Monthly Archives: April 2016

Benefits of Protein Supplementation

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 weekly meal 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.

Molecular Weight Carbs During My Workout

There are two kinds of people in this world: Those who want to be jacked and those I don’t associate myself with.

OK, maybe that is taking it to the extreme, but if you are reading Muscle & Strength I would bet my life savings (which I admit is meager) that you are the kind of person who wants to be jacked.

One of the things we know from decades of research is that your training volume is one of the biggest dictators of muscle hypertrophy (aka jackedness).

So if you want to get bigger and stronger then increasing your work capacity is essential.

Supplementing with carbohydrates before (or during) training is well known to improve work capacity and endurance. Additionally, post workout recovery is important for engaging in repeated bouts of exercise.

One of the rate limiting features of maintaining performance during long events (i.e. triathlons and ironman) is the ability of the gut to absorb nutrients at a high enough rate without cramping.

The mechanical composition of the meal (i.e. solid vs liquid) along with the chemical/physical properties (chemical structure and osmolality) greatly influence the gastric absorbance of nutrients taken in before, during, and after training.

When high molecular weight glucose polymers (vitargo and cyclic dextrins) are mixed in a water solution they provide a low osmolality liquid beverage. It is believed that consuming liquids with low osmolality will increase absorption, thereby providing more carbohydrates and improved performance.

Improve Sleep and Test Levels

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 men.