If you've been bodybuilding for any length of time, you have probably realized that it is beneficial to consume simple carbohydrates after an intense workout. Incorporated correctly, simple carbohydrates can be a key component of a recovery program.
Not only do they supply energy and replenish glycogen stores, but they also spike insulin, an important hormone that is used to shuttle protein into muscle tissue. However, there is a growing movement amongst bodybuilders that teaches that carbohydrate consumption during exercise allows for better training performance. Not surprisingly, science has begun to research this issue, and the preliminary findings are startling.
A study published in The Journal of Applied Physiology examined this issue. Sixteen male endurance trained runners were studied, and each subject undertook two eleven day trials in a randomized cross-over design, separated by a ten day washout period.
On days one, five, eight and eleven, subjects were tested in the laboratory. The tests consisted of one hour of steady-state running at differing speeds, followed by a self-paced eight kilometre run. On testing days two and four, the subjects trained for one hour at an intensity of their 75% maximum. On days six, seven, nine and ten, each subject was asked to run a sixteen kilometre outdoor course as quickly as possible.
After again being tested, the subjects were found to have maintained a better state of performance and mood when consuming carbohydrates during the exercise period.
Journal of Applied Physiology, 96: 1331-1340, 2004.
It is established in research that leading a sedentary lifestyle can lead to health problems such as obesity, diabetes and hypertension. In fact, 61% of North Americans are either obese or overweight, according to recent NHANES statistics.
If one is inactive for an extended period of time, muscular atrophy can result, as can a loss in muscle tone and quality.
Often, people desire to make changes in their lives, but sometimes believe that due to extended periods of inactivity, exercise will not prove efficacious.
A recent study conducted by American researchers at the University of Arkansas, examined twenty-one men and women, and subjected them to unilateral unloading of the lower limbs for five weeks.
During this time, ten of the subjects performed resistance exercise two or three times weekly, and eleven of the subjects did not. The study aimed to determine whether or not, after extensive periods of inactivity and non-use, muscles could re-adapt and regain function that was lost, prior to the periods of inactivity.
In both groups, the unloaded muscle strength decreased between 24-32% in response to the unloading. However, in the group that did exercise, the muscle volume increased by 7.7%.
The results of this study provide evidence that resistance exercise not only may offset muscular atrophy, but is, in fact, capable of promoting marked hypertrophy in chronically unloaded muscle tissue.
The debate has been raging for years: Is it environment or genetics that determine your health?
A study conducted in December of 2003 has examined the environmental factors associated with cardiovascular disease.
Among the factors identified as risk factors of cardiovascular disease were socio-economic status, nutritional habits, social conditioning, physical activity levels and the level of industrialization of the environment in which one is living.
While not conclusive, this study did have several limitations. Among them was the characterization of the environment, the limitations of observational studies, and the need to evaluate the health impacts of health interventions or naturally occurring changes in local environments.
The research continues, but it is wise for athletes to take precautions to limit exposure to toxins. Supplementing with a multi-vitamin and eating foods rich in anti-oxidants is also recommended, to offset any accidental oxidative stress brought about by exposure to toxins.
Recent scientific findings have created a firestorm. In populations where children were vaccinated against disease at an early age, researchers have noticed a very high level of type-1 diabetes in the population. This has led some to speculate that there may be a link between childhood vaccinations, and diabetes.
In an attempt to examine whether there is a link between childhood vaccinations and diabetes, a study in The New England Journal of Medicine examined 739,694 children and conducted 4,720,517 person years of follow-up. From the population, 681 cases of type 1 diabetes were noticed. Of these, 26 cases during 4208 person years were among children who had siblings with type 1 diabetes. 5131 children died, 11,057 emigrated, and 233 were unable to be followed.
The mean age of diagnosis was 5.3 years, with a standard deviation of 2.8 years.
At the end of the follow up, the mean age was 6.4 years, with a standard deviation of plus or minus 3.2 years.
The study concluded that no association was found with vaccinations and the prevalence of type 1 diabetes.
Furthermore, the appearance of type 1 diabetes was not noticed two to four years after the vaccination was given.
For athletes who were vaccinated as children, this should be of comfort.
However, researchers noted that this issue will continue to be studied.
With the stunning advances in medical science come increased options for individuals who have suffered dismemberment or disfigurement resulting from birth or other tragic situations.
Not surprisingly then, more bodybuilders are taking advantage of medical science and are appearing today in competitions and gyms with prosthetic limbs.
Individuals with prosthetic limbs will no doubt be aware that they are at an increased risk of developing infections associated with their surgical implants. These infections are often difficult to manage and require long periods of antibiotic therapy and repeated surgical procedures.
In the United States annually 600,000 orthopaedic prosthesis operations are performed. Of these 600,000 operations, 12,000 individuals will develop infections. This is an approximate rate of 2%. For each operation the cost is $30,000 US dollars.
Athletes that rely on prosthetic limbs to function should take particular care with respect to their diet, and should, in fact, include a high amount good fats and fish oils, as well as supplement with glutamine to offset the possibilities of infection.
By following a bodybuilding diet, one can significantly decrease the tolls that antibiotics and infections will take on the body, and thereby reduce catabolism and muscle tissue loss.
As bodybuilders are well aware, it is often difficult to obtain genuine drugs or supplements that are required for the bodybuilding lifestyle.
Drugs aside, even bodybuilding supplements are difficult to regulate. One must often rely on the size and reputation of the manufacturer in order to be assured that one is getting what one is paying for.
A recent movement in the United States, generated by the desire to save money, has led many to look to the internet for expensive drugs at discounted prices.
Often these drugs include expensive pharmaceuticals like Lipitor or Viagra. It is not surprising that consumers should look for substantial savings as these drugs are extremely expensive.
Recently the United States FDA has warned against the practice of purchasing drugs from foreign "online pharmacies" because it can not be guaranteed that the drugs that one obtains are safe or genuine.
A case in point occurred in May of 2002. It was discovered that thousands of vials of Procrit labelled as containing 40,000 units of the drug were found to contain only 2000 units. Later in the same year, other vials of the same drug were found to contain nothing but tap water.
While these cases may be alarming, it should be noted that it is believed that less than 1% of all drugs in the US market place are believed to be counterfeit. However, given the high volume of drugs manufactured in the country, this amount may still be substantial.
Recent statistics from the US FDA indicate that in the 1990's five cases annually were investigated for drug fraud. In 2000 twenty cases were investigated.
If you think these statistics are alarming, reports from Asia, South America or Africa indicted that between 10-50% of prescription drugs in those countries may be counterfeit.
In India the number of fake drugs is so high that the government is expected to authorize the death penalty for convicted drug counterfeiters.
While the government is taking steps to protect consumers, it is difficult because counterfeiters appear to be well funded and sophisticated. And, in fact, it is often difficult to distinguish between authentic drugs and fake drugs, because the fake packaging and drugs look almost identical to the authentic versions.
So, as usual, it is best to exercise caution when deciding to buy drugs or supplements. One must rely on ones best judgement and must place faith in a large company with a proven track record.
It is still a buyers market and people will always be out looking to make a quick dollar. It does not appear that this trend will stop any time soon.
SOURCE: New England Journal of Medicine 350;14. Dr. Paul M. Rudolf.
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