body for exercise as it opens up the airways, raises blood pressure and quickens the heart rate.
Tryptophan is an amino acid that converts to 5 HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan) which is partially responsible for the production of serotonin, a brain chemical responsible for mood and weight control. It is the intermediate step between tryptophan and serotonin. Proper levels of serotonin are necessary for level moods and the ability to maintain a normal weight.
Threonine is used to form the body’s two most important binding substances, collagen and elastin but more specifically for bodybuilders it’s also essential for supporting a healthy immune system since it helps with the production of antibodies and promoting growth and activity of the thymus (obviously very important for any athlete since the immune system is sometimes detrimentally affected by periods of hard training). Also important for athletes threonine has been shown to assist better absorption of other nutrients, so protein sources containing threonine are more bio-available than others.
Alanine and Histidine
Commonly grouped together the non-essential amino acids alanine and histidine have been shown join in the body and form a compound called carnosine, which studies show can reduce the buildup of lactic acid in the muscles, which in turn, ensures you become less fatigued during your lifts or during your workout as a whole. In a study published in the Journal of Japanese physiology it stated “It has been shown that people whose muscle carnosine was high could exhibit high power during the latter half of the 30 second maximal cycle ergometer sprinting. These results suggested that the muscle carnosine concentration could be one of the important factors determining high-intensity exercise performance.” (Y Suzuki et al 2002.)
Interestingly this is one of few supplements that has been scientifically shown to increase testosterone levels in healthy young men and not castrated rats, elderly men, post-menopausal women, or men suffering from low testosterone. Formed principally in the pituitary gland, hypothalamus, and testes it plays an important role in the production of compounds associated with libido, tissue growth and the production of Luteinizing hormone. D Aspartic Acid stimulates the production of signal molecules which in turn enhance the activity in your testes as well as your pituitary gland. From an athletic perspective this allows your body to produce the compounds that help increase lean growth, strength, power and energy. More specifically scientists from Università di Napoli Parthenope e Fondazione in Italy found that subjects consuming D-aspartic acid supplementation for 20 days experienced improvements in testosterone levels compared to those with a placebo, concluding ‘here we demonstrated that D-aspartic acid, which occurs as a physiological compound in the mammalian pituitary and testis, has a role in the regulation of the release and synthesis of LH and testosterone.’ (Enza Topo et al 2009.) In another study, researchers provided a group of males (aged 27-37) a daily dose of 3.12 grams of D Aspartic acid for twelve consecutive days. Testosterone levels in the subjects that received the supplement had risen by 33% after the twelve days.
Glutamine and Glutamic Acid
Glutamine is a non-essential amino acid that is present in the body in large amounts, in fact at some times it forms 60% of your total amino acid pool. Because it passes through the blood-brain barrier rather easily it’s often called brain-food. In the brain it converts to glutamic acid, which is essential for brain functioning and increase GABA (gamma-amino-butyric-acid, another popular supplemented amino) needed or mental activities. Furthermore we all know we need nitrogen to get big, but too much nitrogen in the body could cause ammonia in the brain. Glutamine helps to get rid of it by attaching itself to the nitrogen and forming Glutamic acid, then escorts it out of the body. Plus during periods of intense training your body’s immune system is detrimentally affected howeverresearch at the Conway Institute for Biomolecular and Biomedical Research at the University College of Dublin found that the amino acid Glutamine’s repairing qualities were so impressive it’s used to treat patients with inflammatory conditions such as infection and injury. Furthermore it’s been noted within a week of glutamine supplementation your muscles become visibly larger since you have an increase in the amount of water driven into the muscle cells similar to the effects that creatine give. This effect is known as “cell volumization.”
Arginine has appeared in many products of the past couple of years, gaining popularity as a non-prescription treatment for high cholesterol and as an active ingredient in sexual support products. In the pancreas it is used to release insulin, in the pituitary gland, it is a component of human growth hormone. It is required in muscle metabolism and helping with weight control since it facilitates the increase of muscle mass, while reducing body fat.
Cysteine and Cystine
Needed for the efficient detoxification of the body, Cysteine is used in producing antioxidants and protects the brain and liver from damage due to the consumption of alcohol, drugs and cigarette smoke. Also again, bodybuilders immune systems are often compromised due to the amount of stress put on the body by performing strenuous endurance exercise therefore supplementing with cysteine is often considered a good idea. Lastly Cysteine is also considered effective in building lean muscle tissue since it is a precursor to taurine. When blood glucose levels are low, Cysteine is effective for producing energy by converting to glucose. This may help to prevent the breakdown of muscle tissue and enhance endurance in bodybuilding.
Tyrosine has been used to help everything from reduce stress, fight fatigue, depression, anxiety, headaches and allergies. However more specifically for athletes it has also been shown to increase energy and enhance libido. Also tyrosine has also been shown to increase the production of thyroid hormones in the body. Thyroid hormones then increase the rate of metabolism, raising body temperature to normal levels. Obviously increased metabolic rate is necessary to achieve weight loss, and tyrosine plays an intricate part in raising metabolism without any unwanted side effects (which are sometimes associated with certain thermogenics.)
Glycine has been shown to not only slow muscle-tissue breakdown and promote healing after intense workouts but also promote growth-hormone release and enhance cell volumising. Also more specifically performance based, glycine has also been shown to control blood sugar levels and protect against ATP depletion which can help you train at your maximum intensity for longer.
Proline is an amino acid needed for the production of collagen and cartilage. It keeps muscles and joints flexible and helps reduce sagging and wrinkling that accompany UV exposure and normal aging of the skin. Both proline and lysine are considered essential for protein synthesis and both needed to make hydroxyproline and hydroxylysine, two amino acids that form collagen. Collagen helps to heal cartilage and to cushion the joints and vertebrae. For this reason, proline is often supplemented by bodybuilders to protect the joints during bouts of heavy lifting.
The body uses serine to make creatine which is essential the reproduction of Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) which as mentioned before is essential for the efficient contraction of the muscles. It’s also a component of the antibodies and immunoglobulins that fight infections, and it is a component of choline, ethanolamine, sarcosine, and phospholipids involved in the transmission of signals through the nervous system. Lastly it can also be converted to pyruvate, which enables the muscles and the liver to release stored glucose from glycogen. It is also the grandparent of the oxygen transport molecule hemoglobin, the compound that makes blood red and that enables it to oxygenate the whole body. Hemoglobin is made from amino-levulinic acid, which is made from glycine, which is made from serine.
Author: Ross Edgley
Photography: Alpha Design
You will see many answers regarding this question, both yes and no. My personal opinion is yes The Mailliard effect happens when you heat protein. The amino acid lysine breaks down into a chemical furosine, which is the cause of amino acid damage in protein. Excess heat causes the Maillard reaction to occur, which reduces the amount of energy and protein available.
Whey protein can also be denatured by heat. Speaking from a biochemical standpoint, when heated the protein is denatured. This means the protein’s shape starts to change in such a way that the chemical bonds start to break. High heat that is sustained at about 72 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the temperature associated with the pasteurization process, denatures whey proteins, destroying some bioactive compounds. When this happens, the whole chemical structure changes decreasing the protein content in your protein powder.
What are the common pitfalls of baking, or cooking, with protein powder? Are there any do’s and don’ts?
When you cook with protein it tends to dry things out and even change the texture of what you are eating. So if you are cooking with it, be sure to measure it correctly. More isn’t always better in this case.
Would the same denaturing issue hold true for heating casein protein?
Yes the same denaturing issue holds true for casein. Being the major protein in milk, casein is one of the highest quality proteins. Unfortunately, inferior processing techniques can alter or denature this protein. Denatured caseins, such as sodium and potassium caseinate dominate the marketplace. So the “heating factor” has already taken place before it even hits the market place. Native casein however is a protein that is produced in the absence of high heat through a filtration method. So if you have this native casein and heat it, you will cause damage.
Does the naturally occurring protein in things like steak, chicken and beans not also denature when it’s heated?
Yes you can visually see this happen. It’s most noticeable in eggs when they change from runny to white and stiff. When talking about chicken or steak, the Maillard reaction occurs when the denatured proteins on the surface of the meat recombine with the sugars present. The combination creates the meaty flavor and changes the color.
Denaturation is a process in which proteins or nucleic acids lose the tertiary structure and secondary structure which is present in their native state, by application of some external stress or compound such as a strong acid or base, a concentrated inorganic salt, an organic solvent (e.g., alcohol or chloroform), or heat. If proteins in a living cell are denatured, this results in disruption of cell activity and possibly cell death. Denatured proteins can exhibit a wide range of characteristics, from loss of solubility to communal aggregation
The Maillard reaction is a form of nonenzymatic browning. It results from a chemical reaction between an amino acid and a reducing sugar, usually requiring heat. Vitally important in the preparation or presentation of many types of food, it is named after chemist Louis-Camille Maillard, who first described it in 1912 while attempting to reproduce biological protein synthesis.
The reactive carbonyl group of the sugar reacts with the nucleophilic amino group of the amino acid, and forms a complex mixture of poorly-characterized molecules responsible for a range of odors and flavors. This process is accelerated in an alkaline environment, as the amino groups are deprotonated and, hence, have an increased nucleophilicity. The type of the amino acid determines the resulting flavor. This reaction is the basis of the flavoring industry. At high temperatures, acrylamide can be formed.
In the process, hundreds of different flavor compounds are created. These compounds, in turn, break down to form yet more new flavor compounds, and so on. Each type of food has a very distinctive set of flavor compounds that are formed during the Maillard reaction. It is these same compounds flavor scientists have used over the years to make reaction flavors
Author: Brandan Fokken
As any bodybuilder will know, during periods of high intensity training there is a fine line between ‘stimulation’ and ‘alienation.’ Too little and you see no gains, too much and you’re ill for weeks setting you back even further. Here we explore what supports our immune system and what types of supplements are associated with its maintenance.
Subject of huge debate is what effect intense training has on the body’s immune system and whilst there is no clear-cut answer, the general consensus from sports medical journals is that hard, intense, balls to the wall, training to failure training, can make it very difficult for the immune system to perform its normal, day-to-day defense duties. Whilst conversely, light anaerobic exercise can actually strengthen the body’s response to stress and inflammation. Obviously that’s not to say take it easy in the gym and never break a sweat, but instead intelligently take care of your immune system during those intense periods of training so you can continue to improve and grow free of sickness. And here’s how:
Firstly it’s important to explain a bit about the immune system (known as the lymph system). It’s essentially a highly complex system of organs (lymph nodes) and cells (lymphocytes) that work together to seek and destroy anything ‘foreign’ that enters the body (such as bad bacteria or a virus.) These lymph nodes are housed strategically throughout the body, and serve as the checkpoint for fluids that carry the lymphocytes. Lymphocytes are cells that patrol the body for potential threats in the form of bacteria, virus and fungi and without becoming too in-depth, they can be classed as T-cells or B-cells.
Now in a healthy young adult, the immune system functions efficiently and can stop the detrimental effects of any virus before it becomes too severe. However research shows that when you train at a intensity above 90% of your maximum heart rate or near exhaustion, your oxygen usage skyrockets, this in turn causes an increase in lactic acid accumulation in the muscles, which in turn cases your body to pull alkaline reserves from bones and other mineral dense sources. Not to mention muscle tissue being torn and Adenosine Triphosphate levels in the muscles becoming depleted. All in all, the body has a lot to cope with and as a result athletes often experience something known as an ‘immune system crash.’ This is where the efficiency of your immune system is reduced and can last for 3 hours or even 72 hours
The good news is there are supplements that have been proven to help boost the body’s immune system and help keep your training on the right path. Perhaps the most well known being glutamine (one of the most abundant amino acids in the body) which, as well as playing a vital role in cell volumisation and nitrogen transfer, has also been shown to help the body’s immune system and aid recovery. In fact, research at the Conway Institute for Biomolecular and Biomedical Research at the University College of Dublin found the immune boosting properties of glutamine were so impressive, it was used to treat patients with inflammatory conditions such as infection and injury. Experts recommend around 5 grams per day should greatly help to support a healthy immune system during periods of heavy training.
Secondly another aspect to be considered when looking at supporting your immune system is your body’s PH levels since when they drop below 6.0 your body becomes far more susceptible to disease since it becomes an ideal environment for viruses to thrive. This happens because during intense training your body crosses that barrier from aerobic (working with oxygen) to anaerobic (working without oxygen).
When this happens, the body responds by taking other vital systems of their alkaline (acid neutralizing) compounds, therefore producing a more acidic environment (below PH 6.0.) Put simply, you need to keep your body as alkaline as possible and supplementing your diet with minerals such as calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium can do this. That’s why Myprotein.com created Alpha Men a unique and highly effective blend of high potency vitamins and minerals designed to support the body’s immune system. I take these every morning & I’ve seen incredible results – when ever someone is ill in the office I’m the last one to get it if at all!
Next, the most documented and studied mineral that has been shown to boost immunity is zinc. In a study published in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism it stated ‘zinc deficiency was shown to impair cellular mediators of innate immunity such as phagocytosis, natural killer cell activity, and the generation of oxidative burst.’ Therefore zinc plays an important role in immune function and the modulation of host resistance to infectious agents, reducing the risk, severity, and duration of infectious diseases. Furthermore it was found that zinc lozenges may shorten the duration of common cold episodes by up to 40%, according to a study published in the Open Respiratory Medicine Journal.
Another supplement known for its immune boosting properties is the herb Echinacea. In a study conducted at the Nutrilite Health Institute in California it was found that Echinacea had the ability to reduce both the duration and intensity of cold and flu symptoms. And whilst more research is needed to find out the exact medical benefits of this herb, experts believe its Echinacea’s ability of activating white blood cells that leads to its immune boosting properties. Once again I buy this from MyProtein.com as it’s the only place that sell it at an acceptable price in the UK.
Lastly, and relevant to the winter months fast approaching, recent research shows 86% of the population in the UK are deficient in Vitmain D3 since the hours of daylight are vastly reduced (whilst vitamin D can be sourced from certain foods it also functions within the body in response to the skin’s exposure to sun specifically ultraviolet-B rays.) Studies have shown Vitamin D to be a powerful immune stimulant and has been suggested to be a much more powerful tool in combating illnesses and viruses than Vitamin C. People consuming sufficient Vitamin D have also been associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, schizophrenia and multiple sclerosis. From an athletic perspective, sufficient levels of Vitamin D can have a number of performance boosting benefits. Vitamin D has been shown to reduce inflammation in body tissues, often associated with overtraining and intense exercise, which may help bodybuilders recover quicker from exercise. There is also some evidence to suggest Vitamin D levels are associated with the maintenance of power and strength by potentially increasing the size and number of fast twitch fibres. Since deficiency can be associated with stress fractures, chronic musculoskeletal pain, weakened immune function, and inflammation, it is important that bodybuilders seriously consider Vitamin D supplementation. To maintain adequate vitamin D levels, some studies suggest athletes should aim to consume over 2000iu per day.
In a study published in the Journal of Nutrition, Metabolic Diseases and Dietetics it was found that Vitamin C concentrations in the plasma and leukocytes rapidly decline during infections and stress and that supplementation of vitamin C was found to improve components of the human immune system such as antimicrobial and natural killer cell activities and the increasing of lymphocytes. Although the dosage of Vitamin C tested varies in each study, experts generally agree that 500mg of Vitamin C per day should be sufficient to help support the immune system.
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Peters EM, Goetzsche JM, Grobbelaar B, No- akes TD: Vitamin C supplementation reduces the incidence of postrace symptoms of upper- respiratory-tract infection in ultramarathon runners. Am J Clin Nutr 1993; 57:170–174.
Kennes B, Dumont I, Brohee D, Hubert C, Neve P: Effect of vitamin C supplements on cell-mediated immunity in older people. Ger- ontology 1983; 29:305–310.
Heuser G, Vojdani A: Enhancement of natural killer cell activity and T and B cell function by buffered vitamin C in patients exposed to toxic chemicals; the role of protein kinase-C. Immunopharmacol Immunotoxicol 1997; 19: 291–312.
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Jimmy Murtaugh: Website
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A number of studies have demonstrated that CLA reduces fatty mass while increasing lean body mass. And whilst there are plenty of thermogenics, stimulants and thyroid stimulators of notable merit, few supplements on the market today have been backed by as much research as CLA. Lets take a look at the facts and studies surrounding this latest fat loss supplement to see if it’s worthy of a place in your supplement cupboard.
What is Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)?
Essentially it’s a naturally occurring fatty acid and whilst it can be obtained through your diet by eating beef, cheese and certain dairy products it’s only present in these foods at very low doses. It would be pretty hard to get the recommended 4.2 grams per day as suggested by A. Smedman et al (2001) who, in a study conducted at Uppsala University in Sweden, discovered that supplementing 4.2 grams of CLA per day in 53 normal healthy individuals led to a significant decrease (3.8%) in body fat compared with individuals not taking CLA.
It’s believed CLA lowers your body fat in 3 ways; firstly in a study conducted in the Department of Nutrition and Food Science at the University of País Vasco it was discovered CLA interferes with a substance in your body called lipoprotein lipase, which is partly responsible for helping store fat in your body. Secondly the same study also concluded that CLA helps your body use its existing fat for energy. Therefore studies show CLA not only inhibits the storing of fat it also enhances the burning of fat.
Third and finally and perhaps most important for bodybuilders, CLA has been show to increase muscle mass which in turn can increase your metabolism and the amount of calories you burn at rest. This of course has the added benefit of not actually making you lose weight, but rather changing (and improving) your body composition. Most recently a 1 year human study showed a 9% reduction in body fat and 2% increase in muscle mass (Gaullier, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 79(6): 1118–1125 (2004.) Whilst the previously mentioned study at Uppsala University in Sweden also showed a slight net increase in body weight, but a net decrease in body fat.
- Mougios V, Matsakas A, Petridou A, Ring S, Sagredos A, Melissopoulou A,Tsigilis N, Nikolaidis M.
Effect of supplementation with conjugated linoleic acid on human serum lipids and body fat. J
- Blankson H, Stakkestad JA, Fagertun H,Thom E, Wadstein J, Gudmundsen O.Conjugated linoleic
acid reduces body fat mass in overweight and obese humans. J.Nutr. 130:2943-2948 (2000).
- Roche HM, Noone E, Nugent A, Gibney MJ. Conjugated linoleic acid: a novel therapeutic nutrient?
Nutr. Res. Rev. 187 (2001).
- Smedman A,Vessby B.Conjugated linoleic acid supplementation in humans – Metabolic effects.
Lipids 36:773-781 (2001).
- Lowery L.M., Appicelli P.A. and Lemon P.W.R. (1998). Conjugated linoleic acid enhances muscle
size and strength gains in novice bodybuilders. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise,
- Kreider RB, Ferreira MP,Greenwood M, Wilson M, Almada AL. Effects of conjugated linoleic acid
supplementation during resistance-training on body composition. Bone density, strength, and
selected hematological markers. J Strength Cond Res 2002; 3:325-34.
- Berven G, Bye A, Hals O, Blankson H, Fagertun H, Thom E,Wadstein J, Gudmundsen O. Safety
of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) in overweight or obese human volunteers. European J. Lipid
Sci.Technol. 102:455;462 (2000).
- Thom E,Wadstein J, Gudmundson O. Conjugated linoleic acid reduces body fat in healthy
exercising humans. J Int Med Res 2001;29:392-6.
- Kamphuis MMJW, Lejeune MPGM, Saris WHM, Westerterp-Plantinga MS. The effect of conjugated
linoleic acid supplementation after weight loss on body weight regain, body composition, and
resting metabolic rate in overweight subjects. Int J Obesity 2003; 27: 840-847.
- Gaullier Jm, Hasle J,Hoye K., Kristiansen K., Berven G., Blankson H and Gudmonson O. Effects of
CLA in moderate overweights during one year supplementation. 94th AOCS annual meeting and
Expo, Kansas,May 2003
- A. Zabala et al (2006) ‘Trans-10,cis-12 Conjugated linoleic acid inhibits lipoprotein lipase but
increases the activity of lipogenic enzymes in adipose tissue from hamsters fed an atherogenic
diet.’ Br J Nutr. 2006 Jun;95(6):1112-9.
Below Brad Borland gives you a few supplement related hint’s and tip’s that could help improve your physique and performance in the gym.
#1. Good morning whey.
Immediately upon wakening down a small whey protein shake 30 or so minutes before your solid breakfast meal. This will halt the catabolic state you may have undergone while sleeping. 20 to 30 grams should do the trick.
#2. Pre whey.
It’s also a good idea to get in about 20 to 30 grams of fast-acting whey protein 30 minutes or so prior to training. As said before, this can kick start the rebuilding process during training by saturating the blood with muscle-building amino acids.
To keep the rebuilding process alive, take in 40 to 50 grams of whey within 30 minutes of training. This will ensure the starved muscle will have ample protein to draw upon.
#4. Post training simple carbs.
This would be one of the few times each training day to get away with taking simple carbs. As said in the nutrition section, Gatorade, fruit juice or even specialized supplements such as Vitargo are good choices. This quick insulin spike will aid in recovery.
#5. Post casein.
If it is in your budget, replacing around 10 to 20 grams of your post-training whey shake with a casein product may be a good idea. More research is justifying the benefits of this slow-digesting form of protein regarding immediate recovery.
#6. Casein after dark.
Another great time to ingest casein is before bed. Since you are virtually fasting for eight hours while you sleep casein is a perfect fix due to being a slow-digesting protein.
#7. Creatine before.
Everyone knows the benefits of creatine by now. It saturates the muscle with fluids, therefore aiding in protein synthesis, it can boost recovery between sets and workouts. Consume 3 to 5 grams with your pre-workout protein shake.
#8. Creatine after.
Again, another great time to shuttle nutrients in starving muscle is within 30 minutes after training if not sooner. Take in another 3 to 5 grams with your post-workout protein shake.
As one of the most abundant amino acids in muscle cells, glutamine aids in recovery by strengthening the immune system. 10 or so grams both pre and post training will help in the recovery process.
As another “supplement behind the curtain,” carnitine helps transport fats to the mitochondria of muscle cells to be burned as fuel. Try one gram morning, pre and post workout and again before bed.
#11. ZMA at night.
The combination of zinc, magnesium and additionally vitamin B6 has actually been shown to increase IGF-1 and testosterone levels. 30 to 60 minutes before sleep take 30 mg of zinc, 450 mg of magnesium and around 10 mg of B6.
#12. The antioxidant C.
With all of the hype surrounding the latest and greatest in supplement science, you cannot forget your foundation. Vitamin C is a powerful supplement you may never “feel.” It works hard to strengthen the immune system so you can come back stronger every time. Take around 500 mg with your post-training whole food meal.
#13.The antioxidant E.
Vitamin E has the ability to reduce muscle cell damage and helps with recovery. This antioxidant is also important for skin, nail and hair health. Go with 200 to 400 IUs with your post-training whole food meal.
BCAAs are made up of leucine, isoleucine and valine which are used for fuel during intense workouts thus preventing your body from scavenging hard-earned muscle for energy. At other times of day BCAAs help stimulate protein synthesis and ward off cortisol, the catabolic hormone that can scavenge hard-earned muscle. Try 5 to 10 grams upon waking and pre and post training.
Converted to Nitric Oxide (NO) in the body arginine is a powerful supplement with a host of benefits including increased blood flow allowing nutrients and hormones to do there job. Go with 2 to 3 grams upon waking, pre-workout and 30 to 60 minutes prior to sleep.
#16. Give green tea a try.
Green tea can inhibit the enzyme that breaks down norepinephrine resulting in higher levels of the metabolic hormone and increased fat loss. Combined with caffeine, green tea extract is one powerful and widely used natural supplement chalk full of antioxidants. A cup or so three times per day before meals can aid in recovery and help burn fat.
#17. Try one supplement at a time.
Taking every supplement in the book all at once is not a wise practice. How will you know which one works and which one is a waste of your time and money? Take one for 4 to 6 weeks and documents your results. Over time you will know well enough what you need for your specific goals.
#18. Not all supplements work for everyone.
Do not be surprised if a particular supplement works for your buddy and not for you. Everyone has a different metabolism so be patient in finding what works.
#19. Give some supplements time to work.
As said before, give a particular supplement time to do its job. Being impatient will not only waste of your time but your money as well.
#20. Look to online retailers for the best prices.
Online stores usually have a huge selection of your favorite supplements as well as commentary on there use and effectiveness. They are also normally cheaper and ship within a couple of days.
Author: Brad Borland
Since nitric-oxide booster/arginine supplements exploded onto the bodybuilding scene several years ago, scientists and bodybuilders alike have looked for synergistic compounds that can help increase arginine’s effect on NO synthesis.
Since arginine is readily converted into NO in the body, supplements that either increase arginine conversion to NO or delay NO breakdown have served as the best candidates for synergistic benefits.
One study has found vitamin C combined with L-arginine increased nitric oxide levels greater than L-arginine alone. Vitamin C was reported to boost NO levels by neutralizing free radicals that can otherwise break down NO once it is produced. Since NO enhances blood flow to muscles (increasing the delivery of anabolic hormones and nutrients to muscles during and after exercise), and it enhances the muscle pump, keeping NO levels elevated will increase muscle size and strength over the long run.
In an attempt to measure the long-term effects of stacking L-arginine with vitamin C, scientists from Brazil conducted an eight-week supplementation study. Soccer players between the ages of 17 and 19 were given 3 grams of L-arginine along with 1 g of vitamin C, or subjects were given 1 g of vitamin C only. All study subjects performed a standard weight-training program in which they lifted three times per week for the duration of the experiment. This research marked the first time that L-arginine and vitamin C had been studied together in trained athletes.
After eight weeks, the arginine/vitamin C group had experienced significant improvements in lean body mass as well as muscular strength, as measured by the maximum weight they could lift on the leg extension with both the right and left leg. Additionally, the combo group experienced a significant decrease in bodyfat percentage, despite the fact that the athletes were already well trained and relatively lean to begin with. In contrast, the group that only received vitamin C experienced no significant changes in any of the above measures.
This means that larger individuals or anyone looking to maximize NO production should supplement with 3-5 g of arginine when they take it. Although the most critical time to take arginine and vitamin C is 30-60 minutes before exercise, you can also take a dose 30-60 minutes before bed. Make sure to take 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C with each arginine dosage to help prevent NO breakdown and magnify the results.
Author: Jim Stoppani
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