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  • Does extra protein consumption increase the speed of results in weight training?

    A common phrase that you may have heard thrown around the industry is "protein is muscle" or "muscle is protein". Whilst muscle is comprised of protein - an increase in dietary protein may not necessarily result in more lean muscle mass gains.

    Touching on the "muscle is protein", this somewhat deceiving phrase has come as a result of the structure of a muscle cell. Muscles are your body's primary storage facility of amino acids (amino acids are the building blocks of protein). If your body requires protein, and there is not enough dietary protein being consumed, then muscle tissue will most likely be broken down in order to supply the required amino acids.

    Obviously, if muscle is comprised of a significant amount of amino acids, then you need to source these amino acids from somewhere. This comes from your diet.

    That said, more protein in your diet does not necessarily mean great lean muscle gains. Gaining muscle is a function of many variables, including:

    Protein intake
    Fat intake
    Carbohydrate intake
    Resistance training regime
    Cardiovascular exercise regime
    Incidental exercise
    Genetic makeup
    ...and many other factors

    Let's take a few examples. To begin with, Fred's diet is spot on. He is consuming an adequate amount of carbohydrate, protein and fat. However his resistance training regime is not conductive of gaining muscle. Instead of stimulating the muscles to grow, he is performing a high-repetition workout which will enhance his muscular endurance. Therefore he will not see significant muscle gains.

    Example 2 - John performs an effective resistance training routine. However his diet is lacking in carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are required in the process of "protein synthesis" - ie. building muscle. Without carbohydrates, protein synthesis will cease to occur (as protein synthesis requires the presence of insulin). Instead, muscle will most likely be broken down into amino acids which are then converted into glucose in order to maintain blood glucose levels.

    Example 3 - Jack sleeps 2-3 hours each night. Whilst his diet and training routine may be spot on, the lack of sleep that he receives inhibits his ability to synthesise protein. His hormones are imbalanced because IGF-1 and HGH, two important hormones for building muscle, are secreted in high amounts during deep sleep.

    Whilst I could go on all day with various examples, the point is that build muscle is a function of many variables. You need to ensure that your protein intake is adequate in conjunction with all other considerations. Consuming protein shakes all day long will not necessarily enhance your results in the gym. One other very important factor is to ensure that you have a calorie surplus in your diet - ie. more calories being consumed than what is being expended.

    When you enhance all these factors, your overall progress will be significantly enhanced.

    With that in mind, several studies have suggested that 1.8-2.4 g/kg/day of protein is adequate for maximum results. So, for a 100kg person, 180-240g of protein is substantial. There is limited research on this topic however. I would suggest that you begin within this range. Down the track, once you learn how your body responds to your training and diet, it's a great idea to experiment with different nutritional and training strategies. Unfortunately there is no formula, simply because we are all very different in our genetics.

    I highly suggest that you have a read of a course that I am publishing which deals with this very topic. There is particular emphasis on nutrition and the importance of protein, fat and carbohydrate:

    Hope this is of help!

  • What foods contain Omega 3, Omega 6 and Omega 9 fats? What are these good fats used for?

    Omega 3

    Fish oil is recommended for a healthy diet because it contains the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), precursors to eicosanoids that reduce inflammation throughout the body

    Omega 6

    Evening primrose oil contains gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), an essential fatty acid. Essential fatty acids are required by the body for growth and development, and must be obtained from the diet. Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) is an essential fatty acid (EFA) in the omega-6 family that is found primarily in plant-based oils.

    Omega 9

    Olive oil, avocados and various nuts (like peanuts, almonds and macadamias) are rich omega-9 sources. Omega 9 fatty acid is a monounsaturated fat that is also known as, oleic acid. Omega 9 is not technically an essential fatty acid because the body can produce a limited amount, provided the essential fatty acids, omega 3 and omega 6, are present. If your diet is low in these essential fatty acids, then your body can't produce enough omega 9. In that instance, omega 9 becomes an essential fatty acid because your body will need to get it from your diet.

  • I am feeling sick. Should I exercise and sweat it out or simply rest?

    Sweating it out is the macho way of getting over a bug however often not the smartest way.

    Thing is, when you exercise you place a lot of physical stress upon your system. The higher the intensity, the more stress induced. So if exercising with a bug, your body is now trying to repair itself from both the exercise and the bug! Your immune system therefore has less resources allocated to it in order fight off the bug - ultimately giving the infection an opportunity to spread throughout the body.

    Ultimately it really comes down to the individual. You need to know how your body feels and if it is capable of any exercise at all. If your sickness is only very mild, then you may be able to get away with an exercise session, possibly at a lower intensity depending upon the degree of the symptoms.  As for any severe sickness, forget it - you will be inducing more harm than good.

    If ever in doubt, speak to your GP and always take your doctors advice!

  • How does NEAT (Non-exercise activity thermogenesis) or incidental exercise affect my body weight?

    I attended a lecture by Len Kravitz at the fitness conference a few weeks back where he discussed the concept of NEAT (Non-exercise activity thermogenesis).  Essentially, NEAT is incidental activity that is not part of a prescribed exercise routine, ie. walking to-and-from the car, pushing around a shopping cart, opening the fridge, mowing the lawn etc.

    A study was conducted that compared a group of "healthy" body types (BMI of 23) and a group of obese body types (BMI of 33).  Both groups were untrained and self-confessed "couch potatoes".  Their diets were similar and sleeping patterns were similar too.  The reason why the "healthy" body types had a lower BMI was because they performed 150 minutes of daily incidental exercise!

    That's a really interesting study and just goes to show how significantly non-prescribed activity can impact upon body weight.

    Worth noting however, you do not achieve the very significant physiological, metabolic and psychological benefits associated with prescribed exercise from NEAT.

  • I would like to lose weight after I give birth in a few weeks. Should I focus on carbs or calories for weight loss?

    I'd be concentrating on looking after yourself and your baby and just eating nutritious foods - a good balance of protein, carbs and fats, with plenty of vegies and dairy included. Reduce sugary and highly processed foods to a minimum, but allow yourself the occasional treat. Assuming you'll be breastfeeding, you will need more calories than usual to ensure an adequate milk supply and make sure you have the energy to keep up with two little ones.

    Carbs aren't actually bad - it's just that most people have their protein/carb ratio WAY out of whack, and also eat a lot of rubbishy processed carbs. Choosing mostly whole grains, root vegetables, beans and legumes, fruit and dairy, rather than white flour or sugar-laden products will make a difference.

    If you haven't been exercising regularly, ease into it gradually, and make sure you get a medical checkup first. Find activities you enjoy, and incorporate some sort of resistance training. Perhaps something you can do at home might suit you, like some DVD workouts, or just walking outdoors with the baby in the stroller.

    There's lots of info around - try searching websites. This one is a good place to start:

    Congratulations on the new addition to your family - I hope all goes smoothly for you. :)

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