Sports Nutrition, Muscle, Endurance, Recovery, Sexual Health, Weight Management
Sometimes just getting to the gym feels like half the battle. Make sure you’re fueling your body with food that will energize you while you’re there.
Between work and play, your energy may not always be where you need it to be to put in a charged session at the gym, on the track or wherever you’re working out. Your diet can make a huge impact on your energy.
Most people go right for the caffeine when they need an energy boost. In the long run, this will only wear you out faster. This is because caffeine affects the amount of insulin your body produces, spiking your blood sugar and then causing a “crash” in your energy level shortly after. It can also cause dehydration.
You want to go for foods that contain complex carbohydrates—like vegetables, fruits, whole grain products and beans. Because they are digested and absorbed slowly into your body, they keep your blood sugar and energy levels up and stable without the crash. Eat around five to six meals a day with these kinds of foods and watch the quality of your energy improve.
Sugary foods and other simple carbs also give you that “quick fix” you get from caffeine, but you’re still going to get the crash if that’s what you’re fueling yourself with. Again, stick with complex carbs several times a day.
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With so many products to choose from in the Sports Nutrition category it can be overwhelming for consumers to determine what to purchase. Always remember the single most important supplement you can take is a high quality multi vitamin. I like to think of multi vitamins as the body’s nutritional insurance policy.
Consider this: the human body is literally a big chemistry set. Although most athletes understand the important role carbohydrates, fats and protein play in our diets, many fail to realize our food choices may lack the quality vitamins and minerals needed to support our metabolism at its highest level.*
For example: Vitamin B1 (Thiamin) is primarily responsible for carbohydrate metabolism along with the function of the nervous system.* Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) is an important agent in the repair of all cells following rigorous training or competition!* Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) is crucial in the metabolism of sugar, fat and protein.* Vitamin B15 (Pangamate or Pangamic Acid) is known for its ability to increase blood and oxygen supplies to tissue.* Magnesium is a mineral essential to muscle contraction.* The lack of this key mineral can result in fatigue, spasms, muscle twitching and muscle weakness (A condition any athlete wants to avoid!).1 These are just a few examples of the role vital nutrients play in the performance of strength and endurance athletes.
Athletes (including active individuals) burn through these micro nutrients at a much faster pace than average people, and that will ultimately play a critical roll in your overall performance.*
If you want to be a successful athlete or simply perform at your peak level, you need to provide your body with everything it needs. Multi vitamins deliver micro nutrients at the cellular level to help maintain a healthy metabolism!* They are involved in thousands of metabolic functions throughout our day from building muscle tissue, to breaking down sugars and fats for energy consumption.*
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1. Davis, Paul O. Ph.D & Hatfield, Frederick C. Ph.D. Fitness The Complete Guide. International Sports Sciences Association, Santa Barbara, CA, 2000.
What separates the average Joe six-pack (muscle, not beer) from professional body builders? Other than genetics, and lifting heavier weights, it is probably not your workout. The differences lie in the fine details; really warming up before a workout, weighing food, counting calories, planning meals and understanding muscle nutrition.
While there are many minerals that are important for muscle growth and metabolism, perhaps the most important is magnesium.* Magnesium is an electrolyte that is critical to cellular energy, vitality and membrane integrity.* Magnesium is also a cofactor in more than 300 biochemical reactions. There is a strong link between magnesium levels and the stress hormones cortisol.1
So what does magnesium do for muscles?
Magnesium plays a critical role in anaerobic and aerobic energy production. Specifically, the synthesis of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) relies on magnesium dependant enzymes (ATPases). ATP is the ‘energy currency’ of the body and fuels all muscle contractions. Extra magnesium can improve athletic performance if you are below optimal levels. 2,3,4
There are studies carried out on resistant trained and physically active people that would argue against the need to supplement magnesium5,6. However, these studies assume no deficiency in serum magnesium levels. Even when the quality of food is high and the diet is balanced, athletes often struggle to meet magnesium needs so supplementing to RDI levels (400 mg) is advisable.
Sources of magnesium include halibut, whole grains, cereals, green leafy vegetables, nuts and supplements.
1. Br J Nutr 100(5):1038-45 (2008)
2. J Nutr 132:930-935 (2002)
3. Endocrinol Metab Clin N Am 22:377-395 (1993)
4. Med Exerc Nutr Health 4:230-233 (1995)
5. Med Sci Sports Exerc 33: 493-498 (2001)
6. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 1:12-20 (2004)
By Thane Slagowski, Vice President, Product Development & Quality for Twinlab.
I am a great believer in the power of exercise to help you sleep better; the better you sleep the more energy you will have for exercise.
You can learn a lot about energy and sleep by observing nature. I have a hyperactive puppy (a French bulldog named Yoda) who loves to chew on socks and is often caught stealing flip flops. To protect my family’s shoes and socks from doggy slobber, we take him on a walk each day. After the walk, Yoda is mellow and goes out like a light. In parallel, I doubt construction workers have a hard time falling asleep. Why not apply this same principle to your sleep and exercise routines?
Sleep can be the perfect supplement to your exercise routine. Research shows that the release of growth hormones peaks during deep sleep, while at the same time blood flow to muscles increases and your metabolic rate slows. All this is the perfect formula for the repair and growth of muscle tissue. 1
From personal experience, you’ve probably seen many of the other benefits of a good sleep routine, including mood stabilization and increased learning and memory functions. Leptin, an appetite-regulating hormone, is also directly influenced by your sleep routine. You may have a bigger appetite if you don’t get enough sleep, because leptin levels drop and increase appetite.2
Suffer from insomnia? Studies indicate that exercise—especially morning exercise—will help you sleep better.3 An hour of stretching and walking daily can help relieve many sleep problems that often stem from the stresses of regular life.
Exercise at least four hours a week and remember that any exercise is better than none, regardless of the time of day. You should note, though, that exercising right before heading to bed can lead to difficulty sleeping. It is recommended that you exercise at least three hours before going to bed, to give your body enough time to cool off. A lowered body temperature is needed for sleep onset. In order to support vigorous exercise, a positive energy balance from sleep is critical.4
So remember, to help your mind and body regenerate, reduce stress, be more alert and reach your fitness goals, get at least six to seven hours of sleep each night.
1. McManus, Mark. “How to Sleep Your Way to Big Muscles.” Retrieved December 10, 2008, from http://www.musclehack.com/how-to-sleep-your-way-to-big-muscles/
2. Plotnick, Rachel. “Diet, Exercise, Sleep! The Path to a Healthier Lifestyle.” National Sleep Association. Retrieved December 10, 2008, from http://sleepfoundation.org/article/sleep-topics/diet-exercise-and-sleep
3. American Academy of Sleep Medicine (2008, June 12). Moderate Exercise Can Improve Sleep Quality Of Insomnia Patients. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 4, 2008, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080611071129.htm