Monthly Archives: July 2016

Benefits of Protein That You Take

Consuming enough protein for muscle growth remains the number one priority for all bodybuilders from the beginner to an Olympia contender.

Every pro knows that protein is an essential bodybuilding nutrient. It’s basically the first real lesson every dedicated lifter learns on their quest for head-turning size and shape.

So why is it that so many dedicated trainees fail to consistently get enough of this second-to-none mass builder? There are several reasons:

  1. The kind of basic nutrition that gets results is usually the first casualty once the novelty of a new training program has worn off.
  2. Life gets in the way and you begin to wonder if getting your one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight is really all that important when faced with the task of weeklymeal prep. Lifters lose sight of the bodybuilding fundamentals that got them where they are in the first place.
  3. Consuming enough protein can be tiring and all-consuming; pounding down six full-fledged protein-rich meals per day takes time, effort, and dedication.

It’s easy for many iron devotees to miss one or more of these meals – one of the biggest mistakes a gains-focused lifter can make.

Fortunately an increasing emphasis on protein supplementation has made life a lot easier for today’s muscle-hungry bodybuilders. With an array of protein products to offer, reputable companies are keeping bodybuilders well-nourished, anabolic, and less likely to deviate from their recommended protein intake.

Whether whole foods dominant, supplement-heavy, or a combination of both, a protein rich diet is a non-negotiable bodybuilding requirement.

If a bodybuilder begins slipping on their protein intake for any of the above reasons, you can be sure that limited gains will shortly follow. Here are three major reasons why serious iron athletes must get their daily protein quota.

 

1. ESSENTIAL FOR MUSCLE BUILDING

Protein is simply a long chain of amino acids all connected together. Once digested, these muscle-enriching amino acids flood the body. The body then reassembles these amino acids into the specific proteins that build muscle.

Given the body can only process a certain amount of dietary protein at a time (30-50 grams every 2.5 to 3 hours depending on an individual’s size and activity level) the protein needed for muscle repair must be of the highest quality. Vegetable and soy proteins, for example, cannot replace those of a higher biological value such as eggs, chicken, fish and whey protein isolate.

 

The muscles are in a constant state of reinvention; either shrinking or growing depending on the degree of stimulation during resistance training. Enough aminos from digested protein will result in protein synthesis and muscle growth. Protein synthesis is enhanced whenever a protein-rich meal is consumed. But, not just any old protein source will do.

Of the 20 aminos needed for protein synthesis (9 essential, which must be ingested, and 11 non-essential, which can be synthesized in the body), the branched-chain amino acid leucine is most anabolic of all 5.

To fully enhance muscle anabolism, a recommended 2-3 grams of leucine per meal must be included. While a 300 gram serving of chicken provides 2 grams of leucine, a scoop of whey protein provides the full 3 grams 5. Even though both protein sources are of a high biological nature, it is clear that not all quality proteins are created equal.

The muscle amino leucine is so important that many bodybuilders supplement with\ leucine to stay anabolic for even longer.

What most bodybuilders don’t know is protein can be broken down by the body and used for energy just like carbohydrates and fats. However, carbs and fats cannot be converted to protein. As a result, no matter how well-nourished a bodybuilder may think he is, sufficient quality protein for muscle-building must be distributed across multiple daily meals 4.

No excuses.

 

2. KEEPS THE CELLULAR MACHINERY RUNNING

Protein is essential for much more besides building muscle. Up to 20 percent of the human body is comprised of protein. Protein is instrumental in ensuring biological processes and all bodily tissues are optimally maintained and strengthened.

Protein is needed for bone development, the formation of the 75,000 unique enzymes needed for various functions including the body’s metabolism, and the digestion of food. Without enough protein, not only is muscle tissue likely to rapidly regress, but general health will also be compromised.

Bodybuilders trying to get on the gain train to build big biceps become excessively gym-focused to the detriment of their overall health and wellbeing. Arguably, the most important message that can be put across to all serious bodybuilders is that the muscles will not grow to their full potential while health is compromised in other areas.

For example, without an optimal ratio of digestive enzymes, protein-rich foods cannot be properly digested. Without the neurotransmitters needed to commence muscle movement, adequate stimulation cannot be placed on these muscles. And neurotransmitters are comprised of, you guessed it, proteins.

In short, proteins play an essential role in the creation of every new cell of the body. Knowing this provides yet another reason to pump up the protein.

 

3. REDUCES APPETITE

We are all creatures of habit and one habit many of us have acquired is a taste for fatty and sugary foods. Biologically-driven, a taste for high-calorie foods is hardwired into human DNA. This reason alone makes it difficult to stick to a diet.

Many studies have concluded that protein is the most satiating of the macronutrients 1, 2, 6.In fact, for non-bodybuilding folk, doubling protein intake while keeping carbohydrates and fats consistent has been shown to automatically reduce cravings for and the spontaneous intake of off-limits foods 2. This is likely due to an increase in the appetite-regulating protein peptide YY (PYY).

All About Supplements That You Should Know

Everyone knows that macros are key to high-level training and getting jacked. However, micronutrients shouldn’t be overlooked because without micronutrients your training wouldn’t even get off the ground.

We often think about micronutrients in disease states, and while that is true, they are also important for making your cells actually function. Think about it this way, macros are the fuel, and micronutrients allow that fuel to actually be used.

Pretend macros are the gasoline in your car and the micronutrients are the spark plug. You need to combust the gas to get energy in your car. You need to combust the fuel in your cells to get energy. While that analogy isn’t perfect it is a good way to think about them.

Now micronutrients do a lot more than just make carbs go bang in your cells, they regulate a ton of the processes involved in muscle growth, inflammation, insulin signaling, and a host of other important processes.

When we compare the increased micronutrient needs of athletes with the ever declining micronutrient content of our modern foods, two key micronutrients stand out: zinc and magnesium.

Apparently, some supplement wizard figured this out quite a while ago. A zinc-magnesium combo supplement is readily available and one of the more commonly taken supplements amongst athletes. Formally, it is known as zinc-magnesium-aspartate, but we will call it by its shelf name ZMA.

ZMA is one of the few supplements I actually keep on hand at all times (I can tell you the rest of my secret stash if you are interested). Let’s dive into why ZMA is a supplement you ought to consider.

ZINC

Zinc is considered a mineral and one that is easily excreted in our sweat. Because of this, athletes may be more prone to zinc deficiency than their non-exercising peers1.  Zinc, while a seemingly boring supplement to take may, actually be important for you to start taking especially if you train hard.

ZINC AND YOUR MOJO

One of the worst aspects of cut cycles is your testosterone drops and your libido crashes. Seriously, ask your friend/gym partner how his sex drive was the few weeks leading up to his last show. There are several studies showing that supplementing with zinc during periods of high-training volumes and/or caloric deficits can prevent reductions in testosterone in men2,3.

ZINC AND YOUR METABOLISM

Besides your mojo going in the tank during peak training cycles and cuts, your thyroid levels can also plummet. Plummeting thyroid=bad, so we want to try and mitigate that.

Replacing the large amounts of zinc lost in the sweat of hard training athletes has been shown to prevent loses in both T4 and the more bioactive T32,4. In both these studies, the doses they were given were pretty physiological, meaning they were within the range of what you see in your normal zinc supplement.

In addition to maintaining thyroid function during hard training and cuts, zinc might also help improve glucose uptake into cells. Now, while this research is currently limited to mechanistic studies in cells and initial observations in mice it makes the case that maintaining your zinc status is probably a good idea in all respects5

MAGNESIUM

Let’s move on from zinc and give magnesium some love. Magnesium (Mg2+) is an atomic mineral involved in more than 300 essential metabolic reactions and plays an essential role in a wide range of fundamental biological processes. Perhaps the most notable aspects of magnesium supplementation is its effect on sleep and insulin signaling.

MAGNESIUM AND SLEEP

Lifting big and eating big are great for building muscle, but they are pretty much wasted efforts if you stay up all night playing Call of Duty. Sleep is pretty essential for maximizing your gains.

There are 2 well controlled studies looking at the effect of magnesium supplementation on sleep. People taking magnesium were able to improve sleep quality and reduce sleeping cortisol levels despite having had less than desirable sleep6. In another study, taking magnesium improved sleep quality in people who were magnesium deficient7.

Protein That You Need To Know

Protein is my favorite macro.

Why?

Because steak is awesome, protein shakes are the greatest invention of the 20th century, and I like building muscle.

So naturally, I get a little frustrated when people spread falsehoods about my favorite macro.

Related: 43 Easy High Protein Recipes!

Now, seeing that I am a scientist and I value the truth, I think I should stand in on behalf of protein and defend it against some of the popular myths about it.

1. PROTEIN WREAKS HAVOC ON YOUR KIDNEYS

“Go easy on the protein shakes bro, you are going to wreck your kidneys.”

If I had a dollar for every time I heard or read that protein was going to hurt my kidneys…. well… I would probably be retired and blogging full time.

Recently, Dr. Jose Antonio did a study to answer the following question, “Basically, if we stuff you full of protein (like 4g/kg a day) what happens to your kidneys and your blood tests?”

Well it turns out that if you take healthy young men and cram them full of protein and have them lift weights, their kidneys are just fine and it had no effect on their blood work1.

These people ate about 270 grams of protein a day for 8 weeks and their kidneys and blood were just fine.

This myth really, really needs to die.

2. PROTEIN MAKES YOUR BONES BRITTLE

For some reason some doctors and scientists got some nonsense in their heads about protein making your blood acidic and that it caused calcium to be “leached” from your bones to buffer out your blood, effectively making your bones brittle and weak.  Turns out, that is entirely untrue, the hypothesis has been refuted by several lines of evidence.

First, a study directly addressing this question found that a diet high in protein had no change in biomarkers of bone resorption or formation, indicating that a high protein diet has no adverse effects on bone health2. This evidence supports the notion that high-protein diets are not detrimental to bone health.

Second, we know that high-protein diets actually increase calcium absorption in the digestive tract, and increased blood calcium elicits calcitonin release from the thyroid and promotes calcium deposition in bone tissue. To this point, there have been several studies supporting the idea that increased intestinal calcium absorption due to high-protein diets may actually improve bone health

3. HIGH PROTEIN DIETS MAKE YOU GAIN WEIGHT

I thought of a lot of clever ways to put this, but to quote one of the most prolific high protein diet researchers in the field (Dr. Jose Antonio):

“You gain weight. No shit. If you lift weights and eat a bucketful of protein, you will likely gain lean body mass. But here’s the kicker. If all you did was overeat on protein

No joke, in 2 separate studies where they overfed people protein, those who took in extra calories from protein lost weight. Don’t believe me? Here is the data (data is adopted from reference