Categories
Fat Loss Health

Are Supplements A Waste Of Money?

Ask someone about supplements and you generally get one of two answers. The first is “Yea I take (long list of every pill possible)”, or “No way, you can get everything you need from food”.

Due to clever marketing, both people believe they are right. Read the label of a popular fat burners and you will see ridiculous phrases like “Next generation fat loss”. What does that even mean?

Turn the label over and you see bizarre ingredients such as Ophiopogon extract. Good luck trying to figure out what this is in a hurry, let alone any scientific research to back up their ridiculous claims.

I might be starting to sound like a supplement Nazi. The truth is, I have been ripped off so many times it makes me mad. I bet you have as well.

Given the number of supplements available on shelves, you would be forgiven into thinking they are all legal and tested for efficacy.
A lot of pre-workouts contain controversial ingredients that after 6 months are no longer sold in Australia. That is because they often hit the shelves before they have been clinically tested. We then waste our money and the product is banned.

Here is the good news. Not all supplements are useless. Not all supplement companies are evil.
There are some honest people out there trying to provide a solution to this problem.62492547

Before I found these honest companies, I bought all the ingredients for my pre-workout separately. I would then mix it up in my kitchen. My neighbours could be forgiven for thinking I was a drug dealer. I had scales out, white powder everywhere, empty vege caps. Not a good look.

I am going to tell you what supplements truly have benefits. I could go through what doesn’t work but that list would take too long. Instead, just assume, if it isn’t on the list I don’t feel it is essential or I haven’t taken it myself to give an honest opinion.

I will leave protein powder out. This is one that I don’t put in the same category as the rest. Protein powder is a food rather than a supplement.

Creatine: Creatine is useful when the body is being challenged through high intensity training. By replenishing phosphocreatine stores in the body, you can work at a higher intensity for longer. In simple terms, when we train we use ATP. Creatine helps the donates more energy to our ATP stores.
Dosage: 3000-5000mg. It has been found that timing of this does not matter. What matters is that you take it.

Beta alanine: High intensity training produces lactate. Beta-alanine helps to buffer the hydrogen ions and acidity in the muscle during training. This allows us to train for longer before the burning in our muscles causes us to stop.
Dosage: 2000-5000mg depending on your size. Take this before your workout. Taking it after has also shown benefits.

Caffeine: Caffeine is a great supplement that is underappreciated. Caffeine increases alertness and reaction time. Caffeine has also been shown to increase fat loss, increase muscle recovery time, increase strength, and reduce the risk of certain diseases.

Dosage: Start with 100mg. If your tolerance is high and strength is your goal, up to 500mg can be beneficial. Take this before your workout.

Fish Oil: Our oceans are contaminated with pollutants. These pollutants get into our fish and reduce the quality of their meat. For this reason, some experts suggest reducing our fish consumption and supplementing with fish oil daily. Studies have shown the benefits of fish oil range from fat loss, maintaining lean mass, brain health, and joint support.

Dosage: 3-6g with meals.

Greens Powder: Green food blends are high in antioxidants, strongly alkaline, and rich in minerals. Always choose fruit or vegetables first but when these are not available, consume your greens powder.

Dosage: If fruit and vegetable consumption is high (7-10 servings per day) then you can skip this. If your fruit and vegetable intake is low, consume the greens powder more often. Use the dosing on the label as they are all different.

Branched-chain amino acids: These are one of my favourite supplements. Not only because they taste great and make drinking water easier, but because they have so many benefits. During a workout, our bodies need fuel. We also need to preserve muscle due to the stressful state we are in during our training. This is where BCAAs come in. By consuming BCAAs we are given that extra fuel to keep our muscles pumping. The leucine also spikes muscle protein synthesis. This is our bodies way of rebuilding itself from the stress we intentionally place on it.

I have also found it shortens the amount time my muscles are sore. This allows me to get back in the gym more frequently and increase muscle gains.

Dosage: At least 2.5g of leucine. You will often see leucine, isoleucine, and valine in a ratio of 2:1:1. Take only during workouts unless you are on a low-calorie diet. In this case, taking in-between meals can spike protein synthesis and reduce muscle loss.

Green tea extract: This stimulates your metabolism and can increase fat loss. This supplement is heavily studied and has lots of research to back up the claims. My advice would be to perfect your diet and training first. Fat burners are great for dropping to single digits or breaking plateaus. If you have more than 5-8kg to lose, I suggest saving your money until everything else is on point.

Dosage: 400mg in the morning and afternoon.

r-Alpha Lipoic Acid: This supplement is great for reducing insulin response in those with poor carbohydrate tolerance. Although not needed every day if your insulin is working as it should, before cheat meals can be beneficial. This would reduce the rapid insulin response caused by the high amount carbohydrates. If your diet is good and your carbohydrate tolerance is normal, you can save your money here. Still a great supplement for weight loss.

Dosage: 100mg 3 times daily before meals.

CLA: CLA helps to induce apoptosis of fat cells (killing old fat cells). It can also help to preserve lean mass during dieting. This supplement is very popular in athletes for good reason.

Dosage: 2.5g-5g when dieting.

I could list a few others such as citrulline, and taurine but I do not believe these are essential unless you are very serious about your training.

I always tell people that diet, training, and recovery come first. If these have not been mastered, then it would not make sense to spend money on supplements. The best way to know you have mastered these areas is that are you seeing amazing results with your training.
If you are not, I would suggest finding a program that can deliver this. No supplement will suddenly cause you to gain or lose 10 kilograms. That is a good thing!
Perfecting our training and nutrition is healthy. It allows us to learn and work hard. It allows us to dedicate ourselves to the art and refuse easy way outs
The more you know, the more powerful you can be. The more you do, the more powerful you are.

 

Categories
Fat Loss Food

5 Laws Of Eating For More Muscle

Do you “clean bulk” or “dirty bulk”? These phrases are often thrown around by guys at the gym who have no idea about nutrition. A “clean bulk” is eating healthy foods that are close to nature to gain weight. These guys don’t cheat on their diet and don’t get eat the “bad” stuff.
 
“Dirty bulkers”, eat whatever they want to consume as many calories as possible.
 
To me there is no clean or dirty bulk. Both are not sustainable. I’m all about sustainable approaches to fitness and nutrition.
 
Understanding nutrition is key to gaining muscle. This involves knowing how many calories your body needs to maintain its current state. From here it is a matter of adjusting up or down to suit your goals.
 
To gain muscle you need to increase your calories. If you think you can go to the gym and build muscle by doing the same old exercises, you will not see results.
 
Your body needs extra fuel to grow. If it doesn’t get this fuel, it will stay the same or shrink.
 
Because of this, so many people stay the same year after year.
 
Here are my 5 Laws of eating for muscle.
 
Law 1: Should You Bulk?
 
This may seem like a silly question but I see lots of overweight guys trying to pack on muscle. The problem with this is, they have so much stored energy they don’t need to consume more. Their body is more likely to store this extra food as it has gotten so good at doing.cartman
 
If you cannot see your abs, then you should go on a fat loss program first. This will reveal your muscle and make you look bigger, it also has profound effects on muscle growth.
 
Your body is more receptive to carbohydrates when you are lean. You will be more efficient at shuttling these to the muscle and using them as energy.
 
Carbohydrates are a great fuel source, but we can’t always give it what it wants. Eventually our body will stop working in our favour. It will be very hard shift our body composition if we keep eating a high carb diet. Fat tissue will then start taking in all those carbohydrates, not the muscle.
 
Fat will always compete with the lean tissue for absorbing those carbohydrates.
 
The more fat you have, the more likely it will take up those carbs. Go on a quick fat loss program and drop that fat. This will make muscle growth much easier.
 
Law 2: Control Your Calories
 
To build muscle, you need fuel. Fuel comes from food so it makes sense to eat more. The problem here is, people suddenly think it’s a free for all. Out the window with lean meats and vegetables and in with pizza and muffins. Not so fast!
 
To gain muscle, you need to tailor your calories to your activity level and metabolism. Failure to do so will result in fat gain. This then means you need to go back and forth between fat loss diets and muscle gain diets.
 
It can be quite hard to find figure out your ideal calorie intake. There are many calculators online that help but I find another method much easier. Remember, I like things simple.
 
Weigh yourself on day 1. Have your meals prepped and eat the same foods every day (or as close as possible). If you have not gained any weight by day 8, you have found your maintenance calorie amount. This means the amount required to keep your current body weight. From here, increase calories. If you are counting, this is around 100-200 calories. If you don’t count, add in an extra serve of protein.
 
Weigh yourself in another 7 days. If you have gained weight, great! If not, add in 1 cup of cooked carbohydrates. Repeat the process until you see a slight increase in weight gain. Do not rush this or you will get fat.
 
Law 3: Keep it Under Control
 
As I mentioned above, people often throw their healthy diet out the window and begin inhaling food.
 
This is not going to help you.
 
Research has shown that when you consume a high amount of calories, the Glyceamic index is more important. Consuming extra calories comes with the risk of fat gain. High G.I. foods spike insulin and can promote fat storage. If you are in a deficit, you can often consume higher G.I foods without too much trouble.
 
While the occasional treat is fine, consuming junk every day is not. I like to view things as a trade-off. If I am having pizza tonight (lets say, 70g carbs, 40g fat, 25g protein), I will then subtract those numbers from another meal that day. I will also make sure I train a larger body part that day such as legs. By doing this, my body will be hungry for energy and less is likely to spill over into fat gain. If it was an arms day, I would keep it healthy.
 
If you find your bodyfat is creeping up, then reduce the amount of treat meals and the amount of days you bulk. If I find my bodyfat percentage has risen around 3% then instead of doing a 20-week bulk, I will do a 12 week bulk.
 
Law 4: Pile Up The Protein
 
Research has shown that a high protein diet is very anabolic and helps to preserve muscle. We also know that digesting protein is a calorie expensive process. Roughly 30% of the calories consumed are used in the digestion process. Compare this to carbs and fats that only require 5% to digest.
 
What this means is, if you consume 100 calories of protein, you will absorb around 70 of those.
 
High protein diets when gaining muscle have shown to limit fat gain.
 
A study showed that a group of individuals on diet with a surplus of 800 calories from protein did not gain any fat. This equates to 1.5-2g of protein per pound of bodyweight. Another very similar study showed a decrease in fat mass!
 
If you worry about your kidneys, liver, or other health markers, don’t. High protein diets do not cause any damage here. Unless you have a pre-existing condition, a high protein diet could work in your favour.
 
On your next bulk, aim for 1.5-2g of protein per pound of bodyweight if your body can handle it.h
 
Law 5: Don’t Drink Your Calories
I can’t stand “Mass Gainer Shakes”. They drive me nuts. 1000 calories in one drink? Get ready to pack on the fat.
 
I don’t advocate drinking smoothies or juices either. The sugar levels are way too high and will cause a massive spike in your insulin. This will then send a lot of those calories to your fat stores.
 
If you struggle to gain muscle and think you need these, jump back to Law #2. These shakes are clever marketing by supplement companies. Most pre-workouts and fat burners fall into the same category of crap.
 
Eat your food and put in the effort. You will be rewarded for years to come.