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Applied Bodybuilding Research - 09-06-07!

Learn more from these studies about nutrition & cardiovascular health, effects of carbs & BCAA's during exercise, and protein. Read on to learn about some of the studies that have been taking place.

1. Your Nutrition & Cardiovascular Health...

Did you know that your nutrition habits not only have a direct effect on your ability to build muscle and get lean, but also on your cardiovascular health?

It's a fact that the way that you eat directly determines your cardiovascular health and that high energy diets (consuming a lot of calories) can cause you to develop cardiovascular abnormalities - even if you're not overweight.

A recent animal study on the effects of nutrition on cardiovascular health wanted to examine the effects of two different high energy nutrition regimens on cardiovascular health and vascular function.

The animals in the study were fed diets of varying macronutrient percentage intakes for a period of 10 weeks. The first nutrition plan had the animals fed a control diet of 10% fat and 63% carbohydrates, and the second nutrition plan had the animals fed a diet of 45% fat and 35% carbohydrates.

After data collection and statistical analysis, it was found that weight gain, plasma glucose concentrations and leptin values were similar in all groups. However, while the high fat diet group showed little or no cardiovascular abnormalities, it was found that cardiovascular problems developed in the animals that were fed a higher percentage of carbohydrates. The overwhelmingly prominent cardiovascular abnormality was vasoconstriction - a constriction of blood vessels.

What Is Vasoconstriction?
A decrease in the diameter of blood vessels (usually arterioles) resulting in a reduction of blood flow to the area supplied by the vessel. Factors causing vasoconstriction include pain, loud noises, fear, a fall in temperature, and a fall in blood pressure.

vasoconstriction. A Dictionary of Food and Nutrition. Oxford University Press, 1995, 2003, 2005. 17 Sep. 2007.

This led researchers to conclude that a mixed nutrition of fats and carbohydrates may potentially induce cardiovascular abnormalities as carbohydrate intake relative to fat intake increases.

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Although this research was performed on animals, the findings are interesting because cardiovascular abnormalities like vasoconstriction are also observed in human subjects who consume excessive carbohydrate. For bodybuilders, vasoconstriction can crush muscle growth by reducing the delivery of oxygenated, nutrient rich blood to damaged muscle tissues.

By intaking a correct and precise amount of carbohydrates, bodybuilders can reap the benefits without worrying about developing unwanted cardiovascular abnormalities that will cripple muscle growth.


  1. Nutrition & Metabolism 2007, 4:15

2. The Effects Of Carbohydrates & BCAA's During Exercise...

It's long been thought that carbohydrate drinks and branched chain amino acids can improve athletic performance. It's also been long known that dopamine and serotonin, two specialized brain chemicals called neurotransmitters, play an important role in the exercise process and help regulate attention, alertness and fatigue.

Specifically, dopamine increases alertness and attention, and serotonin helps induce relaxation. What's not been clear, however, is the effects of carbohydrate and branched chain amino acid supplementation during high heat conditions - conditions that bodybuilders encounter frequently.

Researchers sought to establish the benefits of carbohydrates and branched chain amino acids in high heat working conditions by having seven male study subjects consume a high carbohydrate meal prior to performing a bout of exhaustive cycling and treadmill exercise in high heat conditions.

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Exhaustive Treadmill Exercise.

Once sufficiently dehydrated, researchers had the study subjects consume either a branched chain amino acid and carbohydrate drink, or a stand-alone carbohydrate drink during exercise the following day.

Researchers found that the branched chain amino acid and carbohydrate mixture drink group did not have improved exercise performance over the group that consumed the carbohydrate drink only, and that serotonin levels and fatigue in the two groups were the same. In other words, the addition of BCAA's to the carbohydrate drink seemed to have no effect on performance.

The Interaction Of BCAA's & Glutamine Metabolism.
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The Interaction Of BCAA's & Glutamine Metabolism.
Supplementing with additional BCAA's and glutamine will help keep skeletal muscle and plasma glutamine elevated and decrease BCAA oxidation.
Derek Beast Charlebois

This study has led some people to once again dismiss branched chain amino acids as useless for bodybuilders. While more research needs to be done on the intra-exercise benefits of amino acid supplementation, BCAA's shouldn't be dismissed as a mountain of research exists showing that BCAA's in general and Leucine specifically is highly beneficial and have significant effects on protein synthesis and post-exercise recovery and muscle growth.

Bodybuilders should continue to use BCAA's immediately prior to and post-exercise to enhance recovery and muscle growth.

    View BCAA Products Sorted By Top Sellers Here.


  1. J Appl Physiol 97: 1275-1282, 2004.

3. This Is Your Brain... On Exercise...

A mountain of material has been published in the scientific literature detailing the effects of exercise on skeletal muscle tissue. While this material has managed to filter into the popular media, little mention has been made outside of academic circles of the effects of exercise on the brain - one of the components of the central nervous system that makes muscle function possible.

1 of 3: The Central Nervous System (CNS):

The human central nervous system consists of the brain and spinal cord. These lie in the midline of the body and are protected by the skull and vertebrae respectively.

This collection of billions of neurons is arguably the most complex object known.

The central nervous system along with the peripheral nervous system comprise a primary division of controls that command all physical activities of a human.

Neurons of the central nervous system affect consciousness and mental activity while spinal extensions of central nervous system neuron pathways affect skeletal muscles and organs in the body.

Learn More... Back Next

New research examined the effects of exercise on brain oxygen extraction and wanted to answer the question:

    At The Point Of Exhaustion, Is There A Difference In The Extraction And Use Of Oxygen Between The Brain And The Skeletal Muscles?

To answer this question, researchers had 13 subjects perform a cycling task in normal temperature or high temperature conditions.

Researchers found that, regardless of temperature conditions, brain oxygen uptake is enhanced rather than reduced at the point of exhaustion and that, although brain oxygen delivery is reduced, the brain is protected against oxygen deficiency thanks to plentiful brain-oxygen reserves.

This is an important study because, as a part of the central nervous system, the brain is involved in every aspect of exercise. The brain generates and transmits the signals to initiate muscular movements, is critical for the mind-muscle connection and is responsible for generating the focus and motivation to train. This protective mechanism ensures that the brain is protected and can perform for long periods of time under stress.


  1. J Physiol 557, 331-342, 2004.

4. Too Much Protein?...

For decades researchers in academia have debated the protein requirements of hard-training athletes. Some experts claim that bodybuilders need to intake up to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight, while others claim that smaller amounts of protein are enough to see benefit.

So far bodybuilders have erred on the side of caution and the real-World consensus is that at least 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight is ideal and produces excellent real-World results.

1 Gram
1.5 Grams

A new study has added to the raging debate on protein intake by examining the effects of resistance training on whole body nitrogen balance and protein metabolism before and after training.


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Nitrogen Balance, Hormone Manipulation And Recovery.
Today I'll cover aspects like hormone manipulation, the importance of a positive nitrogen balance, and proper recovery.
Jim Brewster

Researchers had male study participants undergo testing before and after exercise and intake a drink of egg protein in various amounts (0, 5, 10, 20, 40 gm). In addition, all participants were infused with Leucine for 4 hours post-exercise to measure Leucine oxidation.

    View Egg Protein Products Sorted By Top Sellers Here.
    View L-Leucine Products Sorted By Top Sellers Here.

Researchers found that hard-training reduced overall protein metabolism, improved nitrogen balance and increased total protein retention. Additionally, researchers found that Leucine oxidation after exercise occurred only when participants consumed more than 20 grams of protein.

As a result, researchers concluded that novice bodybuilders do not have significantly elevated protein intake requirements over non-trained persons and that increased protein intake may actually increase protein oxidation.

Leucine: The Anabolic Trigger!
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Leucine: The Anabolic Trigger!
It has been shown that in order for protein balance to become positive post workout, dietary protein, specifically the amino acid leucine, must be consumed.
Layne Norton

This study isn't very surprising and it stands to reason that untrained persons with high protein intake will have significantly higher protein oxidation measurements than highly adapted and significantly more muscular bodybuilders.

Protein oxidation and protein retention are dependant on total lean body mass and protein need as a function of lean body mass. Excess proteins, therefore, can be oxidized.

In other words, novice bodybuilders have less muscle than advanced bodybuilders, therefore less muscle tissue is stimulated during exercise and less protein is needed to repair the muscular damage. As a result, their protein need is lower. Fair enough.

This study is important because its results could be misunderstood or potentially be used to convince bodybuilders to reduce their protein intake - an action that kills muscle growth.

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You Don't Need To Reduce Your Protein Intake.

While bodybuilders shouldn't intake too much protein - i.e. 5 grams per pound of lean body weight - neither should they be scared into lowering protein intake. The simple fact is that bodybuilders have elevated protein requirements over people who don't train and should eat accordingly.


  1. Moore, Daniel R. Resistance Training and Protein Metabolism: What are the Acute and Chronic Dietary Protein Requirements?


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