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General Health & Fitness

  • The Simple Steps to Faster Fat Loss

    I love bulking.

    I mean, is there anything better than lifting weights and eating more than you really need?

    In short no.

    The downside is that although bulking offers a fantastic method of gaining muscle, it also comes with accumulation of some fat mass. And while this won't bother everyone, I am personally of the opinion that if you have built some muscle, then you want to be able to show it off.

    Which is where cutting phases enter the equation.

    Now it is important to note that your ability to lose fat is dictated entirely by one thing, and one thing alone -- the ability to maintain a notable daily energy deficit over weeks and months.

    However, while this is simple in principle, it is often easier said than done. Which is why I wanted to outline some simple steps  you can take to make the fat loss process easier.

    1.   Lift weights 2-4 times per week

    Conventional wisdom would suggest that losing fat requires hours upon hours of cardio -- but nothing could be further from the truth.

    See, the amount of energy your body needs to survive (also known as your metabolism) is heavily dictated by the amount of muscle mass you have on your body. The reason being is that muscle mass is considered “active” tissue – in which it needs to use energy to survive.

    As a result, if you maintain or increase your muscle mass (even slightly) you can maintain your metabolism and increase the amount of energy you burn on a daily basis, which will make your fat loss journey easier [1].

    Not to mention the fact that lifting weights itself is exercise, and it will also help you burn energy and get into a calorie deficit.

    2.   Eat more protein

    I understand that me telling you to eat more of something to lose weight might seem a little strange -- but hear me out.

    Protein plays an integral role in recovery after exercise, where it is used to build and repair muscle tissue. If you are lifting weights regularly, then you need enough protein available within your body to recover and build new muscle tissue.

    This will help increase your metabolism, which aids fat loss.

    Moreover, protein has the highest satiety rating of all the macronutrients you eat, which means it will make you feel ‘fuller’ for longer. This means that eating protein throughout the day can reduce hunger cravings and snaking, lowering energy intake [2].

    Lastly, it is important to highlight that protein also has the highest thermic effect of food (TEF) of all macronutrients. This means your body has to use energy to break down and digest the protein you eat, which can further drive up energy expenditure [3].

    This eating protein with every meal and replacing small snacks with protein powders offer a great way to facilitate fat loss.

    3.   Sneak in 2-3 HIIT sessions per week

    High intensity interval training (or HIIT for short) simply describes a type of exercise that has you performing short bursts of high intensity aerobic exercise, which are broken up by short bouts of low intensity aerobic exercise.

    With this principle in mind, a simple HIIT session may involve 30 seconds of running at a fairly fast pace (around 80 to 90% of your sprint speed) followed by 60 seconds of light jogging. This could then be completed for 14 bouts (or 21 minutes) for a solid HIIT session.

    The reason HIIT offers a great tool for fat loss is twofold. Firstly, it is super time efficient, and secondly, it not only burns energy during the session, also but after the session has been completed [4].

    Because HIIT places your body under more stress than lower intensity cardio, it has a longer recovery period associated. This increases energy expenditure for up to 48 hours after the session has been completed.

    4.   Avoid liquid calories

    There is a growing body of evidence demonstrating that people who consume a lot of sugar sweetened beverages are at an increased risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity – and of course, weight gain.

    Things like soft drinks and fruit juice are full to the brim with sugar, and therefore provide a lot of energy per serve. However, they provide very little satiety – which means that they don't make you feel full after drinking them.

    As a result, they are a really good way to increase your daily energy intake without reducing your snacking throughout the day.

    In short, they should be avoided.

    5.   Place a premium on sleep

    Many people fail to realise that sleep is absolutely essential to optimizing fat loss.

    Poor sleep can wreak havoc with your endocrine system, causing an increase in the secretion of the hormone cortisol [5]. This has been shown to make it more challenging to burn fat for energy, and even decrease your daily energy expenditure -- ruining your ability to lose fat.

    Poor sleep simply makes fat loss very challenging [6].

    As such, you should be aiming for anywhere 7 and 9 hours of sleep every night. This will not only have you feeling better, but it will also contribute to your fat loss in a positive manner.

    6.   Sprinkle in some supplements

    Finally, once you have the top five tips sorted, there is merit in pursuing the help of some supplements -- with particular focus on fat burners.

    There are a number of unique compounds that improve your ability to lose fat, which they accomplish via a couple of distinct mechanisms:

    • Increasing fat metabolism
    • Boosting energy expenditure

    Fat metabolism describes the process in which your body breaks down and uses fat for energy.

    Fat burning compounds that accelerate fat metabolism ultimately make this process more efficient. They do this by making your fat more available to be broken down for energy, and by increasing how fast your body breaks down fat for energy.

    This means that more of the energy your body expends will come from fat mass, which can expedite the fat loss process.

    But what about energy expenditure?

    Earlier on in this article I spoke about your metabolic rate, and how this can be impacted upon by muscle tissue. Interestingly, this can also be impacted upon by certain thermogenic compounds.

    In short, these compounds increase the amount of energy your body burns to maintain its normal function. This increases how much energy you burn every day irrespective of your exercise levels -- ultimately making your ability to achieve a daily energy deficit easier.

    Last Points

    To wrap up this article, I want to highlight one key point -- to lose fat, you still need to be in a sustained energy deficit.

    Very simply, an energy deficit describes a state where you consume less energy than you expend on a daily basis.

    If your daily energy requirements to maintain weight are 1500 calories per day and you only consume 1200 calories, you are in an energy deficit of 300 calories per day. It is this deficit of 300 calories that leads to fat loss.

    Now, the tips in this article will not do it all for you. You still need to pay attention to your diet.

    However, they will make getting into a deficit easier -- which is essential to ensuring sustainable and effective fat loss.

     

    References:

    1. Demling, Robert H., and Leslie DeSanti. "Effect of a hypocaloric diet, increased protein intake and resistance training on lean mass gains and fat mass loss in overweight police officers." Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism 44.1 (2000): 21-29.
    2. Veldhorst, M., et al. "Protein-induced satiety: effects and mechanisms of different proteins." Physiology & behavior 94.2 (2008): 300-307.
    3. Luscombe, N. D., et al. "Effects of energy-restricted diets containing increased protein on weight loss, resting energy expenditure, and the thermic effect of feeding in type 2 diabetes." Diabetes care 25.4 (2002): 652-657.
    4. Tomlin, Dona L., and Howard A. Wenger. "The relationship between aerobic fitness and recovery from high intensity intermittent exercise." Sports Medicine 31.1 (2001): 1-11.
    5. Song, Hong-tao, et al. "Effects of sleep deprivation on serum cortisol level and mental health in servicemen." International Journal of Psychophysiology 96.3 (2015): 169-175.
    6. Thomson, Cynthia A., et al. "Relationship between sleep quality and quantity and weight loss in women participating in a weight?loss intervention trial." Obesity 20.7 (2012): 1419-1425.
  • The Big Rocks of Diet

    Diet is one of those topics that seems to create a stir whenever you discuss it. People become bullish in their beliefs, and end up swearing by a single way of eating simply because it worked well for them on an individual level.

    But I am here to tell you that eating a healthy diet does not have to be complex.

    And no, before you ask, you don't have to cut out all carbs. There is no need to go low-fat. You don't have to go vegan or keto -- and you certainly don't have to go carnivore.

    Nope, all you have to do is make some simple changes and reap the rewards.

    1.   Eat A Serve of Veggies with Most Meals

    I would have liked to title this one “eat veggies with every meal”, but I appreciate that steaming up a bowl of greens first thing in the morning is not the most appealing thought for a large portion of the population.

    However, you should aim to eat a serve of veggies with most of your meals.

    Vegetables are full of the essential vitamins and minerals that your body needs to function effectively on a daily basis. These nutrients are the ones that ensure your health, keep your immune system strong, and prevent you from getting sick.

    Although this is far from “sexy” eating enough vegetables can ensure you remain in tip-top shape year round -- which is imperative to making gains.

    Moreover, they also have some serious merit if your goal is fat loss related.

    Despite being full of vitamins and minerals, vegetables actually contain very little energy. This means that you can eat them in seriously large quantities without causing a substantial increase in your energy intake.

    In this manner they are the perfect tool to keep yourself feeling full during a diet.

    2.   Eat Protein With Every Meal

    Now, this one I do suggest you try and stick to for every meal (and even some snacks).

    Protein ultimately acts as the building blocks for your entire body. You use them to repair damaged tissue, recover from exercise, build enzymes, and to even produce new bone and connective tissue.

    In short, protein is important.

    And even more so if you're regularly participating in weight training (which, if you are reading this, I assume you are).

    Every time you train in the gym you place stress on your muscles. This stress tells your body to adapt, and become bigger and stronger. However, for this process to occur, your body needs to have adequate protein available to manage the repair and growth of new muscle tissue.

    And if you don't have adequate protein available?

    You leave gains on the table.

    With this in mind, you should be striving to get in around 1.6 to 1.8 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight per day. For example, if you weigh 80 kilos, this would come out to a daily protein intake of between 128 and 144 grams of protein [1].

    As an added bonus, I should also mention that protein is very satiating. This means that it makes you feel fuller for longer [2]. As such, by eating protein at regular intervals throughout the day, you are going to be less prone to snacking -- which is a game changer for fat loss.

    I do appreciate that many may struggle to eat this much protein on a daily basis -- which is why protein powders are such a useful supplement. By offering up around 30 grams of protein per serve (and with very few calories), they are a great choice.

    3.   Minimise Your Intake of Processed Carbs

    The modern western diet is full to the brim with breads, pastas, cereals, and junk food.

    Although there isn’t anything inherently wrong with these foods, it is important to note that they don’t really offer much on the terms of nutritional value. In short, they contain very few vitamins and minerals, and a lot of energy.

    From a pure health perspective, this means that if the bulk of your diet is composed of processed carbohydrates, you are going to be consuming very minimal nutrients. Over time this can have a negative effect on your health.

    Moreover, because processed carbohydrates are not all that filling (especially compared to protein), they are easy to overeat [3]. This means that limiting your intake of foods can also make weight management easier.

    4.   Drink More Water

    The human body is approximately 70% water -- which means ensuring adequate water intake is pretty damn important.

    To keep it simple, your body functions better when it is hydrated [4]. You feel better, you have more energy, and you will be less susceptible to disease and illness.

    Water is good for you.

    The kicker?

    Most people simply do not drink enough water on a daily basis. In fact, there is even some evidence to suggest that some people mistake their thirst signals for hunger signals, and over eat as a result [5].

    The positive here is that there is a very simple solution to this common problem -- drink more water.

    A great way to ensure hydration throughout the day is to start your day with a 500ml glass of water as soon as you wake up. Then, during the day, have access to a water bottle that contains at least one litre of water, and aim to drink all of it before you get home from work.

    Finally, have another 500ml glass with dinner and -- BOOM -- you have just consumed 8 glasses of water throughout the day's duration.

    This offers a simple way to maintain your hydration status throughout the day and optimise your health in the process.

    5.   Don't Let Your Diet Rule Your Life

    Our final point is less of a practical tip and more to a mindset thing -- but that doesn't make it any less important.

    When it comes to diet, too many people into this whole “health and fitness” thing take it a little too seriously. They never stray from the plan, rarely eat out, and end up basing their entire life around their diet.

    While this might be the healthiest way to eat, I would argue it is an unhealthy way to live your life.

    With this in mind, I am a firm believer that you should aim to eat well about 90 percent of the time. This is still going to be more than adequate to ensure you reach your training related goals, while giving you a little bit of room to actually enjoy life.

    This other 10 percent should be spent on things like going out for dinner with your friends and family. It could take the form of a small desert after dinner, or a couple of glasses of wine at a restaurant with your partner.

    Hell, it could even be a pie and sausage roll at the footy on a Saturday -- how you choose to use it doesn't really matter.

    What matters is that you use it to boost the quality of your life without feeling guilty about it.

    As important as eating well is, it should never impact your life or happiness in a negative way. If you find yourself keeping away from social situations or avoiding things that you enjoy just because you are worried it will ruin your diet, then it is time to make a change.

    Take that 10 percent and enjoy it.

    Summary

    Eating well doesn't have to be complex.

    In fact, by implementing the five simple tips in this article you can optimise your diet and enjoy your life in the process -- which is a win-win if I have ever seen one.

     

    References

    1. Morton, Robert W., et al. "A systematic review, meta-analysis and meta-regression of the effect of protein supplementation on resistance training-induced gains in muscle mass and strength in healthy adults." British journal of sports medicine 52.6 (2018): 376-384.
    2. Paddon-Jones, Douglas, et al. "Protein, weight management, and satiety." The American journal of clinical nutrition 87.5 (2008): 1558S-1561S.
    3. Hall, Kevin D., et al. "Ultra-processed diets cause excess calorie intake and weight gain: an inpatient randomized controlled trial of ad libitum food intake." Cell metabolism 30.1 (2019): 67-77.
    4. Popkin, Barry M., Kristen E. D'Anci, and Irwin H. Rosenberg. "Water, hydration, and health." Nutrition reviews 68.8 (2010): 439-458.
    5. McKiernan, Fiona, et al. "Thirst-drinking, hunger-eating; tight coupling?." Journal of the American Dietetic Association 109.3 (2009): 486-490.
  • All Carbs are not the Same For Gains

    Do you feel stuck in a rut? Like no matter how hard you train, or how much protein you eat that you’re just not getting what you think you deserve from working out? If you feel this way, then there’s the very high likelihood that it’s not your workout that’s the problem; it’s probably your diet.

    But not just any random part of your workout; specifically your carbohydrate intake.

    At this point you’re probably thinking “but wait won't eating more carbs make me fat?”, and a plausible question it is.

    Yes, while carbohydrates can contribute to you accumulating excessive fat, there is no question to the efficacy of consuming carbohydrates for muscle gain or performance enhancement.

    A nutritional plan without smart carb intake is like pouring the wrong fuel (such as kerosene instead of gasoline) into your car and expecting it to get you the same place at the same time, or even there at all!

    But how can you exploit carbs for their immense benefits while also simultaneously minimizing their not so desirable effects? Turns out a lot of this comes down to timing.

    A Solid Carbohydrate Strategy

    While solid food should form the nutritional base for sustainable performance improvement and muscle gain, supplements exist to solve two problems; a diet that can benefit from a boost, and speed. We will be looking at carb supplementation from the speed perspective, since you should be capable of devising an effective diet plan before you throw your weight behind supplements.

    Most carbohydrate supplements you can buy fall into the fast absorbing category, which make them ideal for use at the peri-workout interval, though there are lesser known options which we will mention in this article as well.

    Aren’t All Carbs The Same?

    No. while all carbohydrates may ultimately breakdown into a simpler form (most often glucose), they vary significantly in how fast this happens and how efficient this is. The aim of most carb supplements is to get nutrients in your blood as fast as possible, a feat not easily accomplished by solid food. The most popular carb supplements available on the market today include the following:

    Dextrose

    Dextrose is the most popular carbohydrate in the world, and the one which is the best representation of the glucose our body uses. Dextrose is actually D-glucose, one of two naturally occurring isomeric forms of glucose (the other being L-glucose) and also the most dominant of the two.

    It is a simple carbohydrate and boasts the advantage of affordability and rapid onset of action. Dextrose can have an impact on blood glucose levels in as little as two minutes and is almost fully absorbed by the ten minute mark.

    This speed of absorption makes it useful when timing matters, such as immediately after your workout[i] and upon waking in the morning.

    It is not best in class for use throughout the day as it results in very acute and short lived spikes to insulin[ii] and blood sugar that may contribute to fat storage.

    Maltodextrin

    There is a degree of confusion that surrounds maltodextrin, much of which stems from the fact that it is classified as a polysaccharide. How does confusion stem from this exactly? Simple; because it doesn’t act like a polysaccharide.

    Polysaccharides, being complex carbohydrates, theoretically take much longer to breakdown, have a lower glycaemic index (GI), and make better options for use during the day when speed isn’t urgent. But not maltodextrin.

    It is atypical because it acts like a simple sugar- rapidly absorbed and able to raise blood glucose levels in a pinch. It may even do so to an extent equal to or greater than dextrose itself, which makes it good as a pre and post-workout carb, and less of an all-day choice. It may also help prevent degradation of performance during your workout when combined with glutamine[iii].

    Many weight gainers have maltodextrin as one of their primary carbohydrate sources, but it is not ideal owing to the rapid absorption and clearance from blood.

    Waxy Maize

    Waxy maize is surprisingly unknown to many athletes, being considered a higher quality carb than the other two for usage throughout the day. While the aforementioned two carbs have GI values of 100 and 85-110 respectively, that of waxy maize is much lower- coming in at just 63.

    What this means is that it does not cause that massive blood glucose or insulin spike the other two are known for, making it an excellent choice for slow sustained energy release[iv].

    Waxy maize is a much better inclusion in weight gain products as it does what you need such a product to do; slowly liberate carbohydrates to keep you in an anabolic state. As you may have guessed, however, it comes at a steeper cost.

    Karbolyn

    A patent pending designer carbohydrate[v], in terms of sheer performance this is the top of the food chain. It is a modified carbohydrate that is more rapidly absorbed than dextrose or maltodextrin, from within the stomach directly. This means no intestinal issues.

    It also has the property of sustaining energy for up to two hours making it great as a pre-workout carb source. It isn’t that popular as yet owing to the patent pending nature of the formulation.

    In Summary

    Hate them or love them, carbs are here to stay. If you want to get a leg up on the competition or just improve your own performance or muscle gain, well timed carbs are essential to your goal.

    Be sure to choose the best option wisely; use speed when you need it and opt for slower digesting sources throughout the day with solid food as your base.

    [i] Millward, D.J., Davies, C.T., Halliday, D., Wolman, S.L., Matthews, D., & Rennie, M.C. (1982). Effect of exercise on protein metabolism in humans as explored with stable isotopes. Federation proceedings, 41 10, 2686-91 .

    [ii] Komatsu M, Takei M, Ishii H, Sato Y. Glucose-stimulated insulin secretion: A newer perspective. J Diabetes Investig. 2013;4(6):511–516. doi:10.1111/jdi.12094

    [iii] Nakhostin-Roohi B. Effect of Glutamine and Maltodextrin Acute Supplementation on Anaerobic Power, Asian J Sports Med. Online ahead of Print ; 4(2):34495. doi: 10.5812/asjsm.34495.

    [iv] Sands AL, Leidy HJ, Hamaker BR, Maguire P, Campbell WW. Consumption of the slow-digesting waxy maize starch leads to blunted plasma glucose and insulin response but does not influence energy expenditure or appetite in humans. Nutr Res. 2009;29(6):383-390. doi:10.1016/j.nutres.2009.05.009

    [v] Jeff Golini, Ian C. Clift, Muhammad M. Qureshi, Wendy L. Jones. A Designer Sugar, Karbolyn®, Leads to Tighter Sugar Control than Glucose in a Pre-Diabetic Cohort

  • The Post Quarantine Gym Return: Safeguard Your Health with these Essentials

    As of today’s date (June 2020), the COVID-19 pandemic is slowly abating. Countries and locales are gradually opening back up, performing a delicate balancing act between public health and local economies.

    One place you are probably eagerly anticipating returning to is your local gym, but not no fast soldier. Before thinking about setting foot into a gym again, you need to ensure that you have your ducks in a row. The pandemic is NOT over by a long haul, even though things may be looking better in the short term.

    So what should you do? Continue to atrophy from lack of physical activity? Not necessarily. But you can safeguard yourself and others around you by acting smart. Well timed supplements and other essentials can mean the difference between life returning to normal in a jiffy, or having to endure restrictions for many more months to come.

    Consider these your post-quarantine essential list. Don’t risk your health without them.

    Face Masks

    Not surprisingly, many gyms that are opened or in the process of opening over the next week or two are making it mandatory for you to don the accessory that had defined the year 2020; your friend in safety, a mask.

    We previously discussed the merits of the different types of masks, and owing to the fact that the pandemic is not fully over, and because there may still be many asymptomatic people in the gym at any one time, you should still opt for the one that provides maximum protection- the KN95/N95/P2.

    Other options include surgical masks and cloth masks, although their protection lies on a sliding scale. Wearing a mask, however, does pose its fair share of challenges, with the major one being difficulty breathing during heavy perceived exertion. For this reason, be sure to take sufficient rest periods and ease up on the gas until you are comfortable with breathing.

    Vitamin C

    If you had difficulty in finding vitamin C supplements for purchase over the last two months, you probably understand why. Although it does not definitely prevent any illness, it does possess real benefits for your immune system.

    For instance, it reduces inflammation[i], which if left unchecked, has a negative effect on immune cells. Likewise, it can help you recover from symptoms of a cold faster[ii] , so you won’t be shunned if you do happen to sniffle in the gym.

    Try to shoot for about 1000mg daily. This is definitely one of your primary tools when starting to hit the gym again.

    Zinc

    Zinc has been an athlete’s friend for a long time now. Apart from raising your testosterone levels though, it also has a noticeable part to play in your immunity. For one, it contributes to the development of immune cells[iii].

    Plus, zinc can actually help reduce your risk of picking up infections and stimulating a stronger immune response, especially in the susceptible older population[iv].

    Vitamin D

    Even if you live in the desert, drenched in blazing hot sun, you might still be deficient in vitamin D. not to mention that it is unsafe to spend excessive amounts of time in the sun daily. Using a vitamin D supplement is a much smarted option.

    People with lowest levels of vitamin D show correlation with higher risk of pathogenic infections, as vitamin D is associated with enhancing the function of several immune cell types[v].

    Hand Sanitiser

    Without needing to say it, you are probably aware that hand sanitiser is now an essential in your bags, pockets, and everywhere else. In the gym, this is going to be much more important. In a confined space where multiple people will be handling the same equipment and weights, you need to ensure that you sterilize both before and after use.

    To effectively deactivate the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, the hand sanitiser product you use should contain at a minimum 62% ethanol[vi], which, over the course of one minute can offer you great protection.

    Other Essentials

    Supplements such as Echinacea, elderberry, Astragalus and garlic can also play a supporting role in helping to support immune health, but are not absolutely essential at this time. If you are cleared to use them (be sure to ask your Doctor or Pharmacist first), then by all means go head.

    And Finally

    The gym itself should have several protocols in place for your protection. This includes installation of more sinks and washing areas, sanitising sprays between workstations, and capacity restrictions.

    We also urge you to not “socialize” too much, and if possible train without a spotter in the interim. The pandemic will not last, but a lot depends on how well we work to break the chain of transmission.

    [i] Rogovskii V. S. (2017). The Linkage Between Inflammation and Immune Tolerance: Interfering with Inflammation in Cancer. Current cancer drug targets, 17(4), 325–332. https://doi.org/10.2174/1568009617666170109110816

    [ii] Hemilä H, Chalker E. Vitamin C for preventing and treating the common cold. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013;(1):CD000980. Published 2013 Jan 31. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD000980.pub4

    [iii] Prasad AS. Zinc in human health: effect of zinc on immune cells. Mol Med. 2008;14(5-6):353?357. doi:10.2119/2008-00033.Prasad

    [iv] Haase H, Rink L. The immune system and the impact of zinc during aging. Immun Ageing. 2009;6:9. Published 2009 Jun 12. doi:10.1186/1742-4933-6-9

    [v] Di Rosa M, Malaguarnera M, Nicoletti F, Malaguarnera L. Vitamin D3: a helpful immuno-modulator. Immunology. 2011;134(2):123?139. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2567.2011.03482.x

    [vi] Kampf G, Todt D, Pfaender S, Steinmann E. Persistence of coronaviruses on inanimate surfaces and their inactivation with biocidal agents. J Hosp Infect. 2020;104(3):246?251. doi:10.1016/j.jhin.2020.01.022

  • The Top 4 Reasons to Use Weight Gainers Exposed

    Without a doubt, the toughest part about building a world class physique is nutrition. Countless disciples of the iron invest their blood, sweat and tears, day after day in the gym- sometimes even much longer, and have little to show for all their efforts.

    What gives? Oftentimes, it boils down to diet, plain and simple. Living in the internet age, information overload is very real, with experts coming at you from every single angle imaginable. The remedy for this problem? Keeping it simple.

    50-75 years ago bodybuilding was in its infancy, and there wasn’t a contentious amount of information circulating. This is why going back to basics is so necessary, and effective. Know what the one thing is that can be considered the good old bread and butter of a world class physique?

    High quality calories, obtained from a weight gainer.

    Weight Gainers Vs Protein Shakes Vs Meal Replacement Shakes

    These three terms are sometimes used interchangeably (and incorrectly), since they can be considered fundamentally different.

    Protein shakes supply primarily lean protein of different varieties, such as whey, casein, soy and more. While extremely popular, they are not the best choice for helping you meet calorie requirements.

    Meal replacement, as the name implies, are usually substituted for whole meals, being better suited for weight loss than weight gain, although they often fail at this too. The premise behind them is that you are able to reduce calories consumed at any sitting with a controlled “liquid meal”, but since the body doesn’t readily experience the same degree of satiety from liquids as it does solid food[i], it is not uncommon to still eat in addition to having your meal replacement, leading to a bad outcome.

    Meal replacement shakes contain all 3 macronutrient groups, as well as accessory vitamins and minerals, but not necessarily in the proportion that supports your body goals.

    Weight gainers have come a long way from 2 decades ago. Back then, they consisted of high protein, but also staggering amounts of sugar and fat, which would definitely add mass to your frame, but no necessarily lean muscle.

    Most of the reputable brands available today use high quality slower digesting carbohydrates, are virtually devoid of fast acting sugars, utilize healthier fats and also include a range of protein powder types to allow for variable absorption speeds.

    They may also come with digestive enzymes to boost absorption, and can make it exponentially easier to add high quality muscle to your frame.

    With that in mind, here are the main reasons to use weight gainers to help you meet your muscle and strength goals.

    Timing Specific Variants Available

    It’s not news that your nutrient requirements change depending on the time of day, and you can be forgiven if you become overwhelmed with remembering when to take what. Weight gainers have evolved a lot, and continue to do so to meet the needs of high performance athletes everywhere.

    For instance, there are weight gainers designed for general daily usage which contain the cookie-cutter essentials, carbs, proteins and a touch of healthy fat; and then there are others that may be best suited for specific times of the day, such as those enhanced with Creatine and best suited for peri-workout nutrition.

    Differing Calorie Loads

    Can everyone benefit from a weight gainer? Absolutely. However, there is no one universal weight gainer that is best suited for everyone. For instance, if you ae classified as an endomorph, you likely have a propensity for storing fat easily, in such a case, you may not require one that contains an immense amount of carbohydrates, or opt for one that contains more fat and less carbs as a trade-off.

    Alternately, a hard gainer (ectomorph), burns through calories extremely fast, and can likely guzzle down a 1000 calories plus serving like water off a duck’s back.

    It is still important to bear in mind the fact that excessive calories beyond what is necessary to stimulate muscle growth will inevitably still lead to fat accumulation, regardless of if the product is marketed as a mass gainer or otherwise.

    Appetite Support

    Eating can be a chore when trying to gain weight, no doubt about that. This is even more difficult if you are traditionally a light eater, but are desperately trying to enhance your strength and musculature. In such a scenario, weight gainers are invaluable aides.

    Liquid calories do not stimulate our satiety pathways to the same extent as solid food does[ii], which means that for someone who finds it difficult to consume enough calories, you can easily meet your quota this way.

    Just be careful- if you already meet your caloric goals or come near to it, weight gainers can push you past your budget and spill over into fat gain.

    Accelerated Recuperation

    In order to hasten the process of recovery and recuperation, you need to ensure that sufficient building blocks are made available to muscles, especially during the post-workout interval. This means sufficient protein, and carbohydrates to replenish glycogen stores[iii].

    Weight gainers are second to none when it comes to overall protein density, and the inclusion of carbohydrates assist with insulin stimulation to further ensure shuttling of key nutrients into muscle cells at this time.

    Failure to consume enough calories at the post-workout window will slow down recovery as the body scampers for nutrition, and may inadvertently flag a state of scarce resources. Today, many weight gainers are also fortified with l-glutamine and l-leucine to support optimal recovery rates.

    How Much Weight Gainer Do I Need?

    The exact amount of weight gainer you need to consume daily varies based on your current bodyweight, athletic status, propensity to gain fat and of course, your goal. In general, one to two servings of weight gainer per day is usually sufficient to help you meet your caloric and macronutrient goals, but the key is to find one that supplies clean calories.

    This means limited sugar and relatively low fat content, but with moderate to high protein content. Strive for approximately 2 g of protein consumption per kg of bodyweight.

    In Summary

    Weight gainers, while indispensable in your quest for muscle, should not be used as a crutch for a poor diet. You cannot out-supplement bad habits if you’ve never fostered healthy eating habits, and are likely to burn a hole in your pocket trying to keep up.

    Weight gainers can make the difference in helping you see the gains you deserve, but like everything else in life, moderation and common sense is key.

    [i] Almiron-Roig, Eva & Chen, Y & Drewnowski, A. (2003). Liquid calories and the failure of satiety: How good is the evidence?. Obesity reviews : an official journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity. 4. 201-12. 10.1046/j.1467-789X.2003.00112.x.

    [ii] Tieken SM, Leidy HJ, Stull AJ, Mattes RD, Schuster RA, Campbell WW. Effects of solid versus liquid meal-replacement products of similar energy content on hunger, satiety, and appetite-regulating hormones in older adults. Horm Metab Res. 2007;39(5):389–394. doi:10.1055/s-2007-976545

    [iii] Beck KL, Thomson JS, Swift RJ, von Hurst PR. Role of nutrition in performance enhancement and postexercise recovery. Open Access J Sports Med. 2015;6:259–267. Published 2015 Aug 11. doi:10.2147/OAJSM.S33605

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