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First Class Fiber Can Be the Secret Ingredient to a Better Physique

As an athlete dedicated to your diet, physique and exercise regimen, you certainly have spent a great deal of time and energy counting carbohydrates and protein.  Amazing amounts of helpful information have come from science labs and athletes across the country telling us how much of these nutrients to eat.  Every bodybuilder or physique athlete knows that consuming a diet which facilitates fat burning and increasing levels of leanness requires more than just the right balance of carbohydrates, protein and fat.  One of these nutrients that can help you achieve those nutritional goals, while ripping up your physique, is dietary fiber.  While dietary fiber is best known for its health effects (which are too great to pass over), the inclusion of high quality fiber throughout your diet can help your body to burn more fat and control your appetite as well as manage glucose and insulin levels.

Just so we're clear, we're not talking your grandma's fiber supplement, we're talking about a unique, high-end blend of fiber along with added protein.  Dietary fiber comes in two forms, soluble and insoluble (Anderson, Baird et al. 2009).  The soluble form dissolves in water and can bind to fat, which goes on to improve cholesterol and blood glucose levels while also removing fat from the digestive system.  The insoluble form is not readily digested and as a result primarily adds bulk to the stool in your colon.  If research holds true, you likely aren't consuming enough fiber.  The USDA recommends you to consume 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories you consume in your diet; the average American male should strive to consume around 36 grams of fiber each day (USDA 2005).

How Can Fiber Improve My Physique?

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The amount of data which says increased fiber in your diet reduces your risk for cardiovascular disease, cancers, stroke, diabetes, any number of gastrointestinal disorders, hemorrhoids and obesity is beyond large.  We're talking studies with hundreds of thousands of people all across the world.  Additionally, just as much research says increased fiber can also improve your cholesterol levels, blood pressure, glucose and immune function. Optimal fiber intake strongly reduces your risk for disease and improves your health (Anderson, Baird et al. 2009).

We understand, however, that these aren't your only questions.  Better health is great, but how can it improve my physique?  Can it help me lose weight and fat?  Can it leave me with less body fat and improved body composition?  Yes, yes, and yes!  A number of studies have shown that increasing fiber can reduce the amount of calories, how hungry you feel and similarly your feelings of fullness (Anderson 2008).  All of these things combine together to give you greater control over your diet and you know well that if this happens, fat will burn and muscles will shine!  In fact, when these studies compared weight loss between those people taking a placebo and diets with increased fiber, weight loss was significantly greater with increased fiber after 4 weeks and continued at this greater rate for up to 12 weeks (Anderson 2008).  Moreover, some studies even suggest that favored hormonal levels of "appetite or gut hormones" occur after increased fiber intake (Anderson 2008).

Increasing Fiber From a Legendary Athlete's Perspective


As you can clearly see, increased dietary fiber equals more fat burning and a shredded physique. One man who has long known the many bodybuilding benefits of increased dietary fiber is Kurt Angle. Fourteen-time world champion in the biggest promotions in wrestling, including the WWE, WCW and now TNA, Kurt Angle has dedicated great effort in recent years to seeking out and marketing premium nutrition to athletes through his BarnDad Nutrition enterprise. One of the flagship products of the new company is Ultra Fiber DX, a 100% natural, time release, soluble and insoluble fiber matrix designed to help athletes reduce visceral fat around the waistline, improve digestion of all those other nutrients you supplement with each day, and support satiety.

Kurt Angle Ultra Fiber DX "I was really impressed with Ultra Fiber DX," Angle says. "When you're an athlete, digestion and managing appetite are really important. You're taking protein formulas, you're eating a lot of lean meats, and, unfortunately, you're probably not getting enough fiber. And that negatively impacts digestion and the utilization of all that nutrition you're spending time and money consuming.

"I've been mixing Ultra Fiber DX into my ProSource NytroWhey Ultra Elite protein shake every morning. It has helped me curb my appetite and feel fuller longer. My digestion is much more efficient. I've lost significant visceral fat and two inches off my waistline. Simply put, I've never felt better."

Ultra Fiber DX is a terrific way to add necessary dietary fiber to your regimen, as is additional intake of whole grains, high fiber cereals, legumes, fruits and vegetables (Anderson, Baird et al. 2009). When it comes to improving physique and performance, it's not all about proteins and carbs. It turns out that your Mom and Grandma were right, too. "Eat more fiber!"


References
(USDA 2005). US Department of Agriculture (USDA).  US Department of Health and Human Services.  Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Washington, DC.

Anderson, J. (2008). Dietary fiber and associated phytochemicals in prevention and reversal of diabetes. Nutraceuticals, Glycemic Health and Type 2 Diabetes. A. J. Pasupuleti VK. Ames, Iowa, Blackwell Publishing Professional: 111-142.

Anderson, J. W., P. Baird, et al. (2009). "Health benefits of dietary fiber." Nutrition reviews67(4): 188-205.


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New Zycor Torches the Competition, Emerges as #1 Selling Fat Burner
[Editor's Note: Although we were aware that the new weight-loss product from BioQuest was primed to make a huge impact in its category, nothing could have prepared us for the remarkable customer response we've seen for Zycor. From the very first day it was made available exclusively on the ProSource.net site, it has been our #1 seller among weight-loss products, by an enormous margin. Most significantly, we've seen an astounding percentage of re-orders, as the initial wave of first-time buyers have registered their overwhelming satisfaction by stocking up on Zycor at the first opportunity.

Clearly this is a level of enthusiastic consumer engagement with a product that we haven't seen since the heady early days of the rollout of Xenadrine RFA-1 over a decade ago. Each day, we're receiving new reports from our customers, sharing accounts of phenomenal week-by-week results and newly intense workouts driven by Zycor. (In our continuing reporting on Zycor, we'll be bringing you many of those athlete's stories as we reach out to those who have communicated with us.) With regard to Zycor's transformational power, we'd seen the science, seen the results of clinical testing, and now we're seeing those results replicated out in the real world. It's an inspiring thing.

Below, we have a new and very extensive overview of all the levels of research and testing behind Zycor, written by supplement expert Chad Kerksick, PhD. It's a lot of new material that anyone interested in fat-loss generally and Zycor specifically will want to read. Be sure to keep an eye on ProSource.net in the coming weeks, as our reporting on the Zycor phenomenon continues.]
The New Year has come and gone and already it's spring. How much closer are you to those physique goals you set for yourself during the holidays? Hopefully, you're on your way. If you're not, you still have time before the beaches open and the summer is upon us. Which brings us to the subject of today's update on one of the more promising developments in the weight-loss category, Zycor from BioQuest.

Zycor & Meratrim -- The Boost You Were Looking For


For many, adding a thermogenic supplement of some kind helps to provide a boost of energy and sustains both greater mental sharpness and focus to better stick to your program, push through hard periods and of course burn more calories, which in the end should lead to greater weight loss. Of course, a disciplined diet and regular exercise program are also needed ... that goes without saying!

Recently, BioQuest launched Zycor, a new thermogenic supplement which arrived accompanied by a considerable amount of buzz in scientific circles. The excitement derived from a key component of Zycor called Meratrim. Preliminary research using Meratrim was presented at the 29th Annual Conference of the Obesity Society in Orlando, FL, one of the largest international gatherings of scientific researchers, clinicians and consumers interested in obesity. While preliminary in nature, the presentation highlighted a series of three studies that summarized a well-constructed approach to researching the impact of Meratrim on weight loss, fat loss, and a number of important markers found in the blood (Lau 2011).

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Phase 1 Research: Off To A Good Start

The first phase of research involved in vitro work in fat cells extracted from laboratory rats. In vitro work is usually very specific and technical research performed on a small number of specific cells from tissues of interest, thus it makes sense why fat cells were used. In this study, the Meratrim extract was found to significantly reduce the growth of fat cells and increased the rate of fat cell breakdown. This research also provided evidence that Meratrim works by favorably impacting the formation of fat droplets, the uptake of fatty acids into fat tissue as well as fat metabolism overall (Lau 2011). In other words, the first phase was deemed a glowing success!

Phase 2 Research: We May Have Something Here!

The researchers then took the next logical step and moved on to in vivo work in laboratory animals. In this 2nd phase of research, Meratrim prevented weight gain by more than 8-fold in animals eating a high-fat diet over an eight week period compared to animals fed an identical high-fat diet but were not given Meratrim. The researchers also performed a toxicity study where they determined that even extremely high doses of the extract in the animals were not responsible for significant adverse outcomes (Lau 2011). At this point, it was time to get excited as the 2nd phase results showed a powerful effect to prevent weight gain when eating a diet which should promote weight gain.

Phase 3: Where Can I Buy That Stuff?

The 3rd and final phase of research was equally rigorous, but more convincing because it consisted of not one, but two preliminary randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies using Meratrim over an 8 week period. Close to half (n=49) of the subjects ingested 400 mg of Meratrim 30 minutes before both breakfast and dinner each day while the other group (n=46) consumed a blinded placebo. All subjects consumed a 2,000 calorie per day diet, which contained 61% carbohydrate, 14% protein and 25% fat and walked five days per week. All participants were measured for changes in body weight and hip and waist circumference as well as key markers of health.

RELATED: Read here for ZYCOR: AN EXCITING NEW ERA OF FAT-LOSS POWER IS AT HAND


When Meratrim was ingested, body weight was reduced by 11.5 pounds after eight weeks versus three pounds lost when the placebo was taken, a 3.5-fold greater weight loss than placebo (p<0.0001). Similarly, waist circumference was reduced by an impressive 4.7 inches and hip circumference was reduced by 2.5 inches, significant reductions in this group from the beginning of the study. Finally, favorable changes in several markers of health were also reported when Meratrim was ingested. In this respect, adiponectin, glucose, triglyceride and cholesterol levels were all improved to a greater extent when compared to placebo; collectively, these changes can be viewed as general improvements in health (Lau 2011).

While a number of thermogenic products are available, the three-phase research approach surrounding Meratrim is both comprehensive and impressive. BioQuest and ProSource have entered an exclusive partnership to bring this exciting technology to you in the form of Zycor. While the preliminary research is exciting and convincing, more research is ongoing to further confirm the value of Meratrim as a weight loss ingredient. Remember, products like Meratrim and Zycor are best used in conjunction with a restricted calorie diet and regular exercise program. To get similar results as the human participants in the Meratrim studies you need to be doing these things as well, but if you do and do it well the results should speak for themselves.


References
Lau, FC, Golakoti, T, Krishnaraju, AV and Sengupta, K (2011). Efficacy of a novel herbal formulation for weight management: A randomized double-blind placebo controlled clincal study. 29th Annual Obesity Socity Conference. Orlando, FL.



Are you Carbohydrate Intolerant?

The Science of Turning Carbs Into Energy Rather Than Fat

Carbohydrates are a staple in most people's diet, especially athletes. Official dietary guidelines encourage Americans to consume more than half their energy from carbohydrates.  So carbs must be good for us right?  After all, the government is a trustworthy source of information.  You are probably thinking it depends on how much, what type, and when they are consumed.  Yes these are all important variables to consider.  But one often ignored fact is that people vary widely in their ability to metabolize dietary carbohydrate.   This is important because identifying whether or not you are one of the people who struggle with dietary carbohydrate can help you choose a more effective diet to enhance health and performance.     


What Does Carbohydrate Intolerant Mean?

Let's first go over a little physiology by reviewing what happens (or what should happen) when you consume a meal with carbohydrate. Most dietary carbohydrate is digested and absorbed as glucose.  You only have about 1-2 teaspoons of glucose in your bloodstream and a typical meal may have 10 times that amount.  Your body therefore has to process the incoming surge of glucose quickly by shuttling it into cells.  If you are good at managing dietary carbs most of the glucose will be taken up by skeletal muscle. Once inside muscle the glucose is converted to glycogen, the storage form of carbohydrate in the body, or some of it is burned as fuel.  This is considered a healthy disposal of carbs in someone who is carbohydrate tolerant. 

In many people, however, a significant portion of blood glucose is diverted away from muscle and taken up instead by the liver where it is converted to fat.  The metabolic term used to describe this process of turning carbohydrate into fat is de novo lipogenesis or DNL.

As you might guess DNL, shunting dietary carbs into fat, is not healthy.  This is a form of carbohydrate intolerance.  Over time, this stealth-like conversion of carbs to fat leads to increased levels of triglycerides (fat) in the blood, liver and other tissues and puts a person on the fast track to developing fatty liver, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes.  


Insulin Resistance = Carbohydrate Intolerance


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Rather than use the term carbohydrate intolerance, clinicians and researchers refer to the problem as insulin resistance.  When you consume carbohydrate, blood glucose levels increase.  In an effort to bring the blood glucose level back down to normal, your body releases the hormone insulin from the pancreas.  Insulin opens the doors on muscle and other cells that allow glucose to enter.  However, if you have insulin resistance, insulin only partially opens the door or in more advanced insulin resistance it may only crack the door open.  This is because insulin resistance is a result of impaired insulin action in cells.  Muscle is unresponsive to insulin.  It's not doing its job efficiently.  Thus, blood glucose gets backed up and the result is high levels of sugar in the blood.  In the early stages of insulin resistance, the pancreas compensates by working harder to release greater amounts of insulin in response to consumption of carbohydrates. This may allow the doors on muscle cells to remain open, but it is at the expense of making the pancreas work harder by elevating insulin levels.  High insulin has many drawbacks; in particular it significantly impairs your ability to burn body fat since insulin is a potent fat blocker.

Simply put if you have insulin resistance and you consume dietary carbohydrate, your body will struggle to metabolize it in muscle.  Instead much of the blood glucose ends up getting processed in the liver where it is converted to fat.  When viewed from this perspective, it is clear that insulin resistance, the hallmark of Type 2 diabetes, manifests functionally as carbohydrate intolerance.

A recently published study highlights this point.  Lean insulin-resistant men were studied on two occasions after consumption of a high carbohydrate meal (1). On one occasion they remained sedentary throughout, and on the other they exercised for 45 min before consuming the meal.  Detailed measures of how they processed the carbohydrate load were carried out for several hours after the meal.  In the resting state, these insulin resistant men converted a significant amount of dietary carbohydrate to fat.  However, when exercise was performed the conversion of carbohydrate to fat was reduced by 30% in the liver, and muscle glycogen synthesis was increased 3-fold.  These results indicate that insulin resistance manifests as carbohydrate intolerance and that exercise can partially overcome the mismanagement of dietary carbohydrates by improving muscle insulin sensitivity.  

RELATED: Read here for CREATINE SUPPLEMENTATION: BENEFITS EXTEND BEYOND EXERCISE PERFORMANCE


A staggering 2 out of every 3 adults in the US are overweight and most of these people have some level of insulin resistance.  One in three adults has metabolic syndrome, also called pre-diabetes, and about 1 in 4 have impaired fasting glucose.  You don't have to be overweight to have insulin resistance, as was shown in the above study in normal-weight men (1). Some thin people, and even some high level athletes, have insulin resistance and signs of carbohydrate intolerance.  Thus, carbohydrate intolerance is not a trivial problem. It affects tens of millions of people in the US.  Even if you are carbohydrate tolerant now, it does not mean that will always be the case as aging is associated with insulin resistance.


How Do You Know if Your Body Is Metabolizing Carbs Efficiently?


This can be a little tricky because there is no easily performed perfect test to determine if you are carbohydrate intolerant.  There are several clues that signal your body may be mismanaging dietary carbohydrates.

  • Do you have a family history of diabetes?  Insulin resistance is partially inherited so if other members of your family have it, you have a greater chance.

  • Are you overweight? Being overweight is associated with insulin resistance.

  • Do you carry extra fat in the mid-section? Central obesity (apple vs pear shape) is highly associated with insulin resistance.

  • Do you bloat easily when you consume a lot of carbohydrates? 

  • Do you have trouble losing weight on a low fat/high carbohydrate diet?

  • Do you lack energy and are unmotivated to exercise on a low fat/high carbohydrate diet?

  • Do you have wide swings in energy throughout the day?  This is a sign your blood glucose levels are unstable which occurs in people with insulin resistance.

  • Do you get tired after consuming carbohydrate-rich meals? This is a sign you are over-stimulating insulin in response to being insulin resistant resulting in low blood sugar.

  • Do you have strong cravings or intrusive thoughts for carbohydrate-rich foods?

  • Do you have high levels of blood glucose (>100 mg/dL)

  • Do you have high levels of blood triglycerides (>150 mg/dL)

What Can You Do About It?

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If you have carbohydrate intolerance, there is a solution and hope.   The answer may not surprise you.  Similar to other food intolerances like lactose intolerance or gluten intolerance, the most logical approach is to limit the offending substance.  In this case, restricting dietary carbohydrate to a level you can manage is priority number one.  

Wait a minute you say -- athletes need carbs for energy, and having more glycogen, the storage form of carbohydrate in muscle, is tightly linked to performance -- right?   The truth is it's not quite that straightforward. Trumpeting carbs as an ideal fuel source is often taught in academic institutions and reinforced by the billion dollar sports and energy drink market, but there is another perspective based on maximizing fat metabolism (more on this in future articles).  For now let's continue the discussion of insulin resistance as it relates to glycogen.


Glycogen and Insulin Resistance (Carbohydrate Intolerance)

Glycogen, the storage form of carbohydrate in muscle, has garnered a special place in the hearts of exercise scientists and active individuals for over four decades. This began shortly after the advent of the biopsy needle in the mid 1960s, which allowed histological and biochemical studies of human muscle before, during and after exercise. Subsequent work detailing the importance of muscle glycogen as a fuel for active muscle during prolonged exercise, and the role of glycogen depletion with fatigue, dawned the age of high-carbohydrate diets as the optimal sports nutrition diet. Carbohydrate loading strategies were developed that super-saturate muscles glycogen levels, delay glycogen depletion, and prolong the onset of fatigue, thereby improving performance (2). Carbohydrate loading regimens have been modified (3) but remain popular today. This research led to the fundamental understanding of glycogen as purely an important energy substrate for contracting skeletal muscle.

The evidence showing that glycogen availability exerts a regulatory role on a range of metabolic processes has been less appreciated (4).  In particular is the role of glycogen on insulin resistance and the cellular mechanisms that regulate transport of glucose into cells.  As previously noted, insulin resistance is defined as a reduced ability of peripheral tissues to respond properly to insulin. In the case of skeletal muscle, there is a defect in insulin signaling that leads to decreased translocation of intracellular GLUT-4 to the plasma membrane and subsequent transport of glucose into the cell. Exercise has "insulin-like" effects in the sense that it causes an increase in glucose transport for some time after exercise. Although unclear, the signals that regulate glucose transport by exercise are different than those utilized by insulin (5).

Results from several experiments over the last two decades have shown that muscle glycogen levels exert an important influence on insulin-mediated and contraction (exercise)-mediated glucose uptake, as well as basal (unstimulated) glucose entry into cells. Glucose uptake is higher in glycogen-depleted muscle and there is an inverse relation between glycogen and glucose uptake across a broad range of glycogen levels (6,7). The majority of this work has utilized rats that are exercised to deplete muscle glycogen, and then fasted or fed diets of varying nutrient composition. At some time after exercise, muscles are dissected out or a surgical procedure is performed for isolated hindquarter perfusion followed by measurements of glucose transport activity and related metabolic and cellular regulators.

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Numerous reports have confirmed that exercise induces an increase in skeletal muscle GLUT-4 and a proportional increase in glucose transport capacity. When carbohydrates are fed after exercise there is an increase glucose entry into cells that is diverted to glycogen formation. As glucose enters into cells and glycogen levels increase, there is inhibition of contraction- and insulin-mediated glucose transport that is associated with a return of GLUT-4 to pre-exercise levels. Notable, prevention of glycogen synthesis, by fasting or feeding a low-carbohydrate/high-fat diet, results in a persistence of an increase in contraction- and insulin-mediated glucose transport that lasts as long as long as carbohydrates are not consumed. Simply put, low glycogen promotes increased insulin action, whereas high glycogen promotes insulin resistance.

In one study, rats were exercised to deplete muscle glycogen and were then either fasted or provided with normal chow or a carbohydrate-free diet for up to 66 hr after exercise before being sacrificed (8). Active muscles were dissected for determination of insulin-stimulated glucose transport activity, glycogen, and GLUT-4 protein. Insulin-stimulated glucose transport and GLUT-4 protein were two-fold higher in muscles of exercised rats compared to sedentary animals. These effects were completely reversed in rats fed the high-carbohydrate diet after 42 hr, but in animals fed the carbohydrate-free diet the increased glucose transport and GLUT-4 persisted at 66 hr after exercise. These effects were closely tied to glycogen levels, which remained depleted in carbohydrate-free fed rats. The results indicate that prevention of glycogen synthesis after exercise results in a sustained increase in glucose transport capacity, presumably mediated by a prolongation of the exercise-induced increase in GLUT-4.  

Similar experiments have shown that resting and contraction-mediated glucose transport capacity and cell surface GLUT-4 content 18-24 hr after exercise are significantly increased in rats fasted (9) or fed lard (7) versus a high-carbohydrate diet. These studies show the decreased contraction-mediated glucose transport capacity in glycogen-packed muscle cells is due to a proportionally smaller increase in GLUT-4 at the cell surface.

Although very low-carbohydrate studies in humans are few in the area of glucose metabolism, the existing data are mainly consistent with animal work. Insulin stimulates glucose uptake after exercise in relation to the amount of glycogen used (10). Low-carbohydrate diets are often likened to starvation in terms of lipid metabolism (11), but in respect to glucose metabolism there are distinct differences. In humans, starvation reduces insulin-mediated glucose uptake and does not increase nonoxidative glucose disposal (12), whereas very low-carbohydrate diets do not inhibit glucose uptake and augment nonoxidative glucose disposal (i.e., formation of glycogen) (13,14). Insulin-stimulated increases in glycogen synthase activity are greater after a very low-carbohydrate diet (14).

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It seems obvious that the elegant work detailing the role of glycogen on metabolic and cellular control in muscle relating to glucose metabolism would have a place in determining and justifying nutritional guidelines, specifically for athletes, and individuals with glucose intolerance, insulin resistance, and Type II diabetes. Sadly, this has not been the case and it may be limiting your responsiveness to exercise.  


Summary

Based on your genetics, you may have a certain level of insulin resistance (aka, carbohydrate intolerance).  If you are over-consuming carbs and have a full glycogen tank, this may also elicit a form of carbohydrate intolerance.  In either case, the logical solution would be to restrict carbohydrates which induce a partially glycogen reduced state (15) and widespread improvements in the way your body processes energy. The implications of your body composition, health and performance may be dramatic.

Limiting carb intake can be difficult, but one tried and true way to achieve this goal is to increase the amount of protein you consume in relation to carbs. Because not everyone has the opportunity to broil chicken or fish throughout the day, an easy way to upregulate protein intake is to supplement your daily regimen with a high-quality premium protein shake once or twice a day. Of course, as always, quality is key, so be sure to add a protein formula high in superior whey isolate and hydrolyzed aminos, such as ProSource's NytroWhey Ultra Elite of BioQuest's MyoZene.

A little preparation can do wonders in the war against accumulated fat.
References
  1. Rabol R, Petersen KF, Dufour S, Flannery C, Shulman GI.  Reversal of muscle insulin resistance with exercise reduces postprandial hepatic de novo lipogenesis in insulin resistant individuals. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Aug 16;108(33):13705-9.
  2. Bergstrom J, Hermansen L, Hultman E, Saltin B. Diet, muscle glycogen and physical performance. Acta Physiol Scand. 1967 Oct-Nov;71(2):140-50.
  3. Sherman WM, Costill DL, Fink WJ, Miller JM. Effect of exercise-diet manipulation on muscle glycogen and its subsequent utilization during performance. Int J Sports Med. 1981 May;2(2):114-8.
  4. Hargreaves M. Muscle glycogen and metabolic regulation. Proc Nutr Soc. 2004 May;63(2):217-20.
  5. Richter EA, Derave W, Wojtaszewski JF. Glucose, exercise and insulin: emerging concepts. J Physiol. 2001 Sep 1;535(Pt 2):313-22.
  6. Hespel P, Richter EA. Glucose uptake and transport in contracting, perfused rat muscle with different pre-contraction glycogen concentrations. J Physiol. 1990 Aug;427:347-59.
  7.  Derave W, Lund S, Holman GD, Wojtaszewski J, Pedersen O, Richter EA. Contraction-stimulated muscle glucose transport and GLUT-4 surface content are dependent on glycogen content. Am J Physiol. 1999 Dec;277(6 Pt 1):E1103-10.
  8. Garcia-Roves PM, Han DH, Song Z, Jones TE, Hucker KA, Holloszy JO. Prevention of glycogen supercompensation prolongs the increase in muscle GLUT4 after exercise. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2003 Oct;285(4):E729-36. Epub 2003 Jun 10.
  9. Kawanaka K, Nolte LA, Han DH, Hansen PA, Holloszy JO. Mechanisms underlying impaired GLUT-4 translocation in glycogen-supercompensated muscles of exercised rats. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2000 Dec;279(6):E1311-8.
  10. Richter EA, Derave W, Wojtaszewski JF. Glucose, exercise and insulin: emerging concepts. J Physiol. 2001 Sep 1;535(Pt 2):313-22.
  11. Klein S, Wolfe RR. Carbohydrate restriction regulates the adaptive response to fasting. Am J Physiol. 1992 May;262(5 Pt 1):E631-6.
  12. Mansell PI, Macdonald IA. The effect of starvation on insulin-induced glucose disposal and thermogenesis in humans. Metabolism. 1990 May;39(5):502-10.
  13. Bisschop PH, de Metz J, Ackermans MT, Endert E, Pijl H, Kuipers F, Meijer AJ, Sauerwein HP, Romijn JA. Dietary fat content alters insulin-mediated glucose metabolism in healthy men. Am J Clin Nutr. 2001 Mar;73(3):554-9.
  14. Cutler DL, Gray CG, Park SW, Hickman MG, Bell JM, Kolterman OG. Low-carbohydrate diet alters intracellular glucose metabolism but not overall glucose disposal in exercise-trained subjects. Metabolism. 1995 Oct;44(10):1264-70.
  15. Phinney SD, Bistrian BR, Evans WJ, Gervino E, Blackburn GL. The human metabolic response to chronic ketosis without caloric restriction: preservation of submaximal exercise capability with reduced carbohydrate oxidation. Metabolism. 1983 Aug;32(8):769-76.

An Exciting New Era of Fat-Loss Power is at Hand!

Zycor: An in-depth investigation

BioQuest is known for innovating some of the most efficacious and respected supplements in the fitness field. This is no surprise, since they have worked with some of the industry's best scientists from many disciplines to advise on the latest and most promising compounds to formulate their products. Zycor is the latest, and some would argue, the most impressive product from BioQuest and it serves as testament to the company's mission to provide the new and innovative products that have been substantiated by scientific evidence. In fact, Zycor takes on a completely new angle for fat loss. In this article we present the scientific rationale that make this the most well thought out product of its kind on the market today.

For at least the last six months or so, the excitement has been building among supplement science experts and elite bodybuilders as the sheer scope and extent of BioQuest's breakthrough achievement has become increasingly apparent. In no uncertain terms, Zycor represents the future of fat-loss science as it relates to dietary supplements. Its ultra-bioactive thermodynamic ingredient matrix is based upon a radical new understanding of the processes of fat mobilization and fat burning and how to redirect and up-regulate those metabolic mechanisms for maximum physique-ripping results. An early and compelling wave of ecstatic testimonials to Zycor's transformative power and efficacy have been making the rounds from the first days that test samples of it were made available to elite bodybuilders. And now, validation of those experiences has arrived in the form of two different clinical studies on its core ingredient.
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Significant results in just two weeks: The Fat-Loss Power of Meratrim

A landmark report, recently presented during the 29th Annual Scientific Obesity Meeting in Orlando, Florida, documented the combined results of not one, but two preliminary, randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled clinical studies using the primary thermodynamic super compound in Zycor, called Meratrim. In these two, eight-week studies, subjects lost an average of 4.5 pounds-- in a mere 14 days! This result alone signals unprecedented efficacy.

These same test subjects using Meratrim went on to lose an average of a remarkable 11.5 pounds by the end of the 8-week studies, while also achieving truly amazing reductions of 4.7 inches in waist circumference and 2.5 inches in hip circumference. These latter two sets of data suggest strongly that the active ingredient in Zycor is helping to specifically attack body fat. Needless to say, this groundbreaking report is certain to create enormous buzz among bodybuilders nationwide.

State-of-the-art thermogenic also delivers a powerful and long-lasting energy boost

The innovators at BioQuest have already demonstrated their expertise in the energy and endurance boosting category with BetaStax, the long-established sales leader in this category here at ProSource, so it should come as no surprise that they have once again set a lofty new standard for excellence with their new Zycor extreme performance product.

Even as bodybuilders have raved over the transformational power of Zycor in recent months, they have been particularly emphatic in praising the advanced formulation's capacity for generating a dynamic and long-lasting upsurge of energy. Indeed, even already lean athletes who have little interest in fat loss have given Zycor only the most positive reviews. Overall, athletes are crediting Zycor for substantial increases in stamina and work output, resulting in the most productive and intense workouts they've ever experienced.

The importance of Zycor's unique mechanism of action, the test results associated with it, and the revolutionary nature of the technology that generated them cannot be overstated. The BioQuest R&D team has revitalized the category of fat loss from the ground up, providing athletes with a transformational tool unrivaled since the era of ephedrine-based thermogenics over a decade ago. Distributed exclusively by ProSource, Zycor is an ingenious weight-loss marvel that has raised the bar to an entirely new realm.

Scientific Reference: Stern, et al (2012). Manuscript in preparation.
"Meratrim brand proprietary blend of two natural plant extracts."
"Meratrim is exclusively distributed by InterHealth Nutraceuticals, Inc.
"

Eating Round the Clock

Significant Gains Accrue Like Clockwork
With These Nutrient Timing Strategies


"What to Eat?" and "How Much to Eat?" are always two major concerns in the minds of people who want to get bigger and for those who also want to get smaller.  Meanwhile, the last five years of research have also brought forward a new question to ask: "When to Eat?"

Scientists have reported on a number of occasions that "when" you eat can hold great importance with regard to how your body responds and recovers.  Different athletes eat different things.  For example, highly trained endurance athletes are known for eating boatloads of carbohydrates while strength and power athletes are known for eating boatloads of well...everything, but for the most part their diets are fairly heavy on protein.  Many discussions occur about timing, but many of these discussions focus solely on after exercise, while timing considerations across the entire day are important as well.  The purpose of this article is to break down according to research an ideal day regarding the timing of nutrients.  We're going to assume you work a typical 8-to-4 job (or 9-to-5) and exercise every day after work.  Also, we're not going to get into prescribing exact dietary amounts according to body size, composition, etc. as they would take away from the point of the article, which is to simply discuss timing.

A good day starts with what takes place the night before.  If you are an exercising athlete, the start of a good day has to begin with a good night's sleep.  Most people recognize the importance of sleep for feeling rested and promoting recovery, etc. But more and more scientific data show that lack of sleep can negatively impact blood pressure and development of characteristics associated with diabetes [1].  Upon waking, you must view your night's sleep as a fast and overall a period in which the body is utilizing resources for repair and recovery, while no such resources are being made available to the body.

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The importance of the essential amino acids cannot be overstated and a dose that provides around 6 to 12 grams of the essential amino acids has regularly been shown in research to maximally stimulate muscle protein synthesis throughout all parts of the day [2-4].  How you go about getting these amino acids is up to you, but there is really no sense in waiting once you wake up.  Any animal source of protein is considered to be a complete protein source or one that provides all of the necessary essential amino acids, so morning foods like cereal (milk is dairy) or eggs are great considerations.  Combine this with a cup of yogurt, some fresh fruit and a whole-wheat bagel or oatmeal and you are off and running.  If you are in a hurry or wake up too late and need something fast, a high quality whey protein isolate shake like NytroWhey Ultra Elite is a great start, along with a bagel and/or a protein bar.  If even this is too much planning, then have a high-quality amino acid like ProSource's Mega BCAA in your gym bag (you packed your gym bag, right?) which will provide a balanced delivery of all of the essential amino acids.  While an emphasis on amino acids often takes center stage, delivering a good dose of carbohydrates in the form of bagels, toast, English muffins, etc. must be considered to help ensure your muscles have enough glycogen to power you through your workout.

RELATED: Read here for START STRONG WITH THESE 5 BEGINNER DIET TIPS

Once you are off and running, regular feeding and delivery of amino acids and carbohydrates are the key consideration.  Research shows that blood amino acid levels stay elevated for around two to three hours after consuming around ten grams of essential amino acids [5].  This is a key factor, particularly for people who want muscle hypertrophy.  A number of factors have to be aligned for this process to occur and it all starts with having available nutrients.  When it comes time for lunch, my best advice is to pack your own.  I know some people say they are too busy, but this is a shoddy excuse.  Get out a notepad to plan your meals and go to the grocery store and get the foods.  Then pack your meals two days at a time.  This is important, particularly when it comes to lunch time.   You'll save money, but more importantly you will know exactly what is going into your body.

And for those of you who think you have fast food or commercial restaurants and their menus all figured out, think again, as most folks are off by around 30% when it comes to predicting their caloric intake [6].  Lunch should contain lean cuts of animal protein or skimmed dairy along with healthy oils, whole grains and some fruits or vegetables.  As afternoon approaches and you start to get excited for your workout, make sure to top off your fuel stores by sipping on a small drink to provide valuable carbohydrates and/or protein, but don't do take in too much so your stomach gets upset.  If you are an endurance athlete or any athlete exercising outside in the heat, optimal fluid should be a concern.  Regular sipping of water or sports drink is recommended and you need to monitor how much your body weight changes before and after each workout.  For every pound lost, consume two cups of fluid [7-9].  For resistance athletes, sipping on a pre-workout drink has become extremely popular as they often provide valuable nutrients such as caffeine, creatine, beta-alanine and amino acids, all ingredients shown to improve many aspects of performance [10] One terrific new entry in the pre-workout performance maximization category is BioQuest's Alpha Fury. This thermodynamic muscle pump catalyst offers beta alanine for enhanced stamina, waxy maize carbs for fuel, and other key co-factors for antioxidant support.

RELATED: Read here for THE ULTIMATE BODYBUILDING PROTEIN FOR YOUR EXTREME TRANSFORMATION SOLUTION

Upon completing your workout, a combination of carbohydrates and amino acids needs to be consumed as soon as possible after a workout and preferably within an hour after the workout [11]. Immediately after your workout is an excellent time to consider a post-workout mass builder like BioQuest's MyoZene, which will shut down catabolism and kickstart the recovery and growth process. These nutrients help to start the recovery process inside your stressed muscle fibers and to replace the valuable glycogen that was burned inside your muscles to fuel your workout.  As you are on your way home, you should be thinking about dinner and again a lean source of protein, whole grains, vegetables and healthy oils should all be considerations to help with recovery, provide a healthy dose of vitamins and minerals and control inflammation.  Finally, many people reserve their casein protein for a nighttime snack and literature supports different digestion rates of casein and whey protein and this may be a prudent recommendation as well [12, 13]. An extended-delivery protein like ProSource's NytroPlex-GF is an ideal source of time-released micellar casein, whey isolate, and egg albumin.

In summary, nutrient timing is about much more than eating right after your workout.  To effectively optimize your bodily environment for growth, you need to constantly be thinking ahead to your next meal and what the day has in store for you.  The more active you are, the more important it becomes.  Certainly, this takes effort and planning, but with a few essentials such as a lunch box, plastic containers and a devoted mind and spirit, you too can make nutrient timing work for you and your exercise goals.


References

1.    Knutson, K.L. and E. Van Cauter, Associations between sleep loss and increased risk of obesity and diabetes. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 2008. 1129: p. 287-304.
2.    Borsheim, E., K.D. Tipton, S.E. Wolf, and R.R. Wolfe, Essential amino acids and muscle protein recovery from resistance exercise. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab, 2002. 283(4): p. E648-57.
3.    Rasmussen, B.B., K.D. Tipton, S.L. Miller, S.E. Wolf, and R.R. Wolfe, An oral essential amino acid-carbohydrate supplement enhances muscle protein anabolism after resistance exercise. J Appl Physiol, 2000. 88(2): p. 386-92.
4.    Tipton, K.D., A.A. Ferrando, S.M. Phillips, D. Doyle, Jr., and R.R. Wolfe, Postexercise net protein synthesis in human muscle from orally administered amino acids. Am J Physiol, 1999. 276(4 Pt 1): p. E628-34.
5.    Bohe, J., J.F. Low, R.R. Wolfe, and M.J. Rennie, Latency and duration of stimulation of human muscle protein synthesis during continuous infusion of amino acids. J Physiol, 2001. 532(Pt 2): p. 575-9.
6.    Wright, R.A., Nutritional assessment. JAMA, 1980. 244(6): p. 559-60.
7.    Burke, L.M., Nutritional needs for exercise in the heat. Comp Biochem Physiol A Mol Integr Physiol, 2001. 128(4): p. 735-48.
8.    Casa, D.J., L.E. Armstrong, S.K. Hillman, S.J. Montain, R.V. Reiff, B.S. Rich, W.O. Roberts, and J.A. Stone, National athletic trainers' association position statement: fluid replacement for athletes. Journal of athletic training, 2000. 35(2): p. 212-24.
9.    Sawka, M.N., L.M. Burke, E.R. Eichner, R.J. Maughan, S.J. Montain, and N.S. Stachenfeld, American College of Sports Medicine position stand. Exercise and fluid replacement. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 2007. 39(2): p. 377-90.
10.    Shelmadine, B., M. Cooke, T. Buford, G. Hudson, L. Redd, B. Leutholtz, and D.S. Willoughby, Effects of 28 days of resistance exercise and consuming a commercially available pre-workout supplement, NO-Shotgun(R), on body composition, muscle strength and mass, markers of satellite cell activation, and clinical safety markers in males. J Int Soc Sports Nutr, 2009. 6: p. 16.
11.    Kerksick, C., T. Harvey, J. Stout, B. Campbell, C. Wilborn, R. Kreider, D. Kalman, T. Ziegenfuss, H. Lopez, J. Landis, J.L. Ivy, and J. Antonio, International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: nutrient timing. J Int Soc Sports Nutr, 2008. 5: p. 17.
12.    Boirie, Y., M. Dangin, P. Gachon, M.P. Vasson, J.L. Maubois, and B. Beaufrere, Slow and fast dietary proteins differently modulate postprandial protein accretion. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 1997. 94(26): p. 14930-5.
13.    Dangin, M., Y. Boirie, C. Garcia-Rodenas, P. Gachon, J. Fauquant, P. Callier, O. Ballevre, and B. Beaufrere, The digestion rate of protein is an independent regulating factor of postprandial protein retention. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab, 2001. 280(2): p. E340-8.





Non-Stimulant Diet Support

L-carnitine Emerges as a Promising
Alternative for Transformational Results

[ Editor's Note: Athletes who are sensitive to stimulants have long had few alternatives when it comes to diet support supplements, which are typically beefed up with caffeine, synephrine, and yohimbine, all potent stimulant compounds. Below, noted supplement science expert Dwayne Jackson takes a look at recent scientific developments regarding Acetyl-L-Carnitine and and L-Carnitine L-Tatrate (LCLT). ProSource, of course, offers the industry's purest and most potent formulation of ALC available. Investigation is ongoing, but current findings are highly promising for those who are considering using ALC alone or stacking it with a stimulant-based thermogenic.]


Most diet supplements use specialized formulas containing central nervous system stimulants. These constituents increase norepinephrine (noradrenaline) and epinephrine (adrenaline) levels to increase fat mobilization and diet support. Unfortunately, the over use of stimulants can cause a combination of undesirable side effects like adrenal fatigue, headaches, insomnia, irritability and anxiety. In addition, some people must avoid stimulants due to sensitivities or medical conditions, thus limiting options for these supplements.

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Interestingly, recent research has been investigating stimulant-free substances that produce diet-supportive effects. One such compound that has received significant scientific accolades in this department is L-carnitine. L-carnitine is essential as it is responsible for transporting fatty acids to the mitochodria to be oxidized. It is found naturally in animal products, with red meat and dairy products being the most abundant sources. In the world of L-carnitine supplements, the most notable and highly bioavailable forms are acetyl L-carnitine (ALCAR) and L-carnitine L-tatrate (LCLT). Scientists developed ALCAR and LCLT to be readily digested, which boosts L-carnitine bioavailability and absorption in skeletal muscle.


Past research has repeatedly shown that under exercise conditions, where glycolytic flux is high, there is a consistent decline in muscle carnitine content, which directly correlates with decreases in fat oxidation (van Loon et al., 2001;Roepstorff et al., 2005). In support, there is definitive evidence illustrating that when muscle carnitine levels fall, exercise induced fat mobilization is blunted (Stephens et al., 2006). A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism indicated that an acute increase in skeletal muscle total carnitine content (as noted with ALCAR or LCLT ingestion) results in greater use of body fat for an energy source, even under conditions of high carbohydrate availability (Stephens et al., 2006).

Additional support for L-carnitine comes from a study published in Metabolism involving slightly overweight males. The researchers concluded that L-carnitine supplementation resulted in increased fatty acid oxidation that was not accompanied by increases in protein catabolism (Wutzke & Lorenz, 2004). In a most recent article published in the prestigious Journal of Physiology, scientists from the University of Maastricht (The Netherlands) have conclusively shown that chronic ingestion of L-carnitine (2.0 g of LCLT two times per day) with 80 g of carbohydrates boosts skeletal muscle carnitine levels by 21% compared to baseline levels. Most intriguingly the researchers observed improvements in exercise performance and measured a substantive switchover to favor fat metabolism and glycogen sparing during low intensity and high intensity exercise.

Taken together, it seems that using an L-carnitine supplement like ALCAR or LCLT may prove beneficial for anyone who is concerned with physique improvement while preserving muscle mass. Based on the current scientific evidence, ALCAR and LCLT may augment the fat utilization effects of your workouts regardless of intensity.

References
Roepstorff C, Halberg N, Hillig T, Saha AK, Ruderman NB, Wojtaszewski JF, Richter EA, & Kiens B (2005). Malonyl-CoA and carnitine in regulation of fat oxidation in human skeletal muscle during exercise. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 288, E133-E142.

Stephens FB, Constantin-Teodosiu D, Laithwaite D, Simpson EJ, & Greenhaff PL (2006). An acute increase in skeletal muscle carnitine content alters fuel metabolism in resting human skeletal muscle. J Clin Endocrinol Metab.

van Loon LJ, Greenhaff PL, Constantin-Teodosiu D, Saris WH, & Wagenmakers AJ (2001). The effects of increasing exercise intensity on muscle fuel utilisation in humans. J Physiol 536, 295-304.

Wall BT, Stephens FB, Constantin-Teodosiu D, Marimuthu K, Macdonald IA, Greenhaff PL. Chronic oral ingestion of L-carnitine and carbohydrate increases muscle carnitine content and alters muscle fuel metabolism during exercise in humans: the dual role of muscle carnitine in exercise metabolism. J Physiol. 2011 Jan 4. [Epub ahead of print]

Wutzke KD & Lorenz H (2004). The effect of l-carnitine on fat oxidation, protein turnover, and body composition in slightly overweight subjects. Metabolism 53, 1002-1006 .

Old and New Paradigms in Carbohydrate Nutrition: Slow and Fast Carbs

For decades, carbohydrates (aka carbs) have been the mainstay of what sport nutritionists consider an optimal diet.  Many athletes view carbs as an obligate nutrient that should be consumed before, during and after exercise in order to prevent fatigue, enhance performance, and speed recovery. While there is an empiric basis for strategically using carbohydrate, many of these paradigms are outdated. There is widespread confusion and a lot of misinformation about carbs. Thus, I'm writing the first article in a series that will discuss cutting edge carbohydrate nutrition for athletes, dispel myths, and provide you with a better understanding of how to choose and use carbs to achieve your goals. In this first article, I'll cover the controversial topic of digestion rate and address the pros and cons of fast versus slow carbs.

Carbohydrate Basics
There are different ways to classify carbs. Chemically, they can be mono, di-, or poly-saccharides.  Monosaccharides consist of a single sugar molecule. There are 3 we get in our diet - glucose, fructose, and galactose. Disaccharides are combinations of these single sugars and include sucrose (1 glucose + 1 fructose), lactose (1 glucose + 1 galactose), and maltose (1 glucose + 1 glucose). Collectively, these are also referred to as 'simple sugars'. Starches are polysaccharides that consist of several glucose molecules. They are therefore considered complex carbs.

It's interesting to point out that the carbohydrate source in nearly all sports and energy drinks commercially available is simple sugar. Check out the label on any of the popular brands and you'll likely see one or more of the following simple sugars: glucose, fructose, high fructose corn syrup, and dextrose.  With the exception of fructose (more on this in subsequent articles), simple sugars are digested and absorbed quickly. Many formulations now use maltodextrin, which is technically a complex carbohydrate or "glucose polymer" consisting of anywhere from about 3 to 20 glucose units loosely bound together to form one molecule. Maltodextrin allows for provision of more carbohydrate with less osmolality (more on this later), but it behaves much like glucose in terms of its rate of absorption into the blood. In the last few years there has been another form of carbohydrate introduced into sports drinks that is truly a complex carb - it's called waxy maize. Waxy maize is a starch derived from corn with a high content of a particle starch called amylopectin. It's essentially a very long string of glucose molecules bound together in a branching pattern. Sort of like glycogen for plants. In some cases these are huge molecules with molecular weights greater than 500,000 g/mol. Compare that to glucose at 180 g/mol.

Digestion Rate and Glycemic Index
Glycemic index (GI) is a method to rate carbohydrate containing food based on their acute glycemic impact. A standard amount of carbohydrate is fed to a group of people, and serial blood draws are obtained over a 2 hour period. The blood glucose area under the curve is calculated and compared to a standard (usually white bread or glucose). A food with a high GI increases blood glucose fast whereas a low GI results in a muted blood glucose response. The main determinant of the GI is the rate of digestion and movement through the gastrointestinal tract. You might think that simple carbs are digested fast and complex ones slow. However, it's not that straight forward. Several complex carb (eg, potatoes) actually have a very high GI and simple carbs (eg, fructose) have a low GI. For the purposes of sports drinks, most contain fast acting carbs with a high GI. It's hard to predict the GI of many of the new waxy maize products because of the different preparation methods that have a significant impact on how the starch is digested and absorbed.  Some are marketed as fast-acting and probably do have a fast absorption (high GI) whereas other clearly have a low GI.

Fast Versus Slow Carbs Before Exercise
When it comes to selecting a sports drink for pre-exercise use, a key practical question is whether you should look for a fast or slow acting carb source. As I have said, the majority of sports drinks contain fast acting carbs. The rationale is to provide a quick hitting source of glucose for fast energy. But what does the research show? Studies comparing low to high GI carbs before exercise have found that low GI carbs consistently impact metabolism during exercise including attenuated glucose and insulin responses, increased circulating fatty acids and glycerol, increased fat oxidation, decreased reliance on carbohydrate fuel sources, muscle and liver glycogen sparing, and increased hepatic glucose production late in exercise as athletes approach fatigue. Several studies have also noted that low GI carbs result in significant increases in exercise performance (1-5).

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How do the new waxy maize products perform? Although new sugar-free products consisting of waxy maize starch have some advantages over simple sugar, their impact on preventing blood sugar spikes and crashes and preventing insulin-induced down regulation of fat burning remains unclear for the majority of products. Most are advertised to provide rapid digestion, but the speed of absorption is what is important for affecting blood glucose levels. Several reputable and high-quality brands include Muscle Maize by BioQuest, Waximaze by IDS, and Glycomaize by Optimum.

Man and Machine
In examining the physiology of slow release carbs for sport performance, the automotive metaphor is hard to resist. Think about gas for your car. You wouldn't want to empty the entire gas tank into the engine all at once. Bad news for performance. But that's what happens if you ingest a fast acting carbohydrate before or during exercise. There are only about 1-2 teaspoons of sugar in your blood and often times sports drinks can contain 5-10 times this amount of carbohydrate. So if that carbohydrate gets absorbed quickly into the blood it's like dumping your entire gas tank into the combustion chamber - its overkill. You might say but what's wrong with having extra glucose in the blood, especially if it will end up being used by the muscle eventually?  The principle concern with rapidly elevating glucose is that it stimulates insulin secretion. Insulin does many things in the body, but one of its most potent effects (well within the physiologic range of insulin values) is that it potently inhibits fat breakdown and fat oxidation. Fat represents the largest reservoir of energy for an athlete since they can only store a limited amount of glycogen. Since show release carbs do not increase insulin to the same extent, they allows for a larger percentage of fuel to come from fat while still maintaining glucose levels and likely sparing muscle glycogen. Circling back to the automotive analogy, taking a slow release carb is like a hybrid car that can run on electricity (fat), but has gas (glucose) as a fuel source as well.

Summary
Most sports and energy drinks consist of simple sugars designed to provide rapid increases in glucose. Research however points to lower glycemic impact carbs as having a metabolic and performance edge. It may be worthwhile to rethink the paradigm that a spike in blood glucose and insulin is necessary or even desired before exercise. The same logic may apply to consuming carbs during and recovery after exercise, but more on that in future articles.



Works Cited
  1. Thomas et al. Carbohydrate feeding before exercise: effect of glycemic index. Int J Sports Med. 1991 Apr;12(2):180-6.
  2. DeMarco et al. Pre-exercise carbohydrate meals: application of glycemic index. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1999 Jan;31(1):164-70.
  3. Kirwan et al. Effects of moderate and high glycemic index meals on metabolism and exercise performance. Metabolism. 2001 Jul;50(7):849-55.
  4. Wu et al. A low glycemic index meal before exercise improves endurance running capacity in men. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2006 Oct;16(5):510-27.
  5. Chen et al. Effect of preexercise meals with different glycemic indices and loads on metabolic responses and endurance running. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2008 Jun;18(3):281-300.



Leucine and Nytro Whey Ultra Elite: Turning On The Light Switch to a Leaner, Bigger YOU

The New Year is approaching and like most every other year, the most common resolutions will be those associated with something related to your body or exercise: lose weight, stop eating junk food, start exercising, etc.  For those wanting to pack on some muscle, lose fat and improve body composition, a few things are paramount for success to occur.  First, be positive and be consistent.  Life throws curve-balls at us all the time and it's perfectly normal if you miss a workout or blow a meal.  The biggest thing here is to not let one missed workout turn into two, then three, then four.  Another key factor is to be realistic.  Weight loss and changes to your body take time.  A consistent and committed effort to a regular exercise program must be happening.

The power of exercise on the human body is a great thing and when applied in the right amounts over time, positive changes are very likely to occur.  You can also believe in the power of combining a consistent exercise program with a good diet that provides high amounts of key nutrients.  One nutrient worth discussing is leucine.  Briefly, leucine is one of the twenty amino acids our body needs to build proteins [1].  However, only the essential amino acids are needed to stimulate muscle growth [2, 3] and getting them in optimal doses and at the right time are two critical factors for this physiological activity.  Because the essential amino acids are exclusively used to build muscle, it's extremely important that you know what food sources provide appropriate amounts of the essential amino acids.

The body can't produce essential amino acids so they must be consumed as part of a person's diet.  A number of approaches can be taken by people to get the necessary and hopefully optimal amounts of protein and amino acid levels in their diet.  In the simplest of senses, all sources of protein that come from an animal are complete protein sources.  So things like beef, poultry, milk, eggs, etc. all come from animals and are known to be complete protein sources.  Complete protein sources are best because they contain all nine of the essential amino acids.  When it comes to supplementation, the most reasonable approach is one that combines good high quality food choices as the mainstay of your meals each day, with added supplementation as needed. Indeed, during the times in which quick delivery of key nutrients is needed, supplementation becomes critically important.  A number of high quality protein sources are available and recently, ProSource released Nytro Whey Ultra Elite.  The NytroWhey brand has been a juggernaut of a product line for years and for great reason.  It contains a high quality source of whey protein, contains low amounts of sugar and fat and comes in a variety of great-tasting flavors.  What makes NytroWhey Ultra Elite, "Elite"???  The answer here lies in the inclusion of a proprietary extraction method for leucine itself which results in a more bioavailable dose of leucine.  While a number of high quality protein products are out there, the inclusion of the leucine extract is one certain reason to choose Nytro Whey Ultra Elite over others.

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Why is leucine so important?  Researchers have found that its sole inclusion triggers the building of muscle proteins [4].  How much is needed?  Well research studies have repeatedly shown that 6 to 12 grams of essential amino acids are what is needed to maximize muscle protein synthesis [5-7]; roughly the same amount provided in one 25 gram scoop of NytroWhey Ultra Elite.  Need further proof that this amount is enough?  Research has found that muscle protein synthesis significantly increases to greater amounts when 5, 10 and 20 grams of protein are ingested, but no further increase occurs when a 40 gram dose is ingested [8].  Take home messages from these studies reveal it is likely more effective for a person to avoid ingesting single doses of protein much greater than 20 grams.

Interestingly, research has begun to illustrate the fact that leucine by itself can act as a powerful trigger to turn on the building of muscle proteins.  In addition to building more muscle, leucine is also implicated in helping to maintain more favorable levels of glucose and insulin, two key factors which bring your muscles in and out of an anabolic and catabolic state.  In operating truly like a light switch, a dose of 2 to 3 grams of leucine appears necessary to turn on these processes and once they are turned on they're on.  In other words, a minimum 2 gram threshold for leucine appears to exists.  If smaller doses (i.e. 1 gram) are given, the processes aren't turned on and similarly if five grams are given the processes are turned on but to the same extent as when 2 to 3 grams were given.  In other words, "some leucine is better than none" and "more is better" need not apply as a dosage of 2 to 3 grams appears to be the necessary amount to trigger or "turn on" protein translation [4, 9, 10].

The nutrition side of changing your body is critically important.  Building muscles requires a sound exercise program, consistent effort and a seemingly constant supply of the essential amino acids.  Several different approaches can be taken to deliver these key nutrients.  Certainly, planning your meals to provide a 6-to-12 gram dose of the essential amino acids every 2 to 3 hours is possible, but it takes a lot of work.  Adding a high quality whey protein supplement like NytroWhey Ultra Elite helps fills these important gaps and does an excellent job of conveniently providing not only optimal levels of essential amino acids, but also optimal levels of leucine.  As to how you go about it, your muscles don't care, but only giving them optimal leucine after two or three meals a day will not cut it.  If you want to pave the way to pack on some muscle and improve your body composition, adding a high quality whey protein supplement like NytroWhey Ultra Elite may be the difference between turning on the lights for muscle growth throughout the day or just when you find time to grab a meal.  You know what to do.


REFERENCES
1.    Antonio, J., et al., eds. Essentials of Sports Nutrition and Supplements. 2008, Humana Press: New York, NY.
2.    Tipton, K.D., et al., Nonessential amino acids are not necessary to stimulate net muscle protein synthesis in healthy volunteers. J Nutr Biochem, 1999. 10(2): p. 89-95.
3.    Volpi, E., et al., Essential amino acids are primarily responsible for the amino acid stimulation of muscle protein anabolism in healthy elderly adults. Am J Clin Nutr, 2003. 78(2): p. 250-8.
4.    Suryawan, A., et al., Leucine acts as a nutrient signal to stimulate protein synthesis in neonatal pigs. J Anim Sci, 2010.
5.    Borsheim, E., et al., Essential amino acids and muscle protein recovery from resistance exercise. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab, 2002. 283(4): p. E648-57.
6.    Tipton, K.D. and A.A. Ferrando, Improving muscle mass: response of muscle metabolism to exercise, nutrition and anabolic agents. Essays Biochem, 2008. 44: p. 85-98.
7.    Tipton, K.D., et al., Timing of amino acid-carbohydrate ingestion alters anabolic response of muscle to resistance exercise. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab, 2001. 281(2): p. E197-206.
8.    Moore, D.R., et al., Ingested protein dose response of muscle and albumin protein synthesis after resistance exercise in young men. Am J Clin Nutr, 2009. 89(1): p. 161-8.
9.    Norton, L.E., et al., The leucine content of a complete meal directs peak activation but not duration of skeletal muscle protein synthesis and mammalian target of rapamycin signaling in rats. J Nutr, 2009. 139(6): p. 1103-9.
10.    Norton, L.E. and D.K. Layman, Leucine regulates translation initiation of protein synthesis in skeletal muscle after exercise. J Nutr, 2006. 136(2): p. 533S-537S.



Healthy fats play a critical role in maintaining peak physique and performance

As bodybuilders we receive all kinds of dietary advice from others, some good and some not so good. One of the most common suggestions is to keep all fats to a minimum to avoid consuming too many calories. From a basic perspective this ideology makes sense since each gram of fat packs 9 calories, whereas one gram of protein or carbohydrates only has 4 calories. However, this thinking assumes that all fats are created equal and have no clear benefit beyond significantly boosting calories---this is not the case. In fact, essential fats are one of the most underestimated and overlooked macronutrients/supplements in bodybuilding and research has clearly shown that they are fundamentally important for bodybuilders and strength athletes.

There are four main types of fats: monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, saturated, and trans fat; the former 2 promote healthy events in the body and the last two are considered unhealthy even when consumed in low amounts. Of the healthy ones, polyunsaturated fats have received an abundance of research support for their health and performance benefits. Polyunsaturated fats can be subcategorized into the essential fatty acids alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3) and linoleic acid (omega-6), which are not manufactured in the body and thus must be consumed in the diet. Our North American diet is heavy in omega-6 fatty acids, as they are prevalent in many food sources like poultry, eggs, nuts, and whole grain breads. As well, omega-6 fatty acids are abundant in canola oil, safflower oil, and corn oil. In contrast, our diet is relatively lacking in omega-3 fatty acids which are contained in high concentration in fatty fish (like salmon, mackerel, halibut, swordfish, etc), grass fed beef, flax fed poultry, flax seeds, and walnuts. As a result, the average North American diet contains anywhere from 10 to 25 times more omega-6 than omega-3 fats, which is not ideal or healthy. In fact, research suggests that we should be getting nearly equal amounts of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids in our daily diet. This is easily achieved by moderating the amount of omega-6 fatty acids taken in the diet, while bolstering the amount of omega-3's through supplementation. The best supplements for this are fish oil or flax based.

Scientific research has shown that maintaining an adequate balance of polyunsaturated fatty acids through diet and supplementation can improve health and provide an internal environment for fat loss, recovery, greater muscular growth and increased strength. Below we give you a brief overview of the research-backed benefits of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation for bodybuilders.

Supporting fat loss and improved body composition
Many studies have shown that fish oil (omega-3 fatty acid) supplements increase fat loss and decrease overall fat accumulation (especially in the abdominal region) by significantly increasing lipolytic (fat burning) enzymes and decreasing lipogenic (fat accumulating) enzymes. As well, a recent study has shown that 6 weeks of fish oil supplementation can increase lean mass and decrease fat mass in healthy adults. In the same study, researchers illustrated that those who took fish oil had decreased cortisol (catabolic hormone) levels, which likely led to their observed increases in lean mass. Overall, the well-established impact of omega-3 fatty acids on decreased fat mass, increased lean mass, and decreased catabolic cortisol levels clearly demonstrate the importance of omega-3 supplements in bodybuilding.

Enhancing insulin sensitivity
It has been shown in numerous studies that omega-3 fatty acid supplements increase insulin sensitivity and can even reverse insulin resistance. The majority of studies show that this occurs mainly in skeletal muscle. This is of great benefit to bodybuilders, after all, because insulin drives sugars into muscle (as glycogen) and is also one of the most anabolic hormones. This effect of omega-3's on insulin sensitivity not only ensures adequate glycogen storage and anabolism, but also decreases the chance that sugars will be converted and stored as fat.

Increasing muscle blood flow
It has been shown in animals and humans that omega-3 supplements increase blood flow responses to exercise, an effect that occurs due to increased vasodilation. In a recent study, after only 6 weeks of fish oil supplementation, researchers observed a 34% increase in forearm vasodilation during rhythmic handgrip exercise compared to those who were given a placebo. Increased blood flow to working muscles ensures adequate nutrient delivery and metabolite clearance, which has been associated with decreased recovery time and increased strength/muscular gains.
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Reducing inflammation and pain

Several lines of evidence have shown that omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and pain associated with heavy training. In fact, studies have shown that omega-3's significantly reduce inflammatory cytokine production, resulting in anti-inflammatory and analgesic (pain-relieving) effects comparable to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. For bodybuilders, this equates to tougher workouts with shorter recovery times--- leading to greater muscular gains in the long run.

In addition to the above benefits, omega-3 supplements have also been unequivocally shown to protect and repair the cardiovascular system, maintain/correct blood cholesterol and healthy blood lipids. Thus, if you aren't already incorporating these healthy fats into your regimen, there is no better time to start than now.

Elite-quality omega-3 formulations

As always, quality is paramount when supplementing with omega-3s or any essential bodybuilding nutrient. The R&D team at ProSource has recently released the best omega-3 formulations on the market: Omega 3 Fusion and Flax Fusion. As with all their products, they are of highest quality and have been optimized for taste and potency. Being forward thinking, they have combined their omega-3s with powerful antioxidants to prolong potency (something that is overlooked by most other formulas). This is imperative because omega-3 fatty acids are highly vulnerable to oxidation, which results in degradation and complete loss of effectiveness. Gain the many physique and performance benefits unique to omega-3 supplementation with premium-quality ProSource omega-3 products.


References
Simopoulos AP. The importance of the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 essential fatty acids. Biomed Pharmacother. 2002 Oct;56(8):365-79

Simopoulos AP. Human requirement for N-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Poult Sci. 2000 Jul;79(7):961-70

Martín de Santa Olalla L, Sánchez Muniz FJ, Vaquero MP. N-3 fatty acids in glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity. Nutr Hosp. 2009 Mar-Apr;24(2):113-27.

Hill AM, Buckley JD, Murphy KJ, Howe PR. Combining fish-oil supplements with regular aerobic exercise improves body composition and cardiovascular disease risk factors. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 May;85(5):1267-74.

Maroon JC, Bost JW. Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil) as an anti-inflammatory: an alternative to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for discogenic pain. Surg Neurol. 2006 Apr;65(4):326-31.

Tartibian B, Maleki BH, Abbasi A. The effects of ingestion of omega-3 fatty acids on perceived pain and external symptoms of delayed onset muscle soreness in untrained men. Clin J Sport Med. 2009 Mar;19(2):115-9.

Noreen EE, Sass MJ, Crowe ML, Pabon VA, Brandauer J, Averill LK.
Effects of supplemental fish oil on resting metabolic rate, body composition, and salivary cortisol in healthy adults. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2010 Oct 8;7:31.

Hao W, Wong OY, Liu X, Lee P, Chen Y, Wong KK. ω-3 fatty acids suppress inflammatory cytokine production by macrophages and hepatocytes. J Pediatr Surg. 2010 Dec;45(12):2412-8.

Stebbins CL, Hammel LE, Marshal BJ, Spangenberg EE, Musch TI. Effects of dietary omega-3 polyunsaturated Fatty acids on the skeletal-muscle blood-flow response to exercise in rats. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2010 Dec;20(6):475-86.

Walser B, Giordano RM, Stebbins CL. Supplementation with omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids augments brachial artery dilation and blood flow during forearm contraction. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2006 Jun;97(3):347-54. Epub 2006 Apr 25.


The Lowdown on Low Carbohydrate Dieting for Bodybuilders

The most effective dietary approach for shedding body fat is to restrict carbohydrates. Most bodybuilders figure this out intuitively or they have been given advice by fellow weight lifters. As a scientist who has studied the effects of low carbohydrate diets for over 10 years and is a former competitive power lifter, I can tell you that a low carbohydrate diet is indeed a powerful weapon for blasting fat. However, there are many ways to go about a low carbohydrate diet and the results can vary tremendously. In fact some forms of carbohydrate restriction may be counter-productive if you do not pay attention to some important details. Here are some of the common mistakes people make and how you can maximize the effectiveness of a low carbohydrate diet.

How Low to Go
The level of carbohydrate restriction required to maximize fat loss varies from person to person but most people need to consume below 50 grams per day to achieve a maximum level of fat burning and ketosis. Ketosis is a perfectly natural process that occurs when fat breakdown is accelerated and the fatty acids get converted to ketones in the liver. The ketones serve as a vital fuel source for the brain and muscles. When carbohydrates are restricted to less than 50 grams per day, over a period of about 2-3 weeks a process called keto-adaption occurs where your body becomes very efficient at breaking down and burning prodigious amounts of fat. And if calories are restricted, much of that fuel comes from stored body fat.

Protein
Protein is important and getting more than the recommended dietary allowance (0.8 gram per kilogram body weight) is definitely needed. But most bodybuilders already get plenty of protein, and when carbs are restricted there is a tendency to pile in even more because many of the common foods that are low in carbohydrate contain protein. It's important not to overdo protein on a low carbohydrate diet. First of all, consuming protein beyond 2 grams per kilogram body weight has no additional benefit on protein synthesis. Second, consuming excessive amounts of protein can interfere with keto-adaptation. That's because some of the amino acids can be converted to glucose in the body and this negatively impacts fat burning.

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Importance of Fat
It's no surprise that a majority of Americans are fat-a-phobic since the dietary guidelines have been promoting a low fat diet for the last four decades. Most bodybuilders probably don't pay attention to what others are doing, but in case you happen to have a fear of fat, it's important to get rid of it. Fat is your friend when you're consuming a low carbohydrate diet. It serves as fuel and adds flavor to the diet and it does not interfere with the keto-adaption. Based on the extensive work I have conducted, the extra fat does not cause health problems, in fact the diet results in broad spectrum improvements in risk factors for diabetes and heart disease.  

The Right Types of Fat
Since carbs are low and protein is capped, the majority of calories on a low carbohydrate diet come from fat. Thus, you want to choose types of fat that the body likes to burn as fuel. Those are the saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids (SFA and MUFA, respectively), as opposed to the polyunsaturated fats (PUFA). Most animal fats are primarily SFA and MUFA and thus are good sources of fat. Use olive oil, canola oil or high oleic safflower oil because they are rich in MUFA. Stay away from the typical oils rich in PUFA (corn, soybean, safflower) used in most commercial products. Meats, eggs, olives, avocados, heavy cream, nuts and seeds, cheese, oils (olive and canola), and butter are all good sources of fat. Won't all that saturated fat have adverse health effects? Not according to our research. We have shown on a low carbohydrate diet that saturated fat levels actually decrease in the body even though dietary intake is high. How can that be? When carbs are low, the body burns the dietary saturated fat.

Sodium
Salt is a critically important micronutrient, especially on a low carbohydrate diet. When carbohydrates are restricted the body starts to discard water and salt. It's not uncommon for people to lose 4-5 pounds of water weight during the first week of a low carbohydrate diet. If that salt is not replaced the body responds by trying to retain more salt. This primarily happens in the kidneys. As a result, the kidneys start to waste potassium leading to a negative potassium balance. What does all this mean? The loss of water and salt can reduce plasma volume and make you feel sluggish and compromise your ability to perform in the weight room. Some people get headaches and feel faint. The loss of potassium can have a negative impact on muscle mass since most of the potassium is found within skeletal muscle. The easy solution, take in an extra 1-2 grams of sodium per day. The easiest way to ensure you get enough is to consume 2 bouillon cubes per day. On days you exercise be sure to take one cube 30 minutes before your workout.

Supplements
There are some great low carbohydrate supplements that make low carb dieting easier and more effective. NytroWhey Ultra Elite is specifically designed to achieve maximal delivery of amino acids to muscle to ensure a positive protein balance.  The state of the art peptides particularly rich in branched chain amino acids with extra leucine make it a unique anabolic delivery system.  Taken before and after exercise NytroWhey Ultra Elite will ensure the muscle is primed to grow. Supreme Protein bars are also a superb option on a low carbohydrate diet. Besides being delicious, the bars also contain a high quality whey protein that can be used around your workout.

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