Six Elements That You Need For A Healthy Diet

One of the biggest trends today surrounds our health. There are resources available on every type of diet. From intermittent fasting, to Keto, low-fat, high/low-carb, high protein diets, you name it. Figuring out what is best for your diet is not about finding the next quick-fix solution for your health, though. The best thing for anyone out there is to watch their consumption (intake) versus exertion – ie: calories entering the body must be smaller than calories being expended. When it comes down to it, a healthy diet is all about balance, and if you are eliminating entire food groups based on a cycle of binging and feeling guilty, you’re never going to get your diet to a place of being healthy.

Eating a Healthy Diet

Health is not just finding a thigh gap, wearing the skinny jeans and enjoying smashed avocado on toast with a perfectly poached egg on top. Health is more than what you eat, it’s how you exercise, how you feel about your body and your mental health all rolled into one. However, what you eat is a big part of the rest of it. If you spend all your time eating foods that aren’t nutritious and are way above the calories you need to fuel your body, you’re going to overeat without even filling the hunger gap that you are feeling. In the end, educating yourself about what your body requires as well as the calories and nutrients in your food is how you can drive yourself toward a healthy diet.

Balancing food that is nutrient-rich and filling with the things that you love (usually food that is high sugar and great tasting, like chocolate) is how to ensure you have a healthy diet that is long-lasting. Restriction and purging isn’t healthy. Labelling food as either ‘good’ or ‘bad’ isn’t healthy, either. There is the fact that there are nutrients that our human bodies require for survival, though, and it’s these nutrients that make up the basics of a healthy diet. We’ve written about these six nutrients below, and how you can incorporate them into your day-to-day life.

Protein

It’s something that social media influencers seem to be always talking about, from protein powders and bars to chicken and eggs. Protein has the spotlight and it’s not just by bodybuilders, either. It’s an essential part of good health, not only for keeping you fuller for longer, but for good hair, skin and your muscles. Every cell in your body contains protein, so ensuring you have a balanced amount of protein in your diet is important. Meat, fish, chicken, tofu, and eggs are all good sources of protein. You can also find good protein sources in nuts, soy and beans, so if you’re not all into meat you have options.

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Carbohydrates

Contrary to the other stories circulating online, carbohydrates are not evil. They’re not going to be the only thing that will make you fat – because anything you eat in excess will do that. A low-carb craze is on the rise, and this can be dangerous for some, particularly because carbohydrates are necessary for a healthy body. They are fuel for your brain and nervous system and they protect against disease. The catch is to choose carb sources that are wholesome, so whole grains, fiber-rich vegetables and fruits instead of the refined grains. Everything in moderation but choose nutrient-rich carbohydrate alternatives 80 percent of the time.

Fat

It often gets a bad name, fat, but healthy fats are delicious to eat as well as being a good fuel for your body. Fat supports your body in its ability to build cells, clot blood and help you to absorb vitamins and minerals properly. It’s high in calories, sure, but those calories are worth ‘spending’ on fats because of their ability to fuel your body correctly. Unsaturated fats like omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are found in flaxseeds, seeds, nuts, and fish. Coconut oil is also a popular fat source.

Vitamins

Warding off disease and staying healthy is important, and you need micronutrients and vitamins to make that happen. There are thirteen essential vitamins that the body needs including A, B6, C and D as part of a healthy diet. They can lower the risk of certain cancers and are powerful antioxidants that your body needs to fight off illnesses. Some people like to take vitamin supplements to support their diet, but as long as you are eating a varied and balanced diet, you won’t need to.

Minerals

In the same way that vitamins work, minerals support the body and are essential for your body to function properly. They build healthy bones and teeth, regulate your metabolism and help you to stay hydrated. Calcium, zinc and iron are the most common and you can find these in a range of your foods. They support your blood cells and hormone creation, with zinc boosting your immune system and wound healing.

Water

You could survive for a few weeks without a source of food, but you cannot survive without water for more than a couple of days. Water rules every system of your body, making up about 62 percent in terms of your body weight. Your muscles and connective tissue – like fascia – are made up of about 70 percent water. Mild dehydration can cause you to feel exhausted, sluggish and impair your physical performance when you are at work. Water improves your mood, boosts your brain function and is a shock absorber and lubricant for the body. You don’t have to chug down water to stay hydrated, not when your diet is laden with fruit and vegetables.

These nutrients are all the basics that constitute a healthy diet. The rest of your health comes from the way that you think about food and how you balance your meals and the timing of those meals.

Use the Jefit App

Try Jefit app, named best app for 2020 and 2021 by PC MagazineMen’s HealthThe Manual and the Greatist. The app comes equipped with a customizable workout planner, training log, the ability to track data and share workouts with friends. Take advantage of Jefit’s exercise database for your strength workouts. Visit our members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, and advice to help get closer to reaching your fitness goals. Try one of the new interval-based workouts and add it to your weekly training schedule. Stay strong with Jefit.

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5 Things to Eat Before and After a Workout and Why

What to Eat Before and After a Workout

Wondering what to eat before and after a workout? What you munch on can make a difference in your performance and how you feel. This is because there are certain foods that can help maximize your efforts to help make each training session a great training session. Here, we tell you what to eat before and after a workout, so you can reap the benefits every single time.

What to Eat Before and After a Workout: The Best Foods

Before a workout

There are some people who train fasted. People who train fasted might be those doing intermittent fasting, who exercise early in the morning or simply prefer to workout on an empty stomach. Then there are those who need to eat something before a workout. Eating prior to a workout can give you the energy you need to make it all the way to the very end. Like we mentioned before, there are some foods that can give you better benefits than others.

Avoid Fat

While healthy fats are beneficial to your health, before a workout is not the best time to consume them. They are slow-digesting, meaning that instead of giving you the energy to pump you up before and during your session, it can instead make you feel sluggish (which is the last thing you want to feel while training).

So limit your fat intake, especially if you are doing high-intensity workouts. But if you do need to eat some healthy fats, then it is best to save it for low-moderate intensity exercises.

Focus on Protein

Because you want to focus on losing fat and not muscle, protein is really important. It will assist in preventing muscle catabolism, which is the break down of muscle tissue. In addition, it will also aid in recovery and growth. So make sure that protein is on your meal list as an integral part of each meal.

Focus on Carbs

Carbs are also an important macronutrient to consume prior to a workout. However, the type of carbs you should eat depends on how soon after eating you plan to workout. If you are training 2-3 hours after your meal, then complex carbs are great. If it is anytime less, then simple carbs are the way to go.

What to Eat 2-3 Hours Before a Workout

Consume a source of lean protein with vegetables and brown rice. It’s a classic dish for a reason—it has a great balance of vegetables, protein, and complex carbs. Complex carbs release energy slowly so by the time you train, your body will be ready. Another great meal idea is a veggie omelette with a side of protein on whole grain toast.

What to Eat 1-2 Hours Before a Workout

Protein smoothie with fruit and veggies. Now is the great time to have that protein shake. To amp it up, add some fruit such as a banana or berries, as well as some greens. A handful of spinach, kale, or celery can help you fit in a serving of vegetables.

Oats. Get some carbs in with healthy oats, and add in some protein by mixing in protein powder. This is a versatile dish that you can mix up by changing the flavor of your protein powder. Also, you can include some honey to sweeten it up. This meal will give you slow-releasing energy that will keep you satiated throughout your workout.

What to Eat 30 Minutes – 1 Hour Before a Workout

Now is the time for simple carbs. They are great for 30-minute windows because they break down fast, meaning you will feel energized faster.

Banana. This is a favorite pre-workout snack. It is easy and convenient. It is made up of simple carbs, natural sugars and potassium. However, this is only stored in the body for a limited amount of time so only eat it when you are about to workout soon. Add some peanut or almond butter for some added protein.

Rice cake with peanut/nut butter. A great balance of carbs and protein. Also, it is pretty delicious!

Water

Make sure you drink before you even start exercising. This will keep your body fluids up, which is important as you will lose water through sweating. If you are exercising in the afternoon or night, then make sure you stay hydrated throughout the day.

After a Workout

It is critical that you eat after a workout to replenish the depleted glycogen stores you used during exercise. This will also help speed up the muscle recovery process. For optimal results, try to eat within 30-minutes to 1 hour of exercising.

Again, focus on protein and complex carbs. The protein will help with your muscles in recovery while also assisting in rebuilding new muscles. Carbs will replenish glycogen stores.

Some Meal Ideas

Protein Shake. A protein shake isn’t required after a workout but the reason why you may see people filling up those shakes post-workout is that it is a convenient way to quickly get that protein in. Choose your favorite flavor and try to mix in some fruit for some carbs like a banana or some berries.

Protein, vegetables and rice. If you are still confused on what to eat before and after a workout, you can never go wrong with this dish. This meal works just as well post-workout as it does pre-workout. It has a great balance of the important things you need to refuel your body. For a veggie option, try black beans as it is a great mix of carbs and protein as well.

Greek yogurt, berries and granola. Choose Greek yogurt over regular yogurt as it has more protein. The berries are micronutrients which can aid in muscle recovery, with a side of carbs in the form of granola. Delicious!

Chicken sandwich on whole grain toast with a side of salad/vegetables. Don’t like chicken? Swap it for beef, turkey, or even tofu and beans. This is a great mix of carbs, protein, and your greens.

Pita Bread and Hummus. Dip some yummy pita bread into hummus for a great carb/protein balanced meal. It’s a great vegetarian option for those who follow a meat-free diet.

Other Key Points

Now you know what to eat before and after a workout, don’t forget to stay hydrated. Water plays a vital role in your body—whether it is before or after training. So drink up!

A simple way to remember what to eat before and after a workout, just remember your protein, carbs, and vegetables. That should give you a good balance of the important nutrients and minerals you need.

Track Your Progress with Jefit

Jefit is a workout log app that comes with a customizable workout planner, schedule, and exercise routines. It also comes with like-minded people who can help you decide what to eat before and after a workout, share training tips, advice, and wins. Use the Jefit app to get on track with your fitness goals, and join our members-only Facebook page here!

What to Eat Before and After a Workout

A Beginner’s Guide to Useful Supplements: From Protein to Creatine

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Supplements. There’s so much confusion regarding supplements in the fitness industry. If you’re new to this, it can be very overwhelming trying to navigate your way through the amount of information out there. To help ease the confusion, here is a clear and straightforward beginners guide to supplements.

Your Easy-to-Follow Guide to Supplements

Protein Powder

The most popular supplement in the health and fitness industry. Protein is a macronutrient that is necessary for your body to build and repair muscles. With much emphasis on building strength nowadays, protein has become all the rage. While you’re able to get enough protein from your diet, sometimes, you need a little extra boost. This is where protein powder comes in.

Protein powder is a convenient way to fit in more protein without much hassle. All you have to do is add water or milk to the powder and make a shake. You can even add it to your other meals such as to your pancake mix.

There are different types of protein powder that you can take: whey isolate, whey concentrate, casein, soy, pea, brown rice, just to name a few. So whether you are lactose intolerant, vegetarian, vegan, there is an option for you. They’ll also come in various flavors so you can mix things up.

However, while protein powder supplement is a great way of reaching your daily protein requirements, you should get most of your protein from food.

Creatine

Another popular supplement is creatine. Creatine is found in muscle cells and it helps produce energy faster. So when you workout, you’ll have more energy to lift heavier and train harder.

Creatine is a powdery substance that is mixed with liquid. Like protein powder, it comes in many flavors.

It’s best taken before you hit the gym so that the energy you have can be used during training. It’s also important to note that you will gain water weight when you first take this supplement. However, don’t just rely on creatine to build muscle. You still have to follow a good diet and put in the work while training.  

BCAAs

BCAAs or Branched-Chain Amino Acids is a must-mention on our guide to supplements because they are becoming increasingly popular with athletes and gym goers. The amino acids in question are leucine, isoleucine and valine. You want to maintain and build muscle, not lose it, however, it can be hard to do especially if you are in a calorie deficit. Those who take BCCAs do so to prevent or minimize muscle catabolism, that is, the breaking down of muscle. This way, you can keep as much skeletal muscle as possible.

L-Glutamine

L-Glutamine is an amino acid that your body needs to preserve muscle tissue and boost your immune system. Unfortunately, most people don’t get the amount of L-Glutamine that they need from food alone, so supplementing it is a great way to reach your daily requirements.

It’s beneficial when you train, especially when you do endurance and strength training. When you do so, you place your body under demand, meaning that it needs more L-Glutamine than normal. It’ll also assist in muscle repair so you can recover faster.

Pre-Workout

If you ever need an extra boost of energy before your training session, pre-workout is an option. Pre-workout works to enhance performance through increased energy and focus. It can also delay fatigue so you can workout harder for longer.

Pre-workout can be made up of various ingredients such as caffeine, creatine, and electrolytes.

Don’t be tempted to take a higher dosage even if you are going to train longer. It’s best to follow the recommended instructions. Taking too much pre-workout can cause you to get the jitters or over-stimulation.

Caffeine

Are you surprised that caffeine is on our beginners guide to supplements? Yes, coffee isn’t just good for waking you up for a day of work. It’s also been proven to be an effective workout supplement, taken pre-workout. It can come in various forms such as a pill or as a drink. Taking caffeine in pill form will take longer to kick in than if you drink it as a liquid beverage.

It is a stimulant, meaning that it can help you be alert and minimize tiredness. It’ll increase your performance in the gym, because of all the extra energy.

However, bear in mind that if you greatly rely on caffeine, you may suffer from withdrawals when you stop taking it such as headaches. Drinking too much can also disrupt your sleep. If you are consuming caffeine as a supplement, then make sure you don’t drink it 6-8 hours before your bedtime. Otherwise, you might find yourself in a vicious cycle.

It’s also a diuretic. So make sure that you stay hydrated and drink plenty of water.

Workout with Jefit

Jefit is a workout log app that helps you meet your fitness goals. By providing an extensive exercise library, you can pick and choose your workouts according to your goals. You can also join our members-only Facebook group where you can connect and interact with your fellow Jefit members. Share your successes, stories, advice, and tips so you learn and grow together. Stay Strong!

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See How to Get More Protein on Plant-based Diet, Watch The Game Changers

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Sometimes you read or watch something that changes how you think about a topic. The topic is this case is nutrition and more specifically, a plant-based diet. It’s always important to understand both sides of a story though. Many bodybuilders and recreational lifters alike think they can’t get enough protein from a plant-based diet. So, they tend to avoid it, even if they intuitively know it’s a healthy option. Most stay away because they can’t grasp how eating a plant-based diet would allow enough daily protein to build lean muscle.

Your mind could change a bit after watching an interesting documentary on Neflix called The Game Changers, produced by James Cameron. The show first dropped back in 2018 and is currently trending once again. I would highly recommend that you at least watch it. The show is 85-minutes long and interviews many great athletes who talk about how and why they transitioned to a plant-based diet.

Definition of a Plant-based Diet

One of the better definitions of a plant-based diet was found in this article published by Harvard Medical School and author Katherine McManus, MS, RD. She goes on to say that “plant-based or plant-forward eating patterns focus on foods primarily from plants. This includes not only fruits and vegetables, but also nuts, seeds, oils, whole grains, legumes, and beans. It doesn’t mean that you are vegetarian or vegan and never eat meat or dairy. Rather, you are proportionately choosing more of your foods from plant sources.”

There are several pro/con reviews of the documentary, however, saying they get a lot right but also some things wrong. One review mentioned the show vilified red and processed meats while claiming animal proteins like chicken, fish, and eggs were as equally bad for your health. We know that certain ways of eating like a vegetarian or Mediterranean diet, have been shown to be healthy, and they includes such foods.

There may be an argument that healthy eating is not an “all or nothing” diet or philosophy and more about finding the best option to eat healthy. To be able to eat healthy the majority of time would be a good thing; incorporating a manageable diet that enhances a healthy, sustainable lifestyle.

Check out the show and see what you think for yourself, who knows, maybe it’s something you’ve thought about trying in the past. In any event, this or something similar could be a reset for eating better during (1) this stressful, pandemic time and (2) for a fast approaching Holiday season.

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Stay Strong with a Plant-based Diet and Jefit

Take advantage of Jefit’s 1400 exercise database in your workouts. Jefit is a fitness app that comes equipped with a customizable workout planner, training log, and ability to track data. There is also a members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, and advice in order to get closer to reaching your fitness goals. Stay strong!

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Try Eating This Nutritious Breakfast to Energize Your Workout

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Let’s face it, we really are what we eat. We’re all aware of how important it is to properly fuel our body for sustained energy throughout the day. A nutritious breakfast or first meal is critical to this way of thinking. Choosing healthy food options can do wonders for both our mind and body. When taken optimally, meaning, food quantity and meal timing, food fuels our brain and muscles like nothing else. No meal is more important, however, than that first meal of the day. This is your first food option in the morning or at noon if you’re into intermittent fasting (IF). How you initially fuel your body after waking, from a fasted state, will set the tone for the rest of the day.

You may have been like me in the past where you were focused on consuming food every 3-4 hours. It may have been important to eat healthy and often to build lean muscle and/or maintain blood sugar levels. As the body ages, eating habits may however change. Some people have a tendency to change eating habits, spacing their meal frequency farther apart. Not eating for longer periods of time (12+ hours) has been shown through research to be a positive change. The body uses a combination of macronutrients to fuel the brain and body (carbohydrates, fats and some protein). Not eating for longer periods of time will adjust the ratio of how the body burns carbohydrates and fats for fuel. A higher percentage of fat (instead of more carbs) will get utilized.

What Are Macronutrients vs. Micronutrients?

Macronutrients are large molecules that our bodies need to function optimally. The big three are carbohydrates, fats and protein. Water and fiber are also considered macronutrients. Conversely, micronutrients, like vitamins and minerals, are molecules that we need but in much smaller quantities. Both are very important and all are needed to help the human body function properly.

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The Authors Actual Breakfast this Morning (you guessed it, Oatmeal)
A Nutritious Breakfast Option

Eating eggs or egg whites in the morning may be your thing. Maybe its cold cereal or a piece of toast with peanut butter and banana. All, other than the cold cereal, are healthy, nutritious breakfast options. A combination of macronutrients in a breakfast or snack are important to fuel the body for long periods of time. One key macronutrient is fiber. Many breakfast options, like cold cereal, have minimal or no fiber. Eating fiber helps with gut health, it keeps us feeling satiated and will help reduce the sugar and fat cravings.

A healthy, nutritious breakfast option to give a try is oatmeal. Where not talking instant oat meal out of a package either. Try the type that you cook on the stove (for 5-minutes). It’s loaded with all the macronutrients including fiber. You can add things like nuts and fruit that will increase total calories but also the amount of fiber and protein. The following is a calorie breakdown of a typical bowl of oatmeal that I typically eat. Following that, are additional add-ons like fruit and nuts.

Old Fashion Oats Calorie Breakdown
Food Calories/Macronutrients
1 Cup Oatmeal150 calories/27 grams CHO/4 grams Fiber/5 grams Protein
1 Cup Almond Milk40 calories/1.5 grams CHO/3.5 g Fat/1.5 g Protein
1/2 Cup Walnuts392 calories/8 grams CHO/39 grams Fat/4 grams Fiber/9 grams of Protein
1/2 small Banana45 calories/11 grams CHO/1 gram Protein/6 grams natural sugar
1/2 Cup Blueberries41 calories/10.5 grams CHO/1.7 grams Fiber/0.54 grams Protein/7 grams natural sugar
TOTAL668 calories/58 grams CHO/9.7 grams Fiber/17 grams Protein

There is sugar in this breakfast option, yes, but its natural occurring sugar found in fruit, as opposed to added sugar. Most of the fat comes from the walnuts, this can be optional, but keep in mind it’s from healthy fat. The big takeaway is – it contains about 10 grams of healthy fiber and 17 grams of protein. Bonus, adding in a scoop of healthy peanut butter (like this morning) will bring that protein number to 24 grams. Eat healthy, fuel up for your day and workout with smart, nutritious food choices like this one. Stay strong with Jefit.

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Protein at Each Meal is Required for Muscle Growth

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Research has shown that it’s important to eat protein at each meal. Many Americans eat a diet that consists of little to no protein for breakfast. This is followed up with a small portion of protein at lunch and an overabundance of protein at dinner. In fact, as long as they get their recommended dietary allowance of about 60 grams, it’s all good, right? Not according to research from a team of scientists led by muscle metabolism expert Doug Paddon-Jones, PhD, of the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB). This research shows that the typical cereal or carbohydrate-dominated breakfast, a sandwich or salad at lunch and overly large serving of meat/protein for dinner may not provide the best metabolic environment to promote healthy aging and maintenance of muscle size and strength.

“The study, in the Journal of Nutrition, shows that the potential for muscle growth is less than optimal when protein consumption is skewed toward the evening meal instead of being evenly distributed throughout the day.”

Doug Paddon-Jones, PhD

Age-related conditions such as osteoporosis (bone weakening) and sarcopenia (muscle loss) do not develop all of a sudden. The researchers believe rather, that they are gradual processes triggered by poor lifestyle habits starting in early middle age.

Review of Research

The UTMB researchers provided volunteers with a generous daily dose of 90 grams of protein a day; consistent with the average amount currently consumed by healthy adults in the U.S. Very active individuals may benefit from a slightly higher protein intake. For the majority of adults, additional protein will likely have a diminishing positive effect on muscle metabolism says the researchers. Just as important, any less may fail to provide support for optimal muscle metabolism.

When study volunteers consumed the evenly distributed protein meals, their 24-hour muscle protein synthesis was 25 percent greater than subjects who ate according to the skewed protein distribution pattern.

An Eating Strategy for Protein

“Usually, we eat very little protein at breakfast, a bit more at lunch and then consume a large amount at night. “So we’re not taking enough protein on board for efficient muscle building and repair during the day, and at night we’re often taking in more than we can use, says Paddon-Jones.”

A more efficient eating strategy for building muscle and controlling total caloric intake would be to shift some of the extra protein consumed at dinner to lunch and breakfast.

“You don’t have to eat massive amounts of protein to maximize muscle synthesis. You just have to be a little more thoughtful with how you apportion it,” Paddon-Jones said. “For breakfast consider replacing some carbohydrate, particularly the simple sugars, with high-quality protein. Throw in an egg, a glass of milk, yogurt or add a handful of nuts to get closer to 30 grams of protein. Try doing something similar to get to 30 grams for lunch, and then moderate the amount of protein for dinner. Do this, and over the course of the day you will likely spend much more time synthesizing muscle protein.” Eat healthy and stay strong with Jefit.

Reference

Madonna M. Mamerow, Joni A. Mettler, Kirk L. English, Shanon L. Casperson, Emily Arentson-Lantz, Melinda Sheffield-Moore, Donald K. Layman, and Douglas Paddon-Jones, Dietary Protein Distribution Positively Influences 24-h Muscle Protein Synthesis in Healthy Adults, J Nutr. 2014 Jun; 144(6): 876–880. Published online 2014 Jan 29. doi: 10.3945/jn.113.185280

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Are Protein Drinks More Effective Pre or Post Workout?

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A qualified nutritionist will always recommend eating real, whole food as a first option in order to meet daily protein needs. This can be very challenging to do consistently over time though. It can also be difficult if someone requires a large amount of protein each day in order to build lean muscle mass. This is where protein drinks enter the picture.

When is the best time to consume protein drinks, before or after a workout? How many grams of protein should a typical protein drink contain? On the flip side, you have hundreds of different supplement companies to choose from and their job is to push product through creative marketing campaigns. So which way do you turn? Hopefully this article will help shed some light on the subject.

The website Examine.com has been up and running since 2011 and is a trusted source for nutrition and supplement information, and a good place to start!

Protein Intake Prior to Exercise

There is minimal scientific literature that has looked at the benefits of protein supplementation before or after exercise.

One research study divided 21 men into two groups, with both groups getting a protein drink containing 25 grams of protein. One of the groups received it right before their workout, while the second group received it following their workout. All of the subjects performed full-body strength workouts three times a week for 10-weeks. The results of the study found no significant differences in muscle strength or size between both of the groups. The results of this particular study suggest that as long as you take-in protein around your workout, it really doesn’t matter if it’s before or after a workout.

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Protein Intake Post Exercise

Previous studies have shown that 20–25g protein is enough to stimulate maximal increases in muscle protein synthesis (MPS) after weight training. The present study challenged this conclusion, testing the idea that those with greater lean mass require more protein to stimulate maximal MPS after training.

Examine.com

In one research study, researchers recruited 30 healthy males who were strength training twice a week for six months prior to the study. Subjects were grouped together based on how much lean muscle mass they each had. The study consisted of two separate trials separated by two weeks, where subjects ingested either 20 grams or 40 grams of a protein drink. The protein drink contained whey protein mixed with water and taken immediately post exercise. The study resulted in a significant change (20%) in muscle protein synthesis in the group that took 40 grams of protein after exercise. This occurred when researches did not account for differences in lean body mass in any of the test subjects.

LBM did not factor into the protein requirement for maximal MPS. This study showed that 40 grams of protein induced greater MPS than 20 grams in both high and low LBM groups, contradicting previous studies suggesting that MPS after exercise is maximized after ingesting 20–25 grams of high-quality protein.

Examine.com

Additional Study Insight

One reason this study showed promising results was because of the amount of protein used. The subjects who were given higher doses of protein (40 grams) experienced better results. The design of the study called for 40 grams of protein in place of the more traditional 25-30 grams that is widely recommended. The positive results most likely had something to do with the amino acid leucine. Most protein drinks either don’t contain leucine or have only trace amounts of it. Leucine is extremely important and the key ingredient or building block needed to stimulate muscle protein synthesis.

If you happen to increase your protein intake through supplementation, do it gradually. The reason for this is there can be side effects of taking too much protein. Most of the side effects of whey protein are related to issues regarding digestion. Those individuals who have problems digesting whey protein experience symptoms such as bloating, stomach cramps, gas, and diarrhea. Most of the side effects can be related to lactose intolerance. Lactose is a form of sugar found in milk and in whey protein. People that are lactose intolerant don’t produce enough of the enzyme lactase, which the body uses to help breakdown lactose.

Final Say on Protein Recommendation

The amount of protein that someone needs to build muscle mass depends on many variables. A reasonable goal is to obtain the majority of calories from protein by way of whole foods. Look to supplement daily intake with reputable whey protein drinks containing 3-5% leucine would be prudent. Finally, it really doesn’t mater when you drink protein drinks, before or after exercise. Taking in slightly more protein then the recommended amount of 25-30 sounds like a good choice. Work on drinking plenty of water throughout the day as well. Eat Well & Stay Strong!

Reference

The Response of Muscle Protein Synthesis Following Whole-Body Resistance Exercise Is Greater Following 40 G Than 20 G of Ingested Whey Protein. Physiol Rep. 2016 Aug; 4(15):e12893. doi: 10.14814/phy2.12893.

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Are Protein Supplements Worth Taking?

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Are the protein supplements you take even worth your money? More importantly, are they helping you to build muscle? Let’s take a look.

For the human body to build muscle, the body must be in what is known as an anabolic state. If this is not the case, muscle growth will simply not occur. In very basic terms, anabolism requires energy to grow and build while catabolism uses energy to break down. Hormones also play a vital role in both processes. Specific hormones associated with the process of anabolism are growth hormone, insulin, and testosterone, to name a few. There are other hormones like cortisol (known as the stress hormone) and glucagon that are associated with the process of catabolism. When it comes to bodybuilding, think of anabolism as the building up of muscle tissue while catabolism is the breaking down of muscle tissue.

Right from that last sentence you can see if you are putting in all this energy and time to build muscle mass, you DON’T WANT TO BE IN A CATABOLIC STATE, yet many people are. Too much cardio, inadequate protein intake, lack of sleep or recovery, and elevated stress, keeps the body in a catabolic state. To give the body the best chance for muscle growth to occur, the body must be kept in an anabolic state. For this to happen, you need a sufficient training stimulus, surplus of calories (especially protein), less cardio and stress, and plenty of sleep.

Are You Getting All Your Amino Acids?

Amino acids are basically building blocks that help (synthesize) form protein. There are actually hundreds of amino acids but only 20 appear in the genetic code. Of these 20 amino acids, 12 are considered non-essential while 8 are designated as essential, meaning they need to be supplied in the diet. One essential amino acid to keep an eye on is leucine. Again, the body does not produce this so it must come from the diet. Another way to ensure you get adequate leucine is through daily nutrition and protein supplementation. A protein supplement, with 2-5 grams of leucine, taken post workout will help your muscle building cause. Leucine, is a branch chain amino acid, that is responsible for “triggering” protein synthesis.

Protein Needs in the Diet

An average adult may need only 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight but anyone involved in strength training needs more. But how much more? That honestly depends on a litany of things like, training, age, gender, body size etc. Research shows that protein intake to promote muscle growth needs to be more in the area of 1.2 to 1.9 grams per kilogram of body weight per day.

“Even the American Dietetic Association, Dietician’s of Canada and the American College of Sports Medicine state that protein intake must be > 1.6 grams per kg/day for gains in muscle mass.”

Journal Strength & Conditioning (2007).

Importance of Nutrient Timing During Strength Training

There has always been what’s considered a “window” for protein intake post workout to optimize results. The optimal window was considered to be 45 minutes to 1 hour post workout. Research has since shown this is not necessarily true. Research reported taking a protein supplement 3 hours versus 1 hour post workout showed no difference. As long as you’re getting some of your daily protein in during pre and post workout you’ll be good. In addition, it would be beneficial to take it a minimum of 25-30 grams of protein with each meal. Some people may need to add in an additional small meal in order to meet their daily protein requirement.

This article, along with suggested research, is favorable towards protein supplementation in order to optimize protein synthesis and promote gains in muscle mass. With any increase of protein comes an intake of water to prevent any possible long-term issues associated with the kidneys. Adequate protein is important, yes, but other keys include a training stimulus challenging enough for adaptation to occur and of course plenty of recovery between bouts of exercise and sleep are a must. Good luck. Stay Strong!

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5 Foods to Eat for Accelerated Muscle Growth

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Food is quite literally our life energy source, think of it like high octane gas that fuels our brain and body. Eating specific foods may help when looking for muscle growth to occur. Our brain needs about 130 grams a day of carbohydrate to function optimally. It’s important for any nutrition plan to include all the major macronutrients and micronutrients. Our body also need amino acid-rich sources of protein for muscle growth to take place. Amino acids are considered the building blocks that eventually help form proteins. Almost all foods contain some source of protein. Amino acids are important because they play a big role in protein synthesis, tissue repair and nutrient absorption.

There are 20 different amino acids that are grouped together making up three separate categories. The body makes 12 of these amino acids and we get the other 8 from food we eat. The cool thing is our body produces thousands of different proteins using just these 20 amino acids. Amazing!

Non-Essential Amino Acids

Non-essential amino acids do not need to be included in the diet. Nine out of the 20 amino acids are essential, but adults only need to obtain eight of them: valine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine and tryptophan. The ninth amino acid, histidine, is only essential for infants. Your body doesn’t store amino acids, so it needs a regular daily supply of these essential building blocks.

Essential Amino Acids

Essential amino acids need to be included in the diet. There are handful of amino acids as you know but the one I’m going to mention here is leucine. “This amino acid directly contributes to muscle protein synthesis. It affects the ability to recover from both stress and exercise. Leucine facilitates cell growth as well as the formation of sterols which are used in the process of forming hormones like estrogen and testosterone.” Make sure the amino acid, leucine, is also in that whey protein shake you drink post workout. This will improve your chances for muscle growth. Research has shown just 1.5 grams of leucine can provide adequate stimulation for muscle protein synthesis. Other research has shown that 3 grams of leucine alone stimulates protein synthesis in young men.

Conditional Essential Amino Acids

You usually hear about essential and non-essential amino acids only. Conditional essential includes 8 amino acids that are specifically needed in the body under certain conditions like stress, exercise, aging, etc.

Some of the Best Protein Sources for Muscle Growth

1. Beef, Pork, Wild Game (especially if it’s grass-fed)

2. Poultry (i.e. chicken, turkey)

3. Eggs (the yolk contains most of the nutrients; also 185 mg cholesterol)

4. Fish & Seafood

5. Dairy (i.e. cottage cheese and plain Greek yogurt)

**Additional food sources like Tempeh, Tofu, Beans, and Nuts.

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Healthy food high in protein. Meat, fish, dairy products, nuts and beans

Did You Know…

Did you know that foods like broccoli (3 grams), baked potato (4 grams), avocado (4 grams), and a cup of quinoa (5 grams) also contain adequate amounts of protein. Add these healthy food options as “sides” with the main course mentioned above. They will also help meet your daily protein requirements to ensure muscle growth.

Great Recipe: Moroccan Lamb Stew (bonus recipe, contains 38 grams of protein)

What you’ll need to turn this into your dinner for tonight:

Canola oil (2 Tbsp)
Cubed lamb stew meat (2 lbs.)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
1 cinnamon stick
One (15 oz) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 cup dried apricots, chopped
1/2 cup pimento-stuffed green olives
1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes
2 cups beef broth

How to Make It:
1. In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Add the lamb, season well with salt and pepper, and cook until well browned, 10 to 15 minutes.

2. Add the garlic, onion, and carrots and saute until the onion softens, about 5 minutes. Add the coriander, cumin, and cinnamon stick. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the chickpeas, apricots, green olives, tomatoes (with their juices), reserved lamb, and beef broth. Bring to a boil over high heat, and then reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until the lamb is very tender, 60 to 90 minutes. Discard the cinnamon stick. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. Feeds 6

Nutrition per serving: 495 calories, 38g protein, 46g carbs, 10 g fiber, 16g fat (Credit: Paul Kita, Men’s Health Magazine)

How Much Protein Do I Really Need?

The average, healthy adult needs 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram per body weight. BUT, if your strength training and want to add muscle mass, that number needs to increase. See the protein recommendations (below) published by Precision Nutrition, found in The Essentials of Sport and Exercise Nutrition, 3rd edition pp. 216. They offer a great online nutrition certification course BTW, I actually took it a few years ago.

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Protein Requirements

Questions for you. What do you consider the best choice for protein intake? How much protein are you taking in on a daily basis? For muscle growth to actually occur, sufficient protein requirements need to be met. Also important are adequate training stimulus and plenty of recovery (between workouts and sleep). Think of it as a three pronged approach. Enjoy! Eat Well. Stay Strong!

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Three Requirements for Muscle Growth

There are three key requirements for muscle growth to occur. To ensure muscle growth you need an appropriate training stimulus, proper diet with adequate protein and of course plenty of recovery. A fourth factor, not discussed here, is the important role that genetics play. We all know people who train hard, eat well and get plenty of sleep. They typically get stronger but don’t really pack on lean muscle. There are many variables that can effect (1) how much and (2) how quickly your body adds lean muscle. This ultimately depends on age, gender, genetic and hormonal factors. There is a saying out there when talking about the part genetics play: “If you want an Olympic athlete then you need Olympic parents.”

Appropriate Training Stimulus for Muscle Growth?

How do you stimulate muscle growth? When a persons muscles are challenged they adapt and change over time. Changes are dependent on the type of activity and muscle fiber types used, the load exerted on the muscle, and the velocity and duration of the contraction. (Marieb, 2004) The point is to push through all the hard workouts, because muscular growth or hypertrophy can only be accomplished through these adaptations and changes. “It takes about 16 workouts to have a noticeable ‘superficial’ effect. There is simply no other recipe to do this in a healthy, orderly, and long-lasting manner.” Try using the Jefit, a workout planner & tracker app to record all your workouts.

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Is the Current RDA for Protein Enough?

This is a tough area for a lot of people. Their eating habits are just not where they need to be. In addition to eating well-balanced, highly nutritious meals, protein intake needs to be sufficient. If not, muscle growth to say the least, will be difficult if not impossible. The scientific research has shown different results over the years in terms of protein needs.

The question we should ask ourselves is – do we follow the suggested RDA of 0.8 grams/kg/day for protein intake or is it more in line with 1-2 gram/kg/day? The answer may depend partly on the volume of daily exercise you’re doing, if you’re a strength or an endurance athlete, and your age.

Adequate Nutritional Intake (Especially Protein)

A classic study was done in 1988 at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University. I was actually one of the test subjects in that study and also later worked there. The team headed by Meredith and colleagues, looked at the protein needs of 12 subjects. Six were young (26.8 +/- 1.2 yr) and six were middle-aged (52.0 +/- 1.9 yr) endurance-trained men. All subjects consumed either 0.6, 0.9, or 1.2 grams/kg/day of high-quality protein over three separate 10-day periods. They did this while maintaining their training and a constant body weight. The results of the study estimated that protein requirement was 0.94 +/- 0.05 grams/kg/day for the 12 men. The data from the study showed endurance exercise was associated with a specific dietary protein requirement. These needs were actually greater than the current Recommended Dietary Allowance of 0.8 g/kg/day.

Since then, there have been several studies on individuals who engaged in regular aerobic exercise. The exercise, more vigorous in nature, demonstrated a higher protein need more in line with 1.1 to 1.4 grams/kg/day. This by the way is about 38%-75% above the current RDA range. There is good evidence that the current recommended protein intake may actually limit muscle growth. This was seen in a study published in the Journal Applied Physiology. Some researcher’s report an optimal intake more in line with a protein range of 1.5 to 1.8 grams/kg/day which is 88% to 125% above the suggested RDA. The best way to make this happen is by ingesting 25-30 grams/protein with each meal and of course supplement with a post recovery protein drink.

Optimal Recovery (Sleep)

You can have the two other two boxes checked but if sleep is not happening, muscle growth will not occur. As a persons training intensity increases, more recovery and sleep is needed. According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), we need 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. Are you getting that? When this happens on a regular basis for you, you can check that third box. Here are their guidelines for recommended amounts of sleep by the NSF.

  • School age children (6-13 yrs. old): Sleep range widened by one hour to 9-11 hours
  • Teenagers (14-17): Sleep range widened by one hour to 8-10 hours
  • Younger adults (18-25): Sleep range is 7-9 hours (new age category)
  • Adults (26-64): Sleep range did not change and remains 7-9 hours
  • Older adults (65+): Sleep range is 7-8 hours (new age category) 

Key Take Aways

Increasing strength and building muscle can seem like a full-time job at times. You will need all the help you can get to make this happen, especially on both fronts. By checking all three boxes (training/nutrition/sleep), your odds of finally adding lean muscle will improve greatly. Be Well and Stay Strong!

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