A Low-Carb Diet for Beginners

The low-carbohydrate dietary program basically means restricting carbohydrate consumption. The person who dares to embark on this diet is meant to replace easily digestible carbohydrates (which include sugar, bread, beer, candy and sodas, etc.) with a higher percentage of protein and fats (for example, meats, eggs, seeds, cheese, most fruits and vegetables, etc.).

The allowed amount of carbohydrate intake varies from one diet program to another, but the basic idea remains the same. Sometimes, they go far into no-carb territory that they can be called “ketogenic” diets. These sorts of diets restrict carbohydrate intake to such an extent that they can cause ketosis. This is a metabolic state in which your body has to start relying on ketone bodies in your blood. This is a stark contrast to a state of glycolysis in which, as the root of the word suggests, the glucose in your blood provides most of the energy.

In order to understand better how to put these facts into practice as fast as you can, here’s a brief overview of a low-carb diet for beginners.

How did we get here?

Are you old enough to remember the “fat” craze? For decades, we have been misinformed that fat is detrimental to our metabolism and overall health. This movement was filled with horror stories about cardiovascular diseases and cancer rates.

However, as it turns out, this had inadvertently led to another problem. Low-fat diet products were flooding the market. These supposedly healthy meals and snacks were actually filled with sugar which led to the beginning of obesity epidemic that has lasting consequences to this day.

What’s the twist?

As it turns out, the latest medical studies have reliably shown we have no reason to fear natural fats. In fact, fat is an important factor in a low-carb diet, and if you are one of those people that don’t trust contemporary science, try the diet out and you’ll have empirical evidence on your own body. When you minimize the intake of starches and sugar, you increase the intake of other foods, among others, foods brimming with natural fats, which you can eat to your heart’s content and still lose weight.

It’s a metabolic process that’s actually really easy to understand. When you avoid carbohydrates like sugar and starch, your blood sugar will stabilize at a particular level. This level is dictated by a fat-storing hormone insulin drop. As a consequence of this, fat burning increases and makes you feel less hungry. This naturally leads to weight loss, which basically means there are two major benefits of a low-carb diet – a lean body and blood sugar control.

What to eat, what to avoid?

In order to get there, you’ll have to avoid sugar-filled snacks, bread, pasta, rice, beans and potatoes, beer, bananas, rice (cooked), chocolate bars, candy, and sodas.

The foods you should consume include meats like chicken, fish and turkey, as well as eggs, vegetables that grow above the ground, natural fats like butter, olive oil, cheese. If you can afford it, avocado is really an excellent source of nutrients you need on a low-carb diet and it is considered by many to be a quintessential super-food.

Also, it’s important to note that you can eat as much fiber as you want and drink a lot of water and tea. Don’t worry, you don’t have to give up on coffee, it’s actually helpful, and if you need to get decadent every once in a while, red wine is totally in the green zone. With all the aforementioned foods out of the loop, you just need to eat when you’re hungry until you are satisfied. It’s as simple as that. The times of counting calories are gone.

However, we all get that chocolate-bar craving from time to time. It’s downright impossible to resist the urge and the image of a delicious chocolate bar can be stuck in the back of your mind for several days. To satisfy this need, you can go with a low-calorie Optifast power bar meal replacement. Most of these nibbles are based on clinically-proven dietary programs that are supposed to manage obesity and they can come in all shapes and sizes – from berry crunch power bars to chocolate mousse or chicken soup.

The benefits of this diet are manifold. You’ll lose weight, calm your stomach, reduce sugar cravings and even reverse type 2 diabetes. It can even normalize your blood pressure, lead to less acne and help lessen the impact of chronic migraines. All these benefits can contribute to a significantly improved lifestyle and add to your longevity.

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Luke is a fitness and health blogger at Ripped-Science.com and Ripped.me and a great fan of the gym and a healthy diet. He follows the trends in fitness, gym and healthy life and loves to share his knowledge through useful and informative articles.  https://twitter.com/mrlukeidouglas

6 Tips to Protect Your Joints

When you’re working out, you should pay extra attention to your joints, especially weight-bearing joints such as knees and ankles, because they absorb most of the impact during strenuous bodybuilding training. Joint injuries are frequent in sports, and they ultimately lead to damage and disease, one of which is rheumatoid arthritis. Unlike back or hip problems that are characteristics of old age, joint problems plague people regardless of how old they are. Fortunately, there are some tips and tricks that can help you stay injury free, and keep your joints healthy when you’re training.

Warm up and stretch

Joints connect two bones, and their surrounding smooth tissue, cartilage, as well as a lubricant, synovial, prevent friction between two bones. Warm-up exercises and stretching are essential for prevention of all kinds of injuries, including joint strains, dislocations, or sprains. Many people think that warming up is the same thing as stretching, which is a common misconception. These two procedures are complementary, and both are highly beneficial for improving joint flexibility and increasing mobility. A warm-up should start with joint rotations that will stimulate the production of synovial fluid. After warm-up exercises, comes stretching that will prevent joint stiffness, and ultimately injuries.

Watch your nutrition

Inflammations and excess fat are the greatest enemies of healthy joints. This means that you should eliminate sugar, processed foods, or carbonated drinks, from your diet as they stimulate inflammatory responses. Make sure to include foods rich in antioxidants, such as dark, leafy green vegetables, berries, or nuts as they can successfully fight inflammations. Orange vegetables are loaded with vitamin A and beta-carotene, essential for preventing rheumatoid arthritis and similar inflammation-related conditions. Fish like salmon, mackerel, or sardines are high in omega-3 fatty acids, important for suppressing the production of enzymes that lead to cartilage erosion.

Do yoga or Pilates

Bodybuilding lifting and yoga are, practically, match made in heaven. A demanding and strenuous exercise regimen requires some kind of antidote, that can help the body to completely relax and recuperate. Although many weight lifters aren’t actually into Pilates, this low-impact training can actually help them improve their balance, as well as joint mobility and flexibility. Yoga is composed of various stretching exercises that can do wonders for sore and stiff joints, and improve the elasticity of the whole body.

Take supplements

Supplementation is one of the essential elements of any effective exercising regimen. Apart from regular supplements aiding muscle growth, there are those used for keeping your joints healthy. Hyaluronic acid is naturally produced in the human body and it’s a major ingredient of the synovial fluid and cartilage, and its role is to protect your joints from injuries and make them more elastic. There are supplements that increase and retain hyaluronic acid in your joints, and they’re used to prevent injuries and disorders, as well as to treat them. A study has found that this supplement can alleviate symptoms of knee osteoarthritis. People who train a lot should make sure to take high-purity glucosamine in order to replenish the stores of this chemical compound, whose responsibility is to reduce osteoarthritic pain and swelling, increase joint mobility, and help repair the cartilage. Its production is reduced due to a natural aging process and sustained traumas, and this ultimately results in cartilage destruction, so it’s important to boost it with a high-quality supplement.  

Reduce stress

Believe it or not, but stress also contributes to joint issues and aggravate them. Namely, when you’re stressed, levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, are soaring and wreaking havoc on your immune system. Apart from setting the fertile ground for various inflammations, cortisol has a negative impact on the production of collagen, a protein that makes connective tissues, by inhibiting its production and breaking it down. When you’re stressed focus on your breathing pattern and try to breathe deeply for 10 minutes.  Yoga is also beneficial for controlling cortisol levels, as this ancient practice incorporates meditation and diaphragmatic breathing.

Choose good shoes

As an athlete, you’re aware how important shoes are for your performance. When it comes to such high-impact activities such as bodybuilding, your joints are exposed to various loads that they have to absorb, meaning that they’re under a great deal of strain. That’s why it’s important that your shoes are comfortable, and that they provide support and stability. Unlike running shoes that should provide cushioning in order to absorb impact, shoes for strength training should have a thin sole in order to improve your balance.

Joints are extremely prone to injury, so it’s of vital importance to be careful and follow these tips in order to keep them healthy. Remember that joint injury can damage your cartilage beyond repair and ultimately result in various diseases, such as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.

Luke is a fitness and health blogger at Ripped-Science.com and Ripped.me and a great fan of the gym and a healthy diet. He follows the trends in fitness, gym and healthy life and loves to share his knowledge through useful and informative articles.  https://twitter.com/mrlukeidouglas

What Proteins Do For The Body?

Proteins are large molecules, composed of long strings of amino acids that perform various roles in the body. They make up approximately 20% of the total body mass, and they can be found in hair, bones, skin, muscles, nails, and connective tissues. Many crucial processes in the human body depend on proteins, and they’re instrumental in building new cells and maintaining existing tissues. In other words, they help in cell renewal and tissue repair. The human body wouldn’t be able to perform some of the most basic functions without proteins, so it’s essential to take them on a daily basis. Here’s an overview of what proteins do for the body and their benefits.

They boost the immunity

One of the most important roles of proteins is to protect the human body from various viruses and bacteria. Namely, when the immune system identifies these foreign bodies, it reacts by sending antibodies, which are basically a type of protein. Antibodies, also known as immunoglobulins, find and destroy the virus or bacterium, and prevent their multiplication. They’re the body’s first line of defense against invading pathogens, which is why it’s crucial to strengthen the immune system. This can be done by eating high-protein foods which will help the body initiate new protein synthesis, the process necessary for the functioning of the immune system.  

They build muscle

So-called structural proteins are integral parts of every cell in the human body. As their name suggests, they provide cells with internal architectural support. Apart from the cellular level, the importance of structural proteins is to support the human body on the whole. Without them, it would be impossible to stand or move. Collagen is an example of a structural protein and it ensures the elasticity and regeneration of the skin, joints, bones, and cartilage.

It stands to reason that eating protein is fundamental for muscle growth, and numerous studies show that people whose diet is rich in high-quality proteins have more lean muscle mass. Hitting the gym is a must if you want to increase your strength, but only when it’s paired with an adequate, protein-rich diet. For achieving the best results, make sure that the various kinds of proteins are on your plate, such as:

  • Eggs. Start your day with a delicious omelet. However, you should be aware that eggs can lead to increased cholesterol levels, so the American Heart Association recommends no more than 4 eggs a week.  
  • Fish and seafood. These excellent sources of protein are also low in fat. Besides that, salmon, herring, tuna, and sardines are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial for the heart.
  • Pork. This meat is rich in leucine, a branched-chain amino acid, which helps muscle recovery after a workout.
  • Dairy. Yogurt, cottage cheese, Swiss cheese, or chocolate and milk are recommended not only because they’re full of proteins, but also because they contain high levels of calcium, necessary for healthy bones.
  • Soy. Dairy intolerant people can opt for this protein source, which is also good for preventing heart disease.
  • Mixed nuts. These healthy snacks are great for the overall health as they contain unsaturated fats. Still, sometimes they can be high in sodium, so opt for unsalted versions.  
  • Chicken and turkey breast. These lean meats are extremely popular with bodybuilders as they have the highest amount of protein among poultry. Just remove the skin and brine it before cooking.  
  • Protein drinks are the best way to replenish energy after a strenuous workout, and they’re especially effective for maintaining and gaining muscle.

 

The help you lose weight

There are several ways in which protein helps you lose weight and maintain your muscle mass.

  • The fact that proteins have a high thermic effect is a game-changer for any successful diet. The body burns calories during the process of digestion, and proteins burn twice as many calories as carbs. In plain English, it’s good for you to eat protein-rich foods if you want to lose weight. This so called thermic effect is why high-protein diets are extremely effective for losing belly fat.
  • Another reason why proteins should be included in a weight-loss diet is that they’re filling, so you can eat less food and calories, and still not be hungry. Of course, this can work only when it’s accompanied by a regular fitness regimen.      
  • In order for a diet to be effective, calorie intake must be reduced so that the body can start burning the fat that has already been stored. However, in many cases, such diets lead to losing muscle mass, too. Luckily, this problem can be easily solved by introducing sufficient amounts of protein to the diet. How much protein is enough? According to relevant sources, adults should take at least 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram of their body weight a day, while for bodybuilders, the recommended intake is 1.2-1.7 grams.  

They help prevent cancer

Although there’s no definitive cure for cancer, there are some measures that can be taken in order to prevent this vile disease. Some research studies have found that whey proteins can suppress the development of certain types of cancer, such as colon and prostate. They increase immune levels and at the same time kill cancer cells. 180,000 women in the US fall victim to breast cancer each year, so a study has been conducted on rats to test the effects of whey protein. The findings say that 100% of rats that were put on a casein diet developed mammary tumors, while only 50% of the whey-fed rats were affected by this disease. Similar results were obtained for soy protein, as the incidence of mammary tumors was reduced by 25% in rats that were put on diets containing soy protein isolate.      

They help prevent osteoporosis

There’s a misconception that a diet high in protein isn’t good for bone health. According to this theory, during the process of digesting animal protein, acids are released into the bloodstream, and in order to neutralize them, the body uses calcium, some of which comes from the bones. Still, these findings have been disputed by recent research, which shows exactly the opposite, as it says that people who eat more protein have better bone density, thus being less likely to develop osteoporosis. A lower incidence of hip fractures has been observed in women whose diet is high in protein. However, eating fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants is recommended in order to additionally reduce the impact of acids on bone density.

They improve brain functions

Certain nutrients, such as vitamin B12, carnosine, creatine, and vitamin D, which are essential for the brain, can be found in animal protein, and that’s why it’s irreplaceable for the normal functioning of the nervous system. Neurotransmitters, which are used to carry messages between neurons, are composed of amino acids, and since proteins, too, are composed of amino acids, they’re crucial for the health of these biochemical messengers in the brain. This means that a protein-rich diet can improve memory and cognitive health. In addition to that, serotonin, a mood- stabilizing neurotransmitter, and dopamine, which is responsible for controlling emotions and reward-driven behavior, can’t be produced without good proteins. These two chemicals are, basically, happiness hormones, and that’s why proteins are mood-boosting foods that can help fight depression.

Proteins play several essential roles in the body, and they’re the most important nutrients for building strength and size. Their proper intake also lowers the risk of developing certain serious diseases, including cancer, osteoporosis, and depression.   

AUTHOR BIO:

Luke is a guest blogger here on Ripped-Science.com and a fitness and health blogger at Ripped.me and a great fan of the gym and a healthy diet. He follows the trends in fitness, gym and healthy life and loves to share his knowledge through useful and informative articles.
FACEBOOK / TWITTER

Bodybuilding Contest Prep: 3 Biggest Mistakes To Avoid

Contest Prep Mistake #1 – Time

You must give yourself enough of the above. Most people underestimate how long it takes to get in competition/photoshoot shape.

As a general rule, if you don’t have abs at the start of the diet, plan for 16-20 weeks. Otherwise you’ll have to crash diet, which will cause muscle loss and you’ll end up looking smooth and flat (in addition to becoming a public menace).

So, at first you must decide how many pounds you need to lose in order to get to the bodyfat level that you desire. From there on, plan your diet with a reasonable caloric deficit so that you will drop about 1-2 lbs of fat a week (it won’t be all fat, but that’s another article).

Keep training as you did before. I still go as heavy as I can, in order to keep as much muscle as possible. Higher reps with lower weights do not burn more fat, but will put you at risk for muscle loss. As for cardio, start adding it gradually as you go along.

It is also preferable to be in shape 2-3 weeks before the event. This will allow you to properly taper off from training. Someone with rested muscles will simply look fuller and better than the guy who was doing two hours of cardio until a day ago. At same time, being in shape early will give you a chance to post as many Facebook updates as your friends can handle.

Contest Prep Mistake #2 – Over-Reliance on Supplements, Especially Fat Burners

Here is how the typical contest prep starts: calories are being cut, cardio added or increased and a fat burner is being thrown in the mix with perhaps an estrogen blocker. Low and behold, the athlete loses weight, at least for a while.

The problem with that is: You don’t know what works.
Where do you go from here if you reach a plateau?

My approach is to keep some arrows in the quiver. At first you cut your calories by 500 a day. Your diet is responsible for 80+% of what you will look like, so it pays off to be meticulous in that department.

After two to three weeks of reduced calories, I start adding cardio for about 2×30 minutes per week. If you keep getting leaner while keeping your strength, stick with that approach. If not, I suggest cutting the calories further by 200/daily and adding a third cardio session. If your strength drops more than 15%, bump your calories (especially carbohydrates) by 40% for two to three days in order to upregulate the metabolism.

Finally, for the last 6 weeks you can use a fat burner to eliminate stubborn fat deposits. This will also help provide that extra boost of energy so you can make it through your workouts. I recommend to lay off the fat burner the last two or three days before your event since most of these substances can interfere with the carb load.

Contest Prep Mistake #3 – Last Week Changes

Here is where most people get confused and end up damaging themselves greatly by following some obscure last-minute sodium/carbohydrate/water depletion/loading scheme. The result is that they look worse than before.

Now to be clear –  water, salt and carbs will have an effect on your appearance, but a proper loading scheme will only make a good physique look great. It will not turn a mediocre body into contest shape in 7 days. In short, athletes who win shows look great the week before already. With that being said, let’s cover the big three briefly.

Carbohydrates: most athletes consume very few carbs the week before a show in order to deplete, and start carb loading on Thursday/Friday to store more glycogen in the muscles. The idea is to take advantage of the so-called “super-compensation” effect, where a carb depleted muscle sucks up carbs like a sponge thus creating a fuller and drier appearance. There is nothing wrong with that approach but there are many shades of grey.

I personally only do a mild depletion from Sunday to Wednesday before the show, where my carbs drop about 25-30%. Then I do a carb load Thursday through Friday and consume about 120% of my regular carb intake. Other people go zero carb for the whole week and only do a heavy load on Friday. For me, that approach doesn’t provide enough time to fill out, but you have to experiment for yourselves to see what works. Simply take notes as to how many carb days and what kind of carbs it takes to make you look awesome.

Here is the carb-load approach I used for my last show:

Sunday to Wednesday – I ate 150 grams of carbs as well as chicken and white fish for 300 grams of protein, fat was kept at a minimum.
Thursday and Friday – 3 meals of 4 oz chicken and 8 oz white potatoes, 2 meals steak and 1 1/2 cup of rice.
Saturday – Was pretty much the same, but I added salt.

Water: That is probably one of the most misunderstood subjects there is. Very often, water is being blamed for what really is fat. “Oh I am just holding some water.”  Think again.

Most people shouldn’t even try to manipulate their water intake. If your training/diet got you in great shape the week before, why change it now? If you feel you should use any kind of diuretic, legal or not, keep in mind that your muscles are mostly made from water and dehydration will leave you flat. Therefore, it is critical not to cut water out too early.

So what about the opposite: the dreaded spill over? Don’t despair, if you feel you have spilled it can be fixed by doing a light whole body pump workout. This will make you sweat and force the body to transport the water from under the skin into the muscle cells. Most people actually don’t spill, they were simply not lean enough in the first place.

If you must know, I did cut my water late Friday afternoon and only sipped through pre-judging. Use what works for you. I have seen people jugging down a gallon backstage and still winning the show. Everybody is different.

Salt: salt, like water, is very much misunderstood. A sodium de-loading and loading protocol will only make a very good physique even drier and crisper. But, if you are not vascular the days before a show, it’s not the salt that is holding you back. Again, you are not lean enough.

Sodium is needed to ensure that the muscle cells can contract and relax. All this is done via low electrical stimulus from the nerves. If sodium levels are inadequate for neuronal function, then a muscle cell will fail to function properly. This is why long periods of cutting sodium out don’t make any sense.

Without sodium, you cant get a pump and your body will appear flat. Cutting sodium out on Friday and re-introducing it on Saturday before pre-judging should do the trick.

Some athletes don’t bother without it at all and still look great. Again, it is all about observing and paying attention to detail.

These are the three biggest pitfalls when it comes to achieving peak condition. With your newly gained knowledge you should be able to get yourself into top shape.

4 Bodybuilding Supplement Scams to Avoid

suppscam
The world of bodybuilding has its fair share of supplement companies marketing their products with hyped up claims. Some of these supplements are go-to products that many bodybuilders “think” they need, when in reality, they’re really just wasting their hard-earned cash.

We’ve compiled a short list of the Top 4 Supplement Scams out there that have grown popular. You’ve probably bought one or more of these already! Save your money and use it on supplements that actually provide you with benefits.

ONE: “Advanced” Forms of Creatine

One of the most widely researched muscle compounds in existence is creatine. It’s been used by bodybuilders and athletes since the mid 1990’s and is most commonly sold in the form of creatine monohydrate.

Over the last decade, we have seen companies out there release new “breakthrough” forms of creatine that supposedly is more effective than the original monohydrate form. These “new” forms include: creatine ethyl ester, creatine hydrochloride, buffered creatine, creatine nitrate and creatine malate.

Don’t let the marketing hype fool you – not one study has ever been performed that has shown any of these “advanced” forms deliver any benefits above and beyond the monohydrate form. In fact, several studies show that certain forms, one being ethyl ester, are actually inferior.

These supplement companies will jack up their price range for their “new and improved” creatine product that delivers equal or even worse results than the original.

Save your money and stick with 3-5 grams per day of high quality, German-grade micronized creatine monohydrate.

TWO: Weight Gainers

First off, there’s nothing wrong with taking a weight gainer in controlled amounts, just keep in mind that all they really are is a basic mix of whey protein and simple sugar. Yes, that’s it!

A far better approach would be to add your own blend of carbohydrates and healthy fats to whey protein powder. You can add oatmeal, fruit, natural nut butters and healthy oils (like flaxseed or extra virgin olive oil) are all great options.

This will give you the high calorie density that you’re after while still giving your body a great dose of minerals, vitamins, phytonutrients and fiber, rather than a bunch of nutritionally void sugar.

THREE: L-Arginine (“Nitric Oxide Boosters”)

The idea behind NO2 products is to enhance oxygen delivery and blood flow to your muscles in order to increase nutrient uptake and give you a permanent pump and lasts throughout the day.

Usually, these NO2 Products are based off of different forms of the amino acid l-arginine, with l-arginine alpha-ketoglutarate being the most widely used.

This is the perfect scam for dishonest supplement companies out there since l-arginine is a dirt cheap ingredient that can be easily added to pre-workout formulas and other products to hype up labels and keep production costs to a minimum.

The problem for you as the consumer is that there is absolutely zero research showing a positive relationship between l-arginine and an increase in nitric oxide or muscular performance. That is correct, ZERO.

If you’re looking for a truly effective way to enhance your workout strength, energy and focus, one suggestion is to use a natural human growth hormone (HGH) spray like Sytropin. It’s safe and legal!

FOUR: L-Glutamine

I know you’ve heard about glutamine. It’s been a staple part of bodybuilding supplement plans for decades. Even though many bodybuilders swear by it, the concrete research on glutamine is extensive and shows minimal results.

First off, a very large portion of orally consumed glutamine never will make it to your muscles at all and is instead used as energy by the intestines. Percentages vary, but the average seems to be around 65%.

Second, around 10% of your total protein intake is already made up of l-glutamine. That means if you’re consuming 200 grams of protein per day, you’re already taking in 20 grams of l-glutamine right there. Don’t think that consuming more is better. It’s not.

Third, pretty much all of the standard claims about l-glutamine’s effects on bodybuilders have been debunked over many different studies.

Save your cash – you don’t need to add l-glutamine to your supplement list.

pityfool

Now that you’ve seen our list, make wiser choices when it comes to your supplement routine and don’t be made a fool by companies that don’t have your best bodybuilding goals in mind.

Top 10 Supplements For Bodybuilders (2016)

Ask any bodybuilder out there what supplements they are currently cycling through and you’re bound to get a different answer. What works for Joe doesn’t work for Harry. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of supplements on the market targeting the bodybuilding and weight lifting circuit. It’s easy to get lost as you try to figure out what’s legit vs. just a bunch of hype.

If you choose wisely, certain bodybuilding supplements will easily be worth more than their cost by helping you achieve hardcore results. A bodybuilder’s biggest mistake is to ignore the nutritional supplement aspect of the sport.

Here at Ripped Science, we pulled a team together and spent months researching hundreds of supplements and came down to this ultimate Top 10 list.

Are you ready for it? The countdown begins…

NUMBER TEN: GREEN TEA

pure inventions

WHICH TO BUY: If you’re looking for the best green tea extract, liquid is better than capsules. Our top pick for you is nothing other than Pure Inventions Green Tea Antioxidant Extract.

WHY USE IT: Simply stated, green tea is your tool to shred fat. Green tea elevates norepinephrine levels which prolongs thermogenesis. Translation? You will be turned into a fat-burning machine.

NUMBER NINE: MULTI-MINERAL SUPPLEMENTS

solaray

WHICH TO BUY: We zeroed in on a product called Solaray Mega Multi Mineral which contains several times the amount of amino acid content than ordinary products. This product is also “reacted” with whole rice concentrate opposed to soy or yeast.

WHY USE IT: If you’re training hard, which you should be, then consuming a multi-mineral supplement is a good idea to reduce the effects of excessive ROS and inflammation produced from the intense training. You don’t want to risk being deficient in anything, do you?

NUMBER EIGHT: FIBER SUPPLEMENTS

raw fiber

WHICH TO BUY: We’re big fans of Garden of Life products and they just so happen to have a product called Raw Fiber – Beyond Organic Fiber. It contains 15 Raw Organic Superfoods and is sure to keep you in tip-top shape…especially in the bathroom.

WHY USE IT: With all the caveman portions of protein you’re eating, it’s important to get in some good fiber to help you get rid of toxins and also to keep your digestion in line.

NUMBER SEVEN: ESTROGEN BLOCKERS

equalize

WHICH TO BUY: Our research pointed us in the right direction when we discovered Equalize by ACN. This product uses ground-breaking ingredients to enhance testosterone and stop testosterone from converting into estrogen. Two other products we recommend are AntlerX IGF-1 and Alphatropin for the ultimate stack.

WHY USE IT: I don’t know one bodybuilder that wants an above normal amount of estrogen. Yes, believe it or not, men do produce estrogen and it can wreak havoc on your gains. An estrogen blocker is imperative to keep your hormone levels balanced and minimize muscle loss.

NUMBER SIX: GLUCOSAMINE AND CHONDROITIN

synotrex

WHICH TO BUY: It wasn’t rocket science for us to figure out which supplement nails it when it comes to joint health. If you haven’t added Synotrex to your daily routine yet, better go grab it. NOW.

WHY USE IT: Every bodybuilder knows the importance of joint health. If you don’t support your joints, you might as well sit on the bench. Over time, if you skip joint health, it will be a huge (and I mean HUGE) regret!

NUMBER FIVE: POST-WORKOUT RECOVERY

bsn

WHICH TO BUY: The post-recovery workout powder we salute is BSN’s Amino X.  This BCAA formula supports endurance during your workout and aids in muscle recover post-training. BOOM! You need this! Blue Raz is our favorite taste of the bunch.

WHY USE IT: All you hear about these days is pre-workout and how many scoops you took that day. But, equally important (if not more), is post-workout because if you don’t recover, how will you hit it harder and make gains? You follow me?

NUMBER FOUR: ANTIOXIDANTS

swanson

WHICH TO BUY: We searched high and low and finally found the supplement to win this category: Swanson Premium’s High Potency Antioxidants delivers a comprehensive collection of powerful antioxidants – including, vitamins C, E, selenium, SOD and more.

WHY USE IT: If your immune system is suffering, so are your workouts. You need antioxidants not only improve your immune system response, but to reduce oxidative stress. It’s time to challenge free radicals and stop them in their nasty tracks!

NUMBER THREE: OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS

fish oil

WHICH TO BUY: We love fish oil, but we don’t like fish oil supplements that are not tested for heavy metals or impurities. We also don’t like fish that aren’t wild-caught. Thankfully, there is a wonderful product by AMRAP Nutrition that is the Fish Oil of champions.

WHY USE IT: Fish oil is crucial to improve athletic recovery and is also an anti-inflammatory. Despite what you saw on a gym meme, you can definitely gain without the pain. Everyone knows that lubing up is always better! Your joints will thank you.

NUMBER TWO: CASEIN-WHEY PROTEIN

grow

WHICH TO BUY: You need to care about the whey you use. If you don’t use whey from grass-fed cows…you’re going to screw up your hormone levels. Thankfully, on the 8th day God created Xwerks Grow – the cleanest, nutrient rich protein you can drink!

WHY USE IT: I’m not sure this one needs an explanation. If you don’t know that this helps up your daily protein intake, and is a staple for bodybuilders worldwide, then you must be a newbie. Hit the weights, kid!

NUMBER ONE: CREATINE

creatine

WHICH TO BUY: There are so many to choose from, but after a ton (and I mean a TON) of research, we decided that Optimum Nutrition’s Micronized Creatine Powder wins the gold medal prize. It’s packed with 99.9% pure creatine with no fillers or additives.

WHY USE IT: Adding this to your supplement regime is a no-brainer for bodybuilders. I’m not sure you can call yourself one if you don’t use it. In short, if you’re ready to have insane strength and power, this stuff is for you!

 

Do You Have A Rotator Cuff Injury?

As you are probably aware, injuries to the rotator cuff are fairly common to athletes and bodybuilders. The shoulder is actually a complex series of joints that can be difficult for the average Joe to understand. As a result, many rotator cuff injuries are self-diagnosed and are likely to be something else entirely.

In the event a legitimate rotator cuff injury rears its ugly head, staying informed on how to deal with it is absolutely critical to proper healing.

First, let me describe what the rotator cuff is, which may be confusing all by itself. The rotator cuff is four muscles in the shoulder that are responsible for some of the shoulder’s motion. A lot of that motion involves the rotation of the humerus, the long bone in the arm, which is why the group of muscles is referred to as rotators. Another major role these muscles play is the stabilization of the shoulder, which is a series of joints that requires muscular stabilization to allow for greater range of motion.

rotator-cuff

When one of the muscles, or the tendons that connect the muscles to the bones, becomes torn, either partially or completely, you have a rotator cuff injury.

In one study of athletes, the research indicated that only 10% of partial tears heal completely, and another 10% heal partially. 53% of tears will actually worsen and 28% will progress into full tears, which do not heal on their own. In some cases these tears can cause long term changes to the joint itself.

The acute phase of rotator cuff treatment occurs immediately after the injury occurs and will continue until pain free range of motion (below shoulder height) has been achieved and normal daily activites are relatively pain free.

Apply cold therapy and compression wrap to the shoulder. This will help reduce pain and inflammation. Apply ice for up to 15 minutes every 2 hours, gradually reducing the frequency of applications as the shoulder improves. Posture is important and sitting upright with the shoulders back, especially when sitting at a desk or using a computer can help relieve symptoms. Also, it’s not a bad idea to add a natural supplement for joint aches and pain, like Synotrex.

A doctor may prescribe NSAID’s or anti-inflammatory medication (e.g. ibuprofen) may help in the early stages although it is argued they are not as effective later on or if the injury becomes chronic. Always check with your Doctor before taking medication if you are not sure. Electrotherapy, such as ultrasound, may be beneficial to reduce pain and inflammation.

shoulder-pain

RECOVERY PHASE

The recovery phase begins when the initial pain and inflammation has dissipated, most normal daily activities are pain free and the injured arm has at least 75% range of movement compared to the uninjured one.

Aims:

  • Regain full, pain free range of motion
  • Normal upper body strength
  • Normal shoulder joint movement patterns

Range of Motion

This is achieved by wand or pole exercises which help with flexibility above shoulder height, progressing onto stretching and mobility exercises without assistance from a pole. Scapular control is progressed with balance board exercises on your hands, press up type exercises and ball catch and return exercises.

Strengthening

Exercises to isolate the rotator cuff muscles can begin including strengthening exercises which concentrate more specifically on the external rotator muscles (the ones that rotate the arm out) and the scapular stabilizers (muscles that support the shoulder blade). It is also important to strengthen the whole joint with weight training exercises such as the bench press, shoulder press (military press) and pull downs – but with very light weights. For example, aiming for 12 to 20 reps of a light weight concentrating on correct technique.

Shoulder pain

FUNCTIONAL PHASE

During the functional phase exercises which are more sports specific are introduced in preparation for returning to full training and competition.

Aims:

  • To increase power and endurance in the upper body muscles
  • Improve strength of the shoulder joint in all directions
  • Introduce sports specific shoulder exercises

Increasing Power

This is done through more plyometric or explosive type exercises and may depend on your particular sport. Sports specific exercises using exercise bands and throwing and catching type exercises with mini medicine balls can be done.

Game of Thrones Celebrity Reveals 9-Meal-A-Day Lifestyle

Thor Bjornsson (Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson) plays Gregor Clegane in the hit HBO show  Game of Thrones and his massive size isn’t based on a small diet plan.

The Mountain Who Rides posted on Instagram his entire meal plan:

7:30am Breakfast: Eight eggs, 200g of oats, blueberries, strawberries and avocado.

9:30am Second Breakfast: 400g of Beef, 400g of sweet potatoes, and a handful of spinach and greens.

11.50am: Glutamine and BCAA.

Noon Lunch: 400g of chicken plus 400g of potatoes, with greens and some fruits.

2:00pm Snack: A shake consisting of 50g oats or sweet potatoes, 2 bananas 150g Kelloggs Rice Krispies, frozen berries, a handful almonds, peanut butter and glutamine .

thor2
On Tuesday, Thor posted a video of himself on Instagram lifting 705lbs

2:30pm: Strongman training and more supplements.

5:30pm Snack: 60g of protein and two bananas.

6:00pm Dinner: 500g of beef with potatoes and greens.

8:30pm Second Dinner: 500g of salmon plus 500g of sweet potatoes.

10:30pm Late Night Snack: Six eggs with avocado, almonds and peanut butter.

Thor says that he drinks a lot of water throughout the day, plus juices to get in more calories. He also added that in addition to this massive food intake, he also snacks on more protein or a few more raw eggs in the middle of the night.

The Icelander has been Europe’s Strongest Man two years running and has placed in the top three of the World’s Strongest Man for the past four years. Perhaps, he’ll take the crown for the World his next go at it.

This is definitely a dietary lifestyle that isn’t for everyone!

Bodybuilding 101: How Effective Are Steroids?

One question that often plagues bodybuilders is whether or not to use steroids. They want to know how effective steroids actually are compared to staying natural. Also, they are concerned by the risks. By reading this, you’re taking an important step to educating yourself prior to answering this question for yourself.

HOW EFFECTIVE ARE STEROIDS?

Simply said, a “steroid” is an “anabolic steroid” which is a man-made substance that has similar effects to the body as testosterone, including increased muscle growth, strength, leanness and recovery.

While testosterone itself is the best known steroid, there are many others that are quite popular among athletes and bodybuilders, including:

  • Nandrolone
  • Stanozolol
  • Trenbolone
  • Oxandrolone
  • Deca Durabolin
  • Dianabol
  • Methandrostenolone
  • Boldenone
  • Oxymetholone
  • Drostanolone

Each of these have unique profiles in terms of potency, toxicity, side effects and synergism. They are combined in various ways to create different types of steroid “cycles” for different purposes and goals.

As I heard one popular bodybuilder say, “It takes a lot of hard work to build a top-tier physique, but it also takes a lot of drugs.”

The fact is that you can only build so much muscle and get so lean naturally.

One scientific study performed at Maastricht University found that during a period of 10 weeks, individuals who practiced resistance training while on anabolic steroids gained 4 to 11 pounds of lean muscle mass. Individuals who did weight training while using anabolic steroids gained 16 pounds of lean muscle mass in just 6 weeks.

There have been numerous studies on steroid use. The below graphic shows the results from a study at the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science.

43 men were divided into 4 groups
Group 1: Placebo with no exercise
Group 2: Testosterone with no exercise
Group 3: Exercise only
Group 4: Testosterone with exercise

All of the men were given a standardized diet to follow and the exercising subjects squatted and bench pressed three times per week for a total of twelve sets of six reps, with varying amounts of weights lifted in each workout. Muscle size was measured by MRI and strength was determined by actual one-rep maxes.

After 10 weeks, here’s what happened:

bodybuilding

As you can see, the men who took testosterone and exercised gained 3x the amount of muscle mass compared to the men who exercised only.

As a sidenote: the men used 600 mg of testosterone per week, which is a moderate dosage by today’s standards.

RISKS OF STEROID USE

Steroids may not be as dangerous as some people think, yet anyone who uses steroids and thinks they are safe and harmless is “whistling past the graveyard.”

Some side effects of steroid use are reversible and some are not. Permanent damage is definitely possibly.

For example, reversible changes include testicular atrophy (shrinking), acne, cysts, oily hair and skin, elevated blood pressure and “bad” cholesterol levels, increased aggression and lowered sperm count.

Irreversible damage includes male pattern baldness, heart dysfunction, liver disease and gynecomastia (breast development aka “man boobs”).

Another downside of steroid use is the risk of biological and psychological addiction. 30% of steroid users develop a dependence syndrome. This occurs due to the “invincible” feeling while on a steroid cycle, opposed to the “low” they get on an off-cycle.

Some people argue that you can mitigate or even eliminate the risks of steroid use if you properly manage your drug cycles and health, but that is wishful thinking.

Every time you inject or swallow steroids, you put a lot of stress on your body and there’s a chance something can go very wrong.

In the end, the choice is yours.

Does Cardio REALLY Kill Gains?

1For most of you guys out there, CARDIO sounds like a 4-letter word. When I first started training, I was told not to do cardio because I’d lose gains. I looked over at the treadmill with a big grin on my face and waved goodbye.

Years later, I finally was told the truth: steady-state cardio offers some serious advantages for lifters. Once I started incorporating it into my routine, I actually improved my performance in the weight room. True story.

TRAINING THE ENERGY SYSTEMS

To understand the value of steady-state cardio for lifters, we first need to understand what fuels our body. Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) is the currency our muscles use to pay for the work we do. ATP is the most basic form of energy and without it we’d be downright screwed.

We have 3 main energy systems we rely on to produce ATP:

  1. ATP-PCr system: This system kicks ass, but can only do so for six to ten seconds at a time. It’s the fastest at producing energy, but requires more time to recover.
  2. Glycolytic: This system is the intermediate one. It can hit hard and fast like the ATP-PCr system, but can’t sustain that for more than about 120 seconds of true work.
  3. Aerobic: This bad boy is awesome when it gets going. It takes longer to get up and running, but it’s incredibly efficient and you can count on it for hours at a time.5

High intensity forms of cardio such as sprints, and other HIIT-type training, work the ATP-PCr and glycolytic energy systems. This form of exercise is quick, dirty and straight to the point. You burn through a ton of ATP and glycogen in a short amount of time and you need longer to recover.

Aerobic cardio, on the other hand, can seemingly go on forever. Once you’re in the aerobic system, you can crank out ATP for hours on end thanks to its superior ATP production.

BENEFITS OF CARDIO

The most obvious point of cardio is that is easily improves body composition. In terms of physical development, the combination of resistance training and aerobic training is unmatched. This is likely due to the fact that resistance training increases metabolic rate, while aerobic training decreases hunger levels. Improved body composition also leads to increased leptin and insulin sensitivity, as well as increased testosterone and lower estrogen levels.

ADD CARDIO TO YOUR ROUTINE FOR NEW GAINS

One of the most long-standing arguments in the lifting world against aerobic training is that it wastes away muscle tissue. Lifters who have put in countless hours of work are worried they’ll see all of their hard work for their gains disappear. Poof!

This concern is a given and one that does seem to be a reality. But when done correctly, aerobic training won’t be responsible for destroying your gains in the weight room. In fact, it might be just what you need to move beyond the progress plateau.4

If you’re still concerned, the perfect options for you would be cycling, swimming, rowing or even some time on the (dreaded) elliptical. The higher impact the cardio, the more muscle loss that’s likely to occur.

The Science Of Muscle Performance