With the release of my upcoming book on gaining mass (weaponsformass.com), and another on fat loss, I thought these would be useful reviews to whet your appetite for what's to come!
1. Omega-3 Weight Loss Study
The evidence of benefit for omega-3 fatty acids is quickly mounting. Well, here's a recent study with a fairly new finding for these "super fats;" omega-3 fats may lead to a higher body weight loss in conjunction with a weight loss program.
There have been a few other studies pointing to this connection, so this just adds some more evidence to this research question.
Twenty obese women were randomly assigned to a very low calorie diet (VLCD) with added omega-3's or a VLCD with placebo. VLCD's are sometimes used with severely obese individuals to bring their weight down rather quickly since they are at a very high risk for various comorbidities.
| What Are Comorbidities?
Comorbidities are two or more usually unrelated conditions/diseases that happen to be occuring at the same time, such as ADHD and depression.
It was determined in this short 3-week study that those in the omega-3 supplemented group lost approximately 3 pounds more, which was significant. Keep in mind this was only a 3-week study, so 3 additional pounds in 3 weeks is a lot (looks like 3's a charm).
Furthermore, there was a significantly greater decrease in hip circumferences in the omega-3 supplemented group and a great decrease of fibrinogen in the omega-3 group. Fibrinogen is a marker of inflammation, which from all we know about omega-3's, make sense.
This short abstract didn't list the dosage of omega-3 fats consumed by the group, but most recommendations for otherwise healthy individuals are in the 1-2 g/day range.
Although this study was conducted on obese women, there has also been evidence that this same effect occurs in leaner individuals.
2. Fad Diets, Head-To-Head Study
The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) recently published a study putting the heavy hitter diet books head-to-head.
160 overweight or obese participants were randomly assigned to one of the 4 diets and researchers measured adherence rate and weight loss.
It was found that subjects in the Atkins group lost approximately 4.5 pounds, the Zone and Weight Watchers groups lost approximately 7 pounds, and the Ornish group lost just a bit over 7 pounds.
None of the weight losses were considered statistically significant between diets. The Zone and Weight Watchers groups had a 65% attrition rate and both Atkins and Ornish reported approximately a 50% attrition rate.
The Moral Of The Story:
Extreme diets (very high fat or very low fat) were the hardest to follow. The more moderate plans, like Weight Watchers and the Zone had better rates of retention, all with similar weight loss outcomes.
3. Weight Gain Study
Packing on slabs of muscle is easier for novice lifters than experienced ones. Finding the optimal "mass building" routine for experienced folks is like searching for the Holy Grail.
Therefore, to help solve this dilemma, researchers recently published a review of the literature in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise looking at 140 studies to determine the dose response for strength development.
Through the available literature, the researchers determined that in trained individuals, 80% of 1 rep max or 8 reps/set elicits the greatest strength increase. On the contrary, untrained individuals experience maximal gains at just 60% of their 1 rep max or 12 reps/set.
|1 RM CALCULATOR|
Enter the amount of weight you can lift (in pounds) and the number of reps you can lift it for.
The researchers also found that experienced lifters respond best when their muscles are trained 2 days/week (e.g., chest on Monday and Thursday).
Untrained individuals saw the best results when training each muscle group up to 3 days/week! Finally, both trained and untrained individuals showed the greatest growth with 4 sets/body part.
Of course, individuals should regularly vary their workouts to achieve the optimal strength and size gains overtime as this is a guideline, not something etched in stone.
4. Post-Workout Nutrition
Shifting the focus off of diet, here's yet another study demonstrating how important post-workout nutrition is. Eating the right recovery meals can help pack on muscle overtime.
The goal of this investigation was to determine the individual and combined effects of amino acids (AA), the building blocks of protein, and carbohydrate (CHO) on muscle protein synthesis.
| What Do AA And CHO Stand For?
"AA" stands for Amino Acids. "CHO" stands for Carbohydrates.
Subjects completed a 40-minute resistance training bout. One hour post-exercise, subjects ingested a CHO-only drink (0.5g CHO/kg bodyweight), a CHO-AA drink (0.5g CHO + 0.087 g/kg AA), or an AA-only drink (0.087g/kg AA).
For a 150-pound individual, for example, this is the equivalent of approximately 35g of CHO and 6g of AA.
It was found that CHO alone positively affected moderate anabolism, but did not affect muscle protein synthesis, which should be a goal of post-recovery nutrition. When the AA was taken alone there was an increase in protein synthesis.
However, when the AAs were combined with CHO, there was a synergistic, interactive effect between the two nutrients.
| What Is Anabolism?
Anabolism is the metabolic process that is characterized by molecular growth, such as the increase of muscle mass. Thus, it means "muscle building" in most common bodybuilding contexts.
In simple terms, when taken together, the insulin from the CHO facilitated the action of the AA to cause a greater muscle protein response and thus better recovery.
Carbohydrates and protein, together, are ideal for optimizing recovery, which will ultimately lead to enhanced performance.
Fat-free chocolate milk makes a wonderful post-exercise recovery drink, as it contains approximately 35g of CHO and approximately 10g of protein. (The exact serving size needs to be determined on an individual basis according to the athlete's bodyweight.)
So, What Did We Learn Today?
Omega-3 fats may enhance weight loss (in addition to all their other benefits). Of course eating fish, like salmon, is a great option when on a cutting or weight loss phase of a diet. It's not only a great source of omega-3's, but is high in protein and full of beneficial nutrients.
A more moderate diet appears to be better in terms of adherence rates; forget the super low carbs and the super low fat plans, try eating everything in moderation.
Experienced lifters saw the best strength gains when lifting at 80% of their 1 rep max. If you're a newbie, try 60% of your 1 rep max for great gains. Of course it's important to note that not any one program is best; the best program is actually the one you haven't tried, so keep up that variety.
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