Author Archives: Kaitlyn Baran

Which Way for Whey?

Which way for whey? By Brian Klepacki, MS, CISSN, CSCS

Are you sick and tired of trying to navigate through the world of choosing the ‘right’ whey protein for your needs? Just like for you, protein supplementation is a critical part of my daily diet. And if it isn’t a part of yours, why the heck not?? There is more than enough research on whey_protein_isolate_effects_dthe importance of (whey) protein and all the benefits it brings with it. But now, thanks to those sneaky business and marketing guys (and gals), the process of finding that ‘perfect’ protein is even more challenging than ever. You are probably thinking that the protein you are religiously buying is the best. Maybe it is or maybe it isn’t. I’m not here to promote any company or to criticize what you are doing, I’m simply writing this as an informational tool for you to use when choosing your next batch of protein.  As Jose always told me in grad school, “if it helps or has a neutral effect, then do it.”

Pick up your protein tub and read off some of the major bullet points of their bold claims. You might notice a few words like hydrolyzed or cross-flow microfiltration or reverse osmosis. We are seeing these words plastered all over the protein world these days and at first, we might say things like, “oh, that sounds really cool,” or “nice, this must be healthy stuff,” and that’s exactly what the companies want us to think, but the truth is, most of the general population either doesn’t care or has no clue what this scientific jargon really means. Shouldn’t we know what this means since we want the best for our body? Does it really matter to us and our muscles? So why did the supplement world have to go all nerdy on us in the past few years and confuse everyone even more? Don’t they know that we only care about how many friends we have on Facebook or how big our calves are? Maybe there is significance to the way we get our whey.

In the whey protein processing world, there are two main methods of protein filtration. Before we dive right into defining these different processes, we need a quick 101 on how whey protein powder is made. In a nutshell, whey is the one of two major proteins found in cow’s milk. The other protein is casein [1]. Upon the separation of the multitude of constituted parts of milk to make cheese, whey protein is the byproduct of this process. From this point, the whey (liquid form) is then pasteurized and dried into powder for our use. Now coming back to this discussion, the process of which the whey is derived varies and that’s what I’m hoping to help you better understand. Let’s put on our learning caps and get down to what these terms really mean.

One of the most widely used methods is membrane filtration, aka micro and/or ultra [1]. All whey mediums have been processed through a form of membrane filtration one way or another. Due to the complexity of the many different types of micro and ultra filtration, know that these two types, regardless of the method, are fundamentally similar. Membrane filtration is basically a filter with microscopic holes to filter out any impurities thus resulting in a finer grade of product. The amount of filtering depends on the type of process being used by the factory or farm. One of the main techniques in whey processing is cross flow microfiltration. By definition, this particular process gets its name because the majority of the feed flows across the surface of the filter, rather than into a dead end filter [3]. (Think of a funnel vs. a slip and slide that has holes in it). It’s obvious that more sediment and particles will be picked up in a shorter amount of time through the cross flow than a standard dead end method.

So what’s the end result of the cross-flow filtration? That’s still a tough question to give a definite answer to because there are many external factors that will greatly impact the end result of the product. Factors like thickness of the medium and the filter, the rate of flow and temperature of the medium. All of these do have an impact on the process, just like weather affects aerodynamics etc. You need to ask whey-protein-cross-flow-microfiltrationyourself the basic question of what is my intention and purpose is for taking a whey protein supplementation. Going back to the marketing standpoint, you will see adjectives like dynamic, ultra, mega ultra, triple maximal deluxe ultra and others like it just to get your attention. This is a way that Company X claims that their protein is the purest protein on the planet. Just keep in mind that even though a company might have the most elite and elaborate filtration system known to man, they could still add cheap and dangerous fillers to negate the cost of their expensive technique [2]. That’s neither here nor there.

So a general rule of thumb in the degree of filtration is “nano > ultra > micro”. The finer the filtration, the more pure and decontaminated the protein becomes [1,3]. This might sound like a good thing but it could pose a potential problem when looking at protein at its biological platform. Certain substances (i.e. phospholipids and immunoglobulins) and other peptides that have been shown to have an influence on the integrity and nutritional makeup of whey will ultimately be extracted and eliminated from the final protein concentration [3]. Furthermore, this sets up the difference between concentrate and isolate. Not to confuse you anymore or open up a whole new discussion, go back to that question of what is your purpose of consuming whey and why you buy what you choose. It’s important to know which way whey is processed during membrane filtration in order to best suit your needs.

The second most commonly used method is called ion exchange. Essentially ion exchange is defined as an exchange of ions between two solutions. This method has a slightly different approach to processing whey. Unlike membrane filtration, ion exchange relies on chemicals to do the work. In the case of whey, this allows certain substances in the whey liquid to be pulled out according to their electrical charge. These substances or contaminants are extracted by two little guys known as hydrochloric acid and sodium hydroxide [6]. (Remember the whole ion/cation/anion talk in chemistry class?) This might seem like a more effective and precise method but know that certain protein peptides are very fragile to pH changes and even the slightest electrical change can cause the bioactivity of the protein to be reduced thus resulting in a denatured or inadequate protein. Maintaining the natural state of the protein is important for various reasons but research hasn’t proved that this is essential for your physique or for athletics. In other words, you won’t be able to tell the difference if your protein shake is denatured or not. More research needs to be done to see the long term effects of consuming denatured vs. non-denatured protein supplementation on performance.

The last method that I want to touch on is hydrolyzing. Defined, hydrolyzed whey is whey protein that is processed by treating it with acid conditions and high heat to isolate the protein [3, 5]. This process creates small bonds that link the amino acids together. The purpose of this is to create a faster and easier digesting protein for consumption. You might be saying to yourself, “hydrolyzed, that sounds familiar.” This whey has been around the block a time or two. Hydrolyzed protein powders were popular a while back but then fell off the map because of the awful taste, hefty price tag and no concrete evidence that it was any better than its counterparts. Also, it was more evident that this method denatured the protein to a much greater degree than ion exchange. However, thanks to advancements in technology, companies are finding ways to reinvent this process by keeping the protein’s blueprint untouched yet being able to make it a more pleasing on the palate and bank account [2,3].

So there you have it, a rough break down of a few of the main methods of processing protein to give us whey. Each process has its pros and cons just like everything else. What you do with this information is up to you but what I will ask of you is that you take this new found knowledge and continue to grow it. Never stop learning.


Brian Klepacki, MS, CISSN, CSCS

Owner of Optimax Performance Training

[1] Bishop, Mathison, and Smith. Dairy Proteins. Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research, Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. 2001.

[2] Howie, M. Reverse osmosis, ultrafiltration decrease transportation costs. Feedstuffs. 1999; 71: 33 (10)

[3] Saboya, L.V. and Maubois, J.L. Current developments of microfiltration technology in the dairy industry. Lait. 2000; 80: 541–553

[4] Bacher and Konigsfeldt, 2000Bacher, T. and Konigsfeldt, P. WPI by microfiltration of skim milk. Eur. Dairy Mag. 2000; 5: 14–16


[6] Schmidt, Ronald H.Packard, Vernal S. et al. Effect of Processing on Whey Protein Functionality. Journal of Dairy Science, Volume 67 , Issue 11 , 2723 – 2733. 1983

Killing Pain or Killing Your Workout?

There are over 900 studies documenting the adverse effects of statin drugs designed to protect the heart by reducing cholesterol levels. Conversely, there have been reports that the statin statin-medicationsdrug Lipitor causes diabetes in women. However, more alarming for the millions of resistance training and fitness minded individuals, a new study appearing in the Journal of the American College of Cardiologyrevealed that statin drugs reduce mitochondrial efficiency by its destruction of CoQ10, the major energy molecule in the heart. Researchers now know that exercise promotes mitochondrial biogenesis, which is the creation of fresh new cells where energy is manufactured. This study revealed that a negative feed-back process kicks in because of this alteration in heart muscle bioenergetics causing the aerobic benefits of workouts that protect and strengthen the heart to be possibly cancelled out. While not publicized enough, the fact is 90% of the body’s physiological energy needs are dependent on CoQ10, as it allows the mitochondria to convert food metabolites (byproducts of metabolism) into ATP (adenosine-tri-phosphate), the energy molecule that sustains the body’s biological activities.

 Parallel Studies of NSAID Use

 Despite these unsettling proclamations medical and sports medicine professionals are voicing more concerns about the number of men and women having serious health complications up to and including death as a result of  prescribed non-steroidal inflammatory drugs (NSAID’s) and over-the counter ( OTC) painkillers like ibuprofen, diclofenac, naproxen and Tylenol. To put this disaster into NSAID_labelproper perspective, consider the fact that the number one cause of liver failure here in the US is acetaminophen poisoning.  Nonetheless research has shown that with women’s increased participation in athletics and fitness endeavors, this has pushed their usage of NSAID’s to a new high outside the realm of normal everyday aches and pains. The surprising thing here according to Dr. Tom Freiden, MD, Director of The US Centers For Disease Control is that women are taking more NSAID’s than males. More startling is the collective data indicating that since 1999 the percentage increase in death due to NSAID poisoning was actually higher among women than men (400% in women vs. 265% in men). Overall, prescription painkillers killed nearly 48,000 women between 1999 and 2010 with more than 6,600 women, or 18 every day dying from a prescription painkiller overdose. Additionally, there were more than 200,000 emergency department visits for negative pain killer events among women, about 1 every 3 minutes, validating the real danger of this seemingly harmless medication.

A Puzzling Problem

For reasons unknown research has shown that women are more likely to have more chronic pain, be prescribed prescription painkillers, be given higher doses, and use them for longer periods than men. The higher doses needed by women according to Dr. Frieden is not well understood because on average, women weigh less than men, but at the same or slightly higher dose, they are more likely to have an adverse event.

Unintentional Over Prescribing: A Common Trend

Dr. Jay S. Cohen, M.D., an associate professor of Preventive Medicine and Psychiatry at the University of California, states that nearly half of the people who overdose on acetaminophen do so unintentionally. Dr. Frieden contents that this is a societal problem. As a point of clarification here, societal here refers to the fact that NSAID’s are being over prescribed in hospitals, in private office setting, and over-used to combat minor aches and pain. This was recently voiced by Dr. Carl Orr MD of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland in a recent editorial in Medical Medscape, stating that use of NSAID’s is out of control. To make matters worst, Dr. Joseph Mercola, D.O. a well-known alternative medicine physician in Hoffman Estates, IL reminds us that we use acetaminophen based products like Tylenol as quick remedies for toothaches, headaches, backaches, colds and flu. It is this unintentional a little dab here and there that is extremely volatile as cited by Dr. Kenneth Simpson of the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.

Medical researchers refer to this as a staggered overdose which elicits more damage like liver failure and need for liver transplant versus one single large dose. However, what is most alarming within this chaos is a study in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine that revealed when doctors prescribed narcotic-acetaminophen combination pain medications to patients, they don’t warn patients about other medications containing acetaminophen that they should reduce or discontinue.

 The Problem with NSAID’s

While there exist a misconception that NSAID’s are only cautioned in patients with existing heart disease, researchers at the , Department of Cardiology at the Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark state that even short-term treatment with most NSAID’s  is associated with increased risk of death. Additionally, many doctors already exercise caution when considering NSAID’s for the relief of chronic pain because these drugs increase the risk of ulcers and serious bleeding in the stomach and gastrointestinal tract. Furthermore, researchers at the Duke University Medical Center recently reported that even in healthy individuals, use of commonly available NSAID’s like ibuprofen, diclofenac, and naproxen are linked with increased risk of stroke. From a fitness perspective, researchers contend that many athletes and fitness enthusiasts take NSAID’s before every workout or competition.

Killing Healing Mechanisms Silently

Ironically, both alcohol consumption and fasting (due to illness, anorexia, or malnutrition) greatly increase the risk of liver injury due to acetaminophen. Fasting decreases levels of glutathione, the most abundant and powerful internal antioxidant that you naturally have. Glutathione helps the liver detoxify acetaminophen and in clinical trials has shown the ability to kill breast cancer cells. The key nutrient responsible for the production of glutathione is N-acetyl cysteine (NAC).  NSAID’s actually kill off your supply of NAC. This is why people who overdose on Tylenol are given large doses of NAC when they are brought to the emergency room. Dr. Mercola whom I spoke of earlier adamantly states that Acetaminophen-containing drugs should not be used for minor aches and pains and or exercise tolerance, but for severe pain, like recovering from surgery or an injury. However, if NSAID’s are warranted he suggest taking N-acetyl cysteine and for reasons just cited it is advisable not to take NSAID’s on a empty stomach. Incidentally, N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) is a protein supplement that can be purchase at your local vitamin store. Forward thinking medical professionals have petitioned the FDA to include an inset to alert NSAID users about the benefits of NAC, however to no avail.

Furthermore, studies indicate that consuming NSAID’s before a workout can increase the side-effects typically seen in heavy users. Apparently, an hour following ingestion of NSAID’s  they begin damaging  the intestines causing  alterations in a compound known as intestinal fatty acid  binding protein( I-FABP). This is how intestinal hemorrhages occur with repeated NSAID use.

NSAID’s Disrupt Recovery Efforts

As you know following a workout you need to have a cool down period, much like turning off your computer after a number of hours. Remember, your body is a network of multiple deeply interconnected systems, all of which get impacted to various degrees by training.  Rest and recovering from this ordeal, yes a painful one to the body is about more than just not taking berardi_study_exhaustionNSAID’s, it’s about giving your muscles, joints, your brain and internal communication system the time to heal as well as allowing your nervous system to calm down. This will help your body repair those tired aching muscles and keep those natural pain killers swarming within you on high alert. Unfortunately, when you take NSAID’s following a workout you reduce muscle satellite cell production. Satellite cells in skeletal muscle tissue in response to resistance training connect with existing muscle fibers forming new lean muscle tissue, and serve as key players in healing damaged muscle tissue. Also, according to Dr. Michael Loes, author of Healing Sports Injuries Naturally, 95% of sports injuries are due to minor trauma involving soft tissues like sprains, strains, contusions or bruising, resulting in inflammation and pain. Taking a NSAID inset like ibuprofen actually activates pro-inflammatory chemicals called prostaglandins which encourages sub-acute inflammation on top of the normal discomfort which  usually persisting longer than 3 or 4 weeks.

False Positives and Pain

To make recovery efforts worst Dr. Mellisa Stoppler M.D., Ph.D., who has served an Assistant Professor of Pathology at Georgetown University School of Medicine states that there is a wind-up phenomenon that causes untreated pain to get worse. Dr. Stoppler reminds us that nerve fibers like muscle tissue that gets stronger with exercise, become more efficient at transmitting signals to the brain, essentially amplifying pain signals even in cases of or slight injury. Consequently, the pain feels much worse, even though the injury is not worsening. At this point according to Dr. Stöppler, pain may be termed chronic and it is no longer helpful as a sign of injury. Conversely, a recent study appearing in Nature Reviews Neuroscience suggests that chronic pain affects the anatomy of the brain and impairs certain nerve pathways, leading to a negative feedback loop that prevents the brain from releasing its own painkillers. However, studies have found that this mishap can be reversed by employing the use of mind body healing techniques such as acupuncture, meditation and yoga. In fact, a new report coming out of Boston University revealed once-weekly yoga classes’ relieved pain, improved function, and reduced the need for pain medication.

Bottom line here, by focusing on just relieving pain before and after a workout without any emphasis placed on healing you are literally turning up pain signals that in some cases maybe false alarms.

Natural Freedom from Pain        

Dr. Carl Orr whom I mentioned earlier states that it is preferable to target the underlying cause of pain with pain-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) than to prescribe NSAIDs. The most important aspect of these natural pain modifiers or DMARDs is there ability to promote healing. While this report can’t cover all of the natural pain relievers you have at your disposal, the synopsis below represents some of the most widely researched and utilized ones.

 The Natural Pain Reducing Alternatives

 Dr. Michael Loes, M.D. who also directs the Arizona Pain Institute at the University of Arizona, states that oral systemic enzymes like Wobenzym N are approved by all sports governing bodies, and has been used by many of Europe’s greatest Olympic and professional athletes. Dr.  Lowes in his research discovered that by adding proteases (enzymes that breakdown protein) such as bromelain, (derived from pineapple) and papain (derived from the papaya plant) following a workout accelerated muscle recover and greatly reduced inflammatory chemical that cause pain and swelling. In fact, in a recent study appearing in the Journal of Strength Conditioning and Research. Bromelain and papaya restored muscle power shortly after exercise, quickly re-establishing that portion of muscle strength it had lost.

Pain and Inflammation Control Naturally

Ironically, enzymes first seek out food particles to digest, but for sports injuries when taken on a empty stomach these guys immediately begin reversing exercised induced damage to tissues, much like little pac men devouring and breaking down all sorts of nasty chemical that cause pain and inflammation. For this reason sports medicine researchers and body building icons like Lee Labrada the author of Winning with the Enzymatic Edge recommend taking a multiple enzyme before and after workouts.

From his research, Dr. Merocola  recommends these natural pain relief products: Astaxanthin (a potent anti-inflammatory), Cetyl Myristoleate ( acts as an anti-inflammatory and lubricates the joints), Curcumin (  potent anti-inflammatory and can reduce Tylenol-associated adverse health events), Ginger( an anti-inflammatory, this herb offers pain relief and stomach-settling properties) , Evening Primrose, Black Currant and Borage Oils ( fatty acids that reduces arthritic pain) and Cayenne(capsaicin)  the active compound found in hot peppers, which reduces pain signals by down-regulating the body’s production of substance P, a chemical component of nerve cells that carry pain signals to your brain.

Natural Morphine Production

Moreover, the protein DLPA (DL-phenylalanine) is known to neutralize enzymes that inhibit release of endorphins known as the body’s natural morphine. White Willow Bark like aspirin, both contain the pain-killing compound salicylic acid, however chemically white willow doesn’t cause the gastrointestinal distress like aspirin, while Glucosamine and Chondroitin sulfate and Hyaluronic acid promote joint repair and Omega 3 Fish Oils termed by Dr. Joseph Maroon, M.D., Chairman of the Department of Neurological Surgery at the University of   Pittsburgh School of Medicine, as nature’s safest and most effective anti-inflammatory.

Explore and Incorporate a New Pain Reduction Technique

While not top of the list discussions around the gym or workout facilities, there are a number of non-medical protocols that definitively reduce pain, however in many cases unfortunately are mere afterthoughts. For example, simple stress reduction techniques like acupuncture, hypnosis, meditation, music therapy, relaxation therapy, and yoga and guided imagery. Furthermore, aromatherapy, bio-feedback, Epsom salt baths, deep tissue bodywork as well as hot and cold packs, massage therapy and magnet therapy can help. Last but not least give your self sometime to recover. You should have some on and off day’s in-between your workouts and get some sleep. Dr. Dawn Marcus M.D. a Neurologist and Professor at the University of Pittsburgh reminds us that studies show people who only sleep 4hrs a night, their pain threshold drops significantly. Pain management expert Dr. Harris H. McIlwain, MD, board-certified in rheumatology tells us that when the brain chemical serotonin is depleted from lack of sleep this causes an increase in sensitivity to pain and malaise (a general feeling of illness) to develop.


Pain is an important signal that lets you known something is wrong.  However, in the world of bodybuilding and fitness enthusiasts, the goal is to reduce body fat, become stronger and ultimately improve health. However, in the process you shouldn’t confuse pain relief with rebuilding and regeneration because this is what will allow you to keep reaching that next fitness, growth or strength plateau. Lastly, and most important for whatever reason you have to take NSAID’s be aware of how much and how often you are staggering your intake with other OTC products that contain acetaminophen. There is a clear and present danger here to both men and women. Finally, consider adding NAC to offset the negative effects of NSAID’s.


Beck, T., Effects of a protease supplement on eccentric exercise induced markers of delayed-on set muscle soreness and muscle damage. Journal of Strength Conditioning and Research. 2007; 21; 661-667.

Bushnell MC, Čeko M, Low LA. Cognitive and emotional control of pain and its disruption in chronic pain.  Nature Reviews Neuroscience. May 30, 2013. Epub ahead of print.

Cohen, J.S. The Little Known Dangers of Acetaminophen. Life Extension Magazine. 2007/2008: 92-99.

Craig, D.G., Bates, C.M.  Staggered overdose pattern and delay to hospital presentation are associated with adverse outcomes following paracetamol-induced hepatotoxicity. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.2012 Feb; 73(2):285-94.

Fosbol, E.L., Olsen, A.M. of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs among healthy people and specific cerebrovascular safety. International Journal of Stroke. 2012 Oct 23. [Epub ahead of print]

Handout on Health: Sports Injuries. Found on line at: on 12-28-14.

Hawke, T.J., Garry, D.J. Myogenic satellite cells: physiology to molecular biology. Journal of Applied Physiology. 2001; (2): 534-551.

Labrada, L., Winning With the Enzymatic Edge. Labrada Nutrition: Houston TX 2006.

Litarru, G.P., Tiano, L.  Bioenergetic and antioxidant properties of coenzyme Q10: recent developments. Molecular Biotechnology. 2007 Sept; 37(1): 31-37.

Little, J.P. Safdar, A. Skeletal muscle and beyond: the role of exercise as a mediator of systemic mitochondrial biogenesis. Applied Physiology Nutrition and Metabolism. 2011 Oct; 36(5):598-607

Lowes, M., Steinman, D., Healing Sports Injuries Naturally. Freedom Press: Topanga CA. 1999.

Mercola, J.  Warning: Too Much Tylenol May Kill You. Found on line at: Accessed on 12-29-14.

McLean L, Soto, U.  Aminoflavone induces oxidative DNA damage and reactive oxidative species-medited apoptosis in breast cancer cells. International Journal of Cancer. 2008 Apr; 122 (7):1665-1674.

Mikus, C.R. Boyle, C.R. Simvastatin impairs exercise training adaptations. Journal of Cardiology. 2013 Apr 10[Epub ahead of print].

Osborne, Z.P., Bryant, S.M. Patients discharged with a prescription for acetaminophen-containing narcotic analgesics do not receive appropriate written instructions. American Journal of Emergency Medicine. 2003 Jan; 21(1):48-50.

Redmon, G.L. Managing and Preventing Arthritis: The Natural Alternatives. Hohm Press: Prescott AZ. 1999.

Sharecare, How lack of sleep increase pain? –Sharecare. Accessed on 01-04-15.

Stoppler, M. Pain Medication Names, List, Side Effects – eMedicineHealth. Found on line at: › … › pain management a-z list. Accessed on 12-28-14.

 Van, Wjck, K., Aggravation of exercise induced intestinal injury by ibuprofen

In athletes. Medical Science Sports and Exercise. 2012; 44(12): 2257-2262.

 Tokatli, A., Kalkanoglu-Sivri, H.S. Acetaminophen-induced hepatotoxicity in a glutathione synthetase-deficient patient. Turkish Journal of Pediatrics. 2007 Jan; 49(1):75-76.

George L. Redmon, Ph.D.

Dr. Redmon has been associated with the vitamin and health industry for over 25years, having served as The National Product and Education Director for one of the country’s largest retailers of nutritional supplements. He has been widely published in many major bodybuilding, fitness and alternative medicine publications. He is the author of

Natural Born Fat Burners, Managing and Preventing Arthritis: The Natural Alternatives, Energy for Life and is a member of The National Academy of Sports Medicine and The International Society of Sports Nutrition.

Full Court D

By George L. Redmon PH.D.

 Make It Rain Anabolically With Vitamin D

 Unwavering literature indicates that physical and athletic performance peaks when 25-hydroxy-vitamin D [25(OH) D] levels peak, declines as they decline, and reaches its nadir (rock bottom) when 25(OH) D levels are at their lowest point. Vitamin D also increases the size and number of Type II (fast twitch) muscle fibers. However, accumulated data indicates that peak athletic performance occurs when 25(OH) D levels approach those obtained by natural, full-body, summer sun exposure, which is at least 50 ng x mL (-1).               Dr. John Cannell, M.D. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise

 Over the last several decades researchers have discover a definitive link to a deficiency of Vitamin D as a causative factor in the development of a host of bone and skeletal matrix disorders. What has been more problematic from the standpoint of public health officials is the enormous imagesamount of studies highlighting the pleomorphic effects (ability to take on different forms) of vitamin D outside its conventional role in calcium and bone homeostasis. A case in point, current data indicates that vitamin D also plays a key role in regulating many physiological parameters that prevent cancer, diabetes, enhances immunity, the down-regulation of autoimmune diseases, respiratory and prostate dysfunction, to promoting a healthy pregnancy and aging. Vitamin D also assists in modulating the actions of various organs including the heart, lungs, adrenal glands, pituitary gland brain and the brain. However, more compelling concerning “D’s”

Pleomorphic effect is that of serving as the molecular ignition- switch that triggers gene transcription. This process is the first step in the formation of specific sequences of DNA/RNA based proteins composed of many genes that regulate the actions of a multitude of other proteins. This from a chemical standpoint is not only anabolic equilibrium in motion, but life itself, hence “D” tag as having a pleomorphic effect by the health community.

The Dosing Problem

The  major problem here cited by public health officials has been determining correct dosages for all of these parameters and the sun’s role in the natural manufacture of 25-hydroxy-vitamin D [25(OH)D]. Incidentally, researchers now know that the human body makes 90% of its vitamin D naturally from sunlight, specifically from ultraviolet B exposure to the skin. The process starts when a form of cholesterol called 7-dehydrocholesterol (7-DHC), naturally found in your skin, absorbs the UVB radiation and gets converted bywoman in the field a pro-hormone in the skin into cholecalciferol (D3). Despite this naturally occurring process researchers at the Mater Hospital in Australia state that many individuals are deficient in vitamin D, but haven’t gotten or clearly understand the defensive posture “D” puts them in with regards to sustaining a healthy and fit internal environment. This is evidenced by the fact that researchers estimate that over one billion people around the globe are deficient in vitamin D. Here in the US accumulated data indicates that 64% of the American populations don’t have enough “D” to keep all their tissues functioning at peak capacity. Conversely, when you review the comments above by Dr. John Cannell M.D., a nationally known vitamin D expert and founder of the Vitamin D Council, they imply that vitamin D has the same pleomorphic effect on a variety of anabolic parameters.

Same Patterns of Deficiency

Paradoxically, sports medicine researchers have found that the anabolic pleomorphic effect and correct dose ranges also appears to be a problem with athletes, fitness enthusiast and individuals engaged in resistance training. For example, although unanticipated, 77% of German gymnasts were found to have 25(OH) D levels below 35 ng/mL and 37% had levels below 10 ng/mL. A study of Finnish female athletes found 67% with levels below 15 ng/mL. Regrettably, American athletes have also shown to have low blood levels of D similar to the general US population. Part of the problem here according to Dr. Anthony Norman, Ph.D. at the Department of Biochemistry at the University of California who is internationally recognized as a key researcher whose discoveries shaped what is known today about vitamin D is that the daily recommended dose of 200-400iu’s( international units) set decades ago is outdated based on current knowledge.

The Steroid Effect of “D”: The “D” Receptor Discovery

While not advertised as such, because of its chemical structure and overall function in the body, many researchers contend that vitamin D should have been classified as a steroid hormone some decades ago (1932), when it was revealed that vitamin D was a precursor of a new steroid hormone, classified chemically as 1alpha, 25 (OH)2-vitamin D3 [1alpha,25(OH)2D3]. The fact is as cited by researchers at the Department of Pharmacology at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio, although officially classified as a vitamin, gel-pills-cropped-hymanthe active form of vitamin D (D3) is actually a steroid hormone with similar traits as other steroid hormones. This is evidenced by the discovery of what researchers refer to as vitamin D’s own individual endocrine system , defined by the presence of  vitamin D receptors in just about every tissue, cell type and organ within the human body. As a note here, the endocrine system is composed of different glands that all secrete different types of hormones directly into the bloodstream.

Equally, researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine state that because of vitamin D’s own built in endocrine system and its ability to stimulate induction of cell differentiation, inhibit cell growth, modulate the immune surveillance system, control other hormonal systems and regulate transcription (the first step in carrying out genetic instructions in living cells) that its anabolic/ life extension potential has been grossly underestimated and misunderstood. Consequently, these physiological discoveries have prompted sports medicine researchers to examine the link between vitamin D deficiency and its impact on individuals engaged in resistance training.

In the next section below we will review what the science is telling us that vitamin D does to down-regulate and or inhibit those nasty catabolic chemicals and processes that seek to destroy muscle tissue, disrupt recovery and the body’s internal anabolic equilibrium.

Making It Rain Anabolically With D

*D Inhibits Fat Accumulation– in a recent study to validate the presumption that vitamin D inhibits the accumulation of fats, Iranian researchers studied the impact of D3 in 72 overweight women. The experimental group supplemented 1000 IU’s of vitamin D3 per day versus the placebo group. The experimental belly-mengroup’s vitamin D3 levels rose to almost 40ng/ml of blood over the course of 12 weeks paralleled by a 2.7% loss of body-fat and a1.8% gain of body mass. The placebo group only lost 0.5 % fat mass and gained 0.4 % lean body mass. Conversely, researchers at the University of Southern California found that there is a definitive link between low blood levels (24ng to 29ng/ml) of Vitamin D and accelerated fat accumulation in muscles, which eventually lead to significant reductions in muscle strength and performance. What was alarming about this study was the participants who were young vibrant females in their prime (age range 16-22) who lived a sunny warm climate. This study underscored the importance of supplementation/diet along with sun expose to fill in the missing gaps.

*D and Insulin Growth Factor-1- a new study presented in the scientific journal Molecular Cell Biology revealed that via the interaction of several co-factors in combination with the VDR receptors, when down-regulated in the absence of vitamin D3, heightens the transcriptional expression of the antagonistic hormone IGFBP-3 which unfortunately accelerates the disposal of IGF-1 (insulin growth factor-1). This negative feedback process can derail your ability to reach your full anabolic potential as IGF-1 is a growth factor which is very closely related to insulin and regulates the anabolic attributes of growth hormone( increased fat-burning, lean muscle development, muscle repair, increased protein synthesis, etc.) when it is secreted into the bloodstream.

 Vitamin D3: A Natural Aromatizing Agent

Interestingly, in a hormone related study appearing in the journal Hormone and Metabolic Research, vitamin D interacting with VDR receptors on reproductive glands was found to decrease the aromatizing or conversion activity of testosterone (one of your most anabolic hormones) to estrogen. However, more surprisingly researchers at Stanford University recently reported that the anti-estrogenic effect of vitamin D is expressed mostly in fat tissue and was found to be as effective as the estrogen-blocking drugs arimidex, letrozole and exemestane that are widely used among medical professionals in treating certain cancers. Furthermore, in a related study appearing in Clinical Endocrinology researchers looking at the ability of Vitamin D to act as a steroid like testosterone in 1362 males reported that there is a definitive link between adequate levels of vitamin D and rising total and free testosterone levels.

*D Reduces Muscle Damage: it is a well-known fact that after intense workouts, elevated levels of pro-inflammatory compounds called cytokines increase and accelerate muscle damage, fatigue and poor In a current study appearing in the journal Cytokine binding of the active vitamin D metabolite 1,25(OH)(2)D(3) to vitamin D receptor (VDR) dramatically reduced the inflammatory markers, creatine kinase and lactate dehydrogenase that are  normally elevated in the muscle following an workout. Conversely, researchers at the Department of Medicine and Bioregulatory Sciences at the University of Tokushima in Japan, discovered from muscle biopsy studies that prolonged Vitamin D deficiency  caused atrophy( wasting away) of type 2 muscular fibers.

Furthermore, in a related study, researchers at the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine researchers reported that vitamin D plays a key role in minimizing the incidence of common musculoskeletal injuries seen in other athletic events, especially within the National Football League (NFL). In fact current data has revealed that professional football players with average blood levels of D3 at19.9 ng/ml were found to be more susceptible to injury.

Please Note: For individuals involved with resistance training or general fitness for that matter, this is a very critical point, as current data has definitively shown that when vitamin D levels are low, vitamin D receptor expression( instructions and signals from hormones, molecules, nutrients, etc.) in human muscle tissue decreases and at a more rapid rate with age.

*D Enhances Muscle Energetics – recently researchers at Newcastle University in England reported that vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) improved the size and strength of muscle fibers via its impact on what researchers refer to as phosphocreatine recovery kinetics. In this process creatine attaches to phosphate and it is jacked with a rapidly moving reserve of energy within skeletal muscle tissue to make more ATP. This renewed energy current is used to power the movement of the myosin heads in the muscle that are responsible for muscle contraction. Paradoxically, these researchers also found that subjects deficient in vitamin D when administered cholecalciferol – D3 for 12 wks had a significant reduction in phosphocreatine turnover and recover time. They found improvement in the end power of ATP to its regeneration via the biochemical activation of the phosphocreatine phosphorylation cascade from 34.4 seconds to 27.8 seconds.

Please Note: while this bump seems small in stature, chemically it’s beyond extraordinary since ATP is only sufficient for 1-2 seconds of activity as a direct energy source for working muscles and phosphocreatine 5-8 seconds as a secondary energy source. This process known as an anaerobic one (without oxygen), is the source of energy your muscles use for those short- power packed lifts. This rapid turn-over of ATP added by “D3” in fast twitch fibers is an asset to resistance training individuals due to the need to quickly generate a lot of force.

r*D Improves Muscle Strength – for decade’s researchers knew that “D” enhanced muscle strength, physical performance and muscle fiber composition from clinical trials, but couldn’t quite explain exactly how. While many mechanisms of action are unraveling, recently investigators at the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Washington  reported that via  receptors present in muscle cells when interlocked with D3, as muscle damage occurs results in changes in gene transcription ( instructions ) given to mRNA ( messenger-RNA proteins). That message, accelerate protein synthesis. Studies have shown that this action kick-starts enhanced cross-sectional hypertrophy (enlargement) of Type II muscle fibers and results in increased muscle strength. As you know, these guys are called the anaerobic fibers, being stronger and more powerful than type 1 muscle fibers.

Comparable studies indicate that this VDR interaction with D also increases Type II muscle fibers in number, size and reduces injuries in athletes. In fact researchers at Department of Gerontology and Musculoskeletal Sciences at Galliera Hospital (Genoa, Italy) reported that muscle tissue receptors  have a  high affinity or attraction for 1,25-dihydroxyVitamin D [1,25(OH)2D], the active form of Vitamin D. However, the presence of a non-functioning Vitamin D receptor (VDR) caused poor development of muscle fibers with diameters about 20% smaller.

*D Enhances Protein Synthesis – in a interesting study conducted at The Orthopedic Specialty Hospital in Salt Lake City, UT, researchers reported that subjects who had higher vitamin D levels had faster rates of recovery following intense workouts. These researchers recruited fourteen physically active adults who performed intense exercise with one leg while the other leg acted as a control. Their strength was tested at day one, two, three and seven following the initial exercise routine. By assessing the amount of strength the one leg retained researchers could assess the initial muscle damage and time to recovery. The group with higher levels of vitamin D in their blood were able to regain their strength quicker. Based on their data, these researchers concluded that vitamin D protects against muscular weakness caused by muscle damage due to its ability to regulate calcium and protein synthesis within the muscle, which plays a major role in the muscle’s contractibility.

Suggested Dose: 4000 to 6000 iu/d in its natural hormone form of cholecalciferol – D3. Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) is found in plants and the source found in fortified milk sources and some supplements. This form, vitamin D2 has been found to be less active in human tissue.


In retrospect, it is the steroid/ pleomorphic effect that distinguishes vitamin D’s superiority that enhance the resistance trainings individual’s ability to generate and sustain the body’s internal anabolic and fitness continuum. What is more amazing here is that there is no gender bias concerning this nutrient’s metabolic/anabolic and health potential? Unfortunately, it still remains one of the most underutilized and misunderstood steroid hormone/ vitamin supplements of all time. This however is quickly changing as the word  now buzzing  around the general fitness and resistance training community is that if you want to make it rain anabolically, you need to step up and bring not you’re A but D game.

George L. Redmon, Ph.D.

Dr. Redmon has been associated with the vitamin and health industry for over 25years, having served as The National Product and Education Director for one of the country’s largest retailers of nutritional supplements. He has been widely published in many major bodybuilding, fitness and alternative medicine publications. He is the author of

Natural Born Fat Burners, Energy for Life and is a member of The National Academy of Sports Medicine and The International Society of Sports Nutrition.


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The 10 Commandments of Holiday Dieting

by Orit Tsaitlin CISSN

Your trainer or sports nutritionist probably tells you that he adheres to his diet while traveling. tencommandHe will also tell you that he always chooses the healthier options despite the myriad of culinary choices in the world’s finest restaurants.  You don’t believe them?  Yeah, me neither.  I’d suggest that you to put a hidden camera into his bag to see what he is really doing, because there is no way that I will prefer chicken breast over the finest European beef, sparkling water over German beer or Italian wine, rice cakes over french croissant or canned tuna instead of delicious sea food.

 In the end, however, you must measure how good your nutrition is not for the 10 vacation days but  for 365 days a year.   

It’s all about progress, not perfection.  There aren’t any inherently bad or fattening foods so trainers and diet gurus need to stop putting this nonsense in people’s heads.

Eventually there is not the one food, food combination or diet that makes each of us happy, lean and energetic. Everyone is unique. Everyone has different energetic needs which depend on his or her lifestyle and goals. 84751Most of us are not Olympic athletes and don’t need sources of highly available energy like sandwiches and or, if you like it more distinguished, French baguette every one or two hours. On a vacation, the time of the year your main and often only task is to relax and recover, we can, no we have to allow ourselves a little bit more than usual.

Take me as an example: If I don’t have any specific goal to lose body fat as a part of my job as a sport’s model, I will definitely make the most out the culinary experience of going abroad, because I love to eat and I’m not the only one  – I mean, we all eat and it would be a sad waste of opportunity to eat badly.

Let’s return to our business:

The 10 Commandments of Holiday Dieting

  1.  When you pack your bags make sure to take enough money to taste any food that you want. Please do not take any cans or packed food from your home – just prepare your taste buds to be amazed.
  2. The food in the plane sucks, at least, in my opinion. You can eat fresh food in the airport or just eat at home before your flight.
  3. Landed safely at your destination? Enter the first grocery store or restaurant in order to fuel the body with fresh and high-quality food.  Don’t wait until you are hungry.
  4. Make sure that you eat mostly fresh food because the taste and the smell are amazing. And if your partner knows how to cook  than your trip is really worthwhile.
  5. For our aerobic activity, my husband and I love tracking. Before we leave, we pack a meal or two depending on the length of the track and we hit the road. Afterwards, we’ve earned our treat; a great dinner or lunch at a fine restaurant with a glass of beer or wine.  This does amazing things to your body and soul.
  6. If I want my dessert I will order one or share one with my husband. Always remember: the cake is just a food, more of it will always be there and it is your decision how much to consume.
  7. Do not make the mistake and take a sports equipment on your trip. For my last trip I packed my TRX and I am proud to say that it hasn’t left the bag. “Why?”  I realized that my body wants a break so it got one. In addition, I realized that my body wanted a donut with vanilla filling and Apricot Strudel so I tasted that too. And you know what? Since my body and I are cooperating, things between us are going pretty well: Building mass when we want and losing fat when we need.
  8. Is there anything to avoid during traveling? Yes, leave the unrealistic expectations at home. You will gain some fat, lose your training and eating routine and taste things more than usual. Is it bad? No. Will you have to “pay” for it, after you come back? Maybe. The price will be to return back to your routine of exercise and nutrition according to your lifestyle and goals. Is it a punishment? Absolutely not  to those who know how they want to feel and look.
  9. The most important rule is your attitude. You don’t  diet for 10 days in London, NY or any other place. If you want to succeed in any body transformation goal persistence is your weapon.
  10.  And when you’re on vacation, your persistence also wants to relax and have a little break  from you.

P.S OK, maybe I did some training :)



Bio:  Orit Tsaitlin CISSN is a certified sport nutritionist and strength coach

 She has a B.Sc. in Chemistry and an MBA.  She is also certified by the ISSA and the ISSN (CISSN).  She is the owner of the company 4elements4lifeContact:

Getting Big: Stuff to Know

By Sergio Fontinhas – Skeletal muscle hypertrophy refers to an increase in cell size (due primarily to the addition of myofibrillar protein) following chronic heavy resistance training or Sergio phototension-induced overload.  As a consequence, muscle fibers grow in cross-sectional area and the entire muscle becomes thicker. Several factors regulate this adaptive response, including hormones, genetics and protein synthesis.


Hormones as IGF-1, testosterone, and growth hormone play a major role in this response (1,2,3), so when these  hormone levels are reduced as in elderly populations the hypertrophic response is blunted (4,5). However it must be noted that acute short-term rises in these hormones after training have a negligible effect on hypertrophy (6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13). It’s only in the case of supraphysiological levels that these hormones make a difference (9).

Skeletal muscle adaptation is an intrinsic process. McMaster University has done much of this work. For example, in one study the same subjects performed both resistance and endurance exercise on each leg and showed different adaptations for each leg. Resistance exercise stimulated both myofibrillar and mitochondrial protein synthesis, while endurance exercise stimulated mitochondrial protein synthesis but not myofibrillar protein synthesis (75).

Exercise programs should not be centered on the manipulation of acute exercise variables and multi-joint exercises seeking to induce a favorable ‘anabolic’ hormonal milieu.


Genetics is a key factor in the variability between individuals (6,14,15,110,111), in fact subjects can be stratified as low, moderate and high responders (16,17,112). High responders can have 4 to 5 times greater hypertrophic response compared to low responders, and interestingly some subjects are in fact non-responders and can even lose muscle mass despite proper training and nutrition. In one paper the hypertrophic range in cross-sectional area (CSA) for type I and Type 2 fibers was between -22 to 106% and -4 to 67% respectively (6). In another cluster analysis the range for nonresponders was -16 ±99 µm2 for CSA (17).

This variability is related to changes in microRNA androgen expression (6,18,19), satellite cell number for remodeling (20,21,22,23,24,25,26,27,28), intramuscular anabolic signaling protein activation (29), protein synthesis (30,31), and genetic variation (32,99). In one study investigating the systemic correlates of resistance training-induced hypertrophy (16wk), the change (increase) in androgen receptor protein content and the magnitude of the protein kinase p70S6K phosphorylation (a target of mTOR) after 5h, accounted for 46% of the variance in the hypertrophic response (6). Some of the subjects had a 1.5-2.5 fold increase in AR protein content, suggested to account for about 25% of the variability.

Protein synthesis

The muscle protein synthesis acute response from exercise is a dose-response depending upon exercise intensity and workload. After a latent period after exercise of about 45 minutes to an hour (33), MPS rises sharply (2-3 fold) between 45 and 150 min. This increase in MPS may be sustained for up to 4h in the fasted state after exercise (33), and in the presence of increased AA availability up to 24-48h after exercise (34,35) or even 72 (103) before returning to baseline.

 Remarkably, even training after fasting (overnight) the rate myofibrillar protein fractional synthetic rate is still elevated over breakdown (36). central_dogmaThis means that we are not catabolic in the fasted state. The increased synthesis over breakdown appears to come from non-myofibrillar proteins (i.e. collagen, sarcoplasmic, and/or mitochondrial proteins), because muscle protein breakdown is also elevated after exercise (36). The exercise stimulus is therefore the greatest anabolic signal.

 However, acute measures (1-6h post exercise) of MPS following an initial exposure to RE in novices are not correlated with muscle hypertrophy following chronic resistance training (87). There’ also a review on the relationship between acute of muscle protein synthesis response and changes in muscle mass (88). Muscle protein breakdown is also important for the regulation of muscle hypertrophy on the long term, and the chronic (positive) balance between MPS and MPB is more important than considering acute rises in MPS.

There are many ways and mechanisms of hypertrophy, as summarized by Schoenfeld (81): mechanical tension, muscle damage and metabolic stress. There is no “one-size fits all”, and some will simply respond better or worse than others. Despite all this interindividual variability, there are some general evidence-based recommendations for hypertrophy, regarding exercise programs.

 Load and Repetition Range

 Mechanical tension seems to be the primary drive for the hypertrophic response (37,38). Mechanical forces are converted into chemical signals in a process called mechanotransduction. This causes molecular and cellular responses in myofibers and satellite cells (24), and mechanical stress alone can directly stimulate mTOR (initiation of protein synthesis) (39,40).

A muscle does not know what it contracts against; it just contracts or relaxes (85).

Training to failure and recruiting as many motor units as possible seems optimal (41). This intensity of effort (training to failure) is perhaps the single most influential controllable variable for enhancing muscular strength, however there’s a diminished ability of untrained subjects to recruit motor units limits (42). The recruitment of motor units and muscle fibers stimulates muscular growth irrespective of what has caused that recruitment. This can be achieved with higher or lower loads and respectively lower or higher repetitions (42). Lighter loads lifted to the point of failure result in a similar amount of muscle fiber activation compared with heavier loads, and both fiber types are stimulated to a roughly equivalent extent (44,45).

There appears to be no difference in the hypertrophic response so long as fatigue is induced. Lifting heavy or lighter loads, there’s roughly equivalent hypertrophy and strength gains (43,44,45,46,47,48,49,50,101).

– One study compared 80%RM vs 30%RM sets to failure with no significant differences between groups for “recreationally active subjects” (44);

– Another compared 3 sets with 75%RM to 4 sets with 30%RM to “volitional fatigue”, again with similar increases in muscle cross-sectional area for untrained subjects (45);

– 3–5 vs. 20–28 of repetitions for each exercise, “until fatigue” with approximately equal volume, also showed no differences for “physically active” subjects (46);

– lower loads, when combined with vascular occlusion, promote equivalent hypertrophy than heavier loads with the same number of sets and similar volume: 50%-30%RM vs. 80%-50%RM “until failure” for “relatively well-trained subjects” (48) and 50%RM vs. 80%RM “to exhaustion” in untrained subjects (49);

-In another study by Schoenfeld et al. (50) comparing powerlifting style training (low reps, higher loads) versus hypertrophy style (higher reps and moderate loads), this time with equalized volume and also to momentary muscular failure, there was no difference in the hypertrophy magnitude after 8 weeks for “well-trained men”.

 (Note: untrained subjects will respond well to any stimulus, just like obese subjects will respond well to any diet, however note that the same trend is found in trained subjects, otherwise it would be irrelevant.)

However lifting moderate loads for moderate repetitions is less taxing to the nervous system, joints, and is time efficient compared to higher loads and low repetition ranges, subjects from the hypertrophy group could do more volume if necessary (50).

Training to failure could sometimes lead to overuse injuries (51,52) and for some people could even reduce the levels of IGF-1 hormones responsible for muscle growth after at least 11 weeks (53).

So in short, so longer momentary failure is achieved it doesn’t matter how many reps are performed and under what load.

 Repetition Duration

Repetition duration appears to have no significant impact on hypertrophy. Repetition duration can vary within a set, but a certain muscular tension threshold is necessary (perhaps above 30%RM) and muscular failure are requirements (42).

Rest Intervals

 The evidence also suggests that rest interval appears to play a role in acute performance (repetitions performed and load lifted) but does not affect the chronic strength or hypertrophic gains acquired, if volume is equalized for comparison (42,54).


 One meta-analysis by James Krieger suggests that multiple-sets (3-6) per exercise (per session) is associated with 40% greater hypertrophy-related Effect Size than 1 set, in both trained and untrained subjects (55). intense-weight-liftingHowever there is one critique of that meta-analysis (56), with the authors suggesting that only one set per exercise to failure is necessary (42). Another meta-analysis supports the notion that higher-volume, multiple-set protocols is superior over single set protocols for hypertrophy, for untrained subjects, with the difference becoming more evident as progression occurs (57).

 Contraction Types

 There are different types of muscle contractions: the concentric or positive motion; the eccentric or negative; isometric. There is a difference in muscle fiber recruitment and activation in each contraction and thus a different in force production.

Muscles achieve higher absolute forces when contracting eccentrically (58,59,60). Eccentric strength is approximately 20–50% greater than the concentric strength (61), even predicted to be up to 64% greater (62), and stimulates greater adaptations (63) and appears to be more effective at increasing muscle mass than concentric training.

Eccentric exercise preferentially recruits fast twitch muscle fibers (64,65,66,67) and perhaps recruitment of previously inactive MUs (65,68). This results in an increased mechanical tension in type II fibers, which have the greatest potential for muscle growth (64,69,70,71). A single bout of eccentric exercise results also in a greater increase in IGF-I mRNA expression than a single bout of concentric exercise (72).

Heavy negatives, assisted negatives, or supramaximal eccentric actions with a weight greater than concentric 1RM are some techniques that can applied for this goal. Since a muscle is not fully fatigued during concentric training (73), the use of heavy negatives is recommended. There’s also the use of a flywheel or isokinetic equipment to overload the ECC phase (74), but in this case the contractions can be below the concentric 1RM, but at the end of the set there’s more total volume/load for the concentric actions.

Isometric contractions consists in holding a static contraction, the muscle doesn’t shorten or lengthen. Isometric muscle actions can also induce hypertrophy (76, 77) and should be included in a training program.

Contraction speed

 Faster concentric repetitions (1s vs. 3s) are more beneficial for hypertrophy (78). Faster/heavier eccentric repetitions leads to greater hypertrophy in type II fibers, and strength gains than slower/lighter eccentric repetitions (79). Faster speed eccentric contractions release more growth factors, more satellite cells, and greater protein synthesis than slow speed eccentric contractions (80,81). A 2-3 second tempo is hypothesized to be ideal for maximizing a hypertrophic response (80).

Very slow velocities (i.e., superslow training) is suboptimal for strength and hypertrophy (81,82,83). There are some proponents of superslow training, and some studies have been published in non-scientific journals. For example a study by Westcott (84) claimed superslow to be slighter superior for strength than traditional training (for elderly individuals), although the results were not statistically significant, and it wasn’t peer-reviewed.

The majority of the literature indicates superslow training to be suboptimal for general populations. Special populations may benefit from this, injured individuals or elderly suffering from osteoporosis, as it was developed for anyway.

 Range of Motion (ROM), “muscle shape” and Non-Uniform Muscle Growth

 Full ROM is associated with significant greater strength and hypertrophy gains than a shorter ROM. One study found for full ROM a greater increase in strength (18% vs. 4%) and a greater increase in hypertrophy (60 vs. 15%) at tumblr_mf9ddk7gkQ1qgrnh8o1_400the distal cross-sectional area closest to the joints (knee or elbow), or insertions (86). The average hypertrophy across the full length of the muscle belly was more than double for the full ROM (44% vs. 21%). Also muscle fiber pennation angles (fiber directions) increased more with full ROM (11% vs. 7% but not statistically significant).

Another study also showed significant difference for site specific CSA in favor of the full ROM after 12wk (89). However shorter ROM can in some instances still produce significant hypertrophy to the same extent as full ROM (90), persons with injuries or diminished ROM may benefit from this.

 Skeletal muscle fibers rarely just span from origin to insertion. Jose Antonio did a review on the Non-Uniform Muscle Growth and regional adaptation in skeletal muscle (91). Skeletal muscle is a heterogeneous tissue that exhibits numerous inter- and intramuscular differences: architecture, fiber composition, and muscle function (91).

With different exercises selective recruitment of different regions of a muscle can be achieved, so that there’s no single exercise that can maximize the hypertrophic response of all regions of a particular muscle (91). Several muscles are compartmentalized so that fibers terminate intrafascicularly (within the fascicle) and each subdivision is in turn innervated by its own nerve branch with different motor unit territories.

A few examples:

Schoenfeld et al (92) investigated muscle activation for two hamstrings exercises: the stiff leg deadlift and the lying leg curl. Activation of the upper hamstrings was similar between exercises, but the activation of the lower hamstrings, both medially and laterally, was significantly greater in the lying leg curl (170% and 65% respectively).

In one study, researchers confirmed regional differences in muscle hypertrophy (MRI). This corresponded to regional differences in muscle activation (EMG) in the triceps (93). The area of the triceps with the most muscle activation had more hypertrophy after 12 weeks. Furthermore, there was greater hypertrophy on the distal (versus proximal) section of the triceps muscle (93).

The same authors in other study correlated muscle activation (MR) for elbow extensors after one training session for one group with the hypertrophy from another group performing 12 weeks of training. Significantly lower activation in the distal region which was correlated with significantly less hypertrophy in the distal region compared with other areas (100).

For maximal hypertrophy of an entire muscle various exercises must be executed to purportedly stimulate growth in a regional- specific manner. In other words, exercise selection and variety is necessary.


Generally hypertrophy becomes evident after around 3-4 weeks of resistance training (94,95,96). Detraining periods have also been considered. One study examined training and detraining in 4 subjects during 100 days, roughly the same rate of atrophy was observed during the detraining phase (40 days) as for the hypertrophy rate during the training phase (60 days) (97).

Another study examined subjects across age and gender groups using the same relative training stimulus (98). After 9 weeks of training muscle volume was twice as much for men (across ages) as for the women (across ages), but after 31 weeks of detraining men also experienced the greater loss of muscle mass; and muscle volume for women returned to original pre-training muscle size only for the females.

However other studies have shown a lesser degree of atrophy or no significant atrophy at all (101,102).Muscle Atrophy A detraining phase of 3 weeks appears to have not much of a difference in muscle mass and adaptations (101). In another similar study by the same authors, while one group trained continuously for 24 weeks the other group performed three cycles of 6-week training (or retraining), with 3-week detraining periods between training cycles; improvements in muscle CSA and strength were similar between the groups (102).

(In both studies the rate of increase in muscle CSA and 1-RM decreased gradually after 6 week for the control group, while for both studies the experimental group increase in muscle CSA and strength was better, suggesting a more efficient response after a detraining phase.)

However detraining is not the same as deloading, or taper phase.

Concurrent Resistance

Resistance training combined with aerobic exercise in a single program is known as concurrent training (104). Wilson et al. did meta-analysis of 21 studies with a total of 422 effect sizes. Concurrent training results in decrements in strength, hypertrophy and power (although overall power is the major variable affected), however while some individuals experience strength decrements others experience substantial gains. The interference effect may be a result of overreaching and overtraining and stimulates competing adaptations over a long-term training program. The longer the endurance activity the greater the interference.

Specific signals imposed by variations in the duration, modality, and type of exercise are recognized by muscle tissue (75). The adaptations for each modality are vastly different and in most cases conflict one another, and are primarily body part specific. Endurance exercise preferentially increases net protein synthesis in the mitochondrial subfraction (75,107) whereas resistance training preferentially increases net protein synthesis in the myofibrillar subfraction (75,104).

Another example, endurance exercise can decrease the speed of contraction in fast-twitch fibers (5 times faster) and increase the contraction speed in slow-twitch fibers after 10 days of training, interestingly they return to baseline after a detraining period (108).

There’s also fiber conversions, Kraemer et al. observed that concurrent training can cause a conversion from type IIB to type IIA, in terms of percentage; and in terms of area it was found a significant increase in type IIA (109). This data suggests that type I increases, and also type IIA at the expense of type IIB decrease (conversion). In the endurance only group, type IIA and IIC increased in percentage with a decrease in IIB; areas for type I and IIC decreased, resulting in some muscle loss (this group did long duration cardio and also HIIT, HIIT may have played a role in increase in the percentages observed). In the strength group only, the increase in type IIA was greater, at a greater expense of conversion from type IIB. Also all areas for type I, type IIC and Type IIA increased (109).

Endurance exercise before resistance training impairs the upregulation of translation initiation via the PI3K-AKT-mTOR signaling (104,105,106); and inhibits important elongation factors (eef2) responsible for increasing protein synthesis and maintains this inhibition for the duration of the activity (104,45).

In concurrent training, running, but not with cycling, results in significant decrements in both hypertrophy and strength (104), possibly because cycling is more biomechanically similar to the exercises performed for strength and resistance training. Running has also a high eccentric component, as opposed to cycling consisting primarily of concentric actions. Eccentric actions create greater damage, increasing muscle damage in long distance running. Moreover, sprinting (cycling) or HIIT (running) mimics the exercises and intensities often performed for strength and resistance training, and should be used on non-training days, if necessary for some reason.


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Caffeine – ‘Nuff Said

By Jose Antonio PhD.

I love caffeine.  There!  I admit my addiction.  Me and caffeine are like a Antony & Cleopatra, Bacon & Eggs, or Baskin & Robbins.  If you’re shaking your head trying to figure out those coffee addict 2analogies, I forgive you.  Let’s just say that if I don’t get my caffeine-filled java fix first thing in the morning, it does feel like death.  But once I down the first mug, the birds sing, the clouds part, the sun shines and a Victoria’s Secret model appears at my doorstep asking to have suntan lotion rubbed on her back.  Ok, not really.  So what does caffeine do?  What’s the evidence for its use in athletics?

Suffice it to say that the evidence supporting the performance-enhancing effects of caffeine are stacked higher than a Hollywood starlet after her fifth augmentation.  According to a position paper by the International Society of Sports Nutrition, there is a plethora of evidence that shows that the acute consumption of caffeine can help both strength-power and endurance activities.1  And for you science geeks, the proof is in the hundreds of studies published on caffeine.  However, there’s no need to go over all of these studies.  Here are some key ones to shed some light on this amazing supplement.

Caffeine and Exercise

Thirteen resistance-trained men ingested a caffeinated (179 mg) energy drink or placebo solution 60 minutes before completing a bout of the following exercises: bench press, deadlift, prone row, and back squat exercise to failure at an intensity of 60% 1-repetition maximum.  Subjects who consumed the caffeinated beverage performed more repetitions to failure in all exercises. The RPE or ratings of perceived exertion was higher in the placebo condition.2  Another study had 15 women consume caffeine (6 mg/kg) or placebo (PL) seven days apart.  That dose is roughly 327 mg of caffeine for a 120 lb woman.  Sixty min following supplementation, participants performed a one-repetition maximum (1RM) barbell bench press test and repetitions to failure at 60% of 1RM. They discovered that 1-RM strength was greater during the caffeine condition in these resistance-trained women.3

Do you like to fight?  Well get this.  Caffeine reduced the reaction time of taekwondo fighters.  This means they can kick your ass even faster!4  And get this.  A chewing gum that’s caffeinated!  Move over Wrigley.  In this gum study, eight male cyclists participated in 5 separate laboratory sessions. In their first visit their maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max) was determined. During the next four visits, three pieces of chewing gum were administered at three time points (120 min pre-cycling, 60 min pre-cycling, and 5 min pre-cycling). The dose of caffeine given was caffeine-cycling300 mg.  They discovered that caffeine administered in a chewing gum enhanced cycling performance when administered immediately prior, but not when administered 1 or 2 hours prior to cycling.5  Clearly caffeine can help both endurance and strength related exercises.  But it does so much more than that.  A fairly recent study determined the effects of caffeine on repeated sprint ability, reactive agility time, sleep and next day exercise performance.  Did you get all that?  Ten male athletes consumed a placebo or caffeine (6 mg per kg body weight) one hour prior to exercise.  Significant improvements were shown after caffeine ingestion compared to placebo for the combined total time of each set and best sprint time.  However, the coolest part of this study was that the caffeinated group still had better performance the following day.  That’s right, the following day.  Caffeine however had little effect on reactive agility time or sleep.6  Also, a caffeine-containing energy drink (3 mg/kg wt dose) increased repeated sprint ability during a simulated soccer game.7

Now for those of you with kids, I’m sure you’ve wondered whether these caffeinated sodas like Coca Cola or Mountain Dew have an effect on performance.  Ok, I’ve wondered.  Well, believe it or not Mr. Ripley, the data indeed shows something interesting. Twenty-four healthy 8-10 year old boys participated in a randomized double-blind, double-crossover trial.  Each boy received imagethe caffeinated drink (5 mg per kg body weight) or placebo twice each on four separate visits. Sixty minutes following ingestion of either caffeine or placebo boys performed a static hand-grip test and then a Wingate test.  A Wingate test is a max sprint test for 30 seconds on a bike.  It sounds easy.  But I’ll tell you.  Those 30 seconds seem to crawl slower than a sick cockroach after being sprayed with Raid.  They found no differences in peak power or static hand-grip strength with caffeine. However, caffeine significantly increased the average power during a Wingate test.8 So caffeine helps even the little ones.

Energy Drinks

Put caffeine in a bottle and you’ve got your basic energy drink.  What’s interesting is that many of these energy drinks actually have less caffeine than coffee.  Yet there are academic numbskulls who believe that energy drinks are akin to a ‘heart attack in a can.’  With billions of cans of this stuff served worldwide, I’d imagine we’d thin the human population quite a bit if indeed these drinks caused harm. Of course, there is no evidence of harm. In fact, energy drinks can profoundly enhance performance.  Here’s the proof.  One study looked at the effects 1253442564143_fof Red Bull on cardiovascular and neurologic functions in college-aged students enrolled at Winona State University. They found that Red Bull consumption lessens changes in blood pressure during stressful experiences and increases one’s pain tolerance.9  Another study on Red Bull found that upper body muscle endurance on the bench press was improved.10  Similarly, Red Bull improved aerobic endurance (maintaining 65-75% max. heart rate) and anaerobic performance (maintaining max. speed) on cycle ergometers. It also helped brain function.  Scientists found improvements in mental performance that included choice reaction time, concentration (number cancellation) and memory (immediate recall), which reflected increased subjective alertness.11  Another energy drink, Redline, significantly improved subjective feelings of focus and energy in male strength/power athletes and enhanced their reaction time.12

What about kids?  Does it work in the little tykes?  Yes it does my friend. Sixteen young basketball players (15 years of age) had an improved jump performance after consuming an bb7f6477c43b5ad102f0023ed9ad3160energy drink.13   In spite of what the naysayers who proclaim energy drinks a threat to heart health and Western civilization, fear not.  The stuff works and is safe when used in appropriate dosages.  Just don’t overdo it.  One is good; two is probably pretty good too.  But anything more than that would be like poking a sleeping Grizzly bear.  Not smart.


For real?  Caffeine affects hormone levels?  Check this out.  Forty-two healthy adults were recruited from the Boston community who were regular coffee consumers, nonsmokers, and overweight. That’s an interesting trio of things.  Participants were randomized to five 6-ounce cups of caffeinated or decaffeinated instant coffee or water (control group) per day consumed with each meal, mid-morning, and mid-afternoon. After four weeks, the consumption of caffeinated coffee increased total testosterone and decreased total and free estradiol in male subjects.14  What does this mean?  It means I’m drinking lots of coffee.

Caffeine is Safe

This stuff is safe.  The data shows it and the fact that I drink gallons of caffeinated coffee every day shows it. In a large cohort of initially healthy women, elevated caffeine consumption was not associated with an increased risk of incident atrial fibrillation.15  Caffeine also helps prevent stress and improves memory.16  Another study found that “coffee drinking may be associated thumbsupwith a decreased risk of dementia/AD. This may be mediated by caffeine and/or other mechanisms like antioxidant capacity and increased insulin sensitivity. This finding might open possibilities for prevention or postponing the onset of dementia/AD.”17  Sounds like a lot of gobbledygook.  And I assure you, it might be.  But caffeine truly is good for you.

Perhaps one of the biggest myths surrounding caffeine is that its use will have a severe diuretic effect.  Interestingly, the science just doesn’t support that.  One review states that there is no evidence that consuming caffeine-containing beverages as part of a normal lifestyle leads to fluid loss in excess of the volume ingested or is associated with poor hydration status.18

Caffeine and the Bathroom

Yeah I know.  Many of you need to hit the restroom after drinking coffee. So does caffeine cause diuresis?  According to a scientific paper I co-authored, “Caffeine exerted a minor diuretic effect which was negated by exercise. Concerns regarding unwanted fluid loss associated with caffeine consumption are unwarranted particularly when ingestion precedes exercise.”19  In a nutshell, there’s no conclusive evidence that caffeine is a diuretic.  And certainly if you are exercising, caffeine is as helpful as a whip to a dominatrix.  Wow that’s an odd analogy.

How Much?

About 3-5 mg of caffeine per kg body weight will do the trick.20,21  So at the low end of dosing, a 100 and 200 pound person would need to consume 136 and 273 mg of caffeine, respectively.  At the high end, it would be 227 and 454 mg, respectively.  Or to make things simple, 200-300 mg of caffeine will likely suffice for virtually everyone.

If you aren’t ‘doing’ caffeine yet, you ought to start.  You’ll love me for it.


1.  Goldstein ER, Ziegenfuss T, Kalman D, et al. International society of sports nutrition position stand: caffeine and performance. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2010;7:5.

2.  Duncan MJ, Smith M, Cook K, James RS. The acute effect of a caffeine-containing energy drink on mood state, readiness to invest effort, and resistance exercise to failure. Journal of strength and conditioning research / National Strength & Conditioning Association 2012;26:2858-65.

3.  Goldstein E, Jacobs PL, Whitehurst M, Penhollow T, Antonio J. Caffeine enhances upper body strength in resistance-trained women. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2010;7:18.

4. Santos VG, Santos VR, Felippe LJ, et al. Caffeine reduces reaction time and improves performance in simulated-contest of taekwondo. Nutrients 2014;6:637-49.

5.  Ryan EJ, Kim CH, Fickes EJ, et al. Caffeine Gum and Cycling Performance: A Timing Study. Journal of strength and conditioning research / National Strength & Conditioning Association 2012.

6. Pontifex KJ, Wallman KE, Dawson BT, Goodman C. Effects of caffeine on repeated sprint ability, reactive agility time, sleep and next day performance. The Journal of sports medicine and physical fitness 2010;50:455-64.

7. Del Coso J, Munoz-Fernandez VE, Munoz G, et al. Effects of a caffeine-containing energy drink on simulated soccer performance. PloS one 2012;7:e31380.

8. Turley KR, Rivas JD, Townsend JR, Morton AB, Kosarek JW, Cullum MG. Effects of caffeine on anaerobic exercise in boys. Pediatric exercise science 2012;24:210-9.

9. Ragsdale FR, Gronli TD, Batool N, et al. Effect of Red Bull energy drink on cardiovascular and renal function. Amino acids 2010;38:1193-200.

10. Forbes SC, Candow DG, Little JP, Magnus C, Chilibeck PD. Effect of Red Bull energy drink on repeated Wingate cycle performance and bench-press muscle endurance. International journal of sport nutrition and exercise metabolism 2007;17:433-44.

11. Alford C, Cox H, Wescott R. The effects of red bull energy drink on human performance and mood. Amino acids 2001;21:139-50.

12. Hoffman JR, Kang J, Ratamess NA, Hoffman MW, Tranchina CP, Faigenbaum AD. Examination of a pre-exercise, high energy supplement on exercise performance. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2009;6:2.

13. Abian-Vicen J, Puente C, Salinero JJ, et al. A caffeinated energy drink improves jump performance in adolescent basketball players. Amino acids 2014;46:1333-41.

14. Wedick NM, Mantzoros CS, Ding EL, et al. The effects of caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee on sex hormone-binding globulin and endogenous sex hormone levels: a randomized controlled trial. Nutrition journal 2012;11:86.

15. Conen D, Chiuve SE, Everett BM, Zhang SM, Buring JE, Albert CM. Caffeine consumption and incident atrial fibrillation in women. The American journal of clinical nutrition 2010;92:509-14.

16. Alzoubi KH, Abdul-Razzak KK, Khabour OF, Al-Tuweiq GM, Alzubi MA, Alkadhi KA. Caffeine prevents cognitive impairment induced by chronic psychosocial stress and/or high fat-high carbohydrate diet. Behavioural brain research 2013;237:7-14.

17. Eskelinen MH, Kivipelto M. Caffeine as a protective factor in dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Journal of Alzheimer’s disease : JAD 2010;20 Suppl 1:S167-74.

18. Maughan RJ, Griffin J. Caffeine ingestion and fluid balance: a review. Journal of human nutrition and dietetics : the official journal of the British Dietetic Association 2003;16:411-20.

19. Zhang Y, Coca A, Casa DJ, Antonio J, Green JM, Bishop PA. Caffeine and diuresis during rest and exercise: A meta-analysis. Journal of science and medicine in sport / Sports Medicine Australia 2014.

20. Desbrow B, Biddulph C, Devlin B, Grant GD, Anoopkumar-Dukie S, Leveritt MD. The effects of different doses of caffeine on endurance cycling time trial performance. Journal of sports sciences 2012;30:115-20.

21. Astorino TA, Cottrell T, Lozano AT, Aburto-Pratt K, Duhon J. Increases in cycling performance in response to caffeine ingestion are repeatable. Nutr Res 2012;32:78-84.

About the Author

Jose Antonio PhD is the CEO of the ISSN, and faculty at Nova Southeastern AustinUniversity.  In his spare time, he paddles, drinks coffee, reads minds, and eats sushi.  If you want to buy him a beer, he’ll be at the 12th Annual ISSN Conference and Expo in Austin Texas USA, June 11-13, 2015.

Blend In The Beef To Bulk Up!

By George L. Redmon PhD. protein_memeCurrent data indicates that a meal packed with 20g to 30g of protein has an anabolic impact because it increases the muscles amino acid pool, especially leucine, a key growth signaling amino acid. Conversely, the nutrient quality of the protein, its absorption, break down and digestibility rate and how much to take and time of intake all play a crucial role in affecting muscle protein synthesis. The list of  protein sources are many, with casein, egg, soy , whey, plant and vegetable, to varying food sources like fish, turkey, chicken and dairy. Paradoxically, new research appearing in the Journal of Nutrition revealed that a protein blend containing soy, whey and casein together prolonged protein synthesis after resistance training at a greater rate than any one source individually. The key variable in this study was different absorption rates of these proteins in a balanced source that was easy to consume. Ironically, intertwined within all of this is the reemergence of beef protein, considered the black sheep of protein within the resistance training community.

                                         The Bum Rap on Beef Protein

Although beef has long been known to be one of the best protein sources in the world, Dr. Jose Antonio the President of the International Sports Society states that it has gotten a bad rap mainly due to its high fat content. cuts-of-beefHe however reminds us that this fact depends on the type of beef consumed. He suggests remembering the type of beef with the highest fat content is accomplished by following the alphabet when making your choice. For example ground beef is 70% lean/30%fat, ground chuck 80% lean/30%fat, ground round 85%lean/15% fat, and ground sirloin 90%lean/10% fat.

                                             Beef Up To Bulk Up

jsws5eskw9dfahiobhnsBottom line here, beef contains varying amounts of amino acids that promote growth and a host of other nutrients. Furthermore, researchers at McMasters University in Canada recently reported that subjects eating a six ounce serving equaling 170g of 85% lean ground beef resulted in significant changes in the rate of protein synthesis (creation of new protein) following exercise. Also, based on fats role in the manufacture of testosterone (‘T’) and more fat presence in beef, you may want to consider beef as a viable nutrient to assist you in reaching your bodybuilding goals. Without ample amounts of good fats mono-saturated and some saturated fat and cholesterol, the body is incapable of making testosterone, one of your most prolific anabolic hormones. Dr. Antonio suggests working beef into your regimen about 2 to 3 times a week. Conversely, body building icon Vince Andrich concurs. He however states that beef is good for connective tissue, yet falls short in another critically important muscle-building arena. That is, the BCAA (branch chain amino acid) levels delivered via beef proteins are around 35% lower than milk proteins, and over time, this has a negative impact on your ability to put on lean muscle. He when on to say, to ensure maximum strength gains that the current crop of powdered beef supplements with the saturated fat removed can help augment your amino acid intake. Because of this and other concerns , like the body’s tremendous effort to dismantle the proteins from the fat and connective tissue in beef that bind it all together, he maintains that two to four meals with lean beef per week is a pretty safe bet as a complimentary source of protein versus a main source.


Andrich, V., Protein Wars. MUSCLE INSIDER Apr 14, 2013. On line at: Accessed on 08-14-14.

Antonio, J. Protein Power: All Proteins aren’t Created Equal. On line at: library/articles/nutrition/protein-power-not-all. Accessed on 08-06-14.

Robinson, R.J., Burd, N.A.,, Dose –dependent responses of myoibrillar protein synthesis with beef ingestion are enhanced with resistance exercise in middle-aged men. Applied Physiology Nutrition and Metabolism. 2013; 38(2): 120-125.

Reidy, P. T., et al. Protein Blend Ingestion Following Resistance Exercise Promotes Human Muscle Protein Synthesis. Journal of Nutrition. 2013; 143: 410-416.

Article submitted by George L. Redmon, Ph.D.

558 Loch Lomond Dive-Sicklerville NJ 08081-(H)-856-522-6331-(O) 856-419-9066

Dr. Redmon has been associated with the vitamin and health industry for over 25 years, having served as The National Product and Education Director for one of the country’s largest retailers of nutritional supplements. He has been widely published in many major bodybuilding, fitness and alternative medicine publications. He is the author of Natural Born Fat Burners, Energy for Life and is a member of The National Academy of Sports Medicine and The International Society of Sports Nutrition.



Post Workout Recovery: Your Anabolic Ignition Switch

By George L. Redmon Ph.D. N.D.

All of the body’s important recovery and adaptive processes require specific nutrients to proceed

optimally. For this reason, the period immediately following a workout is the most important

in an athlete’s day from a nutritional perspective. Failure to consume adequate amounts of the

right nutrients in a timely manner after exercise will compromise your recovery.

-Drs. John Ivy & Robert Portman

The Performance Zone

 Based on the comments above by renowned sports medicine researcher Dr. John Ivy at the University of Texas, and well-known researcher Dr. Robert Portman, post-workout recovery is the key to stimulating growth. The reason cited by these researchers is that the body machinery necessary for rebuilding and replenishing energy stores and repairing damaged muscle becomes over-whelmed. However, sports nutrition researchers now know that what is so important about recovery from a nutritional standpoint centers on what they refer to as the  arnold-backanabolic window of opportunity. What is critical here is the fact that this window of opportunity apparently closes within 30 to 45 minutes. In fact, current data indicates that the muscle cells potential to initiate rebuilding and replenishment peaks about 15 minutes following a workout and declines by as much as 40% within 60 minutes. The reason, intense exercise training causes muscle fatigue, soreness, dehydration, muscle structural damage, free radical damage, lactic acid buildup, neutrophilia( increase in white blood cells that fight infection/harmful bacteria), muscle swelling, central nervous system fatigue, catabolism of nutrient stores, counter-regulatory hormones,   increased metabolic instability and destruction of carbohydrate, fat and protein. Also occurring during this impending catabolic time-frame is depletion of muscle glycogen, release of amino acids from muscle, stimulated liver gluconeogenesis, and negative nitrogen balance. As a note here, gluconeogenesis is the production of glucose, especially in the liver, from amino acids, fats, and other substances that are not carbohydrates. In this case amino acids and other nutrients are not being used for growth and repair, which is not what should be occurring at post-workout. Correspondingly, negative nitrogen balance physiologically diminishes your ability to sustain muscle growth. Equally, researchers state that post-exercise muscle recovery, repair, and growth, ultimately determines the benefits of exercise to the development of lean body mass, but is reliant on glucose, amino acids, and energy availability for optimal rates of muscle glycogen and protein synthesis. Some other things your nutritional recovery plan should focus on are reducing muscle soreness, re-building and re-pairing muscle, re-establishing immune function, protecting the skeletal matrix to minimizing fat-storage. What is important to remember here is that your work out in practical terms acts like a priming pump, converting your body into a giant sponge, heightening your capability to soak up nutrients quickly and efficiently? Nonetheless, as cited, you’ve got about 30 minutes nutritionally before the force of this pump’s action begins to dissipate.

The goal here is to present a nutritional recovery plan based on current data that focuses on re-establishing some of the physiological parameters cited above.

post-workout-recovery-360x240 A Basic Nutritional Recovery Plan of Action

1. Decreased Protein Breakdown– Paradoxically, as cited by researchers at the University of Nottingham, acute bouts of resistance exercise can increase the rate of muscle protein synthesis about two- to fivefold after exercise and this effect can persist for up to 48hrs. However, at the other end of the spectrum protein breakdown continues to increase dramatically. Relatedly, in a study appearing in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition Exercise and Metabolism researchers noted that the consumption of 20g of protein, or an equivalent of 9g of essential amino acids has the ability to maximize muscle protein-synthesis rates during the first hours of post-exercise recovery. As a note here, whey protein is a faster acting protein and speeds recovery faster than other protein sources as it releases amino acids quickly in about 20 minutes or so. Furthermore, whey is abundant in leucine, the key amino acid that signals the Mammalian Target of Rapamycin (mTOR) anabolic pathway to increase protein synthesis. However, new data indicates that a single individual dose of leucine is more efficient at signaling this anabolic pathway.

*Suggested Action-20-25g/Whey/27g of leucine at post workout.

 2. The Carbohydrate Glycogen Axis-   Once consumed carbohydrates breakdown into glucose and serve as a critical source of energy your muscles use to sustain your muscle’s contractile power. How long this energy supply lasts depends on the length and intensity of exercise and can range anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes. For example, Dr. Susan M. Kleiner the well-known nutritionist who has worked as a nutritional consultant for the Cleveland Browns reminds us that during high-intensity strength training reps lasting only 1 to 3 minutes, that muscle glycogen supplies about 95% of the fuel (energy) needed to complete this set. To avoid running out of energy during your workout this is why it is important to start your routine with full glycogen stores, and via carb intake replenishing them during your training. In fact as cited by Dr. Ivy and Dr. Portman the greatest performance benefits have been found to occur when 50-70g of carbs are consumed per hour of exercise to restore diminished glycogen stores.

                            Glycogen Storage Capacity and Replenishment

Any glucose not needed right away gets stored in the muscles and the liver in the form of glycogen serving as your muscle’s primary back-up fuel source. Once these glycogen stores are filled up any extra gets stored as fat. Although every person is unique, and their individual carbohydrate storage capacity differs, as cited by Dr. Dan Benardot, a professor at Georgia State University and the author of Advanced Sports Nutrition, humans can store approximately 350g of glycogen in the muscles, an additional 90g in the liver, and about 5g in circulating blood. Furthermore, researchers at the University of Texas remind us that if you are involved with multiply training sessions, that restoring depleted glycogen stores is even more crucial. For instance, they reported that compared to waiting 2 hours to ingest a carbohydrate drink, results indicated that immediate consumption resulted in a 300% increase in muscle glycogen at 2 hours and a 135% increase at 4 hours. This is partly why refueling lost glycogen is critical to sustain your next training session, as well as why researchers suggest consuming ¼ of your daily carbohydrate requirements at post-workout. 

 The other aspect of this biological axiom although not highly publicized shows that combining protein with carbs within 30 minutes before exercise increases glycogen storage. However, the ratio must be 4:1, (4g of carbs to 1g of protein). Current data indicates that when carbs and protein are consumed in the above ratio’s before training that there is a significantly greater storage of glycogen than consuming carbs alone.

Suggested Action: Consume carbs with protein in the ratios cited above to better facilitate glycogen storage 30 minutes before workouts. Conversely, Dr. Edmund R. Burke at the University of Colorado states that during your workout routine, to minimize glycogen depletion you should drink a sports beverage that contains 70 to 100 calories of carbs per serving.

                                     Carbs Beyond Glycogen Storage

Carbohydrates have other specific functions in the body including fueling the central nervous system and the brain. Dr. Nathan Smith, M.D. of the University of Washington, the author of Food For Sport some time ago (1976) noted that the constant supply of carbs to the brain was essential for an optimal sense of awareness, and quick reflexes to support athletic performance. However, more importantly, Dr. Smith from his research found that an inadequate supply of glucose, particularly to the central nervous system, caused feelings of weakness and hunger. Today, sports medicine researchers know that muscle fatigue first starts in the central nervous system (CNS) even before you feel muscular fatigue. Research on central nervous fatigue has shown a direct correlation between the brain chemicals serotonin (5-HT), dopamine and acetylcholine and the onset of CNS fatigue.

By the way, acetylcholine is released in the peripheral nervous systems to activate muscle fibers. Correspondingly, decreased levels of acetylcholine leads to noticeable muscle fatigue and a decrease in muscle strength. Current data shows that  carbohydrates and branched chain amino acids( BCAA’s)  have a direct impact on the brain chemicals  serotonin and dopamine, by delaying the onset of central nervous system fatigue due to their influence on amino acids such as tryptophan, which directly affect the levels of serotonin and dopamine in the brain.

Also, it is now common practice at post-workout to consume a protein/carbohydrate combo to spike insulin which in turn drives nutrients into the cells at a faster rate to speed muscle recovery.


Suggested Action: Consume about 1/4 of your required carbs within 15-30 minutes, at post-workout. Overall, consume 4 to 7g of carbs per kilogram (2.2) times your body weight daily.

                                   Simple vs Complex Carbs and the Insulin Spike

According to researchers at the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences of the University of Birmingham in Edgbaston, Birmingham, the United Kingdom, exercise signals what scientist call glucose transporter carrier protein-4 to the cell surface. This leads to an increased permeability of the muscle membrane to accept glucose. However, when this small window of opportunity following a workout that up-regulates this phase of glycogen synthesis closes, muscle glycogen synthesis occurs at a much slower rate, meaning several hours. As you know insulin escorts nutrients into cells and for some time researchers believed that simple carbs (low- glycemic) that break-down quickly and rapidly were best suited to elicit an insulin spike. However, researchers now know that high glycemic carbs which break-down at a slower pace and don’t initiate huge spikes of insulin at post workout are just as effective. As a note here, one of the negatives of constant high spikes of insulin via simple carbs is an increase in fat storage as insulin acts like a key that locks fat in the cells.

While insulin does escorts amino acids nutrients into the cell it also increases net protein balance by reducing muscle protein degradation. In their book, The Performance Zone, Drs. Ivy and Portman stated that insulin within the anabolic window also stimulates enzymes necessary for protein synthesis by as much as 67%, while suppressing cortisol production and increasing muscle blood flow. This apparently speeds the flow of nutrients to weak and tired muscles as well as enhanced removal of waste (lactic acid, carbon dioxide), and puts the brakes on muscle wasting.

3. First Meal at Post-Workout-Once your workout is complete, you should have a whole food meal within an hour or two. Vince Andrich, the author of No Mistakes: Nutritional Guide to Building Your Best Body Ever, states that a 40% protein, 40% carb, 20% fat intake can yield phenomenal results. He also states that the best thing about this nutrient ratio is that it can serve as a primary base eating plan all the time. Conversely, some researchers suggest a smaller ratio of fat for this meal as excess fat during this time may slow the delivery of nutrients into the muscle cells. As a reminder here, this post meal completes the priming of your workout routine and previous quick (15 -30mins) dose of nutrients following your workout. Essentially, this meals helps your body use the all of the circulating free fatting acids that have been pumped out into the bloodstream. Unless these fats are transported to the liver and muscle for final utilization, they can be arbitrarily re-converted back into triglycerides and re-deposited back into fat tissues.

This nutritional aspect of recovery also brings to light how your nutritional recovery plan amplifies the anabolic priming capabilities of your workout routine.

4. Some Post-Workout Supplements to Consider- based on current data there are a number of supplements that can also help amplify the recovery process. Many of these supplements are well-known and highly utilized. They are: Beta- alanine, BCAA’s, Creatine, Glutamine and Nitric Oxide Precursors (Arginine, Citrulline, and Glycine Propionyl-L-carnitine).


Your growth potential increases exponentially as your ability to recover from your workout improves. However, although refueling with water and key electrolytes are important, this isn’t enough fire-power to re-establish internal anabolic dominance. The key variable in this equation that insures you maintain anabolic equilibrium centers how well you nourish systems before and during your workouts, but more importantly, right after all the major catabolic damage has been done, namely, at post-workout. This is when that anabolic switch needs to be ignited versus being doused and crashing to a slow burn. Always remember that the main mission of that post workout meal is to speed up the recovery process, so that your body is prepared to minimize the catabolic rigors of your next training session. In fact, as cited by the well-known sports nutrition researchers Dr. Frederick Hatfield and Martin Zucker, you shouldn’t be eating for what you just did, but instead for the calorie expenditure ahead.


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Article submitted by: George L. Redmon Ph.D. N.D.

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