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Food & Supplements

  • Does Protein Powder Work to Bulk Up and Build Muscle?

    Protein powder is the most common supplement available and is often marketed to help build muscle and bulk up. But does protein powder work - or is it just going to put a hole in your wallet?

    What is Protein Powder?

    Before we discuss the actual question, "Does protein powder work?", let's first identify what protein powder is, and what it is supposed to do in respect to building muscle and bulking up.

    Protein powder is a highly processed form of protein. There are many varieties of protein powders - egg, whey, casein, milk, soy, rice, pea based (and so on), all of which are derived from different sources, or have undergone different processes. The most commonly recommended protein powder when aiming to build muscle is whey protein powder. Let's discuss whey protein powder in more detail.

    Whey protein powder is milk derived. Milk is naturally around 20% whey and 80% casein. The concept behind supplementing with a whey based protein shake is as follows:

    1. Whey protein is the best quality protein available
    2. Whey protein is absorbed very quickly

    The quality of the protein that you consume is extremely important when you are seeking to build muscle. The greater the quality (measured by "biological value", or the degree to which your body can utilise these proteins for biological function), the better the protein is going to be to build muscle.

    The rate of absorption is also critical before and after your workout. Following an intense workout, your body requires a readily available source of amino acids in order to repair damaged muscle tissue and begin synthesising new tissues. Amino acids are the constituents of proteins, so it is important to have an available source at your body's disposal.

    Whole-food proteins cannot be absorbed anywhere nearly as quickly as whey proteins found in supplements - hence why whey protein powder can be an effective tool.

    Does Protein Powder Work?

    Coming back to the original question, it is important to understand that protein powder isn't a "special" supplement that will replace everything else in your fridge. Nor is it something that "does" or "doesn't" work in isolation. Rather, it is a tool used to enhance your results, in conjunction with an effective training regime, a good nutritional approach and proper recovery.

    It is important to never, without exception, view a supplement as "the holy grail" of accomplishing a particular goal. In this instance, it is important not to assume that with the inclusion of protein powder in your regime, you can expect to bulk up with minimal effort. Building muscle in any substantial amount is the result of a long-term and dedicated approach to your training and lifestyle in general.

    The addition of a protein powder to a poorly constructed lifestyle in regards to muscle gain will not be advantageous. For example, if you regularly consume junk food, train inconsistently, drink alcohol regularly and do not sleep properly, forget about having a protein powder after your workout. In all honesty, it will be a complete waste of your money. You would obtain far more benefit by eliminating the junk food and alcohol, sleeping well and establishing a structured approach to training.

    Meanwhile, if you are dedicated to accomplishing a muscle building goal in all aspects of your lifestyle and wish to give your body every opportunity to build muscle, a protein powder would be right up your alley. Supplementing with a protein shake would significantly boost your results by encouraging maximum muscle development following your workout and during the remainder of the day. There is an overwhelming amount of scientific literature to support this notion, which has been referenced extensively on this website.

    There are two primary options for pre/post workout supplementation that you should consider - Whey Protein Isolate (WPI) and Whey Protein Isolate/Concentrate blend (WPI/WPC). The Whey Protein Isolate is a slightly faster absorbing protein powder. However due to the additional manufacturing involved, the WPI is slightly more expensive than the WPI/WPC.

    Our most popular WPI/WPC powder is the Optimum Whey. Meanwhile, the most popular pure WPI powder is the AST Sports Science VP2.

    I do hope that this short article sheds some light on the topic of "Does Protein Powder Work?". Good luck with your muscle building goals!

  • Are Supplements Healthy & When Do Supplements Become Unhealthy?

    Supplements can be an effective tool to lose weight, build muscle or tone up. But at what point do supplements become unhealthy?

    The world of supplements can be a confusing one. There are hundreds of varieties of protein powders, amino acid mixes, fatty acids, carbohydrate drinks, veggie and fruit capsules, vitamins, minerals, multi-vitamins, joint formula's and so on.

    With so many supplements available, you could practically replace all your food with supplements. Note that this would be extremely expensive and science (let alone common sense) would tell you that this would be extremely unhealthy.

    Are Supplements Unhealthy?

    So at what point does supplementing with these products become unhealthy? It is okay to drink a protein shake every once in a while - or five times a day? Should you replace meals with meal replacement supplements? Or should you stay away from supplements altogether?

    Let's begin by defining when supplementing does become unhealthy. Extreme cases aside, in my opinion, this is when:

    • You consume supplements to replace whole-food meals regularly;
      and/or
    • You rely on supplements as a primary source of nutrition

    The word "supplement" by definition is to "add onto" and not "replace". So as soon as your primary use of these dietary products shifts to replacing, rather than supplementing a whole-food diet, you are following unhealthy dietary patterns.

    Why exactly it is important to base your diet on whole-foods? Foods in their whole and unprocessed form are extremely nutrient dense. It is important to know that nutrients (which are essential for the normal functioning of the body) extend far beyond fats, carbohydrates and proteins. They not only encapsulate vitamins and minerals, but also include special nutrients known as "phytonutrients", or "plant nutrients". There are hundreds of phytonutrients and I do recommend that you read further on this topic in a recent phytonutrients article that we published.

    Whilst supplements may contain some vitamins, some minerals and even a very limited number of phytonutrients, no supplement can contain the same degree of nourishment obtained from a well rounded whole-food diet. This is a diet based on natural, unprocessed foods across all food groups.

    Supplements, Fitness Goals & Unhealthy Practices

    There is a general assumption within the bodybuilding community that the more protein consumed, the more muscle development one can expect. Whilst there is no conclusive scientific evidence to justify this belief, it is common practice to consume excessive amounts of protein powder each day as a substitute for whole-foods. This does have the potential to lead to serious health complications and of course, sub-optimal muscle development rates.

    A similar practice is commonplace within the dieting industry. Replacing whole-food meals with meal replacement supplements is often construed as a healthy and calorie-controlled alternative to facilitate weight loss. There are some primary concerns associated with such a practice:

    1. You are risking malnourishment by restricting your nutrient intake
    2. Excessive calorie deficit can lead to health complications

    The truth is that a healthy calorie deficit can be obtained through a whole-food diet without the need for "diet" meal replacements. This approach to nutrition will almost guarantee a greater micronutrient intake.

    Healthy Consumption of Supplements

    Supplementation can certainly be of benefit if you are trying to accomplish a health and fitness goal. If they weren't, we certainly wouldn't be selling them in our supplement store!

    As suggested above, it is important to integrate your supplementation regime into a whole-food diet in a healthy manner. Here are what I believe to be some healthy uses of supplements:

    1. Consuming a meal replacement occasionally for convenience
    2. Consuming a protein powder surrounding your workout and sparingly throughout the day in conjunction with whole-foods
    3. Taking a multi-vitamin, or specific vitamin/minerals to compliment a diet already rich in fruits and vegetables
    4. Using supplements for sports specific purposes to enhance results, without detracting from a well balanced whole-food diet

    Supplements do have unique advantages over whole-foods, such as faster absorption times, higher quality proteins, convenience etc. However these do not overshadow the fact that our bodies are built to consume whole-foods as a primary food source - not pills and powders.

    Be wise with your nutrition and your body will thank you for it!

  • The Most Popular Bodybuilding Supplements

    There are three distinct groups of bodybuilding supplements that are significantly more popular than others. Let's consider each category and identify the most popular bodybuilding supplements.

    The Most Popular Bodybuilding Supplements #1: Protein Powders

    Right up the top of the list are protein powders. A whey based protein powder is almost essential for anyone seeking to pack on a significant degree of muscle tissue. A highly bio-available protein source, such as whey protein powder, is vital so your body has the appropriate nutrients available to synthesise muscle tissue following a workout.

    So what are the most popular protein powders? Without doubt, the Optimum 100% Whey is the number one seller in our online store. This is because is a cost-effective and very high quality protein powder, available in a variety of great tasting flavours.

    Dymatize have a very popular rival, the Dymatize Elite Whey. This product has a similar composition to the Optimum brand, but is slightly more cost effective.

    If you're looking for a pure WPI, which provides a high quality whey protein that absorbs extremely rapidly, our best seller in this category is the AST VP2. A very high quality protein powder with an exceptional worldwide reputation.

    The Most Popular Bodybuilding Supplements #2: Creatine

    Creatine is such a popular product because it can enhance the force potential that a muscle can generate prior to muscular failure. Whilst it doesn't directly assist in muscle synthesis, it does aid in overloading the muscle during a workout.

    Our number one selling creatine supplement is BSN No Xplode, which is a mix of creatine, nitric oxide and various stimulants.

    If you're seeking a pure creatine monohydrate powder, the Dymatize Creatine is our most popular creatine supplement, being both cost effective and providing a high quality powder.

    The Most Popular Bodybuilding Supplements #3: Thermogenics

    Whilst obviously not beneficial for muscle development, fat loss is assisted through the use of effective thermogenic supplements. These supplements contain safe substances that can assist in the breakdown of fat tissue.

    AST Sports Science again has a winner in this category, the Dymetadrine Xtreme. This one has been around for a while now and has continued to thrive based on it's highly effective blend.

    The other most popular fat loss supplement that we have available is the Cytogenix RFA-X. Although a relatively new supplement, it has gained considerable exposure overseas this year. Consequently, the RFA-X falls onto our most popular list.

    --

    All the best in your bodybuilding endeavours and I hope this article on the most popular bodybuilding supplements has given you the direction you need!

  • Papaya Uses and Health Benefits

    The papaya, commonly referred to within Australia as the pawpaw, has a range of health benefits and uses. The papaya also presents possible health concerns for a portion of the population.
  • The Best Creatine Supplement to Build Muscle

    There are so many creatine supplements available - which one do you choose? How do different creatine products differ? Let's take a look at some various powders and discuss the best creatine supplement for your muscle building goals.

    A quick background on creatine...

    Okay, so you've decided to take creatine. What exactly does it do? In this brief article, we are not going to discuss the specific chemical pathways that take place, but rather take a very general view. (I have written about creatine in detail previously, so you may wish to search this up). So, here goes:

    Creatine does not directly facilitate muscle growth. However, it does saturate muscle cells and thus increases your muscle's ability to lift more weight. More weight lifted can induce greater trauma leading to further hypertrophy (or muscle growth).

    As I said, a very general overview!

    So many types of creatine - what is the best form?

    With creatine monohydrate, creatine malate, creatine ethyl ester, kre-alkalyn creatine and other creatine's now available on the market, it's no wonder that the world of creatine supplementation is a confusing one!

    You may be very happy to know that creatine monohydrate is the most comprehensively researched creatine product available on the market. Other forms have minimal (and sometimes no) objective scientific backing to confirm that your investment will pay off.

    You may have heard of kre-alkalyn, which gained a lot of popularity a couple of years ago. In mid 2007, the ISSN conference in the United States concluded:

    Kre-alkalyn supplementation has no beneficial effect on creatine-to-creatinine conversion rates.

    This compared Kre-alkalyn to standard creatine monohydrate. The additional investment was a complete waste, according to these findings.

    Consequently, we do not sell kre-alkalyn supplements in our store.

    Considering that creatine monohydrate has been so well researched and practically proven to be effective for the majority of the population, this would be a great investment. Other forms of creatine may have been shown to be effective, but not to the same extent.

    Creatine - mixed or pure powder?

    So the question becomes whether to invest in a pure creatine monohydrate powder, or spend the additional money on a pre-mixed product.

    A creatine monohydrate powder, such as the Dymatize Creatine is a very popular product because:

    • It is highly cost effective
    • It has solid scientific evidence backing up it's effectiveness
    • It's a great product

    However, if you do intend on supplementing with creatine monohydrate from a pure powder, you should consider consuming it with a high glycemic index carbohydrate, such as dextrose or glucose. This causes an insulin spike that enhances creatine uptake.

    A pre-mixed creatine supplement is also a very popular choice because:

    • Most taste great
    • Many contain high GI carbs and other ingredients to enhance uptake
    • They are more convenient than standard creatine monohydrate powder

    One of our best sellers, BSN NO-Xplode does contain creatine (along with many other ingredients). Gaspari SizeOn is also a very popular creatine product.

    Other creatine notes

    Creatine won't always work for everyone, so it may be worthwhile giving this supplement a go and seeing how it works for you.

    Initially, you may experience some minor stomach discomfort, which is quite common.

    You may experience weight gain after supplementing with creatine after a few days. This is normal and is due to a greater amount of water being retained within muscle cells. Be sure to drink plenty of water when supplementing with creatine!

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