Food & Supplements
Whey protein has many benefits for sports nutrition, especially if you are training for a specific event, building muscle or losing fat. Here we discuss whey protein and whey protein powder in detail.
When it comes to achieving a particular health and fitness goal, a very common mistake is to focus purely on carbohydrate, fat, protein and calories. These are macronutrients that are very important for your survival in large quantities (hence the name "macro"-nutrient).
It is true that these specific macronutrients are very important when attempting to lose weight or build muscle. Fundamentally, you require a calorie deficit to lose weight. Conversely, you require a calorie overload to gain weight. Through careful analysis of these macronutrients, you can effectively create a calorie overload of deficit.
We delve deep into the world of macronutrients in our free seven week course, Conquering Your Body.
But what about micronutrients? "Micro"-nutrients, as the name suggests, are molecules that our body requires in small quantities. It should come as no surprise that these nutrients are vital for good health and normal functioning of the human body. Yet they can also play a vital role in fat oxidation (fat breakdown) and hypertrophy (muscle gain).
What are micronutrients? This broad term does encompass vitamins and minerals and I am sure that you have heard the many benefits of consuming a vitamin and mineral rich diet (without going overboard of course).
But that's not it! There are litterally hundreds of other micronutrients classified as "phytonutrients". They are not necessarily vitamins or minerals per se, but they do carry a range of vital functions within the human body. Phytonutrients have been shown to:
- Prevent the onset of disease
- Boost the immune system
- Kill cancer cells
- Serve as anti-oxidants
- Repair DNA damage as a result of being exposed to toxins
This week, we had an article published which does provide a really good overview of phytonutrients and I do recommend you have a read. The article is entitled "Phytonutrients: The Power of Plants". After reading this article, you'll know why fruits and vegetables are so important, no matter what your goal is!
I have seen plenty of new "healthy" product appear within the last few years as a result of the growing awareness of health and fitness in Australia. But often, new products do not live up to implied marketing claims of being as healthy as they may be perceived to be. So, I thought I'd take a quick look at Vitamin Water and post up my opinion of this product. It's only a brief look, but an important one.
Naturally, I'm very sceptical about such a product. This is because there is so much misleading and bogus marketing in this industry that you really can never judge a book by it's cover. Sorry to be frank, but this is a sad truth about the health and fitness industry.
Probably the first thing that jumps out at me when considering such a product is that it isn't natural. It is a highly refined water source with a fair amount of sugar added in. It's full of fructose that is not in it's natural state, as would be found in many fruits. So, it's certainly in my opinion not a desirable drink to consume, especially for weight loss.
For a typical bottle, there seems to be approximately 33g of carbohydrate, all of which is sugar. In other words, this is effectively what I would classify as "lolly water". For comparison, a typical soft drink would contain 40-60g of sugar per bottle.
Such a high intake of sugar is certainly not healthy, nor is it appropriate for weight loss. Vitamin Water is therefore something that I would not recommend for anyone who is watching their weight. Whilst they are fortified with various nutrients, these can all be obtained by eating whole foods, such as fruits and vegetables where you will not obtain the highly processed carbohydrates.
To remain hydrated, opt for water. Sometimes sports drinks can be of benefit, but really only if you have specific goals and requirements with your training. Don't be fooled by thinking that sweet products are necessarily good for you just because the company's marketing says so. In my opinion, Vitamin Water falls far short of their projected "healthy" image.
A number of our clients come to us seeking to build a substantial amount of muscle. When you're trying to build muscle, you are effectively undertaking a bodybuilding regime. So it is very common that I am asked what bodybuilding supplements are the more important ones to take as part of a muscle building nutritional programme, immediately before and after a workout.
In my opinion, there are two absolutely essential bodybuilding supplements for pre-/post-workout supplementation:
- A high quality protein powder
- A high quality carbohydrate source
Bodybuilding Supplements: Protein Powder
Why is a high quality protein powder so important? A protein powder is going to provide your body with a high quality source of amino acids, which are required when synthesising new muscle tissue. Muscle synthesis will happen upon the completion of a workout, so it's really important to injest a fast-acting, high quality whey based protein powder prior to and immediately after your weights workout.
I have blogged about protein powders before and here are a list of three high quality protein supplements that I recommend (and consequently our three best sellers):
Click on the links to find out more about purchasing information from our online store.
Bodybuilding Supplements: Carbohydrate Source
Many novices overlook the importance of a fast-acting carbohydrate source. However, in order for protein synthesis to occur, insulin must be present. As I'm sure you have heard before, insulin is secreted in the prescence of carbohydrates.
The ingestion of x grams of a high glycemic index carbohydrate will have a far greater impact on the magnitude of insulin secreted immediately after ingestion relative to x grams of a low glycemic index carbohydrate source. Considering that protein uptake is most prevalent immediately following your workout, it is vital to consume some high GI carbohydrates immediately post-workout. There is also plenty of research to suggest that high GI carbs ingested immediately prior to your workout will faciliate hypertrophy also.
So, what carbs? I generally recommend dextrose, which you can buy relatively inexpensively. We did however recently add a brand new product to our store that you can buy:
Waxy maize is one of those excellent pre-/post-workout bodybuilding supplements. It costs more than dextrose, but the addition of enzymes to facilitate digestion ensure more rapid carbohydrate uptake.
Of course there are many benefits to other supplements, but these two are what I believe are the two essential bodybuilding supplements!
When seeking to lose weight, a really common point of confusion is whether or not alcohol contains calories. Is alcohol consumption going to inhibit your weight loss progress?
You may have heard that beer and wine contain excess carbohydrates (which they do)...but what about the alcohol content? What about a mixed drink? What about a shot of vodka?
Well the answer is, yes, alcohol does contain calories. A lot in fact. Here's a comparison of how dense alcohol is in calories relative to carbohydrate, protein and fat:
- Carbohydrate: 4 calories per gram
- Protein: 4 calories per gram
- Fat: 9 calories per gram
- Alcohol: 7 calories per gram
So in effect, alcohol is nearly double the caloric density of carbohydrate and protein...almost equivalent to that of fat! When it comes to weight loss (which is a function of consuming less calories than what you expend), alcohol is a very significant inhibitor to the realisation of this goal.
You may have heard that certain drinks are better or worse for you to consume if you are losing weight, due to varying calorie densities. Whilst the alcohol itself is quite dense in calories, often the carbohydrate and fat content can be significantly heightened from additives in your cocktail. For example, the addition of soft drink, juice, cream or cordial will significantly increase the total calories in your drink. Here are a few actual examples of how many calories are contained within each alcoholic drink:
- 1 glass of red wine = 69.4 cal
- 1 schooner of beer = 155.5 cal
- 1 shot of vodka = 60.8 cal
- 1 corkscrew (vodka orange, short tumbler) = 134.1 cal
- 1 tequila sunrise = 173.8 cal
- 1 vodka cruiser = 176 cal
- 1 Baileys/Kahlua/Frangelico & cream based cocktail = 931 cal
To put these numbers into perspective, a schooner of beer is similar to two slices of bread. A schooner of beer and a glass of red wine is a sandwich with a generous portion of meat and plenty of salad. Just one creamy cocktail is about 4-5 sandwiches worth!
But don't be fooled - there are many more high-quality nutrients contained within a meat and salad wholegrain sandwich as compared to two drinks! Your body can actually use these nutrients effectively, whereas the majority of calories contained within the beer and wine will be "empty" calories.
These figures from above were pulled off our food nutritional information database and you can search up all other types of alcoholic drinks here to compare.
If you are drinking, ensure that you drink sparingly. I often suggest to my personal training clients that they enjoy a few drinks every now and then, but in conjunction with a well balanced nutritional intake. It is important to recognise that whilst alcoholic drinks are extremely dense in calories and will inhibit weight loss, you also need to consider your general lifestyle (including the social aspects to your life) when seeking to lose weight.