Monthly Archives: May 2016

Tips for Optimal Intra Workout

Your body works hard during training. An intra-workout supplement that contains a high concentration of amino acids maximizes those efforts and accelerates your progress.

How? Intra-workout supplementation takes effect at the exact time your body needs it. During exercise, blood flow to your muscles and nutrient absorption are at an all-time high.

When consumed as an intra-workout supplement, amino acids promote muscle building and fights muscle breakdown. This means you’ll see improvements in both performance and recovery.

But creating the best intra-workout supplement is a matter of individual goals, preferences, and priorities.

Here, we’re breaking down the different types of amino acids, their sources, and dosage guidelines, so you have all the information you need to build your optimal intra-workout supplementation plan.

WHICH AMINO ACIDS SHOULD I TAKE INTRA-WORKOUT?

Even as healthy adults, our bodies cannot make the nine classified essential amino acids (EAAs) so we need to rely on our diets to get them. Included within these nine EAAs is the branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs)—leucine, valine, and isoleucine.

If you’ve done any reading on the topic, you’ll find plenty of conflicting information about whether you should take just the BCAAs or the full spectrum of all nine EAAs.

Related: Why Intra-Workout Supplementation Works

BCAA advocators believe that athletes already consume plenty of protein, whether it’s from food or supplements, so additional EAAs are not necessary. They support only taking the BCAAs, particularly leucine, during workouts.

But EAA advocators question this stance, wondering why BCAA advocators recommend taking the other two BCAAs (valine and isoleucine) at all if leucine is the key amino acid responsible for stimulating protein synthesis (muscle building). Using leucine alone yields the same stimulus results as taking all three BCAAs, so a middle-ground stance of taking just the three BCAAs doesn’t make sense.

Here are the facts: Research has found that taking all nine EAAs may allow for a longer stimulus on protein synthesis than just taking the BCAAs alone. To gain the largest and longest protein synthesis, include all nine EAAs in your supplement. Based on scientific research, this approach will maximize the benefits of your intra-workout supplementation.

One exception to note: Emerging research shows that under extreme training conditions, our bodies may need nonessential amino acids (NEAAs) in order to sustain elevated levels of muscle protein synthesis.

Previous research has found that those who took whey protein, which contains both EAAs and NEAAs, experienced an elevated rate of muscle protein synthesis for three to five hours post-exercise, while those who just took the EAAs kept muscle protein synthesis elevated for only one to three hours.7

Given these findings, there is a strong, growing case that taking EAAs and NEAAs together from whey is superior to taking just the EAAs, and certainly superior to taking just the BCAAs.

WHICH SOURCES OF AMINO ACIDS PROVIDE THE MOST BENEFITS?

To optimize the effects of your intra-workout supplement without upsetting your digestive tract, focus on hydrolyzed protein and free-form amino acids. As a distant third, consider your general protein powders.

Let’s explore the pros and cons of these different sources:

HYDROLYZED PROTEINS

Whey is currently the best source of protein that has been hydrolyzed (enzymatically broken down) into rapidly absorbing di- and tripeptides.

Peptides are chains of two or more amino acids. Your body can absorb the shortest peptides rapidly and without any digestion needed. Any peptide longer than tripeptide requires digestion to break it down to either a dipeptide, tripeptide, or a single amino acid, before it can be absorbed into the blood.

Boosting Supplements That You Have Never Heard

People are really jumping on the “brain enhancer” supplement band-wagon lately.

These brain enhancers are known as nootropics, a word coined by a Romanian dude supposedly for their ability to bend the mind.

Now to be completely honest I am incredibly intrigued by the possibility of improving my mental performance.

As someone who makes their living and builds a career based on their brain power not their muscle power, the idea of getting a little bit of a mental boost from a supplement would be legit.

Interestingly, what a lot of people who are interested in nootropics fail to realize is that, in addition to their cognitive boosting capacity, some of them may increase physical performance.

I mean being smart is great and all but just being smart probably won’t get you strong or jacked.

I know we joke around about being jacked but it’s actually super important. More muscle means less risk of disease and better quality of life as you age.

Ok, so some nootropics actually fulfill the old adage of “two birds, one stone”. Anything that can double dip is worth investigating in my mind. So let’s investigate these intriguing double hitters.

NOOTROPICS AND PERFORMANCE

Some nootropics may directly increase your performance and adaptations from training while others may indirectly increase them by helping you focus while you train.

ALPHA-GLYCEROPHOSPHOCOLINE

Alpha-glycerophosphocholine (Alpha-GPC) is a cholinergic compound that is incorporated into brain tissue1 and while it may have some interesting “brain enhancing” benefits, perhaps the more interesting aspect of it is its direct effect on performance.

Related: Top 5 Supplements You Need to Be Taking

It appears that Alpha-GPC may do more than just get you one step close to Bradley Cooper from Limitless, because there is some evidence it can increase power. In a small, pilot study demonstrated that Alpha-GPC increased power output 14% over placebo2.

In addition to increasing power, there is one other really interesting aspect of Alpha-GPC as it relates to performance, its ability to enhance production of growth hormone. One study showed that consuming 1 gram of Alpha-GPC acutely increased growth hormone levels 60 and 120 minutes after consumed3.

This has been repeated in another study, where 600 mg of Alpha-GPC drastically increased growth hormone compared to placebo2.

Now we have to be responsible do the whole “science” thing, which means remaining objective and letting the data guide our decisions. We still have one important question to ask about this whole Alpha-GPC growth hormone connection. Does that acute response in growth hormone results in anything meaningful in terms of getting jacked?

The answer is, we just don’t know right now but I am confident enough to bet my lab coat that it isn’t going to hurt!

CAFFEINE

I know what you are thinking, “Come on man, caffeine isn’t a nootropic”. Well it actually is one of the most well studied and widely used nootropics. It also shows the most robust effects and enhances mental acuity and attention better than all the fancy-sounding new-age nootropics like Aniracetam, Modafinil, Ginkgo biloba and all that other stuff.

I probably don’t need to waste time telling you about the mental benefits of caffeinebecause this article is more about how these nootropics help you get jacked.

Onto the jackedness. . .

The other major benefit to your super cheap cup of black coffee is that it’s also the most well documented legal workout enhancing supplement on the market.

The Key Mineral That You Are Drinking

images-20While magnesium is best known as a relaxing ingredient in the popular nighttime supplement ZMA, the benefits of magnesium are extremely impressive and extend far beyond sleep alone.

In this article you will learn everything about this key mineral and how regular supplementation can advance your health and even your physique, one step further.

BACKGROUND TO MAGNESIUM AND MAGNESIUM DEFICIENCY

In the body, magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral and the second most abundant electrolyte. Magnesium is a key cofactor for over 300 metabolic reactions in the body.

Some of the primary roles of magnesium in the body include1,2,3:

  • protein synthesis,
  • muscle and nerve function,
  • blood glucose control,
  • blood pressure regulation,
  • energy production,
  • DNA synthesis,
  • muscle contraction.

With such a wide range of functions, magnesium deficiency is always going to be of serious concern. The United States daily recommended intake is 420 mg for men and 310 mg for women4.

Related: ZMA Supplements – Do They Improve Sleep & Test Levels?

At present, research estimates that at least 60% of Americans do not consume the recommended daily amount of magnesium in their diets. Remember, that the deficiency level is far below the optimal range for an athlete, or someone who wants to optimize their health and physique5.

The big issue around magnesium intake is limited access to natural sources. Although magnesium is a rather abundant mineral, there is no major food source that provides a high quality amount of magnesium. The foods highest in magnesium include unrefined (whole) grains, spinach, nuts, legumes, and potatoes. However, you would need to eat unrealistic amounts to get a high magnesium intake6.

Food Mg Per Serving Percent DV*
Almonds, dry roasted, 1 ounce 80 20
Spinach, boiled, 1/2 cup 78 20
Cashews, dry roasted, 1 ounce 74 19
Peanuts, oil roasted, 1/4 cup 63 16
Cereal, shredded wheat, 2 large biscuits 61 15
Soymilk, plain or vanilla, 1 cup 61 15
Black beans, cooked, 1/2 cup 60 15
Edamame, shelled, cooked, 1/2 cup 50 13
Peanut Butter, smooth, 2 tablespoons 49 12
Bread, whole wheat, 2 slices 46 12
Avocado, cubed, 1 cup 44 11
Potato, baked with skin, 3.5 ounces 43 11
Rice, brown, cooked, 1/2 cup 42 11
Yogurt, plain, low fat, 8 ounces 42 11
Breakfast cereals, fortified with 10% of DV magnesium 40 10
Oatmeal, instant, 1 packet 36 9
Kidney beans, canned, 1/2 cup 35 9
Banana, 1 medium 32 8
Salmon, Atlantic, farmed, cooked, 3 ounces 26 7
Milk, 1 cup 24-27 6-7
Halibut, cooked, 3 ounces 24 6
Raisins, 1/2 cup 23 6
Chicken breast, roasted, 3 ounces 22 6
Beef, ground, 90% lean, pan broiled, 3 ounces 20 5
Broccoli, chopped and cooked, 1/2 cup 12 3

Source: Gebhardt, S., Lemar, L., Haytowitz, D., Pehrsson, P., Nickle, M., Showell, B., … & Holden, J. M. (2008). USDA national nutrient database for standard reference, release 21.

Along with issues around obtaining magnesium naturally, there are a large number of factors that can reduce our rate of magnesium storage and absorption. Most notable of them are7:

  • Excess alcohol, diuretics, coffee, tea, salt, phosphoric acid (sodas), calcium, potassium and sugar.
  • Intense stress.
  • Drugs and some supplements (foscarnet, aminoglycosides, amphotericin B, cyclosporine, azathioprine, cisplatin, citrated blood, excess vitamin D).
  • Several health conditions (vomiting, diarrhea, renal transplantation, etc.).
  • Insufficient water intake.

The most common way to determine magnesium deficiency is by measuring total serum concentrations. A healthy range is between 0.7 and 1.05 mM8. However, most of the body’s magnesium is stored in bone, muscle and soft tissues, with only 1% of the body’s magnesium content stored in the serum9.

Therefore, unless severe magnesium deficiency is present, measuring serum magnesium concentrations is unlikely to be an effective way of diagnosing deficiency10. This means, it is possible that a large majority of the population is actually magnesium deficient, but not to the extent that it would be identified when measuring serum concentrations.

Severe signs of minor of magnesium deficiency include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and weakness. If this deficiency continues and progresses, other issues such as abnormal heart rhythms, tingling, numbness, muscle contractions and cramps, seizures and coronary spasms can occur2,4.