About BCAAs

BCAAs are the most popular amino acid supplements. They contain:

  • Valine
  • Leucine
  • Isoleucine

 These 3 amino acids make up to one third of muscle in the body. The body breaks down muscle to get energy, especially during strenuous exercise, to get these amino acids.

 BCAAs are converted into 2 other amino acids:

  • glutamine and
  • alanine,

which are released in large quantities during aerobic exercise. They can also be used directly for fuel, especially when muscle glycogen is depleted.

 Foods high in BCAAs:

  • Meats: red meat is the highest in BCAAs. Other meats (poultry etc) are high in BCAAs, too because they're primarily protein. Choose lean cuts, chicken breast without the skin etc
  • Eggs: they are packed with nutrition and BCAAs, and easy to add to your diet.
  • Dairy products are high in BCAAs: low fat cheese, milk, cottage cheese, yogurt, frozen yogurt. Additional dairy options could be: cheese, cream and butter.
  • Liquid and powder protein: very popular source, easy to prepare, drink and digest. If you mix your whey protein with milk, you boost the BCAA content of your shake.

Taking BCAA supplements before and during exercise can reduce muscle breakdown. They may also help preserve muscle in athletes on a low carb diet. It will probably not boost your endurance, however taking 6 – 15 gr of BCAAs daily may help improve your recovery.

 Side effects: BCAAs are relatively safe because they are normally found in protein in the diet.

IMG_4791

Benefits of stretching

Stretching is very important for flexibility, range of motion and injury prevention. Stretching also increases blood flow to the muscle.
There are 2 types of stretching:

  • dynamic stretching
  • static stretching

Dynamic stretching you do before you start your workout. The purpose of it is to prepare the muscles and your body – and also your mind - for the workout. It consists of putting your muscles through their full range of motion by way of mobilizing the joints they're attached to. Dynamic stretches will elevate the muscles' core temperature and ramp up the nervous system so that your body is ready to lift some heavy weights. It will help reduce the risk of injury and over time it improves your performance and maximizes your movements due to the increase of flexibility in your joints.
Static stretching you use during and after your workout. It helps cool down the muscles, prevents injury and makes sure you lengthen your muscles after contracting/shortening them during resistance training.

The benefits of HIIT training

The benefits of HIIT training

There's an ongoing debate about cardio: which one is more beneficial? HIIT or steady state cardio? It depends on your goal and even your bodytype. Some people can get away with the mind numbing steady state cardio – which is a lot more comfortable, let's be honest. However it doesn't work for everyone. If you have been doing that for quite some time it might have stopped working for you – because let's be honest, your body will get used to most things and will adapt in time. Then it might be a wise idea to step it up to HIIT cardio.

Anyone can benefit from HIIT cardio: elite athletes and everyday people who just want to lose a bit of weight.

So what are the benefits of HIIT?

#1 When you perform high intensity training, glycogen is your preferred fuel that is stored in your muscles. To do more high intensity workouts we need a bigger reserve of muscle glycogen stores. This will allow you to train harder for longer. In addition it will allow for a greater carbs tolerance which means you can eat more carbs and store them as refuel, instead of fat.

#2 Improved aerobic fitness: your body can take in more oxygen and deliver it to your muscles, enabling you to perform faster for longer.

#3 Greater fat burning: some time ago it was the 'fat burning zone' on the cardio machine. If you wanted to burn fat, you had to be in the fat burning zone. HIIT burns more fat, because the quicker you deplete your muscle glycogen stores, the sooner your body will tap into your stored fat for fuel. HIIT training depletes muscle glycogen stores because the main fuel for HIIT is glycogen.

#4 Improved capacity for exercise: if you're doing high intensity – or I could call it metabolic type – weight training, HIIT can increase your capacity for exercise. By increasing our aerobic capacity we can go harder for longer which can help you burn more calories = lose more weight.

#5 Improved insulin sensitivity: One major risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes is reduced insulin sensitivity. If you have normal insulin sensitivity, then insulin can help you shuttle the carbs into your muscles, instead of your fat cells.

#6 You boost your metabolism and get an afterburn: Resistance training has a different effect on your body opposed to endurance training. Resistance training increases excess post exercise oxygen consumption (EPOS). EPOS describes the calories you burn immediately after the training session, also known as the 'afterburn' effect.

If you want to step up your training, want to lose weight or just need a change in your training routine, get in touch!

Bespoke metabolic type resistance training plans are available hello@tamaramakar.me

img_4699-1

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

IMG_4264

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.

vit&min

Happy New Year!

2014 is here finally! I wish you guys all the best for 2014. Thank you for following me and supporting me, it means a lot to me!

2013 was full of ups and downs, and more downs than ups. Unfortunately we tend to remember the negatives more than the positives. So let's  just look at the positives now:

I have met some amazing people. Through work, through training and places you wouldn't even think it could happen. One of my best decisions this year was to switch countries when it comes to competing. I competed in Hungary and represented Hungary at an international competition. I didn't place, but it's not the reflection of my success here. My success in this process was to be able to get into that shape and stand on stage and be proud of how I looked because that was one of my best shape and conditions ever. That is success for me because even though it is a competition where you compete against other people but the biggest competition is with yourself to improve how you looked last time. Not only that but it was a great feeling to finally belong to a team, belong to a country. Even though I have lived in London for the past 10 years, I competed in this country and represented the UK at international events in 2012, there was never any signs of team spirit here. Thank you for the Hungarian team and Zoltan Vida to make me feel I belong there. He has also done a wonderful job with getting me stage ready in the last 3 weeks of the prep when no-one could help me anymore and my weight just didn't want to go down. These were the progress photos:

3 weeks of change

3 weeks of change front

and how you screw it up after the competition 🙂

cakeafteruniverse

Probably one of  the biggest sandwiches I've ever had

Probably one of the biggest sandwiches I've ever had

I have had a few photoshoots with different photographers but one really stands out: Jakob Gronkjaer. He is a perfectionist. He would not stop until he gets the photo right and then the photo is not just good, but it's awesome! I'm hoping to have another shoot with him soon, we have some unfinished business!

Danish Apple photoshoot

I was very lucky to be able to travel a bit in 2013. I visited Hungary twice, spent some time in Turkey and went to Hamburg to compete.

It is definitely not everything but the most important things that happened in 2013. I feel blessed because I have a family that support me, I have true friends and even though not everything works out the way I want it to but I know that everything happens for a reason. You might not know the reason straight away, but don't lose the faith. Even if something bad happens to you, it is because there's something a lot better coming your way in the end. And maybe - just maybe - you appreciate the good a lot more if you have to go through a lot of bad before it happens. Can you imagine if everything happens the way you want it, when you want it? Have you ever thought about that if you could have whatever you want, would you even want it?  So try and work with what you have. Never give up your dreams, miracles happen every day!