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picture_9You just finished your workout at the gym. You’ve hit your muscles hard and you want those muscles to get the proper supply of nutrients to make them bigger, harder and, most importantly, stronger than they were before you went to the gym. Post-workout protein source can make, or break, your gains.

December 11, 2007
By Brad Lawrence

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picture_6 FitSmart is a Fire Fighting in Canada online exclusive column by Brad Lawrence, a firefirefighter and personal trainer in Leduc, Alta.  Brad can be reached at bradmlawrence@gmail.com


FITNESS
Post-workout proteins

You just finished your workout at the gym. You’ve hit your muscles hard and you want those muscles to get the proper supply of nutrients to make them bigger, harder and, most importantly, stronger than they were before you went to the gym. Post-workout protein source can make, or break, your gains.

To understand why this is so important, we need to understand what’s happening in your muscle after your workout. It’s well known that with strength training, you’re actually causing microscopic tears in your muscle fibers. As these tears repair themselves, they repair stronger, tighter, and bigger than they were before. To rebuild itself, your body needs to start the process of protein synthesis (building muscle). Obviously to start protein synthesis, your muscle needs protein. The biological value (BV) of a protein measures the uptake into your body, and nitrogen uptake vs nitrogen excretion of the muscle. In short, it’s a rating referring to how well and how quickly the protein is actually used by your body.

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We now know the higher each food’s BV, the more efficient it is at getting into your muscle. This creates a positive muscle balance for optimal muscle building conditions. Now let’s look at which foods have the highest values, and which foods you should take in after your workout.

Whole eggs have a BV of 100, the highest natural biological value of any food that occurs naturally. Since eggs are the gold standard, each other type of protein is measured against them. There are however some designer proteins that exceed the standard set by whole eggs. Here is a simple chart of common foods and there respective values.

Protein                              Biological Value
Whey Protein Isolate               159
Whey Protein Concentrate        104
Eggs (whole)                         100
Eggs (whites)                          88
Chicken                                  79
Casein Protein                         77
Soy Protein                             74
Fish                                       70
Lean Beef                               69

The only downside rapid absorption is that these kinds of foods are also consumed rapidly. So, when you’re eating post workout, don’t be afraid to eat quite a bit. Research suggests eating immediately after training, and again 30 to 60 minutes later with high BV foods. You can then resume your regular eating regime. Make the most of your hard work; and eat a high BV food after your training.

NUTRITION
The fountain of youth

Today there are many supplements claiming to reduce body fat, enhance the immune system or help build muscle mass. But what if there were something the body produced naturally that could be a benefit in all these ways and more? Well, there is, and the benefits above just scratch the surface of the up side to the natural growth hormone (GH), which is produced every day in your body.

GH can reduce body fat, boost immune response, decrease risk of infection or disease, increase muscle mass, increase strength and stamina, improve bone density, sharpen memory and more. Researchers long ago discovered that the growth hormone contributes a lot more than actual growth to your system. They also discovered that GH production declines with age (starting at approximately age 30), and also that the release of GH happens only at certain times.

The two times you can be sure that you are releasing GH is when you are training and when you’re sleeping. Unfortunately, there is no trick to increasing your body’s production of GH but there are a few simple guidelines you can follow in your training regime and lifestyle to maximize your GH production in a safe, natural way. You may be already doing it, without even knowing.

Train your major muscles hard. One of the biggest mistakes people make is neglecting large muscles. The biggest GH release is from training your back and legs, two of the largest muscle groups and two areas commonly skipped.

Lift heavy. GH release is much higher with more exertion and with more loading on your muscles.

Always lift until failure. Taking each lift to fail gives you the largest release. Lifting to near failure is no substitute. Lift like you mean it.

Eat a low GI (glycemic index) diet. High glycemic foods actually lower the release of GH. Eat a low GI diet to optimize conditions.

Get enough rest. GH production starts three to four hours into the sleep cycle. Release is also higher when the body isn’t digesting food. Try to allow for a 10 to 12 hour fast period while sleeping. Example: if your last meal was at 8 p.m. you go to sleep later then eat again when you awake at 8 a.m.

Weights before cardiovascular training. If you plan to do both in the gym on the same day, weight train first. Here’s why. Studies have shown growth hormone can increase 500 per cent if you do your cardio before weight training. That’s not bad, until you learn that if you lift weights before your cardio, GH release can increase 1,600 per cent.


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