Monthly Archives: April 2013
L-CARNITINE & FAT UTILIZATION
To fuel exercise, your body uses stored fat and carbohydrates in the form of muscle glycogen. As exercise intensity increases, greater amounts of fat and carbs are oxidized. But the rate of fat oxidation decreases after your reach about 70% of exercise capacity, accelerating the use of glycogen.
A study published in the European Journal of Sport Science examines whether L-carnitine influences this tradeoff. Because of carnitine’s role in transporting fat, researchers theorized that a reduction in muscle free carnitine might be one of the mechanisms behind the switch from fat to carbohydrate energy.
True Strength Moment: Muscle carnitine content can be increased by eating foods like lamb, fish, chicken, asparagus and dairy products. Supplementation can also increase carnitine, which might be important since there seems to be a correlation between carnitine availability and fat oxidation during high-intensity submaximal exercise.
BEST APPROACH TO WEIGHT LOSS
Swimsuit season is right around the corner, and if you’ve been putting off planning out an effective diet and fitness strategy for weight loss, a study published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine suggests tackling diet improvements and regular exercise at the same time produces optimal results.
Researchers recruited 200 adults aged 45 and older who hadn’t been eating very healthy or getting much exercise. Some were encouraged to start eating healthier and exercising right away while others focused on either diet or exercise for a couple of months before incorporating the other aspect into their weight loss program. Those who went all in with both diet and fitness were much more likely to get the recommended amount of exercise each week and consume 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables daily.
True Strength Moment: While you probably aren’t eating as poorly as these middle aged subjects and are likely to be a lot more active than they were before this intervention, it might help to know that the second best option for weight loss was hitting the gym right away and dialing in your diet a little later. Now that you’re regularly hitting personal bests, take a look at how you’re reinforcing those gains in the kitchen.
BEST WEIGHT MAINTENANCE DIET
Now that you’ve successfully cut down to size for swimsuit season, what’s the best diet strategy for keeping the weight off? Since 95% of people who successfully lose weight gain it back within a year, that’s a very important consideration. A study published in the journal PloS One suggests following a very low-carb diet instead of a low-fat program.
Boston Children’s Hospital put a group of obese young adults on a low-carb diet to lose weight. After reducing body weight by 10% to 15%, some continued a reduced carbohydrate eating strategy while others switched to a low-fat/low GI diet. Although rates of energy expenditure were similar following a meal, it remained lower for a longer amount of time with the low fat/low GI diet.
True Strength Moment: Successful weight loss has a way of increasing appetite while reducing metabolic rate. Adhering to a very low carbohydrate eating strategy can help you beat the odds. Try elevating carbohydrate consumption one day each week to restore glycogen reserves. This tactic might also stoke your metabolism for a short period of time.
PERSONALIZE YOUR POWER TRAINING
We’re all a little different, physiologically speaking, and some people have longer arms than others. Does it make any difference if you’re working a power training routine? A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research suggests that arm length can have an impact on maximal power, and offers suggestions for individualized power training.
Scientists measured the upper arms, forearms, and total arm length of 26 professional rugby players before testing them on a bench press. Peak power was achieved using loads between 20% and 60% of one rep max (1RM), and maximal power was achieved at 30% of 1RM. But for subjects with longer upper arms, maximum power was closer to 22% of 1RM.
True Strength Moment: Adjusting resistance to power train specifically for your build is just another way to take it to the next level with individual differences. If that makes your training more effective, it’s definitely worth the effort.
DIET’S INFLUENCE ON TRAINING
There’s an old saying about abs being built in the kitchen. Any bodybuilder can tell you that a commitment to clean eating goes well beyond maintaining a beach body 6-pack. Just be careful how much time you invest in food preparation. A study prepared by graduate students at Ohio State’s University of Public Health suggests there’s a tradeoff between time spent in the kitchen the how long you train at the gym.
Analyzing data on more than 112,000 adults who responded to the Census Bureau’s American Time Use Survey between 2003 and 2010, researchers determined that the average man spends 17 minutes preparing food and 19 minutes exercising. The average for women was 44 minutes of food preparation compared to 9 minutes of exercise. Every 10 additional minutes of food preparation raised the chance that you’ll decide not to exercise that day by 3%.
True Strength Moment: To save time and effort, you can prepare a week’s worth of meals all at one time. Store these small mini-meals in resealable containers or storage bags in your refrigerator before packing a day’s worth into a cooler. This helps eliminate restaurant temptations while leaving you with more time for training.
Benefits of L-Carnitine
L-carnitine has been used as a nutritional supplement for more than two decades.1 It’s a trimthylated amino acid found primarily in animal proteins, with red meat regarded as the richest source, although humans are also capable of synthesizing L-carnitine from dietary amino acids. Its main function in the body is to aid in the metabolism of food into energy, but it also has been shown to be a valuable supplement for athletes by assisting the recovery process through the improvement of muscle tissue repair and reduction of muscle tissue damage.2,3,4 What’s more, one study on healthy trained men showed that L-carnitine supplementation can significantly increase testosterone receptor concentration.5
Studies have shown that L-carnitine is a powerful ingredient that can help aid the post-workout recovery process. It acts as an antioxidant that can reduce free-radical formation, minimize muscle tissue disruption and promote recovery.2,3,4 L-carnitine has even been shown to reduce muscle soreness after a workout.4 In the long run, proper recuperation is important for overall growth and development.
Testosterone Receptor Booster
Another important effect of L-carnitine is its ability to significantly increase testosterone receptor concentration. In fact, in one study, L-carnitine was shown to significantly increase testosterone (androgen) receptor concentration after only 21 days of supplementation in resistance-trained men.5 The increase in receptor availability is believed to lead to greater potential of free-testosterone utilization at the muscle fiber level. Free testosterone is the most usable form of testosterone available for pure, unadulterated growth and development of muscle.
1 Kelly, G., 1998. Alternative Medicine Review. 3(5):345-360.
2 Kraemer et al., 2003. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. 17(3):455-462.
3 Volek et al., 2002. American Journal of Physiology – Endocrinology and Metabolism. 282:E474-E482.
4 Ho et al., 2010. Metabolism. 59:1190-1199.
5 Kraemer et al., 2006. Medicine & Science in Sport & Exercise. 38(7):1288-1296.
6 Swart et al., 1997. Nutrition Research. 17(3):405-414.
7 Wall et al., 2011. Journal of Physiology. 589(4):963-73.
RED & WHITE MUSCLE DIFFERENCES
University of Michigan researchers exploring the relationship between muscle type and metabolism believe the white muscle built up through resistance training helps control blood sugars. An analysis of data published in the journal Nature Medicine suggests that a protein called BAF60c might play an important role in the formation of white muscle
Red muscle is prevalent in athletes who engage in long-duration endurance exercise. The mitochondria rely mostly on fat oxidation to generate ATP for energy. White muscle uses glycogen as the primary fuel source for short but intense bursts of power, which is why this type of muscle is prevalent in sprinters, body builders and weight lifters.
True Strength Moment: Although muscle type might play an important role in metabolism, your choice of carbohydrates can have a more immediate impact. To avoid the surge of energy and crash associated with fast-digesting sugary carbohydrates, choose complex carb sources like asparagus, sweet potato, oatmeal and brown rice. Consumed in small quantities at feedings spread every 2 to 3 hours apart, complex carbs can provide sustained energy to those who rely on strength and power.
KEEPING PACE WITH RECOVERY
A couple studies have shown that inspirational music can help you maintain intensity during a demanding cardio day. Now a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research suggests that a catchy beat can positively influence short-term recovery – even without the music.
Ten recreationally active men in their mid- to late 20s ran all-out for 6 minutes on 3 separate occasions. During the first session, they recovered for 15 minutes with no soundtrack. The next time, motivational music was played, and after the final run only the beat from that same motivational music was played. Music and the beat increased activity during active recovery which lowered lactate levels as well as the perceived rate of exertion.
True Strength Moment: Although music worked slightly better than just a beat, both produced better results than non-structured active recovery. This might have something to do with the way most people unconsciously alter their pace to keep time with a tune. It appears that keeping your feet moving after an intense cardio workout improves both actual and perceived rates of recovery.
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Preventing Muscle Mass Loss by Using Glutamine
Glutamine has many direct and indirect effects on weight loss. Moreover, taking glutamine can improve your fitness level, body composition and overall health. Glutamine has powerful effects on the immune system, muscles, digestive tract, liver and brain. In fact, it is the single most abundant amino acid in your body. The glutamine that is synthesized in the body or ingested from food might not be enough for individuals who train frequently, endure chronic stress or have weakened immune systems
Glutamine also increases muscle volume by drawing water and carbohydrates into muscle cells. Glutamine boosts metabolism and fat burning. Not only does it increase fat burning when taken before and during exercise, it also boosts your resting metabolic rate. Glutamine’s effect on immune function helps you stay healthy so you do not miss workouts. By improving muscle recovery, glutamine allows you to hit the gym more frequently with less muscle soreness. Taking even small amounts of L-glutamine increases the secretion of growth hormone, which is a potent fat burning substance.
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