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Food & Supplements

  • Superfoods and Greens: The 4 Horsemen of Health

    Let’s be honest- can you truly say that you get the recommended amount of fruits or veggies daily? Since there is a high likelihood that the majority (and by majority, probably over 75 %!) of us will answer no, don’t you think that something needs to change?

    Yes, eating more REAL plant based foods is always best, but you probably won’t do that, so what’s the best option? The answer may lie in a good greens and superfood supplement.

    What Exactly Are Greens And Superfoods Supplements?

    The name actually says it all. These are supplements (oftentimes, in powdered form) that contain an array of plant based nutrients, from many of the most nutritionally dense sources on the planet, as well as some that are not often thought of as being superfoods.

    Reasons You Need A Greens/Superfoods Supplement

    Besides the very obvious fact that you are probably not getting enough greens in your diet, there are several distinct benefits to including more of them in your diet. These benefits include:

    Increased Dietary Fibre Intake

    The importance of fibre is sorely underappreciated. Much of the health of your digestive tract, and as an extension, your body as a whole, hinges on getting enough fibre. Sufficient daily consumption can help to offset the occurrence of constipation, helps support healthy probiotic cultures, and helps promote the speedy evacuation of solid waste (faeces).

    Not to forget the fact that soluble fibre binds bile acids and cholesterol and can help improve your blood lipid values, an important benefit if you consume a lot of red meat.

    Improves pH Balance

    The pH of the body is very important to overall health, and to an extent the degree of hypertrophy you experience. pH ranges from a scale of 1-14, with the lower ends of the spectrum representing acidic, and the upper end, alkaline pH.

    The body functions best at a pH that is neutral to very slightly alkaline (about 7.4), but sadly many of the foods consumed on the standard Western Diet are very acidic or acid forming. This can have far reaching implication on health, for example, as cancer is believed to thrive under acidic conditions.

    Many fruits and vegetables are naturally alkaline or alkaline-forming when consumed, helping to shift the balance of acid/base where it should be. Consuming superfoods/greens powders also do the trick, and help ensure that you can consistently get some of these nutrients in your diet on a daily basis.

    Anti-Oxidant Powers

    Oxidation is the bane of cellular existence. Excessive oxidative damage prematurely damages/destroys cells, and can even have far reaching implication to the DNA level, increasing the risk of an undesirable cellular mutation occurring.

    Superfoods and greens with a high ORAC (oxygen radical absorptive capacity) are capable of neutralizing more of these harmful free radicals, and in turn diminishing the effect it can have on your body.

    Free radicals can also attack your muscle gains, making this alone reason to get more greens.

    What Should A Good Greens/Superfoods Powder Contain?

    Wheatgrass

    Known as the king of all alkaline foods, wheatgrass is an excellent source of alkaline minerals[i] and bicarbonate. Its high anti-oxidant content is also said to help reduce the risk of cancers developing.

    Wheatgrass also has a plethora of other health benefits as well, including improved digestion which bolsters nutrient absorption, and a metabolic boosting effect. And of course- it is a bonafide treasure trove of nutrients that warrant its inclusion in the first place. Wheatgrass easily checks all the boxes that make a superfood.

    Spirulina

    While it may sound strange to eat something such as aquatic algae, spirulina is one that can make you think again. Spirulina is basically a bacteria, but not the kind that is deleterious to your health.

    Instead, this blue-green superfood has a lot going on for itself. A tiny 7g serving consists of over 50% protein, as well as well as significant amounts of B vitamins and iron. Since bacteria aren’t technically animals, vegans everywhere can rejoice in adding this nutrient dense superfood to their diets.

    Most notably to athletes is the fact that spirulina can help improve performance. Studies have shown that it can help improve endurance[ii] and muscle strength, by simultaneously reducing muscular fatigue and oxidative damage that occurs.

    Cocoa

    Do you need a valid reason to splurge on some more chocolate? Then this could be just the thing you need. Turns out cocoa- but specifically that with over 70% epicatechin content (and made into dark chocolate ONLY), is a surprising health booster.

    Epicatechin is an extremely potent anti-oxidant flavonoid, but can also help to enhance muscle gain by reducing cortisol levels and a pesky peptide compound known as myostatin[iii], which puts the brakes on your body’s desire to build muscle.

    Think of myostatin as a hall monitor that stops muscles from growing too big; suppress the suppressor and growth kicks in.

    Chlorella

    Another friendly green algae, this superfood possesses many of the same traits as spirulina in terms of nutritional content, and can also stimulate the immune system. Oxygen uptake is also improved while using chlorella, making for better endurance and resistance to fatigue[iv].

    Other Superfoods

    There are a slew of other superfoods that often find themselves included in such supplements, thanks to their excellent benefits on health. These may include:

    • Berries- cranberries, blueberries, raspberries or strawberries for their insane antioxidant content and other flavonoids.
    • Barley grass- excellent source of calcium and iron, as well as protein content making it a great vegan protein option.
    • Veggies- including kale, spinach, cabbage and broccoli. These add fibre and phytonutrients not found in other plant based foods.
    • Enzymes and extracts- may concur protective benefits and also support enhanced absorption of nutrients from the supplement.

    In Summary

    Superfoods and greens supplements can be an excellent way to help fortify your diet, especially if you know that you should be doing more when it comes to eating plant based foods. While not a guaranteed solution for anything, consumption of more of these types of foods can contribute to you achieving your athletic goals and improving your health at the same time.

    They are a worthy investment in your future, so don’t discount just how important they are.

    [i] Gore RD, Palaskar SJ, Bartake AR. Wheatgrass: Green Blood can Help to Fight Cancer. J Clin Diagn Res. 2017;11(6):ZC40–ZC42. doi:10.7860/JCDR/2017/26316.10057

    [ii] Kalafati M, Jamurtas AZ, Nikolaidis MG, et al. Ergogenic and antioxidant effects of spirulina supplementation in humans. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2010;42(1):142–151. doi:10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181ac7a45

    [iii] Gutierrez-Salmean G, Ciaraldi TP, Nogueira L, et al. Effects of (-)-epicatechin on molecular modulators of skeletal muscle growth and differentiation. J Nutr Biochem. 2014;25(1):91–94. doi:10.1016/j.jnutbio.2013.09.007

    [iv] Okada H, Yoshida N, Kakuma T, Toyomasu K. Effect of Chlorella Ingestion on Oxidative Stress and Fatigue Symptoms in Healthy Men. Kurume Med J. 2018;64(4):83–90. doi:10.2739/kurumemedj.MS644001

  • Garcinia Cambogia, truth or myth?

    There has been a lot of hype surrounding the use of garcinia cambogia for weight loss. People who rely heavily on reducing calorie intake to lose weight usually experience terrible success rates and even if the diet program was successful, they usually put the weight back on as soon as reverting back to a normal diet. Here comes garcinia cambogia, also known scientifically as garcinia gummi-gutta, a tropical plant naturally found in the jungles of South East Asia, India and Africa, which has been claimed to suppress appetite hence aid weight loss by a number of high profile healthcare professionals.

     

    So does garcinia cambogia really work? Well, let's be direct here, there are currently no definitive clinical proof to indicate that garcinia cambogia works for weight loss in humans. The active ingredient of garcinia cambogia is called hydroxycitric acid, which has been found to inhibited fat production and increase serotonin secretion, hence lead to decreased appetite and subsequently weight loss in rats. However, rats are not humans, the results in human studies were less encouraging. It has been shown that garcinia cambogia caused no decrease in appetite in women compared to the placebo, and a study published in the Journal of American Medical Association showed that subjects taking garcinia cambogia actually lost less weight compared to the placebo, even though the result was not statistically significant. The limitation with the latter study, was that the test subjects were already on a high-fiber, low-calorie diet, therefore, the results only proved that nothing is better than a healthy good diet, even garcinia cambogia.

    Other scientific studies involving garcinia cambogia have showed mixed results, and even when a statistically significant influence on body weight was detected, the effect was still marginal. This, in a scientific context, rendered garcinia cambogia clinically ineffective for weight loss. A drug that only works less than 50% of the times with marginal results would not be deemed efficacious.

    However, one needs to understand that scientific studies usually, here I say usually, take the average results of the subjects tested, thus studies found that garcinia cambogia was ineffective for weight loss may be pverlooking those lucky few who might had lost weight by taking it. A search online showed mixed reviews of the product, with some claiming that it worked wonders on them while many others said it was ineffective and quite a few actually reported weight gain after the commencement of their garcinia cambogia regimes. These reviews, if credible, give a snapshot of the effectiveness of garcinia cambogia in real-life situations and it actually concured with the published studies. As stated previously, despite the global media frenzy, garcinia cambogia showed no consistent clinical benefit on weight loss as of the day this article was written. The best-proven method for natural weight loss is still through regular exercise combined with health eating, there is certainly no shortcut to get around that yet.

  • Yacon syrup for weight loss?

    Yacon syrup has recently been dubbed as the new miracle drink to aid weight loss. This sweet tasting juice is extracted from the sweet potato like roots of Yacon plants, which is thought to be one of the best sources of fructooligosaccharides, the indigestible sugar molecules that have the ability trick your brain into thinking you just had sugar. Yacon syrup is low in calories, and rich in prebiotics. It has shown to be able to reach the gut flora after ingestion, which can lead to a number of positive effects on health and metabolism. In short, even without the weight loss effect, Yacon syrup is a natural, healthier alternative of sugar and other synthetic sweeteners.

    But can Yacon syrup assist weight loss? To date, the weight loss effect of Yacon syrup in humans was only investigated in one study, which was published in the journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2009. During the study, researchers observed the effects 2 daily doses of Yacon syrup on obese and slightly dyslipidemic pre-menopausal women during a 120-day period. The study found that 0.14g fructooligosaccharides/kg body weight/day of Yacon syrup equivalent, that is around 0.25g Yacon syrup/kg body weight/day is safe for human consumption and significantly reduced body weight, waist circumference, BMI, low-density lipoprotein (LDL)-cholesterol levels and fasting serum insulin levels of the test subjects compared to the placebo. In fact, the group consuming Yacon syrup lost 15kg on average in the 120-day period, which I would say is quite remarkable.

    The limitation of the study, other than the obvious gender bias, was the small number of subjects used. In addition, no further studies investigating the weight loss effect of Yacon syrup were found. Therefore, the results of the study should be taken with a grain of salt. One study does not mean it is scientifically proven. Nevertheless, Yacon syrup is natural and a good source of soluble fiber, take one or two teaspoons of the syrup 30 minutes to 1 hour before each meal may aid digestion, and may even aid weight loss in the long run. Remember, although safe, too much Yacon syrup can cause stomach discomfort, so reduce intake if you are experiencing any side effects.

  • Whey Protein vs. Plant Protein: Which is Better for Muscle?

    What is Whey Protein?

    Whey protein is a milk-based product. Milk protein is made up of 80% casein protein and 20% whey protein. Companies isolate the whey protein content of milk protein to give you the muscle building supplement that you're familiar with.

     

    Types of Whey Protein

    Whey protein can further be broken down depending on the filtration process. There are three types of whey protein that are widely available in the supplement industry:

     

    Whey Protein Concentrate

    • Used in most protein supplements. Whey concentrate normally contains between 40% and 89% actual whey. The rest is nutrient filler such as simple carbohydrates and fatty acids.

     

    Whey Protein Isolate

     

    Hydrolyzed Whey Protein

     

    Benefits of Whey Protein

    Muscle Building

    • Whey protein supplementation has been shown to promote muscle growth through protein synthesis and an anabolic environment triggered by amino acids in the body.

     

    Protects from Muscle Loss

    • Whey protein supplementation has been shown to be an effective way to protect the muscle you already have gained by preventing catabolism or muscle breakdown.

     

    Recovery

    • The amino acids in whey protein will help to promote effective muscle healing and less soreness post-workout.

     

    What is Plant Protein

    Plant protein comes from plant extracts that are notably high in protein. Plant proteins usually have to be combined to form what are known as complete proteins, or proteins that contain all of the essential amino acids. There are a few exceptions including pumpkin seeds and soy.

     

    Types of Plant Protein

    Pea

    • Pea protein isolate contains an impressive amount of protein but it is incomplete. It must be combined with another plant-based source to ensure the body gets all of the essential amino acids.

     

    Brown Rice

    • Brown rice protein is highly bioavailable but it's also incomplete so it must be combined with a plant-based source like pea protein.

     

    Pumpkin Seed

    • Packed with protein, minerals, and fatty acids, pumpkin seed is one of the best plant-based protein sources. Best of all, it is a complete protein.

     

    Soy

    • Soy is another complete protein that also promotes cardiovascular health.

     

    Benefits of Plant Protein

    Muscle Building

    • Just like whey protein, plant protein supplements have been proven to promote muscle growth, protein synthesis, and an anabolic environment for results. Plant protein can also help to protect from catabolism.

     

    Recovery

    • Although you may need to combine two different plant protein sources, the amino acids found within complete plant protein can boost recovery after a workout.

     

    Which Protein is Better for Muscle?

    Despite popular belief, studies have shown that whey and plant protein are equally effective at triggering muscle growth, protein synthesis, recovery, and anti-catabolic actions. In fact, it is recommended that you use both a whey and a plant-based protein source to maximize benefits.

     

    Make your own whey or plant protein supplement with the Amino Z Supplement Builder. You can combine the ingredients you want at the dosages you need to maximize your muscle building gains.

     

    References

    1. Tipton KD, Elliott TA, Cree MG, Aarsland AA, Sanford AP, Wolfe RR. Stimulation of net muscle protein synthesis by whey protein ingestion before and after exercise. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2007 Jan;292(1):E71-6. Epub 2006 Aug 8.

     

    1. Blomstrand E, Eliasson J, Karlsson HK, Köhnke R. Branched-chain amino acids activate key enzymes in protein synthesis after physical exercise. J Nutr. 2006 Jan;136(1 Suppl):269S-73S.

     

    1. Negro M, Giardina S, Marzani B, Marzatico F. Branched-chain amino acid supplementation does not enhance athletic performance but affects muscle recovery and the immune system. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2008 Sep;48(3):347-51.

     

    1. Mourier A, Bigard AX, de Kerviler E, Roger B, Legrand H, Guezennec CY. Combined effects of caloric restriction and branched-chain amino acid supplementation on body composition and exercise performance in elite wrestlers. Int J Sports Med. 1997 Jan;18(1):47-55.

     

    1. De Lorenzo A, Petroni ML, Masala S, Melchiorri G, Pietrantuono M, Perriello G, Andreoli A. Effect of acute and chronic branched-chain amino acids on energy metabolism and muscle performance. Diabetes Nutr Metab. 2003 Oct-Dec;16(5-6):291-7.

     

    1. Tsutsumi R, Tsutsumi YM. Peptides and proteins in whey and their benefits for human health. Austin J Nutri Food Sci 2014;1(1): 1002.

     

    1. Phillips, S. M., and L. J. Van. "Dietary Protein for Athletes: From Requirements to Optimum Adaptation." Journal of Sports Sciences. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2011. Web.
  • Leucine, DAA, & BCAAs: Muscle Building Supplements for 2018

    Are you beginning to set your muscle building goals for 2018? How much lean muscle would you like to gain? Would you rather focus on bulking now and worry about cutting in the spring? If solid muscle is what you're after, there are a few ingredients that need to be a part of your supplement line-up to see the best results. Let's take a look at the top three muscle building ingredients for 2018.

     

    Leucine

    Arguably the most notable of the nine essential amino acids when it comes to muscle building, leucine has been the subject of numerous studies showing a dramatically positive effect on muscle building. Leucine has been shown to trigger protein synthesis, a necessary process for muscle building. What's more, it can promote an environment of anabolism, which is also critical for muscle building.

     

    You need to supplement with leucine since it is used up so rapidly during exercise, especially weight lifting. We recommend using 3,200 mg (3.2 grams) of leucine but if you are a very active individual, you can increase this to 4,000 mg (4 grams). Take leucine during your workout and an hour before bed.

     

    D-Aspartic Acid

    D-Aspartic Acid, a famous testosterone boosting supplement for men, has also been suggested to be an effective way to support muscle building goals.

     

    Theoretically, if D-Aspartic Acid can enhance levels of testosterone then it will also promote an anabolic environment, necessary for growth. Lean muscle mass thrives when growth hormones are present as these hormones promote recovery and lean tissue growth. Supplement veterans also swear by DAA as a pre-workout enhancer.

     

    It's important to take DAA on an empty stomach to see the best results. You can do this first thing in the morning or an hour before your workout if you train without eating much. Based on the famous testosterone studies, we recommend using 3,000 mg (3 grams) of DAA each day.

     

    Want to get your hands on an effective muscle building supplement? Why waste time looking for the ideal supplement when you can create your own? The Amino Z Supplement Builder allows you to use the ingredients you want at the dosages you need. Try it today!

     

    BCAAs

    Hands down, one of the best supplements to use to trigger muscle growth is branched chain amino acids, or BCAAs. The BCAAs that have been found to be most effective for muscle building are isoleucine, valine, and leucine (as mentioned above).

     

    Isoleucine

    • May enhance protein synthesis for muscle growth
    • May support lean muscle tissue growth
    • May be valuable for weight management

     

    Valine

    • May increase endurance
    • May boost sports recovery
    • May increase lean muscle mass

     

    Leucine

    • May boost protein synthesis
    • May trigger lean mass growth
    • May support recovery

     

    Build Your Own Muscle Building Supplement

    If you're serious about building lean muscle mass for 2018 then you need to arm yourself with proven muscle building ingredients. Don't waste money on a random supplement. Instead, create your own with the Amino Z Supplement Builder. Control the ingredients and the dosage to see results!

     

    References

    1. Blomstrand E, Eliasson J, Karlsson HK, Köhnke R. Branched-chain amino acids activate key enzymes in protein synthesis after physical exercise. J Nutr. 2006 Jan;136(1 Suppl):269S-73S.

     

    1. Negro M, Giardina S, Marzani B, Marzatico F. Branched-chain amino acid supplementation does not enhance athletic performance but affects muscle recovery and the immune system. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2008 Sep;48(3):347-51.

     

    1. Mourier A, Bigard AX, de Kerviler E, Roger B, Legrand H, Guezennec CY. Combined effects of caloric restriction and branched-chain amino acid supplementation on body composition and exercise performance in elite wrestlers. Int J Sports Med. 1997 Jan;18(1):47-55.

     

    1. De Lorenzo A, Petroni ML, Masala S, Melchiorri G, Pietrantuono M, Perriello G, Andreoli A. Effect of acute and chronic branched-chain amino acids on energy metabolism and muscle performance. Diabetes Nutr Metab. 2003 Oct-Dec;16(5-6):291-7.

     

    1. Doi M, Yamaoka I, Nakayama M, Mochizuki S, Sugahara K, Yoshizawa F. Isoleucine, a blood glucose-lowering amino acid, increases glucose uptake in rat skeletal muscle in the absence of increases in AMP-activated protein kinase activity. J Nutr. 2005 Sep;135(9):2103-8.

     

    1. Topo E, Soricelli A, D'Aniello A, Ronsini S, D'Aniello G. The role and molecular mechanism of D-aspartic acid in the release and synthesis of LH and testosterone in humans and rats. Reprod Biol Endocrinol. 2009 Oct 27;7:120. doi: 10.1186/1477-7827-7-120.

     

    1. Spillane M, Schwarz N, Leddy S, Correa T, Minter M, Longoria V, Willoughby DS. Effects of 28 days of resistance exercise while consuming commercially available pre- and post-workout supplements, NO-Shotgun® and NO-Synthesize® on body composition, muscle strength and mass, markers of protein synthesis, and clinical safety markers in males. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2011 Nov 3;8:78. doi: 10.1186/1743-7075-8-78.
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