Supplements

  • Why You Should Use Carnitine

    L-Carnitine is an amino acid derivative that has become an effective supplement for a multitude of goals. It is so dynamic that it can fit into almost any goal or nutrition plan, and still come out as one of the main benefits of your regimen.

    Let's take a closer look at some of the many benefits L-carnitine can provide for you, so that you know when to include it into your nutrition plan (which is always!).

    Carnitine For Muscle Mass

    One study showed that oral ingestion of L-carnitine helps to increase work output1. Because of this, you will experience increases in strength, power, and muscular endurance during your training. Due to this consistent improvement in performance, you can expect to see increased muscle mass, since you have a greater ability to overload the muscles.

    And speaking of placing stress on the muscles…

    L-Carnitine for Recovery

    During exercise, your muscles are placed under serious stress, and you will be breaking down the muscles throughout a workout. Because of this, you often see how important post-workout nutrition is, since you need to fuel your muscles. If this isn't done properly, you won't allow your muscles to recover. Over time, your performance can be decreased due to your muscles not being fed the proper amount of energy it needs, and they can even experience atrophy.

    Muscle atrophy is something that everyone wants to avoid, since it is a difficult and slow process to add on muscle mass. In order to do this, you need to fuel your muscles with proper amounts of protein and amino acids.

    L-Carnitine has also been proven to assist in recovery of exercise, after the completion of high-repetition squat sessions2. These are some of the most intense training sessions known, so seeing evidence that carnitine boosted recovery in these types of sessions goes to show just how effective it is at helping to repair your muscles.

    Shred the Fat

    When trying to get lean, amino acids play a tremendously important role. First, they help in sparing your muscles and preserving your strength, which is something that L-Carnitine assists in, as I have already shown you.

    However, L-carnitine adds another layer onto the benefits in terms of helping with the fat loss battle.

    The primary role of carnitine in the body is to provide your body energy. It does this by transferring fatty acids to the mitochondria. From there, these long-chain fatty acids are oxidized to produce energy for your body to use.

    So, this helps to keep your body from storing fat, due to its role in energy production. Another bonus of this is that it helps to increase your aerobic capacity, since fatty acids and mitochondria play a vital role in providing the body with the energy it needs to perform long-duration cardiovascular exercise. Because you will be working for longer periods of time, you will see another added benefit in terms of burning more calories.

    Carnitine Can Help With Any Need

    L-carnitine has many benefits outside of the bodybuilding realm, including in assisting with heart problems, kidneys, sperm production, diabetes management, and benefits to the immune system. It is an extremely versatile supplement that should be included in any lifter's supplement plan, as it has proven time and time again to produce massive results.

    1. Wall, B. T., Stephens, F. B., Constantin-Teodosiu, D., Marimuthu, K., Macdonald, I. A., & Greenhaff, P. L. (2011, February 15). Chronic oral ingestion of L-carnitine and carbohydrate increases muscle carnitine content and alters muscle fuel metabolism during exercise in humans. The Journal of Physiology.
    2. Volek, J. S., Kraemer, W. J., Rubin, M. R., Gómez, A. L., Ratamess, N. A., & Gaynor, P. (2002, February). L-Carnitine L-tartrate supplementation favourably affects markers of recovery from exercise stress. American Journal of Physiology.
  • What Supplements Should I Take Post-Workout?

    Post-workout nutrition is one of the most important aspects of helping you make progress towards your fitness goals. Without it, you are robbing yourself of some SERIOUS progress.

    But what are we supposed to eat after our workouts? Well, to answer that question, you have understand what is going on in our bodies after a workout is finished.

    The Muscle Breakdown

    During your workout, you are constantly placing stress on the muscles that you have been targeting during your training. As a result, your muscles have been broken down, and are in need of repair.

    So, as you probably already knew, the most important factor in your post-workout nutrition is protein. This allows you to fuel your body with the resources it needs to build and repair muscle, in preparation for your next training session (which should include some form of increased stress, via progressive overload).

    The best way to do this is with a whey protein shake, since it fills your body with high-quality, fast-acting protein. This will make an impact faster than any other form of protein, and is highly recommended for you right after your finish a workout. By doing so, you are taking advantage of the anabolic response your body is currently presenting.

    Now, filling your body with protein right after your workout is great. However, it can still be improved.

    How can this be done? Simple: it's time to combine protein with some carbohydrates.

    Time to Carb Up

    While carbohydrates have become the hated macronutrient in society, it is still widely known as an immensely beneficial nutrient to consume post-workout.

    So, why should you take carbohydrates right after a workout if carbohydrates are so despised?

    After intense exercise, it is known that your glycogen levels are also depleted. Re-filling these is important to give your muscles the energy they need, and carbohydrates are the perfect solution for this.

    In fact, good carbohydrate and protein meals post-workout have been proven to increase the rate of muscle glycogen storage after exercise1. This is because it helps to create a positive insulin response, which is the hormone responsible for the anabolic response your body needs in order to increase in size and muscle mass.

    Now, with this statement, the next question to inevitably come up will be, 'What type of carbs should I be taking in?'

    The answer: You should be taking in a mix of complex and simple carbohydrates. One is meant to fuel your muscles as quickly as possible, while the other is meant to help give you some more energy for a few hours.

    However, carbs are not THAT simple. You see, these are placed on the glycemic index, which is used to measure how the carbohydrates that you just consumed raise your blood sugar levels. When you look at this scale, you should take note of the high GI carbs, as these will have the biggest impact on your insulin levels. With this comes an improved anabolic response, which equals more potential for growth for you.

    One source that is often talked about is adding dextrose into your PWO shake. Dextrose is a form of glucose that is found in some foods, such as honey and fruits. Studies on horses have shown that doses of dextrose upon completion of intense exercise helps to increase the rate of muscle glycogen resynthesis2.

    Other good options to include would be carbohydrates from fruits and oatmeal, as these are both additions that mix nicely into your post-workout shake.

    Fuel for Gains

    Whatever you decide to do, just make sure that you are consuming a good amount of fast-acting protein and carbs upon the completion of your workout. Doing so ensures that you are giving your body the proper fuel it needs to begin repairing NOW, when the potential is at its highest. Without doing so, you are just leaving yourself at risk of reducing your progress significantly.

    1. Zawadzki, K.M., B.B. Yaspelkis 3rd, and J.L. Ivy. "Carbohydrate-protein Complex Increases the Rate of Muscle Glycogen Storage after Exercise." Journal of Applied Physiology 72 (n.d.): 1854-859. Web.
    2. Davie, A.J., D.L. Evans, D.R. Hodgson, and R.J. Rose. "Effects of Intravenous Dextrose      Infusion on Muscle Glycogen Resynthesis after Intense Exercise." Equine Veterinary Journal 27 (n.d.): 195-98. Web.
  • Benefits of Taking Creatine for Building Muscle

    Out of all of the supplements people can choose to help with their fitness journey, creatine has to top the list. It is the most heavily studied supplement out there, and the benefits are enormous.

    And yet, a lot of people are still confused about creatine and the effects it can have in regards to helping you build muscle mass. So, if you are one of those people, then look no further.

    Today's article was made to help you decide whether or not you want to give creatine a shot, and so that you can get an understanding about what it brings to the table. But before we dive in head first in helping you learn about the benefits, I wanted to take a moment to educate you on what creatine is.

    While this may not be the first question that comes to your mind, understanding what creatine is will help you understand why the supplement is so beneficial.

    What is Creatine?

    The chemical creatine is something that is found in the body, mostly residing in the muscles. Your body makes in during the process of protein metabolism, and it helps to provide energy for muscular contraction, which is how your muscles produce force.

    Creatine is also found in certain foods, including fish and meats. In short, it is simply a chemical that your body already produces, and is also available to you through some foods. So, taking the supplement doesn't mean you will be introducing your body to some foreign chemical. You are simply adding on to the existing levels that your body already produces, or gets from your daily nutrition.

    More Muscle, More Power, More Everything

    Creatine supplementation can improve power, muscular strength, and work capacity1. This means that creatine can literally help you in all aspects of weight lifting in regards to lifting faster, heavier, and longer. How's that for some benefit?

    There is a lot of reasoning that goes into this, and that's the main objective of this part. I just now told you the #1 benefit creatine brings to the table, and it's a big one. But how does it do this?

    Well, if you read the part about what creatine is, then you noticed that it is something that already resides in our body, mainly in our muscles. It is responsible for helping your muscles produce force through contraction.

    So, what happens when you bring in the supplement? More creatine gets shuttled into the body, and allows you to produce more force during your training. But it doesn't stop there. It also helps to increase your workout intensity, since you are able to not only train harder due to more strength, but you also experience increases in muscular endurance.

    In turn, this allows you to place more stress on the muscles than you could otherwise, which results in increased progress (assuming your nutrition is on point). When you put this in the perspective of this occurring during each workout you have, you start to realize the massive effect it can have on building muscle mass over longer periods of time.

    Now, let's add the other factor into the equation: increased muscular power. So, not only can you lift heavier and lift longer, but you are now also able to lift more explosively. When this occurs, you receive an increase in performance.

    Let's take the deadlift for example. Pulling heavy weights off the ground with no momentum involves both strength and power. When creatine is involved, you are not only able to pull heavier weight off the ground, but this also takes effect because you are able to generate that force quicker than you would without creatine supplementation.

    Increase Your Potential

    I just wanted to quickly state that while creatine is an amazing supplement, it doesn't work for everybody. Some just experience bloating, and others don't experience anything at all.

    But if you haven't tried it, you need to give it a shot. By doing so, you could be adding the strongest tool to your arsenal, and significantly accelerating your progress.

    1. Earnest, C. P., P. G. Snell, A. L. Almada, R. Rodriguez, and T. L. Mitchell. "The Effect of Creatine Monohydrate Ingestion on Power Indices, Muscular Strength and Body Composition." Acta Physiologica Scandinavica (n.d.): n. pag. Web.
  • Why Adding BCAA's With Whey Protein Makes for Better Results

    When you are trying to find the best supplements to help you build or preserve muscle, whey protein is the first thing that comes to all of our minds. And rightly so! It is a fantastic supplement that has a multitude of benefits.

    However, if you study any of the fitness professionals who 'walk the walk,' you will notice another supplement that they all are taking (and praise).

    That supplement is called BCAAs, which stands for branch-chained amino acids.

    How BCAAs Earn Their Worth

    BCAA's are a fantastic tool because they are among the most versatile supplements that exist. While whey protein can have benefits in terms of both muscle gains and fat loss, BCAAs have PROVEN effects on both.

    Since we are talking about adding them with whey protein, we will talk mostly about muscle building benefits.

    First and foremost, BCAAs promote protein synthesis, which is the process for which muscle growth begins. This is done through a process called mTOR, which is started by leucine, the most important BCAA.1 This shows that taking BCAAs are a fantastic way to start up protein synthesis.

    Another fantastic benefit of BCAAs is that they are not only very beneficial for protein synthesis, but they also act as an immediate energy source. You can use BCAAs as a pre-workout, and it will help you train more intensely, and for a longer period of time. In turn, this allows for more work to be done to your muscles, thus further contributing to your progress. While this may not be as direct of an impact as the protein synthesis effect, it still contributes to your improvement in performance, which contributes to accelerated results.

    Ok, But What's The Difference from Whey Protein?

    BCAAs are also in whey protein, which is why many just decide to take in more whey protein. While this can obviously be beneficial, the impact isn't the same.

    The amino acids in whey protein take several hours to be absorbed into the bloodstream, while the regular supplement BCAAs do not require digestion. This means that they are immediately absorbed, and have a much larger spike on amino acid levels. This equates to a faster impact on protein synthesis, and also explains why they can also be used as an immediate energy source for your workouts.

    Not Only Do They Build Muscle…

    … They also prevent muscle breakdown, which is a FANTASTIC advantage, whether your goals be geared towards muscle building or fat loss.

    When in a caloric deficit, your body responds by becoming catabolic, in an attempt to gather more necessary energy. However, many find difficulties with keeping all of their hard-earned muscle mass during the 'cutting' phase.

    BCAAs prevent this due to their ability to promote protein synthesis. And, on top of that, they also reduce muscle damage post-exercise.2 This can contribute to less soreness, and also prevention of catabolism, which can still happen to individuals who are trying to gain muscle mass, but are not aware of whether or not they are eating enough to promote mass gain.

    1. Wang, X. (2006). The mTOR Pathway in the Control of Protein Synthesis. Physiology, 21(5), 362-369. doi:10.1152/physiol.00024.2006
    2. Howaston, G., Hoad, M., Goodall, S., Tallent, J., Bell, P. G., & French, D. N. (2012). Exercise-induced muscle damage is reduced in resistance-trained males by branched chain amino acids: A randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled study. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. doi:10.1186/1550-2783-9-20
  • Plant vs Whey- Based Protein

    Are plant-based proteins just as good for you? Are they enough to fuel your body and muscles? We explore the use of plant-based protein supplements!

     

    It's true that all proteins are not equal! Depending on the source, proteins will have unique profiles of amino acids and ratings of usability. This is true for both animal-based and plant-based foods. The good news is that for those who are vegan or vegetarian (or not), protein can be found in many plant foods, and can contribute towards a healthy, balanced diet.

     

    There are enough vegan triathletes, bodybuilders and professional athletes in various sport domains who are performing at the top of their peers. They perform at an elite level without consuming animal products. No one says it is easy, but it can be done! Their high performance makes a strong case for the effectiveness of plant-based proteins. While most high level athletes reach for the "purest and most effective" protein supplement, whey protein, other athletes appear to be doing just fine without it!

    Differences you can expect

    One of the most obvious differences between plant-based and whey-based protein is the taste. There is some small amount of fat in whey proteins, making it taste slightly better. When plant-based protein is extracted and processed, the end product is rich in various amino acids, however, there is no fat, and the taste is dry and bland. Expect a chalky texture!

    Next, is the cost. Plant- based supplements are far more expensive. There is more processing involved, and the market value of these are simply higher as they are less common to come by. To balance the cost off, most plant-based supplements come in smaller serving sizes.

    If you experience bloating, headache or other minor symptoms to dairy or other animal-based protein supplements, it could be signs of an intolerance. Plant-based proteins rarely elicit these effects in users, and could be a good option for sensitive stomachs.

    Needless to say, most people don't accidentally purchase veg proteins!

    Our favourite plant-based protein supplements

    There are many plant-based proteins which are highly effective. Grains, nuts and beans all have protein. By mixing sources and having a wide variety of these foods, you can ensure that you are getting enough of all the essential and non-essential amino acids.

     

    - Hemp protein

    This is one of the most effective and usable forms of protein. Its protein structure is very similar to the human protein structure. It also contains healthy omega-3 and omega-6 fats.

    - Pea protein

    This is a relatively new option and is often blended with brown rice protein to offer a more complete nutrition and amino acid profile per serving.

    - Raw sprouted brown rice protein

    This uses a specific process which maintains high quality structure in all 9 essential amino acids and several non-essential amino acids. It can be found on it's own and blended with other proteins, including pea protein.

    - Chlorella and spirulina proteins

    This is completely usable by the body, with virtually no waste. They can be found in tablet and powder form. They are blends of land and ocean plants, have high quantities of minerals and are great for detoxifying.

     

    Plant based proteins are a good option for everyone!

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