What is Insulin?

What is insulin and how does it work? 

Carbohydrates, specifically glucose, is the primary energy source during vigorous exercise. Carbs are the human body's key source of energy and glucose is the principal fuel for the brain. Any extreme fluctuations in blood glucose levels can be extremely dangerous; too little can inhibit performance, whereas too much can damage the vascular system. Control of blood glucose is regulated by the pancreas, which produces two specific hormones: insulin and glucagon. 

Insulin helps regulate energy and glucose metabolism in the body. After consuming a meal, glucose enters the blood at the small intestine, causing a rise in blood glucose levels. As the blood is circulated through the pancreas, elevated levels of glucose trigger the release of insulin. The insulin then binds with the receptors of its target cells. Glucose then diffuses out of the bloodstream and into the cell. The net result is a drop in blood glucose levels. This, insulin causes cells in the liver, muscle, and fat tissue to take up glucose from the blood, storing it as glycogen in the liver and muscle. (In other words, the energy you would then use to exercise)

How does exercise effect all of this?
As activity levels increase, glucose uptake by the cells also increases. This is the result of an increased sensitivity of the cells to insulin; thus, insulin levels will drop during physical activity. At the same time, glucagon secretion by the pancreas increases, this helping maintain a steady supply of glucose. 

So this is an in depth summary of what happens with your body when you intake carbs. Long story short, your body needs carbs for energy to withstand those vigorous workouts that we recommend that will produce the results you're looking for! 

Source: NASM 

You need BCAAs?

In this blog post today we will be discussing BCAAs or Branched chained amino acids and their effect on building muscle and working out. First lets identify what they are: essentially amino acids are the building blocks found in protein. Their greatest benefit is their ability to help tissue growth and repair(muscle). 

Now lets go over some of the individual amino acids and their highlights. Lets start with L- Arginine, this amino acid is widely know for increasing your "pump" during your workout and is often found in pre workout supplements. Next, lets take a look at L- Carnitine, this is know to help stimulate fat loss as well as muscle repair. Lastly, we will look at arguably the most beneficial  amino acid of them all which is L- Leucine. Studies have confirmed this is the most valuable BCAA when it comes to building new muscle. This is highly sought after when selecting a supplement purchase. 

Lastly, lets determine when a good time to take these supplements are. The obviously most important time to take them would be after your workout to help aid in the muscle recovery process. Another answer is, take them whenever you see fit. Some people like to start the morning off with them, some people like to drink them during their workout etc.. There isn't a bad time to ingest them, so enjoy! 

The Best Protein?

In today's blog we will be discussing PROTEIN! With so many different protein sources, what is the best one? Well, we first have to diagnose what the "best" means for example; fasted digesting, or the slowest digesting or which has the highest biological value? The Biological Value (BV) is a scale of measurement used to determine what percentage of a given nutrient source is utilized by the body. The scale is most frequently applied to protein sources, particularly whey protein. Biological Value is derived from providing a measure intake of protein, then determining the nitrogen uptake versus nitrogen excretion. The theoretical highest BV of any food source is 100%. In short - BV refers to how well and how quickly your body can actually use the protein you consume. 

 

So now that we've established the different parameters of the best sources, lets take a look at the speed of digestion. If you are looking for the fastest digesting protein source from food, egg whites hold the crown for this! If you are look for the fastest in a supplement form, Whey Protein Isolate would reign supreme. Now for the other end of the spectrum, if you want a slower digesting protein here are the winners: Milk and ground beef for the food sources and Soy and Casein on the supplement powder side. 

 

I have laid out a chart of different protein sources and their BV

 

Egg whites:       100

Whole eggs:       88

Chicken/Turkey: 79

Fish:                  70

Lean beef:          69

Milk:                  60

 

 

Whey Protein isolate:         159

Whey Protein Concentrate: 104

Casein:                              77

Soy:                                  74

What about Fiber?

In this post we will be discussing Fiber and how important it is with overall health and dieting. First, lets identify what fiber is; its a carbohydrate that is typically found in fruits, veggies, and whole grains. Fiber is easily digested by the body so it tends to have a minimal effect on blood sugar levels.

When dieting comes into play, fiber needs to be factored in. My typical suggestion is about 10-15g per 1k calories when you are looking for weight/fat loss. Fiber is one of the most important factors of successfully logging your food with IIFYM(flexible dieting). Studies show that when fiber is digested with other carbohydrate sources, it will actually blunt glucose conversion causing less glycogen storage when not utilize shortly after eating. Essentially, if you are consuming enough fiber, you can become much more flexible on your carb sources while dieting.

Just like all things(or most things) too much fiber will have a negative effect as well. Studies have shown constipation, cramping, and dehydration to be associated with too much fiber. Also, with too much fiber you the run the risk of less absorption of vitamins that you can not afford to lose especially while dieting in a calorie deficit.    

Intermittent Fasting?

In today's blog we will be taking an look at intermittent fasting (IF) and its benefits. First, this talk about what it is, IF is where you fast for certain part of the day and then have what would be called a "feeding window". For this discussions sake, we will use a 16 hour fast and an 8 hour eating window. This does have the flexibility to decide what part of the day you are most comfortable with fasting and when you tend to be the hungriest. This is simply a different way to be in a caloric deficit to induce weight/fat loss so you will still be tracking all your food intake accordingly.

 

One of the major benefits in my opinion is instead of thinking and worrying about your next meal in 3hrs you can focus more on your "Life Goals" instead of allowing a diet plan to dictate your daily movement. This type of eating works extremely well for non breakfast eaters as their fast could start 1 to 2hrs prior to sleep and hopefully they receive 8hrs of sleep and then 6hrs later they start their feedings. I am not saying this is an optimal diet, I am simply saying this may be a good eating plan to follow for certain invidiuals. Also, I would not recommend this type of eating for someone you is in a growing phase with a calorie surplus. Maybe Intermittent fasting is for you...

Fasted Cardio for fat loss?

In today's discussion we will go over the effects of fasted cardio vs fed cardio(or regular cardio). First, let us identify what we are comparing here; we are referring to pre breakfast cardiovascular training in a fasted state. The basic premise for this practice is that low levels of glycogen and insulin, shift energy utilization away from carbohydrate for fuel, thereby allowing greater mobilization of stored fat that can be used for fuel (fat oxidation),but what does the data say? Results showed no evidence of impaired fat oxidation associated with consumption of carbohydrate either before or during exercise, in the fed conditions.

 

In summary, despite a logical rationale for superior effects of fasted cardio for fat loss when compared to that performed in a fed state, acute oxidation data as well as longer-term trials have failed to support it. Sorry old school bodybuilders...

 

Instead it would appear that there is little to no difference between fasted vs. fed exercise for the goal of fat loss. As such, if fat loss were the aim, my recommendations would simply be to perform the type of cardio that you prefer and can consistently do on a regular basis for optimal results.

High Reps for Fat Loss?

Today we will be discussing the old saying of "if you want to get ripped, do high reps". I am sure everyone has heard this term and studies have proven this is actually the opposite. First, lets identify what has to happen to get "ripped"... Well the most obvious correlation with being "ripped" is having low body fat so that would be our primary goal when attempting this goal. As we have discussed in the past, to lower body fat % we have to place our body in a caloric deficit through eating and or exercising. So for this discussions sake lets say that eating is dialed in and the rest of the route to take is exercising. So now we need to identify what type of metabolic response we get out of different rep ranges. For example, would your body have to work harder using 90% of your 1RM (one rep max) for 5 reps or using 50% of your 1RM for 15 reps? Probably the 5 reps, so that would force more calorie that would illicit more fat loss. So if you want to get "ripped", eat in a calorie deficit and lift heavy weight!

The 3 Best Ab Exercises

Best Ab exercises

So we did my top three worst ab exercises and now I'm going to list my top three favorites.

1. Plank - Planks stimulate more ab activity than normal crunch and they also work your lumbar as well without putting you in a vulnerable position. I also love all the variations you can add to a plank, some examples being: Plank on a stability ball and side planks (for your obliques).
2. Bicycle Kicks- According to many studies, this is one of the best ab exercises for overall ab activation and that includes your lower abs and obliques. Make sure to be slow and controlled to really maximize the exercise.
3. Vertical leg crunch - This ab exercise was proven to stimulate 116 perfect more ab activity than your normal crunch (see why I said not to crunch any more?) it's a very easy exercise to do and yields great results!

The 3 Worst Ab Exercises

My top 3 worst ab exercises

Here's a list of my top 3 worst ab exercises you can do:

#1 Ab Crunch - This is the most basic ab exercise and it is just that.... basic. It gives you very minimal ab activation compared to other exercises

#2 Standing Side Bend - So let me ask you this question, how often do you stand straight up and bend to the side to grab something? Well if your answer is never, then I'd follow up with giving you the same answer if you asked me how many times you should do this exercise.

#3 The straight leg sit up - This is the old school gym class exercise and our gym teachers weren't teaching us well. This exercise has been proven to cause strain in your lower back. No ab exercise should cause that therefore get rid of it!

Pre Workout Nutrition

When to eat before working out?

Ideally, the simple answer would be to consume a simple carb (approx. 30g) 30 mins before you work out. Carbs are most important before your work out because they can give you that extra kick and stimulate insulin to counteract cortisol (the hormone that can break down muscle).

If you were to eat a full meal that consisted of protein and carbs, you would want to eat that 1-2 hours before your work out. It's important to know that it takes your body the longest to digest fats, then protein, then carbs. So that's why eating a carb before your work out is so important (so please don't ever be in the line of thinking that carbs are bad for you).

So my recommendation would be to have a meal that is relatively low in fats, moderate in protein, and high in low fiber carbs 1-2 hours before your work out. Then, to have a small carb source 30 mins before your work out to really give you that extra boost to have a great work out where you're able to really push yourself!

**important note that this is just a general recommendation and can be subject to change based off your individual goals and fitness level.

Clean Eating vs Flexible Dieting

Today we will discuss a heavily debated topic which is "clean eating vs flexible dieting". First off, lets identify what defines these two options of dieting. The "clean eating" side believes you have to limit sugar intake and avoid any processed foods and must follow a structured meal plan typically. The "flexible dieting" or IIFYM crowd state you can consume whatever you want as long as it fits into your daily requirements (Calories, carbs, fats and protein). So now that we have highlighted the different sides, lets dissect. Unfortunately there is no clear definition on what foods are "clean" or not clean so its hard to take this side seriously. Furthermore, anyone that wants to eat the same thing or close to the same thing multiple times a day has a much higher risk of failure long term. For the flexible dieting team, they tend to be more successful long tern due to the fact of the many more options they can consume on a daily basis. The one key component that some flexible dieters neglect is how much fiber they need to intake on a daily basis to make this diet work optimally. My final thought on the subject is either CAN work but for long term success flexible dieting wins everytime! 

Good vs Bad Carbs

Today we will be discussing the differences between "good carbs and bad carbs". Lets first identify what might define a carbohydrate source to be named bad. The grading tool used for carbs is called the GI (glycemic index) where they receive a number or rating. These rating will determine how much a persons blood sugar levels will rise after consumption. For example, black beans would have a much lower GI rating compared to a white potato. The most important thing to remember is, these rating were determined when the food source was eaten strictly by itself. I don't know of too many people that eat potato completely by it self. Studies have shown that when a carbohydrate is consumed with a protein(or fat) this will automatically slow down the digestion process that would effect the glucose rise in blood sugar, crazy right? So the moral of this blog is when you consume your carbohydrates with protein(or fat) all carbs are created equal, more or less. My suggestion is, if you prefer white potato or white rice over sweet potato or brown rice eat them. Just to remember to always through in a good protein source.