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  • Do You Need Carbohydrate (Carbs) To Build Muscle and Bulk Up?

    It's very widely accepted that protein is a necessity when aiming to build muscle. After all, muscle is a highly abundant source of amino acids (the building blocks of protein), so it makes sense that in order to build substantial muscle mass, you require an above average intake of protein. Science too confirms this. Yet when it comes to your carbohydrate consumption, there is a lot of confusion on the topic. Do you need carbs to bulk up?

    The answer is yes, you absolutely, unequivically require carbohydrates to build muscle. Reducing or even attempting to eliminate carbohydrates from your diet will impede muscle growth and most likely result in muscle loss. Carbohydrates are not only required to build (and maintain) muscle, they are required to facilitate proper brain function and maintain energy levels.

    The question now becomes - if amino acids (which form proteins) are a primary constituent of muscle tissue, why are carbs necessary if they do not play a direct role in the structure of a muscle fibre? Let's consider why.

    Protein synthesis is the act of creating proteins. When muscles are developing, protein synthesis is occurring by connecting amino acids together into proteins and thus into muscle cells. This is what causes muscle growth, or hypertrophy. In order for this to happen, muscle cells must be able to source amino acids from the blood stream. This is not possible without the presence of insulin, a hormone secreted by the pancreas. Insulin acts as a blood glucose regulator. In order to prevent blood sugar levels from rising too high and becoming dangerous, insulin is secreted to reduce blood glucose levels.

    Now the question becomes, if hypertrophy requires amino acids, and amino acid uptake is only possible with the presence of insulin, how then do we increase insulin levels?

    Carbohydrates

    Upon ingesting carbohydrates, our body's attempt to break them down into glucose, a simple sugar. Too much glucose in the blood stream can lead to hyperglycemia, so insulin comes along to maintain a healthy blood glucose level.

    Ultimately, eliminating any nutrient from your diet is a mistake. Proteins, carbs and fats are all required for optimal muscle development. Removing carbs is a big mistake for anyone seeking to gain muscle tissue.

  • Does Protein Powder Work to Bulk Up and Build Muscle?

    Protein powder is the most common supplement available and is often marketed to help build muscle and bulk up. But does protein powder work - or is it just going to put a hole in your wallet?

    What is Protein Powder?

    Before we discuss the actual question, "Does protein powder work?", let's first identify what protein powder is, and what it is supposed to do in respect to building muscle and bulking up.

    Protein powder is a highly processed form of protein. There are many varieties of protein powders - egg, whey, casein, milk, soy, rice, pea based (and so on), all of which are derived from different sources, or have undergone different processes. The most commonly recommended protein powder when aiming to build muscle is whey protein powder. Let's discuss whey protein powder in more detail.

    Whey protein powder is milk derived. Milk is naturally around 20% whey and 80% casein. The concept behind supplementing with a whey based protein shake is as follows:

    1. Whey protein is the best quality protein available
    2. Whey protein is absorbed very quickly

    The quality of the protein that you consume is extremely important when you are seeking to build muscle. The greater the quality (measured by "biological value", or the degree to which your body can utilise these proteins for biological function), the better the protein is going to be to build muscle.

    The rate of absorption is also critical before and after your workout. Following an intense workout, your body requires a readily available source of amino acids in order to repair damaged muscle tissue and begin synthesising new tissues. Amino acids are the constituents of proteins, so it is important to have an available source at your body's disposal.

    Whole-food proteins cannot be absorbed anywhere nearly as quickly as whey proteins found in supplements - hence why whey protein powder can be an effective tool.

    Does Protein Powder Work?

    Coming back to the original question, it is important to understand that protein powder isn't a "special" supplement that will replace everything else in your fridge. Nor is it something that "does" or "doesn't" work in isolation. Rather, it is a tool used to enhance your results, in conjunction with an effective training regime, a good nutritional approach and proper recovery.

    It is important to never, without exception, view a supplement as "the holy grail" of accomplishing a particular goal. In this instance, it is important not to assume that with the inclusion of protein powder in your regime, you can expect to bulk up with minimal effort. Building muscle in any substantial amount is the result of a long-term and dedicated approach to your training and lifestyle in general.

    The addition of a protein powder to a poorly constructed lifestyle in regards to muscle gain will not be advantageous. For example, if you regularly consume junk food, train inconsistently, drink alcohol regularly and do not sleep properly, forget about having a protein powder after your workout. In all honesty, it will be a complete waste of your money. You would obtain far more benefit by eliminating the junk food and alcohol, sleeping well and establishing a structured approach to training.

    Meanwhile, if you are dedicated to accomplishing a muscle building goal in all aspects of your lifestyle and wish to give your body every opportunity to build muscle, a protein powder would be right up your alley. Supplementing with a protein shake would significantly boost your results by encouraging maximum muscle development following your workout and during the remainder of the day. There is an overwhelming amount of scientific literature to support this notion, which has been referenced extensively on this website.

    There are two primary options for pre/post workout supplementation that you should consider - Whey Protein Isolate (WPI) and Whey Protein Isolate/Concentrate blend (WPI/WPC). The Whey Protein Isolate is a slightly faster absorbing protein powder. However due to the additional manufacturing involved, the WPI is slightly more expensive than the WPI/WPC.

    Our most popular WPI/WPC powder is the Optimum Whey. Meanwhile, the most popular pure WPI powder is the AST Sports Science VP2.

    I do hope that this short article sheds some light on the topic of "Does Protein Powder Work?". Good luck with your muscle building goals!

  • Building Muscle By Using Your Strengths

    As we age, our ability to build muscle tissue diminishes. But is growing older really a disadvantage when you consider the experience and wisdom that you exhibit? Conversely, is being younger a disadvantage due to a lack of training experience?
  • Mass Attack! - Part 1: Bulking Up

    No matter what your level of experience is, the one common factor between all trainers is that we are trying to build MASS! Yet despite our best efforts, some of us are simply getting no where.
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