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The muscle-building power of milk vs. beef after a workout: Which is better?

jockology06lfAs a postdoctoral physiology researcher with years of training, Dr. Nicholas Burd was entrusted with a crucial task during a recent experiment in the Netherlands: Keep the cows happy.

“My job was to talk to them, brush them and basically keep them in a good mood,” recalls Burd, who now leads the University of Illinois Nutrition and Exercise Performance Research Group. “If the animal becomes stressed, milk production declines, so we treated them like princesses.”

Burd’s foray into animal husbandry was part of a remarkable research project in which cows received a 40-litre injection of amino acids labelled with a rare (and harmless) carbon isotope, in order to produce milk and beef whose fate inside the human body could be tracked after they were eaten.

The latest of these “glowing cow” studies, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition by Burd and his colleagues in Dr. Luc van Loon’s muscle research group at Maastricht University in the Netherlands, compares the muscle-building power of milk and beef after a workout. The approach allows researchers to use real foods that people actually eat, rather than laboratory-created protein powders, and the results suggest that the specific protein source you consume matters less than once thought.

The study involved 12 young men who completed sets of leg press and knee extension exercises on two occasions.

After one of the workouts, they drank 350 millilitres of isotope-labelled skim milk, enriched with extra protein to bring the total to 30 grams; after the other workout, they ate 158 grams of ground beef, which contains the same amount of protein. A series of muscle biopsies and blood samples drawn in the hours before and after the workout allowed the researcher to track how quickly the protein was being incorporated into new muscle.

In previous studies comparing different types of protein for muscle growth, milk has emerged as the top performer. That advantage is thought to stem in part from its high levels of leucine, an amino acid that triggers the synthesis of new muscle, and from milk’s rapid digestion and absorption.

The initial data suggested that the same might be true in the milk-versus-beef comparison. In the first two hours after the workout, the rate of new protein synthesis was indeed higher for milk than for beef. But after five hours, the groups were statistically indistinguishable, suggesting that milk’s fast initial response didn’t produce any lasting advantage.

“From my perspective, the real take-home message is that both milk and beef are good choices,” Burd says. The subtle differences revealed in the experiment will help scientists understand how the body builds new muscle, but they don’t give any strong reason to choose one over the other.

Dr. Keith Baar, a Canadian-born muscle researcher at the University of California, Davis, who was not involved in the study, draws similar conclusions: “The glowing cow experiments have been wonderful and have added a huge amount to our understanding of protein metabolism,” he says. But in practice, “if you are not competing at a high level, protein type – as long as it is high-quality protein – is not too important.”

So what is “high-quality” protein? Nutritionists sometimes distinguish between animal proteins and plants proteins, since the latter are generally lower in key amino acids needed for protein synthesis. Studies at McMaster University, for example, have shown that milk reliably outperforms comparable amounts of soy protein for muscle-building.

But that view may be too narrow, Burd says, since people seldom consume a single isolated plant protein and nothing else. “Personally, I think plant-based proteins don’t get enough credit,” he says. “My guess is that when better comparisons are made [such as mixed plant-based protein blends], the disparity between animal and plant-based proteins will become narrower.”

There are some situations where protein type could become important. If you can’t exercise for a prolonged period of time, for example while ill or recovering from surgery, then your muscles become less sensitive to the muscle-building trigger of protein. In that case, making sure you get leucine-rich protein sources such as milk could help stave off muscle loss.

In most cases, though, the primary focus should be on getting enough, regardless of the source – and on distributing your protein intake throughout the day.

While most Canadians eat plenty of protein, they typically get more than half of it at dinner. Since your muscles can only make use of a limited amount of protein at a time (30 grams, the amount used in the cow study, is a rough estimate of the upper limit for most people), it’s more effective to distribute your daily protein in four or more doses throughout the day.

That suggests that starting the day with a couple of eggs might be a good idea. Or perhaps some chicken. With any luck, the scientists at Maastricht will run an isotope study to settle that age-old question too.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this column incorrectly said isotope-labelled skim milk contains 30 grams of protein. This article has been corrected

New NBC Reality Show ‘STRONG’ Focuses On Building Muscle Instead of Just Getting Skinny

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If you combine The Biggest Loser with American Ninja Warrior, you might end up with something similar to STRONG., a new fitness-focused reality show coming April 13 to NBC.

he premise of STRONG is simple: 10 women from around the country who desperately want to get in shape will pair up with 10 elite male trainers. The trainers will help the women transform their bodies for the better and will compete alongside them in a number of weekly physical challenges. If a duo can’t cut it, they’ll be eliminated. When all is said and done, the last team standing will walk away with a cash prize of up to $500,000.

One of the trainers featured on STRONG will be STACK partner and expert contributor Todd Durkin, one of the top strength coaches in the industry. His client list includes a huge number of professional athletes, including Drew Brees and Gerald McCoy. We’re looking forward to watching Durkin do his thing and help one of these women get seriously strong.

10 facts about building muscle

When it comes to building lean muscle, you’ll find countless theories, techniques and testimonials. Whether the goal is upgraded health, aesthetics, performance, or a combo of all three, there is no scarcity of advice to help you get there. So much so that it can often become overly intricate and you forget about the basic ideals of building that enviable definition and muscle tone. Trust me, it’s simpler than it seems. As compiled from Men’s Fitness magazine, here are the facts about muscle building that you really need to know.

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1. It takes protein

Protein is imperative to have with every meal because it builds and maintains those striking muscles you’re after. Aim for one gram of protein per pound of body weight a day — less active people need less — and that should be spread out over five or six small meals. Don’t go overboard, though. Excess protein, especially from animal sources, has been linked to kidney stones.

2. Sleep is crucial

It’ll be an understatement to say that it’s uber difficult to build muscle without adequate sleep — seven hours a night, preferably eight. Sleep is when most of your hormones, such as growth hormone and testosterone, are released, allowing your body to recover and grow. Without adequate sleep, you’re sabotaging your efforts to build muscle, because without those hormones released, your muscles won’t respond to your workouts as well.

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3. Yes, it also takes carbs

Protein will only be used to build muscle if you consume enough carbohydrate calories to provide your body with energy. Else, your body will tap into the protein for that fuel and you’ll end up losing muscle instead of building it. Carbs provide energy for muscle function and act as the fuel for the brain. But that doesn’t mean you down a bunch of fries! Opt for minimally processed carbs such as veggies, daal, oats and brown rice.

4. The foundation is key

The abs and biceps might gain more attention but the many little stabiliser muscles around your shoulders, hips, and midsection — collectively the core — provide a strong foundation. Challenging the stability and mobility of these key muscles with medicine balls, doing circuits, squats, lunges etc will surely give you huge paybacks.

5. Routine is the enemy

Training at a consistent time of day is a great thing, but having a routine workout is not since the body quickly adapts. Constantly challenge yourself by adding different movements. When you do turn to a familiar exercise, aim to improve on it by adding resistance or playing around with reps and sets.

6. Timing is important

At the end of your workout, your body is literally desperate for nutrients. The sooner you refuel the tank, the quicker your body will recover and your muscles will grow. One simple strategy is to place in your gym bag a post-workout recovery snack or a shaker bottle for your protein shake that you can consume immediately after the workout.

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7. Water is essential

Sadly, we aren’t asking you to go swimming or scuba diving! Fact is, however you train, drinking sufficient amounts of water is essential to building lean muscles. Drinking enough water before, during, and after exercise can increase performance up to 25 per cent. Make it a habit to drink half to one ounce of water per pound of body weight per day to maintain hydration.

8. It’s not just about lifting dumbbells

You can build muscle from carrying heavy grocery bags, flipping tires, hauling buckets of water, doing push-ups and innumerable other ways. The best muscle-building exercises are those that mimic everyday movements. So if you don’t have a gym membership, don’t find excuses and get on your bedroom rug to squeeze in some push-ups.

9. The more muscles involved, the better

Why spend your time on an isolated exercise like a bicep curl or leg extension when you can get much more benefit from movements that pull in more of the body? Think in terms of rotational, chopping, and swinging movements that provide much more range of motion. That said, focus on total body workouts or assign days to cover each body part to get to your goal.

10. It takes intensity

Smartphones produce not-so-smart workouts. Don’t be the person in the gym playing with the phone for two minutes between sets. You’ll lose the focus and intensity required to build muscle. Better yet, don’t rest between sets. Superset with a pushing exercise, like a set of planks or crunches, followed immediately with a pulling exercise like a dumbbell row. You’ll produce better performance since the non-working muscles recover faster while their opposing muscles work.

7 of the Worst Mistakes You Can Make During Your Workout

Whether you’re focusing on muscle building or weight loss, when it comes to hitting the gym, you want to make your workouts count. You most likely already have a gym routine down, too  you go in, warm up for a few minutes, do about thirty minutes worth of cardio and then you hit the free weights to get that six pack you’ve been aiming for or work on perfecting your bicep curls. You may vary your routine up a little bit to isolate different muscle groups daily, but overall, you’ve got a pretty good idea of how your hour at the gym is going to be spent.

Whether you go to the gym daily, weekly, or just every once in awhile, it may be time to take a look at seven of the most common training mistakes that men make while they’re working out. Getting the most out of your gym routine is essential to building muscle and avoiding injury, so here are a few missteps to avoid.

1. Isolating specific muscle groups only

While it may seem like a good idea to isolate small muscle groups and work them individually using weights, you probably won’t be building strength in areas of your body that will be useful to you in every day life. Outside describes this common training mistake as one that many heavy lifters seem to make. While it may seem like a good idea to work those small muscle groups just as hard as the bigger ones, you want to make sure you’re working them in a way that will benefit your body as a whole and help you build up your strength.

To build strength that you’ll employ in your life, you should aim to do exercises in the gym that work multiple muscle groups at once. Squatting is a great exercise for this reason — with proper form, you’ll be working multiple leg muscles, core muscles, and back muscles, and exercises that work a varied number of muscles are great for improved athleticism as a whole. Don’t just work on your hamstring curls — perform leg presses and leg extensions at a heavy weight with few reps for an all-over leg workout that includes the hamstrings.

2. Cardio: Doing too much or too little

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Many athletes make the mistake of either over-training or under-training with cardio — there is a sweet spot to how much or how little you should go for, and you have to strike a balance between cardio and weight lifting in order to continue building muscle. While lifting is the best way to build muscle and thus burn more calories throughout the day, you can’t discount the importance of cardio either, as it’s excellent for your cardiovascular health and jump-starting a weight loss program.

You’ll want to strike a balance between cardio and lifting. Muscle and Performance explains that in an attempt to burn fat more quickly, many men will overdo the cardio and subsequently also make it more difficult for them to build muscle. It’s difficult to put on more muscle if you’re creating a huge calorie deficit with your cardio, as your body needs those extra calories for muscle build, so you should aim to train for no more than 45 minutes of cardio per gym session. And, you should perform no more than two to three cardio sessions per week. If you’re really going for a difficult cardio session, keeping your run to or elliptical time to around 20 minutes should also do the trick.

The opposite of this problem is also a training mistake, as some men do too little cardio in comparison to their weight training routine. You’ll want to find the balance that works for you, but doing 30 minutes of interval cardio training is typically best.

3. Starting your workout tired

While one night of poor sleep may not make much of a difference when it comes to your gym routine, don’t make a habit of this. The average adult needs between seven and nine and a half hours of sleep a night, and this is vital for muscle build and repair and for keeping your energy levels up at the gym. Livestrong explains how your lack of sleep can impair your body’s ability to recover after a hard workout, and this is when your body is responsible for building muscle in the first place. While you’re putting in the time and effort at the gym to break down your muscles, the recovery process is what builds them and makes them stronger. Your sleepless nights may be negatively affecting this.

If you begin your workout already tired, it’ll be harder for you to perform your workout with the intensity and energy that you need, and this can also make you more prone to mistakes in form and possible injury. For you to safely and effectively complete a tough hour of lifting weights, you’ll need to be as alert and prepared as possible for your training session.

4. Skipping your warm-up and stretches

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You’ll have those days where your gym time is limited, and you may be tempted to rush right to the hard-hitting lifts and cardio once you get there to maximize the time you do have. However, skipping your warm-up is ill-advised; while you may not think it’s all that important to properly warm your muscles, you do need to take a solid five to ten minutes to prepare your muscles and joints for the work that’s to come.

Bodybuilding explains that warming up before your workout is vital, as it increases your body temperature, lubricates the joints, improves circulation of blood flow, and improves the capacity at which you’re able to move. Warming up, essentially, tells your body that you’re preparing it to lift, stretch, and move in ways that exceed your other daily activities, and warming up is one of the best ways to avoid injury. Stretching at the end of your workout is also very important — while cardio and weight lifting can cause your muscles to tense and tighten, stretching right after you’re finished is the best way to increase flexibility and also prevent injury post-workout.

5. Using improper form

If you’re a heavy lifter, you should ensure that your form is perfect before beginning your reps, as lifting improperly is sure to leave you with strained muscles and a higher likelihood of sustaining injury. Weight Loss for All describes how exercising with proper form allows you to push your muscles until they can no longer perform the exercise, but adding in that extra rep at the end with improper form can work muscles you aren’t meaning to work, thus causing possible strain. Proper form is particularly important when it involves chest, back, and some arm exercises as well, as any excess pressure on your spine can cause serious, irreparable damage.

Maintaining your form also helps work the muscles you’re targeting, thus giving you the workout you were aiming for all along. And, proper technique also allows you to breathe easier, and if you can bring more oxygen into your body while you’re lifting those heavy weights, this should also assist you in getting the most out of your weight training session.

6. Sticking with the same routine

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After you fall into the flow of your workout routine, be sure to gradually increase resistance or the number of reps in your set for a constant challenge. While some days may require an easier workout than others, you never want to stay too comfortable in your routine, as no challenge for you means no challenge for your muscles, either, and you won’t gain as much muscle or cardiovascular benefits.

Simply Shredded warns that if you find that through your week you need to lessen the intensity of your workout or use less weight, you may be overtraining. For your muscles to grow, you must take time to rest between exercises. A failure to rest means a failure for muscle growth and repair, so take the time to allow your muscles to relax. Then, come back to your workout with full force, and as you grow stronger, vary your routine by both weight and rep length. One day, try a higher weight with less reps, and the next time you work that muscle group, try a lower weight with more reps. For cardio, try interval training for a half hour — this will keep your muscles guessing and constantly adapting to the new activity.

7. Going into your workout without goals

Every time you get to the gym, you should go in thinking of both your short-term and long-term goals for that workout. What do you want to achieve that day? Are you looking to increase your run by a half-mile, or are you looking to increase the weight with your deadlifts and do a few more reps per set? Setting short-term goals is a great way to make each individual gym visit unique to your body and what you’re capable of.

With your small goals in mind per visit to the gym, you should also keep in mind what you want to get out of your workouts in the long run. What areas of your body are you looking to tone and shape? Or, are you looking for a healthier cardiovascular system overall with the aesthetic effects of working out being a secondary goal? It’s important to know why you’re going to the gym, and what you hope to accomplish within a given timeframe. If you’re having trouble coming up with your own fitness goals for yourself, Men’s Fitness gives a few ideas for some goals that you may want to aim for while you’re paying visits to the gym.

10 Muscle Building Foods to Add to Your Diet for Faster Gains

Continuing on my theme about the critical importance of nutrition within the whole fitness/training process. In my Thursday column I talked about healthy snacks. A big thanks to all of you who sent in those great snack recipe ideas.

I posted some of the best on my site www.jameshaskell.com . So please take a look and tell me what they taste like. As they all look so good!

In today’s column, we are going to take a wider look at the whole subject with some interesting food ideas and eating tips.

The reason most people struggle to build muscle isn’t through lack of effort in the gym. With so much fitness information out there these days, most guys and girls can engineer a decent enough training programme. The hard part is eating enough and enough of the right foods, to trigger muscle growth.

Science tells us that in order to build muscle, we have to be in a caloric surplus. But when you factor in a full day’s worth of activity, this can end up being a lot more food than you think.

One day of eating big won’t cut it, either. In order to build muscle we need to maintain our caloric surplus for weeks, months, as long as we want to keep growing. To do this, we need to achieve the following two things:

Eat high calorie foods. They’ll make it much easier to achieve your caloric goals than plain old chicken and rice. But before you dive head first into a pizza box, remember that these have to be good calories – or you’ll just end up looking like a marshmallow.

Eliminate food boredom. There’s only so long that you can force feed yourself meals that you don’t enjoy. If you’re in this for the long term, we need to eliminate the food boredom so you can hit your calorie goals day in, day out. Most importantly, you’ll have fun doing so too.

With the above in mind, here are 10 foods to add to your diet to help you build (and keep building) some serious muscle.

1) Whole Eggs

Eggs are the ultimate muscle building food – they’re cheap, versatile, and packed with calories and protein. They’re also high in cholesterol, which, contrary to popular belief, is actually extremely beneficial for your performance goals. This is because cholesterol is a precursor to testosterone, one of the major hormones responsible for building muscle.

Eggs and fish

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Eggs are also extremely rich in selenium, which helps maintain a healthy heart and joints, along with iodine, which is essential for healthy thyroid function. They’re great for breakfast, as a portable snack when hardboiled, or used as an easy way to bump up the caloric value of your other meals throughout the day. After all, who doesn’t love topping their steak with a couple of fried eggs?

2) Almond butter

In fact, any nut butter will do. There aren’t many easier (or more delicious) ways to bump up your calorie intake than with a couple of teaspoons of nut butter each day.

The beauty of nut butters is that they contain all the benefits of whole nuts – protein, healthy fat, fibre, minerals – but in a much more convenient form. Let’s face it; it’s a lot easier to eat a tablespoon of almond butter than it is to eat a handful of raw almonds. Spread it, cook with it, or even eat it straight from the jar. We’re not judging you, we promise.

3) Steak

A good steak is a little pricier than most other protein sources, but the muscle building rewards make it more than worth the investment. Offering uch more than just protein, steak is loaded with iron and zinc, along with the amino acid L-Carnitine, which helps the body utilise testosterone to build muscle.

Don’t be afraid to choose a fattier cut either. Providing it’s grass fed, it will be packed with CLA, a potent fatty acid that helps to build muscle and slash body fat.

4) Coconut

Including coconut in your diet is one of the most efficient ways to bump up your calorie intake from a high quality, nutrient dense source.

It was only a few years ago that we were being advised to avoid saturated fats, but we now know just how beneficial they can be to boosting both health and performance. This holds especially true for lauric acid, a saturated fatty acid found in coconuts that is easily metabolised by the body for energy rather than being stored as fat.

coconut oil and fresh coconuts on old wooden table

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One great way to use coconut is for cooking rice – instead of boiling it in water, use a can of coconut milk instead. Not only will it make it creamier and more delicious, it will also add an extra 400 calories to your meal without the need for any extra chewing!

5) White potatoes

Recent health trends have seen many people switch their regular spuds for the more coveted sweet potato, but is this really necessary? Whilst there’s certainly no denying the many health benefits of sweet potatoes, white potatoes are also an excellent addition to your diet – for one, they’re higher in iron, magnesium and potassium than their sweeter cousin.

White potatoes were a favourite of all the old school bodybuilders trying to gain size, and for good reason. They’re delicious and one of the best carbohydrate sources on the planet. Don’t be afraid to enjoy your fair share of spuds if you’re serious about building slabs of muscle.

6) White jasmine rice

The best time to take in high GI carbohydrates like white jasmine rice is after a workout, when the insulin spike can help accelerate the rate at which amino acids are shuttled into your muscle cells. Jasmine rice is delicious and incredibly easy to digest, making it the perfect mass building post workout carb source.

7) Sardines

Sardines are high in calories, but are also an excellent source of many important nutrients; including omega 3, to improve joint health and recovery, and vitamin D, to improve energy levels and boost the immune system. They’re also one of the few good non-dairy sources of calcium, which is great news for those that struggle with lactose. Sardines are cheap and surprisingly delicious – try them on a jacket potato for a delicious post workout meal.

Sandwich with sardines, sprats with parsley and dill

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8) Whole chickens

Be honest – do you really enjoy eating boneless, skinless chicken breasts every day? Even the most perfectly cooked chicken breast just can’t compete with the satisfaction of tucking into a juicy, skin on, roasted whole chicken.

Not only are whole chickens tastier – they’re also better value, with the price of a whole free range chicken roughly the same as just two breasts. In other words, you’re getting the drumsticks, thighs, skin, and other tasty bits free of charge! The fattier meat and skin also provide a healthy serving of extra calories, too.

Top tip: Buy a large whole chicken, and portion it up for meals throughout the next few days. You’ll get loads for your money and save time, too!

9) Avocados

Is there anything that doesn’t taste better with a side of avocado? Not only will these delicious green fruits make the rest of your meals more enjoyable, they’ll also add a hefty serving of healthy fats and calories to every meal that you use them in. Mash four or five at a time with a little lime juice, garlic, salt and pepper to make an easy guacamole, store in the fridge, then add a big dollop to your meals as you go through the week. We bet you can’t make it to Wednesday before it’s all gone!

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10) Hemp Seeds

This one may surprise you, but there’s a good reason why hemp is quickly becoming a favourite amongst bodybuilders across the globe. These tiny titans of nutrition are packed with essential recovery minerals iron and magnesium, and also boast a hefty 40% protein content! The best thing about hemp seeds is that they’re just so easy to use – sprinkle them on top of salads, soups, roasted veggies or grilled meat for a delicious, nutty flavoured topping.

The protein found in hemp seeds is a ‘globular’ protein, considered the most bioavailable to the human body. That means more of the amino acids in hemp get to work where you need them most – in the muscles!

Remember: muscle is broken down in the gym and built in the kitchen. Now get cooking!

The Key to Building More Muscle Might Be Longer Rests Between Sets

When it comes to lifting weights, most people will tell you to rest one minute between sets if you’re aiming for muscle growth, and three minutes if you’re building strength. A recent study suggests, however, that three minute rests may be better all around.

This video from the PictureFit YouTube channel explains why longer rests could be better for everyone trying to build muscle mass and strength, using a study led by Brad J. Schoenfeld, Ph.D. The study, published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, had two groups of participants perform resistance training exercises three times a week for eight weeks total. The only difference between the two groups was one was told to rest between sets for one minute, while the other was told to rest for three minutes.

The researchers measured each group’s muscle growth, strength gains, and muscle endurance, and found that the group who took longer rests between sets improved the most overall. So why does resting more appear to be better than resting less? The researchers suggest that longer rests allow you to do more reps in each set, which means a higher total work volume and the development of better muscular training adaptation in the long run. Essentially, more rest means you can do more work, and more work means you get bigger and stronger.

A bodybuilder’s diet

Eating well when you’re weight training is no small feat – this much is clear from our dietitian’s comments.

b5ed354c1a2346b0a0fb4350c35d7e1dHealth24 received the following from a regular user regarding what they eat to build muscle.

User’s comments:

I do bodybuilding, so I thought it would be interesting to share what I eat in a day.

Meal 1: Protein shake (40g protein)
Meal 2: 4 scrambled egg whites, 200g oats (dry before cooked), 10ml omega 3-6-9 oil, multi-vitamin, 500mg vitamin C
Meal 3: 150g chicken fillet, 100g potatoes
Meal 4: 300g chicken fillet, 500g stir-fry veggies
Meal 5: Protein shake (80g protein)
Meal 6: 30g of liquid carbs (dextrose), 6 egg whites
Meal 7: 300g chicken fillet, 250g mixed veggies, 150g brown rice
Meal 8: Protein shake (40g protein), 10ml omega 3-6-9 oil, 500mg vitamin C

I am 1.85m tall and I weigh 95kg. My body fat is currently at approximately 12%.

I only use ‘Spray ‘n Cook’ when I stir-fry my food, do my eggs and chicken. I steam my potatoes and veggies. I use very little salt and no sugar.

Our expert’s comments as follow:

1. You are currently consuming a very-high-protein, low-to-moderate-carbohydrate and very-low-fat diet. You should avoid excluding a particular food group completely as this will almost inevitably cause nutrient imbalances.

Current acceptable recommendations on protein requirements are 1-2.2 g/kg body weight or 15-25% of the total energy intake. Fat requirements may be as low as 20% of total intake with carbohydrates making up the balance. So you do need a small amount of healthy fat. Try to incorporate this into your diet (avocado pears, canola or olive oil, nuts and seeds, peanut butter).

2. In terms of protein intake and building muscle, we now know that your muscles are only able to use a limited amount of protein for growth, as long as there’s adequate carbohydrate to fuel the strength training required to build muscles. Any excess protein (amino acids) will be broken down and either stored as fat or later used as a source of energy.

Breaking down amino acids requires excretion of water, so excessive protein intakes contribute to a fluid imbalance in your body. In time, it may accelerate calcium losses, lead to kidney problems and gout.

Even after training, when you need the extra protein for anabolic/muscle building and recovery benefits, protein should always be consumed in combination with carbohydrate. Make sure you’re eating adequate amounts of carbs for the amount of protein that you’re eating. Too little carbohydrate will also result in low energy levels, making it difficult for you to train and perform at your best.

Portions of foods providing 10g protein (taken from ‘Eating for Sport’ by Shelley Meltzer & Cecily Fuller):

  • 50g grilled/ cooked fish
  • 50g tuna, salmon, pilchards
  • 35g lean beef, lamb, veal, game (cooked)
  • 40g chicken, turkey (skinless, cooked)
  • 50g ostrich (cooked)
  • 2 small or 1 large chicken egg
  • The whites of 3 large eggs
  • 70g cottage cheese (low fat/ fat free)
  • 30g low-fat cheese
  • 200ml (¾cup) low fat fruit yoghurt
  • 300ml (1¼cups) low fat milk
  • 30ml (2Tbsp) low fat or skim milk powder
  • 250ml (1 cup) liquid meal replacement (made with skim milk or water)
  • 160ml (? cup) cooked lentils
  • 125ml (½ cup) cooked soya beans
  • 200ml (¾ cup) baked beans
  • 40ml (31/2 Tbsp) nuts
  • 60ml (5 Tbsp) sesame seeds
  • 200ml (¾cup) cooked soya mince
  • 120g raw tofu
  • 125ml (½ cup) hummus

3. I am concerned that your overall fruit intake is low. You should aim for ‘5-a-day’ in terms of fruit and vegetables to ensure optimal intake of various vitamins and minerals. The vitamin supplements which you take should be just that – supplements to the food you eat to complement your overall intake.

4. With regards to body fat, we all have storage fat (in adipose tissue under the skin) and essential fat (in organs). Essential fat is needed for normal physiological functioning. Acceptable ranges of total body fat associated with optimal health are 8-24% in men and 21-35% in women.

A low body fat is a distinct advantage in weight-making sports because it improves your power-to-weight ratio and also helps increase an athlete’s rate of acceleration. Body fat levels below 3-5% for males and 12-14% for females, however, are considered dangerously low and associated with poor health and performance.

Your BMI is 27.7 kg/m2 which as you are probably aware would be classified as overweight in a ‘non-body building’ individual.

Calculate your BMI

Although I don’t know what you look like, you are by no means overweight with your current percentage body fat. Remember that BMI is only a screening tool to assess a person’s nutritional status.

It does not take your body’s composition into consideration and since muscle weighs more than fat, muscular individuals (bodybuilders) are likely to have a higher BMI measurement.

Read: Your guide to banned substances

5. It is unclear how much water you drink.

Dehydration of 3-5% of body weight decreases physical strength and performance, and is the primary cause of heat exhaustion. Estimating water or fluid intake requirements is not easy and individual requirements are highly variable depending on the person as well as factors such as activity, humidity, climate, body temperature and body composition, protein intake.

As a guide, the recommended Adequate Intake (AI) of fluid for sedentary men (aged 19-50 years) is 3.71 liters (12 glasses of 250ml) per day of which at least 6 glasses (250ml) should be water.

Different sports have specific fluid intake recommendations in order to ensure an adequate intake before, during and after a strenuous bout of exercise. You need to ensure that you always replace fluid after exercise.

During long periods of intense exercise, it is best to use a sports drink that contains sodium, as this will help replace sodium lost in sweat, provide glucose to prevent fatigue and reduce the risk of developing hyponatraemia, which can be life-threatening when it occurs.

I have included some guidelines specific to weight-making sports below:

  • Recovery of fluids lost through dehydration may take 24-48 hours.
  • Drink with all foods taken before a training session.
  • Take sufficient drink bottles to training and keep them easily accessible (or use convenient drink containers that can be worn). If possible take drink breaks every 15-20 minutes – adopting a pattern of drinking small amounts of fluid at regular intervals during exercise is optimal.
  • Rehydrate fully after training, using your pre-training weight as a guide.
  • Sports drinks (5-7% concentrations) are good options as they are quickly emptied from the stomach and replace sodium losses, without causing gastric cramps (may occur with 10% concentrations). In your case, however, your choice of drink may depend on your weight goals, particularly if you are competing. If you wish to lose weight, dilute sports drinks. Sports water (need electrolytes, not calories) or plain water may be preferred with solid foods providing your carbohydrate.

6. Be aware of the amount of food that you are eating. This should also be practical and able to be implemented in other settings outside of home. I have included a guide for visualising various servings:

  • 90g red meat/ poultry/ fish = deck of playing cards
  • 30g cheese = 1 matchbox
  • 1 muffin/roll = a fist
  • 1 tsp butter = 1 thumb tip
  • 125ml (½ cup) pasta/ rice/ vegetables = tennis ball
  • 125ml (½ cup) ice cream = tennis ball
  • 30g (2 Tbsp) nuts/ sweets = one handful
  • 1 medium potato = computer mouse
  • 1 biscuit = a bath plug
  • 250ml (1 cup) cereal = a fist
  • A medium apple/ pear/ orange = tennis ball

Read: Building muscle: the skinny on how to bulk up

7. Visualise the following when dishing up your plate of food:

  • Carbohydrate-rich foods (bread, pasta, rice, mielies, fruit, vegetables) should make up approximately one third of your plate.
  • The rest should be reserved for protein-rich foods (egg, fish, lean meat/ chicken, legumes such as beans, peas, chickpeas, lentils, low fat dairy, soya and tofu).
  • There should be a minimal amount of fat (butter, margarine, mayonnaise, salad dressing, peanut butter, cream, oil).

8. I would like to suggest that you include more fish in your diet – ideally 2-3 times a week. Fish is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which is an essential fat, meaning our bodies are unable to produce it and therefore it needs to be obtained from external sources (food and supplements).

Omega-3 fats have received much attention recently and have been shown to protect against heart disease, maintain a healthy blood cholesterol profile and improve brain power and concentration. The fat has also been implicated in management of ADHD and potentially minimising the effects of eczema and food allergies.

Ask The Dietitians or our Biokineticist for more info on nutrition and sports.

10 Muscle Building Foods

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1. Skinless Chicken: High in protein it is ideal for muscle repair and maintenance. It also helps you in weight management. The skin basically constitutes of all the fat, therefore when removed it cuts down large amounts of calories.

2. Cottage Cheese: Contains casein protein which being a slow digesting protein helps in muscle maintenance. Also a great source for Vitamin B12 and calcium.

3. Eggs: Contain high quality protein, it is ideal for muscle building. Also contains amino acids, choline and the right fat needed for the body.

4. Whey Protein: One of the best protein supplements that help you gain muscle mass at an affordable price. Can simply be consumed by adding them to whole foods. However one should not become entirely dependent on them.

5. Tuna Fish: Excellent for protein and low in fat, they serve as an amazing muscle building food. They contain omega-3 fatty acids that boost metabolism and help in proper functioning of the body along with weight loss.

6. Oatmeal: Perfect for carbs and low in glycemic index value, they help reduce cholesterol levels. They enhance the immune systems response to infection.

7. Brown Rice: These are considered to be whole grains that haven’t lost their fibre content. The fibre is what reduces the risk of heart disease and high cholesterol. It is considered to benefit our nervous and reproductive systems. They help lose weight as they make the process of digestion very easy.

8. Spinach: It is a rich source of glutamine , the amino acid that increases muscle strength and endurance.

9. Cantaloupe: Popularly known as musk melon. This melon counts for one of the very fast digesting carbs due to its low fructose content. Recommended to be eaten post workout for its ability to induce energy.

10. Beetroot: The nitrates present in beetroot convert into nitric oxide which is responsible for improved heart health and muscle strength. Beets contains anti- oxidants that help reduce blood pressure and reduce inflammation.

Building muscles with hard work

Q How has your exercise regimen changed over the years?A I used to focus only on muscle groups that I thought would impress people, so I trained justmyupper body and focused heavily on my chest and arms. I did not train my legs and back until I picked up dragonboating in Republic Polytechnic.

I realised there wasmuchmore to training and incorporated different exercises into my workouts as I read online and watched videos.

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Since then, I have been training every muscle group– essential for bodybuilding where you need the “total package”.

Q Has there ever been a time when you were not fit and fab?

A After I competed in the National Bodybuilding Championship in 2014, I had a slipped disc.

160315 Fitness routine_Brendan_reviseI had to stop training for some time, so all I did at home was play computer games and eat whatever I wanted.

I cut myself some slack as I was about to enlist in national service. My weight shot up to 89kg, which meant that I had gained close to 10kg in a month.

It was a low period for me– mentally and physically– so I told myself I needed to focus on my recovery and resume my usual lifestyle.

Q How has that injury affected you?A I went back to the gym after a month of rest, but avoided exercises that would stress my lower back

. I gradually added more exercises to my workout when I felt stronger. Even up till today, I cannot do certain exercises such as deadlifts or normal barbell squats.

When I do certain rowing movements for my back, I have to find the correct angle so as not risk re-injury and I cannot use heavier weights like I used to.

I’ve seen a specialist and was told that if I injure it badly again, surgery would be needed. I still go for weekly physiotherapy.

Q What is your typical diet like?

A My diet differs on training and non-training days. I always start my day with a protein shake and eggs. On training days, I consume up to 2,400 calories, comprising mainly carbohydrates and protein, and keeping fat low.

On these days, sweet potatoes, chicken fillets, rice cakes, vegetables and cereal would cover themajority ofmymeals.

On non-training days, I consume up to 1,900 calories. I lower my carbohydrates, maintainmyprotein intake but increase my fats. I would have salmon, almonds, peanut butter, vegetablesand eggs.

  • BRENDAN ONG

  • AGE: 21WEIGHT: 74kgHEIGHT: 1.7m

    Mr Ong has his older brother Jonathan, 26, to thank for setting him on the road to fitness.

    It was Jonathan who encouraged him to work out in secondary school, who gave him his first scoop of protein powder and who taught him how to exercise in the gym.

    Two weeks before the National Bodybuilding Championship in 2014, Jonathan signed Brendan up without his knowledge. Brendan had wanted to take part, but did not feel confident enough about his own body. He did Jonathan proud by coming up tops in the Classic Bodybuilding category and taking third spot in the Juniors Under 75kg category.

    Last month, Brendan distinguished himself in two categories at the NABBA WFF Singapore Muscle War, placing second and third.

    At first, he thought it was “weird” to stand onstage posing in a tiny piece of underwear but, later, he found himself enjoying the chance to show off the body he had worked so hard to transform.

    He wants to continue with bodybuilding for as long as he can. The bachelor lives with his parents and brother in western Singapore.

    Joan Chew

5 Tips For Gaining Lean Muscle Mass Without Getting Fat

‘Bulking’—every gym-head loves this stage. Why? Well, because you get to eat ‘whatever you like’. Yup, that’s what over 90 percent of the guys think—‘eat whatever comes your way’. Here’s exactly where they go wrong and end up ballooning instead of bulking, or in short, get fat in the name of bulking up. Here are 5 pro-tips that will help you keep that unnecessary fat at bay while bulking.

1. Increase Your Calorie Intake But Eat Clean

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Bulking does not give you a license to binge-eat junk food. Eating clean is just as much important in the bulking stage as it’s during the cutting stage. Here’s the key: make it a point that your meal contains proteins, low-glycemic carbs and healthy dietary fats.

2. Plan Your Day’s Major Carbohydrate Intake Around Your Workout

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An overdose of carbs leads to hyper insulin spikes which ultimately leads to fat gain. On the other hand, it’s also wrong to completely eliminate carbs from your meals. If you have a pre-dominantly sitting job, the best thing is to center your carb consumption around your workout. Pre and post workout is exactly the time when your body needs insulin spikes and glycogen replenishments. Also, make sure that your carbs are coming from the likes of sweet potatoes, oatmeal, brown rice, and whole grains.

3. Dietary Fats Don’t Make You Fat And Are A Great Source Of Calories

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Please be very clear that healthy fats don’t make you fat! Moreover, fats have 9 calories per gram whereas carbs and proteins have 4-5 calories per gram. It’s the quality of calorie you ingest that determines the quantity of muscle you’ll gain. Fats from sources like nuts, avocado, whipped butter and eggs are a must if you want to put on size. Say no to saturated fats from chips, cheese dips and other junk foods.

4. Don’t Overdo Cardio

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While High Intensity Cardio is a silver bullet for fat loss, going overboard with it will only kill your lean muscle. Bulking up is primarily about preserving calories and using them for the right workout. Limit your HIIT to 2-3 days a week and focus more on strength training.

5. Lift Only As Heavy As You Can And Focus on Form

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Thumb rule for gaining size—proper form over max weight. There’s no point bench pressing 100kgs when your forms sucks even at 50. Lift only as heavy as you can and gradually scale up the weights.

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