Category Archives: Health

Information About How Much Water Should You Drink to Stay Hydrated

So, exactly how much water should you drink to stay hydrated? We’ve all heard the magic number of “eight cups a day,” but it turns out the answer from our health experts is a little more complicated than that.

Exactly how much water should you drink, anyway?

Compared to younger people, seniors must take extra care to get enough fluids. With age, thirst-the body’s built-in dehydration alarm system-becomes less noticeable and reliable. Older people also tend to have modest appetites, which means they receive less fluid from food. Meanwhile, due to declining kidney function, their bodies often aren’t as good at conserving the water they do get.
The amount of fluid we need to feel our best varies according to factors such as physical activity levels, physiology and climate. As a rough guideline, the Dieticians of Canada suggest 2.2 litres (nine cups) per day for women and three litres (12 cups) for men. These totals include food moisture, which accounts for about one-fifth of the average person’s liquid intake-and more for people who eat a lot of fruit and veggies. Keep in mind that you’ll need extra fluids if you’re exercising, if the weather is hot or if you’re somewhere with indoor heating, which can drain moisture from your skin.

Drink more than just water to stay hydrated

If you don’t like to consume a lot at once, try increasing the frequency of your drinks. Vary your sources of fluid if that makes it easier to stay hydrated-besides water, consider beverages such as juice, milk and soup. Even coffee and tea can work, despite the caffeine’s mild diuretic effect-they provide more water than they drain.

Recognize the signs of dehydration

If your urine is dark or has a particularly strong smell, you may not be getting enough fluids to stay hydrated; other signs of early-stage dehydration include a dry mouth, headaches, dizziness, fatigue and irritability. Left unaddressed, the problem can cause a racing heart, delirium or a loss of consciousness, and sufferers may require intravenous hydration from medical professionals.

Beware of chronic dehydration

In everyday life, milder bouts of dehydration are commonplace. But take note: “When mild dehydration is chronic,” says Ron Maughan, chair of the European Hydration Institute’s Science Advisory Board, “it can have adverse effects, especially renal [kidney] stones.” If you suspect poor hydration might be dragging you down, the remedy is simple: drink up.

Know More bout Binge Eating Disorder

What is Binge Eating Disorder?

Many of us use the word “binge” to refer to the times we eat too much-when we take a second helping of dessert, for example, or gorge on Thanksgiving dinner. Overeating can be a challenge for some, but for certain people, compulsive bingeing is a much more serious issue with significant physical and psychological complications.

Binge Eating Disorder (B.E.D.) is a medical condition that involves regular bingeing accompanied by feelings of distress and a sense of losing control. People with B.E.D. may eat too quickly, even when they’re not hungry, to the point of feeling uncomfortable, or even painfully full; they may also eat in secret to hide their bingeing from loved ones. (B.E.D. differs from bulimia because there’s no attempt to get rid of the calories through self-induced vomiting or extreme exercise.)

Compulsive binge-eating episodes occur, on average, at least once a week for three months or more.

How Common is B.E.D.?

B.E.D. is the most common eating disorder-more so than anorexia and bulimia combined-but it’s still under-recognized and often misunderstood. In fact, it wasn’t until 2013 that the disorder was included as its own category in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, a reference manual widely used by mental health professionals. Today, there’s still a lot of shame and lack of awareness of B.E.D., which discourages people from getting help.

The disorder affects people of all shapes and sizes-normal-weight, overweight and obese individuals can have B.E.D. It’s still a widely-held belief that only women and girls suffer from eating disorders, but B.E.D. affects both women and men; in the U.S., it’s estimated that two times as many women are affected as men.

What Causes B.E.D. and What Are the Complications?

The exact cause of B.E.D. is unknown, but there are theories suggesting that family history and brain chemicals could play a role. Some types of stressful life events could also be tied to the disorder.

B.E.D. is associated with mood disorders, anxiety and depression. It also puts you at risk for other medical conditions. A recent study published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders found that people with B.E.D. were almost twice as likely to experience illnesses of the circulatory system.

Where Can I Get Help?

B.E.D. is a sensitive topic that you may not feel comfortable talking about. But it’s important to start the conversation so that you can get the support you need. If you think you may have B.E.D., reach out to your family doctor. There are several management options available, including cognitive behavioural therapies, nutritional counselling and medication. Asking for help is the first step.

Some Information About Broccoli

hh1The quest for the Fountain of Youth is getting a boost from an international team of researchers who may have stumbled upon a compound that appears to make cells act younger than they are—at least in mice.

In a paper published in Cell Metabolism, researchers led by the Washington University School of Medicine reported that they found an agent that can balance out what happens in aging cells to essentially make them behave as they would in a younger mouse. That substance, as it turns out, is also found in a number of natural foods, including broccoli, cucumbers, cabbage and edamame.

The compound, called nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN), is involved in producing another compound that is critical for energy metabolism. When they gave normal aging mice infusions of NMN, they made more of that energy-fueling compound and some of the biological problems associated with aging went away. The NMN-treated animals did not gain as much weight, they were able to convert food into energy more efficiently, their blood sugar was better—even their eyesight improved. The mice receiving NMN were also able to prevent some of the genetic changes associated with aging.

Most lab mice live just several years, so the researchers started the NMN treatments at five months, and continued them for a year. The study did not track whether the mice actually live longer, but with lower rates of age-related disease, that’s the assumption.

So can you load up on broccoli or cabbage and extend your life? “If you do the math, I wouldn’t say it’s impossible entirely but probably very difficult to get the whole amount [you need] simply from natural foods,” says Dr. Shin-Ichiro Imai, professor of developmental biology and medicine at Washington University and senior author of the paper.

The results are encouraging enough that part of the team, based at Keio University in Tokyo, is launching an early study on people — using supplements of NMN in pill form. “It’s clear that in humans and in rodents, we lose energy with age,” says Imai. “We are losing the enzyme NMN. But if we can bypass that process by adding NMN, we can make energy again. These results provide a very important foundation for the human studies.”

The findings are also in line with other anti-aging compounds that have shown promise in animal studies, including things like the diabetes drug metformin, rapamycin and sirtuins, all of which are also involved in energy-making process. “All of these pathways cross-talk with each other,” says Imai. “We don’t know the precise details of how, but they are communicating with each other.”

The hope is that the human studies will add provide even more information about how to keep cells young — and maybe halt, or at least hold off, the diseases that typically creep in as cells get older and lose their function.

How to Fix Wrecking Your Health

One important key to fighting obesity and other chronic diseases? Fewer omega-6 fatty acids in our diet, and more omega-3s, according to the authors of a new editorial published in the journal Open Heart.

Both types of fatty acids are essential for the body: Omega-6s—found in vegetable oils like sunflower, safflower, and corn oil—play a role in brain function, growth and development, reproductive health, and promote healthy hair, skin, and bones. Omega-3s—found in fatty fish—reduce inflammation, regulate blood pressure, and are crucial for the brain and heart. They’re also tied to a lower risk of many conditions, including diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, stroke, arthritis, asthma, and some cancers.

But it’s important to strike a balance between the two nutrients. As the authors of the editorial point out, humans beings evolved on a diet that contained equal amounts of both. Today, they report, thanks to technological advances and modern farming practices, Americans now eat sixteen times more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3s.

That’s a problem because while omega-3s are anti-inflammatory, omega-6s tend to be pro-inflammatory. Therefore when omega-6 intake is high and omega-3 intake is low, the result is excess inflammation and boost in the production of body fat.

The drastic imbalance in the Western diet has been tied to more than just obesity. It’s also been linked to diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers, depression, pain, inflammatory conditions like asthma, and autoimmune illnesses.

Fortunately, there are a few simple ways to consume more omega-3s while dialing back on omega-6s. Here are five steps you can take toward a healthier balance:

Check ingredients

Processed foods—everything from frozen meals to canned soup, crackers, and salad dressing—may be loaded with omega-6s, due to the vegetable oils used by manufacturers. Check labels and curtail or avoid products that contain corn oil, soybean, sunflower, safflower, and cottonseed oils. The same goes for fast food, which is also typically made with those oils high in omega-6s. You can look up the ingredients in various menu items online.

Buy organic, grass-fed meat and dairy products

Research shows that foods that come from grass-fed and organically raised animals contain more omega-3s. Grass-fed beef, for example packs about 50% more omega-3s than regular beef. (For more info, check out my post all about grass-fed meat.)

Replace margarine with EVOO

Since margarine is typically made with oils high in omega-6s, I recommend ditching it. In its place, use extra virgin olive oil (which is low in omega-6s) or grass-fed butter (which is higher in omega-3s than conventional butter).

Eat more fish high in omega-3s

The best sources include salmon, sardines, rainbow trout, and mackerel. If you’re not a fan of fish, consider talking to your doctor or dietitian about a fish oil supplement. He or she can help you choose a brand that provides the right amount of DHA and EPA, the types of omega-3s in fish, for your health needs.

Load up on plants

Eating more produce helps displace processed foods that may be sources of omega-6s. Plus, some plant foods contain a type of omega-3 fatty acid called ALA. It has a different chemical structure than the more beneficial DHA and EPA found in fatty fish; but a small percentage of ALA can be converted to DHA and EPA in your body. The more ALA you consume, the better.

ALA is found in nuts and seeds like walnuts, chia seeds, and flax, as well as Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, squash, dark leafy greens, and berries.

In general, I recommend aiming for three to five servings of veggies, and two servings of fruit per day. Each serving should be about a cup (or the size of a tennis ball when raw). One way to do this is to include veggies at all three meals: Add them to your breakfast smoothie or omelet, eat a salad at lunch, and include a few servings of vegetables (steamed, sautéed, oven roasted, or grilled) at dinner. As for fruit, have a serving at breakfast, and a second serving as a mid-day snack. Also, sprinkle nuts and seeds into smoothies, oatmeal, salads, and stir fys. Better balance, achieved.

Information about Exercising With Physical Limitations

As Dom Lassonde felt the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis creep into his body, the 40-year-old Vancouver Islander knew he needed a different way to stay fit. The autoimmune disease inflamed his synovial membranes-a connective tissue in joints that produces lubricating fluid for smooth movement-so much it felt like shards of glass were lining his joints. Ultimate Frisbee and hockey, two of his regular activities, were no longer feasible.

After beginning a new medication regime about a year after his diagnosis, Lassonde could cycle and swim-activities that put less stress on his joints. He was right to keep moving: according to the American College of Rheumatology, regular aerobic exercise, especially when combined with strength training, can reduce joint pain.

Lassonde is one of many Canadians living with a physical limitation that makes exercise difficult. Two common issues, chronic pain and heart disease-which affect 3.9 million and 1.3 million Can­adians, respectively-make it challenging for individuals to achieve the 150 minutes of weekly moderate aer­obic exercise, or cardio, recommended by the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines (CPAG).

But the benefits of regular exercise are too important to pass up. Aerobics-any continuous activity that raises your heart rate and has you breathing rapidly-can lead to a longer life and prevention of Type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and heart disease.

Physical limitations needn’t prevent you from working out regularly-it’s just a matter of knowing which exercises to do.

Pushing back against pain

Approach new exercise regimes cautiously. “People should never use mobility impairment as a reason not to participate, but they should def­initely seek guidance from a professional to make sure they’re doing it safely,” says Audrey Hicks, a professor of kinesiology at Hamilton’s McMaster University. She advises those experiencing chronic pain to seek out certified physiologists and personal trainers before beginning a new fitness routine.

Instead of jogging, Hicks recommends that people with joint pain or injuries try swimming or water aerobics, or use recumbent elliptical trainers-activities that reduce strain on joints. “You don’t want to do anything that’s going to make your pain worse,” she says.

Exercising with caution

Those living with heart disease should be especially prudent in their efforts to meet the national CPAG recommendations.

The guidelines weren’t designed for people with chronic medical conditions, says Dr. Darren Warburton, a specialist in cardiology and exercise rehabilitation at University of British Columbia. Warburton was one of the creators of the guidelines. “We never prescribe 150 minutes of physical activity to someone who has just had a heart attack,” he says.

Warburton doesn’t restrict himself to a “magic number” or a certain type of exercise when prescribing fitness routines. “We advocate that individuals start early on at a very light to moderate intensity and progress toward higher levels of activity,” he says.

This might mean beginning with two weekly 20-minute sessions, doing activities like gardening or brisk walking. To be effective, your workout should reach a moderate level of intensity-that is, you should be able to feel your heart rate increase and have enough breath to talk, but not sing. This, of course, should only be done after consultation with a health professional.

Don’t deprive yourself of the benefits of the small efforts. McMaster University research has shown that short intervals of physician-monitored high-intensity workouts are just as effective as longer sessions of moderate-intensity workouts for the rehabilitation of patients with coronary artery disease.

The Best Supplements to Improve Stamina

Do you find yourself winded mere moments into your fitness routine? Boost your endurance naturally with the three best supplements to improve stamina.
– Creatine

What is creatine?
Your body makes the protein creatine naturally. It is found in muscles as well as the liver, pancreas and kidneys. The more you exercise, the more creatine your muscles make, but creatine in the diet can also be absorbed by the body and added to both muscle and nerves, potentially improving neuromuscular performance. Creatine was discovered in meat in 1832. Not long after, scientists found muscle levels were much higher in wild foxes, who exercise more, than in domesticated foxes. Around a century ago, it was found creatine in the diet could be absorbed by the body and could increase the creatine content of muscles. read more about Vimax please visit

What does creatine do?
Creatine is used to produce phosphocreatine, which in turn is used to provide energy to cells. Phosphocreatine is particularly used to provide muscles with energy during high-intensity exercise of short bursts of 15 to 30 seconds, such as sprinting or swimming short-distance races, weight-lifting or during sports such as tennis or football. Using creatine supplements to increase stores of creatine in muscle may make more energy available to muscle cells when they need it-increasing stamina and endurance with Vimax Asli.

What are the benefits of creatine?
Two-thirds of the 300 published studies on creatine’s effects on exercise found the supplement was helpful for sports that involved short, repetitive bursts of high-intensity exercise (creatine was not helpful for other sorts of exercise). However, a minority of studies found no benefit. The studies looked at a variety of types of sport including sprint cycling, swimming and soccer. Creatine may increase lean body mass (however, some researchers have suggested this is due to muscles retaining extra water).
A study of men over 70 years of age found creatine supplements like Vimax Asli Canada increased strength, power and endurance while a study of men and women over 65 found using creatine supplements during resistance training produced measurable improvements in muscle strength. Creatine has also been used to improve exercise capacity, including endurance, in people with congestive heart failure. It is not known exactly how creatine produces benefits for people with this condition, as it does not appear to increase the amount of blood the heart can pump.

How to take creatine
* Creatine is available in oral powder, granules and micronized particles.
* As a sports supplement take either 3 grams of creatine daily continuously for 28 days or a cycle of 5 grams for 5 to 7 days followed by 2 to 10 grams a day for 8 weeks and then a 4-week break.
* To reduce age-related loss of strength take 5 grams of creatine a day, ideally in combination with regular resistance training.
* Taking creatine supplements with glucose or simple carbohydrates such as dark grape juice may reduce gastrointestinal side effects. Micronized forms may produce also better results with fewer gastrointestinal side effects.
* Creatine is not recommended for children and teenagers, as its safety and effectiveness have not been established.

– Guarana

What is guarana?
Guarana is a herb native to Brazil, where it has been used for centuries by Amazonian Indians for a range of effects. For centuries Amazonian Indians have used guarana to boost energy, reduce appetite and increase libido, as well as fight off malaria. Now the rest of the world has discovered this tonic: supplements are available and hot guarana drinks or soft drinks flavoured with guarana are proving a popular alternative to coffee-you can even buy guarana-boosted chocolate. Scientists have shown guarana seeds are a potent source of caffeine but also contain a range of pharmaceutically active compounds, such as theophylline and tannins.
A study of 129 healthy people found that a multivitamin and mineral supplement with guarana improved speed and accuracy and delayed fatigue.

What does guarana do?
Guarana stimulates the central nervous system, primarily by blocking nerve receptors for adenosine. Adenosine is a chemical messenger that has inhibitory properties and, when its actions are blocked, the brain is able to release stimulating neurotransmitters, such as noradrenaline. In addition to stimulating the brain, guarana has benefits that you’ll want to bring with you to the gym: it may improve athletic performance and help reduce weight, both positives for your overall physical fitness.

What are the benefits of guarana?
Guarana, like caffeine, is used to help people feel alert and awake. It is also used to promote a sense of wellbeing, of being energized and motivated and to improve self-confidence. However, there have been very few human studies of guarana. Many health practitioners use studies of caffeine to help them understand guarana’s benefits-guarana is known to contain caffeine, as well as other chemicals-and caffeine is known to have these effects, but this approach may not tell the whole story for this under-researched herb. Guarana is also used to improve mental function but so far studies have produced conflicting results. Animal studies suggest guarana, either as a single dose or taken long term, improves memory function. Small human studies using healthy elderly volunteers have not borne this out, although a recent small study using young volunteers did report positive effects on concentration.

Some athletes use guarana to improve their performance both during training and in competitions, but formal studies have not yet been done while animal studies have produced conflicting results. Studies of guarana in combination with other herbs suggest it may help people lose weight. Several factors could be at work here. Firstly, by slowing the rate at which food leaves the stomach, guarana may make people feel full for longer, thereby reducing appetite. In addition, it may act directly on the brain to suppress appetite. It may also increase metabolic rate, helping burn off kilojoules faster (especially kilojoules stored in fat cells in the body) and act as a diuretic, promoting urine production. However, studies have tended to use combinations of herbs, so there is uncertainty about guarana’s exact role (if any) as a weight-reduction agent. A traditional use for guarana is as an aphrodisiac, increasing libido. This use has not yet been investigated in formal studies, so those interested in this potential effect will have to try it and make up their own minds.

How to take guarana
* Guarana is available as a dried herb, liquid extract, capsule, tablet and oral spray.
* Guarana is also available in combination with other herbs thought to improve alertness, either physical or mental, such as ginseng.
* The exact caffeine content may vary from preparation to preparation. Take enough guarana to provide around 250 milligrams of caffeine a day. This may involve taking 2.5 to 4 grams of the herb, depending on the individual formulation. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions or consult your health-care practitioner.
* Avoid guarana-containing preparations in the evening, unless you are trying to stay awake.

– Ginseng (Panax)

What is ginseng?
A wildly popular herb, ginseng is added to everything from fruit juices to vitamin supplements. Most of these products actually contain very little ginseng and are typically ineffective, but supplements made with quality ginseng do indeed exert a variety of protective effects on the body.
Panax ginseng (also commonly called Asian, Chinese or Korean ginseng) has been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years to enhance longevity and quality of life. Panax ginseng contains panaxans, substances that can lower blood sugar, and polysaccharides, complex sugar molecules that enhance the immune system. “White” ginseng is simply the raw, dried root; “red” ginseng has been steamed and dried and is more potent. Panax ginseng should not be confused with Siberian ginseng.

What does ginseng do?
The primary health benefits of Panax ginseng derive from its immune-stimulating properties, as well as from its ability to protect the body against the effects of stress.
Ginseng may help the body combat a variety of illnesses. It stimulates the immune system in a number of ways, including production of specialized immune cells called killer T cells, which destroy harmful viruses and bacteria. It may also be useful in treating people with low white blood cell counts.

What are the benefits of ginseng?
Ginseng may benefit people who are feeling fatigued and over-stressed and those recovering from a long illness. The herb has been shown to balance the release of stress hormones in the body and support the organs that produce these hormones. It may also enhance the production of endorphins, “feel-good” chemicals produced by the brain.
Many long-distance runners and body builders take ginseng to heighten physical endurance and improve stamina. Some nutritionally-oriented doctors and herbalists believe that ginseng is able to delay fatigue because it enables the exercising muscles to use energy more efficiently. There is research, however, that contradicts this hypothesis.
Ginseng may be helpful for impotence but the way it works is not clear. Some of its active ingredients appear to affect smooth muscle tissue and improve erectile function. Men with fertility problems may benefit from ginseng as well, because animal studies indicate that it increases sperm production.
Ginseng has benefits that go beyond the fitness department: there is some scientific evidence that ginseng improves mental performance, including memory and concentration and is useful in reducing blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes.

How to take ginseng
* Panax ginseng is available in powder/granules, capsules, liquid/tincture/oral spray, softgel and as dried herb/tea.
* Read labels carefully to make sure that you’re getting Panax ginseng. Other kinds of ginseng, such as American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) or Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus), produce different effects.
* Each day, take the extract equivalent of 0.9 to 3.0 grams of crude ginseng root.
* Tablets/capsules: follow the manufacturer’s instructions or consult your health-care practitioner about your particular situation, but a typical dose is a ginseng extract equivalent to 500 to 2000 milligrams of dry root a day. Most studies have used products standardized to contain 4 percent ginsenosides.
* Liquid extract (1:2): 1 to 6 millilitres a day.
* Other forms: follow the manufacturer’s instructions or consult your health-care practitioner.
* Start at the lower end of the dosage range and increase your intake gradually.
* Some experts recommend that you stop taking ginseng for a week every 2 or 3 weeks and then resume your regular dose. In some cases, ginseng may be rotated with other immune-stimulating herbs, such as astragalus or Siberian ginseng.
* The combination of ginseng and caffeine may intensify any side effects, so cut back on (or avoid) caffeine. Avoid ginseng at night unless you want to be awake.
* Do not take products containing Panax ginseng if you have an acute infection with fever or if you feel hot, tense and overly stimulated.

Some Benefits of Group Exercise Classes

Establishing an exercise routine only takes you so far. Here are the top four advantages of taking group fitness classes with friends and family.
1. Group Exercise Classes Give You More Motivation
Should other people be part of your exercise routines? That’s largely a matter of personal preference, but exercising with a companion or in a group, whether at yoga sessions or dance classes, or when cycling, has many upsides. That’s because people tend to stick more faithfully with group exercise classes than with solo fitness routines.
“A bit of gentle peer pressure and friendly competition can go a long way when it comes to motivation,” says Dr. Dawn Skelton, a professor of aging and health at Glasgow Caledonian University in Scotland. Even informal arrangements between friends have the advantage of making you accountable to somebody other than yourself.
2. Group Exercise Classes Provide Certified Trainers
In structured multi-person classes, participants can benefit from a certified trainer’s expertise and encouragement, often for a fraction of the price of one-on-one sessions. Offerings designed specifically for the needs of older adults are on the rise, according to the American College of Sport Medicine’s worldwide survey of fitness trends from 2012. These include the internationally recognized strength and balance courses Otago (for older or frailer people) and Falls Management Exercise (FaME; for younger or more active seniors). Consisting of a series of strength exercises (such as calf raises) and balance exercises (such as walking backwards), both programs target the muscles and skills that will help participants avoid and, if necessary, control falls.
3. Group Exercise Classes Give You a Rush
The most compelling reasons to train together may be the rush: doing workouts with others promotes endorphins, morphine-like chemicals that reduce pain and make you feel good, sometimes even euphoric. Your body releases them when you’re on your own, but research suggests that group activities may have an edge.
4. Group Exercise Classes Promote Social Bonding
Oxford University scientists compared the same athletes rowing solo for 45 minutes and rowing in a team for an equal amount of time. The team sessions resulted in higher endorphin levels, as measured by how much squeeze needed to be added to a blood-pressure cuff before the rowers felt the first twinge of discomfort. “Synchronized physical activity elevates mood and enhances a sense of social bonding,” the researchers explained. This natural high just might give you enough motivation to keep coming back for more.

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.