Tag: Food

How Alcohol Decreases Performance and Muscle Gain

How Alcohol Decreases Performance and Muscle Gain

Alcohol is an acidic substance that can travel freely through the cells in the body.

As it runs through our blood and into our brain, organ and muscle cells, it breaks down the tissues, causing damage and decreasing function.

In small doses, it does little damage, but over time the negative effects can add up to significant performance loss, especially with excessive amounts.

Alcohol also greatly decreases water reabsorption, causing dehydration, testosterone and your body’s ability to recover from exercise. This puts even more stress on your body and adds to the negative effects of alcohol.

The goal of your diet should be to improve your performance and health, and anything that goes against that goal should not be a part of your diet. That includes alcohol, drugs, and even some foods.

So if you truly want to perform at your best, build muscle and be healthy, you should avoid consuming alcohol and any other harmful substances on a regular basis.


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Why Whole Food Is Better Than Any Supplement!

Why Whole Foods Are Better Than Any Supplement!

Whole foods are always better than processed foods and supplements.

Whole foods include things like meat, dairy, nuts, beans, fruits, and vegetables that have little to no processing, and are still in their whole natural form.

If you want to perform your best and live healthily, then whole foods are the way to go. Supplements are ok if you need something quick and easy, but whole foods need to be your solid base of nutrition.

Processed Food vs. Whole Food

Processed foods are modified forms of whole foods that commonly remove valuable nutrients and add in less valuable nutrients.

Whole foods are better than processed foods because whole foods are in a perfect consumable form, full of valuable nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals.

Whole foods are natural and in a form that our bodies can easily digest. It is only after modifying our food that our bodies become confused and have negative reactions to the food we eat.

Modifying our food modifies the way that our body has to break it down and how it reacts to the substances in it.

This is often harmful and leads to unhealthy conditions in the body, such as hormonal changes, digestion problems, and inflammation.

That is why you should try to focus on creating your own food from whole foods rather than relying on processed foods.

Some common processed foods to avoid are:

  • most bread or wheat products,
  • canned foods,
  • processed meats,
  • fried foods,
  • desserts and candies.

Supplements vs. Whole Foods

Supplements can be valuable if you lack specific nutrients, but are a weaker form of food.

If you do not have a nutrient deficient illness, you do not need any supplements to be healthy or perform well.

Originally, supplements were designed to aid people with illnesses that lacked specific nutrients. Doctors would prescribe those with nutrient deficiencies, usually caused by a lack of whole foods in their diet, supplements to help replace what they have not been getting from their diet.

This was never a solution, but rather like giving the body medicine to fix the immediate symptoms. The ultimate fix would just be to teach their patients to eat whole foods that supplied the nutrients they needed.

Now, regardless of what many bodybuilders and fitness athletes may think, you DO NOT NEED ANY SUPPLEMENT to get bigger, stronger or faster.

All you need is more whole foods that supply everything you need!

If you want to get bigger, stronger and faster, then just eat more whole foods to get all the nutrients you need!

If you ever do choose to take a supplement, you should consult with someone who knows about the effects of each of its ingredients, such as a medical practitioner and does research from a knowledgeable source.

Just remember to keep whole foods as your base of nutrition to keep your body strong and healthy!

Learn about my thoughts on Steroids and PEDs in Strength Sports.

Tip: Organic does not mean healthy. Organic products have the potential to carry more nutrients but may be just as bad for you if you make bad choices and indulge too much on sweet things. Think and read the labels before making a logical decision about if any food is healthy in your opinion and works towards your goals.

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Water To Get stronger, Build Muscle and Lose Fat!

How Much Water Do You Need To Get stronger, Build Muscle and Lose Fat?

Water is the most valuable nutrient for our body to be healthy and perform optimally.

Even a slight amount of dehydration (2-3%) can greatly affect your health and performance.

That is why it is so important to stay hydrated every day. Especially if you are looking to get stronger, build muscle or lose weight.

To keep your body performing at its best and avoid the negative effects of dehydration, drink at least 0.7oz of water per pound of body weight daily.

Realize that this is only the minimum requirement and, the more active you are, the more you should drink to stay properly hydrated.

 

Tips for Improving Hydration

  • Don’t drink your daily fluids all at once. Spread your intake throughout the day.
  • To help improve metabolisms and energize your body, consume one liter, or 33.2oz, of water within the first hour after waking up in the morning.
  • Another large percentage should be consumed just before, during and after exercise, however, this should be done with salty food to improve absorption and maintain electrolyte balance.
  • If you are not used to consuming an adequate amount of water, start by increasing your intake by 0.5 liters or about 16oz per 1 week until you reach your daily needs.

To learn more about Hydration, read our article Hydration Basics for Athletes and Lifters and watch the video below!

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How Much Protein Do You Actually Need?

How Much Protein Do You Actually Need?

Protein is the building block used to create new cells. This includes anything from new skin cells to muscle tissue.

Protein is also an energy source and, though, it provides the same amount of energy as carbohydrates, it is not a good energy source. It has a long metabolic process, requiring a lot of energy to break down, and gives you a very slow and weak energy source.

This is great for people trying to cut back on carbohydrate intake, or to lose weight, but is not good for high performance and function.

To function at your best, you should use carbohydrates for fuel and protein for recovery.

Amino Acids and Protein

Proteins themselves are made of amino acids linked together. Each amino acid has a distinct shape that enables it to perform a unique function.

There are 20 different amino acids. Most are obtained by food while some can be created in the body.

However, if any of the 20 amino acids are lacking, then a protein, or new building block, cannot be made.

Without complete proteins, a new cell cannot be formed and the energy obtained from the extra amino acids is used as energy, or stored as body fat.

This means that we should be consuming complete proteins and not just amino acid sources in order to gain the best results.

How Much Protein Do You Actually Need?

Naturally every day we lose thousands of cells every day that need to be replaced with new cells. This includes anything from dead skin cells to broken down muscle tissue.

Individuals who exercise or do strenuous work, in which muscle is broken down often, need even more protein than sedentary individuals, to replace the lost cells.

However, there is a limit to how much protein we should be taking because it has been discovered that taking too much protein (over 1.5g/lb or 3.3g/kg of body weight) can put an unnecessary, and potentially harmful, strain on your body’s systems.

Also, your body can only grow so much in one day so taking extra protein, no matter how big and muscular you are, will only put more strain on your body and give you a weak energy source.

Therefore, it is best to consume only what is needed to recover and use carbohydrates and fats as your main fuel sources. 

To ensure you get enough protein to maintain or gain strength, aim to consume 0.5-0.7g of protein per pound (1.2-1.6g/kg) of body weight daily.

For individuals who do not exercise or break down muscle often, it is recommended that they consume only 0.4-0.5g per pound (0.8-1g/kg) of body weight daily.

In either case, any excess protein that is not used to build new cells will then be used for energy or fat storage.

Protein is not a bad source of energy, but it is not optimal either. It is much slower to break down and uses the most amount of water during metabolism.

By maintaining a constant level of protein daily, based on your needs, then the better energy sources, carbs and fats, can fluctuate depending on your daily activities.

Carbs are fast digesting while fats are slow digesting. So on days that you have a lot of intense activity consume more carbs while on less intense activity days you should rely more on your fat intake for energy.

Good protein sources are meats, beans, legumes, and dairy products.

Protein supplements can help to accumulate more protein in a diet but should be used sparingly, as whole food will always give you better results, guaranteed!

 

If you want to learn more, check out: The Truth About Protein Supplements!

Tip: Supplementing with BCAA’s, or branch chain amino acids, can be effective, but only if you are lacking one of the 8 essential, or 2 semi-essential, amino acids. Any excess amino acid that cannot be used to make a complete protein will be used for energy or stored as fat.

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Carbs for Fuel and Performance

Carbs for Fuel and Performance

Carbs are the #1 source for fuel in the body.

The main function of carbohydrates is to supply the body with energy, and they are also the only fuel source for the brain.

Our body does not “need” carbohydrates to survive, but they are vital for optimal performance in all forms of athletes, as well as everyday life.

The amount of carbohydrates required for optimal health and performance is different for everyone, based on body weight and activity level, but we all need that fast-acting energy source to be at our best.

Many diets focus on manipulating carbohydrates for different purposes. These are effective as long as you are using the right amount of fuel for your needs, and not forgetting about your health.

When manipulating carbohydrates in your diet you can choose:

  1. No Carb
  2. Low Carb
  3. Moderate or Regular
  4. High Carb

Each serves a specific purpose that we will go over in the following.

 

Low-Carb Diets

Low carb diets limit the number of carbohydrates you are allowed to consume each day. This is great for non-active individuals or those trying to decrease their cravings or dependency on sugars.

If you find yourself often sedentary (without exercise), or craving sweet treats too often, you may want to give this a try. Just don’t limit your carb intake too much.

By limiting carb intake through low carb diets, you are starving your body and brain of the fuel it needs to perform optimally.

This is not deadly, but your brain and muscles will not function at their highest performance.

If you just go low carb, consuming only 30-130g of carbohydrates per day you will often feel tired and slow as your brain doesn’t get enough fuel to perform its best and your body runs on its slow-acting fat stores.

So make sure that even on low carb diets you get at least 130g of carbohydrates, no matter your bodyweight, to keep your brain focused on tasks, not hunger.

Any extra carbs you have after that should be based on your activity level for the day.

 

The (No Carb) Ketogenic Diet

The Ketogenic Diet, a no carb diet, is getting more and more popular these days for its ability to relieve people of their sugar dependencies in order to lose weight and become healthier.

Of course, this lack of carbohydrate intake poses a problem for our brain’s fuel. However, our bodies have a solution.

Our bodies are smart and will adapt to a lack of carbohydrates by creating ketone bodies as a secondary fuel source for the brain to live on. This is a survival mechanism, but it can also be harmful if ketones are in the blood for months at a time.

Ketone bodies are acidic and will change our blood pH which in turn puts stress on other systems in the body.

So realize that Ketogenic is only a short-term diet.

The Ketogenic Diet is not meant to be maintained for more than 3-6 months. It is a lifestyle change that allows you to restart your relationship with carbohydrates after a few months.

When you start over, simply start adding in good carbohydrates that are non-addicting like fruits, whole grains, and some starches. Breads and sugars tend to be addictive so only have those on occasion.

 

Carbs for Everyday

While carbs should not be too low, they should also not be too high.

If carbohydrate intake is too high without adequate exercise, then there will likely be an excess of energy leading to fat storage. Any carbs that are not used through exercise, or metabolism, will be stored in your muscles, liver and then fat cells.

It is easy to use carbohydrates while they are in the blood or muscles, but when they are stored as fat their function changes. They go from being a fast-acting fuel source to a slow-acting fuel source in the form of fat.

Therefore, carbohydrate intake needs to be regulated depending on the amount of exercise you do.

A good range of carbohydrates to have daily for inactive individuals is between 1-2g per pound of body weight with a minimum of 130g to maintain optimal brain function.

Intake should be spread throughout the day in small increments rather than eaten all at once so that you always have a little fast-acting energy ready.

Your main carb intake should come from whole fruits (not juices), beans, oats, and grains; not addictive carbs like breads and sugary treats.

 

High Carb for Athletes

Athletes that do intense exercise exceeding 1 hour on a given day, should have a high carb diet. This allows for higher performance and faster recovery.

An optimal range of carbohydrate intake for highly active individuals is 2-4g per pound of bodyweight.

The majority of carbohydrates should be consumed before, during and after exercise.

During intense exercise, that exceeds one hour or more, it is helpful to intake about 20-60g of carbohydrate per hour, depending upon body weight and intensity, to increase endurance.

To replenish glycogen stores post exercise, carbohydrates should be consumed at a rate of 1.2g per kilogram (2.2 pounds) of body weight every hour until stores are replenished (based on body weight).

 

The Final Word

Overall, when it comes to carbs, find what fits you.

If you are not very active, then you do not need more than 130g of carbohydrates daily. If you are highly active, you need a lot to keep up with your activity level.

Most of us are in between so just keep a normal amount based on your bodyweight and make sure you are getting your carbs from healthy sources, not breads and treats.


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