Amino Acids for Energy and Focus
Whether you have been lifting weights for a while or are just starting to build muscle, fueling properly for your workouts is a must. Without proper fuel, you will not get the most out of every gym session. Amino acids play an important role in muscle growth and recovery while also giving you extra energy and focus during workout sessions. They are a great addition to pre and post workout fuel but can easily be missed in a normal diet. If you are trying to gain muscle and get the most from your workouts, then supplementing with amino acids is a great idea.
What are Amino Acids?
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Without them, your body could not function properly. Not only do amino acids build muscles, they also carry nutrients, chemical signals, and antibodies throughout the body. Your body produces only eleven out of the twenty amino acids it needs. You must get the remaining nine essential amino acids from food or supplements.
How to get Amino Acids
Amino acids can be found in protein rich whole foods like eggs, beef, chicken and fish. You can also get amino acids from supplements like Amino Charge BCAA (link here.) The advantage of using supplements is that they are specifically designed to protect existing muscles, help new muscle fibers grow and speed up recovery between workouts. Supplements are also quickly absorbed by the body so you can take them before, during and after your workout without upsetting your stomach.
How Amino Acids Help Workouts
Amino acid supplements supercharge your workouts. They increase your energy, allowing you to go harder for longer. They also protect your existing muscles, by keeping your body from digging into already stored amino acids for fuel. Branch chain amino acids, leucine, isoleucine and valine, are particularly helpful for this. These amino acids also offset the fatigue caused by another amino acid, tryptophan, which is produced when you workout.
While your brain is not a muscle, amino acids can improve its function so that you can keep your head in the game throughout your workouts. Amino acids can cross the blood brain barrier and prevent the mental fatigue caused during workouts. They can also improve your short term memory and your brain’s processing ability. This will help you maintain focus, so you can give every single workout your all. You can also focus more on the muscles you are working, which is critical if you are training for a competition or event.
Amino acids are essential to your body and especially important for gaining strength. While you can get amino acids through your diet, it can be easy to miss out on these building blocks of protein. By supplementing with amino acids, you can ensure that your body is working at its best. You will be able to stay focused and energetic throughout your workouts. This will also improve your performance and increase recovery time. If you think your workouts need an extra boost, use an amino acid supplement before your next gym session. Your body will thank you.
Cardio is one of the best ways that one may easily be able to lose weight without even having to go to the gym. It has proven to help the body become leaner and help in the building of muscles. Listed below are some cardio workouts that one may easily be able to do in order to help them lose fat and grow healthy while at the same time toning and making the body muscles more lean.
When it comes to running for cardio, one needs to run at a very moderate pace in order to ensure that they burn fat and calories. Running helps in breaking down of fat in the body as it also helps in building ones lung capacity due to the fact that they are engaging their lungs as well during the whole process. An individual weigh 180-lb is bale to burn about 940 calories within an hour while they are running at a pace of 8.5 minute-per mile on a treadmill for an hour. Running is also considered to be easier on one’s knees and one may easily try changing up the routes which they take or join a local running club to break the monotony of having to run alone.
Jumping rope is one of the best cardio workouts that help one lose weight because it not only increases one’s foot speed but also is able to help one with regard to the burning of a ton of calories, it is a cheap and easy to do. Nevertheless, it also helps in enhancing one’s footwork, building their shoulder strength and coordination, stimulate sprinting and one may end up losing up to 500 calories within just 30 minutes.one is advised to start by jumping rope in intervals i.e. as fast and slow jumps in order to keep one going.
Stationary bikes are normally a very good way in which one may easily be able to lose fat through cardio. However, one is normally advised that they should be willing to go at an intense rate as it is very involving since one may not use their phones while at the same time, work out. This form of cardio is able to help one lose up to 1150 calories if the weigh averagely 180-lb per hour.
Swimming is normally a very healthy way to keep fit as it is a full body workout that start the moment one begins treading water. This is because one is normally fighting gravity and their muscles are fighting to ensure that they stay afloat without taking a break until one is out of the water. One is normally advised to incorporate different styles into their swimming in order to improve on the number of calories that they are burning.
Rowing is very essential as it normally incorporates the upper and lower body in a moderately low-stress manner on one’s ligaments and joints. Nevertheless, it is also a good way to work out the posterior chain. One may easily lose up to 800 calories per hour given that they weigh 180-lb. one is advised to always keep their chest up and use their entire body when rowing but not let all the work go into the arms as one may try using their legs to get the motion going.
1) Lauren Drain
3.8 Million followers
2) Jen Selter
12 million followers
3) Michele Lewin
12.9 million followers
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4) STEPHANIE SANZO
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6) Genesis Lopez
2.9 million followers
7) Ashley Resch
8) Caroline O’Mahony
9) Robin Gallantt
10) Emily Holland
Rich Piana’s Net Worth
Rich Piana happens to be a massive bodybuilder, which is what he’s best-known for, but he’s no meat head. Rich Piana also prides himself on being a savvy-minded businessman, and his net worth shows it.
Rich Piana was born on September 26, 1970 and passed away on August 25, 2017.
Much of his success has come from his YouTube channel where he has built up a strong following of fans. His videos consist of vlogs and content related to his life as a bodybuilder.
Rich is also super active on social media and is constantly gaining new followers. He is continuously posting fresh bodybuilding-related content to all of the platforms he is on.
He recently hit 1,000,000 YouTube subscribers and his channel is continuing to grow. He has already topped 1 million followers on Instagram and tens of thousands more follow him on Twitter.
So what is Rich Piana’s Net worth? As of 2017, the most recent calculation for Rich Piana’s overall net worth is $2,000,000. This might not necessarily mean he has $2 million just sitting around in his bank account though, since net worth takes into account the value of his assets.
For Rich Piana, his assets include things like the value of his YouTube channel (his reach, and how much money that can make him with ads and sponsorships) along with the value of things that he owns, such as a car, home, etc.
Most of his income is thought to come from his career as a bodybuilder, plus about 5% is estimated to result from his clothing and nutrition brand. He also is thought to make a substantial percentage from Google AdSense income, like with the ads shown before his channel’s videos.
But, he hasn’t always owned his own company. Prior to launching his own brand, Rich was the lead ambassador at a company called Mutant, whom he worked closely with for quite some time before leaving to begin his own line of clothing and nutrition products.
Some other fun stats? He’s 6-feet tall and weighs an incredible 290 lbs, but his weight is constantly fluctuating based on his training and eating regimen. In case you can’t tell from his photos, he has blue eyes and–as far as we know–his brown hair is natural too!
As of today, Rich Piana is still actively working to build up is bodybuilding empire even further. It’s expected that his channel will continue to grow through 2018 and beyond, and it’s also expected that his clothing/nutrition brand will keep adding on new products as his celebrity presence continues scoring him a wider reach.
Optimizing your workouts for peak performance requires going above and beyond the normal routines. Part of this process requires learning how your body behaves and responds to various challenges and modifying your plan around your unique response that might be slightly (or not so slightly) different than another person’s response to the same challenge.
Metabolism is one of these characteristics that is variable and unique to you.
At a high level, the Mayo Clinic describes metabolism simply as “the process by which your body converts what you eat and drink into energy.”
Your metabolism is affected by several parameters. For example, an obvious first thought might have simply been physical activity. Hitting the gym takes energy. Period.
And another, possibly less-than-obvious source of metabolic activity, is the food you eat. That’s right, eating food requires your body to burn calories. This process, known as diet-induced thermogenesis, refers to the body generating heat and using energy in order to metabolize the food you eat back into useable energy itself.
Diet-induced thermogenesis usually accounts for only around 10-15% of your daily caloric expenditure, but a subtle note to add is the role different foods (different macronutrient profiles, to be exact) play on thermogenesis. Protein, in particular, causes the largest thermogenic spike. In fact, eating protein increases metabolism by roughly three times that of carbohydrates, and over six times that of fats.
But these sources are still not the biggest contributors to your metabolism. Diet-induced thermogenesis and physical activity combined rarely come close to the largest source of caloric burn – your basal metabolism.
Basal metabolism is simply the calories required for life. To keep you going. To keep you alive.
All your internal organs require a constant supply of energy to keep things running like hearts beating, lungs breathing, and kidneys filtering. On average, your basal metabolism accounts for roughly 70% of your daily caloric expenditure. That means, if you simply laid on the couch and didn’t move all day, you’d still burn these calories.
But your basal metabolic rate is unique to you. And it is affect by several factors including your body composition, your gender, your age, and your genetics.
The largest variable affecting your basal metabolic rate is your body composition. In fact, gender is primarily only a contributing factor in large part due to natural differences in body composition and lean muscle distribution .
Of your body composition, the largest contributing factor is fat-free mass. Most of us have heard that muscle burns more calories than fat. Indeed, in addition to organs like your brain, your kidneys, etc., your muscle mass contributes a significant portion of these calories burned. Roughly 20% of the variability in basal metabolism between individuals can be attributed to the amount of lean muscle tissue. On the contrary, fat-mass contributes roughly 6% of the variability in caloric burn per person.
Other interesting things to note about your basal metabolism is that age only accounts for roughly 2% of the variability seen in basal metabolic rates. The decreased rate of metabolism often associated with aging is more closely linked to a loss in weight and lean muscle mass.
And unknown sources between individuals that can’t be attributed to these factors represent nearly 27% of the variability. Some of this could very well be associated with genetics. Other potential sources of variability could be derived from differences in organ size and distribution of body tissues such as brown fat, visceral fat, and subcutaneous fat.
Testing for Your Basal Metabolic Rate
To test for your basal metabolic rate, you can undergo a simple testing procedure that is likely available at many nutrition or personal training clinics. The test is simple but requires some preparation on your part. Specifically, you will likely need to fast for some amount of time (usually around 12 hours) before the test. Because, if you remember, diet-induced thermogenesis might influence your test results.
The test itself requires you to breathe into a mask connected to a gas analyzer while resting comfortably in a relaxed position. While you sit and breathe for a period of time (roughly 20-30 minutes), the gas analyzer is precisely measuring how much oxygen is going in and how much carbon dioxide is going out.
And that’s it. Assuming there were no abnormalities in the test results, you will finish and be provided with your basal metabolic rate. You’ll then have an understanding of how many calories you will burn as a baseline to build your nutrition plan, your workout plan, and help set your body composition goals.
But this test also provides another interesting value worth investigating. The same basal metabolic rate test can also determine your respiratory quotient. Your respiratory quotient will provide some insight into the substrate from which your body’s energy is derived. In other words, does your body harvest its energy more from carbohydrates, proteins, or fats?
Your Respiratory Quotient
Your respiratory quotient is almost certainly going to be a fraction somewhere between the values of 0.7 and 1.0. Typically, your results will lie between 0.8 and 0.85.
This number reflects the gas analyzer’s readings of oxygen uptake and carbon dioxide output. Specifically, the ratio of carbon dioxide to oxygen provides this decimal.
If all of your energy were being derived purely from carbohydrates, your respiratory quotient would be equal to 1.0. For every glucose molecule that is harvested for energy, 6 oxygen molecules are required to produce 6 carbon dioxide molecules (a ratio of this 1-to-1 equivalency creates a fraction of 1.0).
However, if all of your energy was being derived from fat, your respiratory quotient would be closer to 0.7. For example, metabolism of the fatty acid, palmitic acid, produces 16 units of carbon dioxide for every 23 units of oxygen, creating a ratio of 0.696.
Pure protein metabolism produces a respiratory quotient of around 0.81. However, your body does not store appreciable amounts of protein for use as an energy source. Protein turnover occurs at a fairly constant rate and would markedly change if protein was consumed before exercise and other readily available fuel sources were used first.
Your respiratory quotient can be used as a way to help understand your body composition and metabolic fuel source in order to adjust your body composition goals and direct your nutrition plan.
And these techniques can also be applied to studying your active metabolic behavior, too. Performing these tests during exercise can give you further insight into how your body adjusts its fuel sources during specific kinds of workouts (think sprinting, endurance events, weight lifting, etc.). This can further help direct your nutrition plan to optimize your fuel source for each particular type of training you are targeting.
Personalizing your training and nutrition plan around your body’s specific metabolic behavior can help optimize your performance. Some commonalities exist. For example, protein produces a higher diet-induced thermogenic response than carbohydrates and fats, and body composition (particularly fat-free mass) composes the majority of the variability in basal metabolic rate.
But variability in your respiratory quotient may provide further insight into your body composition and the composition of your body’s fuel sources. Actively applying these personal characteristics can help you clarify your goals and personalize your diet and training plan for peak results.
- Johnstone, A. M., Murison, S. D., Duncan, J. S., Rance, K. A., & Speakman, J. R. (2005). Factors influencing variation in basal metabolic rate include fat-free mass, fat mass, age, and circulating thyroxine but not sex, circulating leptin, or triiodothyronine, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 82(5), 941–948. https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/82.5.941.
Losing weight is not as easy as one may think it is and it may be even harder in the event that one is doing all the wrong steps and exercises which will simply lead t them having failed attempts at being lean. There are various reason as to why most people may end up working out or even going on a diet, but they may end up not loosening the weight that they wish to have lost within the period they had planned to lose it. Listed below are some reasons why.
1. You’re Not Doing Intervals
Taking long breaks in between a work to does not necessarily help one’s body become leaner. Instead, one is normally advice to take intervals which are basically short period of rest in between in order for them to increase their routine’s fat-burning potential. Hence instead of taking long breaks that tend to relax the body instead of just giving it a boost to get back to working out, one should just take a few seconds break as this will help them burn more calories and get their metabolism going.
2. You’re Downing Sports Drink
One needs to understand that most sports drinks are normally filed with sugar which when in excess may end up leading to one adding empty calories to their body. This may then be counterproductive to creating the calorie deficit that one needs for weight loss. One is normally advised to avoid sports drinks or just drink them moderately, or they may simply stick to simple water.
3. Loading On Protein Bars
One needs to understand that as much as protein bars normally look healthy, and they are healthy to some point, there is need for one to understand that they pack almost 500 calories and approximately 18g of fat which is a lot. So instead of having to grab a protein bar, one may easily be able to fuel their body with whole foods after a work out that will be able to deliver both muscle building protein and energy replenishing carbohydrates.
4. Snacking On Junk after Dinner
The matter of the fact is that it’s not the fact that what one eats at night will affect their weight but rather what one eats after dark that is the real issue. Most people after dinner may end up grabbing packet of cookies, chops or crackers which is not healthy. One may instead get cottage cheese, almonds, celery in the event that hunger pangs strike after dinner.
5. Not Eating Enough
One needs to understand that eating enough may seem like a very good idea in order for one to lose weight but it may end up backfiring on an individual instead. This may end up increasing ones cravings and harm their metabolism. One may instead eat two snacks after three hours of consuming big meals. If one is working out however, there is need for them to refuel within 30 minutes of the exercise.
6. Letting Stress Build Up
One needs to understand that stress eating has never been a healthy thing as it will definitely sabotage one’s weight loss efforts. One may try meditating, yoga, or hitting the gym to help in dealing with the stress.
The squat exercise has been called the king of strength training exercises for a very good reason as there is nothing else that is able to train the lower body musculature quite like a squat. When one is able to do this specific form of exercise well, then they are able to improve on their athletic performance as it helps them run faster, jumper further, jump higher and hit harder. As much as the squatting technique may seem to be incredibly simple, it may also be quite complex. In the event that one thing is off, it may then detract one from training and instead cause injury. Listed below are some few guidelines to help one improve on their squat
This goes without say that one needs to be able to train continuously the more one does it the better they become at it. Just by simply doing it once won’t be able t cut it as there is need for there to be a continuous routine so that the muscles are able to be in the right shape as time progresses. One is advised to aim for at least two workouts each week with squats included in them to improve one’s squatting.
One may easily be able to perform various variations of the squat as this will help in kick-starting one’s lower body strength. The various variations are able to target different muscles and parts of the muscle and change nervous system stimulation. Some fop the variations may include:
- Barbell front squat
- Rear foot elevated squats with dumbbells or barbell
- Barbell wide-stance back squats
- Pause squats
- Anderson squats
As the saying goes, practice makes perfect. Every single time that one is doing a warm up, they are advised to hot a few sets of body weight squats or/and PVC pipe back squats. This is because it will help in the reinforcing of the squatting motor pattern.
One is advised to focus on creating torque by using their feet. Drive the feet into the ground then try to rotate the feet to the outside of the body, but not too hard in the vent that they end up moving. This will help one stay tight which simply means that it will be easier for one to stay in a proper position throughout their movement.
One may easily brace their torso by simply taking a deep breathe just before they descend into a squatting position and push out on their abs all the way through the movement.
Don’t Ignore the Little Things
As much as a barbell squat may seem simple, there are a few little things to make it a perfect squat such as:
- Wrist position which should be straight and not bent back as this will help in keeping the upper body tight and save the wrists from any potential problems.
- Head position as one should not stair at the ceiling but instead they should remaining a neutral position, eyes looking straight ahead through the squat.
One needs to understand that squats aren’t only a lower body exercises as they also engage the core muscles of the torso a lot. By one simply learning to train their core muscles specifically, then this isn’t only be beneficial for squatting but also everything athletically.
Caffeine is one of the most widely used stimulant around the world but only a few know the advantages it may offer with regard to optimizing its intake in order for it to help with fat loss. Most people actually insist on avoiding caffeine saying that it is not healthy for the body. However, there are benefits that have been attached to caffeine intake and one is normally advised to follow the following steps in order or them to actually be able to get optimally wired to the benefits of caffeine and weight loss.
Consume in small, frequent amounts
One needs to understand that caffeine is able to cross the blood-barrier quickly due to its lipid solubility but it may end up taking up to 45 minutes to be fully ingested through the gastrointestinal tract. Under normal conditions, this remains normal for around an hour. The small doses of caffeine may end up helping one lose at least 3mg per kg of body weight (approximately 20mg per hour) as this may support extended wakefulness and may counteract homeostatic sleep in pressure which builds at a slow pace throughout the day which then helps in improving cognitive functions given that it acts ion the prefrontal cortex area of the brain.
Play to your cognitive strengths when wired
When one has been able to take caffeine, then they are able to work at a better speed rate, have a decrease in attention lapses and be better at recall. When one has been able to ingest caffeine, they may then take this time since all senses are heightened and the body is very much stimulated to work out and just give the very best output that their bodes may be able to give off. One may then be able to lose weight during this time frame due to the fact that they feel their sense have been stimulated, and they are able to work out even more.
Know when to stop and when to start again
One need to be careful as they may end up exerting themselves tool much and this may then end up leading to injury instead of helping in the weight loss program. Hence, one is normally advised to be very careful when it comes to knowing when they need to stop themselves lest they end up hurting their bodies just because the caffeine is still in the system. Be very careful not to over exert the body.
Find good sources of caffeine
One needs to find a healthy way in which they may include caffeine into their diet without having to overdo it. This is because healthy small does are okay but when one has a source that is providing more than enough caffeine in the body, this may lead to more harm than good as it may lead to addiction. One needs to understand that for them to get the optimal benefits of caffeine that it needs to be in small doses each hour along some with cardio protective agent. A cup of green tea may be a good start.
Checkout our Pre workout which contains 300mg of caffeine per 15g serving
It might not be a secret that adding protein to your diet is important for maximizing your strength-training efforts.
As when Ashton Eaton, 2x Decathlon Olympic gold medalist. recently responded to the benign question, “what is your diet?” on Quora concisely highlighting his first principle,
“Protein is king.”
But for those looking to maximizing their results, it pays to go deeper. There is a lot to learn about your protein intake, and diving into the research on protein dosing, source, and timing can lead to fruitful experimentation and better results.
One aspect of protein that might be less appreciated are the roles each individual amino acid play during muscle protein synthesis (MPS). One amino acid worth discussing in detail is leucine.
According to a recent critical review in The Journal of Nutrition about amino acid digestion and muscle protein anabolism, leucine seems to act as a trigger for amplifying protein synthesis.1 If you want to maximize your body’s ability to rebuild muscle after exercise, you’ll need to hit your leucine threshold to trigger mTORC1-activated MPS. Here’s how.
Your Body’s Needs for Building Proteins
To build muscle, your body needs to replace and grow new cells. Growing new cells requires the production (synthesis) of new proteins to do the work of replication and energy production. And taking a relatively simplified view, this process has two essential requirements:
- Enough energy to undergo and complete the process of synthesizing new proteins, and
- A high enough concentration of the amino acid “building blocks” of the proteins you’re going to synthesize.
The body is constantly experiencing “protein turnover.” This simply means that new proteins are being produced while old proteins are being broken down.
Comparing the rates of these two processes sheds lights on whether muscle tissue is growing (if synthesis is greater than breakdown), or muscle tissue is shrinking (breakdown is greater than synthesis).
The act of exercising, and in particular weight training, stimulates MPS regardless of your protein intake. During high intensity resistance training, your body largely shuts down the process of MPS in order to increase blood flow and supply muscles with the energy they need to perform the task at hand.
During this time, as blood flow increases, amino acid flux increases. This means, as you use your muscles for extended periods of time, your body harvests protein from existing muscle tissue. The concentration of available amino acids in your blood stream increases.
In the period just after resistance training (0 – 1 hour), muscle tissue becomes more sensitive to nutrition and gradually shifts from net negative protein turnover to net positive; i.e., MPS increases.
This happens during exercise even in a fasted state. So why eat protein?
Protein extends MPS post-exercise. Adding protein, especially the essential amino acids not available through protein turnover and required from your diet, increases the duration of MPS and helps provide the body with the ingredients it needs to continue building muscle tissue for longer.
The Leucine Trigger
Leucine, in particular, acts as a strong trigger for protein synthesis.
mTORC1 (mechanistic target of rapamycin complex (1) is a protein complex with a role in controlling protein synthesis. Leucine plays a role in activating mTORC1 signaling. Thus, leucine helps directly trigger a key mechanism in the MPS pathway.
Eating protein that includes leucine can trigger MPS even in the absence of exercise. However, the effects are relatively transient when compared to post-exercise MPS.
Adding leucine to post-exercise protein increases MPS in a dose-dependent manner. That means, increasing leucine content increases mTORC1 signaling and thus increases MPS activation.
This occurs when protein consumption is relatively low. When total protein intake is low, the amount of leucine plays an outsized role in stimulating MPS compared to other amino acids. When protein intake is high, it becomes more like a trigger with a maximum threshold. This means, even if protein intake is high but leucine is low, your body won’t be maximizing MPS. Only when the leucine threshold is reached will your body fully stimulate mTORC1 signaling and maximize MPS.
Meet the Leucine Threshold for Maximum Results
I mentioned earlier that energy was required to build new proteins. This is true up to a point. But once you have enough energy, it was shown that adding additional energy to your diet does not increase post-exercise protein synthesis.(2)
This same concept has similarities to protein synthesis, as well.
Say you set out to build your dream home. You’ve got your blueprints ready. Now you just need some materials to start. Wood. Nails. Screws.
You start building. You will make progress as long as you continue to supply enough materials. The walls will get higher, and the home will take shape.
That is, until you run out of wood or nails.
Similarly, you need to have the basic building blocks in your diet in order to build proteins and grow muscle tissue.
If you have plenty of wood, but your nails run out, you similarly won’t make it to a complete home.
Likewise, if you have plenty of some amino acids, but not enough of some others, you won’t maximize your ability to synthesize new proteins. You need quality protein that has plenty of all required essential amino acids.
So just like in our home-building analogy, your home will get closer to reality as the amount of all of your required building materials increase together.
Until, of course, your home is complete.
When you’re finished, you’re finished. Extra wood and extra nails won’t help anymore.
Here, too, the similarities continue with your protein intake. MPS continues to increase by adding more leucine to your diet as long as it comes along with a balanced, quality protein of all essential amino acids. But once a threshold is reached, it won’t continue to provide additional MPS benefits forever.
This critical review states that the leucine threshold for maximum MPS is roughly 1.8 – 2.0 grams.
MPS continues to increase in a dose-dependent manner upon increasing leucine until this threshold. Consuming more has not shown to provide further gains.(3) In the words of the study’s authors, activation of mTORC1 through leucine appears to act more like an “on/off switch” as opposed to a “dimmer switch.” However, if protein quality is low, leucine supplementation can amplify mTORC1 activation.
Optimization Through Personalization
In addition to other interesting information on protein dosing and timing that is worth reading in this review, one final interesting note pertains to the individualized way in which we respond to protein intake and MPS.
Their review highlights a large variability in individual response to protein and amino acid quality on lean mass growth and fat free mass growth. Some individuals respond extremely well to adding protein to their diet for stimulating MPS, while others appear to be “non-responders.”
Another interesting area of ongoing research is the desensitization of your muscle tissue to amino acid flux over time. For those all-too-familiar with plateaus and stalled progress, understanding your body’s response to repeated exercises may help direct your future workout plans.
For those looking to maximize muscle growth, its important to measure your progress. As the old saying goes, “you can’t improve what you don’t measure.” So track your growth, track your strength, track your protein intake, and analyze your findings to optimize your plan to meet your goals.
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- Reidy, P. T., & Rasmussen, B. B. (2016). Role of Ingested Amino Acids and Protein in the Promotion of Resistance Exercise–Induced Muscle Protein Anabolism. The Journal of Nutrition, 146(2), 155–183. http://doi.org/10.3945/jn.114.203208.
- Glynn, E. L., Fry, C. S., Timmerman, K. L., Drummond, M. J., Volpi, E., & Rasmussen, B. B. (2013). Addition of Carbohydrate or Alanine to an Essential Amino Acid Mixture Does Not Enhance Human Skeletal Muscle Protein Anabolism. The Journal of Nutrition, 143(3), 307–314. http://doi.org/10.3945/jn.112.168203.
- Glynn, E. L., Fry, C. S., Drummond, M. J., Timmerman, K. L., Dhanani, S., Volpi, E., & Rasmussen, B. B. (2010). Excess Leucine Intake Enhances Muscle Anabolic Signaling but Not Net Protein Anabolism in Young Men and Women. The Journal of Nutrition, 140(11), 1970–1976. http://doi.org/10.3945/jn.110.127647.
When it comes to losing weight and getting a six-pack, not all types of cardio are created equal.
For example, doing low-intensity steady state cardio (such as jogging) can be great because it allows you to improve your lung capacity, burn some calories and get a euphoric feeling afterward (thanks to endorphins flooding your body). However, do too much of it and you can overtrain yourself and potentially even get an injury.
On the other hand, high-intensity cardio (such as sprinting) can also be great because you’ll burn tons of calories in a short amount of time, improve your speed and become more athletic. However, the risk of injury there is high, especially for beginners. Also, do too many sprints and some of the same issue as with the low-intensity cardio may arise.
Let’s get into both types of cardio and determine which one is best for weight loss.
First off, does cardio get in the way of muscle growth?
There is a common fear among the lifting community that doing cardio will either:
- Make you lose your muscle mass;Or..
- Make gaining more muscle mass hard or impossible to achieve;
There is some ground to these fears, but the context matters a lot.
Sure, if someone tries to run a 5k or 10k and reach a 300-pound squat at the same time, chances are, they won’t achieve either goal.
Specificity and the interference effect.
Specificity refers to your goal of improving something by practicing it more often. For example, if you want to become a great marathon runner, you need to run more. If you want to squat, bench and deadlift a lot of weight, you guessed it: train these 3 lifts more often.
If you try to improve too much at once, you’ll be mediocre at everything and never reach any goals you set.
The interference effect has more to do with the direct physiological impact cardio can have on your body’s ability to recover and build muscle. If you reach a point where you can’t properly recover because you’re doing too much cardio, you compromise your muscle-building efforts.
If you feel sore and fatigue from cardio by the time your next deadlift or squat session arrives, your performance will suffer and you won’t have very productive workouts.
But if you include cardio in in moderate doses and plan it around your weightlifting in a way that it doesn’t compromise your performance, not only will it not hinder your muscle growth, but it can also enhance it over time.
Is HIIT cardio better than steady state
There has been a fierce debate among people on whether HIIT cardio is better than steady state cardio. One side swears by sprints, the other one considers jogging and low-intensity cycling to be the holy grail of weight loss.
However, things aren’t so black and white and both types of cardio have their merit and can be effective, as long as you do them intelligently and within reason.
Let’s compare the two types and see the pros and cons of each:
Low-Intensity Steady State Cardio Pros:
1)When done in moderation, it is better for beginners as it carries a much smaller risk of injury.
2)It can burn a lot of calories if you do 20-60 minutes per session.
3)It improves your lung capacity which has a direct carryover to lifting weights and your daily life.
4)Low-intensity cycling hasn’t been shown to directly interfere with your strength.
Low-Intensity Steady State Cardio Cons:
1)You can burn yourself out if you overdo it.
2)You need to do at least 20 minutes to burn a noticeable amount of calories.
3)Jogging has been shown to impact lower body strength so it’s a good idea to plan it at least 48 hours before doing squats or deadlifts.
4)It can become boring and tiresome to do.
High-Intensity Interval Training Pros:
1)It’s a fun and challenging way to push yourself.
2)You can burn a good amount of calories in a short period of time.
3)It improves your speed, explosiveness, and overall athleticism.
4)It provides an afterburn effect for up to 24 hours after the session.
High-Intensity Interval Training Cons:
1)It carries a bigger risk of injury, especially for beginners.
2)It can impact your strength and performance on upcoming strength training sessions.
3)It’s more mentally challenging and doing it too often can lead to burnout.
As you can see, both types of cardio have their pros and cons and both can be the better option, depending on the context.
Is fasted cardio better than fed cardio
Before we delve into this, let’s first define the terms:
Fasted cardio is done on an empty stomach, but it goes a bit deeper than that and has to do with your body’s ability to process and absorb the food you eat.
You see, when you eat food, it gets broken down into various molecules that your body can use. The hormone Insulin is released and its job is to shuttle these nutrients into the cells. Depending on how big the meal is, your insulin levels can spike a lot and stay elevated for 6+ hours.
During the period when your body is digesting the food you’ve eaten, you are in a fed state (also known as a postprandial state). Once your body finishes digesting and absorbing the proteins, fats, and carbs you’ve eaten, your insulin levels drop to baseline and you enter a fasted state. Depending on your meal frequency, your body can move between a fasted and fed state multiple times within a day.
Also, having an empty stomach doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re in a fasted state. Your body may still be absorbing the nutrients from your last meal.
So, let’s recap:
- Exercise that is done when your insulin levels are at baseline is “fasted cardio”.
- Exercise that is done when your insulin levels are elevated and your body is processing the food from the last meal is “fed cardio”.
Now, there is a common myth that fasted cardio is superior to fed cardio for weight loss and there are two common arguments for that:
- Since insulin has been shown to suppress lipolysis (the breakdown of fat), it makes logical sense to do cardio in a fasted state when insulin levels are low. Theoretically, this would result in more fat being burned during the cardio session.
- In the morning, our glycogen (a form of energy that we store in our muscles and liver that the body can readily use for physical activity) levels are low and this should theoretically make the body more likely to go for fat mobilization to get the needed energy for the cardio.
These arguments make sense and from a first glance, it would seem that fasted cardio is superior to fed cardio for weight loss.
So where does this idea go wrong?
The prevailing argument against the superiority of fasted cardio is this:
Just because you burn more fat within each individual cardio session, doesn’t mean that you’ll burn more overall fat. There is a good bit of research out there that supports this argument.
For example, one study split 20 young women into two groups: one group doing fasted cardio and the other one doing fed cardio. Both groups were put on a 500 calorie deficit diet for 4 weeks.
The subjects completed either 1 hour of fed cardio, 3 times per week or 1 hour of fasted cardio, 3 times per week.
After 4 weeks, both groups had lost a significant amount of fat, but there were no noticeable changes between them.
This study suggests that as long as there is an established caloric deficit, doing either fasted or fed cardio won’t make much of a difference in the grand scheme of things.
You can check the full study for yourself.
The downsides to this study obviously are:
- The sample size is small. Only 20 women are participating.
- The study is a relatively short-term (only 4 weeks) one. If the researchers carried out the study for a longer period of time, maybe they would have seen one group starting to outperform the other, but we can’t know that.
From the research we have so far, we can conclude that there is no evidence that suggests one type of cardio being better than the other. More studies with larger groups of people and a longer duration should be made in the future to further prove or disprove the current consensus.
So, to recap:
- There doesn’t seem to be any special benefit to doing fasted over fed cardio if your goal is weight loss. Being in a caloric deficit is going to be the main driver of weight loss over time.
- Everyone should do cardio as it best suits them. Some prefer fasted cardio in the morning to start off the day happy and energized. Others prefer to do it in the evening, after having a few meals in.
Practical recommendations for cardio
With all of this said, let’s go over a few recommendations on how to do cardio for weight loss safely and sustainably.
Recommendation #1: Do cardio 3-4 times per week
Three to four cardio sessions per week is the sweet spot for most people. It allows some flexibility in your schedule, it doesn’t put too much stress on your body that you can’t recover well, it’s sustainable because it doesn’t take much willpower to follow through and it’s a nice change from a regular lifting routine.
Here’s an example:
Monday: 20 minutes of interval running
Wednesday: 30 minutes of stationary bike cycling
Friday: 30 minutes of jogging
Saturday: 20 minutes of cardio (bike ride outside)
Recommendation #2: Don’t go over 30-40 minutes per session, at first
As with everything else, you should ease into the process. If you’re just starting out with cardio, allow your body some time to get used to the stress before ramping up the numbers. Start off slow and build the habit of doing cardio consistently.
After a few weeks, start increasing gradually as you see fit.
But don’t go over 30-40 minutes per session in the first weeks.
Recommendation #3: Combine both low intensity and high-intensity cardio
As you already know, both high and low-intensity cardio is great for weight loss and health. Combining both types is great because it allows you to mix things up and keep things interesting. Here’s an example:
Monday: 10 sprints (HIIT)
Wednesday: 30-minute bike ride
Friday: 10 x 30-second running intervals at 70-80% intensity
With the above example, you’re combining very high intensity (sprints), low intensity (bike ride) and moderate intensity (interval running) types of cardio within each week. This is fun, engaging and each cardio session is different.
Recommendation #4: Do cardio on days where you don’t lift weights if your schedule allows
As we already discussed above, depending on the amount and intensity of the cardio you do, you can see some negative effects on your strength. For that reason, you should try and do cardio on days when you don’t lift weights. That way, you can keep the momentum going, develop a great habit of exercising daily and stay motivated.
Here’s a schedule:
Monday: Strength training
Tuesday: Low-intensity cardio
Wednesday: Strength training
Thursday: Interval running
Friday: Strength training
Alternatively, if you can’t make time for exercise every day, you can do cardio and strength on the same day, try to spread them at least 6 hours apart:
Monday: Low-intensity cardio (morning); Strength training (evening)
Wednesday: Interval running (morning); Strength training (evening)
Friday: Low intensity cardio/sprints (morning); Strength training (evening)