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Food & Supplements

  • Drinking a Protein Shake After a Cardio Workout

    If you've been wondering whether you should drink a protein shake after your cardio workout, then you're not alone. This has got to be one of the most common supplementation questions out there! After all, a protein shake is there to build muscle, right? And cardio isn't effective for muscle growth...right?

    Well actually, no, these assumptions are actually quite incorrect. This could lead to the presumption that a protein shake is not necessary following a cardio workout. (You may wish to read an article I published entitled "Cardio & Bodybuilding - Good for Muscle Growth?")

    Another misconception is that because cardio is highly effective for weight loss, a protein shake could limit the "fat burning effect" by increasing the number of calories you consume.

    Let's take a step back and look at what cardio is - a form of exercise. Exercise is a means of placing physical stress on your body. You "stress" your body in order to force it to adapt to the stimulus.

    In the case of an intense cardio workout, you are forcing your fitness level to increase once the cardio session has concluded. Your body will improve its fitness so it can handle this physical stress more effectively, in case it is subject to this form of exercise again in the near future. This "overcompensation" is how you train your body to become the shape that you wish it to be.

    Considering that the major physiological changes happen after your intense workout has concluded (fat loss, fitness enhancement, muscle development etc.), it is therefore important to provide your body with the essential nutrients to facilitate these changes. Just like a house builder requires materials to build a house (bricks, wood, concrete etc.), your body requires nutrients to maximise the many changes that take place upon the conclusion of your workout.

    Following the conclusion of your intense workout, your body is dire need of nutrients. It's like a sponge and will soak up nutrients to assist in the recovery process. A protein shake is a unique tool that can provide your body with some fact acting nutrients to support this recuperation process. Two key ingredients include:

    • Fast-absorbing, high quality proteins (eg. Whey Protein Isolate, as found in many quality protein powders)
    • High GI carbohydrates (eg. Dextrose)

    Other supplements such as vitamin c/e (antioxidants), l-glutamine (immune support), free-form BCAA's (branched chain amino acids) may also be of use in your protein shake after an intense cardio workout.

    So in summary, following an intense cardio workout, you should drink a protein shake comprised of effective supplements - for nearly all goals. Not supplementing may very well inhibit your recovery, thus reducing your results. Further, you will also place your body at a heightened risk of becoming run down with a lowered immune response.

    A low-intensity cardio workout however is another story. If you are performing a low-intensity session, then a protein shake may not be necessary. This is because the degree of "stress" placed on your body from exercise is minimal.

  • Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) and Weight Loss

    Conjugated Linoleic Acid, or CLA, is a fatty acid that is often used as a supplement to assist weight loss. How effective is this product in shedding the extra kilograms of body fat?
  • Fitness & Exercise Blanket Statement Myths

    A short post this evening to deal with some common fitness and exercise "blanket statement" myths.

    There are many misunderstandings floating around in the health and fitness industry. Many of these come about as a result of an assumption that just because something is true in one particular circumstance, it is therefore true in all other circumstances. Because the human body is so complex, this often leads to old wives tales that are completely misunderstood.

    So, here are some common myths in this industry and a brief explanation on each:

    All sugar is bad

    Why is all sugar bad? Well, most likely because that's the general consencus going around the industry. Often this assumption is made because sugar is associated with a high glycemic index, resulting in a sudden "rush" of carbohydrate being absorbed. But this could not be farther from the truth! Many natural sources of sugar, particularly from fruits, have a low glycemic index! In fact, an apple which is full of sugar has a much lower GI than a potato filled with complex carbohydrates.

    Of course, your diet should not be overly high in sugar. But, to avoid sugar at all costs could cause an unhealthy imbalance.

    All High GI Food is Bad

    High GI foods actually have an important role in health and fitness. Following a very intense workout, a sudden surge of carbohydrate is required to facilitate recovery. Unless you ingest large amounts of a low GI food, it will be very ineffective at providing a high influx of carbohydrate needed post-workout.

    The Fitball is Useless for Muscle and Core Development

    I know I'm going to cop some heat from the bodybuilding community, but a fitball (or Swiss ball) certainly has it's place for many applications. The unstable nature of this ball creates a great environment for persons seeking to increase the awareness of their "core" muscles. It is such a versatile piece of equipment too, as you can use it to work practically all muscle groups!

    Whilst the fitball, in my opinion, isn't the most appropriate piece of "staple" equipment in a bodybuilding regime, it does have it's very effective uses. I think I'll elaborate on this more in later posts.

    Weight Training Builds Muscle Only, Cardio Burns Fat Only

    This has absolutely no scientific backing, but plagues the industry. Resistance training can have some very profound benefits for fat loss - in fact, it is far more effective to perform a combination of cardio and weight training for weight loss, than cardio in isolation.

    Meanwhile, cardio can actually enhance your muscle development results. You may be interested in reading an article I wrote, "Cardio & Bodybuilding - Good for Muscle Growth?"

  • Effective Post-Workout Supplementation

    Immediately following a high intensity workout, your body is like a sponge where it soaks up nutrients to facilitate cell repair. Therefore, it is imperative to supplement effectively and immediately following your workout. This is particularly important when seeking to build muscle, but also just in recovering from a high intensity workout.

    The first vital aspect to your post-workout supplementation is to consume your protein shake immediately after the conclusion of your workout. This means as soon as you pack away your equipment and go back into the change rooms. Every minute counts - so do not wait 15 minutes to consume a protein shake when you get home. That's 15 minutes of nutrient uptake that you are missing out on!

    Within your protein shake, there should be two key fundamental ingredients:

    1. A high quality, fast absorbing protein powder
    2. A high GI carbohydrate

    The high quality, fast absorbing protein would ideally be whey protein isolate. Whey protein isolate, or WPI, is a whole protein derived from milk and has an extremely high biological value. This means that your body is able to utilise the amino acid constituents of this protein source very effectively. Whey protein isolate is also absorbed very quickly, generally within 30-90 minutes (individual absorption times will vary), meaning that the nutrients contained within can facilitate cell repair as quickly as possible.

    Meanwhile, a high glycemic index carbohydrate is imperative to assist in the uptake of amino acids (which are primarily sourced from the breakdown of the proteins contained within the protein powder). This is because a high GI carbohydrate secretes insulin, which facilitates amino acid uptake within the muscle cells. Glucose, dextrose and/or maltodextrin are highly cost effective options that has an extremely high GI, suitable for post-workout supplementation.

    In addition to these two key ingredients, there are other important ingredients for post-workout supplementation that will enhance your results, especially when seeking to recover and synthesise muscle tissue:

    1. Leucine - A very important amino acid in protein synthesis
    2. Glutamine - The most abundant amino acid in muscle tissue and which has a profound benefit for boosting your immune system
    3. Vitamin C / E - Both powerful antioxidant vitamins to again boost your immune system
  • Is MSG Safe to Consume in Your Diet?

    Yesterday, we published a really interesting article on MSG, or technically known as Monosodium Glutamate. Prior to editing this article ready for publication, I must admit that I knew very little about MSG. I did find this article really interesting, so I wanted to blog about some important points raised within the article.

    I guess it's fairly common knowledge that MSG is associated with "Chinese food"...but is MSG safe to consume in your diet?

    Interestingly, MSG was discovered at the turn of the twentieth century in Japan. So this particular molecular compound has been around for a little while. It was actually first made by boiling dried kombu seaweed.

    In 1968, MSG began to obtain it's bad reputation when the New England Journal of Medicine published an article on what was referred to as "Chinese Restaurant Syndrome", which began the bad stigma of MSG today.

    Here's the thing - MSG is a natural substance. As I mentioned above, it was derived initially by boiling seaweed. But MSG is found in a variety of foods naturally, such as grape juice, peas, beef and walnuts.

    To date, there is no conclusive evidence that does suggest that MSG is dangerous. That doesn't mean that it isn't dangerous - it just means that we don't know whether MSG is or isn't safe to consume in your diet.

    Much like artificial sweeteners, consuming MSG will come down to personal preference. It is used in a variety of foods, so if you do make the choice not to consume it, I do recommend that you read the full article. Within the article, we have listed a range of aliases used on food products that are the equivalent of MSG.

    The full article is here:

    The Truth About MSG - Is MSG Dangerous?

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