Category Archives: Nutrition

Gain 5 to 10 lbs of Muscle in 4 Weeks with Creatine!

Creatine is one of the most potent supplements a natural muscle builder can take and it is also safe. It has been used by athletes since the 70’s and over the past two decade has been used by countless athletes and fitness enthusiasts.

Creatine can significantly enhance anaerobic performance – specifically short duration activities of 10 seconds to two minutes – such as resistance training or the 100 yard sprint.

During muscle contraction, energy in the form of Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) is generated through a process called glycolysis. As ATP is utilized, it is converted into Adenosine Diphospahte (ADP). ADP is converted back into ATP by continued glycolysis; however, it can also be converted back into ATP using another high energy biomolecule – creatine monphosphate.

In short, having an abundance of creatine available increases the potential power output of the muscle. University studies have demonstrated an increase in muscular strength and endurance of 5 to 15 %  for some athletes. This means that taking creatine can help improve your 1 rep max or increase the amount of repetitions you can perform with a given weight.

Creatine also causes water retention in the muscles increasing lean body mass. For a swimmer this is not a good thing; however, for a bodybuilder or powerlifter this effect can make a huge difference.
Depending on the size of the athlete – more specifically how much muscle mass they have – loading up on creatine for 4 weeks can retain 5 to 10 lbs of water right where you want it to be – inside the muscles.

This effect will cause your muscles to appear larger and more swollen – independent of diuretics. Plus, an extra 10 lbs of muscle mass will also allow you to lift more. The more you lift, the bigger you get. And, the bigger you are the more you can lift.

It is important to know that creatine is produced in your body by the kidneys and liver; however, the amount our skeletal muscles can be saturated with well exceeds any natural levels. In fact, through dietary needs we would have to consume around 20 lbs of red meat a day in order to acquire the amount of creatine our muscles can be saturated with.

Fortunately creatine is cheap and widely available. Some believe a loading phase is important, followed by a lower daily maintenance dose. Others argue and claim loading is simply a waste of creatine and hard on your digestive system and taking the normal amount of 5 grams a day is more than sufficient for “loading” and maintenance.

Either way there is no argument that creatine is effective for increasing size and strength. It is also one of the few ergogenic aids that actually works. In fact, you will lose the extra 5 to 10 lbs of weight you gained within the same time period that it took you to gain it once you stop taking it.

Pre-Contest Sodium Cycle

It is said that 1 gram of sodium will hold 50 times its mass of water in your body. There is a very good reason why doctors advise patients with high blood pressure to limit their sodium intake. Salt causes the body to retain water causing you to bloat, increasing blood volume and pressure.

The average person only needs to consume about 2,000 mg of sodium a day. This can easily be acquired through meats, dairy products, and even certain vegetables. However, the average American consumes an average of 8,000 mg of sodium a day.
In order to adapt to changes in sodium intake, the body has a control mechanism in which the kidneys produce a hormone called Aldosterone that regulates the excretion of sodium.

In the case of the American consuming 8,000 mg of sodium a day, the body responds by producing less Aldosterone which stimulates the kidneys to absorb more sodium and water.

Bodybuilders can take advantage of this fact by cycling sodium several days out from a competition. For the first 3 to 4 days the athlete loads up with sodium despite the fact it temporarily causes bloating.

Then, in the next 3 to 4 days, the athlete attempts to reduce their sodium intake to zero mg a day which is impossible to do unless you are fasting.

As mentioned earlier, even certain vegetables can be high in sodium so it will be very hard to get below 500 to 1,000 mg a day. However, if you are able to manage such a diet you will enjoy the benefits of not having to take diuretics as you watch your body shed water continuously until the contest day.

There are many natural diuretics available. However, a sodium cycle is a natural alternative to taking any diuretic. A drastic shift in sodium intake is not ideal; however, the human body is designed to be able to fast. Fasting is also considered by most experts a safe and healthy activity.

In contrast, how many times have you heard of a bodybuilder falling over on strange or having problems with muscle cramps because of diuretics?

A Spoon Full of Sugar Helps the Workout get Done

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The internet is polluted with countless literature about pre- and post-workout snacks. Most of the information is fueled by supplement companies trying to promote their products rather than truthfully research what works best. In fact you might be getting a lot of added food colour into your system from consuming these products that in time has to be eliminated from the body.

A better approach is to simply select natural food choices for pre- and post-workout snacks. It is not only healthier but will also keep you from spending money on items you don’t need.

Pre-workout snacks consist of sugar. That is it. Unless you are doing cardiovascular training, your muscles acquire energy in the form of ATP from glycolosis or anaerobic respiration. Glycolysis in Latin means to break sugar. Literally the sugars you each (glucose, lactose, fructose, etc.) are 6 carbon molecules that are cleaved into two smaller molecules that all athletes love best – lactic acid. The harder you pump your muscles the more lactic acid is produced and eventually muscle contraction stops.

So why on earth would you consume protein before a workout which is the advice of many health experts and pre-workout supplements being sold.

So in order to fuel your workouts consume sugars – both complex and simple. Complex carbs are to be consumed an hour before the workout and should be uber easy to digest such as pasta, rice, breads, and other starchy foods.

Simple carbs from food such as fruits can be consumed before the workout as they absorbs quickly into the blood steam and don’t require complex digestion. Remember, muscle cramps can be caused from too much blood being drawn to the digestive tract for intensive digestion.

During your workout it is important to consume as much simple sugars as possible within your calorie restrictions. There will always be sugar in your blood stream and continued absorption of sugars into the blood stream as the complex carbs you consumed continue to digest. The amount of sugar carried in your blood steam is finite and can be expended within minutes through intense anaerobic exercise.

Glycogen stored in the larger muscles and liver also continue to break down releasing sugars into the blood steam; however, this process is inefficient at best compared to supplying your body with a continuous supply of simple sugars that are easily absorbed.

One of the oldest sports supplements I have read about was used back in the 40’s by athletes like Steve Reeves who mixed honey and lemon juice creating their own natural version of a sports drinks. I personally like to drink coffee with 3% milk and raw sugar. Milk is high in lactose, sugar (sucrose) is pure glucose disaccharide that easily breaks down, and the caffeine increase alertness.

On the opposite end of the spectrum are post-workout supplements that contain sugars such as dextrose that help replenish glycogen stores in muscles after a workout. This is complete nonsense. The workout is done. Your muscles and liver will easily replenish glycogen stores in time before your next workout on their own.

Why feed your body extra sugar when you don’t need it to perform?If a glycogen deficit exists it is better for your body to replenish it using your body’s own fat stores.

In fact, the only thing you should eat for a post-workout meal should be rich foods high in protein and other nutrients. After a workout it is time for your body to repair damaged muscles and respond in hypertrophy.

If you are pumping iron your muscles need sugar. There is no way around it. So save yourself the money and consume natural pre- and post-workout snacks.

Protein Quantity and Quality

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If you are training hard in the gym you can’t let that hard work go to waste by eating a crappy diet. If you want to build muscle you need to eat lots of quality protein. The general rule for protein intake for bodybuilding is to eat 1 gram of protein for every pound of body weight.

This might sound like a lot of protein at first but it really isn’t that hard to accomplish. However, it is more important to ensure you consume a large percentage of quality protein from real food items.

For example, if you have a choice between drinking real milk or consuming whey protein powder, the obvious choice is the real food item – milk. In fact, if you had a choice between almost any natural protein source over why protein, your choice should be real food all the time.

Protein powders don’t digest and adsorb into the body to the same extent real foods are and often pass through the system. Secondly, protein powders are uber unnatural – similar to drinking a diet Pepsi.

Now that protein powders are off the list, we can prioritize natural protein sources.

Eggs are the highest ranked protein in terms of usability in the body. Considering that eggs contain all the essential nutrients for rapid protein synthesis, it should be a food item eaten on a daily basis. Eat the whole egg as well. The yolk contains cholesterol that is required to synthesis testosterone as well as some of the egg protein.

Milk and milk products such as cheese and yogurt are the second ranked natural source of protein. Milk is easy to digest and available lactose free. If an infant can nurse off nothing but milk, it also counts as an all inclusive food items containing all essential nutrients required for rapid protein synthesis.

Beef, fish, pork, and poultry are ranked next on the list of natural protein sources. I have often heard bodybuilders complain they are sick of eating chicken. The assumption is that chicken is very high in protein and low in fat so it is ideal for bodybuilding diets – specifically pre-contest diets.

Unfortunately the reason they are eating so much chicken is that it is a cheap meat item. They lack a certain knowledge about nutrition. Although chicken might be high in protein and low in fat, meat is harder to digest and less usable than egg and milk protein by a great measure.

Legumes and grains can also be a good natural source of protein; however, these are incomplete proteins lacking all essential amino acids. One way around this is to mix various types of grains or combinations such as beans and rice. This is more important for Vegan vegetarians who can’t consume any of the other sources of protein thus mentioned.

So don’t let you hard work go to waste and choose natural protein sources over powders and supplements. Keep track of your protein intake with a journal if you have to and ensure you eat at least 1 gram of protein for each pound of body weight; but make sure at least 1/3 of this protein comes form eggs and milk to ensure you are eating enough quality protein.