[ Q ] Are protein isolates worth "double the price" of protein concentrates?
Right now I'm using Syntrax Nectar because it's an isolate protein and it tastes great. But, again, is it worth double the price? I'm not rich but I am willing to spend good money on good products.
A. It usually does not matter whether you use WPI or WPC if your diet is high in protein. So long as you give your body the protein it needs, you will maintain a positive nitrogen balance. The only exception to this tenet is during the pre- and post-workout periods.
During the pre-workout period when your muscles need energy to fuel an intense workout, a whey protein isolate is the ideal choice to fill this need because its amino acids are quickly released and absorbed. Whey protein is oxidized by the liver for energy and it can also protect you from muscle tissue loss resulting from exercise induced catabolism.
Whey protein isolates are also ideal for meeting your requirements in the post workout period. During this time, muscle tissues are depleted of glycogen, your blood glucose levels are low, and your muscles need amino acids to repair exercise induced muscular trauma.
Most importantly, your muscles need this protein quickly. Again, because whey protein isolate is quickly released, it can be shuttled to fatigued muscles to repair the damage immediately and, hopefully, contribute to growth. Furthermore, whey protein is an ideal choice because it is also quickly oxidized for energy in the absence of glucose and simple carbohydrates.
At other times of the day - i.e. for general use - a blend of protein concentrates from all protein types - i.e. egg, soy, whey, milk - is preferred due to the different amino acid release rates of different protein types.
It's technically true that, isolate proteins may be absorbed more quickly than concentrate proteins, and that this difference MAY lead to increased muscle growth and faster recovery from exercise, but I doubt that this difference is worth paying twice as much for a protein product. Isolate products have a specific application.
Nectar is a good protein product, it tastes great, and people love it, but as an isolate it is not appropriate to use as your sole source of supplemental protein.
If you want a general use protein supplement, and if you want to take advantage of the anabolic effects of multiple amino acid release rates, I recommend a quality protein blend supplement like ProV60. Use these two products together, making sure to use isolates only when they will be most effective.
[ Q ] I've been reading your articles and have gained insight into the world of bodybuilding.
I am 28 years old, male, 225 lbs. and I want to shed some weight. I work out five times per week and I also try to do some high intensity cardio 3 times a week for 20 minutes per session.
I have a question that no one seems able to answer. How many calories should a person consume?
A. Your daily caloric intake requirement is influenced by a number of factors including your sex, your age, your current body mass, your current body fat percentage, your natural body rhythms, your activity level, and the contents of your previous meal.
It's well established that a physically active male burns more calories for energy than an equally physically active female. This is due, in part, to total body mass. Your total body mass - comprised of fat mass, muscle mass, bone mass, organ mass and water weight - influences the amount of work done by your muscles. Simply: the more total mass that you have, the more calories you must burn to move.
It's also true that males generally have greater muscle mass than females (in total, and as a percentage of total body composition). Muscle mass is thermogenic and requires energy to do work and to maintain. Therefore, you'll burn more calories if you're muscular and you'll need more calories to maintain your current weight.
As you gain muscle, your metabolic rate will increase to account for newly gained muscle mass, and your body will tap into existing fat stores to meet this newly increased demand. This is why muscular people find it easier to burn fat than those who are less muscular.
Your basal metabolic rate - the number of calories that you burn at rest - is dynamic and varies throughout the day. As a result, the number of calories that you burn in the morning will differ from the number burned in the afternoon and at night. The rate of caloric burn can be influenced by training and nutrition.
The contents of your previous meal and its effects on your hormone profile will also influence the number of calories that you burn. While it's almost impossible to come to hard numbers, you can approximate the number of calories burned from eating, simply by knowing the protein, fat and carbohydrate values of those meals, and the insulin response triggered from eating them.
Generally, high-protein, low fat, low carbohydrate meals are best for speeding caloric burn, simply because protein is thermic, and restricting carbohydrate intake will keep insulin levels within acceptable fat burning ranges; just be sure that you eat low-glycemic value carbohydrates.
Use a BMR calculator to get a rough calculation of your BMR. Keep in mind that your physical activity level is very high - 300% or more above normal levels - and that the values you are given are ranges only - not hard and fast numbers. Experimentation will be required of you, and you must constantly fine-tune the number of calories you consume to arrive at an appropriate intake value given the factors you listed in your question.
I recommend a macronutrient intake ration of 15-30-55 - 15% of your total daily calories from fats, 30% from complete proteins and 55% of your total daily calories from complex carbohydrates, with post workout carbohydrates coming from simple sources - glucose, fructose, etc.
The Bottom Line Is This:
As long as you eat clean and healthy food, and so long as you eat enough of it so that you're within the general ballpark of your BMR, you will gain muscle and lose fat. Work hard, eat right, and you'll be on your way to getting lean and muscular.
[ Q ] Hi Clayton,
I hope that this letter reaches you because I know that you get many letters.
I have a very serious medical situation: I need a kidney transplant and I am on dialysis. Because of this, I have a very restrictive diet. Where most folks can incorporate wonderful things like whole grains, beans, and nuts, I am not allowed to have any of those foods due to the high potassium content. I recently lost a lot of weight. I am still, however, very obese.
It's a god awful situation, and the foods I am allowed to eat are all the high glycemic values - the complete opposite of what is suggested to lose weight! Because of this factor, I try to avoid bread/cereal-oatmeal & hominy grits/sugar. I do eat chicken, fish, pork and eggs. I also eat lots of vegetables and fruits like pineapple, peaches, watermelon, and strawberries. I'm really not sure what to do.
I am working out 3-5 times a week with at least 50 minutes of cardio. I lift hand weights doing about 4 different exercises, and some machines. I have only maintained my weight over the last year. I did manage to lose a significant amount of weight going from 416 to 275, but obviously still obese.
I am at my wit's end, and this is all needed because I want my kidney transplant, but the doctors want me to lose another 50 lbs. to have my surgery. After this I'll be able to once again enjoy beans, nuts, and a significant amount of vegetables and whole grains that I'm currently not allowed to have.
Do you have any suggestions on what I may be able to do to kick start the weight loss again?
A. To protect myself legally, I must provide my standard disclaimer before I answer your question:
"I am not a doctor, and I do not dispense medical advice. Nothing that I say can replace the advice of a qualified medical physician. Follow the advice of your health team and do not change your health behavior without first consulting your doctor. Any action taken by you on the basis of what I say is at your own risk."
Your situation is serious, difficult, and I am at somewhat of a loss as to what to recommend. What you must do at all costs, however, is protect your health.
Many people try losing weight naturally by drinking green tea or coffee - both sources of caffeine. I strongly discourage this practice in your case because stimulants will only further stress your renal system. Because your situation prohibits the use of almost every dietary supplement, I can only recommend that you supplement with a fiber supplement like chitosan.
Chitosan is a naturally occurring and stimulant free fiber that's taken from the shells of shrimp and shellfish. It has the ability to lower LDL cholesterol levels (the so-called "bad cholesterol") and raise HDL cholesterol levels (the so-called "good cholesterol").
In short, it may lower your serum cholesterol levels and improve your cholesterol profile. Additionally, chitosan will expand in your stomach and make you feel full, and you'll eat less as a result.
I recommend that you take a week off of exercise and cardio to allow your BMR to reset itself to reflect your current body mass values. Once your BMR is adjusted to reflect your new weight, you can then begin cardio again and you may see additional fat loss results.
Also, consider hiring a qualified personal trainer that specializes in designing exercise programs for people with medical conditions. Exercise can improve or destroy your health - it all depends on how it is applied. But make no mistake: not any "personal trainer" will do - be careful and choose a qualified person.
In good conscience, these are the only options that I can recommend. As always, check with your doctor before doing anything and act only after calculating the risks.
[ Q ] I'm twenty-six years old, I'm male and I'm 5'9 and weigh 165. I have been lifting for ten months, each increments of lifting being about four months in length - when I am deployed over seas.
Since I am in the desert, I can't count calories or protein. I eat between 5-6 times per day, and I just hope that I am getting the nutrients that I need. After I deployed last time, I got fat and didn't exercise. Now, I'm determined to get back into shape.
I want to bulk to get to between 180-190 lbs. and then I want to cut-up and maintain my results. If you could provide me with a proven sample diet that will help me obtain my goal, I'd really appreciate it.
A. As a former GI, I know what you're talking about. After I got out of the Army I tried to keep up with the running, etc, and then I got fat. So I played
football, got even fatter (up to 270 lbs.) and then dropped 50 lbs. and it's stayed off ever since.
When you're doing PT at 5am in the morning before breakfast it's easy to stay in good shape - not to mention the constant adrenalin that's rushing through your body in a combat zone.
To get back into shape at this point, I think the best thing for you to do is to get on a solid workout routine again and get some solid supplements, the first of which is a quality multivitamin and the second is a quality meal replacement like Lean Body Meal Packages.
Here are some good starting points for you, and you can learn later on [by reading articles] why these work:
- Do cardio in the morning after taking 40 grams of whey protein from Optimum 100% Whey.
- Take 30 grams carbohydrates from Gatorade and another 40 grams of whey protein from 100% whey post workout.
- After this, take a multivitamin with breakfast consisting of 3 egg whites, 1 egg yolk, 1/2 cup of plain oatmeal, 1 piece of whole wheat toast. Have a peach or an orange with this. Put 1 tbsp of flax on the oatmeal and eat. Drink 2 cups of water with your breakfast as well.
- Two hours later have a meal replacement package (MRP) from a quality meal replacement supplement.
- Two hours later have a healthy, low-fat, meal with some salad, balsamic vinaigrette dressing [low fat, no carb] along with 2 or 3 ounces of lean meat like beef or chicken, along with one serving of 100% whey and 50 grams of complex carbs coming from a baked potato or BROWN rice.
- Two hours after the last meal, use another meal replacement package
- Eat 1/2 container of cottage cheese [low fat, 1% small curd] before bed and take 1 serving of a protein blend supplement like ProV60. Consume with broccoli crowns.
This diet is suitable for every day use, but you can spice it up and customize it should you desire. If you're going to reduce your calories you must reduce them from fat sources, simple sugars, or complex carbohydrates in that order.
If you want weight-train on the same days that you do your cardio, train with weights after you've completed your cardiovascular exercise; if you do cardio after weights you may end up burning muscle tissue because your glycogen stores and blood glucose levels will be low.
Granted, there is much to learn and you may at first be confused, but the learning curve is not impossible to master, and you will be up-to-speed in no time if you persist in your studies.
Over time, you will see the same words and concepts repeatedly, and eventually they will click and you'll begin to understand the subject matter in new ways.
When this happens, you'll be able to lose fat and gain muscle easier than ever before.
[ Q ] What is Vanadyl Sulfate? A friend told me that it's great for building muscle. Do you have any information on
A. Vanadyl Sulfate has received a lot of attention because of its effects on insulin and its potential ability to build muscle. I use the word "potential" simply because there is, so far, not a lot of human research to establish its use for muscle building purposes. Instead, athletes and those who train them have relied upon anecdote and testimonials, many of which conflict.
Vanadyl Sulfate (VS) is a compound that's a Vanadium derivative. It is found naturally in food sources like fish, grains, corn, soy, and mushrooms, and it is not currently known if VS is an essential mineral for humans.
One promising medical application for VS is that it has been used in Europe to treat type II diabetes because it may improve insulin function in diabetics.1
For athletes, the effects of VS on insulin function in diabetic patients may be promising because insulin is the hormone responsible for shuttling glucose and protein into muscle tissue. Most athletes drink simple carbohydrates post-workout to spike insulin levels with the aim of replenishing muscle glycogen stores, and they drink whey protein post-workout with the aim of using elevated insulin to drive needed protein into tired muscles for repair and growth.
VS is hypothesized to increase glycogen and protein stores in muscle tissue by up to 50%, thereby increasing endurance, helping you recover more quickly from exercise, and helping you build more muscle tissue.
Glycogen loading is a practice that is used by track athletes, marathon runners, powerlifters and bodybuilders. Track athletes load glycogen into muscle tissue prior to competition because it greatly improves performance, and long distance runners load glycogen because it prevents them from hitting "the wall" in the middle of competition.
Powerlifters and Bodybuilders load glycogen to not only increase the short-term ability of muscle to do work, but also because muscles appear harder and more full when loaded with glycogen. As a result of glycogen loading, many powerlifters can lift heavier weights, and many bodybuilders look bigger and more dense on stage.
As with most dietary supplements, VS has side effects. Possible side effects can include stomach upset, nausea, abdominal cramps and diarrhea. Additionally, vanadium and its derivatives may compete with iron for entry into red blood cells. One study showed that hemoglobin levels dropped by 7% post VS supplementation, and this can potentially hinder performance.
At this time, it is not known if VS has ergogenic effects. More studies are needed to understand its pharmacodynamics, and to establish its safety profile in human subjects.
- Boden G, Chen X, Ruiz J, et al. Effects of vanadyl sulfate on carbohydrate and lipid metabolism in patients with non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. Metabolism 1996;45:1130-5.
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