If you are serious about getting results in the gym, you continuously need to expand your horizon and find effective and proven supplements. ZMA is one of these products.
When it comes to fitness supplementation, there are lots of products that most often pop to mind. You’ve got protein powders that help you consume more protein easily. You’ve got creatine, which enhances your muscle-building efforts in a safe way. You’ve got pre-workout supplements that enhance your performance.
There are many other examples, but you get the point.
Now, ZMA is a lesser-known supplement, but it is steadily gaining popularity, and for a good reason:
But what is ZMA? This is a combination of Zinc monomethionine aspartate, Magnesium Aspartate, and Vitamin B6. All three ingredients are crucial for many biological processes and statistics show that most people don’t cover the required intake with their normal diets.
The adequate intake of the essential vitamins and minerals is crucial for optimal performance, better results in the gym and better overall health. ZMA is the best way to supplement with zinc, magnesium and vitamin B6.
Zinc is an essential mineral that has been shown to increase testosterone levels in people who have a zinc deficiency. Furthermore, zinc is a crucial player for proper enzyme and immune system function and hormonal production.
In high enough doses, Zinc can act as an aromatase inhibitor and reduce estrogen levels in men. Aside from that, this mineral is a potent antioxidant and has been shown to help with prostate issues.
Zinc is lost through sweat which is yet another important reason to supplement with it if you’re interested in improving your gym results.
Magnesium deficiency is the second most common one, next to vitamin D. This often leads to high blood pressure and reduces glucose tolerance.
Optimal levels of magnesium have been shown to help with depression and ADHD.
Lastly, vitamin B6 has been shown to help with proper brain development and function. Research suggests that vitamin B6 deficiency can interfere with memory and contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia later in life.
Vitamin B6 also plays an important role in the making of important hormones such as serotonin and norepinephrine. Both of these hormones are important for mood, energy, and concentration. Serotonin, specifically, can drastically improve your mood and ward against problems such as depression, brain fog, and anxiety.
Vitamin B6 has also been shown to have a positive impact on eyesight. Research suggests that taking vitamin B6 can prevent eye disorders as we age.
Now, ZMA is not classified as a testosterone booster, but research has suggested that it can help athletes and lifters improve and maintain their testosterone, even during periods of strenuous physical activity.
Additionally, ZMA supplementation has been shown to increase strength gains and muscle mass, as well as help trainees achieve better sleep.
Some research also suggests that supplementing with zinc and magnesium decreases cortisol levels (a catabolic hormone). Triathletes who took magnesium for four weeks after a triathlon maintained healthy cortisol levels compared to a placebo group.
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.
It is important to get enough protein in your diet for whatever reason, be it to gain muscle, lose weight or for healthier nails and skin. However, an adequate amount for you could be adding a few more eggs to your diet while to someone else it could be protein shakes and steak. The advisable guideline when it comes to protein consumption is that your intake should be sufficient for your maintenance but increasing your intake is always better. Muscles take up a larger protein load, but organ function, hormones, hair, and healthy skin all require protein intake.
A higher protein intake helps you with your endeavors whether you want to work towards athletic goals, maintain weight loss, or lose weight. As opposed to taking a specific amount of protein, a range of 0.57-0.76 grams for every pound of your body weight is recommended. This means you will be eating twice the amount of protein and this will take some getting used to. If you do not have an existing kidney problem, then a high-protein diet will do you justice but a heads up, it might be slightly more expensive.
Post-Workout Protein Consumption
Protein is essential for recovery from a strenuous workout while helping to maximize performance. The best time to consume protein would be following a workout because at this point the amino acids constituting protein are used to repair any damaged muscle tissue.
The puzzle surrounding what you should eat after a workout is most about how much you should consume specifically protein since it should be a priority after any workout. However, there are still questions regarding how much protein you should consume post-workout in order to boost muscle repair and muscle hypertrophy or growth.
The amount of protein you should consume after your workout session is dependent on your daily protein intake. Once you have locked down your daily protein consumption, then you will be able to narrow down on distinct factors such as eating the right amount following exercise. Recent studies indicate that 20-25 grams of protein i.e. four eggs, a 3-ounce chicken breast, or a can of tuna eaten in a meal at a specific time following your training session is enough to restart muscle repair or muscle growth in your body. This seems like a reasonable amount of protein for an average person but recent research suggests that an even better amount of protein to consume after your workout would be 40 grams. Subjects in this study performed full-body workouts (strength training). This indicates that if lots of muscle groups are used during the training session for example during exercises such as deadlifts or squats, then you would do yourself justice to eat 25 grams of protein and high-quality protein at least. It is important to get an adequate amount of high-quality protein increasing your protein consumption from 25 to 40 grams after your workout might be beneficial. The worst case would consumption of excess protein and this could disrupt any strict diet.
The General Guidelines
Your Daily Protein consumption is connected to the amount of protein required following a workout session. The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology suggests that women need to consume roughly 0.8 grams of protein daily in relation to each kilogram of body weight. This equates to 0.36 grams of protein for each pound of body weight. However, a slightly higher intake can enhance any adaptations your body needs to make for intense training sessions. 0.6 – 0.91 grams of protein/ pound or 1.4 – 2 grams/ kg could be more suitable for both women and men. Dividing your daily protein between all meals is wise even if your intake is higher.
Determining Factors for Your Protein Consumption Post-Workout
Your diet and your training will also determine the amount of protein you require after your workout. Women taking on strength training workouts will need a higher protein intake post-workout compared to those taking on endurance training. If you are eating fewer calories than normal or dieting for weight loss, then you will need to increase your dietary protein intake to help you conserve your lean body mass.
More Exercise = Higher Protein Intake
If you are exercising consistently, then you need to increase your protein intake. If you want to get stronger, then your muscle growth and repair rate should outpace muscle breakdown. You need to eat food, more specifically protein, for this to happen. The type of training you undertake requires you to switch up the recommended amount of protein to take.
Weightlifting calls for 0.63-0.82 grams per pound of your body weight.
Endurance sports such as cycling or running calls for 0.54-0.63 grams per pound of your body weight.
Eating More Protein Helps with Weight Loss
The irony of things is that you will need to eat more protein to lose weight compared to if you were aiming for muscle building. Weight loss requires muscle tissue breakdown at a faster rate than it is being created so that the muscles benefit from having more protein.
– If you are undertaking any light activity or you are sedentary, you will want to aim for a range of 0.45-0.68 grams per pound of body weight.
– If you are very active, you should aim for a range of 0.6- 1.2 grams of protein per pound of body weight, particularly if you want to maintain muscle. If you have less body fat, then you will benefit from the higher end of that range. Your protein intake would be based on lean mass (muscle: body fat ratio)
One of the main benefits of consuming more protein when you are aiming for weight loss is that high-protein foods help you feel fuller and more satisfied in comparison to fats and carbs not to mention they help to curb your appetite. Calories matter most at the end of it all so when you are satisfied and full you will not need to look for extra calories. If you also want to have an athletic physique, you will see the best results by combining a weightlifting training regimen with an increased protein intake. The power used to lift weighs signals to your muscles to remain instead of having to eat a high-protein diet alone.
You Need Less Protein Than You Think if You Are Looking to Build More Muscle
Generally, eating 0.36-0.54 grams per pound of body weight while following a good weight lifting plan and eating sufficient calories to gain or maintain is adequate for building muscle. Most lifters will not get any extra muscle building advantages from eating more than 0.8 grams. The number can reduce as gain experience and require a lower protein intake seeing as you are not new to this and your body is not breaking down a lot of protein as you train. The bottom line is you can eat more protein if you would like but past a specific point, eating any more protein will not help with faster muscle building because the additional amount will be simply calories.
Making Your Protein Intake Work In Your Favor
There aren’t any clear-cut protein recommendations but a simple guideline suggestion would be to go with 1 gram of lean body weight and then modifying it according to your needs. If you are unaware of your percentage body weight then you could use your goal weight. If for example, you weigh 150 pounds currently and you are looking to get to 125 pounds, then you can go for 125 grams of protein.
Calculating Your Post-Workout Protein Intake
In order to put together your individual protein needs post-workout, you will have to multiply your weight (pounds) by 0.8 if you are a strength trainer or multiply it by 0.6 if you are an endurance trainer. The number you get will be your cumulative daily protein intake. You will then divide the number you get by the total number of meals you take daily. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, then you would need 120 grams if you were strength training and 90 grams of daily protein if you were endurance training. If you take 5 meals daily then this would equate to 24 grams of protein following a strength training session and 18 grams of protein in your meal after an endurance workout session.
Post-Workout Protein Meal Suggestions
Some good examples of post-workout snacks and meals that are packed with protein include:
– A whole-wheat bagel with low-fat cream cheeses and smoked salmon
– Vegetable and noodle stir-fry with tofu or chicken
– Flaked almonds with raspberries and cottage cheese
– A blended protein shake with banana and milk
– A blended shake with a frozen banana with almond butter, low-fat plain yogurt, low-fat milk
– Pesto, a medium sized sweet potato, and sirloin steak
– Baby kale, brown rice, and chicken breast
– Chopped pineapple, hemp seeds, and cottage cheese
– Cherry tomatoes, baby spinach, canned navy beans, and albacore tuna
– Broccoli, quinoa, and salmon fillet
– Blueberries, whey protein, and Greek yogurt
And if you’re interested in supplements that can help you along the way, we’ve got you covered. We recommend starting with the following muscle-building essentials:
If your interested in learning more about the how-to’s of building muscle, check out our free articles:
Whey Protein for Weight Loss – Can it help with your weight loss goals?
Thousands of people struggle with shedding weight or more basically as much as Bodybuilding is involved, losing weight on a daily basis, and you could be among those that happen to be questioning if there is genuinely a positive relationship between whey protein as well as the body weight. Current research into the advantages of whey protein signifies that it may indeed prove to be beneficial as a weight loss and thus primarily as a fat burning aid. Among other issues, whey protein was shown to sustain satiety, enhance insulin sensitivity, together with improving your muscle mass.
When considering whey protein powders, it is necessary to consult your doctor to see if you need it. Nevertheless, it is regarded as one of the best choices. This whey protein is a form of protein that is incredibly easy and most proficiently absorbed. This health supplement is simple to assimilate. It assists in improving hormone levels that enables our body system in transforming proteins into branched amino acids. This permits our body to regenerate and restore tissues easily.
Whey protein is essentially a simple and easy substitute for whole foods that can be employed to supplement the diet. It is derived as a by-product in the course of the cheese making process. Milk is
divided into solids and liquids – the leftover liquid is the whey. It is then refined to produce a powder, and the derived whey protein is regarded as a complete protein, having all nine vital amino acids and with minimal lactose content.
Concerning protein supplements, whey protein would make a good choice that is effortlessly absorbed and packed with all the vital amino acids. They may make a balanced component of a weight-loss plan. However, whey protein alone will not magically burn up those unwanted extra pounds. To derive maximum benefit from a diet plan that includes whey protein, One will have to manage the overall calorie consumption and add resistance training to your working out program.
In the world today whey protein supplements happen to be categorized as sports supplements, and throughout the last couple of years, whey protein appeared to be receiving a great deal of positive push regarding how it can strengthen the immune system and assist in weight loss. The body weight is regulated by your calorie consumption, not protein. When you consume a calorific deficit diet for a limited duration, you will lose weight considering that you will be utilizing more energy compared to what you are consuming. Although, starving yourself decelerates your metabolism, leaves you feeling exhausted and lousy and also sets off a trigger for your body system to go into starvation state and hold on to much of your long-term energy stores (fat) as they possibly can.
Whey provides numerous health benefits to those interested in shedding fat, building muscle, as well as maintaining a healthy and balanced lifestyle. The basic downside to whey protein is if you are allergic to dairy products. Most people who are allergic to milk are allergic to one or both of the proteins, casein or whey. If perhaps you are allergic to milk, you can take the chance of trying to test a small amount of whey to examine if you’re allergic to it. Take advantage of whey protein in your diet plan because it is essential that the diet we have should conform to our overall goals. Those desiring to improve their muscles would like to add in sufficient carbohydrates in their diet plan that’ll enable them to gain more energy. If you are on weight loss diet then do not add in carbohydrates and calories, simply utilize protein supplements.
In case you need to take whey protein as you undergo your workout routine or program, below are some tips on how to efficiently use it:
Taking whey protein before your workout will give the body the required strength it requires for your workout routine and also give the body the needed amount of protein.
Whey protein is not only meant to be taken before your workout it can be taken after workouts, because it supplies the body with energy which is needed. After workouts, the body at that time is ready to digest and utilize protein more quickly, repairing and replacing muscle tissue.
Whey protein can also help you control hunger, as reported by a 2014 research described in the European Record of Clinical Nutrition, which can ensure it is less stressful for you to stick with your diet plan. This 12-week-long study analyzed the results of whey protein versus casein, likewise a milk protein, and a carbohydrate health supplement on hunger levels in several overweight persons and obese players, and thus discovered that the whey protein performed much better at holding away the desire to eat compared to the other two supplements.
Let us consider optimizing muscle growth as an essential factor in assessing the connection between whey protein and weight loss. Professionals have in time discovered that the makeup of your diet right before an exercise ascertains what your body burns as fuel in the course of the training itself. A current study carried out in France showed taking a whey protein prior to the time of exercise enables you to get rid of fat principally as fuel in the course of training. The study furthermore revealed that people who consume glucose-rich meals before exercises burn sugar as fuel, however, those who take in whole milk burn both protein and fat. Given these outcomes suggest that whey protein is incredibly suitable for fat-burning.
If these weight loss added benefits still do not entice you of the importance of this most efficient health supplement, then possibly its other abilities will probably. Research reveals that besides helping you shed extra pounds, it can also help minimize stress levels, control cortisol levels, as well as improve healthy amounts of serotonin, hence making you feel much better overall.
Furthermore, whey protein is also proven to enhance your immune performance or assist in the fight against cancer. Having all these health benefits in mind, as well as considering the positive connection between whey protein and weight loss, there is indeed absolutely no reason for you to continue questioning the significance of this nutrient in the management of your health and well-being.
Now that we all know the significant benefits that whey protein provides us with, which does not give us the “go” to make it our daily meal. For this article, we have brought out some ways in which one can reasonably tap into the remarkable weight loss benefits of this protein.
Whey Protein and Exercise
Working out is an integral part of staying healthy and simply changing to whey protein alone isn’t sure to assist you to lose weight as well as maintaining it. Hence, we propose combining resistance training with whey protein for those seeking to lose weight.
Men should have one or two 30g scoops per protein shake. Ladies on a weight loss program ought to stick to one 30g scoop of whey protein. The fantastic thing about a whey protein for most people is that it is easier to take down after a challenging exercise than consuming the same level of protein in a whole food.
Supplement vs Meals
It isn’t wise to replace almost all your meals with whey protein in an attempt to shed those extra pounds. As an alternative, you should be considering whey protein as a simple and easy form of protein which you can use to supplement your entire food diet. It is advisable to continue taking whole foods, regardless of whether your goal is losing extra weight, to ensure a sufficient consumption of vitamins, minerals, and fiber in your diet. It’s furthermore crucial that you build healthy eating habits you can sustain when you finally achieve your goal. Therefore, in the course of a weight loss program, we suggest using health supplements just once per day. Sometimes twice daily is okay. Upon getting or attaining your weight quest, you could just take whey protein after an exercise to assist with repairing and maintaining muscle.
Whey protein, as well as any protein, could help you feel full for a long time compared to other types of food. Hence you’re more unlikely to snack. For many people, the afternoon is the perfect time to go snacking on high-sugar prepared snacks, and this is the appropriate time for whey protein to come in.
Lots of people are in a hurry at breakfast only to strive all day when they skip this fundamental meal. An excellent option is to whip up a breakfast smoothie which you can consume on the go. You can make a mixture using liquid, whey protein, some fats, and fruit or vegetables so it will be both nourishing and filling. This makes for a natural, dietary approach to fuel up.
In conclusion, taking whey protein can go a long way in reducing weight for those who in one way or the other is seeking a supplement that can make them shed those extra pounds. However, following the right process will hasten and make the process more effective, so don’t just sit and take whey protein but also work for your goal.
If you’re looking for an all-in-one supplement that will help you build more muscle, have more energy in the gym, and keep the muscle you’ve built while you’re trying to diet, you’d be hard pressed to find a better option than BCAA’s.
Sounds like hyperbole, I know, but hear me out.
Because while there are certainly a lot of supplements out there that get unjustly hyped up, BCAA’s aren’t one them.
Today we’ll be talking all about five benefits of BCAA’s you may not have considered.
Branched chain amino acids are exactly what they sound like- essential amino acids. They are, among other things, the fundamental compounds that act as the building blocks of muscle.
The essential part of the name implies that they’re amino acids that cannot be synthesized by the body, and must be consumed in the form of high protein foods.
All in all, there are nine essential amino acids. The three that make up the “branched chain” category are leucine, isoleucine, and valine.
What Does The Research Have To Say About BCAA’s?
So, given that getting enough of all nine essential amino acids is important for building muscle and supporting optimal health, why should we be paying attention to these three in particular?
Well, as it turns out, there are quite a few good reasons. A lot of research has been conducted on the benefits of taking them in supplement form- and the results are impressive.
Benefit #1: BCAA’s Drive Protein Synthesis and Help Build Muscle
Perhaps the greatest and most studied benefit, branched chain amino acids have been shown to be vital for muscle growth (it’s the combination of amino acids along with training that activates the mTORC1 pathway that controls protein synthesis).
Now, with that said, this isn’t to say that a supplement is “necessary” per se- all three of these amino acids are found in almost any halfway sensible diet.
However, it has been shown that taking them as a supplement and increasing the overall amount in the body is hugely beneficial for building muscle.
The difference between a BCAA supplement and say, a whey protein shake or a steak, is that the leucine, isoleucine and valine are not bound to other amino acids.
The result is rapid absorption into the bloodstream, and an immediate increase in plasma levels, making them that much more effective when it comes to protein synthesis (and ultimately, muscle growth).
Benefit #2: BCAA’s Prevent Muscle Loss
Not only will a good BCAA supplement help you build new muscle, it will also help you preserve your hard fought gains when you’re on a diet.
Calorie deficits are a necessary evil for cutting fat, but the problem is this- the leaner you get, the more likely your body is to burn through muscle in the absence of sufficient calories.
A BCAA supplement can help offset this, since a high availability not only increases protein synthesis but also prevents protein breakdown by making it less likely that the body will dig into muscle tissue for amino acids.
Benefit #3: BCAA’s Reduce Workout Fatigue
One of the major factors that will impact whether or not your workout results in muscle growth is intensity in the gym.
A side benefit of BCAA’s are their ability to help in this department. Not only can isoleucine and valine be converted directly to glucose during periods of glycogen depletion, but they also affect the brain as well.
One of the reasons that fatigue sets in during exercise is the uptake in tryptophan, which causes the brain to release serotonin.
When you ingest BCAA’s before and during training, valine essentially competes with tryptophan, resulting in an offset in fatigue (one study on the effects of BCAA’s found an 8-12% reduction in tryptophan uptake).
Benefit #4: BCAA’s Help Older Trainees Build Muscle
While BCAA’s will benefit almost all trainees, they’re particularly beneficial for older people looking to build muscle.
One of the downsides of aging is the gradual decline in muscle mass that most of us experience.
There are a number of reasons for this, but one of them involves the effect of hormones on protein metabolism. Luckily, BCAA’s, and in particular leucine, can help- studies have shown an excess of leucine through supplementation is likely beneficial in older people to overcome this resistance.
Benefit #5: BCAA’s Help With Muscle Soreness
A little muscle soreness is all part of the lifting game, and certainly ain’t gonna kill you.
But with that said, a high level of it is not only uncomfortable, but can prevent you from putting in the necessary volume in the gym to reach your goal.
Once again, a good dose of BCAA’s may be just what you need here, since these supplements seem to reduce delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS (i.e. the stiffness you experience in the hours and days after training).
One study, measuring soreness induced from squatting, found a significant reduction in DOMS at its peak (days two and three) when a BCAA supplement was used.
So, if you’re a fan of training at a high volume several times per week, consider adding BCAA’s to your repertoire.
The Bottom Line On BCAA’s
Hopefully you’ve figured out by now that BCAA’s aren’t just for meatheads trying to bulk up. They can be used by anyone, regardless of age, for a wide range of purposes.
And when it comes to choosing one of these supplements, we’ve got you covered. Amino Charge BCAA not only uses top quality amino acids, but we use the tried and tested 2:1:1 ratio- two parts leucine, one part isoleucine and one part valine- for maximum results.
For more information about how to use a BCAA supplement and get the most out of it, check out our free guide on the topic.
When it comes to health and fitness supplements, pre-workout is by far one of the most controversial.
On the one hand, you have the naysayers who believe (incorrectly) that pre-workout will wreck your nervous system and literally cause your heart to pop out of your chest.
On the other hand, you have gym bros everywhere who swear that it’s the second coming of Jesus, and if you’re not taking it before you lift, you’re doing it wrong.
The reality is somewhere in the middle. Pre-workout can be a fantastic supplement for some trainees- but you need to understand how it works.
How Pre-Workout Supplements Work
(And The Benefits Of Taking Them)
The best way to understand how pre-workout supplements work is to learn about the various ingredients that they use.
The following is a list, in no particular order, of common ingredients found in pre-workout supplement.
Ingredient #1: Caffeine
Let’s be clear here for a second – ANY pre-workout supplement worth its salt is going to have caffeine in it.
And for good reason. Not only is caffeine one of the most powerful, energy boosting stimulants there is, it’s also been shown to have NUMEROUS health benefits to go along with it.
For starters, caffeine has a strong thermogenic affect (i.e. it raises body heat and helps you get that extra little bit of calorie expenditure). It also raises your metabolic rate, which helps with fat mobilization (there’s a reason that it’s commonly included in fat burners).
It has also been shown to help with appetite control by blunting hunger.
But the real reason it’s added to pre-workout supplements is for its performance enhancing benefits. Numerous studies have shown that consuming caffeine prior to exercise leads to an increase in performance, from weight lifting to running.
Ingredient #2: Taurine
Taurine (despite its cool sounding name) is basically an amino acid. Your body can synthesize it, it’s abundant in human skeletal muscle, and its found in high protein foods such as beef and chicken.
The reason, however, that it’s added to pre-workout supplements is because of its energizing and muscle building properties.
You see, not only is taurine abundant in muscle, its also found in large quantities in the brain, and works on your inhibitory neurotransmitters. The result is an increase in your ability to focus (perfect for those hard reps at the end of a workout).
Taurine also directly affects your muscles and their ability to do work, since decreases in taurine levels are directly linked to decreases in strength. Not only that, taurine also increases muscle cell volume (i.e. makes you look more jacked).
Oh yeah, and it may also prevent muscle breakdown, making it an optimal supplement if you’re trying to cut fat.
In summary – taurine is seriously awesome stuff, and no pre-workout should be without it.
Ingredient #3: Beta Alanine
Another amino acid, beta alanine is often added to pre-workouts because of its performance enhancing benefits.
While beta-alanine (like taurine) is a nonessential amino acid that can be produced by the body, the real benefit comes from raising the total amount available within your body during your workout.
Beta-alanine works by combining with histidine to produce carnosine, a dipeptide that counteracts the effects of hydrogen ions that are released during exercise (these ions are what causes muscle acidity to raise and fatigue to set in).
Beta-alanine therefore increases performance and enhances endurance when taken before a workout. Specifically, research has shown that beta-alanine has the greatest effect within the 60-240 second mark of exercise, making it the perfect supplement for a wide variety of athletes.
Are There Any Downsides To Pre-Workout Supplements?
Despite all the benefits of pre-workout, there are some potential downsides to keep in mind.
Increased Blood Pressure
It’s no big secret that stimulants like caffeine cause an increase in blood pressure when taken.
Now, for your average trainee, this really isn’t a problem. Much like your morning cup of coffee, the caffeine in a pre-workout supplement is acute and only lasts a few hours.
With that said, it’s important to note that research has shown that the effect caffeine has on blood pressure is more dramatic in individuals who already have elevated blood pressure levels.
So, if you do happen to have issues with this (high blood pressure, heart condition, etc), you should probably forgo the pre-workout (or at the very least consult with your doctor).
This is especially true when you consider that most pre-workouts operate in conjunction with other stimulants.
The Pre-Workout “Jitters”
This one is undeniable – while some people love the kick that their pre-workout gives them, others just can’t stand the “jittery” feeling that they get.
This side effect, of course, is highly subjective, and falls into the “unpleasant” category rather than the “dangerous” category.
But nonetheless, be warned that taking these supplements may have this effect on you (this is particularly true if you’ve had bad experiences with stimulants in the past).
For most trainees who lift in the morning and afternoon, this usually isn’t an issue, but if you enjoy training at night, you might want to rethink your pre-workout (for obvious reasons, a cocktail of caffeine and taurine isn’t exactly the best thing to be slamming down before it’s time to hit the hay).
It also may be an issue if you’re consuming large amounts of caffeine during the day (usually in the form of endless cups of coffee and caffeinated beverages), leading to a large caffeine buildup that your body is unable to clear by the time you go to bed.
How To Choose A Quality Pre-Workout
So, if you’ve done the research and decided that you want to add pre-workout to your arsenal, how do you go about choosing a quality supplement?
While it may seem confusing with everything on the market, it really comes down to checking the ingredients.
A good quality pre-workout like our Pre-Workout+ won’t have any bullshit “proprietary blends” on the label- just a list of quality ingredients.
Not only does is it have effective doses of caffeine, taurine and beta-alanine, but it also contains 14 other scientifically backed ingredients to ramp your gym routine into high gear, give you the extra push you need, and help you achieve you workout goals.
When it comes to losing weight, fat burners are often considered the “holy grail” for getting shredded.
After all, the whole concept sounds pretty damn appealing doesn’t it?
Who ACTUALLY wants to go through the hassle (and pain) of diet and exercise when you can just pop a pill, am I right?
Well, if you’re under the impression that these things are the secret sauce that will help you finally get that six pack you’ve been dreaming of since you were fifteen, I’ve got some good news and bad news for you.
The GOOD NEWS is that, when used correctly, a quality supplement can help you lose weight, push through plateau’s, and make dieting easier.
The BAD NEWS is that it’s not a magic pill… far from it.
And you ARE still going to have to work for it.
So, with that said, today’s article is all about fat burners – what they are, how they work, when (and if) you should be taking them, and how to find one that ACTUALLY does what it’s suppose to.
How Do Fat Burners Work?
To understand how fat burners work, it’s important to understand the ingredients that are used to accelerate the weight loss process.
This is critical, because not only will you understand if taking one of these supplements is right for you, you’ll also be able to tell the difference between a quality product and a junk product.
So, let’s get right into it. The following is a list of ingredients that actually work, and that you should be looking for.
Caffeine is probably the most common ingredient you’ll find in most fat burning supplements.
And for good reason. Not only has caffeine been shown to have numerous health benefits (in moderation), it’s also been shown to amplify fat burning.
For starters, caffeine has the potential to raise your metabolic rate, as well as help with fat mobilization (interestingly enough, the effects of caffeine on metabolism show the greatest promise in individuals who are already on the lean side).
There’s also been research to suggest that caffeine may act as an appetite suppressant and blunt hunger. And since a big part of losing fat comes down to consuming less calories, anything that diminishes your hunger is a good thing.
Finally, caffeine has been shown to amplify the effects of other compounds commonly found in fat burners (including green tea extract).
Green Tea Extract
Another common ingredient, it turns out that green tea not only comes with health benefits, but it also helps you lose weight.
Green tea extract contains an ingredient called catechin, which has been shown to greatly improve fat loss. One Japanese study in particular found a statistically significant body fat decrease in subjects consuming tea that had a high catechin count.
Another study found that subjects who consumed green tea extract prior to performing cardiovascular exercise saw a 17% higher rate of fat oxidization than those who took a placebo.
Bottom line- green tea extract is powerful stuff, and no good fat burner is complete without it.
L-carnitine is a naturally occurring, nonessential amino acid. When taken in supplement form, it has been shown to reduce post-exercise muscle soreness and improve recovery.
It’s also necessary for fat loss. L-carnitine assists in shuttling fat into the cells where it can be used for fuel and burned off. It’s therefore necessary to ensure that your body has enough of this amino acid available, making it a logical choice for a good fat burning supplement.
Common Misconceptions About Fat Burners
Now that we’ve covered how fat burners work and some of the ingredients, let’s talk about the common misconceptions surrounding these supplements.
And make no mistake, with any product that gets as much hype as these do, there are going to be a lot of misconceptions surrounding them.
And unfortunately, this is going to involve debunking a lot of the more spectacular claims being made.
But with that said, we’ll also be covering some of the hate that fat burners get as well, and explain why, when done right, they can be a powerful tool in your arsenal.
Misconception #1: Fat Burners Are A “Magic Pill” For Weight Loss
This is by far the biggest misconception.
Here’s the deal – we live in a “magic pill” culture. We’re constantly looking for shortcuts and ways around doing the hard work.
It’s why “get rich quick” pyramid schemes still exist.
It’s why men will spend thousands of dollars on bullshit “male performance enhancers” from dubious vendors.
And at the end of the day, dieting and losing weight is no exception. When it comes right down to it, many people have been led to believe that fat burners are LITERALLY the magic pill that will allow them “lose fat effortlessly”.
So, we’ll expand on why exactly this is misleading, but in the meantime, here’s a quick summary and public service announcement-
Yes, fat burners can certainly help you lose weight.
Yes, fat burners should be added to your routine if dropping fat is a priority.
No, fat burners WILL NOT do all the work for you. You actually have to put some effort in.
Misconception #2: Fat Burners = No Diet Or Exercise
Here’s the truth- losing weight is HARD. It requires the willpower to stick with a diet and workout plan, and the discipline to see it through to the end.
Here’s why – fat loss, when it comes right down to it, is really a matter of calories and energy expenditure, or – as you’ve likely heard 1000 times – calories in, calories out.
Which means that, if you want to lose weight, you’re going to have to eat less and move more… which means you’re going to adopt a sensible, calorie restricted diet and workout plan.
At the end of the day, these two things are going to do 80% of the heavy lifting when it comes to getting shredded.
So, if you haven’t already started, now’s the time to start chipping away at it- get on an intelligent workout plan, start adopting a smart, flexible diet you can stick with, and make it happen.
Misconception #3: Fat Burners Are A Complete Waste Of Money
Not only are these some of the most hyped supplements in the fitness industry, they’re also some of the most polarizing.
Because for every misguided dieter who thinks that fat burners are the second coming of Jesus and the answer to their weight-loss prayers, you’ll find nay-sayers who think that buying these products is a complete waste of money.
Like most things, the reality is somewhere in between. Because despite what many will tell you, these supplements do help with fat loss.
A high quality supplement that uses scientifically-proven ingredients like caffeine and green tea extract- combined with diet and exercise– will help you lose more fat faster.
You just have understand how to use them properly.
Who Should Be Using Fat Burners?
Before we get into the how-to’s and tips for making the most out of your fat burning supplement, let’s talk about who exactly should be using them- and who shouldn’t.
First things first- if you’re a complete beginner, 300 pounds, obese, and have never touched a weight in your life, you shouldn’t even be thinking about fat burners. You should a.) be figuring out how to eat less food, and b.) slowly start easing yourself into a workout routine.
Similarly, if you’re someone who hasn’t paid attention to diet AT ALL, you should get that in check first (whether you’re obese or not). Start balancing your macros, getting enough protein, and counting your calories.
By simply doing this, you’ll buy yourself a good 6 months of uninterrupted fat loss.
You also may want to consult with your doctor before taking them if you’re sensitive to stimulants, since most will likely use caffeine as one of the main ingredients.
So, who should be using fat burners? If you’ve got everything else handled – diet, exercise, cardio, all that good stuff – then you should think about adding one of these bad boys to your repertoire.
You’re also a candidate if you’ve been dieting and exercising for a while now, and you’ve had some success, but feel like you’re stuck or stalling out. While there certainly are diet and exercise tweaks you should probably consider, taking a supplement may be just what you need to get the scale moving again.
Finally, if you’re already quite lean, and you need to get that last 10 pounds off, you should definitely be supplementing with a fat burner.
Often those last 10 pounds are what we call stubborn fat (common areas include obliques, abdominals, lower back and hips), and, like the name implies, they can be quite difficult to shed.
To make things worse, typically trainees who are at this point have “maxed out” their cardio and calorie cutting. For these people, a fat burner can be an absolute godsend, and can really help them push through after they’ve expended all their other options.
Tips To Get The Most Out Of Your Fat Burners
Now that you’ve determined whether or not these supplements are right for you, let’s go over some general “best practices” for how to use them.
The following are three tips you can start using now to maximize your weight loss efforts.
Tip #1: Combine Fat Burners With Diet And Exercise
This one should be a no-brainer, but apparently some people STILL haven’t gotten the memo.
Remember boys and girls, you’re supplementing your diet and exercises routine with fat burners – NOT the other way around.
Specifically, these should be taken anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour before exercise. Not only will this allow you to optimally burn fat, but you’ll get the added benefit of a caffeine kick that will boost performance in the gym (there’s a reason most pre-workout supplements also contain caffeine).
Tip #2: Set Realistic Goals
Let’s get one thing straight right now- nothing, and I mean NOTHING, is going to make you lose 30 pounds in 30 days without diet and exercise.
You need to make sure you’re going into this with the proper expectation. Even when combined with diet and exercise, you should aim to lose 1-2 (maybe 3) pounds per week (unless you’re extremely overweight).
Tip #3: Make Sure You Cycle Off Your Fat Burners
While caffeine is indeed a phenomenal supplement with a lot of benefits, you want to avoid overdoing it. You also want to make sure you’re giving your body a break when you’re using any kind of stimulant (this is especially true if you also happen to drink coffee everyday)
So, with that said, you should really only be taking fat burners during period where you’re actively trying to cut weight, and should be avoided during period of maintenance or “bulking”.
If you’ve got a lot of weight to lose, then consider doing a cycle of four weeks on, two weeks off. That way you’ll avoid the detrimental effects of caffeine overload.
How To Choose A Quality Fat Burner
The single most important thing to look for when choosing a fat burner is its list of ingredients- you want to make sure you’re getting the good stuff.
Thermo Lean Fat Burner was designed specifically with this in mind. Not only does it contain an impressive dose of caffeine, green tea extract and L-carnitine, it also has 11 other ingredients to not only boost fat burning, but to promote overall health.
If you’ve ever attempted a weight loss diet before, you know just how hard it can be to stick with it.
Fortunately, if this is an area that you’re struggling with, there are things you can do to make it easier on yourself.
In this article, we’re going to talk all about why dieting is so challenging, as well as three strategies you can use to stack the odds of success in your favour.
Why Sticking To A Diet Is So Hard
If you’ve ever tried (and failed) at a diet before, the important thing to remember is this- you’re not alone.
In fact, you’re not even atypical.
Adopting and sticking to a weight loss diet (or even just a healthier diet) is something that most of us struggle with.
So, what’s the deal? Why, if so many of us want to get lean and healthy, is it so hard for us to get it together?
The main reason is simple- biology.
Let’s get one thing straight- mother nature does not give two shits about your fitness goals.
She doesn’t care that beach season is right around the corner, and she certainly does not care about your abs.
For most of human history, we evolved in an environment where resources were scarce. Your biology is designed to get you through the next famine- not the next spring break.
The processes that drive you to continually seek out food are complex, and many of them are built right into your brain.
As if that’s not bad enough, many of these impulses are regulated by the supply of food in our environment.
We (or at least most of us) live in a modern, developed world where, not only are we probably not going to encounter a famine, but we now have a constant, never ending supply of cheap, high-calorie, highly palatable foods.
Bottom line- if you want to lose weight and get healthy, you’re fighting an uphill battle with hundreds of thousands of years of biology which wants you to get calories and get them NOW.
How To Set Yourself Up For Dietary Success
So, given that we have all of this working against us, what can we do to shift the odds of losing weight and sticking to the diet in our favour?
Tip #1: Don’t Be So Restrictive
Raise your hand if this has ever happened to you…
You decide to go on a diet. Maybe you’ve been overweight for a while and you’ve finally decided to do something about it. Maybe you just need to lose 10 pounds to get nice and cut for your next vacation.
Whatever the reason, you decide you’re going on a diet…and you’re going to diet HARD.
So you double and triple down- from now on, you’re eating a high protein, high fibre, low carb, low fat, zero “junk food”, clean-as-a-babies-ass diet.
What usually happens after that? Well, if you’re like most people, you probably make it a few days. Maybe if you’re REAL lucky you make it a few weeks.
But eventually, it starts to get to you. You start day dreaming about pizza, ice cream, tacos and WHATEVER else you haven’t been able to eat for the last few weeks.
And unless you happen to be blessed with super human willpower, at some point, you finally break (and if you’re like most people, you end up worse off than you were before).
The way around this is to adopt a much more flexible approach. Because at the end of the day, losing weight comes down to calories in verses calories out.
And that’s GOOD NEWS because it means that you can have all the different kinds of foods you want…you just need to eat less of them.
Paradoxically, what you’ll find is that you’ll not only have an easier time sticking to the diet, but by allowing yourself the freedom to eat the foods you want, you’ll actually want them less.
Tip #2: Set Realistic Goals
I’ve got news for you- you’re NOT going to lose 15 kilograms in a month.
I don’t care what the magazine told you, I don’t care what special diet that a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend allegedly went on. You’re not going to be able to stick with these kind of dietary herculean feats.
In fact, not only are you NOT going to be able to do it, but on the odd chance that you DO pull it off, your willpower will be so drained and depleted by the end that you’ll probably end up gaining it all back.
What you want to do instead is to set REALISTIC goals. Aim to lose between 1-2 pounds per week, and take it nice and slow.
If you do that, not only will you not lose your mind, but you’ll actually end up reaching your goal FASTER because you won’t be dealing with all of that horrible rebounding.
Tip #3: Set A Firm Timeline
One of the biggest reasons people fail to stick with a diet is the fact that they see it as a permanent lifestyle change.
And when you view something unpleasant (and let’s be real, trying to lose weight ain’t exactly fun) as permanent, you end up running into all kinds of resistance.
So, when you do decide to diet, make sure you have a firm cutoff date- and make sure that it’s not too far into the future.
For most people, this means weight loss diets of anywhere from a month to two months TOPS. Just the fact that the end is in sight will make things a lot easier on you.
In conclusion- dieting sucks. It’s something that NONE of us enjoy doing.
But that doesn’t mean you’re destined to fail.
You just need to approach things a little more strategically.
And if you’re interested in supplements that can help you along the way, we’ve got you covered. We recommend starting with the following muscle-building essentials:
Interested in learning more about the how-to’s of building muscle, check out our free articles:
With the exception of creatine, beta-alanine may very well be the most studied supplement in sports science.
And for good reason. It not only has an impressive research track record, but it’s also been shown to be effective at boosting endurance and performance in athletes.
In today’s article, we’re going to be talking all about this powerful compound- what it is, how it works, and if taking it is right for you and your training goals.
What Is Beta-Alanine?
Beta-alanine is an amino acid, one of the building blocks of protein.
Like most amino acids, beta-alanine can be consumed through diet, and is commonly found in protein rich foods. However, as one of the “non-essential” amino acids, it can also be synthesized in the liver and produced from scratch.
Its main function (at least when it comes to exercise), is to combine with histidine to produce a dipeptide called carnosine.
Basically, it works like this. When you exercise intensely, your body releases a number of hydrogen ions.
These hydrogen ions decease the PH balance in your muscles, raising acidity levels and causing fatigue to set in (if you’ve ever been through a particularly gruelling set in the gym and felt that “burn out” sensation in your muscles, this acidity is what’s causing it).
This is where carnosine comes in. High levels of carnosine will act as a “buffer” on those hydrogen ions, decreasing the acidity levels in your muscles and reducing fatigue.
How Do Beta-Alanine Supplements Work?
Given that carnosine plays a huge role in regulating acidity, it stands to reason that supplementing directly with it will lead to a decrease in acidity, and thus reduce fatigue…right?
Well, in theory that would work. Practically though, it’s a little more complicated.
The problem with supplementing directly with carnosine is that most of these supplements are poorly absorbed by the muscle fibres.
This is where beta-alanine supplements come in, which do get absorbed very well by the muscles.
Once ingested in the body, all this extra beta-alanine will interact with histidine, resulting in a much more efficient way to raise your carnosine levels, decrease muscular fatigue and increase your ability to workout longer and harder.
How Does Beta-Alanine Increase Performance?
Research on beta-alanine supplementation has been very promising. The increase in carnosine levels that comes from supplementation has been shown to have a direct effect on your endurance levels.
Specifically, beta-alanine seems to show the greatest enhancements in performance during the 60-240 second point of exercise duration, with one meta-analysis showing a statistically significant performance improvement in this range.
Who Should Take Beta-Alanine?
Since beta-alanine has shown the most promise in improving performance at the 60-240 second mark of exercise, trainees who work primarily in this range will see the greatest improvements. These include sports like crossfit, boxing, and any other activity that has you working out vigorously during this time period
It’s also beneficial for athletes concerned with longer endurance times, thanks to the reduction in lactic acid in the muscles (ask any runner and they’ll tell you all about the “burning” sensation in the legs when they’re training hard).
This decrease in lactic acid will translate into a better performance with greater endurance (beta-alanine has also been shown to have a positive effect on your VO2 max).
Finally, beta-alanine may be beneficial for weight training, especially for those who train at higher volumes.
Can Beta-Alanine Be Taken In Through Diet?
Theoretically, yes. Beta alanine is found in a number of dipeptides. This includes carnosine, but it also includes anserine and balenine, all of which are found in protein rich foods such as chicken, beef and fish.
However, the question isn’t so much whether or not beta-alanine can be taken in through diet, but whether or not it can be taken in the quantities necessary to enhance performance.
And much like creatine, most trainees simply find that it’s far easier to supplement with beta-alanine rather than depend on getting it through food (you already have enough to worry about when it comes to accounting for calories and macros without having to worry about balancing your diet for specific amino acids).
How Should You Take Beta-Alanine?
Beta-alanine supplements can really be taken any time. Like creatine, much of the benefits come from having consistently elevated levels.
Beta-alanine supplements can either be taken alone or included with other products. That’s why we’ve included it in our Pre-Workout+. By taking it as part of a pre-workout, you not only ensure that your beta-alanine levels are high during exercise, but you also get the immediate stimulation effects on your nervous system.
For best all round performance, consider taking both beta-alanine and creatine. The beta-alanine will cover you for exercises lasting from 60-240 seconds, while creatine has been shown to improve performance in exercise durations shorter than that. That’s why Pre-Workout+ has both of these powerful compounds, as well as 15 other scientifically-backed ingredients to help you push yourself harder in the gym.
Does Beta Alanine Have Any Side-Effects?
If taken in a responsible dose, beta-alanine is both effective and safe (anywhere from 2-5 grams per day is more than enough), however, certain people do report a “tingling” sensation immediately after taking it.
The technical term for this is “acute paresthesia”, and it’s a mostly harmless, temporary sensation that will go away on it’s own. While most trainees enjoy this sensation (especially as part of a pre-workout “buzz”), if it’s a concern for you, consult with your doctor before taking beta-alanine and products containing it.
Is Beta-Alanine Right For Me?
When used in conjunction with a solid training plan and intelligent supplement routine, beta-alanine has tremendous potential to boost your performance. Whether you’re a CrossFitter, MMA fighter, or just a regular guy or girl looking to “cover all your bases” in the gym, beta-alanine is an effective, safe choice for your fitness goals.
If you’ve been experimenting with workout supplements for any length of time, you’ve no doubt heard of (or even tried) BCAA’s- branched-chain amino acids.
And for good reason. Used properly, BCAA’s can help build muscle, fuel your workouts, and even keep you lean.
But with that said, there are not only good supplements and bad supplements, but a right and a wrong way to get the most out of them.
In this article, we’ll be talking all about how to do that with BCAA’s, as well as breaking down what they are, and why they’re important.
What Are BCAA’s?
Let’s start off with a quick explanation of what branched-chain amino acids actually are. And in order to understand that, we need to dive into a bit of a recap on amino acids in general.
In a nutshell, amino acids are organic compounds that, among other things, act as the building blocks of muscle.
If working out and lifting weights is the process of creating damage in the muscle, then amino acids are the raw materials your body uses to repair that damage to make them bigger and stronger. Amino acids are synthesized through the breakdown of the protein that we eat.
The important thing to understand is that, while all amino acids are important for proper bodily function, not all are created equal. Certain amino acids can, in the absence of a dietary source, be processed “from scratch” by the body.
Others, however, cannot, and must be taken in from dietary protein sources. These are referred to as essential amino acids, and they are:
Each amino acids plays a particular role in the body, but the ones we’ll be focusing on today are the last 3- leucine, isoleucine, and valine- the branched-chain amino acids.
While a list of everything they do is beyond the scope of this article, their function from a muscle building standpoint includes promoting protein synthesis and metabolizing glucose (which we’ll get into in detail later on).
How To Choose A BCAA Supplement
While branched-chain amino acids are naturally occurring in protein rich food, getting enough of them at the right time is much easier to do with a supplement.
So, what should you be looking for in a BCAA supplement? The two big things you want to look for are a.) the amount of leucine, and b.) the overall ratio.
Let’s start with leucine, because when we talk about branched-chain amino acids and their role in building muscle, this is the main one. Leucine (among other things) is responsible for “flipping the switch” (for lack of a better term) and signalling protein synthesis, which ultimately drives muscle growth.
There’s no two ways around it- leucine is absolutely critical for building muscle.
However, while it is extremely important, you need to also make sure your supplement has enough isoleucine and valine (the benefits of both of these amino acids will be covered in the next section).
That’s why both Mission Nutrition’s Instantised BCAA Powder and BCAA Tablets use the optimal ratio of 2:1:1- 2 leucine, 1 isoleucine, 1 valine.
By stacking it like this, you get enough leucine to ensure that you’ll be building muscle and recovering from your workouts, as well as getting all the secondary benefits of isoleucine and valine.
How To Make The Most Out Of Your BCAA
Now that you’ve got your supplement, the next question is how to go about using it effectively.
Because a lot of people don’t understand how BCAA’s work, they don’t end up making the most of them, take them at the wrong times, and are generally ineffective with their supplement strategy.
Here are 3 tips to help you maximize your BCAA supplement:
#1: USE BCAA’S TO ENHANCE YOUR WORKOUT
A lot of people make the mistake of treating their BCAA’s like a whey protein supplement. While whey is a complete protein and includes all 9 essential amino acids (including the 3 branched-chain amino acids), the way in which those amino acids are absorbed is different.
When you take whey, a lot of the amino acids are bound together, and can only be broken free during the process of digestion.
BCAA’s in supplement form, on the other hand, are not bound to anything, and can be rapidly absorbed into the blood stream.
This means that you need to change your timing around. So while you’d generally take whey a few hours before working out, you’ll want to take your BCAA’s immediately before and during your workout.
Thanks to this fast absorption, valine and isoleucine (2 of the 3 branched chain amino acids) can be immediately converted into glucose and used for energy.
Generally speaking, you should aim to be taking 3-5 grams before your workout and 3-5 grams during your workout.
#2: USE BCAA’S TO SUPPORT MUSCLE RECOVERY
The other time you’ll want to consider taking BCAA’s are after you’ve finished working out.
We already discussed the role that leucine plays in building muscle, and that’s exactly what we’re doing by timing our intake this way- we’re making sure that the leucine can stimulate protein synthesis and drive muscle growth (it also has the added benefit of potentially reducing muscle soreness).
Another 3-5 grams post-workout should do the trick (all in all, you’re looking at 3-5 grams pre-workout, 3-5 grams during your workout, and 3-5 grams post-workout).
#3: USE BCAA’S WHEN CUTTING FAT
Although BCAA’s can really be taken at any time during your workout cycle, they’re particularly important if you’re trying to cut fat.
The first reason is that they not only help you build muscle, but retain muscle in a calorie deficit by preventing protein breakdown (one of the risks associated with cutting calories).
The second reason is that they may actually aid the fat burning process altogether, due to the effect isoleucine has on receptors that block fat storage.
In conclusion, BCAA’s are a fantastic tool in your tool kit, but you need to know how to use them properly. Find the right supplement, use it at the right time, and watch your gains take off.