About beta-alanine

Beta-alanine is a non-essential amino acid. It is not used by the body to synthesize proteins. Instead, together with histidine, it produces carnosine.

Carnosine reduces lactic acid accumulation in your muscles during exercise, which leads to improved athletic performance.

In muscles, histidine levels are normally high and beta alanine levels are normally low, which limits the carnosine production.

Since beta alanine supplements increase carnosine levels in muscles, they help the muscles reduce their acid levels during exercise. This leads to reduced fatigue.

Beta-alanine improves athletic performance. It can reduce fatigue, increase endurance and boost performance in high-intensity exercises.

In general, muscle acidosis limits the duration of high-intensity exercise.

For this reason, beta-alanine specifically helps performance during high-intensity and short-duration exercise lasting one to several minutes.

It's possible that beta-alanine improves body composition by increasing training volume and promoting muscle growth

L-carnosine’s health benefits are generally due to its antioxidant properties, which support many age-related conditions. The specific uses of L-carnosine include support for the skin, joints, digestive system and memory. Carnosine also prevents changes in the structure and function of proteins in the body. This may give it some anti-aging properties.

Moreover, carnosine seems to elevate nitric oxide production. This may help against the aging process and improve immune function.

Lastly, carnosine increases the quality and function of muscles in the elderly.

It is generally recommended to consume 2-5 grams of beta-alanine daily. Taking it with a meal may be even more effective.

The most common side effect of beta-alanine is paraesthesia.

This is an unusual sensation typically described as "tingling of the skin." It's usually experienced in the face, neck and back of the hands.

The intensity of this tingling increases with dosage size. It usually starts with doses of 800 mg or higher, and disappears 60–90 minutes after consumption. But there is no evidence that paraesthesia is harmful in any way.

Wawan WBCAA recovery contains 1.8gr of Beta-Alanine, 10gr of BCAAs and 2.5gr of L-Glutamine, with 12gr of carbs - it makes it a perfect intra workout drink.

About the different types of proteins

There are 4 common types of protein:

  • When protein concentrate
  • Whey protein isolate
  • Hydrolysed whey protein
  • Casein protein

All whey proteins are easily digestible, therefore they break down in your body quickly, hence they can be a very essential part of your breakfast (after the fasting hours of your night sleep), and after your workout.

Whey protein concentrate is one of the most basic forms of protein.  This is probably the most common protein for anyone who works out. This is a great starting point for beginners, it’s slightly cheaper than the other types and it does the job. It has around 75-80% of protein in it (which means in a 100gr of powder you get 75-80 gr of protein), and it’s reasonably low in fat and carbs. However some people might have some gastric discomfort from this protein especially if they have any digestive issues already. For those people I recommend they try the other types of protein below.

The next level is the whey protein isolate. This protein has been filtered further than the concentrate, and therefore it’s lower in carbs and fats, lactose has been removed as well, therefore it usually doesn’t give any digestive issues. Its protein content is a bit higher, too, you can expect about 85-90% of protein in 100 gr of powder.

Hydrolysed whey protein is the clearest form of protein. It has no fat or carb content, therefore it’s almost 100% protein (around 90-95%). It’s very quick to absorb in the body.

Casein protein is different from whey protein. It breaks down slower in your body, over the course of 5-7 hours therefore it makes it a great ‘snack’ before you go to sleep. It also has high glutamine content, which is great for recovery.

WAWAN ISO Tamrya is made from EU sourced grass fed Cross-Flow Microfiltered Whey Protein Isolate, which makes it a great choice for breakfast or after workout.

About diabetes – part 1

There are 3 main types of diabetes mellitus:

  • Type 1 Diabetes: results from the pancreas failing to produce enough insulin
  • Type 2 Diabetes: a condition of defective insulin signalling
  • Gestational Diabetes: a condition where women without previously diagnose diabetes exhibit high blood glucose levels during pregnancy.

When insulin isn’t produced or acts ineffectively, glucose remains circulating in the blood, leading to a condition known as hyperglycemia. Long term hyperglycemia can result in the dysfunction and failure of various organs and systems, including the eyes, kidneys, nerves, heart and blood vessels.

The key players in diabetes are the pancreas and the liver.

The pancreas is both an endocrine and exocrine gland.

Exocrine means that it’s a gland that release its contents through a tube from inside to outside the body. It helps with digestion by producing important enzymes that break down food, which allows the body to absorb the nutrients.

The endocrine function primarily involves the secretion of the 2 primary hormones relevant to diabetes management: insulin and glucagon.

Insulin increases the storage of glucose, fatty acids and amino acids in cells and tissues and is considered an anabolic hormone. Insulin is a key player in the storage and use of fuels within the body.

Disorders in insulin production and signalling have widespread and devastating effects on the body’s organs and tissues. Glucagon is a peptide hormone produced by alpha cells in the pancreas. The pancreas releases glucagon when blood sugar levels fall too low. It opposes the action of insulin by raising the concentration of glucose in the blood.

Dietary carbs are not essential, however, the body needs glucose. The brain typically needs about 130 gr of glucose every day. Not all glucose has to come from the diet because the liver has the ability to synthesise it.

The liver serves as a warehouse for glucose storage and production. It can also produce fatty acids under certain conditions.

As blood glucose and insulin levels increase, the liver increases its absorption of glucose. Glucose is stored as glycogen. The amount of glycogen stored depends on circulating insulin and glucose levels. When blood glucose levels drop, insulin production falls. The shortage of insulin signals the liver to release its assets by sending glucose back into the blood to keep the body nourished.

When carb intake is restricted, it lowers blood sugar and insulin levels. As insulin levels fall and energy is needed, fatty acids leave their respected fat cells and enter the bloodstream. From here they’re taken up by specific cells and metabolised. Ketone bodies are molecules created in the liver, that are pushed into the blood stream where they’re utilised by skeletal and heart muscles cells as fuel. Also, the brain begins to use ketones as an alternate fuel source when blood levels are high enough to cross the blood-brain barrier. When this happens a person is said to be in nutritional ketosis.

Ketogenic diets are very popular because they suppress insulin and that seems to be very effective in the treatment and management of obesity and T2D. However the severe restriction of carbs (often below 30 gr) may increase the potential for hypoglycaemia of people with T1D.

Lipogenesis is creating fat within the body from glucose or other substrates. It takes place mostly in the liver. Lipogenesis occurs in the liver during times of calorific excess and overfeeding. The liver converts excess glucose to fatty acids. These fatty acids can be stored in the liver or transported via lipoproteins (carriers) to muscle and fat tissue for future fuel use or storage. The ratio that is stored or used is highly dependent on energy intake vs. energy expenditure.

In a healthy liver, insulin halts the production of glucose and instead promotes glycogen storage or generates fatty acids during times of energy excess.

The liver of a person with T1D has no internal break system. Insulin deficiency allows glucose production in the liver to go uncontrolled leading to hyperglycaemia and ketoacidosis if unmanaged. When there’s not enough insulin available, glucose cannot enter the cells for use as energy. Therefore the liver produces even more glucose in an attempt to provide energy for the starved cells, but because insulin is not available, none of this glucose can enter the cells. It builds up and starves the cells even further. Consequently, administration of insulin medication is needed to facilitate the entry of glucose into cells.

Insulin increases glucose uptake in the liver by facilitating the creation of glycogen and decreases glucose output.

Prolonged elevations in insulin that result from an energy surplus increase the body’s ability to produce fat via the process of lipogenesis.

Source:

Phil Graham: Diabetic Muscle

About L-Carnitine

Taking L-Carnitine is known to:

  • Improve high-intensity work capacity
  • Increase athletic performance
  • Speed your recovery from intense exercise
  • Make your brain work better

Carnitine is an amino acid composite that is made of lysine and methionine. It is responsible for the transport of fat into the cells to be used for energy, therefore your body becomes more efficient in processing fuel and it will increase your energy levels.

Elevating carnitine will improve physical performance by burning more fat, sparing glycogen, clearing muscle lactate, and optimizing hormone levels.

For Carnitine to be effective, you need to make sure you have enough Omega-3 in your body. Omega-3s increase metabolic rate by increasing cell activity and fat burning. Carnitine is the delivery system for long chain fatty acids therefore the less carnitine you have in your body, the fewer fatty acids get into the cells, and you don’t burn them for energy. Instead they’re stored as fat. By elevating carnitine fat burning increases, you will have more energy and feel more motivated.

Carnitine fights visceral belly fat, that is known to be the toughest fat to loose. Raising your carnitine levels will fight this visceral belly fat gain because it increases fat burning.

Higher muscle carnitine levels help decrease pain, muscle damage and markers of metabolic stress from high intensity exercise by reducing lactic acid production, therefore you can have a greater work production because it will not feel as physically difficult.

Taking carnitine will also support an anabolic response to exercise by up-regulating the androgen receptors, which will speed up your recovery.

Carnitine can help prevent type 2 diabetes because of how it improves fat metabolism. It can counter the diseases of metabolic syndrome by supporting cardiovascular health while inducing fat loss.

My message for beginners

A short video for those of you who contacted me on social media asking me questions about how to lose weight or get bigger.

About refined carbs

Not all carbs are created equal. There are lots of whole foods that are high in carbs but still incredibly healthy and nutritious.

And there are refined or simple carbs, that have most of their nutrients and fibers removed. Eating refined carbs can lead to many illnesses including obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

So what are refined carbs?

There are 2 types of refined carbs:

  • Sugars, like high fructose corn syrup and table sugar
  • Refined grains: grains that have their nutritious and fibrous part removed. The biggest source is white flour made from refined wheat.

Refined carbs have been stripped off most of their fiber and vitamin content therefore they are considered empty calories. They also absorb quickly in the bloodstream, therefore they have a high glycemic index (GI).

Sugars and refined carbs are a very large part of the total carb intake in many countries.

The main sources of refined carbs are: white pasta, white rice, white flour, white bread, pastries, sodas, snacks, sweets, breakfast cereals and added sugars.

Because refined carbs are low in fiber and digested quickly they cause major swings in blood sugar levels. Foods with high GI promote short term fullness, lasting for about an hour. Low GI foods promote long term fullness, lasting for 2-3 hours. Blood sugar levels drop after about 1-2 hrs eating refined carbs. This promotes hunger and stimulates cravings. When you crave food, you're prone to overeating.

Refined carbs can cause inflammation in the body which could be the primary cause of obesity and leptin resistance.

Studies show that a high consumption of refined carbs is linked with insulin resistance and high blood sugar levels. These are the main symptoms of type 2 diabetes. Refined carbs also increase blood triglyceride levels which is a risk factor for both heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

However not all carb foods are bad. There are many foods that contain healthy carbs because they're great sources of fiber, vitamins and minerals. These include:

  • oats
  • buckwheat
  • quinoa
  • bananas
  • sweet potatoes
  • beetroot
  • oranges
  • blueberries
  • grapefruits
  • apples

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How to boost the immune system?

The immune system is an interactive network of organs, cells and proteins that protect the body from viruses and bacteria or any foreign substances. The immune system works to neutralize and remove pathogens like bacteria, viruses, parasites or fungi that enter the body, recognize and neutralize harmful substances from the environment, and fight against the body’s own cells that have changes due to an illness.

The cells of the immune system originate in the bone marrow, then migrate to guard the peripheral tissues, circulating in the blood and in the specialized system of vessels called the lymphatic system.

When our immune system is working properly, we don’t even notice it. It’s when the performance of our immune system is compromised that we face illness. Underactivity of the immune system results in severe infections and tumors of immunodeficiency, while overactivity results in allergic and autoimmune diseases.

Give your immune system a boost with these tips:

  • Supplement with echinacea: Research shows that one of the most significant echinacea benefits is its effects when used on recurring infections.
  • Supplement with probiotics: Probiotics are good bacteria that help you digest nutrients that boost the detoxification of your colon and support your immune system.
  • Eat more ginger: It’s believed that ginger helps to break down the accumulation of toxins in our organs due to its warming effects. It’s also known to cleanse the lymphatic system,our network of tissues and organs that help rid the body of toxins, waste and other unwanted materials.
  • Eat more berries: berries are full with antioxidants, that are excellent for promoting healthy immune response.
  • Get more rest: restful sleep is absolutely essential for health and recovery. When you sleep certain protective cytokines in your body increase in levels, and inflammatory cells decline, which means that less sleep could result in a deprived immune system.
  • Have some garlic: it is great to avoid any cold, flu or other viruses. If you don't like the taste of it, try capsules.
  • Aerobic exercise boosts immune system: people who are fit and active are less likely to suffer from illnesses and the symptoms are less severe.

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Tips on how to avoid putting on fat during Xmas

Xmas is coming fast and when the family and friends gather together it's always accompanied by food and drinks. It's a celebration, isn't it? More often than not the food is not a healthy one and you might start panicking what to do to not to put on weight this season. Here are a few tips that might help you:

Stay active! Just because it's Xmas it doesn't mean everything stops – apart from your metabolism, that might stop if you are not active and overeat. Some of the gyms are open during xmas time, and even if yours is not, you can always go for a walk - slow or fast – after your meal or in the evening.

Get more Vitamin D3: If there's no direct sunshine where you live – especially here in the UK, get some Vitamin D3 supplements. Vitamin D3 contributes to the normal function of the immune system and healthy inflammatory response and to the maintenance of normal muscle function.

Eat more protein and veggies: meat and vegetables/fibre help keep blood glucose and insulin levels down, help you burn fat and keep you from getting sick. Not to mention that they will make you feel full, too so you might eat less carbs.

Lower your sugar and carb intake: with the plates full with processed food and sugars/simple carbs, the single most effective thing you can do is watch your portion size of these foods. Don't have a whole slice of cake, try only a bite. Don't have a whole plate of pasta or other high carb food, try just a spoonful. If you watch your portion sizes you can probably try most of the xmas foods without being sick afterwards or feeling guilty for eating too much of them.

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Psychology of Supplements

What is a dietary supplement?

A dietary supplement is a product intended for ingestion that contains a "dietary ingredient" intended to add further nutritional value to (supplement) the diet. A "dietary ingredient" may be one, or any combination, of the following substances:

  • a vitamin
  • a mineral
  • an herb or other botanical
  • an amino acid
  • a dietary substance for use by people to supplement the diet by increasing the total dietary intake
  • a concentrate, metabolite, constituent, or extract

Dietary supplements may be found in many forms such as tablets, capsules, softgels, gelcaps, liquids, or powders. Some dietary supplements can help ensure that you get an adequate dietary intake of essential nutrients; others may help you reduce your risk of disease.

It should be noted that any claims a manufacturer or individual makes about a supplement might change its classification.

Researchers have also differentiated “nonvitamin, nonmineral supplements” (NVNM) as those primarily consisting of herbal, botanical, protein/amino acid, brewer's yeast, and shark cartilage and a variety of other plant-based and nonplant dietary supplements such as enzymes and fish oil.

In competitive sports specifically, there are both “accepted” and “illegal/banned” substances, including some supplements.

In an interesting quandary for the field of performance enhancement, many supplements marketed to athletes contain banned substances – either overtly or because of impurities in these supplements. Researchers bought supplements from 215 suppliers in 13 countries testing 634 nonhormonal supplements. A meaningful % of the supplements (14.8%) contained substances that would lead to a positive drug test.

Problems also abound for individuals who use supplements to achieve added weight loss and/or muscle gain (or improved recovery after workouts) from their exercise programs.

Considering a worldwide ongoing obesity epidemic, it is not surprising that many individuals are seeking new ways to lose weight. Supplements promise, though probably seldom deliver, a magic bullet of sorts: easy, hassle-free weight loss with little in the way of dietary sacrifice.

Athletes undoubtedly account for a large portion of those who use dietary supplements, and there are a variety of products that are marketed directly at competitive athletes. Elite athletes tend to take supplements more commonly than college or high school athletes, and women used supplements more often than men.

Considering elite Canadian athletes participating at the Atlanta and Sydney Olympics, respectively, prevalence rates of 69% and 74% were reported. Vitamin use was most common (58-66%), whereas nutritional supplements were used commonly (Atlanta: 35% men, 43% women, Sydney: 43% men, 51% women) often consisting of creatine, and/or amino acid supplementation. Based on results overal, it appears that supplementation increases with the competitive level of the sport and is somewhat higher for female athletes.

There are 3 specific categories: supplement use to build muscle for aesthetic purposes or body image concerns, and supplement use to lose weight for aesthetic purposes, body image concerns, or health.

There is a behaviouristic explanation possible for the use of supplements in that athletes' use may lead to reward contingencies (eg: more prize money), thereby driving future behaviour. Similarly, supplements that build muscle or promote weight loss could produce rewarding results. Also, there are undoubtedly social influences at work considering that coaches, parents, athletic trainers, and peers have been reported to be influential regarding the decision to take supplements.

Operant conditioning: focuses on the manner in which our behaviour and action are influenced by the outcomes that follow them. Derived from the behaviouristic research tradition, the sum of findings in this area dictate that some outcomes/stimuli strengthen the behaviour that preceded them, and others weaken the likelihood of the behaviour that preceded them. Outcomes that increase the likelihood of behaviour are known as reinforcers, and those that decrease the likelihood of behaviour are known as punishment. In the present context, prize money, praise from others, or rewards due to improved performance are reinforcers of the behaviour to take supplements. Because most legal supplements likely would not produce dramatic sport performance gains, muscle mass gains, or weight loss results, perhaps the best explanation for use is found in other theories. Behaviouralistic explanations, however, might be highly applicable considering the use of illegal substance such as steroid use.

When trying to change attitudes about whether supplements are good or bad, it is likely that some individuals are more persuasive than others. Individuals are more persuasive if they are seen as trustworthy or having pertinent expertise. The supplement industry often uses exactly such a strategy to help market their products. University research and “expert” sport and exercise nutritionists are increasingly being used to support the efficacy of performance enhancing, muscle building, or weight loss supplements. Consumers should consider, however, that a company may contract with 3 universities to test their products and report only the results of the positive outcomes in their advertisements.

Achievement Goal theory: within this theory, it is assumed that there are differences in the manners by which athletes judge their competence or success. Individuals who are task-oriented tent to judge their success on the basis of personal improvement, whereas those who are ego-oriented tent to judge their success on the basis of social comparison with others. Task-oriented individuals typically view personal ability as changeable and exhibit strong motivation regardless of their perceptions of competence. Those who are ego-oriented, tend to view ability as more static and are thus more likely to engage in questionable strategies to ensure winning and would be expected to engage in more frequent doping activities and perhaps a greater willingness to use supplementation strategies.

Body image and eating disorders: Obesity rates have dramatically increased over the past few decades, a similar increase in the ideal body size has not occurred in the female population. In fact, the “ideal” waist size for females may have become unhealthily small. Because of these 2 contradictory trends, it is no surprise that the use of supplements targeted at weight loss has increased dramatically during this same time period. The nation is getting heavier and feeling worse about it, especially the female segment. In one survey, research showed that among women at risk for eating disorders approximately 65% engage in frequent use of “diet pills”.

Adonis complex: There is an opposing set of preoccupation afflicting males termed the Adonis complex, which seems to be afflicting boys and men more specifically during the last few decades. These individuals may compulsively lift weights or exercise, engage in steroid abuse, elect to undergo plastic surgery, or suffer from eating disorders or body dysmorphic disorders, all in attempts to gain muscle mass, change fat distribution, or otherwise alter their appearance to some ideal.

In one of the seminal works in this area, Pop and colleagues interview 108 bodybuilders (55 steroid users and 53 non-steroid users) and found a higher than normal incidence of anorexia nervosa (2.8%) and a surprising incidence of 'reverse anorexia' (8.3%), with some of the respondents believing that they appeared small and weak despite their large, muscular appearance. The latter finding indicated that some of these bodybuilders exhibited unusual preoccupations with their appearance. Such pathological preoccupation with muscularity has been termed muscle dysmorphia. As an important link to potential supplement use or abuse, in Pope and colleagues' research all of the bodybuilders indicating muscle dysmorphia (then termed 'reverse anorexia') were in the sample of steroid users, and many reported that the symptoms of muscle dysmorphia were a factor that led to steroid use. As an indication of the degree of this obsession, individuals with this affliction have reported lifting weights for hours a day while sacrificing other areas of their lives. For example, some of these individuals reported earning degrees in business, law or medicine but did not pursue a career or gave up a career in these areas because they needed more time to lift weights. Recent research indicates that bodybuilders suffering from higher levels of muscle dysmorphia are more likely to experience body dissatisfaction, social physique anxiety, and use muscle-building or fat-reducing targeted supplements. At present there is some evidence that supplement use is greater among individuals with muscle dissatisfaction or muscle dysmorphia. It also appears that illegal supplement use may accompany muscle dysmorphia as data indicate that 1 million or more US males have used these substances primarily to promote muscle growth as opposed to performance enhancement purposes. Finally, it should also be noted that research find that some men have become preoccupied with fat, as opposed to muscle, and, in contrast to attempting to gain weight, may develop eating disorders. This suggests that body image concerns among males may drive some to attempt obsessively to build muscle mass whereas others may obsessively work to lose fat. In both cases it is likely that legal or illegal supplementation is a common means to achieve such goals. 

An abstract from "Psychology of Supplements in Sport and Exercise - Motivational Antecedents and Biobehavioral Outcomes" by Rafer Lutz and Shawn Arent

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Vitamins and minerals

Vitamins and minerals you need for your body to function properly.

Generally you can get all your vitamins and minerals from your diet, but there are certain cases when you need to supplement:

  • If you are vegetarian,
  • Eat a diet that's limited because of food allergies and intolerances,
  • Or if you have a disease or condition that doesn't allow you to digest or absorb nutrients properly.

Otherwise whole foods are a lot better sources than supplements as whole foods also contain a variety of nutrients your body needs - not just one. They also contain fibre that is important for digestion and they also contain phytochemicals that may help protect you against cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis or diabetes.

Fat soluble vitamins:
Vitamin A / beta carotene
Helps with healthy vision, bone and tissue growth and reproduction. Vitamin A and thyroid are closely related. A deficiency in either can precipitate a deficiency of the other and ideally should be balanced. In too large amounts, however, vitamin A can suppress the thyroid and depress levels of other fat soluble vitamins - especially vitamin D.
Foods: liver, egg yolks, milk

Vitamin D / calciferol
Often called the sunshine vitamin because your skin produces it after being exposed to ultraviolet rays from the sun. It helps your body absorb calcium that is responsible for the normal development and maintenance of healthy teeth and bones.
To get vitamin D you need either sunlight or supplementation.

Vitamin E / tocopherol
It is an antioxidant that protects red blood cells and may play a role in immune function, DNA repair and other metabolic functions. It is also called the 'anti-sterility' vitamin as it opposes estrogen.

Water soluble vitamins
Vitamin C / ascorbic acid
It's an antioxidant that maintains healthy tissue and helps the body absorb iron. Also plays a role in wound healing, reducing stress and making one less susceptible to food allergies.
Foods: orange juice, ripe fruits

Vitamin B3 / niacin
It is one of the 8 B complex vitamins that helps your body convert food to energy. It also helps with blood circulation and improved blood cholesterol levels.

Vitamin B6 / pyridoxine
It is needed to help your body use protein, form red blood cells and maintain brain function. It facilitates amino acid utilisation, aids in calcium metabolism, supports the liver and helps regulate the facilitation and use of glycogen.
Foods: liver, egg yolk, milk

Vitamin B9 / folate / folic acid
It is important in red blood cell formation and for healthy cell growth and function. Very important during pregnancy for the developing fetus.

Vitamin B12
It has an essential role in red blood cell formation, cell metabolism and nerve function.

About minerals in the next post.

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