VeeFitness

Bringing you the latest in health and fitness


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Garlic Goodness


Garlic provides numerous health and physique benefits. Not only does it enhance heart health, but research shows that it aids fat burning, can help to lower the catabolic hormone cortisol, and concomitantly raise testosterone levels. Recent research suggests that garlic can actually boost nitric oxide levels (NO).

Researchers from the university of Adelaide (Australia) gave 50 patients with treated but uncontrolled high blood pressure wither a garlic supplement containing 960 milligrams of aged garlic or a placebo everyday for 12 weeks. They measured the subjects’ blood pressure at the start and every four weeks thereafter. The researchers reported in a 2010 issue of the journal Maturitas that the group supplementing with the garlic had a drop in pressure which was on average 10mm hg (pressure units) lower than in the placebo group. The scientists concluded that this was likely to be due to garlic’s ability to boost NO levels, which relaxes blood vessels and causes a reduction in blood pressure. This relaxation in the blood vessels also increases blood flow to the muscles, which is critical for energy and for producing a muscle pump during workouts, as well as aiding recovery and muscle growth.

The researchers suggested that cooked garlic would not be as effective as a garlic supplement because heat destroys the active ingredient, allicin. So go with garlic supplements and take about 200-1000mg with your pre-workout shake. To maintain higher NO levels throughout the day, also consider taking a dose in the morning and late at night.


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Vitamin D and Calcium


This vitamin and mineral stack not only boosts bone health, but also testosterone levels.

Vitamin D
This fat-soluble vitamin is important for bone health and mental well-being, also benefits muscle strength and fat loss, and it may be critical for maintaining high testosterone levels. searchers at the Medical University of Graz (Austria) reported that subjects with sufficient vitamin D levels had significantly higher testosterone levels than those with less vitamin D.

Calcium
In addition to its bone-boosting effects, calcium is also important for muscle contractions and it even aids fat loss. But calcium may boost testosterone, too. One study from Selcuk University (Turkey) found that subjects taking about 16 milligrams of calcium per pound of bodyweight (about 3300 mg for a 200 pound guy) had higher testosterone levels during workouts than subjects not taking supplemental calcium.

Take It Like This:
To increase your testosterone levels, take 1000-2000 interation units of vitamin D two or three times daily with meals and 500-600mg of calcium two to five times a day.


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Not Eating Enough Fats


Fats are a great secondary energy source in addition to carbs. Healthy fats help regulate hormones (increased testosterone levels and increased growth hormone levels) and provide support to the cardiovascular, reproductive, immune and nervous system and decreased levels bodyfat. The key is to eat them in quantities that balance out the other macronutrients. Healthy fats should be obtained from various sources, such as salmon, fish oils, egg-yolks, olive oil and nuts.


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Muscles and Alcohol Don’t Mix


Still haven’t adopted the totally clean-eating lifestyle and enjoy going out to the bar for a few drinks? You might want to think twice if you aim to keep all that muscle mass you have worked so hard for in the gym. Consuming large quantities of alcohol directly affects your metabolism by causing dietary fat to be stored instead of being used as an energy source. Among the effects of heavy alcohol consumption on your body, blood flow is reduced to the muscles, causing deterioration and weakness. Alcohol decreases testosterone in your blood and raises conversion of testosterone to estrogen, leading to increase fluid retention and fat depositing. It creates imbalances in your liver that can cause hypoglycaemia, hyperlipidemia and fatty liver. A night out of drinking can stop any progress you want to make in the gym the next day because of dehydration that decreases physical performance. The disturbance of sleep caused by alcohol can leave you fatigued and your training session severely lacking in intensity. Alcohol consumption can also interfere with nutrient breakdown and absorption, lessening the body’s ability to build and maintain muscle. Keep alcohol drinks to a minimum and plan them for evenings when the next day is a break from the gym.


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Recovery Returns


Improve recovery and increase muscle growth with these 7 post-workout supplements.

1) Whey Protein
A high-quality milk protein that contains all the amino acids the body requires for muscle protein synthesis.

Whey protein breaks down fast upon ingestion, shuttling its amino acids into the bloodstream to hit your muscles quickly. Research has shown that consuming whey protein after training promotes muscle protein synthesis and reduces protein degradation (breakdown), thus stimulating muscle tissue repair and growth.

Take 20-30 grams immediately after training. Choose a whey powder that contains whey protein hydrolysates (whey protein broken down into smaller fragments for even faster digestion) or whey protein isolate.

2) Casein Protein
Although it is not a fast-digesting protein, this other milk protein is a perfect complement to help boost recovery following your workouts.

Casein protein is a slow digesting because it forms a gel in the gut, which results in the amino acids being released slowly into the bloodstream. Since it enters the bloodstream slowly, it was originally believed to have very little immediate impact on protein synthesis. However, newer research shows that after workouts, casein does, in fact, boost protein synthesis and also has a powerful effect in suppressing protein breakdown, both key elements in muscle growth. Research suggests that to tip the balance in your favour, supplement with both whey and casein proteins after training.

Choose a casein protein that contains micellar casein (the slowest-digesting casein) and add 20-30 grams casein top your post-wrokout whey protein shake.

3) Branched-Chain Amino Acids
The term branched-chain amino acids refer to leucine, isoleucine and valine, the most important aminos for repairing and building muscle tissue. BCAAs make up approximately one-third of muscle protein.

BCCAs offer a multitude of benefits, including growing muscle, reducing delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) increasing energy and blunting cortisol (a catabolic hormone). Intense exercise causes a rise in cortisol, which can inhibit testosterone and lead to muscle protein breakdown. Research shows that supplementing with BCAAs, particularly at the time of muscle breakdown (such as during and after workouts), is the best insurance against catabolism.

Results from one study showed that subjects who supplemented with amino acids did not experience losses in muscle strength following a period of high-volume resistance training. The results were attributed to the anticatabolic effects that BCAAs promote in the body.

Because leucine is the key amino acid for turning on protein synthesis in muscle cells, look for BCAA products that provide leucine at a ratio of 2:1 per dose of isoleucine and valine. Take 5-10 grams of BCAA immediately after training with your post-work out shake.

4) Creatine
Creatine is made up of three amino acids, arginine, glycine and methionine. The kidneys and pancreas produce them naturally, and the liver combines them to make creatine. However, the body only produces about 1-1.5 grams, not nearly enough to support the muscle-building efforts of a hard trainer.

Creatine has been the subject of hundreds of research studies, primarily because of its direct impact on increasing muscle mass, strength and power. It has been shown to trigger protein synthesis and minimise protein breakdown, because it creates an osmotic gradient whereby water is pulled into muscle cells (which is a signal for anabolism). Some evidence also suggests creatine may act as a lactic acid buffer, which can improve recovery time. Creatine has also been found to increase levels of insulinlike growth factor-1 in muscles, which is critical for stimulating growth.

Take 2-3 grams in the form of creatine monohydrate, creatine malate, creatine hydrochloride ore creatine alpha-ketoglutarate with your protein shake immediately after training, a time when creatine will rapidly be taken up by muscle cells and the boost in IGF-1 will promote further growth.

5) Carb Powder
Choosing a carb powder used to be easy, you simply bought one brand or another of glucose. However, ongoing research has given light to a range of new products.
– Dextrose
Dextrose is a glucose, the simplest carb. It is in the exact form your body needs, your body doesn’t have to break it down to use it. It is a monosaccharide, which is about 70-80% as sweet as table sugar. It has a glycaemic index rating of 100 and is used for energy or refuelling after a workout. It is highly soluble in water and mixes easily.

– Maltodextin
Maltodextin is polysaccharide (a complex carbohydrate) usually produced form corn or potato starch. Although its a “complex” carb, the chemical structure is such that it can break down rapidly, thus digesting and absorbing very quickly to help you re-fuel post workout. In fact, its digested faster than regular table sugar, and has a GI rating of 105.

– Vitargo
Vitargo is a patented complex carb formula typically made form barley. Although the molecules that make up vitargo are a lot heavier and larger than those in other carbs, it has very low osmolality, which effectively means it can pass through the stomach faster, about 80% faster than dextrose. Vitargo is absorbed and assimilated faster after workouts, which minimises the risk of stomach discomfort (eg. bloating).

The fast absorption of certain carb powders makes them an ideal post-workout carb source that can rapidly elevate insulin levels and replace glycogen in trained muscle. Since insulin is highly anabolic, carb powders can promote muscle gain and recovery without fat accumulation when taken immediately after training.

A good post-workout shake contains about a 1:2 ratio of protein to a high-glycaemic (fast-digesting) carbs. Add 40-100 grams of carb powder to your post-workout shake.

6) Glutamine
This amino acid is central to both immune system regulation and muscle function, and is one of the most plentiful aminos found in the body.

During intense training, muscle glutamine levels drop sharply. Supplementing with glutamine not only stimulates immune function, but research has shown it decreases inflammation and protects muscle cells from the damage caused by hard training. It also aids muscle growth by by increasing levels of leucine in muscle fibres, helping suppress the production and circulation of cortisol, and maintain cell volume and hydration. By pushing water into muscle cells, glutamine helps to speed up recovery and encourage anabolism. In addition, research has demonstrated the ability of glutamine to drastically increase growth hormone levels. One study showed a meaningful increase from supplementing with as little as 2 grams of glutamine.

Add 5-10 grams of glutamine to your post-workout shake.

7) Alpha-Lipoic Acid
This antioxidant is made by the body and found in every cell, where it helps turn glucose into energy,

ALA mimics the effects of insulin, bolstering the uptake of amino acids and creatine into muscle cells. One study showed that subjects who consumed ALA with creatine and a high-glycaemic carb had greater increases in muscle creatine levels than those who took just creatine and a high-glycaemic carb, or creatine alone.

Take 300-500 milligrams along with your protein, creatine and high-glycaemic carbs post-workout.