How to Make the Jump from Marathons to Ultras

Marathons to UltrasAndrew Simmons – Lifelong Endurance

With more and more people signing up for ultra-marathons—are you starting to get the itch too? These guidelines will show you how to make the jump from marathons to ultras and give you some key tips for having the best race possible.

It All Starts With a Plan

Longer distances will require more time in many aspects. Make sure you have the time to commit to training. Starting with a good training plan or a coach and an idea of how many hours you can train each week is key. Take some time to find the right plan and the right coach to suit your needs and your training availability.

Know Your Time Frame

If you’re currently in good shape you can prepare for a 50Km in roughly 12 weeks. However, if you’re starting from scratch give yourself plenty of time, up to 24 weeks to prepare for your event. Add an additional eight to 10 weeks of training for events that are between 50Km and 100 miles in length.

5 Tips for Your Best Race

Run Where You Race – Or As Close As You Can

It can be hard to find trail access in urban areas, however it’s a pretty safe bet most ultras will take you off road and onto a trail. For some, finding a trail or technical section can require some creativity, but it is worth the extra effort and possible drive time.

Getting onto a trail and off the roads can beneficial in multiple ways; it helps break up training by taking you out of your comfort zone, gets you into new training situations and will require you to think on your feet. Thinking on your feet and even getting a little lost is a crucial part of long-distance run training and developing a strong sense of direction and the ability to cope in the event of a mistake is a necessary skill.

Take to trails in small doses if you’re not a regular trail runner. If you’re totally lost, remember that trail running offers the bonus of less impact on you and your body. Less impact and more time on feet will help increase your durability both mentally and physically. It won’t always be easy!

Throw Away Your Ego

The first thing you’ll notice is that kilometre splits and hitting very specific times go out of the window at first. If you think you’re going to run a consistent pace front to back in an ultra, you will come to a harsh realization at your first hill or technical section.

Ultra-marathons require a “manage it as it happens” approach. While a road marathon requires supreme fitness, an ultra requires similar fitness with the added challenge of solving problems as you run. Running down a steep technical hill with rocks and roots and then quickly back up a wet culvert requires good fitness and the ability to control yourself so you can get to the finish line in one piece.

Time on Your Feet Is King

This doesn’t mean you can’t use fitness markers to your advantage in a race. A majority of ultra-marathon plans are based on heart rate (HR) and require you to find a comfortable zone that you can run in and then endure for four to seven hours to complete the course.

Keeping yourself in an aerobic zone allows you to utilize onboard energy more efficiently and will keep you feeling fresh longer. Tip over your HR threshold a few too many times and you may find your race a lot tougher during those last 10 miles.

Mileage is not always the best marker when going off road; time on your feet matters more than the weekly mileage totals. You’ll find that if a majority of your work is truly aerobic, you’ll be running slower than you may have been in previous training build ups. This will require you to reframe what’s important in your ultra training. Looking at your total weekly hours and building up to more consecutive hours will be key to building yourself into an ultra-marathon runner.

Pressure Test The System

Ultra-marathon training on the surface simply requires you to run longer, pushing you out of your comfort zone mentally and physically. One of the biggest roadblocks for a successful first ultra is not having tested yourself at your race effort. You may find that you need to adjust for electrolytes after two to three hours, that you do better with solid food the first half of a race, or that you need to change shoes because your feet swell in warm temperatures. These small nuances can have a huge impact on your race—especially once you start looking at 50km and above races

Hydration and fuelling strategies should be tested on your long runs and you should start to note what it feels like when you’re dehydrated or low on fuel. Your long runs are your chance to try out new fuels. Learning how to work through a bad stretch in a long run is a vital learning experience in many ways!

A key component to your success is getting in the training but also replicating what you’re going to expect to see on race day; think about the terrain, major elements like long hills, extended descents or race day conditions like extreme heat or cold.

You’re Stronger and More Capable than You Think

It’s hard to imagine what running 50kms or more will feel like and I can’t even tell you what you will personally experience. To some that extra five miles is an eternity and to others it’s a natural and more comfortable progression.  Pacing yourself and taking the race aid station to aid station is going to help you break the race into manageable chunks. Give yourself a boost at each aid station as a reward, or imbibe in an aid station treat (believe me they have some amazing things at these trail races!).

An ultra requires mental persistence, self-affirmation and a belief that you can complete it. Many professionals utilize mantras to keep them focused and “in the zone.” Others like to use music, podcasts or other tactics to push the little monster out from inside their head. Using a motivational tool or pacer can be a huge help  toward ensuring your success on race day.

Recovery

First and foremost, ultras are longer than you’ve ever gone before. In both training and racing, you’ll be pushing your body into new territories.  This can come with its own aches and pains; post-race you’ll want to give yourself an extra seven to 10 days of low mileage on top of your normal marathon recovery protocol.

Following your first ultra you should allow yourself five days of low impact activity directly following and roughly 10 to 14 days before you return to your normal training or start to focus on your next event. Remember, the first one always takes the longest to recover from! In rare cases there can be minimal soreness; don’t let this fool you. Long distance racing takes a larger and more impactful metabolic, mental and physiological toll that can put you down for longer than you think.

Take this time to enjoy activities you missed out on during peak training and maybe sleep in a little and slowly introduce yourself back to training. After all, recovery is the second best part after the race itself!

3 Reasons You Need To Change Your Protein Powder

Protein powders are as synonymous with fitness as tough workouts, competition and the need for recovery.

Even though the protein supplement market has been oversaturated and misunderstood, the reality is that: Human beings are protein machines.

All the way down to our DNA, you’ll find instructions for building our brain, digestive system, muscles, immune cells and so much more out of protein building blocks.

To build new structures, we must provide our bodies with the raw materials it needs to make it happen. You can’t build your muscle out of cheese fries and Doritos (believe me, I tried). And if your body is deficient in the protein building blocks it needs, you will breakdown faster and live a poorer quality life as a result.

The big issue in our world today is that we live in abnormally stressful conditions where our bodies have to work on high gear more often. More stress to fight, more infections to defend against and more need to build new brain and nervous system tissue than ever before. And don’t even get me started on how you need protein to build a sexified lean body… You already know that!

Though many people are adamant about getting in their protein supplement today for some of these reasons, many are unaware that the protein they are choosing may be doing more harm than good.

Here are 3 reasons you need to change your protein powder:

Digestion

The conventional go-to for protein powders for the past couple decades has been whey protein. For some people, this has worked out fine, but for many others this has been a stinky situation.

In the health & fitness field, whey protein is often referred to as “Gas & Blast” due to the unfortunate effects of causing more bloat, digestive distress and gassiness.

halleberry_catwoman

I remember hearing an interview from Halle Berry back in the day when she was getting in shape for the movie Cat Woman (bad movie, but great body). She said to the interviewer that she’d be glad when she could back off on all the exercise and whey protein shakes she had to drink because of all the gas she was kicking out. (Wait, whaaat? Halle Berry farts?)

There are actually many reasons for these digestive woes. Unfortunately, many whey protein producers claim that their products are safe for those who are lactose intolerant because there is little to no lactose found in it (especially if it’s an isolate).

The problem with this is that even a small amount of lactose (milk-sugar) can be enough to set off a chain reaction of health problems. For those who are lactose intolerant (which you probably are if you’re not a baby and if you are a baby and reading this, great job!) just that small amount of lactose found in whey will go undigested in your digestive tract and trigger excessive activity with bacteria in your gut.

As a result, you end up experiencing the bloating, distended stomach and gassiness that are definitely not the sexy part about getting into shape.

Some people will hop to vegan proteins like soy to avoid this, but end up jumping into another problem. Many soy proteins, for example, are hexane extracted. That’s hexane, as in gasoline, as in that’s explosive stuff, as in that’s just crazy!

So whether you are unknowingly choosing the conventional whey, or the typical soy alternative, you are not doing your digestion any favours. And the truth is, it’s not “You are what you eat”, it’s really, “You are what you digest.”

To wrap this digestion point up, internal distress, denatured amino acids and the potential immune response can lead to an increase in mucus production and hormone dysfunction. This can translate to an increase in allergies and asthma symptoms, skin breakouts (especially back acne aka bacne) and more frequent colds and infections. More than enough reasons to leave these lower quality protein sources behind.

The solution

The most digestible protein source that you’ll find for the human body is hemp protein. Hemp protein contains a unique blend of two soft, highly digestible proteins called edestin and albumin.

Globular proteins like edestin are regarded as the most bioavailable, usable sources of protein for the human body. The word edestin is actually from the Greek word “edestos” meaning edible. Hemp is actually the only known source of the powerhouse protein edestin.

Edestin has also been found to contain higher levels of essential amino acids than soy and you’ll also avoid the harsh extraction process used to turn the soy bean into a protein powder.

Toxicity

A Consumer Reports study found that several of the major whey protein powders on the market exceeded the safety limits for heavy metals recommended by the USP.

Heavy metals like arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury were found in surprisingly high amounts in protein powders and drinks you’d find on your local store shelves.

The most alarming were the amounts of arsenic and cadmium. Exposure to arsenic has been linked to cancer of the bladder, lungs, skin, kidney, nasal passages, liver and prostate. It’s a strong immune system depressant and shown to damage blood vessels and other cardiac tissues.

Cadmium is also a known carcinogen. It’s proven to damage DNA and also disrupt DNA repair systems that help prevent cancer in the first place. These heavy metals are bad business. But the question is, how did they get into the protein powder in the first place?

This goes back, again, to the misinterpreted saying, “You are what you eat”.

Not only is it deeper than ‘you are what you eat’, but when it comes to the animal proteins you consume, it’s really, “You are what you eat ate.”

The health of the animals that provide you with the protein you consume is of the utmost importance. Toxicity becomes more concentrated as you move up the food chain, accumulating in the tissues of the animal and transmitting over to the animal’s meat, organs and bodily fluids. In this case, it’s the whey made from milk.

If the animals themselves are eating an abnormal diet, then the milk they produce will be far less safe to consume. Did you know that only a small fraction of a whey proteins on the market are from cows that actually eat grass?

The vast majority of whey protein products are from cow’s who’ve been given a diet of soy and/or corn. Not sure if I’m the only one that noticed, but cows can’t shuck corn… And I’m pretty sure that they can’t cook beans either. It’s just those pesky hooves that they have… They’re just not that graceful in the kitchen.

Bottom line is, when you give cows food that they have not evolved eating, they get sick just like humans do. This is also the reason that most conventional whey products are from cows that have been treated rigorously with antibiotics. This destroys their immune system and leaves them susceptible to every disease under the sun. But hey, that won’t affect you when you drink their milk… Nah, I’m just kidding. Of course it will!

Add to the mix that you are consuming the whey from potentially hundreds of different cows in one jug of protein powder, you can imagine the not-so-pretty number it can do on your immune system.

You are what you eat ate. If the cows are consuming GMO corn and soy grown in soil that is saturated with unnatural fertilizers (which contain dense amounts of heavy metals) it’s no wonder that studies are finding the heavy metals in the whey. It’s just how the system works.

The Solution

To get out of that system and get a protein supplement that’s exceptionally more safe, it’s a good idea to shift over to a plant-based protein. There’s going to be less toxicity because it’s lower on the food chain, but you want to get one that still packs the protein punch that you would find in an animal source.

Hemptons utilizes a rich and complete protein derived from organic hemp seeds. You’re no longer going to have to be concerned about nefarious pesticides and heavy metal laced fertilizers making their way into your body. Hemptons’ Hemp Protein contains all of the essential amino acids and all three branched chain amino acids (BCAAs), making it one of the most potent sources of plant protein in the world. You’ll get the protein that you need and none of the stuff you don’t.

Dense Nutrition

The protein you choose should never be deficient in the co-factors that actually make it work. Protein doesn’t function by itself in the human body.

Nothing functions independently in nature. Everything depends on something else to give it life and make it work.

Most protein powders on the market are so heavily processed that they give no regard to this fact. Vitamins and minerals found in the food, blah, who needs ’em! Antioxidants and neurotransmitters, please, who said any of that stuff is important?

The vitamins, minerals and immune factors that would be found in a cow’s milk (intended to give to its baby) are all but destroyed in the processing practices of most whey protein companies.

You are not left with anything close to a complete food… You are left with, well, protein and none of its friends (and protein is definitely not a shy little introvert … it likes friends)

Soy, on the other hand, has been found to absorb plenty of nutrients from its environment, but an abnormal amount of the wrong stuff. One study on protein-rich soy infant formula found that it contained up to 200 times more manganese than natural breast milk. You probably know that manganese is an essential nutrient for the human body, but consuming it in excess has been linked to reduced brain function and even Parkinson’s Disease.

Soy is a plant that has this unique affinity to absorb excessive manganese. This could be a good indicator that it’s not an appropriate human food. Add to the mix that it’s extremely high in estrogen compounds and trypsin inhibitors that actually block the uptake of proteins and the case is pretty clear that soy is not the standard that we want to subscribe to.

The Solution

Hemp protein provides a safe variety of minerals and trace minerals that make the protein more useable by the human body.

Hemp contains healthy amounts of magnesium, iron, zinc and potassium as some of the highlights. All with critical roles in brain function, blood building, the immune system and muscle function as well.

In nature, hemp contains nearly the exact ratio of omega 6’s to omega 3’s that are ideal for the human body. Research indicates that we need a 3:1 to 4:1 ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 respectively.

In our world today we are bombarded with foods that contain extremely high levels of omega 6’s (the pro-inflammatory fatty acids) and not enough omega 3’s (the anti-inflammatory fatty acids). Hemp contains a ratio of approximately 3.38:1 of Omega 6 to Omega 3 and no other food is this identical. This is yet another reason why hemp looks to be an amazing food for human beings.

At 35 percent protein by weight, hemp is a naturally high protein food that provides the most useable source of protein for the human body. It’s a food that we all need to incorporate as we move forward in our health and becoming the best version of ourselves.

So to answer the question: What is the best protein powder? Clearly, hemp protein stands head and shoulders above all other conventional protein powders in digestibility, assimilation, safety and nutrient density.

Here’s to a better protein, better performance and better health for years to come!

5 Things to know about weight-loss

tofattorun

There’s so much information/misinformation about losing weight. Here are the things nobody told me; the things that I wish I’d known when I started losing…

Throw Away Your Scale

No, seriously. Throw it away. For me (and I think for many people), the scale was just a way to torture myself and continue my cycle of treating myself poorly. Gain a Kg? I thought I was awful and should just stop eating at all. Lose a Kg? I’m great and should celebrate by eating a pizza. The natural up-down fluctuation of our body weight shouldn’t drive us crazy, but it can and for a lot of us, it will.

Still want to use the scale as a tool and not a crazymaker? Use a scale at the gym, or that one at the supermarket. Just don’t keep one in your house. It can be very addictive and it’s frankly a bad way to rate your progress. I can fluctuate up to 2 kgs in a given day due to water/food, glycogen retention and a lot of other issues. Weigh yourself at the same time of day in the same clothes, no more than once a week. Buy a tape measure and measure every two weeks. (Taking pictures once a month is something I really wish I’d done!) Rejoice when your pants fall down …  and, throw away your scale.

Fitness is a three-pronged approach.

You need to do cardio, weight training and flexibility training. Just do cardio and you’re on your way to skinny-fat. I see plenty of women who just do cardio and they look alright in street clothes, but when they come into the spin room, they’re just as jiggly as someone who could stand to lose a few. Just do weights and don’t incorporate flexibility training and you’re on the way to bunchy town: short, tight muscles that don’t feel or look good. Just do flexibility training and you won’t burn many calories. I do cardio, yoga and weights. This also goes a long way in preventing workout burnout. I shudder at the mere thought of just doing an hour on the treadmill every day. Boring. Mix it up. Your body and your sanity will be better for it.

What you eat is really, really important.

Remember, you cannot out exercise a bad diet … ever!

You can lose weight eating packaged, processed food with little nutritional value. But, yuck. You’ll be hungry. The portions won’t be large, the nutrients will be lacking and you’ll feel deprived.  Most nights for dinner, I have an enormous salad. Ten cups of greens, a homemade dressing with olive oil and lemon juice (or balsamic) and sometimes I throw in some chicken or seafood, or nuts or a bit of white goats’ cheese. I struggle to get that enormous bowl up to 450 calories. It’s huge.

Moral of this story? Eat your vegetables, eat your lean protein sources (and occasionally not so lean—good fats in moderation are a good thing). Eat a handful of nuts. A teeny-tiny ounce of nuts takes the edge off your hunger for hours. Remember, moderation – a handful only because just 28g of nuts is nearly 200 calories. But, nuts have it all going for them: They’re portable and they keep you full. Keeping those nuts handy will save you from many a low-blood sugar induced eating frenzy.

Calories equal energy. That’s its definition. Choose calories that are full of energy and nutrients, not full of chemicals and rubbish. Anything that’s marketed as “good for you” (I’m talking to you, 100-calorie packs) most likely isn’t. If it needs marketing (when was the last time you saw a TV commercial for an apple?), it needs to be sold. Don’t believe me? Just Google around and find some cigarette ads from the 1940s, when those were marketed as healthy and natural. The 100-calorie pack is the low-tar cigarette of our generation. Be smarter than the food industry. Eat foods with one ingredient. That’s my best diet/health advice in one sentence.

The diet and fast food industry want you to stay fat.

Any “get-thin quick” scheme is just that. They want you to “get results” and then pack the pounds back on and come back because “it worked so great the last time.” Any diet that you can’t be on the rest of your life is a bad one. You can’t repent for a month and suddenly never gain weight again.

Any industry depends on repeat business to keep afloat. The diet industry is no different. If diets worked, everyone would go on one, lose weight and keep it off and never have to shell out any money ever again. The same holds true for the processed/fast-food/chain-restaurant food industry. They want you addicted to their food, craving more and coming back. They don’t care that what they’re selling can make you fat and kill you. They just want your money.

Now, I’m not perfect. From time to time, I indulge in junk food. But it’s rare and it’s an indulgence. I hardly ever want it anymore, though, because it makes me feel awful. I can’t believe sometimes that it used to be the cornerstone of my diet.

You will go into mourning for the old you.

I’ve saved this for last because it was the most shocking to me. I lost 25 kgs, became a fit and healthy person and then got really, really depressed and didn’t know why. On some level, I finally realized, I missed my old life. I missed going out and not caring what I put into my body (it was fun at the moment). I missed feeling bad about something and knowing that as soon as I got that ice cream home it would all go away. I missed being invisible once I started getting more attention (especially from the opposite sex).

After I lost the weight, my life as I knew it was over. I got divorced from food as a coping mechanism. Food was, for a period in my life, my best friend. I had to mourn that loss. I had to spend time figuring out who this new person, who would rather go for a walk than for pizza, was. I lost friends in the process (I made new ones after a while). I had to re-learn how to cope with emotions. I had to learn that it was okay to cry rather than eat. I had to learn that it was alright to say I was upset about something out loud, using words rather than food. I had to learn that it was perfectly well and good to stand up for myself rather than eat. I had to learn how to do a lot of things rather than eat. If your change is true and lifelong, you will most likely go through this process, too.

Accept it as part of the journey you’re taking.

Combining Citrulline with Glutathione could Pump You Up

citrulline-muscleWhen working against a significant resistance for repetitions, blood flow locally increases to working muscles, increasing tone and size almost instantly. While getting your swole on can be great for the mirror, it is not just cosmetic – increasing blood flow to hard-working muscles also delivers nutrients to fuel muscle contraction.

Greater blood flow to working muscles also helps to increase cell volume, which, along with mechanical tension generated from lifting heavy weights, comprise a large part of the early ‘go’ signal for muscle adaptation.

The much sought-after “pump” in the gym isn’t just for aesthetics, it’s also an ingredient in the recipe for muscle growth.

The NO-cGMP pathway: anatomy of a pump

While the behind the scenes cell signaling that drives increased blood flow to working muscles can get a bit complicated (more on that later), a simple thought experiment gives a good overview of the process.

Let’s say you have an empty swimming pool in your backyard that you need to fill with water. So you place a small garden hose in the pool and turn on the faucet. Only nothing happens. You discover that there’s a leak in the pool, and the small amount of water delivered through the garden hose leaks out as fast as you can pump it in. Since our ultimate goal is to get that pool filled with water, there are two things we can do to this end: deliver the water faster than it leaks out, or fix the leak! If this makes sense, you now have an overview of a muscle pump: arteries supplying the working muscle dilate, allowing more blood to enter. At the same blood flow is restricted in other less active areas of the body, promoting the local delivery of increased nutrient-rich blood to hard-working muscles.

The pump effect is driven by a molecule known as nitric oxide (NO) that is part of the NO-cGMP pathway. In response to hard work, neurons release NO from nerves and endothelial cells in and around the working muscle. From here, NO makes its way to the smooth muscle cells lining blood vessels, where it binds to guanyl cyclase. This NO-guanyl cyclase interaction results in the production of cGMP. cGMP then goes on to activate downstream signaling that decreases calcium levels in the smooth muscle that lines blood vessels, leading to relaxation and arterial dilation.

While this may sound complicated, the overall concept is straightforward: NO is locally released, which increases cGMP levels, which in turn increases blood flow to working muscles.

Supplementing the pump

There’s a huge market for supplements meant to potentiate the pump by affecting the NO-cGMP pathway. Many contain large amounts of L-arginine, which is combined with oxygen by the nitric oxide synthase (NOS) enzyme to produce NO. This type of supplement is generally taken pre-workout, where a bolus of arginine with the right timing spikes blood arginine levels when it counts, increasing NO production and blood flow to working muscles.

While this looks great on paper, L-arginine supplementation is not perfect. As much as L-arginine exists at the business-end of NO synthesis, getting significant quantities into the bloodstream can be an inefficient process. A significant amount of arginine taken orally will be broken down in the liver before it ever gets into circulation. The second issue is that NO is a highly reactive molecule that is broken down soon after it is formed.

There are two main issues to using L-arginine supplementation to increase NO levels: L-arginine delivery into the bloodstream, and NO and stability.

Use Citrulline to increase blood arginine levels

Because L-citrulline is more readily absorbed than L-arginine, which is rapidly broken down in the liver before it reaches circulation, L-citrulline is a far more efficient way to increase blood arginine levels. One study in heart patients found that 3g of citrulline (as citrulline malate) was equivalent to a 6g dose of arginine, suggesting that citrulline may have twice the potency of arginine itself when it comes in increasing arginine levels in the blood stream.

Doses of citrulline in the 4-8 g range seem to be optimal for boosting pre-workout NO levels, and can be taken as free-form L-citrulline as well as citrulline malate. For the purposes of increasing blood arginine levels, these are probably interchangeable, and the malate form has shown promise in a recent study on lower-body resistance exercise, as seen in Figure 1. Keep in mind though, that 1.8g of citrulline malate is equivalent to only 1g of free-from citrulline, due to the added molecular weight of the malate salt.

citrulline3

The solution to the delivery problem is an easy fix: take citrulline instead. L-citrulline is byproduct of NO synthesis that can be converted back into arginine through the arginine-citrulline cycle.

Increase glutathione levels to stabilize NO in the blood stream

Having solved the delivery issue by taking L-citrulline, we still have a problem to overcome to maximize the potential of NO: it breaks down real fast in the blood stream. If there was a way to extend the life of NO even by a little bit, this could help to augment cGMP production and increase blood flow.

Recent research has suggested that supplementing glutathione alongside citrulline may help to do just that, potentiating NO synthesis. Glutathione is a tripeptide consisting of the amino acids cysteine, glutamic acid, and glycine. It is also major cellular antioxidant that plays a role in detoxification of toxic reactive oxygen molecules such as peroxides. GSH has a connection to NO synthesis, as some cells can’t make NO in the absence of GSH. GSH also increases the activity of NOS, the enzyme that makes NO from arginine.

In a human trial, 200mg/day glutathione (GSH) alongside 2 g/day L-citrulline showed a non-significant trend toward increasing plasma cGMP levels. Although the observed increases in cGMP levels didn’t quite reach statistical significance, citrulline and GSH in combination also increased nitrate and nitrite levels more than citrulline alone. Since nitrate and nitrite also are substrates for NO synthesis, this work suggests that the overall effect of L-citrulline and glutathione supplementation may support NO production to a greater extent than L-citrulline alone.

Taking GSH alongside L-citrulline may help potentiate NO levels more than citrulline alone. While this idea has not been rigorously tested in robust larger-scale trials, the evidence is sufficient to give it a shot.

It is important to emphasize, though, that rock-solid diet, training and nutrition are the foundation for progress in any fitness endeavor. Supplements become important if you’re already firing on all cylinders, and even then, natural NO boosters such as beets may be preferred over pills.

With a basic knowledge of the nuts and bolts of NO synthesis, we can at least be better consumers, paying attention to ingredients and amounts rather than advertising hype when evaluating the value of a product. So take this information, apply it, and let us know the results!

Best Testosterone Boosters That Build Muscle Faster

 

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Testosterone is the most important hormone in your body for building muscle and getting stronger.

If you want to get jacked and make your training count, you should be doing everything you can to support your testosterone levels. The best testosterone boosters can be a good way to do it.

Some guys are genetically gifted, they will grow and grow, year on year. Other guys can drink tons of protein shakes, eat loads of steak and potatoes and switch up their workout and they still can’t grow.

A testosterone booster is designed for guys like this, hard gainers. It can be the secret to pushing past the barrier and activating new muscle growth.

Okay, so what do they actually do?

Some guys seem to think the only real way to raise your testosterone level is with steroids or pro-hormones.

However, the best way to boost testosterone safely is to take a combination of natural supplements.

 

This will help with :

  • Aiding Testosterone Production – This relies heavily on processes in the brain and the endocrine system. The needed components to accomplish this aren’t necessarily included in everyone’s diet.
  • Increasing Free Testosterone – About 60% of the T-Levels in a man’s body are bound to Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG). When bound, this testosterone loses it’s anabolic potency and can no longer be directly used. T-Boosters decrease the production of globulin, freeing up testosterone availability.
  • Decreasing Estrogen – In the body, an enzyme known as the aromatase is responsible for the production of estrogen, even if it means converting testosterone to produce it.

This is the highest form of bullshit. Getting real for a second, testosterone boosters are not as powerful as the synthetic stuff, but that doesn’t mean they’re ineffective.

Research over the last few years has discovered a number of natural ingredients that have been clinically proven to raise and support testosterone levels. Without the dangerous side-effects of steroids or pro-hormones.

We’ve dug deep and found the most effective ingredients available right now, all with real clinical studies behind them:

daaD-Aspartic Acid

An essential amino acid to the testosterone boosting process – through a reaction with the brain, D-AA helps the body release a multitude of hormones. These include the luteinizing hormone (regulator of the testes), follicle stimulating hormones and perhaps most importantly, growth hormone – a key muscle builder.

There have also been studies that believe D-Aspartic Acid to be an effective component for removing rate-limits of testosterone synthesis1.

Oyster Extract

Potentially one of the most effective testosterone increasing ingredients out there. Oysters hold a lot of zinc, up to 10 times more than the amount you’ll find in a steak. Zinc, like D-Aspartic Acid is great for releasing those luteinizing hormones and help out with raising serum testosterone levels.

That’s not all, Oyster Extract also holds 59 elements of essential bodily nutrients such as vitamins, amino acids, Omega 3 & 6 and Taurine. It has also been seen to raise IQ, help out with strength gains and raise the immune system2.

Stinging Nettle

Working closely with Sex Hormone Binding Globulin, the nettle’s ‘lignans’ which make up part of the root binds with the SHBG in place of the testosterone. This allows more testosterone to be free in the body. It has also been seen to have aromatese inhibitor qualities to lower the estrogen production rate3.

Vitamin D3

Called a vitamin, but actually a hormone. D3 is 1 of the only 24 nutrients we need to stay alive. Vitamin D3 is absorbed from the sun, but usually, we don’t get enough of it.

As modern living keeps us constantly indoors – our supply to this hormone is limited.

D3 helps release luteinizing hormones which help release testosterone, follicle stimulating hormones and growth hormone. 5 to 10 Minutes of direct sunshine a day will help raise the amount of Vitamin D in the body4.

Ginseng

This extract has been rocking the testosterone world. Ginseng has the ability to boost Nictric Oxide levels in men. In doing so it allows blood flow to massively improve giving fantastic pumps during a workout.

It also decreases the body’s glucose levels, eliminating any worries about insulin interfering with the testosterone production process. The saponins in Gingseng also improve testosterone levels and the luteinzing hormone.

It’s the Asian Red Panax Ginseng form that is the most effective5.

 

Ingredient Warning

Stay away from a product with a proprietary blend in them. This is a group of ingredients all mixed together in various amounts. It’s bad because you don’t know how much you’re getting of each ingredient.

 

Are there any side effects?

These products are not steroids. They are completely natural supplements designed to deliver nutrients that the body needs to produce the most testosterone. They don’t cause any side effects. They will not give you the usual side effects experienced by guys taking steroids.

That said, check if you allergies to any of the above. Be responsible – if you are allergic to shellfish, use your noggin and don’t go scarfing down Oyster supplements.

As with all things make informed decisions by researching the products before embarking on a course.

 

Studies

  1. Study: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19860889
  2. Study: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8875519

           Study: https://www.asep.org/asep/asep/BrillaV2.PDF

  1. Study: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3074486/
  2. Video: http://www.nsca.com/videos/expert_tips/the_vitamin_d_and_testosterone_connection/

           Study: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21154195

  1. Study: http://www.chiro.org/nutrition/FULL/Ginseng_Helps_Regulate.shtml

            Study: http://europepmc.org/abstract/MED/9063034/reload=0;jsessionid=dnM5Kwqx09ut7hFOaNIQ.0

 

Fuelling Your Strength Training Workout

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It is not just important what you eat, but when you eat it is crucial to – especially as an athlete. Eating the correct foods at the appropriate time before, during and after a workout will not only properly nourish and fuel you—you may also see gains in your performance. Fuelling for strength training is slightly different than fuelling for cardio-based workouts. Here are a few tips to follow in order to get the most out of your workout.

 

1 to 2 Hours Pre-Workout

To keep you from feeling hungry before a workout, without stomach discomfort, choose a mini-meal or snack that combines healthy fats, complex carbohydrates and protein.  Depending on your personal goals and needs, the amount of food required is unique to you. An example of such meal could be an amaranth porridge sprinkled with almond milk, nuts and seeds.

 

30 Minutes Pre-Workout

Your focus should be on simple carbohydrates right before your workout. Select foods that provide quick energy and are easily digested. Fruit is a perfect example of this, as a light, easily digestible and quick on-the-go option to consume while on the way to the gym. For easy pre-workout fuel try filling a date with coconut oil for a delicious and efficient pre-workout snack!  No Protein is needed at this stage.

 

During Your Workout

During your strength-training routine, the essential components to focus on are quick energy and electrolytes. If you are training less than an hour, you can stick to electrolytes as your focus. If your workouts are longer than 45 minutes to an hour, you may want to consume easily digestible carbohydrates. Most athletes find it easier to drink than to eat during a workout, so seek out carbohydrates in a gel or drink format. You can blend up fruit and dates to make a gel, or make a fresh fruit juice for a steady burst of energy.

No matter the length of your workout, electrolytes are essential. As you sweat you lose minerals sodium, potassium, magnesium and chloride with water. When choosing an electrolyte replacement look for ones without artificial colours, flavours or fillers.

No Protein is needed at this stage.

 

Immediately Post-Workout

One of the biggest mistakes I see in action at the gym is people rushing to have their post-workout protein drink, thinking that it is the one-and-only essential macronutrient needed in order to build muscle. This is simply a myth.

Post-workout, your focus is to replenish lost glycogen stores in order for protein synthesis to occur. Simply put, you must consume simple carbohydrates first, then protein later, in order for muscle building and strengthening to occur.  Consuming a post-workout carbohydrate based drink is highly recommended due to the ease of digestibility and assimilation—less work on your body! To replenish your muscle glycogen fastest, consume a 4:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein.

 

1 to 3 Hours Post-Workout

A high protein meal is needed several hours post-workout—not directly after—as many assume. Some plant-based protein sources include clean plant-based protein power, such as quinoa, beans, lentils nuts and seeds. If you are having a post-workout meal, include dark leafy greens for added vitamin and antioxidant support.

 

Fuelling your body on a clean, plant-based diet is the key to forming strong muscles and supporting long-term health. Follow these essential tips while working out, to see and feel the difference in your workout—and in achieving results!

What to Eat Before a Workout

 

WhatToEatBefore

 

 

Just as you put fuel in your car before driving, you want to put fuel in your body before you work out. Eating the right type of fuel at the right time before your workout will help motivate and energize your workout. Pre-exercise fuel has many functions—it prevents low blood sugar, fuels your muscles and helps to ward off hunger. By selecting the right foods before your workout you can watch your performance excel!

 

1 to 3 Hours Pre-Workout

Preparing for your workout doesn’t just happen; there are many things to consider. Selecting a well-balanced meal containing all of your macronutrients (carbs, fats, protein) and even fibre, 1 to 3 hours before your workout will help to ward off hunger and top up muscle glycogen levels. A great pre-workout meal would be a gluten-free quinoa bowl with mixed berries, topped with slivered almonds and your favourite plant based milk-alternative.

Tip: When preparing your meals, be sure to choose food that are easily digested and can settle comfortably. This will help your body to use energy during your workout rather than in digestion!

 

20 to 30 Minutes Pre-Workout

It’s game time. You’re heading out the door, and you’re in a slight rush. Whether you’ve just woken up, or just finished work, it’s time to quickly prepare your body for your workout. Two main things to consider: holistic stimulants (such as yerba maté or green tea) and easily digestible, fast-acting carbohydrates (to top up your energy levels). If you’re up early and have no appetite, consider a liquid boost such as a vege/fruit protein smoothie to enhance mental focus and provide both immediate and sustained energy.

 

Sugar-free Fuelling vs. Functional Sugar Fuelling

Different workouts have different fuelling requirements. Length and intensity are two main considerations when fuelling your body and preparing for your workout. Functional sugars (sugars or carbohydrates your body needs for energy and stamina) are used wisely when engaging in intensive workouts like weight training, Cross-fit, endurance runs or bicycle rides, especially those that last an 30 minutes or longer. Before any of those activities, drink a pre-workout smoothie (have a look at some of the options at Hemptons – Recipes). If you are engaging in a less-intense or shorter workout such as yoga, pilates or walking, a fruit – like a banana – prior to workout is a suitable option to have 20 minutes pre-workout to give you an extra-boost without the added functional sugars your body doesn’t necessarily require for a less-intense workout.

 

Food vs. Liquid Fuel

If you’d rather eat 20 to 30 minutes before you work out, a simple piece of fruit will do! If you’re bored of fruit or want to try something new, try a level tablespoon of coconut oil blended with your favourite tea or on its own! Coconut oil contains medium chain triglycerides which are converted by the liver into energy source (much like carbohydrates) but contain no sugar or carbohydrates!

If you have a sensitive stomach, liquid foods tend to leave the stomach faster than solid foods do. Try a fruit and/or vege smoothie or fresh fruit juice before your workout. You can even try drinking a shot of Hemptons Hemp Protein powder and 250ml, instead of a full drink. If you know you’ll be jittery and unable to tolerate any food before your event or workout, be sure to make a special effort to eat enough carbohydrates the day and night before.

 

Hydration

Preventing dehydration before exercise is one of the keys of maintaining exercise performance (especially in hot/humid environments). Leading up to your workout, be sure to drink plenty of fluids. If possible, drink extra fluid leading up to your sport or workout, until your urine is a pale colour. Drink about 2 to 3 glasses, 2 to 3 hours before exercise and around 1 glass, 10 to 15 min before exercise for optimal hydration and energy.

 

If you are hoping for success in the gym or at your game and results in the mirror, planning your pre-workout meals and hydration is crucial. There are many things to consider when fuelling for your workout but the quality and selection of the right food at the right time and proper hydration is paramount. It doesn’t have to be complicated, just be sure to schedule your pre-workout nutrition just as you schedule your workouts.

Happy fuelling!

 

References

 

Kreider et al. ISSN exercise & sport nutrition review: research & recommendations .Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2010, 7:7 http://www.jissn.com/content/7/1/7